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

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

Source: Kristy Jackson / Facebook

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunter has been attending the daycare for about a year.

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

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

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Image source: Institute for Justice

Image source: Institute for Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s when things went wrong.

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

Directors of pupil personnel are employees of the public schools.

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

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

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6 Things You Better Know About North Korea & Potential War

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6 Things You Better Know About North Korea & Potential War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.”

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

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

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

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

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

The ‘Nasal Ranger’

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

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

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

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

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Supreme Court Will Decide If Family Can Sell ITS OWN PROPERTY

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Supreme Court Will Decide If Family Can Sell ITS OWN PROPERTY

Image sourc: Flickr / Creative Commons

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Pixabay.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monsanto Finally Admits What We All Suspected About Roundup & Cancer

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Monsanto Finally Admits What We All Suspected About Roundup & Cancer

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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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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.

What is your reaction? Do you believe North Korea is a legitimate threat? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Preppers Stuck In Cities: Elite Chartering “Getaway Boats in Case of Manhattan Emergency”

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grid-down-city

By Mac Slavo – SHTFplan.com

There is an inherent dilemma for most of the people living in cities.

Even those who are aware of the extremely fragile fabric of society are often stuck living urban lives. Perhaps they plan to retire to a country abode, or construct a hideaway to escape to if the need ever arises, but for now, they are stuck in the city making a living.

This is true even for the rich, but now, they have a back-up plan.

The biggest of American cities, and one of the most gridlocked, is New York City, with Manhattan and Long Island both isolated islands – trapped during emergencies from the rest of the world.

That’s why those with means, and forethought, are now chartering emergency charters to get out of the city – probably a good idea, especially if the helicopter is out of your price range.

via NY Post:

“A lot of people don’t want to wait on a line to get on a ferry, and they don’t want to worry about walking off of Manhattan, as people had to do in the past,” [Chris Dowhie, co-owner of Plan B Marine] told The Post.“They know a boat is the fastest way, and we take the worry out of maintaining and preparing and always readying your vessel,” he added.

Not only does the company promise a speedy getaway, it plans individual evacuation routes for each person, depending on their personal needs.

[…]

“You don’t have a captain. You have to drive this boat yourself,” Dowhie told The Post, adding that in a crisis, people are more concerned with helping their own families than maneuvering someone else’s escape vehicle.

[…]

The unique evacuation service costs an annual fee of $90,000 and is catered toward wealthy individuals and corporations who don’t have time to mastermind their own escape.

Clients access the boats with an individual punch-in number, and should they need to abandon it at any time, Dowhie’s company will locate it.

Interesting concept, and the fact that this has become a business model is also telling of the times.

Estimates have placed evacuation from major coastal cities at more than 24 hours:

hd-120924.Hours.to.evacuate

Estimated evacuation times during major emergencies.

For Long Island, where millions of New Yorkers live, it would be 20-29 hours to get off the island – during that time, people will lose their patience, run out of gas, become hungry, be denied access to medications and drugs, need emergency services, resort to crime, etc.

The one percenters have long been serious about their prepping, for they know too well about the very real dangers being constructed, and the house of cards that is ever poised to collapse.

There has been a steady rise in the upper class investment into underground bunker communities – typically decked out with furnishings and amenities that nearly compare with above-ground living.

They have also been the high profile investors buying up getaway farms in places like New Zealand or South America, and hedging with mountain retreats and fortified safe rooms.

While the amount of money they are spending remains mostly pocket change the biggest players, it represents a serious consideration of the high risk for social disruption, chaos and mega-disasters, such as the collapse of the power grid.

James-Bond-Jetpack

The good news is that while the rich may indeed be living the high life, with escape hatches built in, there are many steps that the average, and more modest, individual can also take to increase your chances of survival during modest times.

Todd Savage, who specializes in strategic relocation, says that finding balance is key. For some, a permanent move isn’t possible because of work, medical needs or family life:

Not everyone will prepare for the same threats. It’s a personal choice. Some folks think that a nuclear exchange is imminent, others a socioeconomic collapse, maybe an EMP (solar or military), or a worldwide pandemic.

Everyone who is concerned with a potential disaster should perform a personal threat assessment. It can help you decide to either relocate permanently to a rural homestead or acquire a bug-out survival property.

(Survival Retreat Consulting)

When it comes to elite prepping, you have to always ask yourself: ‘Do they know something that I don’t know?

Considering their access to power, and their insider vision of human affairs, the chances are very good that they may.

Boats and hideaway properties can be arranged at lower prices as well, or DIY. If you’re not on an island, there are likely some back roads that can save your life, and keep you out of the major chaos. Plan your escape route, with several alternate routes, that avoid the major intersections with highways, bridges and other points at which the majority of traffic is forced to flow, at a slow, grinding and dangerous pace.

Safe rooms can been adapted to almost any space, and for relatively little money, and fortifications can be retrofitted where ever you need them. Just food for thought, better now than too late.

Something big is coming.

This article first appeared at SHTFplan.comPreppers Stuck In Cities: Elite Chartering “Getaway Boats in Case of Manhattan Emergency”

Filed under: Disaster Scenerios, News/ Current Events, Prepping

‘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.

What is your reaction? Do you believe school districts should do “checkups” on homeschoolers? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Pixabay.com

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

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

It was the 23rd Index of Economic Freedom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missile Test

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

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

Do you think Iran or North Korea are a threat to the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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.

Would you back a plan to kill hogs with poison? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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5 Good Reasons To Believe A Stock Market Crash Is Looming

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5 Good Reasons To Believe A Stock Market Crash Is Looming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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VIDEO: Meteor So Bright You ‘Could See Each Other … Like Daytime.’

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WEATHERFORD, Texas — Residents of Texas and three other states Sunday night experienced a rare sonic boom and then a flash from a meteor that was so bright that it appeared, momentarily in some places, like it was daytime.

The meteor could be seen from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

“You could see a flash, like if an electrical transformer flashes at night, up to our northwest, but it was cloudy here — kinda rainy — so we didn’t actually see any kind of fireball or anything,” Deputy Fire Marshal Nathan Hines told The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

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One person wrote on the American Meteor Society (AMS) website that it was so bright you “could see each other momentarily like daytime.”

Mike Hankey of the AMS said the boom makes people think something is “hitting the ground,” when the noise is coming from over overhead.

“Actually like 10 miles up into the atmosphere [it] creates that sonic effect that’s like a rumbling sound or an exploding sound,” Hankey said.

Less than one percent of meteors cause a sonic boom.

A police dash cam caught the meteor in the sky, although it didn’t record the noise.

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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Image source: Wikimedia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both King and Traxler were nominated by President Bill Clinton.

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

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

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

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

The decision could be appealed to the Supreme Court.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, sir.”

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

“No, sir.”

Blackwell was not charged or convicted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘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.

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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.’”

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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

Image source: Flicker / creative commons / license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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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VIDEO: Meteor Shakes Homes, Streaks Across U.S. Skies

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — A meteor shook homes and streaked across Midwest skies Sunday night — and thankfully, several people captured it on video. The American Meteor Society reported that the “fireball was seen primarily from Illinois and Wisconsin, but witnesses from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, New York, Kentucky, Minnesota and Ontario (Canada) ” also saw it. Watch the video, below:

 

 

 

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7 EDC Items Every Person Should Carry EVERY DAY

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7 EDC Items Every Person Should Carry EVERY DAY

Image source: Pixabay.com

The topic of everyday carry is not that popular on many survival blogs. I think the reason is that a lot of people worry too much about EMPs and other large-scale disasters and catastrophes — and too little about personal emergencies.

Yet there are a number of things that can happen to us … from getting mugged to getting stuck in the middle of nowhere because our car stalled. Avoiding all of these and more require not just knowledge and skills but also a number of essential items that you should at least try to carry with you every day.

No. 1. A folding knife

A folding knife fits in your pocket and, besides the infinite numbers of ways in which it can assist you, it has a great advantage: People won’t label you as a prepper for having one.

In fact, no small self-defense weapon (such as pepper spray) will get people to label you as such. You just tell them it’s for protection and they’ll leave you alone.

No. 2. A way to navigate

Whether you get lost in the wilderness or in a big city, you should always have means to find your way back. Leaving EMP events out of the equation, you should at least have GPS maps on your phone. Keep in mind that, even if the phone lines are down, satellites may still be working, showing you your location.

Another thing you should consider in your phone’s maps app is the ability to download them offline.

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Lastly, it wouldn’t hurt to add celestial navigation skills to your “mental EDC,” as well as to practice the ability to orient yourself relative to various points of interest.

No. 3. A bandana

Bandanas are amazing survival items that have a huge number of uses. Besides the obvious one — to protect your head from extreme heat — you also can use them to:

  • melt snow.
  • pre-filter water.
  • hold a broken arm as a sling.
  • collect foraged food.

No. 4. Lighter

Not just to light a fire and keep yourself warm, but there are other situations it could be useful:

  • to melt a zip tie if someone ties you up.
  • to start a fire to use as signaling.
  • to light your way in absence of a flashlight.
  • to open a bottle.

No. 5. A multi-tool

7 EDC Items Every Person Should Carry EVERY DAY

Image source: Pixabay.com

Whether you opt for one of those micro multi-tools made by Leatherman or for one that’s credit-card shaped and fits in your wallet, you can carry with you at least 10 tools to aid in your survival: scissors, tweezers, screwdrivers, a ruler and many more.

No. 6. A “prepped” cell phone

When I say prepped, it should not only have a shock-absorbing case, but it also should be equipped with the apps and information you may need in an emergency. There are plenty of apps related to survival, and let’s not forget a maps application (with the option to download those maps for offline use).

No. 7. A mini-flashlight

I got the tiniest flashlight I could find on the market and attached it on my keyring. Sure, I can always use my phone, but what if I run out of batteries? Redundancy is never a bad thing.

Final Word

One last thing … don’t let anything stop you from expanding your EDC to your wallet and your pockets. Also, if you carry a laptop with you every day, don’t be shy about adding extra items in the laptop bag.

What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:

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

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

Image source: Dave Balay

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

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

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

But minutes later, Balay got a very nasty surprise.

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

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

Image source: Dave Balay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you believe Balay should have been fined? 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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Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch: 5 Things You Need To Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you support Gorsuch’s nomination? 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’

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Pixabay.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever wanted to pay the government in pennies? Share your thoughts on his stunt in the section below:

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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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Trump Signs 3 Major Executive Orders, Doing Exactly What He Said He Would

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Trump Signs 3 Executive Orders, Doing Exactly What He Said He Would

WASHINGTON – President Trump signed three executive orders Monday to begin his first full week in the White House, fulling campaign promises and sending signals to his base that he isn’t backing down on major pledges.

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The executive orders:

  • Freeze most hiring within the federal government. Exceptions will be made for the military.
  • Defund organizations like International Planned Parenthood that promote or perform abortion in other countries. By restoring the so-called Mexico City Policy, Trump is following in the footsteps of Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Presidents Clinton and Obama rescinded the policy.
  • Withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the free-trade deal that had drawn the ire of both liberals and conservatives. (Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth show about TPP here.)

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” he said of the TPP order. “[It’s a] great thing for the American worker.”

Conservatives applauded his signing of the Mexico City Policy order.

“American taxpayer dollars have many good uses, but paying for elective abortions overseas is not and never has been one of them,” said Steven H. Aden, senior counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom. “The president has done the right and logical thing in reinstating a policy that never should have been rescinded.”

Do you agree with Trump’s signing of the orders? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Court Applauds Homeschool Mom, But OKs Criminal Charges Anyway

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Court Applauds Homeschool Mom, But OKs Criminal Charges Anyway

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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?

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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.

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

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Man Receives $128 Ticket For Warming Car IN HIS DRIVEWAY

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Man Receives $128 Ticket For Warming Car IN HIS DRIVEWAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

What is your reaction? Do you believe the farmer should be able to sell raw camel’s milk across state lines? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Self-Driving Cars Already Are Deciding Who Lives & Dies

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Self-Driving Cars Already Are Deciding Who Lives & Dies

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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

Image source: Wikimedia

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

The Entire Internet Will Shut Down For 24 Hours In 2017, Major Company Predicts

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The Entire Internet Will Shut Down For 24 Hours In 2017, Major Company Predicts

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BOULDER, Colo. – A prominent American company that helps companies guard against cyber threats is predicting that the entire Internet will be shut down by hackers in 2017 – and that portions of the power grid will go down, too.

LogRhythm, headquartered in Boulder, Colo., released its seven predictions for 2017 just before the New Year and said it believes the “internet will be shut down for up to 24 hours.”

“We’ll see a rise in attacks on fundamental protocols of internet communications. We already started seeing it with DNS,” the company said, referencing a Domain Name System attack that brought down Amazon, Netflix and Twitter in 2016. “In 2017, we’re going to see it hit big sometime, somewhere. If the internet goes down, financial markets will tank.”

James Carder, LogRhythm’s chief information security officer and vice president, said the attacks that brought down Amazon “were really just tests.”

“If you can prove that you can take down massive sites and a large chunk of the US internet for a few hours, a 24-hour outage seems pretty easy to do,” Carder told Business Insider.

LogRhythm also predicted that “portions of the U.S. power grid will be shut down.”

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“If portions of the power grid go down, there will be lack-of-confidence and trust issues with the government, which will have long-lasting ripple effects,” LogRhythm said.

The Entire Internet Will Shut Down For 24 Hours In 2017, Major Company Predicts

Image source: Pixabay.com

The company has offices in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Mexico, France, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

Following are LogRhythm’s seven predictions:

1. A decidedly overt attack from a nation-state will likely occur, in an effort to force an equally public retaliation.

– The public nature of this action will force the hand of NATO or the U.S. government to retaliate, whether they choose to do so publicly is not clear.

– This will lead to an increased focus on offensive cyber capabilities and bolster the demand for cyber weapons on the black market. Countries will covertly arm their allies with cyber weapons, and encourage disguised attacks on their enemy.

2. The internet will be shut down for up to 24 hours.

We’ll see a rise in attacks on fundamental protocols of internet communications. We already started seeing it with DNS. In 2017, we’re going to see it hit big sometime, somewhere. If the internet goes down, financial markets will tank.

3. Portions of the U.S. power grid will be shut down.

– We already saw hackers mobilise vulnerable IoT devices in the recent DDoS attack. Similarly, they could target and impact aspects of critical infrastructure.

–  If portions of the power grid go down, there will be lack-of-confidence and trust issues with the government, which will have long-lasting ripple effects.

4. Hackers will target and silence major media sites — such as CNN, FOX News, etc. — to influence what is reported and attempt to keep people in the dark.

– There will be more focused IoT botnet attacks, like the largest DDoS attack ever committed (Oct. 2016), which was all done using embedded systems/IoT devices. We’ll see a larger botnet attack, powered by the hundreds of thousands of IoT devices that still have malware running on them.

5. Ransomware will get more personal, as 2017 will mark the rise of mobile ransomware.

Simon Howe, Director of Sales for ANZ at LogRhythm said, “Attackers will use pre-authenticated tokens to disseminate malware. Because so many Apple devices are interconnected, the malware could very quickly spread.  Attackers will target consumers and hold their personal data hostage. For example, attackers will threaten to send out or delete a user’s photos unless a ransom is paid. Just think, how much would you pay to recover your photos?”

6. There will be an uptick in Psychological Operations (PSYOPs), where hackers will use social media platforms to manipulate messages and influence people.

–  A study released by Stanford in late Nov. 2016 found that US students from 6th grade through college – presumably the savviest social media users – are unable to accurately evaluate the credibility of information presented in tweets, comments and articles.

– Malicious actors will use algorithms to gauge the effectiveness of their social media efforts, and refine their PSYOPs to further manipulate people of all ages.

7. Every country and region in modern nations will come up with their own cybersecurity governance, and start enforcing compliance with those mandates.

We initially saw this with GPG-13 (Cyber Security Framework) and GDPR (Data Security Framework) in the US.  We’ll likely see an uptick in other countries establishing their own brand of cybersecurity and data security frameworks.

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

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

Man Charged For Driving Under Influence … Of Caffeine

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Man Charged For Driving Under Influence … Of Caffeine

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FAIRFIELD, Calif. – A California man was charged with driving under the influence, even though the only “drug” detected in his blood was caffeine.

The Solano County (Calif.) District Attorney’s office sought for more than 16 months to prosecute Joseph Schwab after having sent his blood samples to two different labs and turning up nothing — except the stuff found in many sodas.

“There are no studies that demonstrate that driving is impaired by caffeine, and they don’t do the studies, because no one cares about caffeine,” forensic toxicologist and expert witness Jeffrey Zehnder told The Guardian. “It’s really stupid.”

Said Schwab’s attorney, Stacey Barrett, “I’ve never seen this before. I’ve never even heard of it.”

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Schwab’s troubles began on Aug. 5, 2015, when an agent from California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, not a police officer, pulled him over. The agent alleged Schwab had cut her off and was driving erratically. She also said his pupils were dilated. A breathalyzer test for alcohol showed a level of 0.00 percent.

After he was arrested, Schwab’s blood was drawn and sent to a laboratory, which came back negative for illegal drugs. It then was sent to a lab in Pennsylvania for testing. The only substance that lab was able to detect in Schwab’s blood was caffeine.

Eventually, the district attorney dropped the DUI charge – although the office said the reckless driving charge would remain.

“After further consideration, without a confirmatory test of the specific drug in the defendant’s system that impaired his ability to drive, we do not believe we can prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt,” District Attorney Krishna Abrams said in a late December news release.

Abrams maintains that Schwab had something in his system – even though two lab tests detected nothing

“Do we wish that it could test for more drugs?” Abrams said. “Absolutely, because then we would know what was in his system.”

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The Russians Hacked A U.S. Power Grid During The Holidays, And Few Noticed

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The Russians Hacked A U.S. Power Grid During The Holidays, And Few Noticed

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BURLINGTON, Vt. — Malware used by Russian hackers has been detected in a Vermont power company’s computer, and at least one cybersecurity expert says the incident is not “happenstance.”

The concern is that hackers could take down the power grid, either regionally or nationally, with the click of a mouse. Ted Koppel’s 2015 book Lights Out warned that a major cyberattack could leave the power grid down for weeks or months.

“We have been monitoring RIS (Russian civilian and military intelligence Services) activities for some time and what we know is that the Vermont utility hack is part of a sophisticated and ongoing advanced persistent threat campaign by Russian cyber operatives to profile vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid,” Darin Anderson, the chief executive of the trade group CyberTECH, told The San Diego Tribune.

The unidentified malware was detected in a laptop at the Burlington Electric Department on Dec. 29 following an alert by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to a press release by the utility department. The same malware code has been used by a group of hackers called Grizzly Steppe.

Grizzly Steppe was one of the groups accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign.

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“We acted quickly to scan all computers in our system for the malware signature,” said Mike Kanarick, director of customer care, community engagement and communications with the Burlington Electric Department. “We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems. We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding.”

The Russians Hacked A U.S. Power Grid During The Holidays, And Few Noticed

Image source: Pixabay.com

The code was found just days after suspected Russian hackers managed to shut off one-fifth of the power in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev.

Todd O’Boyle, chief technology officer of the security firm Percipient Networks in Wakefield, Mass., told the Tribune that “organizations don’t just get targeted based upon happenstance.”

“If this was the Russians, they are there for a reason,” he said. “They want something. Maybe it’s how to build better power grids. Maybe it’s preparing for a catastrophic attack. Maybe the target is a hopping point to their real destination.”

Intelligence officials are so concerned about Russian hacking that they alerted executives from the financial, utility, transportation and other essential industries, The Washington Post reported. The hope was to help industry IT experts detect malware.

“As a security practitioner, one of the top concerns I have is a successful attack against our critical infrastructure such as power grids, water systems, transportation systems, etc.,” Gary Davis of the California-based Intel Security, told the Tribune. “Homeland Security has identified 16 critical infrastructure sectors. A successful attack on any one could have substantial and long-term consequences.”

“We’ve already seen successful cyber-attacks in some developing countries and the closer connected devices come in mass to critical infrastructure the greater the chance of a successful attack,” David said. “In fact, reading the article reminds me of a discussion I had with the United Nations earlier this year. After a presentation I had given there about the threat landscape especially as it relates to the Internet of Things or IoT, a couple of its representatives pulled me aside and told me that several of its member nations biggest concern is that a teenager could take down the country’s critical infrastructure.”

Mark Weatherford, the chief cybersecurity analyst for vArmour, told the newspaper that “if you did a 100-percent sampling of utilities, you would probably find a lot of this activity.”

What is your reaction? Do you believe the Russians are trying to take down the U.S. power grid? Is America prepared? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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The 10 Most-Read OTGN Stories Of 2016

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The 10 Most-Read OTGN Stories Of 2016

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Natural health and self-defense stories dominated the list of most-read Off The Grid News stories in 2016. Following is the Top 10, in order of readership:

  1. The 9 Very Best Essential Oils For Treating Colds And Flu
  2. The 5 Absolute Best Concealed Carry Guns
  3. The 4 Very Best Calibers For Hunting Big Game
  4. The 5 Best Home Defense Shotguns
  5. The 5 Most Reliable Handguns For Survival
  6. How To Make Pemmican: A Survival Superfood That Can Last 50 Years
  7. The 10 Best Hunting Rifles: The Browning BAR .30-06
  8. The 5 Absolute Best ‘Pocket Rocket’ Pistols You Can Buy
  9. The 5 Very Best Survival Guns
  10. 3 Emergency Heat Sources When The Power’s Out

Is Amazon Echo Now A Police Surveillance Device?

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Is Amazon Echo Now A Police Surveillance Device?

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot were popular Christmas gifts in 2016, but some privacy advocates are warning they could be used by law enforcement to gather data about you and your family.

Prosecutors in Benton County, Arkansas, have issued a search warrant to Amazon for data from an Echo device belonging to murder suspect James Andrew Bates.

So far, Amazon is refusing to cooperate.

“Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us,” a press release from the online retail giant states. “Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”

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Echo and Echo Dot are digital assistants that answer questions from owners who use voice commands to “wake up” the devices. One typical word is “Alexa.” The devices are tied to Amazon’s computer cloud. Supposedly, the only information within the home that is stored is what is said following the word prompt.

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Investigators want the Echo data in order to get more information about the mysterious death of Victor Collins, who was found dead in Bates’ bathtub in Bentonville, Ark., last November. Amazon might have recordings of sounds from Bates’ home, the search warrant alleges.

Attorney Kimberly Weber is representing Bates and opposes the use of the data in court.

“You have an expectation of privacy in your home, and I have a big problem that law enforcement can use the technology that advances our quality of life against us,” Weber said, according to The Information.

Bates had a number of such gadgets in his home, including a smart water meter that shows he used 140 gallons of water from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., police say.

Police seized Bates’ Echo but allege that there is more information stored in the cloud.

Boundaries Needed?

Echo also allows a person to control home automation devices, such as lights and the thermostat. Additionally, a person can request news and information from Echo.

Lynn Terwoerds, executive director of the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security and Risk Management, told USA Today that devices like Echo would not benefit police.

“The myth we must fight against with Echo is that it’s constantly listening in on you — it’s not,” she said. “I understand that law enforcement would have an interest in any information that could help in a murder investigation, but it can be argued that this data would be of very limited use as compared to individual privacy rights,” she said.

Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), said that to protect privacy, “there should be clear legal standards established for law enforcement access.”

“And manufacturers should adopt techniques for data minimization and data deletion,” Rotenberg said. “Devices that retain data will be the targets not only of law enforcement officials but also criminal hackers.”

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Cops Raid Wrong House & Then Post Innocent Family’s Pic On Snapchat

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Cops Raid Wrong House & Then Post Innocent Family’s Pic On Snapchat

NEW YORK — Police raided the wrong house, handcuffed an innocent family, and then put their pictures on Snapchat with a Christmas “greeting.”

“Merry Christmas it’s NYPD (New York Police Department)” one of the captions accompanying a picture of the family read.

The Santiago family’s Brooklyn home was raided on the morning of Dec. 22 and everyone put in handcuffs, WABC-TV reported. As the police conducted the investigation, Kimberly Santiago noticed that one of them was using his phone.

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“We thought he was texting on his phone,” she said. “Because the whole three hours we were sitting here, he was the one standing there. We saw him on his phone, but we didn’t think an officer would do that.”

The unidentified officer has been suspended without pay as an investigation is conducted to see if department policy was violated.

No one was arrested, and the police left.

“If he did that to [us], picture how many other families he’s done that to,” Santiago said.

Snapchat is a popular social media service that had 150 million users as of June 2016.

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Mom Walks 26 Miles In Snow To Rescue Family; This Is What Kept Her Alive …

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Mom Walks 26 Miles In Snow To Rescue Family; This Is What Kept Her Alive …

Photographer: Thomas Quine. Flickr Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

PHOENIX — Karen Klein now knows the high price of not carrying survival supplies such as winter clothes, boots and food in her car. The mother walked 26 miles over a stretch of 36 hours in the snow with no snow boots and no cell service – and with only a small bag of cheerios to eat.

Klein’s ordeal began with a family vacation and ended with what authorities are calling a “Christmas miracle.” Klein, her husband and 10-year-old son became lost when their GPS device told them to take a Forest Service road near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Their car, though, soon got stuck in the mud. Klein, a triathlete, volunteered to go and find help because her husband had recently been in an accident, NBC News reported.

The Kleins did not realize that the area was closed for the winter. When they found roads closed, the family followed GPS directions on a detour that got them lost.

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“It was decided that there is a main road up ahead, and I have professional and recreational experience, a lifelong (experience) in the outdoors, so I said, ‘I’ll just go, I’ll just walk up to the main road, I can do this, I’m a runner,”’ she said.

Her hope was to flag down a passing vehicle for help, but the main road was closed for the winter. So she continued her trek, drinking melted snow and eating aspen and evergreen twigs.

At one point she pulled a muscle and then lost a shoe. She couldn’t move her leg and had to “physically pick it up and put it forward.”

“I could only move it 10 steps at a time,” she said.

Her desire to save her family kept her alive. She said she told herself, “I can’t leave my son without a mom. I’m can’t leave my husband without a wife. I’m not letting my parents bury me.”

She eventually broke into an empty residence where rescuers found her. During her walk, she refused to fall asleep, afraid she would die.

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“I kept myself awake. I just talked to myself and rocked back to stay warm,” she said.

She does have some frostbitten toes but has not lost any yet, NBC News reported.

“In the grand scheme of things,” she said, “I keep thinking: ‘You know what? It’s a few toes. Don’t worry about it.’”

Ironically, her husband and son already had been rescued. After Klein did not come back soon, her husband and son walked in the opposite direction until they got enough cell service to call for help.

Klein said she and her husband could have done a better job in planning.

“As far as places being closed, we just didn’t realize that these roads were closed and these visitor centers were closed,” Klein said. “We didn’t investigate that deeply.”

Klein is now recovering at a hospital in Utah.

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We’ve Been Warned: Russia ‘Has Figured Out How To Crash A Power Grid With A Click’

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We’ve Been Warned: Russia ‘Has Figured Out How To Crash A Power Grid With A Click’

Photographer: Dan Nguyen. Flickr / Creative Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

KIEV, Ukraine — Experts believe that Russian hackers took down a portion of Ukraine’s power grid again earlier this month, and the same experts say similar attacks would be easier and do more damage in the United States.

“It’s very concerning that these same actors, using similar capabilities and tradecraft, are preparing and are getting access to these business networks, getting access to portions of the power grid,” Rob Lee, a former cyberwarfare officer for the U.S. military, told CBS News.

Some power companies in the U.S. have weaker security than the Ukraine, Lee said.

A distribution station that supplies one-fifth of the power to Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, suddenly shut down without warning early Dec. 18, Reuters reported.

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The hackers used a simple method to infiltrate the power grid: sending emails with infected attachments to employees. That allowed them to steal their logins and cut the circuit breakers at about 60 substations.

“It was illogical and chaotic,” Vasyl Pemchuk, the electric control center manager in Kiev, told CBS. “It seemed like something in a Hollywood movie.”

Lee thinks it could take days or even weeks to restart the U.S. power grid after such an attack.

“We can’t just look at the Ukraine attack and go ‘oh we’re safe against that attack,’” Lee said. “Even if we just lose a portion, right? If we have New York City or Washington, D.C., go down for a day, two days, a week, what does life look like at that point?”

Pemchuk said workers watched their computers being taken over by hackers and could do nothing except film it all with their smart phones.

CBS reported that “Russia has figured out how to crash a power grid with a click.”

Ukrainian security officials believe their nation’s infrastructure has been under cyberattack from Russia for months. The Ukraine is currently locked in civil war with Russian-backed separatists.

On Dec. 23, 2015, hackers cut off power to half the homes in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of the Ukraine.

Do you believe something similar could happen in the U.S.? Is America prepared? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Underground ‘Survival Condos’ For The Rich Sell Out: $3 Million; Self-Reliant For 5 Years

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Image source: SurvivalCondo.com

Image source: SurvivalCondo.com

TOPEKA, Kan. — The demand for luxury survival shelters for the rich is exploding – so much that underground survival condos in an old missile silo have sold out.

An unspecified number of buyers paid $1.5 and $3 million each for the condos, developer Larry Hall told CNET. The project was so successful that Hall is now constructing new survival condo facilities and taking contracts for them.

The customers are not “typical ‘survival nuts’ as portrayed in the media,” Hall said in a press release, but rather they are “successful, educated and well-to-do individuals who simply want peace of mind in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.”

The condominiums are located in one of the most hardened structures ever built: an Atlas Missile Silo at a secret location in Kansas, according to the website. The silo was built in 1960 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withstand a direct nuclear strike.

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It has nine and a half foot-thick epoxy-hardened concrete walls and a $2 million concrete dome cap that can withstand winds of up to 500 miles per hour, according to the website.

The facility is designed to be self-sufficient for up to five years during a disaster.

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Underground ‘Survival Condos’ For The Rich Sell Out: $3 Million; Self-Reliant For 5 Years

Image source: SurvivalCondo.com

“We believe that given the present worldwide economic conditions, historical disaster evidence, and the obvious signs of global climate changes, that it is prudent to have a ‘disaster plan and shelter’ in place should a need for it occur,” the website says.

One unidentified buyer told CNET that the price is not as outrageous as it first sounds.

“The same quality of condo in New York would have cost me the same, if not more per square foot and you get peace of mind with this,” the buyer said.

Although the facility is designed to withstand a nuclear blast, the greater concern for clients is the “breakdown of society and total civil unrest,” the company said in a press release.

“In the event of a major disaster, economic collapse or whatever the future may hold, there is one common concern that Larry and his tenants share, and that is the ability to protect themselves and their families when the government is no longer able to do so,” the press release said.

Each unit is from 900 to 1,800 square feet.

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Some of the amenities that will help the wealthy survive doomsday include:

  • A swimming pool and spa.
  • A rock climbing wall.
  • A dog park.
  • Organic hydroponic food production.
  • Aquaculture food production.
  • A general store.
  • An indoor shooting range.
  • A movie theater.
  • Classroom and library.
  • Minor surgery center.
  • Bar and lounge.
  • A dog park so your best friend can survive, too.
  • Complete gym, with spa and workout facility.

So, how will the rich make it to their condos during a disaster if they live in another state? The company has plans for that, too, but the information is only for buyers.

“We have three contingency plans in place to ensure that you have passage to the facility in the case of any emergency. These plans will be discussed with potential buyers only,” the company’s website states.

The silos aren’t the only luxury condos in America. Another company, Trident Lakes, is selling its own underground survival condos in Texas.

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Atheist Group Demands Town Remove Nativity … But Town Refuses (‘It’s Here To Stay’)

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Atheist Group Demands Town Remove Nativity – But Town Refuses (‘It’s Here To Stay’)

File photo. Image source: Pixabay.com

BELEN, N.M. – Following years of surrendering to left-leaning organizations demanding that they take down religious-themed Christmas decorations, a number of towns across America are fighting back – or simply ignoring the requests.

Belen, N.M., is one such community. In 2015 the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to city officials, warning it that a year-round nativity located in a city park allegedly violated the U.S. Constitution. The atheist/agnostic organization wanted the nativity moved to private property, but a year later, it remains where it’s always been.

“Belen” is Spanish for Bethlehem – the city where Jesus was born.

“Our town was named Belen for a reason, because our founders wanted it to be named after Bethlehem and of course, what happened in Bethlehem was the birth of Christ, which is something we’ve expressed since our founding,” Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova told KOAT last year. “Where does it stop? If we don’t stand up for the nativity scene in the heart of Belen, next will they be asking us to change our name?”

Belen's nativity. Image source: New Mexico Center for Family Policy/Facebook

Belen’s nativity. Image source: New Mexico Center for Family Policy/Facebook

Interviewed this month by the Associated Press, Cordova gave an update on the nativity: “It’s here to stay.”

Cordova’s attitude is similar to that of city officials elsewhere.

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In Franklin, Pa., the city council voted earlier this month to keep a nativity on public property despite a threat from FFRF. To help guard against lawsuits, the council decided to add some secular symbols near the nativity.

“Publically sponsored nativity scenes on public property are constitutional, especially when the display includes other secular symbols of the holiday,” said Mat Staver, founder of the legal organization Liberty Counsel, which has offered to provide free assistance to the city if it is sued. “… We stand by the city and will offer legal counsel to any city facing threats from the FFRF or other individuals.”

Staver told AP he is “seeing more municipalities digging in after learning about their rights.”

FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said she doesn’t think “religion or irreligion should be on public property.”

But some communities still are surrendering. Gig Harbor, Wash., received a letter from FFRF and chose not to allow a local resident to put up a nativity on private property, as had been done in past years. That resident, John Skansi, told The News Tribune he was disappointed.

“Putting a Nativity in a public park is a healthy thing,” Skansi said. “It’s a great thing to do. It is part of what Christmas is. This is the message we wanted out there.”

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Californians Rush To Buy Guns Before Ban Takes Effect

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Californians Rush To Buy Guns Before Ban Takes Effect

Gun Store / Flickr Creative Commons

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sales of semiautomatic rifles have doubled and sales of handguns have spiked 40 percent in the Golden State ahead of a strict gun control law that will take effect Jan. 1.

Californians will not be able to buy certain weapons, including popular styles of the AR-15, after Dec. 31. The new state law will bans rifles with “bullet buttons.”

Another law that will go into effect bans magazines with more than 10 rounds. It also requires background checks for ammunition purchases.

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The last day someone can buy an AR-15 because of California’s 10-day waiting period is Dec. 21, according to a memo from the state’s Bureau of Firearms.

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“Do I need the weapon I just purchased? No. Did I purchase it anyway? Yes. That’s the bottom line: They took the choice away from responsible adults,” one man told Fox News.

Apparently, strict gun control measures are very good for business.

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Obama Warned Putin About Cyber Attack On Power Grid; Believed Russians Had Practiced ‘Dry Run’

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Obama Warned Putin About Cyber Attack On Power Grid; Believed Russians Had Practiced 'Dry Run'

Image source: NASA

WASHINGTON — The White House was so concerned about Russia interfering with the election or even attacking the power grid that it used the so-called red phone system to place a call to the Kremlin on Oct. 31, warning the Russians and President Vladimir Putin about repercussions.

That’s according to NBC News, which quoted two unidentified senior intelligence officials – both non-partisan career officers

“[President Obama and White House officials] believed the widespread attack on the Internet on Oct. 21 blocking millions of Americans from popular websites was a possible dry run for a massive attack by the Russians on Election Day — maybe even pulling down the electrical grid. It spooked the White House,” NBC News Correspondent Cynthia McFadden said in a Dec. 19 report.

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The red phone system was created during the Cold War to prevent misunderstandings between the two nations. Today, it employs a secured satellite link and is rarely used.

“It’s extremely unusual, and doing so sends a signal unto itself, so it’s a dramatic step to pick that phone up and use it” former NATO head and retired Admiral James Stavridis told NBC News.

The Oct. 21 denial of service attack took down the websites of several major companies, including Amazon, PayPal, Twitter and Netflix. When the White Made the call on Halloween morning, it believed the Oct. 21 attack had originated from Russia.

“Back in October it was viewed by some as a possible dry run for a massive attack on Election Day,” McFadden said.

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According to the intelligence officials, the White House told Russia: “International law, including the law for armed conflict, applies to actions in cyberspace. We hold Russia to those standards.”

One senior advisor urged Obama to warn Russia that any meddling in the election would be viewed as an act of war, although he chose not to be that specific, NBC News reported.

This was the second time Obama warned Putin about hacking. He pulled Putin aside at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, in September and issued a similar warning.

Do you believe Russia, or other countries, has the power to take down the U.S. power grid? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Another Country Just Banned Most Cash; 77 Percent Of Bills Instantly Worthless

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Another Country Just Banned Most Cash; 77 Percent Of Bills Instantly Worthless

Image source: Wikimedia

Deadly rioting and looting erupted across a South American country over the weekend after its president declared the nation’s largest banknote worthless.

The violence began in Venezuela when people realized that Central Bank Venezuela (BCV) had no replacements for the worthless money.

“The BCV is not giving any bills or coins but a receipt saying you deposited your 100 bills,” opposition lawmaker Jose Guerra tweeted on Dec. 17.

The riots began after President Nicholas Maduro declared that the 100 bolivar note was no longer legal tender, The Latin American Herald Tribune reported. Maduro said the note had to go because it was being used by “mafias.”

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In December, India’s prime minister made 84 percent of the cash in circulation worthless when he declared that the two largest bills in circulation — the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes — were no longer legal tender.

Venezuela: 77 Percent of Money Instantly Worthless

The 100 bolivar note in Venezuela accounted for 77 percent of the cash in circulation in Venezuela, The South China Morning Post reported. Since most Venezuelans pay for everything in cash, it meant they had no means of buying food.

New coins and bills were scheduled to be available but they never arrived. By Friday rioting had broken out in the city of Ciudad Bolivar and three mining towns, Bloomberg reported. In the town of El Callao, 115 businesses were looted and a 15-year old boy was killed. That forced the governor of Bolivar to call out the national guard.

Citizens had to use smaller bills, which are hard to use and often unavailable. The government has been paying pension benefits in 50 and 20 bolivar notes, but many people cannot find those.

“We are victims of an international sabotage so the bills, which are ready, cannot be shipped to Venezuela,” Maduro told his supporters at a rally on Saturday. The president blamed a supposed conspiracy against his nation for keeping three planes hauling the money from reaching Venezuela.

After the riots, Maduro reversed course and said the 100 bolivar bill would stay in use until Jan. 2, Bloomberg reported.

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