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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

State, local governments face massive, growing budget gaps in 2015 and beyond

As the calendar flips to 2015, fiscal pressures will continue to tax the budgets of state and local governments.

And that could mean higher taxes for many Americans.

Projections released this month by the Government Accountability Office show that state and local governments will see current gaps between revenues and expenditures continue to widen in 2015 and beyond. In aggregate, those governments are already underwater, and the amount of red ink will continue to grow over the next 50 years, unless changes are made, the GAO says.

Closing the gap will require aggregate budget cuts or tax increases of 18 percent.

"We calculated that closing the fiscal gap would require action to be taken today and maintained for each year equivalent to an 18 percent reduction in the state and local government sector's current expenditures. Closing the fiscal gap through revenue increases would require action of similar magnitude through increases in state and local tax revenues," the GAO found. "More likely, closing the fiscal gap would involve some combination of both expenditure reductions and revenue increases."

Translation: governments will continue to stare down the question of cutting budgets or raising taxes.

Click for more from Watchdog.org.

Winston Churchill's Family Was Worried He'd Convert To Islam

The woman would would one day be Winston Churchill’s sister-in-law was so worried he might convert to Islam, she wrote a letter urging he rein in his enthusiasm for the religion to which he had been exposed as a British officer serving in Sudan.

In a newly-discovered letter dated August 1907, Lady Gwendoline Bertie, who later married Churchill’s brother Jack, described what she saw as an alarming fascination with Islamic culture.

“Please don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency to orientalize, Pasha-like tendencies, I really have,” she wrote in the letter that was discovered by Cambridge University history research fellow Warren Dockter.

“If you come into contact with Islam your conversion might be effected with greater ease than you might have supposed, call of the blood, don’t you know what I mean, do fight against it,” she wrote in the letter that was widely reported in the British media Sunday.

But were Lady Gwendoline’s fears based in a reliable assessment of Churchill’s mindset?

“Churchill never seriously considered converting,” Dockter told The Independent. “He was more or less an atheist by this time anyway. He did however have a fascination with Islamic culture which was common among Victorians.”

That fascination was expressed in a letter to Lady Lytton in 1907 in which Churchill wrote he “wished he were” a Pasha (a high-rank in the Ottoman Empire).

He also occasionally privately dressed in Arab-style clothing along with his friend, poet Wilfrid S. Blunt.

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McCain Wages 'All-Out War' to Rid Arizona GOP of Tea Party

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain's team is on a campaign to rid the Arizona Republican Party of tea party officials, replacing them with allies to the senator in advance of an expected bid for a sixth term in 2016.

According to Politico. which spoke to nearly a dozen sources, McCain's team has been working with strategists and fundraisers across the country to undermine the standing of conservatives in his state who could pose a challenge to his political future.

"There's been a huge organizational effort that I've never seen before," Gordon James, an Arizona public relations executive and McCain ally, told Politico. "A lot of the party folks who were hostile to John McCain have been marginalized, and that's a good thing."

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Voters agree: No to Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney

American voters appear eager to find a new Republican name to run for president in 2016, with majorities rejecting Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, according to a new poll.

Rasmussen Reports reveals Monday that 53 percent of likely voters do not want Bush to run for president. And 56 percent reject a third Romney candidacy, said the polling outfit.

That might not come as a shock, but Rasmussen also found that Republicans aren’t jazzed by Bush either, despite other polls showing him to be the GOP leader.

When asked if Bush should run, 33 percent of Republicans said yes, 34 percent no. And Rasmussen revealed that number of GOPers who are less likely to vote for another Bush is up from 22 percent in March to 30 percent today.

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Pastor Shoots Church Attacker Inside Church

Benjamin Parangan, a maintenance man at Osceola, Florida’s Living Water Fellowship, drew a gun and shot at Pastor Terry Howell on Friday. He missed, and Howell responded by drawing his own gun, shooting and critically wounding the maintenance man.

According to News 13, a meeting was being held to “fire” Parangan when he drew his gun “and fired multiple shots.” Unscathed, Howell drew his own gun “and fired back.” Police said the attack and Howell’s response were witnessed by “several church employees,” all of whom gave the same account of the things that happened.

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Don't Just Follow The Money - Follow The Income

Lies are no substitute for truth and fantasy is no substitute for reality.

Follow the money is a good start--but what matters going forward is income, and most especially, net income and disposable income. Debt is important, money/capital flow is important, but when push comes to shove, all that matters is having net income/disposable income: to service debts, to invest, to spend.
Debt can be substituted for income, but not for long. Central banks have been playing a game for six long years: by lowering interest rates and making credit available, the central banks have encouraged households, enterprises and governments to substitute borrowed money (debt) for income.

This works as a stop-gap, but debt accrues a funny thing called interest that eventually eats the borrower alive. Income is (supposedly) the driver of stock valuations, the financial foundation of rental property and the ultimate arbiter of solvency: households, enterprises and governments whose income cannot meet their debt and spending obligations are insolvent and eventually declare bankruptcy.

The reality that all that really matters is income incentivizes gaming income. Corporations and their officers/stockholders benefit greatly when net income appears to rise smartly, as rising income boosts stock prices and the value of stock options.

So it's no wonder that S&P 500 Profits Are 86% Higher Than They Would Be Without Accounting Fudges. Fudging operating income with accounting trickery pays such huge dividends, why not indulge in a bit of financial flummery? The chances of anyone questioning the sleight of hand is nil, since the entire financial sector relies on systemic flummery for its profits.

Following the income leads us to wonder how the 99% of households whose income is declining in real terms can borrow and spend more every year.

Detainee Transfer Announced


Release No: NR-634-14

Detainee Transfer Announced

The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Asim Thabit Abdullah Al-Khalaqi, Muhammad Ali Husayn Khanayna, Sabri Muhammad Ibrahim Al Qurashi, Adel Al-Hakeemy, and Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Lufti from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to Kazakhstan.

As directed by the president's Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of this case. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these men were unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the task force.

In accordance with statutory requirements, the secretary of defense informed Congress of the United States’ intent to transfer these individuals and of his determination that this transfer meets the statutory standard.

The United States coordinated with the Government of Kazakhstan to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.

Today, 127 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.

Doctor shortage feared as Medicaid rolls swell

'It was built on an antiquated system'

(NYTIMES) — WASHINGTON —
Just as millions of people are gaining insurance through Medicaid, the program is poised to make deep cuts in payments to many doctors, prompting some physicians and consumer advocates to warn that the reductions could make it more difficult for Medicaid patients to obtain care.

The Affordable Care Act provided a big increase in Medicaid payments for primary care in 2013 and 2014. But the increase expires on Thursday — just weeks after the Obama administration told the Supreme Court that doctors and other providers had no legal right to challenge the adequacy of payments they received from Medicaid.

The impact will vary by state, but a study by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research organization, estimates that doctors who have been receiving the enhanced payments will see their fees for primary care cut by 43 percent, on average.

Medicare Cuts Await Doctors Without Electronic Health Records

The Obama administration has been trying since 2011 to increase the use of electronic health records by healthcare providers — offering a combination of carrots and sticks for those who are reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid.

Now, Congress is weighing action that would protect physicians who treat Medicare patients from being penalized for not moving fast enough in their use of electronic medical records, Politico reported.

If no action is taken, some 257,000 doctors who can't prove they have made "meaningful" progress to integrate electronic health records into their practices could see their reimbursements from Medicare reduced by 1 percent next year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Most office-based doctors are already using some form of computerized medical records, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Nearly all hospitals now use electronic records.

The administration would like to see upward of $30 billion invested in digitizing the country's medical records, according to Politico.

While $9 billion has been distributed to encourage computerization of medical records among doctors who treat Medicaid patients, just how many physicians are actually digitized is not known, according to Politico.

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Dispatcher Defends Anti-Police Comments In You Tube Video

A Baltimore County 9-1-1 dispatcher has taken to You Tube to defend a Facebook post where she addresses cases of police officers killing unarmed black people.

In a You Tube video posted on the page of LBS (Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle), Murray said she is not "anti-police."

"I've worked with officers. I've had officers who are Facebook friends. I have relatives who are officers. I'm not anti-police. I'm anti-police brutality," Murray says in the video.

Murray maintains that she was concerned about the safety of her son.

In her original post, Murray said she would rather her son be, "approached by so called THUGS then be approached by a police officer."

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Antiviral Flu Drugs are Dangerous and Don't Work: Top Doc

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that the flu vaccine isn't a good match for this year's strain. So, even more people than ever can expect the fever, chills, aches, nausea, and other symptoms associated with influenaza. What can you do? The CDC recommends taking an antiviral such as Tamiflu or Relenza to reduce the flu's duration.

Not so fast, says holistic physician Dr. David Brownstein. "Forget it," he tells Newsmax Health. "It doesn't work, it's expensive, and it has side effects.

"Tamiflu is the most commonly prescribed antiviral medication for treating the symptoms of the flu," he says.

"You would think that Tamiflu must work well since it's widely prescribed by conventional doctors. However, a Cochrane report stated, 'Treating previously healthy patients with Tamiflu reduces the duration of influenza symptoms by approximately 21 hours.'

"Less than a day?" he asks in amazement. "And that's only when it's given within 48 hours of contracting the flu. Honestly, I can't make this stuff up."

"Tamiflu costs approximately $120 for a full course of treatment," says Dr. Brownstein. "It's a waste of your hard-earned money.

"Not only does Tamiflu fail to treat the flu, it is also associated with a host of adverse effects including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and abdominal pain.

"Wait a minute," he says. "I thought those were the symptoms of the flu! Tamiflu has also been associated with more severe side effects such as hepatitis, anaphylaxis, cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, and dangerous neuropsychiatric side effects such as hallucinations and suicide.

"Honestly, do you think all those side effects are worth it to reduce the severity of the flu by 21 hours?"

Dr. Brownstein also sees little benefit of taking Relenza, another antiviral drug given to flu patients. He says that studies have shown that Relenza also cuts flu symptoms by less than a day.

Governor O’Malley Appoints Judges in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor O’Malley announced today the appointments of ten judges to the Maryland Circuit and District Courts. These appointees bring a diverse array of legal experiences to their new positions. They also represent the ethnic and gender diversity of our great state.

The newly appointed judges were recommended to Governor O’Malley by local trial court judicial nominating commissions.

“I am honored to appoint such an accomplished and diverse group of candidates to the Maryland Circuit and District Courts,” said Governor O’Malley. “These appointees will bring to the bench a true commitment to public service and a wide range of legal expertise.”

Governor O’Malley made two appointments to the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.

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Santa Claus Caught On Camera!

Pinkos Produce Red Ink

“Pinkos produce red ink.” — North’s law of unregulated media

The Huffington Post is a major liberal outlet. It has never made a profit.

At the end of 2013, AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong told Reuters he expected the site to be profitable in 2014. But during an interview earlier this month at Business Insider’s Ignition conference, Armstrong said the ongoing international rollout, which includes about a dozen foreign editions from Brazil to France to Maghreb, had prevented HuffPost from breaking into the black. Annual revenues are in the hundreds of millions, Armstrong said, declining to provide a specific dollar figure.

It is now going to drop AP stories. It will substitute in-house stories on foreign affairs, which most Americans are not interested in. HuffPo will save money but lose even more readers.

The journal is simply an amusement for Ariana Huffington, who has enough money to bankroll this experiment in red ink.

Across the media landscape, liberal outlets are losing money. To save them, rich people who made billions in digital communications are buying them up at bargain-basement prices. The take-over of The New Republic and the resulting change in policy led to mass resignations early this month. On the 100th anniversary year of that liberal outlet, it went the way of all flesh.

Liberalism bet the farm on its FCC-licensed TV network monopolies and its city monopolies over newspapers. These monopolies are now facing shrinking markets. Red ink beckons as far as the eye can see.

The Web is undermining liberalism all over the world.

Continue Reading on www.capitalnewyork.com
Editor’s note: Ten years ago, WIRED contributing editor Joshua Davis wrote a story about four high school students in Phoenix, Arizona—three of them undocumented immigrants from Mexico—beating MIT in an underwater robot competition. That story, La Vida Robot, has a new chapter: Spare Parts, starring George Lopez and Carlos PenaVega, opens in January, and Davis is publishing abook by the same title updating the kids’ story. To mark that occasion, WIRED is republishing his original story.

The winter rain makes a mess of West Phoenix. It turns dirt yards into mud and forms reefs of garbage in the streets. Junk food wrappers, diapers, and Spanish-language porn are swept into the gutters. On West Roosevelt Avenue, security guards, two squad cars, and a handful of cops watch teenagers file into the local high school. A sign reads: Carl Hayden Community High School: The Pride’s Inside.

There certainly isn’t a lot of pride on the outside. The school buildings are mostly drab, late ’50s-era boxes. The front lawn is nothing but brown scrub and patches of dirt. The class photos beside the principal’s office tell the story of the past four decades. In 1965, the students were nearly all white, wearing blazers, ties, and long skirts. Now the school is 92 percent Hispanic. Drooping, baggy jeans and XXXL hoodies are the norm.

The school PA system crackles, and an upbeat female voice fills the bustling linoleum-lined hallways. “Anger management class will begin in five minutes,” says the voice from the administration building. “All referrals must report immediately.”

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You’re Either a Cop or a Peon

For those of us who have managed to survive 2014 with our lives intact and our freedoms hanging by a thread, it has been a year of crackdowns, clampdowns, shutdowns, showdowns, shootdowns, standdowns, knockdowns, putdowns, breakdowns, lockdowns, takedowns, slowdowns, meltdowns, and never-ending letdowns.

We’ve been held up, stripped down, faked out, photographed, frisked, fracked, hacked, tracked, cracked, intercepted, accessed, spied on, zapped, mapped, searched, shot at, tasered, tortured, tackled, trussed up, tricked, lied to, labeled, libeled, leered at, shoved aside, saddled with debt not of our own making, sold a bill of goods about national security, tuned out by those representing us, tossed aside, and taken to the cleaners.

As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we’ve had our freedoms turned inside out, our democratic structure flipped upside down, and our house of cards left in a shambles.

We’ve had our children burned by flashbang grenades, our dogs shot, and our old folks hospitalized after “accidental” encounters with marauding SWAT teams. We’ve been told that as citizens we have no rights within 100 miles of our own border, now considered “Constitution-free zones.” We’ve had our faces filed in government databases, our biometrics crosschecked against criminal databanks, and our consumerist tendencies catalogued for future marketing overtures.

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Beyond Free Lunch: Schools Open Food Pantries For Hungry Families

John Still K-8 School, home of the Tigers, serves Meadowview, a picturesque name for a Sacramento, Calif., neighborhood blanketed in concrete and bare of trees.

There are 970 students on John Still's campus, and every one of them qualifies for the free and reduced meal program, which provides breakfast, lunch and a supper snack.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8.6 million children experienced food insecurity in 2013. When food gaps become chronic in these households, poor nutrition and stress can turn into long-term health consequences for adults and children.

More schools are stepping up to help these families. Feeding America, a network of U.S. food banks, says its School Pantry Program served more than 21 million meals to nearly 110,000 children nationwide in 2013 through a variety of models — including boxed meals, and sites where families choose items for their meals.

Amaya Weiss, the learning support specialist at John Still, runs the Youth and Family Resource Center, which houses a food pantry for students and their families.

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New Year Means Gas Tax Increase

Maryland's tax on gasoline and diesel fuel will increase in the new year.

The increase is part of the 2013 law that increases the gas tax in order to gradually imposing the state's 6-percent sales tax on motor fuels.

Effective Thursday, the state's gasoline tax will increase by 2.9-cents-per gallon to 30.3-cents-a gallon.

The new tax rate on diesel fuel will be 31.5-cents a gallon.

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Why Gyms Can Bank On The Fact That We Never Work Out

Gyms have built their business model around us not showing up. Gyms have way more members than they can actually accommodate. Low-priced gyms are the most extreme example of this. Planet Fitness, which charges between $10 and $20 per month, has, on average, 6,500 members per gym. Most of its gyms can hold around 300 people. Planet Fitness can do this because it knows that members won't show up. After all, if everyone who had a gym membership showed up at the gym, it would be Thunderdome. If you are not going to the gym, you are actually the gym's best customer.

So gyms try to attract people who won't come. If you haven't been a "gym person" in the past, chances are good that paying for a gym membership won't change that. Gyms know this and do what they can to attract people who haven't traditionally been gym rats. Instead of displaying challenging equipment like weight benches and climbing machines in plain view, gyms will often hide weight rooms and other equipment in the back. Many gyms now have lobbies that are designed to look like hotels and fancy restaurants. "For the longest time, the design was around the sweat," says Rudy Fabiano, an architect who designs gyms all over the world. 

"Twenty-five years ago ... clubs could be very intimidating. Remember there were the baggy pants that everybody had and the bodybuilders would bring their own jug of water?" Once gyms started looking more like hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, people who weren't bodybuilders started feeling comfortable in gyms. The casual gymgoer was born.

Our brains want to be locked into annual contracts with gyms. Normally, we hate being locked into long contracts (cellphones, cable packages), but gym memberships are an exception. "Joining a gym is an interesting form of what behavioral economists call pre-commitment," says Kevin Volpp, director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Wharton School. Volpp says we actually like the idea of being locked into a gym contract ... at first, anyway. "They're picturing the 'new me' who's actually going to go to the gym three times a week and become a physical fitness machine." We convince ourselves that since we have committed to putting down money for a year, we will make ourselves go to the gym. And then, of course, we don't.

Hillary’s Webb of Paranoia

Team Clinton gets nasty with potential rivals, almost comically early.

Assume, for a moment, that U.S. News & World Report is accurately reporting this:

While they aren’t acknowledging [2016 Democratic candidate Jim] Webb publicly, Clinton loyalists are keeping an eye on him privately. The week before Thanksgiving, staffers of Philippe Reines, Clinton’s longtime communications guru, pitched talk radio producers on the racy, sexually charged writings in Webb’s novels, according to a source. Webb was forced to fend off a similar attack in 2006, when [his Virginia Senate opponent] Allen accused him of “demeaning women.”All of the polling puts Hillary Clintonway ahead of Webb and every other potential Democratic rival. Webb’s best performance in any poll so far is a whopping 3 percent in the ABC News/Washington Post poll. (Admittedly, she led Barack Obama in early 2007 as well.)
Why on earth would the Hillary team go after Jim Webb this early? And why recycle an attack that had absolutely no impact when it was used in the 2006 Senate race? What is this, some form of mudslinging pregame stretching?

At this point, Webb is the only declared Democratic candidate in the 2016 field. Outgoing Maryland governor Martin O’Malley sent eleven staffers to Iowa, suggesting a serious interest in running. Elizabeth Warren most clearly represents the progressive grassroots’ id right now, but she continues to play coy, resorting to a robotic present-tense denial in interviews. Vice President Joe Biden isn’t taken particularly seriously by anyone and polls in single digits half the time.

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Here's Why Obama Said The U.S. Is 'Less Racially Divided'

President Obama says Americans feel worse about race relations not because relationsare worse, but because we're talking about them more.

Obama offered that analysis during a year-ending NPR interview. In a 40-minute talk just before he left Washington for the holidays, he gave clues to his thinking about his final two years in office.

The president says he wanted 2014 to be a "breakthrough year," when the economy would decisively improve and the nation's toxic politics might improve too. Though the economy did grow, 2014 became another year of unexpected disasters and unplanned events. That surely contributed to the drop in Obama's approval ratings, and left the president with little power to prevent his party's loss of the Senate.

Of this year's unexpected events, some of the most difficult and dramatic surrounded two police killings of black men in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City. Yet in our talk on Dec. 18, the president interpreted the widespread debate over the killings as a sign of potential positive change:

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Arizona Voters Approve Prop 122 to Reject Federal Acts

PHOENIX, – Today, voters in Arizona approved a ballot measure that follows James Madison’s advice to stop federal overreach. With 80% reporting, the tally held steady and increasing at 51-49%.

Approved was Proposition 122, a state constitutional amendment that enshrines the anti-commandeering doctrine in the state constitution. The language amends the state constitution to give Arizona the ability to “exercise its sovereign authority to restrict the actions of its personnel and the use of its financial resources to purposes that are consistent with the Constitution.”

This language is consistent with the advice of James Madison, who wrote in Federalist #46:

Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter. [emphasis added]

The amendment language mirrors the well-established legal doctrine of anti-commandeering. The Supreme Court has consistently held that the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce and federal act or program.It rests primarily on four SCOTUS cases – Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842), New York v. US (1992), Printz v. US (1997) and National Federation of Businesses v. Sebelius (2012).

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FDA Inspection Reveals Chinese Restaurant Supplier Was Rat-Infested Nightmare

There are fascinating horrors hiding in letters from the Food and Drug Administration to the food, drug, and cosmetic companies that it regulates. One letter that we wish we could un-read is directed to New Yung Wah Trading Company, a Brooklyn-based company that supplies Chinese restaurants all over the East Coast. The results of multiple inspections of their warehouse near Pittsburgh were frightening to potential diners…at least, those of us who prefer our food to have as little rat urine as possible. 

Gun owners fear Maryland police target them for traffic stops

A year ago this New Year’s Eve, John Filippidis of Florida was driving south with his family on Interstate 95 when the Maryland Transportation Authority Police pulled over his black Ford Expedition and proceeded to raid it while his twins, wife and daughter looked on — separated in the back seats of different police cruisers.

The officers were searching for Mr. Filippidis‘ Florida-licensed, palm-size Kel-Tec .38 semi-automatic handgun, which he left at home locked in his safe. (Maryland does not recognize handgun permits issued by other states.)

The incident gained national attention. Mr. Filippidis went on multiple radio programs and described in detail how scared and outraged he and his family were. He wondered: How did the police know he was licensed for concealed carry, and what right did they have to search through his personal items on the side of the busy interstate filled with holiday travelers on that 10-degree day?

“My wife’s hysterical, shaking and crying,” Mr. Filippidis recalled in an interview with The Washington Times. “I don’t have a criminal record. I own a business. I’m a family man, and I tried to explain that to [the officer]. But he had a bad attitude, didn’t want to hear my story. He just wanted to find that gun and take me away from my family. That was his goal, but he couldn’t do it, because I didn’t have a gun, like I told him.”

Mr. Filippidis‘ case earned the support of Second Amendment advocates and subsequent apologies from the MDTA. But an internal police review concluded his stop and search were lawful and did not violate police protocols.

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Fukushima Radiation Turning up in N.America Water

Plumes of radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power planthave been detected off the coast of Canada.

There have long been concerns that water laced with the radioactive materials cesium-137 and cesium-134 from the plant would make the 5,000 mile trip across the Pacific Ocean. Radiation in the atmosphere reached the West Coast within days of the Fukushima incident, and though it has taken much longer for it to make its way here by sea, a study out Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that it has arrived.

The study found that the Fukushima radiationfirst reached a location 1,500 kilometers west of British Columbia in 2012. By 2014, the levels of celsium-137 had spread to the Canadian continental shelf. The amount is projected to double on North American shores by 2016 before falling back to below today's levels by 2021.

Fortunately, between the long journey across the sea and ocean currents that have swirled and stirred the radioactive cesium along the way, the levels are not dangerously high.

"Cesium behaves like dye in water and gets diluted along the way," said Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution whose separate study last month found similar levels of radiation from Fukushima off the California coast. "By the time it gets across, it's pretty well mixed and much lower. We could never have levels as high as what was found off Japan."

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SPD PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT NEW YEAR’S SAFETY

EDWARD HERRMANN 'Gilmore Girls' Star DEAD AT 71

Edward Herrmann -- perhaps best known for playing Richard Gilmore on "Gilmore Girls" -- died this morning in a hospital in New York. He was 71.

Herrmann's family tells TMZ he had been battling brain cancer and had been in ICU for the last 3 1/2 weeks. Ultimately, things did not improve and his family decided to take him off the respirator.

Herrmann was married twice and and his second wife Star tells TMZ the actor leaves behind 3 children.

Herrmann was on "Gilmore Girls" for its entire run and recently appeared in several episodes of "The Good Wife." He also famously starred alongside Macaulay Culkin in "Richie Rich."

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Who Owns The Media? The 6 Monolithic Corporations That Control Almost Everything We Watch, Hear And Read

Back in 1983, approximately 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the United States. Today, ownership of the news media has been concentrated in the hands of just six incredibly powerful media corporations. These corporate behemoths control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day. They own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites. Sadly, most Americans don’t even stop to think about who is feeding them the endless hours of news and entertainment that they constantly ingest. Most Americans don’t really seem to care about who owns the media. But they should. The truth is that each of us is deeply influenced by the messages that are constantly being pounded into our heads by the mainstream media. The average American watches 153 hours of television a month. In fact, most Americans begin to feel physically uncomfortable if they go too long without watching or listening to something. Sadly, most Americans have become absolutely addicted to news and entertainment and the ownership of all that news and entertainment that we crave is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands each year.

The six corporations that collectively control U.S. media today are Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal. Together, the “big six” absolutely dominate news and entertainment in the United States. But even those areas of the media that the “big six” do not completely control are becoming increasingly concentrated. For example, Clear Channel now owns over 1000 radio stations across the United States. Companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are increasingly dominating the Internet.

But it is the “big six” that are the biggest concerns. When you control what Americans watch, hear and read you gain a great deal of control over what they think. They don’t call it “programming” for nothing.

Back in 1983 it was bad enough that about 50 corporations dominated U.S. media. But since that time, power over the media has rapidly become concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people….

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CHARLES HURT: In D.C., celebrating Christmas with a shooting spree

It is that special time of year when people all over America sing with cheer, exchange gifts with loved ones and count their many blessings.

But here in the federal city — this little cradle of liberty called Washington, D.C. — we celebrate a little differently. We go on a mad little gun spree shooting one another.

Over the past week, D.C. has seen 15 people shot in at least a dozen different incidents. More than half of them were killed.

All of this is actually really odd, considering that guns are outlawed here. The only way to legally obtain a gun is to take courses that are not offered and submit to background checks that are not made. Then you can purchase a gun from a licensed D.C. gun dealer that does not exist.

Then you have to go down to the police station to be fingerprinted like some kind of criminal. And then pray that in all the bureaucratic genius worthy of a police department that can’t get the right name of a man it fatally shot (really!), the city government doesn’t misfile your prints into the file of some kind of serial child rapist.

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The Most Embarrassing Media Moments from 2014

Paul Harvey " Policeman " One of His Best Narrations

The Viral Claim That A Black Person Is Killed By Police ‘Every 28 Hours’

Search the phrase “every 28 hours” on Google, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and thousands of messages like these will come up. This is the phrase that has gone viral after police-involved killings of black males in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y.: “Every 28 hours, an unarmed black person is killed by police.” It is now being used to describe the deaths of two New York City police officers, to draw comparisons between the deaths of police and deaths of unarmed African Americans killed by police.

PolitiFact rated this claim false in August when a CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill said it on air. Hill corrected his statement after the PolitiFact article.

Yet the claim is still being perpetuated widely. It’s written on signs at protests, shared through #every28hours or written on social media memes. Where did this statement come from, and is it accurate?
The Facts

The figure “every 28 hours” comes from an April 2013 report titled“Operation Ghetto Storm” by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. The report analyzed officer-involved killings of African-American victims in 2012. The report “is a window offering a cold, hard, and fact-based view into the thinking and practice of a government and a society that will spare no cost to control the lives of Black people,” according to the preface.

It’s not hard to debunk the claims using basic findings and methodologies from the report. (Twitter user @FeministaJones did it in a series of tweetsusing Storify.)

The report looked at the deaths of 313 African-American men, women and children in 2012, who were killed by police officers, security guards or “vigilantes.” Vigilantes are defined “self-appointed enforcers of the law” who had immunity under self-defense legal protections such as the stand-your-ground law or the castle doctrine.

If you divide the number of hours in a year (8,760) by 313 deaths, it does come out to one death per 28 hours. But the rest of the claim is problematic.

Among those killed in 2012, 136 people (44 percent) had no weapon on them when they died. That negates the claim that people who were killed “every 28 hours” were unarmed. Since the study looked at police officers, security guards, police officers moonlighting as security guards, and “vigilantes” that do not fit under any of the other categories, the claim that an African American is killed “every 28 hours” by a police officer is also false.

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Women Fend-Off Plainclothes, Off-Duty Cop Attacking Them After Alleged Fender-Bender

The man allegedly never showed a badge and only claimed to be a cop prior to grabbing the woman.

San Jose, CA —
An altercation between a man and two women in a San Jose parking lot sparks some serious questions about an off-duty cop’s behavior.

The video, which was originally uploaded to Liveleak, shows a man in a physical altercation with two women, one of whom allegedly rear-ended his vehicle.

According to the post in LiveLeak, the man filming said he heard a commotion and saw that a man claiming to be an off-duty cop was following a car full of girls and tried to detain one of them.

According to the poster, the off-duty officer never showed his badge. He went on to say that “San Jose police are notorious for this type of behavior.”

The video obviously starts after the original incident occurred so it would be irresponsible to make assumptions on what happened prior to this man trying to detain a woman.

What we do actually see in this video though, is a man, in plainclothes, who is claiming to be a police officer, attacking a woman who is trying to get away. Not until the woman is slammed into a car and running away does the man claim to show a badge.

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Worcester County Sheriff's Office Press Release 12-31-14

Worcester County Sheriff's Office

Stolen from Stockton Area between the dates of 12/22/14 - 12/28/14. Kawasaki KX65 Motocross Bike 2 stroke Green and White with Loud/open exhuast. Sponsorship stickers on the bike to include a "Monster Energy" and "Pro Circuit" stickers. Note it does not have the "619" stickers currently on the bike as included in the picture. If you have any information please contact the Worcester County Sheriff's Office 410-632-1112

Leaked NSA Documents Reveal The Best Way To Stay Anonymous Online

It's not easy to be truly anonymous online. Sure, there are plenty of chat apps and secret-sharing sites that claim to offer you privacy, but it's tricky to know whether US intelligence agencies have a backdoor to access them.

The best way to stay anonymous online has been to use Tor, a special kind of web browser developed to help US government employees hide their tracks online.

But if you want to be properly anonymous, you need a combination of extra services and websites on top of Tor to avoid detection. Plenty of online guides offer advice on the subject, but it's always been hit and miss.

Now, leaked NSA documents provide a big clue on how to remain hidden. They show that the agency has trouble breaking certain methods of encryption.

Der Spiegel published a collection of documents that detail what systems the NSA has troubling decrypting. Previous documents have focused mainly on what the NSA is good at, not what it finds difficult.

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Stage 4 pancreatic cancer now undetectable in Phoenix man

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. --- A Phoenix man with pancreatic cancer, who was told he only had months to live, says he has been given a second chance at life.

Phil Zeblisky, a 57-year-old, says doctors at two cancer centers considered his stage four pancreatic cancer a death sentence.

"When you're given that kind of diagnosis, you need to put meaning into your life," Zeblisky told 3TV.

He enrolled in a clinical trial at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, which is part of the Scottsdale Healthcare Network, thinking he could at least help the doctors there with their research.

After nearly six months of treatments, Zeblisky's cancer is undetectable on scans.

"It's amazing," Zeblisky said.

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Meanwhile, The McDonalds Riots Continue

Obama releases a suicide bomber, a document forger, a bomb maker and now a nuclear terrorist

Which terrorist will Obama set loose next from Gitmo? A better question might be is there any terrorist he won’t free? Is there an Al Qaeda or Taliban Jihadist who poses too much of a threat to the United States for Obama to free with a lot of airline miles and Michelle Obama’s recipe for arugula fruitcake?

If Obama has a red line when it comes to releasing terrorists, we haven’t seen it yet.

There appears to be no threat that a terrorist can pose and no crime he has committed too severe to prevent him from getting a plane trip out of Gitmo at taxpayer expense.

The last releases saw terrorists rated as high risk freed by Obama. They included fighters with experience on the battlefield and covert operations. Obama set loose a suicide bomber, a document forger and a bomb maker who trained other terrorists to make bombs. Those are exactly the sorts of enemies whose license to Jihad will cost lives.

But that’s nothing compared to Obama’s latest gift to the Jihad.

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Obamacare: How Screwed Are You?

ObamaCare was never about healthcare, the poor, insurance, or anything else.

It’s about controlling the populace, paying off cronies, donors, supporters and expanding the size and authority of the central government.

You think they cared that no one could get on the website and actually sign up for ObamaCare before the 2012 election?

Pa-lease..

But since then, millions of Kool-aid drinking Americans figured out what a scam they’d been sold and the 2014 result was a resulting nightmare for Democrats and Barack Obama.

Stay with me:

So far, nearly 12,000,000 words – that’s 12 meeellion (pinky to mouth) words have been written, published and are being implemented into the final ObamaCare regulations.

If that sounds like a lot, consider that the monstrous original Affordable Care Act was a paltry 380,000 words or so before it was bribed, cajoled, conned and finally hoaxed legislatively down our throats.

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George W’s New Gig: Cold Cash for Hot Air

For Kings and Cabbages alike, the high-profile lecture circuit is a good place to rake in some extra post-public-service cash. And why shouldn’t former government leaders earn some private-sector-sized paychecks to round out their years of sacrifice for the common good?

That is surely George W. Bush’s thinking, because since 2009, he has made upwards of $15 million giving speeches, sometimes for as much as $200,000 a pop.

What sort of enterprises find the wit and wisdom of Bush 43 worth a bushel? Read on, dear friends.

Get Motivated! Get Money

W’s very first speaking gig after leaving the White House, in October 2009, was a star-studded affair at the Ft. Worth Convention Center. Colin Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Christian motivational speaker Zig Ziglar addressed the crowd, too. The sponsor was an outfit called Get Motivated! (The exclamation point is part of the brand.)

The fairly Bush-friendly Dallas Morning News described the Get Motivated! seminars as “glossy affairs—sort of Babbitt meets the Super Bowl, part pep rally, part Christian revival meeting for salespeople who want to up their game. Bush apparently feels comfortable headlining a day-long bacchanalia of patriotism, inspiration, success stories and sales tips.”

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LG, Samsung Want Curved, Ultra-Wide Monitors To Be The It Thing For 2015

Shoppers who got a shiny new ultra-HD 4K TV this year may feel like they’re on top of the tech trends, but that’s so 2014. There is, of course, something new on the horizon. 2015 looks primed to be the year of curves: not just for your home-theater TV, but for your PC. 

Meet the anti-Dr. Oz: Ben Goldacre

If you haven't been reading Dr. Ben Goldacre, you should. He is arguably one of the most interesting and important science writers working today. At a time when health journalism is clogged up with self-serving peddlers of bogus diets and magic miracle cures, Goldacre, a physician and former Guardian columnist, has made it his mission to "skewer the enemies of reason" and bring research and evidence to bear on the big — and small — health questions of our time.

Over the years, Goldacre has taken on everyone from sloppy journalists to pharmaceutical executives, vitamin proprietors, and disingenuous academics. He has illuminated the evidence, and lack thereof, behind detox footbaths, homeopathy, and ear candling. And, with every debunking, he has left behind lessons in the scientific method, epidemiology, and evidence-based medicine. His writing has changed policy and informed the public at a time when few in the media stand up for science in health.

Now, you can catch up on his fun fights with bad science in his new collected works, I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that. He calls the tome a "statistics toilet book," which is basically true. Here, we talked to Goldacre about the changing discourse on science in the public, where the biggest abuses of science are happening today, and what he hopes to see change in the future.

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SFD Calls For Service 12-30-14

  • Tuesday December, 30 2014 @ 21:57Nature: Medical EmergencyCity:Salisbury
  • Tuesday December, 30 2014 @ 21:23Nature: Medical EmergencyCity:Salisbury
  • Tuesday December, 30 2014 @ 21:21 Nature: Structure FireAddress: 807 Mohawk Ave Salisbury, MD 21801
  • Tuesday December, 30 2014 @ 21:21 Nature: Structure FireAddress: 807 Mohawk Ave Salisbury, MD 21801
  • Tuesday December, 30 2014 @ 20:49Nature: Medical EmergencyCity:Salisbury

Videos from PMT meetings

Farmer Lee Richardson


Ray Ellis

The Year That Shouldn’t Have Been: The 50 Most Embarrassing Stories From 2014

In the days leading up to a new year, most people take time out to reflect on the good and the bad of the previous 12 months. While there were some really great things – and not so great thing (Comcast/Time Warner Cable Merger, anyone?) that happened in 2014, there was also a seemingly endless supply of stories that left us wondering just who has control of companies’ social media platforms and why CEO’s just can’t keep their mouths shut. So without further adieu, here is Consumerist’s list of stories that make us go “What, The What?” 

Smartest prank ever

My favorite flight attendant

Looking Back: The Good, The Bad And The Progressive

When the media looks back on 2014 it will be portrayed as an awful year, mostly because progressivism took major hits throughout the year. But for everyone else, 2014 wasn’t all that bad. Sure, it had its low points, but even “Breaking Bad” and “The Wire” had a few less than stellar episodes in an otherwise outstanding run. Perfection is for God and the less than two-dozen pitchers who retired the 27 men they faced in order.

So lets look back at just a few events from the year that soon will be “was,” shall we?

First: The Midterm Elections.

The Good

The 2014 midterms could not have gone any better, if you’re even remotely interested in liberty. Republicans swept to victory across the country and in the US Senate. More people now live in places with Republican representation than any time in modern history. And those victories were not squeakers, they were resounding. Having seen what President Barack Obama and his progressive allies have done, and want to do, to this country, voters unambiguously gave them the collective middle finger.

The Bad

There was a lot of infighting on the right between “Tea Party” types and “the establishment.” These labels mean very little in the grand scheme of current event, with Obama in the White House nothing is going to dramatically change. The best we can hope for, and hope I do, is for things to stop getting worse. But too many people on the right seem to think the GOP can now make significant changes to failed laws like Obamacare simply by controlling Congress, and they get angry at the people who point out that Barack Obama is still President. He’s never going to face voters again, and he doesn’t give a damn if he leaves the nation in ruins, as long as those ruins are progressive and difficult to undo. Meanwhile, conservatives and Republicans will fight over tactics and call each other names. Someone needs to develop and articulate an alternate vision for the country, but it will be drowned out by a hundred voices accusing another hundred of “selling-out.”

The Progressive

The day after a resounding rebuke of everything he stands for, President Obama made it clear that he doesn’t care. Nothing has the potential to do more damage to this country than a progressive President with nothing to lose. While he’s been the greatest gift Republicans could ever hope for from an electoral standpoint, he still has his magic pen and phone and has shaken off his limited regard for the constitutional limits placed on his office. If the next President is a Republican, they will have to spend an inordinate amount of time undoing the damage Barack Obama did in his 8 years. And those last 2 are going to be something to behold.

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The 2.6 Billion Dollar Welfare Payment That The U.S. Government Gives To Wal-Mart

Should the federal government be spending billions of dollars to pump up Wal-Mart’s profits?

Should the federal government be spending billions of dollars to pump up Wal-Mart’s profits? I know that question sounds really bizarre, but unfortunately this is essentially what is happening. Because Wal-Mart does not pay them enough money, hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees enroll in Medicaid, food stamps and other social welfare programs. Even though Wal-Mart makes enormous profits, they refuse to properly take care of their employees so the federal government has to do it. And of course this is not just a Wal-Mart problem. There are hundreds of other major corporations doing exactly the same thing. And they will keep on doing it as long as they can because relying on the federal government to take care of their employees allows them to make much larger profits. This gives these companies an enormous competitive advantage and it distorts the marketplace. If you love the free enterprise system, you should be aghast at this. Our big corporations have become the biggest “welfare queens” of all, and Wal-Mart is near the top of that list.

Does your local Wal-Mart store seem like it needs help from the federal government?

Of course not.

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Year-End Awards: The Dopiest News Media Quotes of 2014

Today’s installment of the Media Research Center’s “Best Notable Quotables of 2014,” as selected by our 40 expert judges, the “The Audacity of Dopes Award for the Wackiest Analysis of the Year.”

Winning this award: longtime Newsweek correspondent Eleanor Clift, who now writes for The Daily Beast. Appearing on the May 11 edition of The McLaughlin Group, Clift strangely insisted that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was “not murdered” by terrorists, but merely “died of smoke inhalation.”

“Every media organization has investigated this [Benghazi] to death. This animates the right wing of the Republican Party. And I would like to point out that Ambassador Stevens was not murdered. He died of smoke inhalation in the safe room in that CIA installation.”
Second place in this category went to Washington Post business reporter Zachary Goldfarb, who penned a February 21 front-page article insisting that Obama was about to end “austerity that has dogged much of his presidency” — as if the President was some kind of tight-fisted penny pincher, when Obama had actually overseen a skyrocketing of the national debt from about $10.6 trillion when he took office to $17.4 trillion at the time Goldfarb’s article appeared:

“With the 2015 budget request, [President] Obama will call for an end to the era of austerity that has dogged much of his presidency and to his efforts to find common ground with Republicans.”

Since Goldfarb’s article appeared in February, the national debt has risen an additional $600 billion to more than $18 trillion — so much for austerity.

Next up, a segment from NBC’s opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympic in which both the script, read by actor Peter Dinklage, and the visuals seemed to celebrate Russia’s Communist era as one of “modern history’s pivotal experiments.”

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Obama Accuses Republicans of Favoring Americans Over Immigrants

Seriously Mr. Obama?

And how is this a bad thing? Remember who won big in 2014?

Oh, yes indeed, the foreigners and immigrants are far more concerned about America than Americans[sic]...Next, Obama will be accusing individuals of having more self-interest in themselves, than other people....

Does this guy actually believe, at this point, anything that comes out of his own mouth?
Next Obama will be accusing GOP members of being more concerned over their families than strangers....

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2014: The Year The Liberal Lies Died

Every single thing liberals say is a lie. No exceptions.

We conservatives always knew it, but 2014 was the year when the rest of America began to understand. And 2014 was the year that Americans had to choose sides – would they stand with the liberal liars or with us conservatives? Last November, they chose us conservatives, and maybe the truth will be enough to stop Hillary Clinton and save our country in 2016.

The truth is poison to liberalism, so no wonder liberals hate the idea of a free press – after all, they are the ones who argued to the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case that the government has the right to ban books. Conservative magazines like National Review long fought the fight alone. But it is only recently that we saw the rise of a truly free press as technology put a camera in everyone’s cellphone and conservative new media (including social media) created a path around the gates that the liberal mainstream media kept.

The mainstream media used to get to decide what was and was not the truth. But the truth has been set free, and the mainstream media has been revealed as the guardian of the lies that the liberal establishment needs to fool normal Americans just enough to secure their votes. That’s why we should laugh and cheer at the mainstream media’s agonized death throes.

Let’s look at a few of the lies we saw collapse in 2014. Not one would have been revealed if the mainstream media was still in control.

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