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The 6 Most Insane Things Happening Right Now (11/14/17)

Look, we get it. There’s way too much important news to keep track of, but if you look away, you might miss something. So we’re here to save your sanity by combing through the current headlines and quickly summing up the most ridiculous and/or important stories. Please note that we’re not responsible for any insanity caused by the stories themselves.

6

Source: CNN

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Source: Fox 31 Denver

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/

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The NFL can’t ignore its players’ activism any more

Image: Getty Images

With the NFL a day away from the kickoff of its 2017 season, a definite question has emerged: Is this the year that the NFL finally embraces athletic activism the way the NBA does?

The examples are adding up on a nearly daily basis. A week of preseason football couldn’t go by without players making statements. Members of the Cleveland Browns knelt during the anthem. Michael Bennett sat out the anthem while his white teammate, Justin Britt, placed his hand on Bennett’s shoulder in a show of solidarity. Bennett’s brother, Martellus, made a political cartoon mocking the “stick to sports” mantra and posted it on Instagram. Following the neo-Nazi riots in Charlottesville, Malcolm Jenkins stood for the national anthem with one fist raised, while his white teammate Chris Long put his arm around his shoulder, in a plea for racial unity. In a similar gesture, Derek Carr placed his hand on Khalil Mack’s back during the national anthem.

These can be considered small gestures, but in the NFL, they speak loudly. 

Just ask Colin Kaepernick. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback kneeled during the national anthem before games last year as an act of protest against institutional racism in the United States in regards to police brutality and mass incarceration. Kaepernick’s actions become a national flashpoint, as athletes in multiple sports, former and current presidents, actors and artists alike chimed in. 

Not everyone was on board. Some fans even started a campaign to boycott the NFL. After opting out of his contract with the 49ers this offseason, Kaepernick has not been able to find work in the NFL. He has been passed over in favor of a retiree, fringe college prospects, even a real estate agent. The situation has led to rumors that Kaepernick is being blackballed in a concerted effort to keep him off the field. At the least, there are allegations that certain owners and general managers would like to make an example out of him.

Kaepernick’s struggle speaks to just how little the NFL has tolerated activism. But if his tribulations have been an effort to keep Kaepernick’s message from spreading within the NFL, they should be considered a failure. Despite the precarious situation Kaepernick finds himself in, activism is now far from the exception.

And with Week 1 of the NFL season about to start, the expectation for more is palpable. For every fan that turns the TV off at the sight of an athlete kneeling before the flag, there is a concerned citizen marching to the NFL’s headquarters in New York and demanding an explanation. Another one buys a Kaepernick jersey, which remain popular even though he’s not in the league. The NFL, it appears, does not wish to cater to this particular demographic but they, like the athletes the NFL employs, have made this much clear: The more the NFL tries to pretend the people who support Kaepernick are irrelevant or simply don’t exist, the louder they’ll get—all the while assuaging concerns that Kaepernick would be a financial liability for ticket sales. 

For two years in a row, despite the league’s best efforts, social activism and racism are going to be the off-field story of the NFL season. And it’s starting to follow what’s happened in the NBA.

In profession basketball, activism isn’t the exception among its starts—it’s now the expectation. Examples are almost too numerous list, but here’s a sampling: Last year, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul donned all black on at the ESPYs aware show to discuss gun violence and racial profiling, and implored other athletes to get educated and involved. Anthony even marched with protesters in Baltimore, where he grew up, following the death of 25-year-old black man Freddie Gray, in the back of a police van. Just this offseason, Kevin Durant said he would not go to the White House if the Golden State Warriors were invited, a long-standing tradition for NBA champions. He also voiced disrespect for the current administration. 

Durant could speak out against Trump and trust that he could have the support of the majority of his fans, the NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, and his locker room, headed by coach Steve Kerr, who publicly made his opinions on this administration clear. There is a great deal of organizational unity and progressive political thinking in the NBA, which makes it easier for players to speak up. They’re also more financially secure, with guaranteed contracts and higher salaries. And the NBA’s fanbase skews younger, more diverse, and more progressive. Social activism, for NBA players, might even be more profitable than silence. 

All which is to say that NFL players will likely always face impediments that NBA players won’t, but that hasn’t stopped them from exerting their power like never before. 

2016 was the year that everything converged. Social media collided with the specter of the presidency of Donald Trump, and all the while videos of violent, racist police brutality sprung up alongside protests, alongside an ugly, once-quieter call for white supremacy. There wasn’t a single social media platform in which racists didn’t congregate publicly, espousing retrograde views on their perception of inherent superiority. As a result, race and politics have leaked into every aspect of our culture. Today, to be a modern content consumer is to have an acute understanding of the phrase, “everything is political.” 

For a professional black athlete, with a platform that—at the click of a button—can morph into a formidable pulpit, heeding the old mantra “stick to sports” has become an impossible proposition. This NFL season will be a battle for the life and death of that mantra, for the insistence that black athletes should no longer have to serve as an on-field distraction from the very issues that are vital to their survival off the field—a battle over personal dignity and self-expression, for the right of an athlete to never have to choose between his life and his livelihood, like Kaepernick did, ever again.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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Sessions promises of pot crackdown up in smoke

It was supposed to be one of Attorney General Jeff Sessions most prolific wins. For years, the former Alabama senator had railed against the marijuana industry.

Hes called it a gateway drug, compared it to heroin and claimed its use led to spikes in violence.

When he was tapped to lead the Department of Justice, he vowed to use the full weight of the federal government to go after the industry.

In February, he commissioned the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety a group of prosecutors and federal law enforcement officials to find ways to go after users and punish distributors. But the task force came up empty issuing no new policy recommendations to advance Sessions crackdown.

Seven states and the District of Columbia have already passed major cannabis reform on recreational use. In total, 29 states, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico have legalized medical marijuana.

Despite the primarily bipartisan look the other way consensus of his task force, Sessions efforts to crack down on cannabis could still be in the works.

I will continue to review all of the Task Forces recommendations, and look forward to taking additional steps toward ensuring safer communities for all Americans, Sessions said in a statement.

Part of his strategy could include reinterpreting the so-called Cole memo.

In 2013, then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a memo, addressed to all U.S. attorneys which basically told them to take a hands-off approach to legalization.

The memo said in part, In jurisdictions that have enacted laws legalizing marijuana in some form conduct in compliance with those laws and regulations is less likely to threaten the federal priorities.

The memo was issued despite the fact that marijuana was and still is classified as a Schedule 1 illegal substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Heroin, LSD, and ecstasy also fall into that category.

Instead of taking the Obama administrations laissez-faire interpretation, Sessions has emphasized that the DOJ must remain committed to the federal ban on cannabis and targeted states in particular.

In April, the Governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington sent a letter to Sessions expressing their concern for his reconsideration of the Cole Memo and said that changing the regulated market could drive the marijuana industry back into the hands of the black market.

Sessions responded in a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and the states attorney general, Robert Ferguson, that said the distribution of the dangerous drug should remain a criminal offense, due to potential threats on health and safety.

The Department remains committed to enforcing the Controlled Substances Act in a manner that efficiently applies our resources to address the most significant threats to public health and safety, Sessions wrote in the letter.

Sessions also attached state-specific federal reports where he raised concerns about the efficacy of the regulatory structures in their prospective states.

Sessions directly cited a 2016 report by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), entitled “Washington State Marijuana Impact Report, listing some ramifications of the incompletely regulated market, targeting driving capabilities in particular.

A week later, Inslee said in a statement that he was willing to pursue efforts to ensure a stable market, but was proud of his states progress in the industry.

Unfortunately [Sessions] is referring to incomplete and unreliable data that does not provide the most accurate snapshot of our efforts since the marketplace opened in 2014, Inslee said in the statement.

Pushing back against Sessions war on cannabis are several advocacy groups that tout the merits of marijuana.

CEO of Medical Marijuana Inc.’s PR firm CMW Media Andrew Hard says Sessions push for the reversal of marijuana legalization is an outdated personal vendetta that doesnt adhere with the mutual benefits reaped by states and consumers.

It doesnt seem like he cares about economic statistics out of Colorado and Washington that the industries are doing very well and making the states a lot of money, Hard told Fox News.

This also affects peoples lives and livelihood. The largest drug addiction epidemic is the opioid pain killer epidemic, and the statistics indicate that the rates of opioid addiction are down in legal [marijuana] states.

Although Sessions aims are set toward fighting the war on drugs and the opioid epidemic, his efforts may be antithetical for the movement. Kannalife Sciences CEO Dean Petkanas thinks that decriminalizing marijuana will promote a smooth and organized marketplace for the industry, and allow enforcement to focus on halting substance abuse.

Maybe Sessions should spend more time cracking down on pill mills and the elicit use of opioids rather than outlawing cannabis, Petkanas told Fox News.

Several studies have found health perks from marijuana, even in recreational use.

The Departmernt of Justice did not respond to requests from Fox News for comment.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

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Smoked pot and want to enlist? Army issuing more waivers

Smoked pot? Want to go to war?

No problem.

As more states lessen or eliminate marijuana penalties, the Army is granting hundreds of waivers to enlist people who used the drug in their youth — as long as they realize they can’t do so again in the military.

The number of waivers granted by the active-duty Army for marijuana use jumped to more than 500 this year from 191 in 2016. Three years ago, no such waivers were granted. The big increase is just one way officials are dealing with orders to expand the Army’s size.

“Provided they understand that they cannot do that when they serve in the military, I will waive that all day long,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Snow, head of the Army’s recruiting command.

The marijuana use exclusions represent about one-quarter of the total misconduct waivers the Army granted in the budget year that ended Sept. 30. They accounted for much of the 50 percent increase overall in recruits who needed a waiver for some type of misconduct.

Snow said the figures probably will rise further as more states legalize or decriminalize marijuana.

Eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington — and the District of Columbia have fully legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults’ recreational use. An additional 13 states have decriminalized it, meaning possession of small amounts is considered the equivalent of a traffic citation or a low-end misdemeanor with no chance of jail. Twenty-nine states, along with Puerto Rico, Guam and Washington, D.C., allow the use of medical marijuana.

Army leaders have faced increased scrutiny in recent weeks amid worries in Congress and elsewhere about a decline in quality among new enlistees.

Army data show more than 8,000 recruits received waivers in 2017, compared with about 6,700 last year. Most waivers concerned physical or mental health.

Almost 2 percent of the recruits were considered “category four,” meaning they scored 31 or less, out of 99, on the aptitude test. Just over a half-percent were in that category in 2016.

In total, the Army enlisted almost 69,000 recruits this year, close to 6,000 more than last year.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Snow said he went to his Army leadership early this year to ask if he could bring in more of the category four recruits to meet higher enlistment goals. He said he promised that the Army would stay well below a 4 percent limit on the group allowed by the Pentagon.

Recruits who score lower than 31 on the test must meet specific criteria for the job they are requesting. There is no leeway on previous pot smoking for them. They also can’t require a health or conduct waiver.

The Army’s top officer, Gen. Mark Milley, told reporters during a recent briefing that the service is not reducing standards.

The increases in the category four enlistees, however, are fueling concerns the Army could repeat mistakes made during the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars more than a decade ago, when it hurriedly added soldiers to the ranks to meet deployment needs. At the time, the Army brought more recruits in with criminal records and misconduct waivers. As the years passed, discipline problems and other behavioral issues increased as well.

Milley and Snow insist that won’t happen again.

“Quality matters more than quantity. If you make the numbers, great, awesome. But do not break the standards,” Milley said. “Standards have to be upheld, period. So if we come in at less than the ideal number, but we’ve maintained the standards, that’s success.”

The Army’s argument, however, can be a bit misleading. The military services routinely enlist fewer recruits with waivers or lower scores than allowed under Defense Department guidelines. So while the Army increased the number of former drug users or recruits with lower scores than in previous years, the service still stayed below the maximum levels authorized by the Pentagon. And those recruits must get through boot camp, thus meeting minimum standards for joining the military.

Officials can thus argue they haven’t lowered the standards even if they have arguably enlisted more candidates of lower quality.

Snow acknowledged the challenge in meeting the growing enlistment goals. In the current fiscal year, the Army must recruit 80,000 new men and women.

“This mission is going to be a significant challenge for the command,” said Snow, who wants fewer than 2 percent of the new recruits to be category four. “The possibility does exist that the numbers of marijuana waivers and category fours could increase. I hope not, but it’s too early to tell right now.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

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‘UFO’ spotted over California’s San Gabriel Valley?

A YouTube video on the mysterious object has gone viral, but there may be a terrestrial explanation for the ‘UFO’.

The video, posted by Julian Lopez, appears to show a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter circling around an unidentified flying object, which some observers say may be an advertisement for marijuana products. 

Fox 11 reports that the object was seen floating over the San Gabriel Valley on the morning of Aug. 28.

On the video, Lopez can be heard saying: “A helicopter is circling it. It looks like a big eyeball.”

MINING COMPLEX ON THE MOON? UFO HUNTER CLAIMS STRUCTURES VISIBLE ON LUNAR SURFACE

Other witnesses (as reported by the Pasadena Star News) reported seeing a large, white advertising ballon for a company known as “Brass Knuckles.” Brass Knuckles is described as “the industry leader in Super Premium CO2 extracted cannabis oil products,” according to a medical marijuana website.

Lopez’ video has attracted significant interest on social media, gathering nearly 300,000 views.

One commenter wrote: “[A]t that altitude a balloon would be long gone – this is a powered craft it is the only way it could hold a stationary position.”

Another commenter, user name al gonzalez, wrote: “This is great capture.” 

REPORTS CLAIM UFO WHIZZES PAST INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

SecureTeam10, a YouTube channel known for its conspiracy theory videos, has mentioned the unidentified object in one of its recent videos.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

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Holy smoke! The church of cannabis

As congregations dwindle, a new religion is lighting up Denver, Colorado. Aaron Millar joins the elevationists of the International Church of Cannabis who worship the weed

It started, naturally, with a group of friends smoking a joint. Steve Berke, a graduate of Yale University, was temporarily living in an old church in Denver, Colorado. His estate agent parents had bought the 113-year-old building with the plan to turn it into flats. He and Lee Molloy, as well as a few friends, had just moved from Miami to capitalise on Colorados lucrative marijuana market. But then, in the words of Lee: We started having these stupid, fantastical conversations. What if we kept it as a church? So Steve convinced his parents to give him the building and, nine months later, on 20 April 2016 4/20, as its known in the United States, the unofficial potheads holiday (because its 4.20pm somewhere, right?) the International Church of Cannabis opened its doors with its own chapel, theology and video game arcade.

From the outside all appears normal: red-brick towers, blocky turrets, a classic city church in an otherwise leafy suburb of Denver. But there are giveaways. The three front doors and arched window facade have been spray-painted with silver galaxies and bright, happy-face planets. The work of legendary painter and graphic artist Kenny Scharf, who has exhibited in the Whitney and New Yorks Museum of Modern Art, it looks more like the backdrop for an illegal 90s rave than your typical parish church. But its indicative of the coup that Elevation Ministries, the non-profit company that Steve and Lee co-founded to set up the Church of Cannabis, has managed to pull off.

That mural would probably buy you next doors house, Lee says, letting me in. But they got it for the price of an air ticket for Scharf, a few days skiing and the loan of a jacket. People love fantastical ideas.

Perfect
Perfect peace: guests of the church relaxing in the hangout room. Photograph: Ryan David Brown for the Observer

The original plan was to open it to the general public, but because Colorados current pot law only allows smoking in private clubs, it is, for now at least, a members-only affair. To date they have more than 1,400 on their list. They open the doors from Thursday to Sunday for smoke-free public viewing, with private cannabis services held on Friday nights. It seems to be growing.

Thats not surprising. Medical marijuana was legalised in Colorado in 2000 the first state to write it into its constitution. By 2009 dispensaries began popping up around the state and legalisation of recreational use soon followed in 2012. It has, for the most part, been wholeheartedly embraced. In 2016 Colorado sold more than a $1bn of weed, created thousands of new jobs and collected almost $200m in additional tax revenue. A church dedicated to cannabis may seem strange to us, but in Colorado it might just be the next logical step.

But there have been detractors. Currently, three of the founding members, including Lee, are under citation for two charges dating back to their opening 4/20 event: the first for breaking the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which bans smoking in public places, and the second for breaking a state law that forbids marijuana consumption outside private homes and clubs. They refute the claims, and officials admit that they appear to have been adhering to the law since then, but a court date is pending.

Dan Pabon, from the states House of Representatives, goes further: in a recent interview with the New York Times he said that the new church offends both religious beliefs everywhere, as well as the voters intent on allowing legalisation of marijuana in Colorado. He introduced an amendment that would ban pot use in churches, but to date it has failed to gather support. Overall, though, official opposition seems to be dwindling. Daniel Rowland, spokesman for the Denver city office, says: As long as they operate within the law and dont offend their neighbours, theyre free to do what they want.

Lighting
Lighting up: Lee Molloy, co-founding member, smokes a joint on the main stage. Photograph: Ryan David Brown for the Observer

But what of those neighbours? Peter G Chronis, writing in local paper the Denver Post, said he felt blindsided angry that the project was done in secret and that the neighbourhood didnt have a chance to voice concerns prior to its completion. Parking and noise, rather than the consumption of marijuana inside, still seem to be the major worries, as well as the possibility that attendees will drive home stoned. But Lee is hoping to turn them round: arranging volunteer days through their church, to help make a positive impact in the community. Last Saturday they were out collecting rubbish from local streets. For now, at least, there seems to be a tentative truce.

But putting all beliefs and disputes aside, what everyone can surely agree is that they have transformed a near-derelict building into a staggering work of art. Every single surface has been painted in vibrant patterns of red, blue and green, geometric prisms with mythological creatures, stars and eyes hidden within. At the back wall, two dream-like Dali-esque giants sit cross-legged as if lost in meditation. It feels like a hallucination, someone says beside me, eyes careening upwards. Its like being swallowed by a Pink Floyd album cover. Perhaps most impressive of all is that it was created spontaneously without a sketch or a plan. This was another freebie: they flew Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel over and bought him a bunch of paints, then he started work in one corner and painted whatever he dreamed up until he finished. It took him just six days he rested on the seventh.

As the service begins we are encouraged to get to know each other: people spark up joints and pass them around. Long wisps of smoke float to the ceiling and cover the congregation in a flowery shroud; splutterings of coughs and giggles, the sharp intake of breath on all sides. There are about 30 of us in all, a mixed bag of misfits ranging from a self-proclaimed pothead granny, whose eyes appear to move independently of each other, to a couple of Harold & Kumar wannabies taking selfies at the altar. And then theres Lee: a former Bible quiz champion, raised in a strict evangelical Christian home, he has the credentials of a preacher if not the look: bushy hipster beard and long messy hair, dark bags under his eyes and the whiff of old smoke on his shirt. It feels more like the start of an AA meeting than a spiritual encounter. But then he starts to speak.

Time
Time out: arcade games in the downstairs lounge, where members can also play ping pong. Photograph: Ryan David Brown for the Observer

Being an elevationist [the term theyve coined for the theology of the new church] means being an explorer, Lee begins. Our spiritual journey is one of self-discovery, not one of dogma. We believe there is no one-path solution to lifes big questions. This is simply a supportive place for each one of us to find a pathway to our own spirituality, whatever that may be. Think of it like the pick n mix of belief. There is no doctrine, no creed, no scripture or book. Simply choose bits of whatever world religions work for you, or make something up yourself, mix it all together, and see if it tastes good. There are as many pathways to being an elevationist as there are elevationists, Lee says. Spirituality shouldnt be a prescription; it should be an adventure. Its about seeking, not being told what to find.

Its an idea that will strike a chord with many people. Church attendance in the UK is on the decline. Last year only 1.4% of the population attended Sunday Anglican services the lowest level ever recorded. There is a significant demographic of people who simply cant relate to organised religion or outright oppose it on principle. Being able to explore your own path, within a supportive space, could help fill that widening spiritual deficit.

But heres where they may lose you. That journey of self-discovery, says Lee, is enhanced by ritual cannabis use. We have been programmed to behave and think in certain ways, he says. Cannabis helps elevationists tear down those false realities.

Its easy to baulk. Does watching Star Trek and eating peanut M&Ms count as a spiritual path? But, in fact, cannabis use has long been part of religion, from ancient Chinese shamans to modern-day Rastafarians: inducing altered states of consciousness has been a cornerstone of belief since time immemorial. And even without drugs, whether its spinning Sufi dancers or drumming voodoo priests, or even just simple prayer or meditation, taking the mind to a higher plane has always been a road to the divine, whatever you may conceive that to be.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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Ecstasy Will Be Used To Treat PTSD In “Breakthrough Therapy” Clinical Trials

Ecstasy – or MDMA, if you prefer its chemical name – is known to have a variety of effects on those that decide to partake in it. In the short term, it gives you an energy “buzz”, an alertness and sense of euphoria that enhances your perception of aural and visual stimuli. Temporarily strong feelings of love and affection for anyone nearby are also common, along with a come down that features paranoia, confusion, and even psychosis.

As with all drugs, it’s a complex mixture – but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long been intrigued by the positive effects more than the negative ones. That’s why they’re now going to try to use it in a regulated way to treat victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Just last week, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) announced that the FDA has designated this treatment as a “Breakthrough Therapy.”

This means that “preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies,” as per the FDA. Essentially, the evidence of multiple peer-reviewed clinical trials supports the use of this drug in treating PTSD.

Practically, this means that the development of a version of MDMA designed for widespread commercial use for those afflicted by the life-threatening psychological condition has now been expedited. Funding will increase, and trials will up the ante to Phase 3 experiments – those that are cutting-edge, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled research projects involving multiple teams.

In sum, the US government is taking ecstasy very seriously as a medical option.

It may be illegal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an entirely bad thing, of course. serpeblu/Shutterstock

According to MAPS, the trials will combine psychotherapeutic techniques – such as counseling – with three separate doses of MDMA. Only time will tell how successful they will be, but it’s an exciting step forwards that suggests that when it comes to treating unhealthy people, pretty much nothing should be off the table.

The FDA, as long as the evidence is there to support it, is almost always happy to try new and arguably “controversial” techniques when it comes to treating diseases or conditions.

Just recently, the first use of a gene-editing technique designed to tackle an aggressive form of cancer was approved by the agency. Medical marijuana has been considered as a potential source of pain relief, as well as a psychological curative, for some time now – and in some states, as you probably know, it’s legally defined as a medical treatment.

So the appearance of MDMA shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yes, it’s a mind altering drug, and when consumed it carries with it certain risks. If it’s used to alter the minds of those suffering from a terrible psychological impairment, however, it actually has the potential to save lives rather than ruin them.

[H/T: Forbes]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com

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‘How am I abusing my child?’: woman panhandling with infant rejects criticism

Megan Doudney, homeless with a six-week-old child, has seen support from some corners while others have confronted her in person and on social media

Anything helps, reads the sign that Megan Doudney lays out in front of her baby buggy as she nestles her six-week-old infant in her arms while panhandling on San Franciscos Market Street.

But the 34-year-old homeless mother has received a lot more than the financial help she was hoping for.

While Doudney has received an outpouring of support from some, others have unleashed a maelstrom of criticism on social media against her and panhandling with children that have turned into face-to-face confrontations on the street and 911 calls reporting her.

outside in america

Its just harassment, said the mother, who is currently staying with her baby and two dogs at a city-funded, temporary family shelter run by Hamilton Families. Doudney, who has a severe back condition and receives social security payments, said she used the money she collected panhandling to cover extra expenses and to save money for a future deposit on an apartment.

A lot of people assume I cant take care of the baby, she said, as she held her daughter, Nedahilla, in a blue fleecy blanket and fed her out of a pink butterfly bottle. These people want to take her from me. In what way, shape or form am I abusing my child?

The case comes at a time when panhandling is under renewed debate around the country. This month, New Yorks mayor, Bill de Blasio, claimed that panhandling was something people did because they think its fun and said he would ban it if he could. Sacramento is considering making it a crime to panhandle at intersections, ATMs and gas stations. Meanwhile, an economist at Columbia University has written that it would make more sense to accredit panhandlers than ban them and a not-for-profit organization in Seattle has launched a new app that does just that.

On Monday, Deidre Laiken, a 70-year-old former teacher from North Beach, conducted a one-woman protest, holding a picket sign next to Doudney which read: Women against child abuse.

Most people think about this poor woman, but they dont think about the child, said Laiken, who learned about the case from social media. One of the definitions of child abuse is using a child for exploitation or financial gain. This woman is making a lot of money.

The real issues were desperation and poverty, said Nick Kimura of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness. Its a much bigger issue than her sitting on the sidewalk, said Kimura, a longtime volunteer for the organization. The reason shes doing this is because shes poor. Its not something people are choosing to do. The question is: how is this intervention helping?

Originally from Nebraska, Doudney moved to San Francisco about five years ago, after losing the home where she was living in Minnesota. I had some choices. I could be homeless in Minnesota, where I would freeze to death, or I could be homeless in California.

Doudney, who walks with a severely hunched back, has suffered severe pain since she was a child. She said she had been taking opioid medications for years, but was able to quit once she arrived in California, where medical marijuana is legal.

Doudney first gained attention on social media, when a woman who frequently passed her on the street posted photographs of the baby on the local social media app Nextdoor.

In early July, several Nextdoor users went to see the baby and mother, who was panhandling on Market Street. One of them noticed the baby looked sick and called 911. A few minutes later, two or three police cars, an ambulance and a fire truck showed up, according to Doudney. The paramedics assessed the baby on the spot and determined it had low blood sugar, she said. The medics transported the baby and the mother to the hospital, where the baby was treated and released.

They called 911 because they said the baby was discolored, said Doudney. They said she looked like she was unconscious. Of course she looks like shes unconscious shes a sleeping baby! It was just crazy.

One user of social media posted photos showing the baby stroller sitting unattended on Market Street, except for a homeless person in a wheelchair nearby. The woman posted remarks saying she had documented the baby being left alone in its stroller for up to 40 minutes.

I called CPS and said this cant be legal, said Erica Sandberg, another Nextdoor user, who also posted about the baby on Facebook and was there the day the ambulance took the baby and mom to the hospital.

Doudney said: The allegations that I leave her alone are absolutely untrue. I can take her everywhere except into the cannabis club.

Doudney said she has had her friend in a wheelchair stay with the baby outside the club while she goes inside.

Homeless service providers argue that in San Francisco, where there is virtually no affordable housing available, the problem that needs to be addressed is getting homeless families into safe, stable situations.

Rachel Kenemore of Hamilton Families said the number of homeless families in the city has jumped from around 600 in 2007 to more than 1100 today. There are so many families needing housing that there is a wait of six to nine months to get into shelter programs.

She said it doesnt help to demonize families in need: Lets be part of the solution on this. What can we do to be supportive to members of our community who need help?

Many passersby greet Doudney enthusiastically as she panhandles, some handing her dollar bills. One man comes by to offer some money and then returns with some doughnuts; another stops to offer a sports jersey he cannot use. But others are more critical.

Why is your baby out here? one woman calls out as she quickly walks by.

Doudney shakes her head and says she has no intention of being scared away by these critics. I do what I need to for my child.

Do you have an experience of homelessness to share with the Guardian? Get in touch

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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White House softens stance on Moore, cites tax vote

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On the roster: White House softens stance on Moore, cites tax vote – New questions on savings, uninsured rate from killing mandate – Romney Senate hopes rise as potential rival drops out – Another Dem joins Bill Clinton condemnation – Kumpel, wo ist mein Auto?

WHITE HOUSE SOFTENS STANCE ON MOORE, CITES TAX VOTE

Would either of the tax proposals in Congress be worth you voting for an alleged child predator for Senate?

That was part of the argument on offer from the White House this morning, and it ought to be something of a wakeup call for Republicans on the matters of both the Alabama Senate election and their tax proposal.

Senior White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway was lighting into Alabama Democratic Senate nominee Doug Jones today on “Fox & Friends” as a “doctrinaire liberal” who is weak on crime and illegal immigration. 

Co-host Brian Kilmeade jumped in: “So what, vote for Roy Moore?”

“I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” Conway said. “And if the media were really concerned about all these allegations and that’s what this was truly about … Al Franken would be on the ash heap of bygone, half-funny comedians.”      

Let’s put this in some context. Last week, Conway had essentially mirrored the official White House line that if true, the allegations that Moore had abused his position as a prosecutor to pursue and intimidate teenage girls, some as young as 14, would be disqualifying. 

As Conway very succinctly and effectively put it: “No Senate seat is worth more than a child.”  

By late last week, though, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration had turned agnostic on Moore: “The president believes that these allegations are troubling and should be taken seriously, and he thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be.”

The new ground Conway staked out today, though, was that since Franken had not yet been expelled from the Senate, the White House was free to go in four days from an askance but neutral to a position supportive of Moore – regardless of the veracity of the claims of serial, predatory misconduct by the GOP nominee. 

The case against Moore is stronger and the allegations are more serious than those facing Franken so far. But with a new accuser stepping forward, this time with a contemporaneously documented accusation made during Franken’s Senate tenure, the Minnesotan’s “please investigate me” posture may be rapidly deteriorating.

But even if Franken does survive his rapid descent from 66-year-old Democratic “fresh face” to dirty old man, is Moore worth saving? 

We wrote on Friday about the power of politically weaponized claims of sexual misconduct. Some Democrats were already arguing to spare Franken because Republicans couldn’t be counted on to deal as harshly with their offenders as Democrats wanted to. Now top Republicans are following suit. 

We talk about the moral imbecility of our era, but “both of us can do the wrong thing because neither of us will probably do the right thing” is a lulu even for the time of the Big Stupid

But leaving aside what happens to parties that act so dissolutely and cultures that will accept it, what about the tax plan that supposedly merits overlooking the brontosaurus-sized skeleton now tumbled from Moore’s closet? Did children become less valuable or did Senate seats become more valuable?

To be fair, Conway was only listing the tax plan as the first among other considerations, and didn’t even include the more ethically salient question of abortion which has been raised by those, like Alabama’s governor, who say they will back Moore even if he did cruise for teenagers outside of abuse and neglect hearings. 

No tax plan in history is worth that degree of surrender from any White House, but especially not the lumpy porridge on offer from the House and Senate just now. 

The mistaken belief among many Republicans is that they need a “win” after the ObamaCare repeal debacle and that passing tax legislation, almost irrespective of content, is a do-or-die proposal.

The legislation, which raises taxes for some in order to cut taxes for others, primarily corporations, is already unpopular. But more worrying for the GOP is that despite months of good economic news, the party and its president remain in woeful disrepair with voters. 

If good economic news is supposed to help Republicans hold the House, why isn’t it working yet? What annualized GDP growth rate and market all-time-high do GOP seers believe will deliver the popularity that has so far eluded the party in power? 

It has not yet occurred to enough Republicans that the people who are likely to be the most enthused about corporate tax cuts and a sky-high Dow Jones Industrial Average – upscale, college-educated, suburbanites – are the very same voters most likely to recoil from a permissive attitude toward Moore.

There were two conclusions Republicans could have taken from 2016’s narrow victory: That they won in spite of concerns about character and fitness and need to walk the straight and narrow henceforth; or that voters just don’t care anymore.

If the White House helps Moore limp into the Senate, the party will have a great test case on those questions as each of its candidates for the upper chamber runs manacled to the pistol packing D.A. from Etowah County.

THE RULEBOOK: KEEP IT IN CHECK
“If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 21

TIME OUT: MURDER MATH
New Yorker: “Thomas Hargrove is a homicide archivist. For the past seven years, he has been collecting municipal records of murders, and he now has the largest catalogue of killings in the country—751,785 murders carried out since 1976, which is roughly twenty-seven thousand more than appear in F.B.I. files. … Using computer code he wrote, he searches his archive for statistical anomalies among the more ordinary murders resulting from lovers’ triangles, gang fights, robberies, or brawls. … Hargrove created the code, which operates as a simple algorithm, in 2010… The algorithm forms the basis of the Murder Accountability Project (map), a nonprofit that consists of Hargrove—who is retired—a database, a Web site, and a board of nine members, who include former detectives, homicide scholars, and a forensic psychiatrist. By a process of data aggregating, the algorithm gathers killings that are related by method, place, and time, and by the victim’s sex.”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -19.8 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.6 points

[President Trump’s score is determined by subtracting his average job disapproval rating in the five most recent, methodologically sound public polls from his average approval rating, calculated in the same fashion.]

NEW QUESTIONS ON SAVINGS, UNINSURED RATE FROM KILLING MANDATE  
NYT: “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that doing away with the mandate would result in nearly 13 million more people without insurance and federal savings of $338 billion by 2027. But polling data, analysis from a private forecasting agency and interviews with people who buy coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces suggest the savings could be far less, largely because many people who qualify for the subsidies will still want to take advantage of them. Even the budget office is revising its estimates and has predicted the new numbers would be smaller. In a survey this fall, the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that just 7 percent of people who buy insurance on the individual market said they would go without coverage if the mandate were no longer enforced. A majority said the mandate was not a reason they bought insurance. Only about one in five said it was a major reason.”

Mulvaney says White House is ‘OK’ pulling individual mandate repeal – Politico: “White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that the administration wants to repeal part of Obamacare in Congress’ tax bill but is ‘OK with taking it out’ if ‘it becomes an impediment.’ President Donald Trump has called for Congress to include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in its tax bill. … ‘I don’t think anybody doubts where the White House is on repealing and replacing Obamacare. We absolutely want to do it,’ Mulvaney told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’”

Lamar Alexander: ‘Bipartisan ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill’ – The Hill:“Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) expressed optimism about a bipartisan effort to stabilize ObamaCare markets, saying his bill could be included in the upcoming funding package if it had President Trump’s blessing. ‘I think if the president supports it, it’ll be a part of the end-of-the-year package,’ Alexander told CNBC in an
interview published Monday. Alexander has been pushing for his bill with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), which would fund key ObamaCare payments for two years in exchange for added flexibility for states to change ObamaCare rules.”

Business group to target key GOP senators over tax plan deficit spike – Axios: “Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform, a coalition of small business leaders, will launch a six-figure TV campaign to oppose the GOP tax bill on the grounds that it balloons the federal deficit by more than $1 trillion. Per a source involved in the efforts: The first ads highlight promises by GOP senators James Lankford and Bob Corker to oppose any plan that increases the deficit. The TV ads — which you can see here and here — will run in these senators’ home states of Tennessee (Corker) and Oklahoma (Lankford.) Polls show the Republican tax plans are unpopular — as Axios’ David Nather has reported. But progressives know they can’t rely on lackluster public opinion to sink the bill, given the extraordinary political pressure on Republicans to pass something before the end of the year.”

Darrell Issa: ‘Californians don’t deserve a tax increase’ – Orange County Register: “Federal tax reform moved forward this past week in Washington. Good news for most of the country. Not so much for us here in California. … Unfortunately, I fear that the plan as approved could actually make the incredible burden our state’s taxpayers feel even worse. I voted no because my constituents don’t deserve a tax increase. While the world thinks living is easy in the land of sand and sun, the Southern California families and small businesses I know are putting in long hours and making tough sacrifices to make each day work. Californians have stayed late, picked up second shifts and worked hard in an honest effort to make ends meet, only to find themselves with less and less to show for it.”

ROMNEY SENATE HOPES RISE AS POTENTIAL RIVAL DROPS OUT 
Politico: “Utah Republican Boyd Matheson is forgoing a 2018 Senate campaign, a decision that further opens the door for Mitt Romney to run. Matheson, a former chief of staff to Utah Sen. Mike Lee and the president of the conservative Sutherland Institute think tank, announced on Monday that he would not run for the seat currently held by longtime Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is 83 and deciding whether to seek another term. The prospect of a Matheson campaign had gained traction among conservatives. During a recent trip to Washington, Matheson met with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump’s 2016 deputy campaign manager,David Bossie. He also received encouragement from an array of conservative outside groups. But in a video released Monday, Matheson said he had chosen not to run, and that he would instead launch a new outside political group.”

Dem wave may not be enough for House in 2018 – NYT: “All considered, this year’s election results and the current national political environment are consistent with the possibility of a so-called wave election, like the ones that brought Democrats to power in the House in 2006 and swept Republicans into office in 1994 and 2010. But Republicans have important structural advantages. They enter the cycle with the advantage of incumbency and a highly favorable congressional map, thanks to partisan gerrymandering and the tendency for Democrats to waste votes with overwhelming margins in heavily Democratic urban areas. As a result, it’s not obvious that the building Democratic wave will be enough to flip control of the House. That’s not because the Democratic showing in 2017 has been any less impressive than in prior wave elections.”

Republican governors face tough map in 2010 – NYT: “For nearly a decade, meetings of the Republican Governors Association were buoyant, even giddy, affairs, as the party — lifted by enormous political donations and a backlash against the Obama administration — achieved overwhelming control of state governments. But a sense of foreboding hung over the group’s gathering in Austin this past week, as President Trump’s unpopularity and Republicans’ unexpectedly drastic losses in elections earlier this month in Virginia, New Jersey and suburbs from Philadelphia to Seattle raised the specter of a political reckoning in 2018. ‘I do think Virginia was a wake-up call,’ said Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, who took over here as chairman of the governors association. ‘There’s a pretty strong message there. When Republicans lose white married women, that’s a strong message.’”

Bannon’s new crew – Axios: “Steve Bannon is setting up a new 501(c)(4) — aka a ‘tax-exempt social welfare organization’ — to promote his agenda, and, he argues, the president’s. Such groups don’t have to disclose their donors so long as — according to the IRS code — they can ‘be operated exclusively to promote social welfare’ and so long as politics are not the group’s ‘primary activity.’ Bannon first publicly mentioned his new plans on billionaire John Catsimatidis’ Sunday morning radio show, ‘Cat’s Roundtable.’ … The group has no name yet but will be set up this week. Bannon plans to use the group to establish a ‘war council’ to promote hawkish policies against China. … For all the speculation about Bannon’s relationships with donors he’s had no fundraising apparatus to date.”

2020 DEM RACE BEGINS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
Fox News: “Not one year into the Trump administration, New Hampshire already is buzzing with the anticipation of 2020 and playing host to an early screen test for a parade of potential and declared White House hopefuls. The state Democratic Party’s annual Kennedy-Clinton fall fundraising gala – held on a cold and windy November night this past Friday, in part to celebrate their 2017 victories and look ahead to the midterms – featured two headliners with an eye on the next presidential race. Maryland Rep. John Delaney, who over the summer launched a stunningly early 2020 presidential campaign, told the audience that ‘hyper partisan politics is tearing our country apart.’ The message from the three-term congressman was ‘what we really need a president to do is to bring us together, to restore civility in politics and respect in public service.’ Eight-term Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, also a potential contender for the next Democratic presidential nomination, preached to the crowd that ‘the Democratic Party’s got to be the party that builds the new system.’”

Sasse warns of ‘political idolatry’ in Iowa – Radio Iowa: “Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse warned against false idols, political tribalism and an addiction to ‘24/7 news cycles’ during a speech in Iowa tonight. ‘Friends, there is no politician who’s going to save America,’ Sasse said. ‘Friends, there is no election that’s going to transform your life to become so much better than it is right now and into all you want it to be.’ Sasse was the featured speaker at a fundraiser in Des Moines for The Family Leader, a Christian conservative organization. Sasse told the crowd elections can make the country ‘worse’ or ‘incrementally better,’ but Sasse suggested it was ‘almost a little bit un-American’ to organize your life around two- and four-year election cycles.”

ANOTHER DEM JOINS BILL CLINTON CONDEMNATION  
Daily Caller: “Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier said Sunday on ’Face the Nation’ that former President Bill Clinton’s accusers ‘were not treated as they should have been’ and that ‘they should have been believed.’ Speier was responding to CBS host John Dickerson who asked about her stance on the argument of a reevaluation of Bill Clinton’s presidency. ‘I think that the victims who came forward were not treated as they should have been. They should have been believed because, as I have pointed out, most people who come forward are telling the truth,’ she said. ‘Let’s remember that he did face impeachment,’ Speier said of Cinton. ‘It wasn’t as if it was just tossed to the side. He faced impeachment.’ … There are other Democrats serving in congress that are in agreement with Rep. Speier. Last week, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said that Bill Clinton should have resigned over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.”

Florida politics in sex scandal tsunami – 
Politico: “The Florida Democratic Party chairman resigned Friday in shame. A Republican state senator faces possible expulsion for sexual harassment. The state Senate’s top Democratic leader abruptly stepped down after admitting an extramarital affair with a lobbyist. Even amid the flood of sexual misconduct revelations that have rocked state capitals across the country, the nation’s biggest swing state has lived up to its reputation for political drama and excess over the past month, with major implications for next year’s contested U.S. Senate and gubernatorial elections — and the next presidential race. ‘Florida is on fire. And it’s not a controlled burn,’ said John Morgan, a major Democratic donor, godfather to the state’s medical-marijuana initiative and wildcard possible candidate for governor.”

A WHITE HOUSE DIVIDED OVER RUSSIA PROBE
WaPo: “Six months into a special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, White House aides and others in President Trump’s close orbit are increasingly divided in their assessments of the expanding probe and how worried administration officials and campaign aides should be about their potential legal peril, according to numerous people familiar with the debate. … The investigation reached a critical turning point in recent weeks, with a formal subpoena to the campaign, an expanding list of potential witnesses and the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. Some within Trump’s circle, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, have already been interviewed by Mueller’s investigators, while others such as Hope Hicks — the White House communications director and trusted confidant of the president — and White House counsel Donald McGahn are expected in coming weeks.”

Special counsel sends wide document request – ABC News: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating whether President Donald Trump sought to obstruct a federal inquiry into connections between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives has now directed the Justice Department to turn over a broad array of documents, ABC News has learned. In particular, Mueller’s investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter, according to a source who has not seen the specific request but was told about it. Issued within the past month, the directive marks the special counsel’s first records request to the Justice Department, and it means Mueller is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation.”

MERKEL’S FUTURE TERM IN DOUBT AS COALITION TALKS COLLAPSE
Sky News: “Chancellor Angela Merkel’s future as German Chancellor is hanging in the balance after her potential coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), pulled out of talks to create a new government. Mrs. Merkel had been forced to seek an alliance with an unlikely group of parties after September’s elections left her without a majority. But after four weeks of negotiations, FDP leader Christian Lindner walked out of the discussions, saying there was no ‘basis of trust’ to forge a government with Mrs. Merkel’s conservative bloc and the Greens. ‘It is better not to govern than to govern badly,’ he said, adding that the parties did not share ‘a common vision on modernizing’ Germany. Mrs. Merkel emerged from the talks looking weary but vowed to steer Germany through the crisis. She said she would stay on as acting Chancellor and would consult with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on how to move forward, adding that a deal had been within reach.”

TRUMP REGRETS EFFORT TO FREE AMERICANS HELD IN CHINA
U.S. News and World:
 “Trump tweeted his pique at the father of one of three UCLA basketball players arrested in China recently for shoplifting. LaVar Ball said his son LiAngelo Ball’s offense was minor and refused to credit Trump with his son’s release, which the president said he was responsible for. Trump wrote Sunday on Twitter, ‘Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!’ The three players – LiAngelo BallJalen Hilland Cody Riley – all thanked Trump when they returned to UCLA after the president, writing on Twitter, prodded them to express their gratitude. Critics faulted Trump for saying he regretted helping three American citizens being held by another government because the father of one wasn’t sufficiently grateful.”

Beast mode or least mode?  – ESPN: “President Donald Trump took to Twitter early Monday morning to criticize Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch for standing during the Mexican national anthem but sitting during the anthem for the United States prior to the Raiders’ loss to the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca. Lynch was actually standing during the first few bars of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Sunday before taking a seat. And while he stood for the Mexican anthem, he was not completely at attention.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY 
Trump admin tightens scrutiny of skilled worker visa applicants – WSJ

White House says cost of opioid epidemic topped $500 billion in 2015 – AP

So why’s Marine One in Palm Beach? – Palm Beach Post

AUDIBLE: NO. NO YOU SHOULD NOT
“I never thought I’d be quoted as looking like villains from James Bond, I guess I should take that as a compliment.” – Secretary Steven Mnuchin on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” in response to criticism of photos of him and his wife posing with dollar bills 

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“While it may not have been in line with your tribalism theme, it is worth mentioning thatMr. Clinton was guilty of perjury in a sexual harassment trial for which he was later disbarred. ’Tribal self-identification’ I voted for Ford, Anderson, Reagan, Bush, Clinton (1st term), then Republican — Clinton’s enthusiastic abortion support convinced me to vote almost exclusively for Republicans since.” – Tom Parks, Rogers, Ark.

[Ed. note: Tribalism, Mr. Parks, is a good thing, if taken in moderation. Being part of organizations larger than ourselves is good for the soul and useful for the body. These connections help us achieve more than we can by ourselves and imbue life with particular meaning. But that’s when they’re kept in proper proportion. Here’s C.S. Lewis in “The Four Loves”: “We may give our human loves the unconditional allegiance which we owe only to God. They become gods; then they become demons. Then they will destroy us, and also destroy themselves. For natural loves that are allowed to become gods do not remain loves. They are still called so, but can become in fact complicated forms of hatred.” When it comes to politics, a good standard is to test your willingness to excuse misconduct in one of your tribe with against your enthusiasm for condemning the same behavior in a member of a rival gang. I have no doubt that you would not tolerate perjury in a president of your own party any more than you condoned it from a Democratic president. We all must daily test our assumptions in this area, though. Are we excusing too readily? Are we condemning too gleefully?]      

“In many communities American small businessmen who own/operate lawn care, lawn irrigation, landscaping, construction site cleanup, property maintenance and most every other local business that employee unskilled labor. It is quite serious in the communities I am familiar with. Obviously, a legally compliant company cannot compete when the competition is hiring cheap labor that is often paid under the table in cash. A friend of mine was telling me that the biggest issue in his residential lawn care business are the illegals with an old truck, a flatbed car trailer and two riding lawn mowers. He says, in recent years they are becoming greater in numbers and literally putting him out of business.” – Phillip ScottWilmington, N.C.

[Ed. note: The least discussed but probably most important part of immigration reform gets shorthanded as “internal enforcement.” What we’re really talking about there is increasing the penalties on those who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. If the risks of hiring those here illegally outweighs the savings from cheap labor then the demand for illegal workers will slacken, thereby changing the calculus for those here illegally and those considering entering the U.S. illegally or remaining here after their visas expire. This is where prior compromises have fallen short. Many in the business community, especially in the service and agricultural sectors, rely on illegal and/or migrant workers to pad profits and have lobbied hard against cracking down on the employer side.]

“It is a mystery to me why this is never discussed when talking about taxes.   It is my contention that government cannot tax a business or more importantly a corporation simply because they simply consider taxes and the compliance with those laws as a cost of doing business.   Those costs are folded into the price of whatever goods or services being provided.   As a consequence we the consumer of whatever product they produce end up paying those taxes in the form of higher prices for those products.  I think this is a gross disservice to the US tax payers in that they mostly don’t recognize these taxes levied against businesses and corporations as being paid indirectly by themselves. What say you?” – Will Gibbs, Mossyrock, Wash.

[Ed. note: Quite so, Mr. Gibbs! One of the advantages or disadvantages (depending on where you stand) of the so-called value-added tax or other taxes on consumption is that the government’s share of the price of goods is not immediately evident to the citizens. If you want to raises taxes on income, as Republicans are currently attempting, voters will howl. Adding a half-of a percent to price of Tootsie Pops or pinochle sets is much easier to do. Thusly, a frog can get more easily boiled in a VAT…]   

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HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

KUMPEL, WO IST MEIN AUTO?
Irish Times: “This week, an elderly German man was re-united with his car twenty years after he forgot where he parked. He reported his car missing to the police in Frankfurt in 1997 and city authorities have just found it. The car was not stolen, but in fact parked in a garage in an old industrial building. The car was discovered because the building was due to be demolished. The police set out to find the owner of the vehicle as it was in the way.When the 76-year-old owner was found, he was driven by police and accompanied by his daughter to be reunited with the car, according to German regional paper Augsberger Allgemein. The car was in disrepair, and could not be driven home.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.

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Nevada marijuana supply running low, state of emergency declared, governor says

Nevada state officials declared a state of emergency after stores that sell recreational marijuana reported that their supply is running out just less than two weeks after the drug went on sale legally.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, R-Nev., issued the state of emergency on Friday, which will allow state officials to decide on new rules that could ease the shortage of marijuana, according to Fox 13 Now.

Nevadas Department of Taxation released a statement that said it will contemplate emergency regulations that would permit liquor wholesalers to cash in on the marijuana sales.

Based on reports of adult-use marijuana sales already far exceeding the industrys expectations at the states 47 licensed retail marijuana stores and the reality that many stores are running out of inventory, the Department must address the lack of distributors immediately, the Department of Taxation said in a statement. Some establishments report the need for delivery within the next several days.

RETRIAL BEGINS FOR FOUR BUNDY SUPPORTERS FROM 2014 ARMED STANDOFF

In November, after the law legalizing marijuana in Nevada was passed, liquor distributors were promised that they would have the sole rights of moving the drug for 18 months, but the department said many distributors did not meet the requirements needed in order to be licensed.  

“We continue to work with the liquor wholesalers who have applied for distribution licenses, but most dont yet meet the requirements that would allow us to license them. Even as we attempted to schedule the final facility inspection for one of the applicants this week, they told us their facility was not ready and declined the inspection. As of mid-day Friday, not one distribution license has been issued,” Stephanie Klapstein, a spokesperson for the Department of Taxation, told USA Today.

The dispensaries that were originally allowed to retail medical marijuana can now sell recreational marijuana as well and, by law, must be given the drug from a licensed distributor. But many of the facilities have been left with a diminishing supply.  

TOURISTS, LOCALS BUY NEVADAS LEGAL RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA

“The business owners in this industry have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build facilities across the state,” the Department of Taxation’s statement continued. They have hired and trained thousands of additional employees to meet the demands of the market. Unless the issue with distributor licensing is resolved quickly, the inability to deliver product to retail stores will result in many of these people losing their jobs and will bring this nascent market to a grinding halt.”

Nevada voters approved to legalize recreational pot in November. The state joined Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in allowing adults to buy the drug that is banned by the federal government.

To buy, those 21 and older with a valid ID and purchase up to an ounce of pot at dispensaries. The drug can only be consumed in a private home, not in public, including the Strip, hotels and casinos. Violators face a misdemeanor citation and $600 fine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

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