Judge Limits Evidence Zimmerman’s Lawyers Can Present

ORLANDO, Fla. (UPI) — A Florida judge ruled Tuesday that lawyers for George Zimmerman cannot tell the jury Trayvon Martin had a history of fighting and had marijuana in his system.

Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson also refused a request by Zimmerman’s lawyers to postpone the trial, now scheduled to begin June 10, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, is charged with allegedly killing Martin, 17, in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Martin, who was unarmed, was walking to a relative’s house after a trip to the store in February 2012.

Prosecutors say Zimmerman continued to follow Martin, who was black, after a 911 operator suggested he back off. Zimmerman’s lawyers say Martin attacked him and the killing was self-defense.

In addition to blocking the defense from telling the jury a toxicology test found the active ingredient for marijuana in Martin’s system, Nelson said they cannot use evidence that Martin had been suspended from school and had a history of fighting.

Some critical issues have yet to be decided. Prosecutors want to use the testimony of Alan Reich, an expert who prepared a report on recordings of 911 calls.

Reich said he could hear Martin screaming and saying “I’m begging you” as background in a call made by a neighbor, while Zimmerman said “These shall be.” FBI analysts said they could not identify the person screaming.

During Tuesday’s two-hour hearing, Nelson ruled Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, can be compelled to give a deposition. But the judge said Shellie Zimmerman, who is charged with perjury, can invoke her Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating herself.

Bipartisan Congressional Panel Seeks Overhaul Of Federal Criminal Law

WASHINGTON (UPI) — A bipartisan congressional task force says it wants to reduce federal criminal laws that have packed prisons and branded too many people as criminals.

The 10-member task force, headed by U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., is addressing what it calls the “overcriminalization” of America, The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, Va., reported Tuesday.

The co-chairmen argue that federal criminal laws need to be condensed and in some cases handed back to state authorities. They are considering whether to end mandatory-minimum sentences and make it harder to convict people who say they didn’t know they were breaking federal law.

Scott notes that Congress has passed 50 new criminal laws each year for the 13 years.

The project is supported by organizations as diverse as the Heritage Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, which has said current statutes reflect “an addition to incarceration.”

Scott says conservative groups feel that sentences imposed for violating federal law “violated common sense.”

He and Sensenbrenner want “mens rea” — the legal concept that someone must know they were breaking the law — to be given more importance when prosecuting someone.

During a recent hearing, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the task force should “make sure Americans who make innocent mistakes are not charged with criminal offenses.”

Police: ‘Thong Cape Scooter Man’ Not Breaking Laws

MADISON, Wis. (UPI) — Police in Wisconsin said a local man known as “Thong Cape Scooter Man” is not breaking any laws by riding his motorized scooter wearing only a thong and a cape.

Madison police said they were called by staff at John F. Kennedy Elementary School Thursday when the scantily clad “Thong Cape Scooter Man” was seen riding past the facility while students were present, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Monday.

Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said a sergeant visited the 56-year-old man’s home and spoke with him.

“He said he exercised poor judgment by going by the school at that time of day, it was unintentional and he just happened to be traveling through the area,” DeSpain said.

The man, whose name was not released by police, did not break any laws and was not arrested or cited, DeSpain said.

“The sergeant told the school staff Thong Cape Scooter Man was free to ride on,” DeSpain said.

Cat Spends Two Weeks Under Hood Of Car

KINOULTON, England (UPI) — A British woman said she was driving around looking for her cat, which had been missing for two weeks, and found the kitty was hiding under the hood of her car.

Julie Tansley of Kinoulton, England, said Princess the cat was apparently under the hood of the car for two weeks before she noticed a dashboard warning light while out for a drive to search for the feline, The Mirror reported Monday.

Tansley said she lifted the hood to discover Princess was cowering near the engine and had apparently chewed through a coolant hose.

I have absolutely no idea how she managed to get there,” Tansley said. “It’s just ¬unbelievable — I mean we’ve driven to and from school, work, even through the jet wash with her in there. If the warning light hadn’t come on I dread to think what could have happened.”

She said a mechanic friend spent 45 minutes dismantling the engine to free the cat, which was malnourished and covered in coolant fluid but otherwise uninjured.

Burger King Worker Hides Suspects’ Getaway Car

STOCKTON, Calif. (UPI) — Police in California said two Burger King robbery suspects were arrested when a worker made off with their getaway car.

Stockton, Calif., police said two gun-wielding men walked into the fast-food restaurant Thursday and demanded cash from a clerk, KOVR-TV, Sacramento, reported Tuesday.

A second Burger King employee snuck out the restaurant’s back door and saw the suspects had left their getaway car running, police said.

Police said the worker jumped into the car and drove it around the corner.

“I haven’t heard of any employee actually leaving a business, getting inside the suspect vehicle and trying to hide it,” Stockton Officer Joe Silva said.

Silva said the suspects, identified as Gabriel Gonzalez and Jeremy Lovitt, fled to a nearby field, where they were arrested.

“The quick action from this employee did allow our officers to get on scene and arrest the suspects,” Silva said.

Army Major Sets Jump Rope Record In Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (UPI) — A U.S. Army major serving in Afghanistan set a world record by jumping rope 12,405 times in 60 minutes.

She said she was aiming to inspire Afghan women.

Maj. Leticia Walpole, whose feat has been submitted to Guinness World Records for confirmation as a record, said she jumped rope 12,405 times consecutively in 60 minutes — 3.45 jumps per second — in the International Security Assistance Force gymnasium May 16 to show Afghan women they can do anything if they set their minds to it.

“I also wanted to encourage and motivate other military personnel serving in Afghanistan on the importance of staying in shape,” Walpole said.

Walpole said she previously attempted to break the record, which currently stands at 11,527 skips and was set by a Florida woman, last year at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., but she fell short with only 8,238 rope jumps.

“I knew one day the opportunity would come again,” she said.

Swedish School Skipped Required Course For Seniors

GOTHENBURG, Sweden (UPI) — Seniors at a Swedish high school said they were shocked to discover days before graduation they must complete a course the school apparently forgot to offer.

The students at Aniaragymnasiet high school in Gothenburg said they were outraged to be told only four days before this week’s scheduled graduation ceremony that the school had neglected to teach them a required course on religion, The Local.se reported Tuesday.

“We’re supposed to graduate in four days and I’m meant to complete a course that is actually supposed to last the whole year. That’s impossible,” student Patricia Kjellby said.

Christel Berver, the school’s principal, said the problem came from a misinterpretation of the country’s required curriculum.

“When you read the law, it can be interpreted that you can switch religion with social science,” Berver said.

However, officials recently discovered that is not the case and the students must either now complete the course’s requirements before graduation or accept a failing grade for the class and make it up in the fall.

IRS Attack Ads, Russia Arms Syria For Peace, Texas Slashes Business Taxes, D.C. Scamming Motorists, Drones In Deutschland, Fear The Chair: Tuesday Morning News Roundup 5-28-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • A group of House Republicans is prepared to launch an ad campaign against four incumbent Democrats this week tying the lawmakers to the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups applying for nonprofit status.
  • Russia is going to deliver anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian government in order to deter “hotheads” from getting involved in the country’s civil war.
  • Look out, liberals. Texas, already the Nation’s strongest State economy, just made it easier for businesses to profit in the Lone Star State. The Legislature passed more than $1 billion in tax cuts before recessing for the summer.
  • “Three golden miles” in Washington, D.C., have reaped the city an average of $30,500 per day in speeding and red light camera fines — $28 million since the start of 2011. The “offenders” are mostly unsuspecting motorists from Maryland and Virginia. New York Avenue is the hot spot, so beware.
  • A German railway is set to roll out miniature drones at night in order to catch people defacing trains with graffiti.
  • Doctors at the University of California at Los Angeles and Ohio State are launching a big PR campaign to declare war on… sitting down. “Sitting is the new smoking,” says Anup Kanodia of Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

–Staff writer Sam Rolley contributed to this report.

The Last Man Standing

Last week, as I slogged my way through the reams of scandal-related material flowing out of President Barack Obama’s funhouse like a tsunami of sewage, a sudden realization interrupted my research. With the scandals Obama and his henchmen have created polluting the national discourse, it is becoming increasingly apparent that a special prosecutor will be appointed soon. In fact, with even members of the Democratic Party demanding Obama appoint someone untainted by the stench of White House shame, a special prosecutor may well be unpacking his gear in some K-Street office even as we speak. Hooray for us; within 12 years, we managed to not only elect but re-elect Presidents who were so decency-averse that scandal defined them to the point of potential impeachment.

Whether the linchpin turns out to be the lies about Benghazi, the Internal Revenue Service or wiretapping the media (or some combination of the three), it would seem likely that the least transparent President since the days of Warren Harding and the Teapot Dome is headed for the kind of limelight that doesn’t include photo-ops with Jay-Z and Steven Spielberg. There’s a better chance of Administration officials seeing the inside of a prison cell than the inside of George Soros’ private jet.

I would hardly complain. The disgraces with which Obama and his minions have saddled the Nation will take years to undo. In some cases, the damage may well be permanent. And I’d rather see the President and some of his more sinister sidekicks do time than see them continue to wage their full-frontal assault on the Bill of Rights. If we learned anything from the tribulations of the Richard Nixon Administration, we learned that the Constitution — and by extension, America — can withstand the slings and arrows of executive arrogance.

However, a caveat lurks behind the curtain of comeuppance. Let’s presume that someone in Obama’s gang will follow I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby — who certainly didn’t kill anyone — into the clutches of the Federal penal system. What if that newest resident at the least recommended bed and breakfast in either Petersburg, Va., or Danbury, Conn., turns out to be Attorney General Eric “Guns” Holder? What if Holder doesn’t take his perp walk solo? What if former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman joins him? What if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets Martha Stewart’s old cot at the Alderson, W.V., prison camp for wayward women?

The answer to all of the above: not much. Perhaps fewer bodies will pile up in Mexico and Benghazi, Libya. It’s likely that educating people about their Constitutional rights will lose its place on the list of “things that will earn a proctological exam from the taxman” list. But no one of any consequence would miss any of Obama’s backup dancers.

But here’s the thought that ought to keep you awake tonight: What if Obama himself ends up facing the pokey? Although even Nixon escaped with an “unindicted co-conspirator” nametag, he didn’t actually join his minions in prison. Nixon’s lies and cover-ups didn’t involve letting the phone ring off the hook while a U.S. ambassador and his colleagues died alone in the desert, and he never sent IRS goon squads after any liberal organization. (Unlike the Tea Party and similar groups, liberal groups during Nixon’s time built and used bombs against Americans; just ask Bill Ayers.) Nonetheless, if Obama’s lease on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is terminated by the landlords (that would be we, the people) and his accomplices in his Administration also get the bum’s rush, then the Presidency would be assumed by the next person in the Presidential order of succession who remains unsullied by Obama’s misdeeds. Not only would that person have to be clear of any wrongdoing, but he would have to have been unaware of said crimes.

That person is Vice President Joe Biden. Go ahead and take a belt straight from the whiskey bottle. You read that right. To the best of my knowledge, Ol’ Pluggsy really didn’t know. Granted, that ignorance was likely a result of his inability to keep his mouth shut, in combination with the fact that Biden makes former Vice President Dan “Potatoe” Quayle look like Marcus Tullius Cicero. But the Constitution doesn’t specify the President must be intellectually capable of handling the duties of the Oval Office, only that he be eligible.

Biden may well be the last man standing. Of all the frights flung at us by Obama and his circus, that’s the scariest of all.

–Ben Crystal

Patient Consent At Risk As Genome Sequencing Breakthroughs Divide Medical Community

A forthcoming report in Science magazine argues that patient consent and confidentiality are under fire, after the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) recently adjusted its formal recommendations to doctors that, for the most part, now leave the patient out of the decision-making process over how much data researchers can mine from their unique genetic codes.

According to a summary prepared in advance of the report:

Informed consent is the backbone of patient care. Genetic testing has long required patient consent and patients have had a “right not to know” the results. However, as 21st century medicine now begins to use the tools of genome sequencing, an enormous debate has erupted over whether patients’ rights will continue in an era of medical genomics.

Recent recommendations from the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) suggest no. On March 22, the ACMG released recommendations stating that when clinical sequencing is undertaken for any medical reason, laboratories must examine 57 other specific genes to look for incidental findings. These findings must then be reported to the clinician and the patient. In an April 25 “clarification,” ACMG said that failure to report these findings would be considered “unethical.” The patient has no opportunity to opt-out of the testing of the 57 genes, except to decline all sequencing. The recommendations also apply to children.

The study, a joint effort by Susan M. Wolf of the University of Minnesota, George J. Annas of Boston University and Sherman Elias of Northwestern University, argues that the all-or-nothing sequencing of a patient’s genetic code would be beneficial, if only the patient could have a say over the “all-or-nothing” part.

“The ACMG’s ‘minimum list [of 57 genes]‘ includes mutations in genes that patients have long been able to refuse testing for, including cancer risk mutations (such as BRCA1) and cardiovascular risk mutations,” the authors argue. But, they add, there are myriad practical, medical reasons — as well as principled ones — why the control over the reach of genetic sequencing — and the information it yields — should rest solely in patients’ hands.

The patient may already be battling another disease, such as advanced cancer, or be late in life and see more burden than benefit in added genetic information. The patient may also fear that ‘extra’ results in their medical record will invite risk of discrimination.

Ominously, the “minimum list” of 57 genes currently on the table for data mining is expected to grow significantly, according to the ACMG. That, the report warns, places even greater urgency upon lawmakers to craft new legislation, or enforce existing law, if applicable, that strongly favors patients’ rights.

Fitness Is Key To Preparedness

Preparedness is not just about what you can buy or grow, or what you can hoard. It’s not just about how many guns and rounds of ammo you’ve saved up, how finely tailored your bug-out bag is or how many weeks’ worth of food you’ve stored.

It’s about surviving. And if the day comes when you and the people around you can’t rely on technology and the sophisticated infrastructure that supplies the food and comfort to which we’ve become accustomed, you’ll have to rely on yourself — and that means work.

Hard work — a lot harder than most of us are used to — demands that you be in adequate physical shape.

Fitness is something many Americans tend to view as a consumer luxury. People buy gym memberships out of vanity, to socialize or to burn off steam. Often, those gym memberships are abandoned after the thrill of novelty wears off.

But whether you go to a gym, exercise at home or do something active outdoors, it’s important that you don’t neglect your own fitness — because it’s one of the most important parts of any survival strategy.

In fact, it’s arguable that sound physical fitness, anchored by a mind ready to adapt and to lead, is more important than any amount of anticipatory preparedness. What good is four weeks’ worth of freeze-dried food if you aren’t up the challenge of fighting off those who’d seek to take it from you?

You are at the center of whatever contingency plan you’ll enact if things in your world — locally, regionally or nationally — go bad. And that means that your body and mind will be more crucial than any amount of critical consumer goods to your, and your family’s, well-being or survival in the event of a catastrophe that forces a change in the way you live.

Most of us aren’t very physically fit. We live among the world’s most affluent Nations, and consumer culture — despite its benefits as a driver of civilized economic prosperity — has left most Americans bereft of any true understanding of the nasty, brutish and short quality of human life and the default competitiveness of human beings pitted against each other in the hope of acquiring the very finite resources necessary for survival.

That sounds a bit philosophical; and, in your otium, you can intellectually engage the human condition at your leisure. But if something happens that forces you and your family into a new mode of living — one that demands only the cultureless and the necessary, that has no place for leisure and its ephemera — you’re going to be living in a reality that never feels abstract. You’re going to have to be up to the task of coping.

If you’re serious about preparing for the worst, you have to maintain a body that affords you, perhaps literally, a fighting chance. If you’re currently free from chronic maladies, it’s especially crucial that you take seriously your role in whatever prepper plan you’re devising, because you are likely to be one of the linchpins of others’ fortunes. Children, the elderly, the ill, the weak and the physically compromised are not capable of what you’re capable of.

This isn’t a story about how to get in shape. People are physically different, and some bodies respond differently to different stimuli. There are a lot of ways to get in shape and stay that way; and there’s no shortage of good information, and opinions, on the topic. It’s important to note that you don’t have to spend any money or buy a ton of fancy equipment or join a health club to be physically fit — so long as you have the mental discipline to devise and follow an exercise routine. Your body, along with a sound understanding of how to condition it through applying different forms of physical stress, are all that’s required.

So if you’re out of shape and unable to physically defend yourself; walk a long distance and help others travel with you; row a boat; or take point on the cycle of gardening, constructing, all-hours watching, leading and even thinking (which itself exacts a physical, calorie-burning price) on your own — and others’ — behalf, it’s time to regard your body and your mind as the most essential and sacred components of any preparedness plan you’ll ever set in motion. There’s little point in building fences or learning tactical firearms defense if you’re unable to cover ground on your own two feet. Conflict inevitably will come to that, if, as they say, the SHTF.

Besides, being physically fit enriches your life in the here and now — regardless of whether you live to see the Apocalypse.

How do you and your family stay in shape? Let us know what works for you and what doesn’t. And be sure to share any stories about the simple, free and maybe even fun things you do that keep you and your loved ones physically fit.

When Cash Is King

When I lived and worked in Spain under the regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, cash was king. When I later moved back to North America, I continued to use cash whenever possible. You will not find me downtown with less than $500 on my person; and if I’m on a flight overseas, I’ll have much more. Here are a few advantages to paying cash:

  • Temptation avoidance: You will not make impulse purchases that you cannot afford. (It is much more difficult to make an “impulse” buy if you have to take cash out of your pocket to pay for it.)
  • Savings: You will pay no monthly payments on loans, no credit card interest and no overdraft fees from your bank.
  • Lower prices: You’d be surprised at how much you can save by asking for a discount in return for paying with cash. For example, the next time a self-employed mechanic, plumber or electrician quotes you a price of, say, $1,200 plus sales tax, make a counter offer of $1,000 cash. More often than not, you’ll get that discount.
  • Protection against identity theft: Obviously, if you don’t use a credit or debit card, you won’t be asked for a driver’s license that may (horror of horrors!) display your home address.

Furthermore, here are five reasons to secretly (repeat: secretly) keep major amounts of cash on hand:

  1. When the banks in your area eventually shut down due to a power outage, terrorist attack, catastrophic computer malfunction or any other reason, you’ll be like the one-eyed man in the Kingdom of the Blind.
  2. If you spot the used car of your dreams at night or on a weekend, you’ll be able to beat out any other prospective buyers by offering cash on the spot.
  3. Should you be caught far from home when all airports shut down (as they did on 9/11), rent-a-car agencies will run out of vehicles in a flash. But with cash you can pay a taxi driver whatever it takes to get to your destination, or you can even buy a used car and get there on your own.
  4. If your former or current live-in lover turns against you (yes, Virginia, this has been known to happen), he won’t be able to go after your cash when there is no clue that it exists.
  5. Suppose you get a heads-up call from a friend at 2 a.m., telling you that someone is out to get you. Time to get outta Dodge! You grab your passport, all the cash you’ll need, laptop, cellphone and hit the road. (Don’t forget to either remove the cellphone’s battery or wrap it in aluminum foil that so it cannot be pinged.)

As long as you can maintain silence, you should keep some major cash at home for any coming emergency. There is, of course, no such thing as a burglar-proof home, nor is there a security system that cannot be bypassed. However, the average burglar is inside a house for less than 10 minutes. Your goal will be to prevent your cash from being found for more — much more — than that length of time. Burglars will almost invariably head straight for the master bedroom, so I suggest you keep a small amount of cash there, perhaps hidden beneath some underclothes in the bottom of a chest of drawers. Leave enough to pay for a drug fix or to make the intruder think that he’s already found whatever cash you keep in the house.

Burglars aside, your goal should be to hide money from anyone who might be after it — whether visiting relatives, party guests, repairmen, babysitters, a kleptomaniac parent, a teenage son or daughter on drugs, or a spouse who attempts to exercise iron control over every dollar you spend. Can safes are a great way to hide money from all such persons.

Can safes, also called diversion safes, are for sale all over the Internet. They are manufactured from actual cans of such items as Yuban coffee, Heinz Baked Beans, Bon Ami, Ajax, VP Spray Starch, Scotch Guard, Pledge, STP Oil Treatment and JB Radiator Stop-Leak. The bottom of each can unscrews.

In addition, if you have a tightly-packed three-drawer file cabinet, use one or more of the file folders for holding cash. Title them with dull names such as “old tax receipts” or “travel brochures.” Or if you have a lot of books, use a box cutter or a single-edge razor blade to cut the center out of some dull book you no longer want. (Outdated computer books or AAA travel books are ideal for this.) Mix them in with others in your bookcase, or store them in a box of books kept out in the garage.

For smaller amounts of money, bills can just be scattered among the pages of a heavy and uninteresting book. Here’s an interesting example provided by Ellen who is 88 and lives in Kalispell, Mont.

“I have a grandson who used to come and visit me in my apartment sometimes, but I couldn’t trust him because he’d once stolen some money from me. I had a very old Bible, one of those big ones that take up half a coffee table. I knew my grandson would never open a Bible, so I hid a dozen $100 bills in the pages of Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. One night, some crazy old coot in the building fell asleep while smoking and the whole building caught fire. By the time the fire was put out, everything was damaged by fire or water. My old Bible was scorched around the edges and waterlogged, but my money was still OK.”

If you have a freezer, another great way to protect your cash is to open a bag of frozen vegetables. Stuff the empty container with rolled-up bills, glue the opening shut and put it in the bottom of the freezer.

You can also hide bills inside window shades, water hoses, fuse boxes, fire-alarm bells, dog houses, abandoned plumbing fixtures, ironing board covers, plastic rolling pins, wall clocks, paper towel tubes, clothes hampers, kitchen containers, wall phones, clothespin bags, bed posts, upholstery, golf bags, toys, stuffed animals, board game boxes, false-bottom baby carriages, Christmas decorations boxes, trophies or even hollowed-out stairway posts.

All of the foregoing assumes, of course, that you have some cash to hide. If you normally live from paycheck to paycheck, something is terribly wrong. But that’s a subject for another day.

–J.J. Luna

Protecting Or Bullying? Cop Posing As Student Gets Autistic Kid To Buy Some Weed

A scary trend in which cops infiltrate American schools and set up unassuming students for drug deals is emerging in the United States.

Last week, the parents of a special-needs boy in Temecula, Calif., filed a claim against the local school district for helping “local authorities in an undercover drug sting that intentionally targeted and discriminated against their son.”

 
Via ABC News:

“It is shattering to our son. I don’t know how he will ever be able to trust friends again,” Doug Snodgrass, the father of the student, told ABCNews.com “He is changed for life by this.”

Snodgrass said his 17-year-old son, whose name has been withheld at the request of his parents, transferred to Chaparral High School, a public high school in Temecula, for his senior year. District discipline records from his previous school, Temecula Valley High School, “showed 10 discipline referrals”  between August 2011 and May 2012, according to court records, but Snodgrass said the reason for the transfer was the family’s move to a different section of Temecula.

He was placed into an art class at Chaparral where he met Daniel, who befriended him.  Not having any friends, his father said, his son quickly latched on to Daniel.

Snodgrass’ son began texting round the clock with his new friend, which at first thrilled his parents, happy that their son had made a new friend, Snodgrass said.

What they didn’t know was that Daniel was an undercover police officer, who the family claims would pressure their son to procure drugs.

“Our son was a new kid in August, and this undercover cop befriended him,”  Snodgrass said. On the second day of school, Snodgrass said, Daniel asked the boy to buy drugs. “He asked my son if he could find marijuana for $20,” Snodgrass said. ”Three weeks later my son was able to bring back a half joint he received from a homeless guy.”

Later, Snodgrass said, “he asked to purchase my son’s prescription medication, but our son refused.”

It took the 17-year-old three weeks to procure a half joint of marijuana, according to court documents filed later in Riverside County juvenile court. After he was pressed again by the police officer, the student retrieved another joint for $20, from another homeless man, the documents said.

A similar case was reported on the radio show “This American Life” last year. In that story, several young police officers were sent undercover to pose as students at three high schools in Palm Beach County, Fla., and tasked with making drug arrests.

Fight Springtime Sneezes With All-Natural Solutions

Spring may bring warm weather and trees in bloom, but that can also mean allergies or colds. However, several new remedies are readily available to help ease your symptoms: sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes.

If you’re looking to prevent colds or reduce your symptoms, try adding andrographis to your daily regimen. This extract is found in shrubs throughout India and Asia, and now has been popping up on shelves in the United States. Researchers have concluded that this supplement greatly reduced cold symptoms in a study of 433 patients.

If you want to boost your immunity, try astragalus. This herb has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to help improve your cold and disease-fighting abilities. Plus, this supplement is thought to have a diuretic effect and may help lower blood pressure and relax blood vessel constriction.

A vitamin D3 supplement will also boost your immunity and help to ward off a host of diseases.

Local honey has also been shown to help reduce allergy symptoms. It can be eaten by the spoonful or added to hot green tea, used in cooking as a natural sweetener or poured over biscuits or toast.

Researcher: It’s Free, Swipe Yo EBT

It is a common belief, held by top officials in the Administration of Barack Obama as well as a number of American academics, that the key to ending poverty is enabling it.

A University of Illinois researcher, in a paper funded by ConAgra Foods, opines that American efforts to alleviate food insecurity should include encouraging more people to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps, “because it works.”

“We already know that SNAP leads to reductions in food insecurity, and poverty, and there is no evidence that it leads to obesity,” researcher Craig Gundersen said. “We need to make it easier for people to apply for the program, to recertify once they’re in the program, and to increase benefits, especially for those who are at the lower end of the benefits structure.”

The researcher holds the belief — in line with rhetoric from the Obama Administration — that reducing the stigma associated with being on food stamps should be an important goal of American policymakers.

“There is a perception among some that people who receive SNAP benefits are lazy — this has historically been the reason for stigma in SNAP,” Gundersen said. “In recent years, the stigma associated with SNAP participation has shifted toward a prejudice against people who are overweight. You hear a lot of anecdotal evidence that people who are overweight may be uncomfortable using SNAP. They feel like people are judging them for buying food. If we could become a society that doesn’t judge others about their weight, we could reduce stigma.”

Gunderson also defends the use of food stamp benefits for low, or no, nutrition foods — he compares telling welfare recipients what is and isn’t an acceptable purchase with assistance to telling a working American how to spend an earned paycheck.

“Stores would have to add a lot of expensive signage and reconfigure cash registers to read new bar codes on foods that may or may not be eligible for SNAP. And who would make those decisions? It’s also just patronizing and offensive to poor people; it’s telling them that because they don’t know how to shop for their family, we’ll tell you how to shop and what’s best for them. When I worked for the federal government, no one told me how to spend my paycheck, and Social Security recipients aren’t told how they can spend their money,” he said.

After all, it isn’t as if food stamp abuse is a prevalent and widely recognized problem in America.

Here’s a satirical video that points out many of the problems with the researcher’s aforementioned assertion that America should encourage more people to use food stamps:

A Memorial Day Message

Today is Memorial Day, a day we’ve set aside to salute the veterans who laid their lives on the line and gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country, our country: the United States of America.

Memorial Day actually began in May 1865, when newly freed slaves in Charleston, S.C., exhumed the bodies of Union soldiers from a mass grave at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) and gave them individual graves.

The following year, and each year thereafter on May 5, a Decoration Day observance was held in Waterloo, N.Y. To commemorate the occasion, the graves of fallen soldiers were decorated with flags and flowers in cities and towns and battlefield graveyards across the Nation.

In 1882, the alternative name of Memorial Day was used, though it did not become commonly used until Federal law declared the day in 1967. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill set the date as the last Monday in May rather than the more traditional day of celebration, May 30.

Personal Liberty Digest™ is a site that promotes discussion from all sides of the spectrum on a variety of topics. Unfortunately, some of the discussions devolve from rational debate to name-calling exercises in futility.

Let’s set aside our partisan ideas and ideologies today and recognize those who have sacrificed for us. Remember, too, their families, who gave their loved ones on the altar of freedom.

And don’t forget that we currently have members of our military fighting a shooting war in Afghanistan, patrolling the seas, standing at attention on the Korean Peninsula and guarding our Southern border. There are others at hundreds more bases around the world representing America’s interests.

Regardless of whether you support the wars in those places, the wars fought previously or the policies that require us to have troops stationed around the world, we must leave politics aside this day and remember those who chose to go where their Commander in Chief sent them, and who did all they could to see the mission through.

Many Americans receive the day off, and it’s not unusual for them to spend the day at picnics, barbecues, the lake or the beach. As you enjoy this holiday, don’t forget the reason behind it.

Remember those who fell on the battlefields at Lexington, Concord and Valley Forge; at Ft. Meigs, Ft. George and Baltimore; at El Paso, Cerra Gordo and Mexico City; at Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and the Wilderness; at San Juan Hill, Santiago de Cuba and Silva Heights; at Rheims, the Marne and Argonne; at Pearl Harbor, North Africa, Normandy, Guadalcanal, Ardennes and Midway; at Inchon, Chosin and Seoul; at Saigon, Hue, Hamburger Hill and An Loc; at Kuwait City, and Southern Iraq; at Mazar-e-sharif, southeastern Afghanistan, Qandahar, Marjah and Pashmul; at Nasiriya, Baghdad and Al-Anbar; and all the battlefields in between.

Thank you to those who gave it all. And to all veterans who have served or are currently serving, thank you and God bless!

Respectfully,

Bob Livingston

–Bob Livingston

Palin On Obama’s IRS Attack Dog: ‘Will We Stand For This?’

Sarah Palin has written a few guest columns for Breitbart, but Wednesday’s piece on what the Internal Revenue Service-Tea Party scandal means for every American is by far the best.

Palin talks about how, since the beginning of the Tea Party movement in 2006, Constitutional conservatives have successfully been marginalized in the press, despite the fact that the Administration of President Barack Obama evidently has considered the true conservative movement a far greater threat to his own agenda, and his political ambition, than he ever did mainstream establishment Republicans.

That’s evidenced, a companion story by Craig Shirley points out, by the fact that the IRS targeted only Tea Party-type nonprofits over at least the past two years, passing over run-of-the mill Republican groups — taking for granted  that establishment Republicans were never an impediment to liberalism under Obama:

The unspoken 600-pound gorilla in the room is that the IRS did not go after Republican Party groups. There has been some noise made in that direction, but it is just that — noise. The real IRS vendetta was aimed at the Tea Party movement and not at the myriad GOP inside-the-beltway groups like American Crossroads or Americans for Job Security or any of the other interlocking GOP seen as front groups for corporate America.

…The Republican Establishment is pea green with envy but also embarrassment “that the IRS did not think them worthy of harassing, or even worse, on the same side as the IRS. In other words, the IRS saw the GOP as too feckless to worry about. Either explanation is not very appealing for the national Republicans.”

Now, says Palin, more Americans are seeing the sinister side of enabling the IRS to enforce Obama’s social policies, exactly as the Tea Party called it, back when everyone thought small-government conservatives who bothered to organize were just a bunch of stone-throwing kooks:

Please remember that some of us warned America about the dangers of having the IRS play such a big role with the administration of Obamacare. We were laughed at and mocked relentlessly back then. It sure doesn’t seem funny now, does it?

This IRS scandal is especially terrible because Americans live in fear of the IRS like no other entity because this monstrous bureaucracy has the power to take your hard-earned money. Your wages are the sum of your labors; hence, the IRS has the power to steal the fruits of your labors. Average Americans live in fear of making an error on their tax returns that could cost them massive amounts of money, plus their reputation and good name.  If a small business makes a mistake, the IRS can shut them down and send them to jail.

The IRS has always been the face of intimidating and controlling big government. Now it’s the face of corrupt big government that actively attacks the people it is supposed to serve. This isn’t the change America was hoping for, Mr. President, but it certainly is transformative.

The collective disgust — and it’s coming, now, from true conservatives, liberals and everyone in between — over the ease with which a Presidential Administration can now wield aloof, dispassionate Federal agencies against the people should catalyze a majority against the Orwellian reality of big government power.

These Obama administration scandals are a sad and stark reminder that only limited government can ensure liberty. At our core, we Americans just want to be left alone to live freely, peacefully, and productively.

… It’s time for all Americans to stand together and join in the growing outraged chorus that looks at our out-of-control government and says, “Enough is enough!”

Read the full commentary at Breitbart and pass it along.

Posters Linking Gun Rights, Gay Rights Baffle The Left

In Washington State, gay rights advocates and gun rights advocates intersect in a series of posters appearing around the State Capitol in the past several days linking gay rights and opposition to gun laws.

The posters, which direct people to a pro-gun website, have liberals complaining — seemingly appalled that homosexuals might also value 2nd Amendment rights.

From the Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger’s Cienna Madrid:

I just find it striking that a traditionally conservative movement is branching out to recruit gays and lesbians.

It’s hard to know who’s responsible for putting the posters up all over Capitol Hill. “Nale Dixon,” who’s credited for drawing the cartoon of the gay couple, returns no search results online. The pro-gun website is run by a dude named Oleg Volk, “An American,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s responsible for papering the hill with them. Without someone to credit, it’s impossible to glean the posterer’s intentions.

Perhaps being courted by a traditionally right-wing, conservative movement is refreshing and progressive, but it could also just be really effective concern trolling. What better way to make people feel unsafe in gay-friendly Capitol Hill than by slyly referencing homophobia and hate crimes in pro-gun propaganda plastered on every street corner?

Over at Buzzfeed, a report about the posters came with the sarcastic headline “Bizarre Pro-Gun, Pro-Gay Posters Appear In Washington State: Because gun control and LGBT rights go hand-in-hand, obviously.”

Here are a couple of the posters:

guns-gays-1-e1369087376383

guns-gays-2

‘Budget Cuts’ Leave Attacked Oregon Woman Out Of Luck When She Calls 911

As an ex-boyfriend attempted to break into her home, allegedly intent on assaulting her both physically and sexually, an unidentified Oregon woman did what everybody’s instructed to do: She called 911.

A dispatcher answered. The woman described the situation, saying, “If he gets in the house, I’m done.”

That’s when the dispatcher advised her to… figure it all out herself.

“Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there. You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”

What had actually happened, in the magic phone-land between the 911 call and someone picking up on the other end, was that the woman’s call had been rerouted from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office to the Oregon State Police. That’s because there wasn’t anyone available at the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office to answer, after there had been layoffs that limited local police service only from Monday through Friday, during business hours. This assault occurred over the weekend, in the wee, pre-dawn Sunday morning hours in August 2012.

As the unidentified woman waited for the eventual intrusion, which ultimately culminated in Michael Bellah allegedly throttling the victim by the throat and sexually assaulting her, the dispatcher offered compassionate reassurance:

“It’s unfortunate you guys don’t have any law enforcement out there.”

Bellah was arrested by State police — after the incident, of course — on charges of kidnapping, sex abuse and assault. He pleaded guilty. His victim told the dispatcher, mid-assault, that Bellah had allegedly put her in the hospital once before, in a similar attack.

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office let go of 23 deputies, along with its entire Major Crimes Unit, after it lost a major Federal timber subsidy, according to Oregon Public Radio. The U.S. government owns about 70 percent of the land in the county, and property owners have voted down ad valorem tax increases to fund public services. The sheriff’s department now operates with six deputies, who don’t patrol on weekends. It’s not known whether the victim had access to a firearm.

Sheriff Gil Gilbertson has advised residents who fear domestic assaults, which don’t routinely conform to business hours, to consider moving to an area where law enforcement can protect them around the clock.

The sheriff didn’t say anything about citizens arming themselves. Since protecting and serving in rural Oregon counties has become a carrot-and-stick game with Federal subsidies as the victory prize, it’s evidently more important than ever that citizens at least know they’re on their own when it comes to keeping themselves, and their loved ones, safe.

Oregon’s gun laws, for now, are closer to the spirit of the 2nd Amendment than those in many other States, although recent proposed legislation would place new restrictions on residents’ powers to own so-called assault weapons and limit magazine size to 10 rounds.

Give Your Immune System A Boost

Dear Bob,

I have recently decided to start taking Vitamin D3 in the hopes of strengthening my immune system. I seem to get sick at least twice per year(I am right now), and I’m tired of relying on antibiotics to cure me. I was wondering how much D3 you would recommend I take per day (I bought 5000 UI capsules). I am 16 years old. I’m about 5 feet 11 inches tall, and I weigh roughly 145 pounds. Also, I was wondering if there is anything else you would recommend I take in order to improve my immune system and overall health.

Sincerely,

Aaron M

Dear Aaron,

There are several factors that determine how much vitamin D you should be taking: your race, complexion, the latitude at which you live, how long you are outside each day, etc. You should see a health practitioner and get tested for your current vitamin D level. Then you and the practitioner can accurately determine the amount you need. Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D institute says the skin will produce up to the equivalent of 10,000 IUI after about 30 minutes of full sun exposure. He suggests that for adults, daily doses exceeding 40,000 IU may be toxic. As for me, I take 30,000 IU daily and my wife takes 20,000 IU daily because she weighs 100 pounds less than I do. As for your overall health, the best thing you can do is eliminate processed foods from your diet. Eliminate soft drinks and all canned drinks from your diet. Eat whole, preferably raw, organic vegetables and meats. Reduce the amount of beef and pork overall; but with all meats, try to consume only free range meat that has not been injected with hormones and antibiotics.

Best wishes,

Bob