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Useful household items from the past

Cleaning up my 95-year old father-in-law’s kitchen I came across these super-useful items. They are trivets and they appear to be made from tin/enamel and asbestos but their messages are as useful now as they were in the 1960s when I assume they were produced.

Who doesn’t want a quick guide to meat cooking times, or an at-a-glance guide to how many tablespoons are in a cup!

I’m going to make sure this item is shared on our FACEBOOK page and I hope you will upload photos of items from bygone days that are still in use around your home, garage or garden.





EXPOSED: Giant cover-up of deadly infection in US hospitals. Be very vigilant.

2016-09-07T150829Z_2_LYNXNPEC860YK_RTROPTP_3_USA-UNCOUNTED-SURVEILLANCEEXPOSED By Ryan McNeill, Deborah J. Nelson and Yasmeen Aboutaleb. (Reuters)

RICHMOND, Va.  – Josiah Cooper-Pope, born 15 weeks premature, did fine in the neonatal intensive care unit for the first 10 days of his life.

Then, suddenly, his tiny body started to swell. Overnight, he grew so distended that his skin split.

His mother, Shala Bowser, said nurses at Chippenham Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, told her that Josiah had an infection and that she should prepare for the worst. On Sept. 2, 2010, she was allowed to hold him for the first and last time as he took his final breath. He was 17 days old.

What no one at the hospital told Bowser was that her newborn was the fourth baby in the neonatal unit to catch the same infection, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better-known as MRSA. It would sicken eight more, records show – nearly every baby in the unit – before the outbreak had run its course.

The shock of her son’s death came back to her when, after being contacted by Reuters earlier this year about the outbreak, Bowser went to Virginia’s Division of Vital Records to ge2016-09-07T150829Z_2_LYNXNPEC860WT_RTROPTP_3_USA-UNCOUNTED-SURVEILLANCEt a copy of Josiah’s death certificate. The cause of death: “Sepsis due to (or as a consequence of): Prematurity.” Sepsis is a complication of infection, but there was no mention of MRSA.

“My heart hurts,” Bowser said, sobbing. “I saw what this did to him. And then they just threw a bunch of words on the death certificate.”

According to their death certificates, Emma Grace Breaux died at age 3 from complications of the flu; Joshua Nahum died at age 27 from complications related to a skydiving accident; and Dan Greulich succumbed to cardiac arrhythmia at age 64 after a combined kidney and liver transplant.

In each case – and in others Reuters found – death resulted from a drug-resistant bacterial infection contracted while the patients were receiving hospital care, medical records show. Their death certificates omit any mention of the infections.

Fifteen years after the U.S. government declared antibiotic-resistant infections to be a grave threat to public health, a Reuters investigation has found that infection-related deaths are going uncounted, hindering the nation’s ability to fight a scourge that exacts a significant human and financial toll.


Even when recorded, tens of thousands of deaths from drug-resistant infections – as well as many more infections that sicken but don’t kill people – go uncounted because federal and state agencies are doing a poor job of tracking them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the go-to national public health monitor, and state health departments lack the political, legal and financial wherewithal to impose rigorous surveillance.

As a result, they miss people like Natalie Silva of El Paso, Texas, who contracted a MRSA (pronounced MER-suh) infection after giving birth. She died from infection-related complications nearly a year later, at age 23.

Silva’s sisters fought a successful battle to get the hospital to cite MRSA on her death certificate. Still, her death went uncounted: The Texas health department doesn’t track deaths like hers from antibiotic-resistant infections, and neither does the CDC.

As America learned in the battle against HIV/AIDS, beating back a dangerous infectious disease requires an accurate count that shows where and when infections and deaths are occurring and who is most at risk. Doing so allows public health agencies to quickly allocate money and manpower where they are needed. But the United States hasn’t taken the basic steps needed to track drug-resistant infections.

“You need to know how many people are dying of a disease,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, a Washington-based health policy research organization. “For better or worse, that’s an indicator of how serious it is.”

Drug-resistant infections are left off death certificates for several reasons. Doctors and other clinicians get little training in how to fill out the forms. Some don’t want to wait the several days it can take for laboratory confirmation of an infection. And an infection’s role in a patient’s death may be obscured by other serious medical conditions.

There’s also a powerful incentive not to mention a hospital-acquired infection: Counting deaths is tantamount to documenting your own failures. By acknowledging such infections, hospitals and medical professionals risk potentially costly legal liability, loss of insurance reimbursements and public-relations damage.

Doctors and other clinicians also may simply not understand the importance of recording the infections. Sandy Tarant, the doctor who signed Josiah Cooper-Pope’s death certificate, told Reuters that he thought “it didn’t matter” whether he cited a MRSA infection.

Legally, he’s right. Most states don’t require doctors to specify whether MRSA was a factor in a death. Washington and Illinois are exceptions.

State laws govern how death certificates are filled out. Most use a model law that mandates financial penalties for anyone who deliberately makes a false statement on the document, said Patricia Potrzebowski, director of the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems. The penalties are often small and rarely enforced, she said.


Not even the CDC has a good handle on the extent of the problem. The agency estimates that about 23,000 people die each year from 17 types of antibiotic-resistant infections and that an additional 15,000 die from Clostridium difficile, a pathogen linked to long-term antibiotic use.

The numbers are regularly cited in news reports and scholarly papers, but they are mostly guesswork. Reuters analyzed the agency’s math and found that the estimates are based on few actual reported deaths from a drug-resistant infection.

The agency leaned heavily on small samplings of infections and deaths collected from no more than 10 states in a single year, 2011. Most didn’t include populous areas such as Florida, Texas, New York City and Southern California.

From those small samples, the CDC then extrapolated most of its national estimates, introducing so much statistical uncertainty into the numbers as to render them useless for the purposes of fighting a persistent public health crisis.

Describing the estimates to Reuters, even CDC officials used words like “jerry-rig,” “ballpark figure” and “a searchlight in the dark attempt.”

Michael Craig, the CDC’s senior adviser for antibiotic resistance coordination and strategy, said the agency, pressured by Congress and the media to produce “the big number,” settled on “an impressionist painting rather than something that is much more technical.”

In a statement emailed to Reuters, CDC officials said they released the 2013 estimates report “despite its limitations because of our profound concern about the seriousness of the threat.” The agency said it is working on improving its estimates.

The numbers of uncounted deaths from drug-resistant infections “speak to what can happen when we don’t allocate the necessary resources to bolster … our public health safety network,” said Senator Sherrod Brown. “When we see discrepancies in reporting, are unable to finance a workforce to monitor infections, and can’t even soundly estimate the number of Americans that die from [antibiotic-resistant infections] each year, we know we have a problem.”

The Ohio Democrat recently introduced a bill that would require the CDC to collect more and better data on superbug infections and death rates.

In the absence of a unified national surveillance system, the onus of monitoring drug-resistant infections and related deaths falls on the states. A Reuters survey of the health departments of all 50 states and the District of Columbia found wide variations in how they track seven leading “superbug” infections – if they do so at all.

Only 17 states require notification of C. difficile infections, for example, while just 26 states and Washington, D.C., do the same for MRSA. Fewer than half require notification of infections by carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a family of pathogens that the CDC has deemed an “urgent threat.” CRE gained notoriety when more than 200 people were sickened through contaminated medical scopes in hospitals from 2012 to 2015.

Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia – an area comprising 3 of every 5 Americans – said they do not regularly track deaths due to antibiotic-resistant infections. In contrast, all 50 states require reporting of deaths from AIDS. Deaths from hepatitis C and tuberculosis are also closely tracked.


States that said they do track deaths generally do so for only a few types of drug-resistant infections and not consistently. In the survey, they reported a combined total of about 3,300 deaths from 2003 to 2014.

That’s a tiny fraction of the actual toll: A Reuters analysis of death certificates found that nationwide, drug-resistant infections were mentioned as contributing to or causing the deaths of more than 180,000 people during the same period. To conduct the analysis, Reuters worked with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics’ Division of Vital Statistics to search text descriptions on death certificates to identify relevant deaths.

Among the states that don’t require reporting of superbug deaths is California, the nation’s most populous state. The Reuters analysis identified more than 20,000 deaths linked to drug-resistant infections during the 12-year period, the most of any state. A health department spokeswoman said the state legislature authorized the department to be notified of infections, but not deaths.

Tennessee doesn’t require notification of deaths, either. The Reuters analysis found more than 5,500 deaths linked to superbugs there, more than half of them MRSA-related.

“We know we have a problem with MRSA in Tennessee,” said Marion Kainer, the state’s director of antimicrobial resistance programs. Requiring hospitals to report deaths is more than the department can take on right now, she said. “We have a significant problem getting clinicians to report just the disease,” she said. “It’s grossly under-reported.”

The totals from the Reuters analysis also indicate that the problem is getting worse nationwide, as the number of deaths from drug-resistant infections more than doubled from 8,600 in 2003 to about 16,700 in 2014. (Some of that increase could be the result of clinicians’ increased awareness of the infections.)

Death certificates aren’t a perfect measure. They can be wrong: Cause of death often is a judgment call by clinicians, who may blame a drug-resistant infection in error. More likely, they undercount drug-resistant deaths, as cases like that of Josiah Cooper-Pope show. Just how far under is impossible to know.

But there are clues: Connecticut, with a grant from the CDC, is the only state that closely monitors MRSA deaths. It logged 2,084 deaths from drug-resistant infections from 2003 to 2014, all but 10 from MRSA. That’s nearly twice the number of deaths from MRSA in the state that Reuters found in its death certificate analysis.

One reason for the disparity is that the state’s count includes anyone who died with MRSA, even if it wasn’t the cause of death, said Dr Matthew L. Cartter, Connecticut’s epidemiologist. He also said death certificates may undercount MRSA deaths because the physician may cite a general infection-related condition – death due to sepsis, for example – without mentioning the actual bacteria involved, or merely describe the mechanics of death, such as organ failure or cardiac arrest.

For many victims’ relatives interviewed by Reuters, the death certificate held special significance. They had watched an infection squeeze the life out of a loved one, often over several months and in gruesome ways. To find no official record of that on the death certificate came as a shock. It was as if the killer got away.


Dan Greulich’s medical records show that, after his transplant operation, he spent five months battling drug-resistant infections that left him so debilitated he asked to be taken off of life support. He died in June 2012. By the time of his death – due to “cardiac arrhythmia,” according to the death certificate – the cost of his care at UCLA Medical Center amounted to more than $5 million.

“When the doctor wouldn’t count him as one of the people who die from hospital-acquired infections, I was outraged,” said Rae Greulich, his widow. She considered suing the hospital but never did.

UCLA Medical Center declined to comment.

Joshua Nahum’s recovery from a skydiving accident on Sept. 2, 2006, was going so well at Longmont United Hospital in Colorado that he was transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital a month later in preparation for going home.

Within days, his temperature spiked, his condition deteriorated, and he was transferred back to Longmont. There, he was diagnosed with meningitis from Enterobacter aerogenes, a virulent drug-resistant pathogen spread almost exclusively in healthcare settings.

By the time he died on Oct. 22, the swelling in his brain had made him a quadriplegic, said his father, Armando Nahum. The infection was “the most immediate cause of his death,” his neurosurgeon, Dr E. Lee Nelson, told Reuters.

His death certificate said he died of “Delayed Complications of Craniocerebral Injuries” from the accident. “I remember being dumbfounded. ‘Are you serious?’” Nahum said. “All I asked was that they write the truth – that Josh died of an infection.”

Hospital records obtained by the family show he also contracted meningitis from a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis infection while at Longmont. Similar to MRSA, it is a potentially lethal drug-resistant bug.

In an email statement, Nancy Driscoll, chief nursing officer at Longmont United, said an independent review concluded that Nahum’s care “was appropriate.” She did not respond to questions about how he contracted the infections. Northern Colorado Chief Executive Officer Beth Bullard declined to discuss the case.

Because Nahum died nearly two months after the accident, the cause of death was certified by the Boulder County coroner’s office. Dr John E. Meyer, deputy coroner at the time, signed the death certificate. He told Reuters that he did not recall the case but would not have thought to specify that the complication was an infection.

“There’s certainly no rule that I know of,” he said.

Patient safety groups petitioned the CDC in 2011 to add a question about hospital-acquired infections to its standard death certificate, which is used by many states.

CDC Director Dr Thomas Frieden wrote that he would consider including patient advocates in discussions the next time the agency revises its death certificate, but there were no plans to make any changes “in the near future.”

In a statement emailed to Reuters, Frieden said: “While death certificates provide helpful information, the unfortunate reality is that they don’t provide in-depth clinical information.”


Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been around nearly as long as antibiotics. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first modern antibiotic, in 1928, saving millions of lives from infections that just a few years earlier would have been fatal. By 1940, researchers were reporting that bacteria had already developed resistance to the drug.

Modern science became locked in a war of one-upmanship with the microbial world. Researchers would develop a class of drugs to replace those that were becoming ineffective, and soon enough, bacteria would begin showing resistance to the new drugs – a problem worsened by widespread overprescription of antibiotics and their overuse in farm animals.

By the 1990s, drug-resistant infections had reached crisis proportions. Advances in medicine have been, paradoxically, a big reason for the worsening epidemic.

More people than ever are living with weak immunity: premature infants, the elderly, and people with cancer, HIV and other illnesses that were once fatal but are now often chronic conditions. That’s also why superbugs most often occur in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities – places where susceptible populations are concentrated.

In 2001, a task force led by the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health declared antibiotic-resistant infections to be a grave public health threat and issued an action plan to tame the problem. The group’s recommendations included creating a national surveillance plan and speeding development of new antibiotics.

Yet not a single new class of antibiotics has been approved for medical use since 1987. Despite years of efforts to educate healthcare workers about infection control, multiple studies show that many still routinely flout even basic preventive measures, like hand-washing.

While the types of bacteria showing drug resistance have multiplied, the federal government requires hospitals to report infections for only two of them, MRSA bacteremia, or blood infection, and C. difficile. It requires limited reports on the others and relies on the states to fill in the gaps.

In 2014, the administration of President Barack Obama issued a new national action plan to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Congress followed last year with a $160 million increase in the CDC’s budget to bolster research, drug development and surveillance of superbugs by the states.

But as Reuters found, surveillance carried out by the states can come up against strong institutional resistance and laws that shield the healthcare industry.

Under Virginia law, Chippenham Hospital should have reported its 2010 MRSA outbreak to the state Department of Health when the third baby in the neonatal intensive care unit tested positive for the bug, health department officials said. That was four days before newborn Josiah Cooper-Pope fell ill.

Instead, according to Virginia Health Department records and interviews with department officials, the hospital didn’t notify public health officials until nearly every baby in the unit had been infected – and then only by mail.

By that time, Josiah had been dead two weeks and another baby was in critical condition with a MRSA infection.

After persuading the hospital to temporarily close the unit and bringing the outbreak under control, Health Department investigators found that Chippenham hadn’t taken basic steps to prevent MRSA’s spread, such as training staff, scrubbing furniture and computers, and testing all infants in the nursery when the infection first surfaced.

Jennifer Stanley, a spokesperson for Hospital Corp of America, which owns Chippenham, said that since the outbreak, the hospital has put in place “aggressive infection prevention measures” and “intensive education and training.”

Virginia took no action against the hospital for the lethal outbreak.


The state can fine hospitals for violating regulations, but “this is not the approach [the Department of Health] typically follows,” said Maribeth Brewster, department spokesperson. Officials prefer “working closely” with hospitals to correct patient safety problems, she said, and a follow-up inspection at Chippenham Hospital found no regulatory violations, so no action was warranted.

In response to a Reuters public records request on the outbreak, the Health Department sent a copy of its investigation report in which the name and address of the hospital were blacked out.

The same was true for 22 more superbug outbreaks in Virginia healthcare facilities since 2007 that involved more than 130 patients, including 15 who died. State law prohibits the agency from identifying the location of outbreaks. At least 27 other states have similar laws or policies in place.

Disclosing the names of healthcare providers “would serve as a significant disincentive to the timely reporting of disease outbreaks,” said Brewster, the Virginia Health Department spokesperson.

Tarant, the doctor who signed Josiah’s death certificate, put it this way: “Things like this, if dealt with appropriately, are best if kept internally. I don’t think people want to see how the sausage is made.”

At a conference last year, hospital infection-control specialists told CDC officials that medical staff and internal review boards sometimes blocked them from reporting infections as required by state law or by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which reduces payments to hospitals for preventable infections and high infection rates.

The specialists said medical staff sometimes were discouraged from testing patients with clear signs of infection – one of several tactics they said staff used to get around reporting rules.

Those complaints were detailed in a notice the CDC and CMS sent late last year to hospitals nationwide, warning them that offenders could be fined and cut off from federal funds for covering up infections they are legally required to disclose.

Officials said that due to database limitations, they did not know whether any facilities had been cited for underreporting infections since the notice was issued.

Acknowledging any infection caught in a hospital or other healthcare setting carries another risk: The paper trail can support a subsequent lawsuit.

Emma Grace Breaux and her twin brother, Talon, fell ill from infections shortly after they were born 12 weeks premature at Lafayette General Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, in 2005. Talon died at 15 days old after becoming infected by a virulent strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a ubiquitous bacteria that easily contaminates hospital equipment.

“The day we buried him, we found out about Emma’s infection,” said Kelly Breaux, their mother.

Emma had a MRSA infection. She survived, but with permanent damage to her heart, lungs and one leg.

Three and a half years later, Emma was in Florida to have her leg repaired when she came down with swine flu. It was too much for her heart and lungs. After a six-week battle, she died at Miami Children’s Hospital just shy of her fourth birthday. Her death certificate blamed flu-related pneumonia. Including MRSA as a cause of death “was not considered,” said Dr Sharon Skaletzky, who was at Miami Children’s at the time and signed the death certificate.

Talon’s case was clear-cut; his death certificate cited septic shock due to his hospital-acquired Pseudomonas infection as the cause of death.

Emma’s was more complicated. Her medical expenses alone eventually exceeded $4 million for repeated hospitalizations due to complications from her MRSA infection. The family sold their home, truck and other possessions to stay afloat while she underwent multiple operations.

A Louisiana appeals court ultimately ruled that MRSA was responsible for her death and in 2013 upheld a jury award of more than $6 million in damages and medical expenses for the twins.

Lafayette General Medical Center spokesperson Daryl Cetnar said no one with knowledge of the case was available.


Lack of a unified national surveillance system makes it next to impossible to count the number of drug-resistant infections, fatal or otherwise. Theoretically, deaths could be counted through the nation’s vital statistics.

Those numbers, compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), include births, marriages, divorces and, using data culled from death certificates, information on what is killing whom. The numbers are critical in determining how money is distributed for research and public health campaigns.

As examples in this article show, superbug infections are often omitted from death certificates. But even when they are recorded, NCHS can’t feed that information into vital statistics: The World Health Organization (WHO) classification system the agency uses lacks mortality codes for most drug-resistant infections, though it has codes for more than 8,000 other possible causes of death.

The CDC added codes for use in the United States for terrorism-related deaths a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It could do the same for deaths from drug-resistant infections. Officials told Reuters the CDC is instead working to incorporate the codes into the WHO’s next revision of the international classification system. The revised system is expected to be completed in 2018 but not fully in use until the 2020s.

There are other ways to count deaths, such as searching the text of death certificates as Reuters did in its analysis with help from the NCHS. CDC officials told Reuters they now are exploring “how we might be able use literal text capture to get additional information on resistant infection deaths which could be useful for annual tracking.”

As it stands, the CDC has the National Healthcare Safety Network. Under this surveillance program, about 5,000 hospitals and in-patient rehabilitation facilities file quarterly reports on several types of healthcare-related infections as a condition of receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments.

But only two superbug infections are on the reportable list, MRSA bacteremia and C. difficile. The others are reported under only limited circumstances, such as when related to a hysterectomy or a catheter-associated urinary tract infection.

The reports are typically five to seven months old by the time they are logged, and thus aren’t useful for real-time surveillance. And the CDC doesn’t require facilities to report deaths. Determining cause of death is difficult and would entail extra training for hospital staff who fill out the forms and oversight, which the agency can’t afford, according to Dr Daniel Pollock, surveillance branch chief for the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

CDC Director Frieden, noting that there is “no simple way to code for drug-resistant infections” on death certificates, said the CDC “is supporting states’ efforts to respond to antibiotic resistance and help protect Americans from this threat.”

Just 16 state health departments told Reuters that they tally deaths from reportable antibiotic-resistant infections. Eight others track deaths only when they are part of an outbreak. (Pennsylvania and Georgia declined to answer the survey questions.)

Among states that don’t track deaths is Texas, where Natalie Silva contracted MRSA in November 2012 at Hospital Corp of America’s Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso. Two days after giving birth to a healthy boy by cesarean section, her incision began gushing blood, said her sister, Crystal Silva. Back at the hospital, Natalie Silva tested positive for MRSA.

Hospital staff assured Silva it was safe to continue holding and breastfeeding her week-old son, according to Crystal Silva and her other sister, Stephanie Hall. One month later, her son was in the neonatal intensive care unit battling his own MRSA infection, they said.

He survived. For Silva, the next few months brought a cascade of medical complications, records show. Multiple infections led to multiple surgeries that left her paralyzed. Hall recalled spending a Friday night in September 2013 at her sister’s bedside, painting Silva’s fingernails metallic blue and her toenails metallic purple, optimistic that her sister would return home.

Three days later, Silva died.

Silva’s doctors wanted to blame cardiac arrest on the death certificate, Silva’s sisters said.

Del Sol Medical Center declined to comment.

Silva’s family paid $3,000 for an autopsy that confirmed that the MRSA infection contributed to her death. Her death certificate lists cardiopulmonary arrest as the immediate cause of death, due to complications from a MRSA infection.

“She was 23 years old and healthy. We knew that MRSA played a huge role,” said Crystal Silva. “We had to fight for them to include it.”

In September last year, Hall filed a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against Del Sol in El Paso County District Court, alleging that the hospital was responsible for Silva’s MRSA infection and the fatal complications that followed. The lawsuit is seeking payment to Silva’s two children for the loss of their mother, loss of her wages while she was sick, medical costs and funeral expenses.

Christine Mann, spokeswoman for the Texas health department, said counting superbug deaths would require a formal statute or rule change in the state. “We prioritize our resources and attention toward taking public health action where it is most needed,” she said.

Natalie Silva’s was among about 10,000 deaths linked to antibiotic-resistant infections in Texas from 2003 to 2014, according to the Reuters analysis. Though her sisters succeeded in getting an honest reckoning on Silva’s death certificate, her death by superbug was never counted.

(Edited by John Blanton)

Honey bees died from spray intended for Zika. Go bats to protect your home!


Millions of honey bees were killed after areas of South Carolina were sprayed to kill the mosquitoes that transmit the pathogen.

“On Saturday, it was total energy, millions of bees foraging, pollinating, making honey for winter,” beekeeper Juanita Stanley said. “Today, it stinks of death. Maggots and other insects are feeding on the honey and the baby bees who are still in the hives. It’s heartbreaking.”

Stanley, co-owner of Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply in Summerville, South Carolina, said she lost 46 beehives — more than 3 million bees — in mere minutes after the spraying began Sunday morning.

“Those that didn’t die immediately were poisoned trying to drag out the dead,” Stanley said. “Now, I’m going to have to destroy my hives, the honey, all my equipment. It’s all contaminated.”

I live in Virginia. Through the mosquitos that share these wetlands (swamps!) with us we are at risk from West Nile virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis and now Zika. They’re all as horrible as they sound. Who knows what diseases you are at risk from where you live!

Which is why I like the bats that live in my trees. They gobble up the mosquitoes bugging my property. And they operate for three seasons! Saving me from bugs!
In case you don’t have bats already, here are some ways to attract and keep them.

1. Build a bat house.
When you install a bat house near your home, you invite bats to move in. Which is great, as just one of these little flying mammals can eat more than a thousand mosquitoes in a single night! They also eat bugs that can damage gardens and farm crops. And bats are green: More bats mean less pesticide and less poison keeps the water table cleaner.

Constructing and installing bat houses is perhaps the easiest and least-expensive way to support bats on your farm. Plywood (1/2-inch four-ply) or cedar make excellent choices for construction.The booklet below shows you how to build one — it’s not difficult and factors in design, location, sun exposure and coloration variations of the house for different regions of the United States. follow the instructions about how high the bat house should be placed – you need to defend them against natural predators, such as snakes.

2. Old barns are great
Old, wooden barns and sheds are perfect bat habitats. The wood is naturally worn, making it easy for bats to traverse. Rather than tearing down an old barn, leave part of the structure standing and modify it to accommodate bats. Bats want to roost tucked between boards that are 3/4 inch to 1 inch apart and roughly scored so they’re easy to cling to. Bats already roosting in working barns can be left alone.

3. Mimic or preserve native habitats.
Restoring native habitat is the way to go to attract and keep bats. They like water (like ponds, wetlands, woodlands and native species provide the right conditions for the insects bats need to consume to survive.

4. Hollowed out trees
Bats are adaptable and will roost in hollow trees.

Bats are among the cheapest and most effective ways to keep down annoying, disease-carrying mosquitoes. And that’s where the bat box comes in.


The benefits of having bats in your neighborhood extend beyond mosquito control. They also eat bugs that can damage gardens and farm crops. More bats mean fewer pesticides and that’s good for your health, too. Fewer pesticides also help keep water systems cleaner.
The great thing about a bat box is that once a bat moves in, you’ll have mosquito protection – and the other benefits – no matter what happens. If there’s an outbreak of West Nile virus, you’ll have less to worry about because your bats will be reducing the risk!

Tiny SquirrelNo good at D.I.Y? (You really should give it a go, how badly can you mangle a bat house?)

Easy-to-assemble or ready assembled bat boxes are available at most local hardware stores like Lowes or Home Depot for $9.99 as well as local home and garden centers. We saw a super-swanky Victorian-themed one online at Planet Natural for $90!

No they’re not infected and no, they won’t fly into your hair

Most of us have watched the movies and worry that bats carry disease like rabies, or they’ll suck our blood. Like most mammals, bats can get rabies, but it’s very rare. Bats – even rabid bats – don’t attack humans, so your risk of getting sick from a bat is very nearly zero. Bats won’t get tangled in your hair or suck your blood. The benefit of bats is they actually reduce diseases.



BHBuildersHdbk13 Online

All natural. Kill your weeds in 40 seconds.

You’ll need: Apple Cider Vinegar, Epsom Salt, and a Spray Bottle.

Epsom salt, named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Long known as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, Epsom salt has numerous health benefits as well as many beauty, household, and gardening-related uses. (Check some out here.) Epsom salt pulls moisture from everything around it, including the soil and weeds.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers found that vinegar is an effective weed killer. At 5 percent acetic acid, typically found in household vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, vinegar killed weeds during the first two weeks of emergence. Killing of adult weeds required concentrations of acetic acid greater than 10 percent. Apple cider vinegar and other types of vinegar kill plants by drying out their top growth. Vinegar will not kill the roots, so some weeds will regrow after treatment. Weeds or plants that have leaves covered by a waxy cuticle do not readily absorb vinegar and so may not be killed.

Step 1: Pour the Apple Cider Vinegar in Your Bottle
Step 2: Add the Epsom Salt
Step 3: Shake Well and Spray

This berry destroyed a cancerous tumor in days.

Watch this amazing result!

An experimental cancer treatment based on rainforest berries has been successfully shown to destroy tumours in a matter of days.

A drug based on the fruit of the Australian blushwood tree is currently undergoing trials in Queensland.

Denise Powell, a cancer patient who is part of the trial, said the treatment had a radical effect on a tumour in her armpit.

She told Channel 7: “My cancer surgeon said, ‘I can take that one out, if you get any more you might lose an arm.”

Love this pole-less tent. Just add air.

Look at this great, pole-less tent. It goes up in a minute and you never have to worry about losing a pole again.

Visiting our Nation’s Capital? Have an evac strategy.

If there were a natural disaster or a terrorist attack in DC, how would you get out of the city? It’s a good question, and if you don’t already have an evacuation plan in place, DC Homeland Security officials say you should make one.

The general rules apply here for everyone, everywhere. But I like this because on September 11th 2001, I was in the White House. When  I went in, everyone was in shirtsleeves, when I came out, I was evacuated onto Lafayette Square by guys in kevlar. And was then stuck in gridlocked traffic as the evac plan melted down.

Since then I always check EXIT signs, routes and have alternates in my head. I carry a flashlight and a whistle and a compass in case the building I’m in collapses, or visibility is seriously compromised. It’s important stuff.

7 Tips for Tackling Storm-Related Roof Damage

Having your home severely damaged by a storm can turn your world upside down. The damage could simply be cosmetic, or so extensive as to render your home uninhabitable. In either case, you need to act fast, but smart, to ensure that your home will be properly repaired.

Often, foremost among your concerns will be your roof, as it is protects the rest of your home and possessions. Start your post-storm repair process with these tips from the experts at CertainTeed Roofing.

  1. Keep safety first. Leave emergency repairs to the professionals. A crisis that affects your home is an emotional event, but your safety is paramount. Do not attempt any emergency repairs unless you are qualified to do so.
  1. Prepare for your insurance adjuster. Take time to do your own documentation. Take plenty of photos and notes on the damage to your home. This information will become a helpful checklist to compare against the insurance company’s findings. When it comes to the roof, check outside for things such as blown off shingles, damaged gutters and large branches that may have fallen onto your home. Also, if you can safely access your attic, examine the underside of your roof for damage or leaks.
  1. Find the right contractor. You will want to interview at least three contractors for your roof repair. This allows you to compare prices, work styles and other factors before making your selection. Here are some key questions to ask:
      • Are you a credentialed installer? Most shingle manufactures have strict guidelines for installation. These assure that you get the best performance and meet the requirements for the product and/or workmanship warranty. For example, CertainTeed Roofing issues education-based credentials such as the ShingleMaster or SELECT ShingleMaster.


      • Do you have storm experience? Some contractors are experienced in storm restoration and trained in storm damage evaluation and repair. These are the contractors you want when dealing with an insurance claim.


      • Where is your business located? You will want a local contractor with an established business location who can provide at least four to five references. This way, if you need to follow up for any reason, they will be easy to reach.


      • Do you carry liability and worker’s comp insurance? Your contractor should be fully insured with liability and workers compensation insurance. This will protect you should any workers get hurt during the repair process.


      • Are you licensed with the state or municipality? The answer to this question may be no, as not all states or municipalities have licensing requirements for roofing contractors. If licensing is required, there are websites, such as the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, where you can look up a company’s status.


    • Check for special repair designations required by your insurance. In some instances, insurance companies require that certain materials be used in the repair of your home. In areas prone to hail storms, for example, you may be required to install shingles that are classified as impact resistant, which stand up better to hailstorms.

Find more tips to help guide your roof repair, and find qualified installers in your area, at SOURCE: CertainTeed (Family Features)

Olympic Shooter Kim Rhode Talks Gun Control, Feminism, and Media Bias

Outside of the gun world, few Americans know about Kimberly Rhode. Ironically, it wasn’t until The Wall Street Journal coined her “The Unknown Olympic Champion” that the general public became curious about what this athlete had achieved.

But at the Rio Olympic Games, Rhode made history, tying a record for the most consecutive medals ever won in back-to-back Olympic Games. There, Rhode won bronze in skeet, a sport where competitors use shotguns to break clay targets that are flown into the air. Her bronze in Rio added to her collection of five Olympic medals, which began in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when she was just 17 years old.

And she isn’t stopping there: Rhode already announced plans to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she stands to make history as the first male or female to ever medal in seven straight Olympic Games.

Even then, Rhode isn’t expecting to land a big sponsor—there’s too much of a stigma attached to her sport, she admits. Rhode says she doesn’t hold a grudge, but also can’t explain why more Americans aren’t interested in hearing her story.

In London, for example, Rhode didn’t realize that she was pregnant when she won gold. When asked why the media didn’t jump to tell her story the way they did when Olympic volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings announced she won gold while pregnant, Rhode said:

I can’t really say why people do or choose one story over another, but I was pregnant in London, and I did have a very, very challenging pregnancy. I’m still recovering from that, so I wasn’t 100 percent going into this Olympics. I definitely think it’s a good story.

However inspiring, Rhode, 37, knows her story is also controversial. As a publicly announced supporter of the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and a proud member of the National Rifle Association, Rhode isn’t shy about her politics.

“When you look at the gun debate and the Olympics, there definitely is that stigmatism that’s attached to our sport due to all the negative publicity that guns get,” she said.

But there’s more to Rhode—and her sport—than shooting skeets, she explained. “Shooting is actually very family-oriented,” she said. And Rhode said she fears that shooting sports could soon be dead because gun control legislation is “killing our sport.”


The Daily Signal caught up with Rhode to talk about alleged bias against her accomplishments, her support for the Second Amendment, and how she handles being a female in a male-dominated sport. Questions have been edited for clarity.

As as an Olympic athlete who has made history, do you believe that you’ve had the same sponsorship opportunities as other medal winners?
Within my industry, I am very well supported and I appreciate everything that I get. Because I think people forget, Olympians don’t get here on their own. But as far as outside of my industry, I would say no, I don’t think we see very many sponsors. When you look back through the history of shooters, nobody else has either. So I find that kind of interesting when you look at how long shooting has been in the Olympics and how many of the mainstream sponsors of the Olympics have actually sponsored a shooter.

Kim Rhode's husband, Mike Harryman, poses with their 3-year-old son as Rhode is awarded a bronze medal. (Photo: Kim Rhode)

Kim Rhode’s husband, Mike Harryman, poses with their 3-year-old son as Rhode is awarded her bronze medal. (Photo: Kim Rhode)

So it sounds like you believe there’s some sort of stigma against your sport?
When you look at the gun debate and the Olympics, there definitely is that stigmatism that’s attached to our sport due to all the negative publicity that guns get. So unfortunately I think people have a hard time separating the fact that we are just a sport—that we teach responsibility, discipline, and focus, and we train really hard like all the other athletes.

I jokingly say that all sports matter. Not just shooting or beach volleyball. Every sport is unique and can bring something to the table and that’s really what the Olympics are about—showcasing all the different sports and the amazing talent from all over the world.

Where do you think the stigma comes from?
I think the misconceptions people have of the sport is that shooting is actually very family-oriented. It’s not a sport where you can take your kid and drop him off, and let somebody else spend the time with them. It’s actually a sport that your mother and father and your family has to be very involved in—in teaching responsibility and discipline and focus. It’s very, very family-oriented. You see fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and mothers and sons out there—whole families shooting together. And I think that’s something that is really wonderful about the sport. It’s also great too that it doesn’t matter your size or your stature. So men and women can truly compete on an equal playing field.

Speaking of equal playing fields, you’ve opened a lot of doors for women to participate in shooting sports, not to mention that you competed in London while you were pregnant—something that men don’t have to think about. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I’ve never really thought of it that way, but I guess you could call me that. I’m definitely in a more male-dominated sport, and kind of breaking down some of those barriers.

You decided to speak out after the San Bernardino terrorist attack that left 14 people dead and 22 injured. Given the nature of your sport, do you feel a responsibility to speak out about gun violence?
We’re just like everybody else looking in and watching it unfold and obviously, our hearts break for those people and their families. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to answer that. When those incidents occur I don’t jump on my phone to call people and be like, this is what I think. Usually I’m getting calls from people to comment on it. In some cases, I’ve stayed out of the conversation, and in other cases like San Bernardino … because my family has some houses near the area, it hit a lot closer to home for me.

Kimberly Rhode's family cheers her on as she competes in the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Photo: Kimberly Rhode)

Kimberly Rhode’s family cheers her on as she competes in the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Photo: Kimberly Rhode)

How do you feel about the most recent calls for more gun control efforts?
The fact that the government would even consider repealing or taking away the Second Amendment is basically the very reason for which it was written. So for me, that is an issue in itself. The [phrase] “right to bear arms,” it’s a right and the right shouldn’t be something voted on. It’s a right.

How have gun control efforts personally impacted you and your sport?
When I look at what [California] Gov. Jerry Brown has passed—he signed six [bills] that he rushed through—and some of them directly affect me. For example, the ammunition one. I average between 500 to 1,000 rounds a day. My sponsor ships me ammo by the pallet because I shoot so much. I won’t be able to do that anymore. Every time I want to purchase ammo, I will have to do a background check and pay for it, which becomes costly when you look at us shooting 500 to 1,000 rounds a day. But, the big thing for me is also traveling with ammo. So, say I go to a competition in Colorado, and I take 200 rounds of ammunition that I purchased in California to Colorado, but I only shoot 100 rounds of it. Well now, I can only bring back something like 30 or 50 shells back into the state of California. So what do I do with the other 50? It becomes very challenging for me in that sense, because ammunition is expensive.

Some might say that’s a small inconvenience to save lives.
But the ammunition that I’m shooting, it’s competition ammunition. It’s what we shoot for clay targets. They aren’t limiting [the law] to any one thing—they’re encompassing it all. All ammunition. These laws that they have passed aren’t going to stop the bad things from happening. If people want to do bad things, they’re going to find ways to do it. Look at Paris, look at some of these instances that have occurred in [places that have] some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. Here in California, we have some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States, but yet we still had San Bernardino … the bad guys aren’t going to follow the law so basically, they’re restricting the law-abiding citizens like me and you.

Do you think gun control efforts will have any effect on the future of your sport?
One of the other things that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into [law] is, you cannot loan a gun to anyone that is not, in my understanding, a blood relative or relative. And if you do [loan it to] a relative, it can only be on occasion. I haven’t gotten into the nitty gritty details of it, but how do you coach kids or teach people if you can’t loan them a gun or shells? How do they go about learning the sport? It’s basically, in a way, killing our sport because who’s going to go in and pay the money to buy all the different stuff and try it to see if they like it? It becomes very challenging to get new people in to try our sport, which affects the pool of people we pull from for our Olympic team and other competitions when we’re competing against the world.


I never heard of these programs, did you? Cardiac rehabilitation programs are great – if you do them.

Cardiac Rehab Improves Health, But Cost And Access Issues Complicate Success

cardiac-rehab1CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Mario Oikonomides credits a massive heart attack when he was 38 for sparking his love of exercise, which he says helped keep him out of the hospital for decades after.

While recovering, he did something that only a small percentage of patients do: He signed up for a medically supervised cardiac rehabilitation program where he learned about exercise, diet and prescription drugs.

“I had never exercised before,” said Oikonomides, 69, who says he enjoyed it so much he stayed active after finishing the program.

Despite evidence showing such programs substantially cut the risk of dying from another cardiac problem, improve quality of life and lower costs, fewer than one-third of patients whose conditions qualify for the rehab actually participate. Various studies show women and minorities, especially African Americans, have the lowest participation rates.

“Frankly, I’m a little discouraged by the lack of attention,” said Brian Contos, who has studied the programs for the Advisory Board, a consulting firm used by hospitals and other medical providers.

Now, though, advocates say cardiac rehab may gain traction, partly because the federal health care law puts hospitals on a financial hook for penalties if patients are readmitted after cardiac problems. Studies have shown that patients’ participation in cardiac rehab cut hospital readmissions by nearly a third and saved money.

The law also creates incentives for hospitals, physicians and other medical providers to work together to better coordinate care.

Cost Undermines Participation

Oikonomides, who lives in Charlottesville, went for three decades without another heart attack after his first, but recently had bypass surgery because of blockages in his heart.

He is again rebuilding his strength at the University of Virginia Health System. “I attribute my 30 good years of life to cardiac rehab,” he said recently while pedaling on a stationary bike in a light-filled gym at one of the university’s outpatient medical centers, a heart monitor strapped to his chest.

But many patients still face hurdles.

Uninsured patients simply can’t afford cardiac rehab. And for those with some form of coverage, “the No. 1 barrier is the cost of the copayment, which is frustrating,” said Dr. Ellen Keeley, a cardiologist at UVA, who strongly encourages her patients to enroll.

Medicare and most private insurers generally cover cardiac rehab for patients who have had heart attacks, coronary bypass surgery, stents, heart failure and several other conditions. Most coverage is two or three hour-long visits per week, up to 36 sessions.

Insured patients usually must make a per visit copay to participate. For regular Medicare members, that runs about $20 a session, although many have private supplemental insurance that covers that cost. For patients with job-based insurance — and enrollees in the alternative to traditional Medicare called Medicare Advantage — out-of-pocket costs can range from nothing per session to more than $60 a pop.

“Some insurers say a copay for a specialty visit is $50, whether that means going to a neurosurgeon once in their life or whether that’s three times a week for cardiac rehab,” said Pat Comoss, a consultant in Harrisburg, Pa., who trains nurses to work in these programs.

Charles Greiner works out at the University of Virginia Health System’s cardiac rehabilitation gym in Charlottesville, Va. (Francis Ying/KHN)

Charles Greiner works out at the University of Virginia Health System’s cardiac rehabilitation gym in Charlottesville, Va. (Francis Ying/KHN)

More than a year ago, federal Medicare officials met with insurers after advocates voiced their concern that higher copays were keeping patients from cardiac rehab, said Karen Lui, a legislative analyst for the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, the profession’s trade group.

“To their credit, they dug in and talked with plans that had much higher copays, such as $100 per session,” said Lui. Medicare officials told insurers that a $50 copay per session is the upper limit a plan should charge,” he added.

UnitedHealth, with nearly 3 million members in Medicare Advantage plans, said patient payments for cardiac rehab vary widely. About 12 percent of members pay nothing, while 23 percent pay $50 a session. Another large insurer, Humana, has a similar range, with copays running up to $60 a session.

Nationally, the weighted average payment now for Medicare members in private plans is just a bit more than the $20 that patients in traditional Medicare pay, said Dale Summers, director of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ division of finance and benefits.

Preventing The Next Heart Attack

Aside from cost, another big reasons so few patients participate is many are never referred to a program. Some hospitals are addressing this disconnect by building automatic referrals into their discharge system.

Patients may be reluctant to attend cardiac rehab, especially if they had not been physically active before their heart problem.

To counter that, Gary Balady, director of preventive cardiology at Boston Medical Center stresses its importance with his patients. He tells them that about 15 percent of heart attack patients may experience another one within a year.

“One of first things we say [in cardiac rehab] is we are here today to work together to prevent the next heart attack,” he said.

At the University of Virginia medical center, heart attack patients are given an appointment to come back to a special clinic within 10 days of discharge. Over the course of about an hour, patients meet with an exercise physiologist, a cardiologist, a nutritionist and a pharmacist — and all in the same exam room.

At the visit, the medical professionals answer questions, go over the patient’s medications, make diet tips and recommend cardiac rehab. Kathryn Ward, manager of UVA’s cardiology clinics, says up to 100 patients a month were referred to the clinic in its first year. Of those, 71 percent enroll, she said, well over the national average.

Other Barriers

Still, patients face other barriers to this kind of care, including time constraints, or having to travel long distances to the nearest program.

And existing programs aren’t enough to accommodate all patients who are eligible. A recent study in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention surveyed 812 existing cardiac rehab programs in the U.S., finding that even if they were expanded modestly and operated at capacity, they could still only serve 47 percent of qualifying patients.

“We have patients who are an hour away from any cardiac facility and they can’t afford the gas money or the time,” said UVA cardiologist Keeley.

Kathyrn Shiflett meets with Dr. Ellen Keeley, a cardiologist, to learn more about post-heart attack care. (Francis Ying/KHN)

Kathyrn Shiflett meets with Dr. Ellen Keeley, a cardiologist, to learn more about post-heart attack care. (Francis Ying/KHN)

Take Kathryn Shiflett of Culpeper, Va. At age 33, the last thing she expected was a heart attack.

But one night in late March, she felt pain in her arm — pain that spread to her jaw — and she felt nauseated. After tests at a local hospital, she was transferred by ambulance to UVA, where cardiologists opened a blocked artery in her heart.

Shiflett, a medical worker with two children, traveled back to UVA a week later for her clinic appointment, and was encouraged to participate in cardiac rehab.

Shiflett found the program appealing because she wants to be active and prevent a repeat of her heart attack. But she lives an hour away. In addition to the distance, she isn’t sure she can make any of the sessions. Cardiac rehab classes are during working hours. The latest starts at 3 p.m.

“I’m not sure I can get there by then,” Shiflett said.

One answer for patients like Shiflett could be a home-based program, which are less common, but drawing increased interest.

“There are a whole plethora of different ways to provide cardiac rehab outside traditional center model,” said Mark Vitcenda, senior clinical exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison.

At his program, patients can start in a supervised program at a center for two or three sessions, then can choose whether to continue in a home-based model, with occasional visits to the center. About 30 to 40 percent of Wisconsin program patients choose the home-based option, he said, with most being younger, working patients with lower medical risk.

“If we can lower the barriers of transportation and cost, patients are able to be more involved,” he said.

CATEGORIES: Cost and QualityMedicareSyndicate


Voting? Seven other things for which the government requires ID

160826_VoterIDedit-1250x650As federal courts wrestle with voter ID laws in several states just months before a national election, there is considerably less attention being brought to other constitutional rights that require ID.

Proponents of voter ID have argued that retailers require ID to buy liquor, M-rated video games, prescriptions, or even nail polish.

But these arguments aren’t really applicable to voter ID, said J. Christian Adams, general counsel for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, and a former Justice Department attorney, who supports voter ID and other election integrity laws.

“Tell me where in the Constitution does it talk about the right to buy liquor or rent a car?” Adams told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “The Constitution does guarantee the right to use firearms, and ID is always required to purchase a firearm. If you talk about buying liquor, the left will shred that argument. If you talk about ID when buying a gun, it boxes them in.”

Here are seven common situations that require an ID.

1. Welfare Benefits

While there is no constitutional right to welfare benefits, the Supreme Court held in the case of Goldberg v. Kelly that welfare recipients are entitled to due process with a hearing before benefits can be terminated.

Nevertheless, several states require some type of proof of identity to collect welfare. The states of Massachusetts and Missouri require a photo ID on the electronic benefit cards used for purchases under food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families expenditures. The EBT cards in Kansas include a photo if a participant agrees, but isn’t required, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New York City has a  municipal ID program. The city’s website says residents will need an ID to “get a job,” “cash a check,” “open a bank account,” “enter a government building,” and, further, says, “To be eligible for some public benefits you need to prove your identity, age and residence.”

2. Registration for Buying Guns

Laws vary by state and even by municipality on buying a firearm.

The District of Columbia, the point of dispute in the landmark Heller Supreme Court decision that determined every American has the right to bear arms, still has very strict gun control laws.

It requires residents to register those guns. Gun owners must also obtain a gun license for any shotgun, rifle, or handgun. The District of Columbia city government prohibits the sale of handguns, but allows restricted sales on rifles and shotguns.

In another example, New York City allows the selling of handguns, but with stricter rules than New York state. To buy a gun in the city, an individual must appear in person to fill out a 17-page handgun purchase authorization form to qualify for a purchase license. The form costs $340 and $89.75 for fingerprinting. The New York Times wrote that applicants “must provide an original Social Security card, birth certificate, two recent color photographs and other documents.”

The application also requires individuals to explain employment dismissal and health history in addition to the background check that all gun buyers go through.

3. Petition Your Government

It isn’t just the Second Amendment that is subject to ID scrutiny. First Amendment freedoms sometimes require some identification, said Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and a former Justice Department attorney.

“The First Amendment guarantees the right to petition your government, but anyone who wants to meet with a Department of Justice official has to show a government-issued photo ID to get into the Department of Justice building for the meeting,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal.

The right to peacefully petition on Capitol Hill—beyond writing or calling a congressional office—generally requires becoming a registered lobbyist. States have various requirements for registered lobbyists as well.

4. Right of Assembly

Further, many municipalities require permits to hold protests or rallies in a public space under certain circumstances. This process varies based on the city, but requires some paperwork by the organizers.

5. Right to Marry

Official ID for obtaining a marriage license is nearly universal across states, said von Spakovsky. He noted that under the 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling by the Supreme Court, marriage is a fundamental right.

Today, the state at the center of that case requires photo ID. Fairfax County, Virginia, near the District of Columbia, states that requirements to get a marriage license include a “valid photo identification (a valid driver’s license with picture, passport, or military identification).”

And, New York City’s website states, “You and your prospective spouse must have one form of proper identification in order to apply for a Marriage License.” The options include a driver’s license, active military ID card, passport, or permanent resident card.

6. Freedom of Movement

While the right to board an airplane isn’t spelled out in the Constitution, von Spakovsky said the right to travel could be broadly considered a basic public accommodation and a freedom of movement issue, even though the Transportation Security Administration requires photo ID for everyone boarding a plane.

Freedom of movement is recognized under the privileges and immunitiesclause of the Constitution. The Supreme Court held in 1869 that this protected the rights of citizens, the “right of free ingress into other states, and egress from them.”

“The 1960s civil rights movement was in part about the fundamental right to travel on trains and public buses,” von Spakovsky said.

7. Public Accommodations

Opponents of voter ID laws contend that it’s difficult for minorities to obtain ID for voting. This could reasonably extend to public accommodations, von Spakovsky said.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits businesses such as restaurants and hotels from denying service on the grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin.

“I can’t remember when I checked into a hotel and they didn’t ask me for photo ID,” von Spakovsky said.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is involved in current litigation against voter ID laws in states such as North Carolina, Kansas, and Texas, told The Daily Signal Wednesday that no one is available to comment regarding these other civil liberties that require some type of ID.


Got an iPhone? Here’s why you MUST update it.

img_4032_720If you have an iPhone, you need to update it to the latest operating system, iOS 9.3.5 Just go to your Settings app (the cog symbol), tap “General,” and then “Software Update.” Then tap “Download and Install”.

Why? As Motherboard and Popular Science report today, security researchers have found a new malicious program that can secretly bypass the security on your iPhone and capture almost all of your data, including all your texts, phone calls, emails, even burrowing into your Facebook and Gmail apps.

Fortunately, Apple’s newest version of its free iPhone software, iOS 9.3.5, fixes the security vulnerabilities that this malware uses to attack your phone. So if you download and install it, you should be safe.The photo is from the screen on my iPhone – I have now downloaded the protection.

Again, this is why we need to rethink computer security. This is from Motherboard:

The link didn’t lead to any secrets, but to a sophisticated piece of malware that exploited three different unknown vulnerabilities in Apple’s iOS operating system that would have allowed the attackers to get full control of Mansoor’s iPhone, according to new joint reports released on Thursday by Citizen Lab and mobile security company Lookout.

“One of the most sophisticated pieces of cyberespionage software we’ve ever seen.”

This is the first time that anyone has uncovered such an attack in the wild. Until this month, no one had seen an attempted spyware infection leveraging three unknown bugs, or zero-days, in the iPhone. The tools and technology needed for such an attack, which is essentially a remote jailbreak of the iPhone, can be worth as much as one million dollars. After the researchers alerted Apple, the company worked quickly to fix them in an update released on Thursday.

The question is, who was behind the attack and what did they use to pull it off?

It appears that the company that provided the spyware and the zero-day exploits to the hackers targeting Mansoor is a little-known Israeli surveillance vendor called NSO Group, which Lookout’s vice president of research Mike Murray labeled as “basically a cyber arms dealer.”

As I have been warning. Hacking is on the increase. Zero days attacks are all too common and becoming increasingly damaging. Current cyber-defense methodology is reactive. Look what we just had to do – download a fix. Wouldn’t it be better if the malware could never load on your phone? That there were no zero days?

Until the world adopts a proactive position such as an HDF solution using Host Integrity Technology, and embraces the philosophy that prevention is better than the cure, we will only see more and worse malware attacks. Check out the videos here: to see what we should be using. This anti-malware solution can stop an attack on a hospital operating table, or from changing traffic lights, or immobilizing police cars, redirecting drones, speeding up trains, or blowing up power plants. Hacking turns our infrastructure against us. It weaponizes it on our own soil.

The government and enterprise must wake up and install Host Integrity Technology. They must stop fighting the last war. Meanwhile, check your iPhone for updates and if you know anything about computers, malware and threats, check out these very cool videos.

The Cold War is back. And the first casualty is truth.

communist_usa-flag_720It’s back. Russia is taking on the West. It is fearful of NATO and trying to outwit the Allies. Its cyber-Army is focused on attacking and controlling strategic infrastructure, exposing and undermining political processes (The Democrat and Clinton hacks will not be the last. The Republicans must be worried, too.) As we know, Zero Day Attacks (where parasitic computer malware is planted ready to attack, command and control its host) is planted across the West just awaiting to be launched. The NSA itself was hacked and its cache of zero day codes was stolen and put up for auction on the web. The culprit? Russia is the most likely, and most capable, suspect.

And now, Russia is up to its old soviet-era tricks. As Putin wages his own survival war with arch-rival Igor Sechin, he is spreading the airwaves with lies. The dissemination of untruths allows him to steal a march in his battle to hold onto to power in Moscow and hold firm in his battle for the Crimea and Ukraine.

From the New York Times:

The planting of false stories is nothing new; the Soviet Union devoted considerable resources to that during the ideological battles of the Cold War. Now, though, disinformation is regarded as an important aspect of Russian military doctrine, and it is being directed at political debates in target countries with far greater sophistication and volume than in the past.

The flow of misleading and inaccurate stories is so strong that both NATO and the European Union have established special offices to identify and refute disinformation, particularly claims emanating from Russia.

The Kremlin’s clandestine methods have surfaced in the United States, too, American officials say, identifying Russian intelligence as the likely source of leaked Democratic National Committee emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The Kremlin uses both conventional media — Sputnik, a news agency, and RT, a television outlet — and covert channels…that are almost always untraceable…Both depict the West as grim, divided, brutal, decadent, overrun with violent immigrants and unstable.

Russia exploits both approaches in a comprehensive assault, Wilhelm Unge, a spokesman for the Swedish Security Service, said this year when presenting the agency’s annual report. “We mean everything from internet trolls to propaganda and misinformation spread by media companies like RT and Sputnik,” he said.

As we all know, the minute a story hits the internet it takes on a life of its own. And the Russians have worked out how to whip up stories and confuse people.

Disinformation most famously succeeded in early 2014 with the initial obfuscation about deploying Russian forces to seize Crimea. That summer, Russia pumped out a dizzying array of theories about the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, blaming the C.I.A. and, most outlandishly, Ukrainian fighter pilots who had mistaken the airliner for the Russian presidential aircraft.

The cloud of stories helped veil the simple truth that poorly trained insurgents had accidentally downed the plane with a missile supplied by Russia.

Right now, in the middle of a bitter election, you should check whether anything you read or hear about Europe or NATO or the US has sprung from a Russian source. Ignore it if it has. Moscow naturally denies using disinformation to influence what we think here in the West, and responds to accusations with “It’s Russophobia.” But it’s doing it. Really work the internet to find the original source of what you read. Check and double-check. And beware of “useful idiots” – the ignorant who spread the message on behalf of the power-hungry Putin.

Speaking this summer on the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Information Bureau, Mr. Kiselyev said the age of neutral journalism was over. “If we do propaganda, then you do propaganda, too,” he said, directing his message to Western journalists.

“Today, it is much more costly to kill one enemy soldier than during World War II, World War I or in the Middle Ages,” he said in an interview on the state-run Rossiya 24 network. While the business of “persuasion” is more expensive now, too, he said, “if you can persuade a person, you don’t need to kill him.”

How to give yourself a 3-minute foot massage.

Hard day at work? Kids running you ragged? Overdid it on the machine? Got a spouse who’s always demanding a foot rub? Here’s a quick guide to a brief but effective self-delivered foot massage – which would work for your spouse as well!

If you’re serious about foot massage, you probably know about reflexology. Reflexology is an alternative medicine involving application of pressure to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on a system of zones and reflex areas that purportedly reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body. Here is a chart which shows which parts of your feet relate to other parts of your body.


While there is no convincing evidence that reflexology is effective for any medical condition I resorted to it when I had a brutal sinus infection while pregnant and unable to take medications. The lady rubbed one of my toes and instantly the “damn broke” in my sinus and I could breathe again. Was it coincidence, i was lying down at the time, I don’t know. But, boy was I glad to have it cleared.

Lockout The Fun! – Lifestyle Regulation Madness from Topher Field Down Under

Our favorite Ozzie, Topher Field is back with videos #3 and #4 in his rail against the system. In video #3 he discovers that bureaucrats want to be our mothers, telling us when to cross the street, what food to eat, what shows to watch, what games to play, the only thing they WON’T do is wipe our bottoms.

Gopher also brings you Lockout The Fun, video #4 from the Lifestyle Regulation Madness series, where he asks how a 2am lockout can stop a 10:30pm assault, and finally answers the question of whether Sydney or Melbourne is a better city.

Grilling steaks over lava. Because we can.

As part of Syracuse University’s Earth Sciences Lava Project, two students wanted to see if they could come some thick, juicy stakes using only grill and lava.

According to the website: The Syracuse University Lava Project is a collaboration between sculptor Bob Wysocki (Assistant Professor, Department of Art) and geologist Jeff Karson (Professor, Department of Earth Sciences) at Syracuse University. The goals of the project include scientific experiments, artistic creations, education, and outreach to the Syracuse University and City communities. Basaltic lava, similar to that found on the seafloor and erupted from volcanoes in Hawaii and Iceland, is melted and poured to produce natural-scale lava flows. The project supports a wide variety of scientific experiments engaging faculty and students at SU and volcanologists from other institutions. The natural beauty and particular properties of the lava are the basis for sculpture projects. In addition, lava pours are staged at the SU Comstock Art Building for classes, student groups, and the public. The SU Lava Project brings the spectacle and excitement of a volcanic eruption to Central New York.

I liked the bit at the end when they drop the meat directly onto the lava.

How to relight the pilot light on your water heater

If you live in a home with a gas water heater and notice cold water coming from your hot water faucet, there’s a good chance your pilot light has gone out. Don’t worry: in most cases, you can relight a pilot without calling in a professional, and you’ll have hot water again in a few hours’ time. While having your heater’s instruction manual around is handy, it’s not entirely necessary, as most gas water heaters require a similar procedure for relighting the pilot light.

Assessing the Situation
Check the pilot light. You will probably need to remove a small panel, called an access panel, at the bottom of the tank in order to see whether the pilot light is actually out. If you do not see a small flame burning, then your pilot light has gone out.

If you have a newer water heater, it is possible that your panel is not removable and that you view your pilot light through glass. In this case, if you cannot see a flame burning through the glass, then your pilot light is out.

Make sure there is no leaking gas. You should never try to reignite your pilot if there is gas leaking from your water heater, as this is extremely dangerous to both you and your home. Before attempting to relight the pilot, do a simple smell test to check for leakage.

Stand next to your water heater and see if you detect any unusual smells. Then kneel down and sniff near any valves on the front and side of the tank. Natural gas is odorless by nature, but gas companies add a substance called mercaptan to it to make it detectable to humans. Leaking gas smells like sulfur or rotten eggs.

If you smell gas in either of these places (even a faint smell), do not attempt to relight the pilot. Leave the area of the water heater and call your gas company immediately; they will tell you how to proceed.

Also listen for a hissing sound near the water heater, as this is a sign of a gas leak.

Check inside the door panel of your water heater for instructions. Specific instruction of details for your individual model may be listed here, and they may help guide you in the process of relighting the pilot for your specific water heater.
Preparing to Relight the Pilot
Set the temperature control setting to the lowest temperature. This is typically located on the front of a box found on the outside of the water heater.

Locate the regulator valve. This valve is usually located on the same box as the temperature control, only it’s likely on top of the box; it regulates gas flow to the pilot burner beneath the hot water tank.

Turn the knob to the “Off” position. After turning the knob off, wait 10 minutes before proceeding to allow any residual gas from the tank to clear from the air. Safety is key!

Determine what style of water heater you have. There are two basic styles of gas hot water heaters, “new” and “old.” Old style heaters will require you to use your own flame to relight the pilot, while new style tanks come equipped with a pilot light igniter.

The exact look of the buttons on new style tanks may vary, but many have a red igniter button set a few inches away from the temperature and regulator valves.

Collect any necessary lighting materials. If you have an old style water heater, you will need to find a long reach “wand” lighter or fireplace matches to relight the pilot.

Do not attempt to relight a pilot with a regular matchstick or a small cigarette lighter, as this will require placing your fingers in a small, tight space too close to the open flame and put you in danger of getting burned.

Find the pilot. The pilot is located at the end of the small silver tube that comes out the control valve. You may need to use a flashlight to see this area clearly.

Relighting the Pilot Light
Turn the gas valve to the “Pilot” setting and push down on it. Doing this starts the flow of gas into the tube that supplies the pilot light

If your water heater’s gas valve does not push down, look for a red control button near the valve. Hold this button down.

Light the pilot burner. While holding down the pilot gas valve or the red button with one hand, you will use your other hand to quickly light the pilot.

If you have a new style water tank with a built-in ignition switch, press this button. You should hear a clicking noise until the pilot burner lights. If you have an old style heater, apply your wand lighter/match to the pilot burner.

Because you will be using one hand to depress the valve/red button and one hand to light the pilot, you may need someone to hold a flashlight for you if extra light is needed. Try to ask someone for help in advance so that you don’t get halfway through the process, then have to stop because you are unable to see what you’re doing.

Continue holding down the gas valve or control button for 1 minute after the pilot light has been lit. This will heat the thermocouple, which is a sensor that shuts the gas off when the pilot is out.

Release the valve knob/control button. After a minute, release the valve and control button to see whether the pilot light remains lit.

Replace the access panels. If the pilot light has remained lit, put the access panel back into place (if you had to remove it initially) so that no flame can escape into your home.

Reignite the main burner. Turn the main gas valve back “On” and adjust the temperature control to your desired setting. The main burner under the tank should light and begin heating the water in the tank.

Set the thermostat to your desired temperature. Be sure not to make it too hot, as you could inadvertently scald your hands or body while washing or bathing. 49 C (120 F) is the temperature recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

If the Video above didn’t work for you:

If this process does not work, make sure the base of the pilot light is not dirty or clogged. If it is, clean it and attempt this process again after 10-15 min. You can also try holding the valve/control button 30-45 seconds longer after igniting the pilot light.

Low gas pressure or a malfunctioning gas valve may also be to blame if this process doesn’t work. Contact an appliance repair person, a plumber, or your gas company if you are unable to light the water heater after several attempts.

If the pilot light doesn’t relight or goes out immediately after relighting, you may have a bad thermocouple. The thermocouple extends from the temperature control into the flame area of the pilot light. They are relatively cheap, and you can install one yourself.

Tiny SquirrelSquirrel Warnings
If you smell gas anywhere in your house, call your gas company immediately. Even a “little bit of gas” is too much.

Do not turn the gas valve back on until you have replaced the access panels. Doing so could cause a flame to come out of the water heater.

And from the International Association of Certified Home InspectorsWhile many inspectors and homeowners may not be aware of the danger, a number of houses are destroyed every year when a pilot light ignites the explosive gasses released from insecticide “bug bombs” and foggers. A fire erupted in a Newburgh, Ohio house after a man placed a roach fumigator under his kitchen sink and the fumes reached his oven’s pilot light. Even worse, when homeowners employ a recklessly large number of these foggers, they can generate enough gas to create a catastrophic explosion, and the determination of homeowners driven mad by cockroaches and fleas is occasionally enough incentive for them to employ such overkill. In one case, 19 foggers were Bug bombs were detonated by a pilot light, destroying this small San Diego homeunleashed in a 470-square foot San Diego home, filling the building with so much gas that the pilot light destroyed the home and launched shrapnel into the street. Fortunately, foggers are typically used in buildings that have been vacated. Three men were hospitalized, however, when an oven’s pilot light in a Thai restaurant in Perth, Australia ignited the gas released from 36 foggers – enough to blow the roof off the building in a massive explosion that rocked the suburban neighborhood, causing $500,000 in damages.

Allergies: Finding alternatives to antihistamines

You’ve probably seen commercials before for antihistamine allergy medicines like Sudafed and Benadryl. For some people, these products offer relief during allergy season. But for many more, they have even more debilitating side effects, like headaches, drowsiness, and even prostate damage.

Image: Facebook, cat with pollen

Instead of resorting to antihistamines, try a natural remedy for your seasonal allergies. The most common and inexpensive is a simple nasal spray, usually using saline or salt water. Nasal sprays will cleanse the pollen from your nose, which should stop it from running, at least temporarily.

Use the spray every time you start to feel the effects of allergies.

Another natural solution is quercetin, a plant-derived flavonoid available in supplement form at many natural stores. It’s been well-established that quercetin is very effective at reducing allergic inflammation. Just make sure you don’t take it with other medication, as these can nullify the healing effects of quercetin.

Histamine triggers an inflammatory response, which causes allergy symptoms like redness, swelling, itching, and mucous production. By reducing histamine levels, “the quercetin will reduce your symptoms — especially nasal congestion,” says Schmitt. Not a drinker? Other foods that are high in this antioxidant are onions, apples, and berries.

And here’s a cool tip: Load up on pineapple before you down that glass of Two Buck Chuck. Pineapple contains a protein called bromelain, which actually helps the body absorb quercetin.

Naturally occurring quertcetin can be found in

capers, canned
dock like sorrel
radish leaves
carob fiber
Hungarian wax pepper
fennel leaves
onion, red
plums, black
cow peas
sweet potato
blueberry, cultivated
sea buckthorn berry
prickly pear cactus fruits
apples, Red Delicious
tea, black or green Camellia sinensis

Avoid Echinacea which, while usually very healthful, can actually make your seasonal allergies worse.

Red, red Wine
For your diet, try having a glass of red wine every night while your allergies persist. (It also contains quercetin.) Wine will boost your body with antioxidants, which are known to help battle allergy symptoms. If you have the misfortune to be allergic to wine itself, look for bottles that are sulfite-free. It’s usually the sulfites that trigger the reaction.

Apples, bananas, onions, and grapes have all been shown to help reduce seasonal allergy problems. But be forewarned: not all fruit is good here. Kiwis, pears, cherries, and peaches have all been shown to cross-react with pollen and can actually make your allergies worse. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to help fight allergies, so you may want to eat more fish for dinner as well.

srctiny_360The Squirrel says: The simplest and easiest allergy remedy? Clean out the yellow stuff! Get the pollen off your window sills, your car, and your doorways.

Don’t be a firebug. These geezers must pay $37 million

-191a18c5b32e43b2Two men suspected of starting a wildfire last year that scorched 40 square miles of Oregon forestland could soon get a bill for at least $37 million.

The Oregon Department of Forestry says they’re still finalizing firefighting costs for the 2015 Stouts Creek fire that burned east of Canyonville. The agency will send a bill once that’s done.

Investigators spent months trying to pinpoint the cause, and their research ultimately pointed to the same men: Dominic Decarlo, 70, of Days Creek, and Cloyd Deardorff, 64, of Yuma, Arizona.

The cause? Their lawnmowers.

The Oregonian reported that fire investigators believe the men used their lawnmowers during hours prohibited by fire restrictions when the blaze started July 30, 2015.

Kyle Reed with the Douglas Forest Protective Association (Photo credit) says the men were cited for unlawful use of fire. Decarlo paid $110 in fines and Deardorff paid $440.

But Oregon also holds individuals financially responsible for fire suppression costs. An appeal is expected.

Tiny SquirrelThe Squirrel says: Fire season requires residents to be at a heightened awareness for the dangers of wildfire. Your local fire agency takes every precaution to help protect you and your property from fire. However, during a large wildfire, there may not be enough fire engines or firefighters to defend every home. Successful preparation requires you to take personal responsibility for protecting yourself, your family from the dangers of wildfire.
Ready- Be ready 
Be Firewise. Take personal responsibility and prepare long before the threat of a wildland fire so your home is ready in case of a wildfire. Create defensible space by clearing brush away from your home. Use fire-resistant landscaping and protect your home with fire-safe materials.  Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe place. Plan escape routes and make sure all those living in your home know your wildfire action plan.
Set- Be prepared 
Put together a “go kit” and pack your emergency items. Stay aware of the latest news and information on the fire from local media, your local fire and police agencies.
Go- Act early
Follow your personal wildland fire action plan. Get yourself and your family to safety. Doing so will not only support your safety, but will allow firefighters to best maneuver resources to combat the fire.

Rosehips – another of Nature’s medical miracles.

IMG_4009I’m visiting Cape Cod and just saw these lovely rose hips. They made me wish I was staying longer  as I LOVE Rosehip Syrup.


Rosehips look and sometimes taste like tiny apples. They are sweeter when there’s been a cold snap or frost, so early Fall is a good time to pick them.

Rosehips are hairy and full of seeds so they require special handling so you don’t get either stuck in your throat.

They are very high in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids and are anti-inflammatory says DIYNatural. All this strengthens the walls of our blood vessels, protects against infection, improves liver function, and lowers blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Allegedly, rose hips also support a healthy placenta. And rosehip or petal tea has been used topically as a wash to improve capillary health in all parts of the eye for old-school treatments of cataracts and inflammation. (Find dried rosehips here.)

As well as making tea, I love the syrup, having been raised on a teaspoon a day as a kid to “fight colds.” This syrup can be used when a boost of immunity is needed, or when you want a delicious topping for ice cream or pancakes.

Rosehip Syrup Recipe
This Rosehip Syrup recipe  from is packed with hedgerow goodness. Drink like a cordial or serve drizzled over ice-cream or add to milky deserts (or gin, just sayin’).

Rosehips contain twenty times more vitamin C than you find in oranges. As a result and due to the lack of citrus fruits, the British government during World War Two encouraged citizens to make rosehip syrup.


  • 1kg rosehip: You can use either the small Dog rose (Rosa canina) or the larger Japanese rose (Rosa rugosa), both have excellent flavour.
  • 3 litres of water
  • 500g dark brown soft sugar

Suggested Instructions

  1. Bring to the boil 2 litres of water.
  2. Chop rosehips in food processor until mashed up, then add to boiling water.
  3. Bring water back to the boil, then remove from heat and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
  4. Pour rosehips and liquid into a scalded jelly bag and allow the juice to drip through. Gently squeeze the jelly bag to extract as much liquid as possible. Be careful not to rip the bag. (Kelly here: Back in the day, my mother used to strain rosehips through two or three layers of fine nylon stockings, tied to a towel rail, but I guess we’ve all moved on from that!)
  5. Add rosehip pulp back to a saucepan containing 1 litre of water and bring back to the boil. Then remove from heat and allow the contents to steep for another 20 minutes before straining through the jelly bag as in Step 3.
  6. Add sugar to the strained rosehip liquid and dissolve, allow to simmer for five minutes, then pour into hot, sterilised bottles.

Makes: Approximately 2 liters

Over a Thousand Motorists Stranded by the Flood: Are You Prepped for Something Like This?

louisiana-flood-1-750x530As the waters in Louisiana continue to rise, over a thousand motorists stranded by the flood have been stuck on Interstate 12 for more than 24 hours. Southeast Louisiana has been hard-hit before with flooding, and a decade after Hurricane Katrina, people are still trying to rebuild.

Some families were trying to evacuate, as flood waters crept closer to their homes, while others were going about their day-to-day business. The National Guard has dispatched helicopters to drop food, water, and supplies to the folks who are waiting in their cars for rescue.

Being stranded in your vehicle is not as rare as you might think. A few years back, a freak snowstorm in Georgia and Alabama resulted in a gridlock that left motorists heading home from work stranded in their cars overnight. And in an even more dramatic event, one family was stranded in the frigid wilderness for days after an accident, surviving on what they had with them in their Jeep.

There are several preparedness lessons to be learned from this disaster:

  • Your car kit should see you through at least 48 hours.  Do you have enough water and food that doesn’t require cooking to get your family through an event like this? Do you have a way to keep small children entertained? Go here to see what I keep in my car kit. Yes, it’s extensive, but in a situation like this one, we could last for days without waiting for a helicopter to drop supplies to us.
  • Whenever possible, evacuate before things get this bad.  Timing is everything when it comes to an evacuation. If you get out early, you won’t get stuck in traffic and are less likely to encounter insurmountable hazards. (This is an excellent guide to evacuations.) Of course, you can’t always make it out ahead of the crowd, especially in a situation with conditions that strike suddenly, like wildfire (check out the videos here to see how fast it can happen) or flash floods.
  • Keep your gas tank above 3/4 full.  If you get stranded, you may need to run your vehicle for warmth, to keep the cell phone battery charged, and to listen to news updates. You’ll be glad you kept the tank topped up.

If you were stranded in your car, would you have to wait for supplies to be dropped?

None of these steps take a whole lot of money or effort. Go to your pantry right now and choose some supplies to add to your vehicle. It can’t hurt, and it could possibly make a miserable experience a lot less unpleasant.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a single mom who lives in a small village in the mountains of Northern California, where she homeschools her youngest daughter and raises veggies, chickens, and a motley assortment of dogs and cats.   She is a best-selling author who has written several books, including The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and  The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource.  Daisy is a prolific blogger who has been widely republished throughout alternative media. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health, self-reliance, personal liberty, and preparedness. You can follow her on FacebookPinterest,  and Twitter,.

Aqua Dam holds back floodwater in Texas

Wow! Watch this video. He turned his home into an island with plastic tubes full of water. It cost $8,300 and saved his entire home. He says people laughed when he installed it – but they’re not laughing now!

Here’s the website link for Aqua Dam. They have outfits in Louisiana, Maryland and California.

I’m From Louisiana. Here’s the Flooding Story the Media Should Cover.

As a south Louisiana native who lived through Hurricane Katrina, I have every right to be aggravated with the national news coverage of the state’s latest natural disaster.

Due to massive flooding over the last week, one-third of the state’s parishes (called counties everywhere else) are official federal disaster areas.

Louisiana rainfallThe population for those parishes is almost 2 million people. One of the hardest hit areas is Livingston Parish (home to almost 140,000 people), where local officials estimate 75 percent of the homes are completely destroyed.

And it’s not over. Some rivers haven’t crested yet, and the flood warning has been extended to parishes that haven’t seen any flooding yet. More than a third of the state could see severe flooding.

By comparison, about 70 percent of the 134,000 homes in New Orleans were damaged (not necessarily due to flooding) during Katrina. Other areas of the Gulf Coast were also hit, but the bulk of the damage was in New Orleans and its suburbs.

After around 10,000 people sought shelter in the Superdome (even though everyone had been warned that the facility would not be opened because it was not a shelter), the national media turned the disaster into a national tragedy.

Over a decade later, no matter where I travel, when I tell someone I’m from New Orleans I get questions about Katrina.

160818_Louisiana_Michel-1250x650Now, with 40 percent of the state’s population in official disaster areas, there’s hardly a peep out of the national media. But I’m not mad.

I’m proud to be associated—even if only by birth—with what’s going on in Louisiana.

People are coming together and helping each other every day. People with boats—a big number down there—are rescuing people and helping on their own, without anyone asking.

They’ve been dubbed the “Cajun Navy,” and they’re yet another example of a disaster in Louisiana bringing out the best in people. Officials estimate that more than 15,000 people have been rescued, but everyone knows the real number is higher than that.

Many people are frustrated with the lack of national news coverage, and social media has been the best source for figuring out which of your friends and relatives are safe. Some articles have pointed out that the shootings in Baton Rouge and Milwaukee (and Donald Trump) garnered more attention than the flooding, and it’s impossible to argue that the media is covering this disaster the way it covered Katrina.

Maybe it’s just disaster fatigue, or perhaps it really is because there is no racism/terrorism/riot/sick entertainment component. I won’t judge, but it’s clear that a tragedy of much smaller proportion in New Orleans was a bigger story. Who, outside of Louisianans, has heard of Denham Springs or Baker?

Regardless, people should know about what’s happening there. It’s a human spirit story, a great example of people coming together to help each other out. And anyone from—or related to anyone in—these areas in south Louisiana knows better than to expect anything less.

Regular everyday people, resilient to the core, rising to the occasion, and helping out their neighbors may not make for entertaining “news,” but it says much more about human nature than whether Justin Bieber quit Instagram.



Portrait of Norbert Michel

Norbert Michel studies and writes about housing finance, including the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as The Heritage Foundation’s research fellow in financial regulations. Read his research.

How to Talk About Gun Rights With Gun Control Advocates

HandgunGuns are a tricky topic. Very rarely do you find voters ambivalent about gun violence, gun safety, etc. Someone is either strongly pro-gun rights or pro-gun control, which makes a civil conversation difficult to start or maintain. But the solution isn’t to avoid the topic.

As I mentioned in my last column, you may be the only conservative who tries to challenge a liberal’s worldview. No pressure.

It may sound like a heavy weight to bear, but not if you’re prepared. So, let’s talk guns.


Here are a few strategies that work well:

1.) Common Ground

Even though the other side often demonizes those who support gun rights, it’s important that you not return the favor.

Instead, work hard to find common ground on such a hostile topic. You will develop instant goodwill and buy some credibility as you support a viewpoint the media often finds “crazy.”

So, what’s the common ground? Whether pro-gun rights or pro-gun control, both sides are motivated by one general desire: safety.

The goal is to keep people safe. One side aims to do so via tougher restrictions and therefore fewer guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens; the other side aims to do so via looser restrictions and therefore more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens. The goal is the same—prevent future gun violence. The means to that end is the sticking point.

Start by acknowledging your shared goal.

2.) Examples

Personal anecdotes and stories can go a long way to diffuse a hostile topic like gun ownership. Humanizing your position will only strengthen your argument and paint a clearer picture of what you believe.

For example, when I discuss the importance of gun rights, I like to highlight that I am a woman who values safety in an often unsafe city like the District of Columbia.  Since the police can’t be everywhere at all times, it’s important for someone like me to be able to protect myself.

Another way to lend credibility to your argument is to highlight real-life, recent, or current events where having a gun could’ve saved lives. The shootings at both the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the Bataclan theater in Paris are examples of long-lasting hostage situations that could’ve ended much sooner if someone on the scene had a gun.

Don’t just tell your audience that more shootings happen in gun-free zones, cite examples to show when and how.

3.) Words

Sadly, in the age of the Kardashians, “Bachelor in Paradise,” and Snapchat, most Americans don’t know what the Second Amendment is, or even understand the phrase “right to bear arms.” Instead, use words that are easy to comprehend and evoke more emotion like “the right to protect yourself.”

Also, you can’t go wrong stealing the other side’s language like “fair” or “choice” (i.e.: “As a woman, it is important that I have the same rights to choose to defend myself…”).

In summary, find common ground by talking about this issue from a safety perspective, use real-life examples, and steal the left’s language to frame your narrative.

So, bite the bullet (pun intended) and speak up.


Portrait of Beverly Hallberg

Beverly Hallberg is the president of District Media Group.

Love Liberty? Curious about the State of the Nation? Cato just wrecked your plans for the day

The Cato Institute is a libertarian-leaning think tank that has just performed a Herculean public service by putting together this interactive chart and all the research to back it up. Now you can measure a state’s freedom by firearms, tax, education, prison, drugs, and a whole host of other factors by typing in the things you find important. Check out your Freedom!

Freedom in the 50 States
An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom
Freedom in the 50 States is one of the most comprehensive and definitive sources on how public policies in each American state impact an individual’s economic, social, and personal freedoms. The Cato Institute’s new 2016 edition examines state and local government intervention across a wide range of policy categories—from taxation to debt, from eminent domain laws to occupational licensing, and from drug policy to educational choice.

In addition to the study being available as a free download, over 230 policy variables and their sources are available on a specially designed companion website that enables policymakers, concerned citizens, scholars, and others, to create customized indices of freedom, or download data for their own individual analyses.

Freedom in the 50 States is an essential reference for anyone interested in state policy and in advancing a better understanding of a free society.

Read, download, and explore the data at FREEDOMINTHE50STATES.ORG.

Create a custom index or download the data.

Download a free PDF of the full 2016 edition.

Buy the paperback edition at the Cato Bookstore.

Like Freedom in the 50 States on Facebook.

Make a Monkey Fist – useful as a keychain – or weapon!

Easy to make with a Monkey Jig, some cord and a marlin spike. Not only is it a really attractive key chain, but if there’s a big enough ball bearing or golf ball inside, you can punch holes in dry wall, or tap an assailant on the temples!


Is it really easier to get a “Gun Than a Book”?

President Barack Obama said it is easier in some neighborhoods to get a gun than a book. Is that true? The fact checkers weighed in and we have their verdict: it’s false. Here’s why: To buy a gun in most states, you need to be 18 and pass a background check. To get a book, all you need is a library card. And when it comes to price, there is no evidence that books are more expensive than guns. So why does Obama keep making this false claim?