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Another American city bans headphones and texting while walking

woman crossing street
© STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images/ Breaking two Montclair laws at once

Montclair, California, jumps on this silly victim-blaming bandwagon.

Lots of people who walk are being killed these days by people who drive. These days also, more and more cities are bringing in laws that ban people who walk from using phones or wearing earphones while they cross the street. Last year we wrote about Honolulu; now it’s Montclair, California, which has passed an ordinance that reads: “No pedestrian shall cross a street or highway while engaged in a phone call, viewing a mobile electronic device or with both ears covered or obstructed by personal audio equipment.”

According to David Allen of the Daily Bulletin,

If you’ve ever stopped at a red light and sighed at the sight of pedestrians crossing in front of you with their head down gazing at their phone, or wearing headphones that block all street sounds, this may represent the most popular thing the Montclair City Council has ever done.

David Allen doesn’t tell us if he is in his car with the windows rolled up and the stereo going, nor does he explain what the problem is, given that he is stopped at the red light and the people walking in front of him have the right of way. He may sigh, but they are not hurting anyone.

Allen does tell us that “City Manager Ed Starr hatched the idea for the law while reading about a “cell phone lane” in Chongqing, China.” Not on the basis of any research or after any discussion about whether it makes any sense to go after distracted kids instead of distracted old people who are moving slowly, looking down for cracks and slip hazards and don’t hear very well. I suppose they will be next.

I have written about this so many times. I have noted that the real problem is that that this is an urban design issue, as our roads are designed to let cars drive fast, not to protect the pedestrians. It’s an automobile design issue, as more people drive deadly SUVs and pickup trucks. It’s a demographic issue, as older people are more likely to die if they are hit. The use of smart phones by pedestrians is a non-issue, a rounding error and an excuse for happy motoring.

These distracted walking laws have nothing to do with protecting pedestrians; they are designed to protect drivers. “She couldn’t see me because she was doing Facetime” has been used as an excuse by speeding drivers who hit little girls. No doubt this will also be used to harass kids slouching across streets like jaywalking laws are.

Over on Streetsblog, Angie Schmitt makes this point effectively in a post titled American Cities and the Creeping Criminalization of Walking:

Instead of addressing the root causes of pedestrian deaths, our institutions have criminalized the ordinary act of walking, exposing the most vulnerable members of society to the punitive effects of biased law enforcement.

She notes also that it is like the old jaywalking laws;

Creating a social stigma around people who refused to cede the street to cars was a means for car companies to redirect blame back onto victims and strengthen motorists’ claim to the right-of-way.

I just put this last paragraph from my Honolulu post into my text shortcuts because I suspect I am going to repeating it a lot as these stupid laws get passed across the States:

TreeHugger totally agrees that one should not use a phone while crossing the street. We also suggest that you don’t get old, have a disability that might slow you down, don’t go out at night, don’t be poor and don’t live in the suburbs, all of which contribute to people who walk being killed by people who drive. This bylaw willfully ignores the real reasons pedestrians are getting killed, and instead is just more victim blaming.

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Laura Ingraham attacks LeBron James for criticizing Trump: ‘Shut up and dribble’

Fox News host Laura Ingraham attacked NBA star LeBron James on Thursday after the Cleveland Cavaliers star criticized President Trump, saying he didn’t “give a fuck” about Americans.“The No. 1 job in America … is someone who doesn’t understand the people and really don’t give a fuck about the people,” James said in a recorded video with ESPN’s Cari Champion and fellow NBA player Kevin Durant.

The video was recorded around the time Trump came under fire for referring to some countries as “shithole countries.”

Ingraham said James’ comments could be a “cautionary lesson” for kids.

“This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. And it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” she said.

The NBA star graduated from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 2003.

“You’re great players, but no one voted for you,” Ingraham said, referring to James and Durant. “Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So, keep the political commentary to yourself, or, as someone once said, ‘Shut up and dribble.’

 

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Florida Republicans’ Offers Of Prayers Invite Accusations Of Hypocrisy

by Nick Visser –

Shortly after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) tweeted that "Today is that terrible day you pray never comes." (Drew Angerer via Getty Images)
Shortly after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) tweeted that “Today is that terrible day you pray never comes.” (Drew Angerer via Getty Images)
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Florida Republicans Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott were swift to condemn the horrific school shooting in their state on Wednesday afternoon, offering prayers after a gunman killed at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Scott called for “thoughts and prayers” as news of the shooting emerged, and Rubio sent off a tweet calling the shooting an event “you pray never comes.”

But bothmen have a history of coziness with gun advocates, receiving “A+” ratings and endorsements from the National Rifle Association ahead of their respective elections in 2014 and 2016. The distinction is reserved “for legislators who have excellent voting records on Second Amendment issues and who have vigorously fought to promote and defend the right to keep and bear arms.”

During a Republican presidential primary debate in 2015, Rubio said new gun laws were “ineffective” and “infringe on the rights of law-abiding people and do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.” A few months later, he went out and bought a gun on Christmas Eve.

Critics were quick to remind the lawmakers of their track records of voting against gun restrictions that could help prevent tragedies like the one in Parkland.

Some discussed Rubio’s longtime acceptance of campaign donations from the NRA. An analysis by The New York Times last year found he had received more than $3.3 million from the group

Rubio rejected calls for gun control in an interview with Fox News after the Parkland shooting, saying it was the wrong time to discuss such efforts “because people don’t know how this happened.”

“I think it’s important to know all of [the facts] before you jump to conclusions that there’s some law we could have passed that could have prevented it,” he said. “There may be, but shouldn’t we at least know the facts? I think that we can always have that debate, but … you should know the facts of that incident before you run out and prescribe some law you claim could have prevented it.”

Later on Wednesday, Rubio said federal authorities told him the shooting was a “clear attack” that was “designed and executed to maximize loss of life.”

Scott has also long resisted gun control efforts. Shortly after the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, the Florida governor repeatedly said the Second Amendment “didn’t kill anybody.”

“Let’s remember, the Second Amendment has been around for over 200 years,” Scott told CNN at the time. “That’s not what killed innocent people; evil killed innocent people.”

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Wednesday that the shooter in Parkland was armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle, a high-capacity weapon that has become synonymous with many of America’s deadliest mass shootings. The shooter in the Orlando attack used the same weapon, which is easier to obtainin Florida than a handgun. HuffPost reporters purchased an AR-15 in Orlando in just 38 minutes only two days after the shooting.

Many lawmakers have been urging Congress to take action to rein in access to such weaponry, but those efforts have mostly failed.

A bipartisan effort to ban “bump stocks,” which give semiautomatic weapons the capability to fire long bursts of ammunition, gained steam shortly after 58 people died in a mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival last year. Rubio said he was open to legislation that would ban bump stocks and that Congress should move “to prevent such attacks in the future.”

But four months later, the effort has largely failed at the national level, even as states and cities have moved to ban their sale.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who had just been elected when the Sandy Hook massacre took place, slammed his colleagues on Wednesday after the attack, saying Congress’ inaction had led to such shootings.

“This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America,” Murphy said. “This epidemic of mass slaughter … it only happens here, not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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The Last Word on ‘Penultimate’

Many people use ‘penultimate’ to mean “the very last” or “the very best.” They’re wrong.

If you hear someone say “that pizza was the penultimate” or “my uncle is the penultimate gift-giver,” you could think from the context that penultimate means “the very best.” It sounds like it means “the super-ultimate” or the “extra-ultimate,” as in the very last, very latest, or very best thing.

penultimate

“The penultimate slice of pizza” simply means “the next to last slice of pizza.”

But penultimate means “next to last” or “second to last.” It’s probably because it adds an emphatic extra syllable to the word ultimate that people think it somehow means “more” than ultimate—but it really means less. Used correctly, you can say “the penultimate scene of a play” or “the penultimate line of a poem” or “the film’s penultimate shot.” It’s a formal or literary way of saying “next to last.”

The word ultimate itself comes from the Latin word for “last, final, or farthest.” The pen– part of penultimate is simply the Latin prefix that means “almost,” so the word literally means “almost last.”

There’s also the word penult (pronounced PEE-nult), which means “the next-to-last member of a series,” or “the next to last syllable of a word.” In the word presentation, for example, the accent or stress is on the penult.

Another related word is antepenultimate (pronounced an-tih-pih-NUL-tuh-mut), which means “the third from the end.”


 

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Stock Sell-Off Has Worrisome Similarities to 2008 Crisis

Stock Sell-Off Has Worrisome Similarities to 2008 Crisis

Investors may not be out of the woods just yet, despite the recovery of stock prices from their recent lows on February 8. In fact, some analysts and investment managers are seeing disturbing parallels with the 2007-08 financial crisisYahoo Finance reports. That’s worrisome, since the bear market of 2007–09 lasted 517 calendar days and knocked 56.8% off the value of the S&P 500 Index (SPX)per Yardeni Research Inc. At the close on February 12, after gains on two consecutive trading days, the S&P 500 was 7.5% below its record high on January 26.

The Investopedia Anxiety Index (IAI) continues to register extremely high concerns about the securities markets among our 27 million readers globally, outweighing low levels of worry about other economic and financial matters. A new risk for 2018, and thus a new source of anxiety, has come from so-called “short-vol” trading strategies that fell apart in recent weeks. (For more, see also: 6 Forces That May Push the Stock Market Even Lower.)

The 2007–08 Crisis

“Part of what brought down the stock market [last week] was very symptomatic and very similar to what happened in the financial crisis. Secured [securitized] products, leverage and complexity combining to form a selloff. When you look at 2008 a lot of it was there,” says Aaron Kohli, interest rates strategist at BMO Capital Markets, in remarks to Yahoo Finance.

In 2007, there was a subprime mortgage meltdown, as a housing price bubble began deflating. Banks were hit by increasing defaults and delinquencies on home mortgages, especially those that began to exceed the declining values of the underlying properties. Complex debt instruments carved out of home loans began to crater in value, such as mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collaterized debt obligations (CDOs).

This imposed huge losses on the holders, both individual investors and major financial institutions. Then the dominoes started falling, as big financial institutions faced insolvency and could not meet obligations to each other. For the first time, the concept of counterparty risk entered mainstream discourse, and a massive government bailout of leading financial institutions under the TARP program eventually was necessary to prevent systemic financial and economic collapse.

The Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world then pursued a policy of aggressive quantitative easing, pushing interests down to zero (or even into negative territory), to prop up the prices of financial assets, and to stimulate the economy. As in 2018, 2007 began with a strong economy and upbeat U.S. economic outlook. However, by the end of 2007, partially due to the subprime crisis, the economy was in what has come to be called The Great Recession, which lasted into 2009.

Dangers in 2018

In 2018, the unraveling of risky “short-vol” trading strategies tied to the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) accelerated the recent stock market selloff. After more than a year of historically low volatility, a growing number of speculators began making what they had come to believe were can’t-miss bets using futures and options. When volatility as measured by the VIX shot up unexpectedly, these highly-leveraged schemes produced huge losses, and traders scrambled to raise the capital necessary to cover these losses, adding to the selling pressure on stocks.

Today ordinary retail investors can choose from more than a dozen ETFs linked to the VIX, Yahoo Finance reports. Many of these products are highly leveraged, meaning that their value can swing wildly, Yahoo adds. Just as with various complex debt instruments and derivatives in 2007–08, individual investors have piled into these new products with little, if any, understanding of the full risks. Yahoo might have added that even investment professionals seriously underestimated the risks of complex new products in 2007–08, adding to that crisis.

A particularly notorious example today is the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN (XIV) from Credit Suisse AG. It lost 92.6% of its value on February 6 alone, and Credit Suisse plans to liquidate it on February 21, at close to a total loss for most investors, Yahoo says. Also, as in 2007 with MBS and CDOs, the leading rating agencies have not been issuing warnings about the dangers of these volatility-linked products, Yahoo adds.

What’s Ahead

Since 1980, the MSCI All-Country World Index has recorded at least a 10% decline two out of every three years on average, per research by Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. cited by The Wall Street Journal. The maximum dip so far this year has been 8.4%, dividends included, from the high on January 26 to the low on February 8, suggesting a further decline this year, per both sources. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 fell by 10.2% over that same period.

Despite all this, the optimists point to worldwide economic growth and corporate profit growth that remain solid. However, even long-term bulls such as Michael Wilson, chief U.S. equity strategist and chief investment officer at Morgan Stanley, acknowledge that today’s high equity valuations will be hard to maintain in the face of rising interest rates and inflation, the Journal adds, raising the odds of further pullbacks in stock prices. (For more, see also: Why Stocks Won’t Crash Like 1987: Goldman Sachs.)

Read more: Stock Sell-Off Has Worrisome Similarities to 2008 Crisis | Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/news/stock-selloff-has-worrisome-similarities-2008-crisis/#ixzz570nW6qyF
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Fight, Run, and hide…A new mantra for active shooter scenarios

The active shooter scenario can be a terrifying idea, although it is less than 3% of all incidents of workplace/school violence (WPV/SV). Most people have been taught and live by the mantra that they were instructed more than a decade ago and they are nearly identical: Run, Hide, Fight or Avoid, Barricade, Confront.

There is another one that is probably more useful…if you can. It turns those 3 words on their proverbial head. It turns them around into a better and much more controversial model: Fight, hide, or run or confront, barricade, or avoid.

With all the things floating around about an active shooter plan and what employees should do, what should you do? My answer is to take the attitude of Flight 93 that crashed in ShanksVille, PA. on September 11, 2001. In their case they could do nothing but fight to save lives in Washington D.C.

I believe that this is the best course of action. Fight the intruder first before they can cause further mayhem. It has been over-whelmingly, through innumerable scenarios – real life and training, proven that if you attack the perpetrator, remember they may not all have a firearm; you can overwhelm and stop them. And if you don’t stop them, you will slow them down enough to potentially allow your co-workers to escape before harm can come to them.

The next obvious question is how do you fight or confront them? For some people this will never be easy. Some people are understandably reluctant to face a weapon. Those people who feel that way still need to keep their faculties and use the final 2 points of these mantras… hide or run. Not only to save their lives but potentially the lives of others.

For those that have the courage and intestinal fortitude, you need to do what you can to prevent any more death or chaos. You can do this by;

  • Throwing things at the perpetrator. Anything you can use that is close at hand, including coffee cups, staplers, desk phones, or even canned goods. (Wonder what happens when you hit someone in the head with a can of pickled beets?
  • Trying to distract them, anyway you can. If you are a ventriloquist…
  • Acting like a linebacker from your favorite football team

IF you decide to attack it’s always preferable to have more than just yourself, as in Shanksville, to do the work. And in the case of an assault the more people you have to knock down and hold the perpetrator the better your chances of keeping them from killing or injuring someone else, including yourself. As for the hide or run scenario…

Running is always an option for someone who may be fearful of the perpetrator and especially if that person knows the shooter is after them. People such as an ex-wife/girlfriend, co-worker or supervisor, or anyone else that believes the shooter is specifically targeting them. If they don’t remove themselves quickly from the scene then the murderous intent of the perpetrator has no reason to abandon their quest.

A caveat here for evacuating the building. Always find a different way of getting out of the office. Don’t rely on specified and listed evacuation routes. If it is safe, as most alternate routes wouldn’t be in a fire, then take it. My thought on this is that the perpetrator, especially an ex-employee, will know those routes and if the attack doesn’t initially work…

As for barricading or hiding yourself before they find you, it’s just as simple. Your hidey hole needs to be as small as it can be for you, dark, and easily barricaded with a desk, file cabinet, or something similar if it doesn’t have a lock on it. The only issue with that would be, is that if there is no external lock on the door, or handle, then the perp will know someone is in there, so…

Likewise if you have a serious respiratory health issue, you may not want to have anyone else with you as you hide. The reasoning here I think is fairly obvious. A dead giveaway is for you to be gasping for breath while hiding and potentially fatal for anyone with you.

Studies have shown that it takes law enforcement approx. 3 – 10 minutes to respond to an active shooter call. These same studies also show that the incidents are usually over within 2 to 3½ minutes. That means you can’t depend on law enforcement to stop the perpetrator before they get to you or anyone else.

Most people, employers or security personnel especially, unfortunately, assigned to your building will have no idea how to react to such an incident or be poorly trained at best. If they do offer the necessary training, you need to take full advantage of it and learn it, not just attend for brownie points.

WPV/SV is a growing concern for schools and businesses. Whether that violence is because of a work dispute, bullying, mental issues, rebuffed romantic wishes, domestic violence, terrorism, or something else we as security professionals need to be prepared. That means developing an action plan, which by necessity, includes the fight, run, or hide scenario.

With more than 15 million incidents every year it’s clear that we need to do something. And if we can’t turn our schools & businesses into gulags, which aren’t very aesthetically pleasing or wanted, or throw out Constitutional rights we have to train and prepare for such an event, and the fight, hide, run model should be an integral part of that.

Robert D. Sollars assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of WPV as well as other security/customer service related issues with time tested and proven ideas. You can follow him on his upcoming new website www.robertdsollars.com or twitter@robertsollars2.

Robert is the author of 2 books on preventing violence in both schools and businesses: Never to Grow-Up: Preventing Violence in our Schools” and “One is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace Violence”, both available on Amazon. His upcoming book Unconventional Customer Service: How-to Break the Rules in Providing Unparalleled Service will be out in late May

I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

 

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This sweet dog had been missing for 10 years. She just came home.

Abby lost dog

Abby was in good health when the vet took a closer look at her. (Photo: Kylee Danko/Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley)

A black Lab mix showed up on a man’s front porch in Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania, so he brought the friendly pup to Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley, hoping the shelter could find the dog’s owners.

The shelter workers found the dog’s microchip but had to do a little investigating to see if they could find her owner. The first phone number they called had been disconnected, but they reached the dog’s original vet, who said the dog was listed as deceased.

“We assured them that she was with us and was very much alive, and they provided us with a current number for her owners,” shelter manager Gwen Snyder tells MNN.

They reached her owner, Debra Suierveld, who lives 10 miles from Apollo, where the dog was found.

“Her initial reaction was confusion,” Synder says. “When [the medical coordinator] told her that her dog had been brought to us over the weekend, the owner told us her dog was right with her and had been all weekend.”

But when they told Suierveld the dog’s name, her confusion turned to shock. She was quiet for a moment, and told them that her dog, Abby, had been missing for 10 years. She disappeared one day when playing in the yard with her kids.

Suierveld rushed to the shelter to pick up her long-lost pup.

“Abby is a very sweet and friendly dog, so at first it was hard to tell if she recognized her owner, or if she was just being her sweet self,” Synder says. “However, over the time the owner was here, Abby continued to move closer to her, sitting on her feet and leaning into her, so I do think her memory was coming back to her. She also remembered her name.”

Abby is in very good health for her age, so shelter workers think someone must have been taking care of her. But it’s likely they didn’t think to ask a vet to scan her to see if she had a previous owner.

“We microchip all of our animals when they are adopted, and we believe microchips are an indispensable tool in reuniting lost pets with their owners,” Snyder says. “Abby’s reunion likely never would have happened if she’d not been microchipped.”

 

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