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Montana and New Mexico pass laws requiring criminal conviction in civil forfeiture cases

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Just in time for the Fourth of July, states are declaring their independence from civil forfeiture.

Enabled by civil forfeiture laws, police can seize and keep property without the government ever filing criminal charges. Innocent Americans actually must prove their own innocence in court if they ever hope to regain their property. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies routinely seize property and pad their budgets with forfeiture revenue. Outlets as diverse as The New Yorker and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver have detailed this travesty of justice.

But thankfully, civil forfeiture's days may soon be numbered. Starting July 1, two major reforms from Montana and New Mexico will go into effect.

Earlier this year, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed a law that requires the government to first obtain a criminal conviction before taking and keeping someone's property through civil forfeiture. This legislation also shifts the burden of proof onto the government—where it belongs—when spouses, neighbors and other innocent owners try to get back property used by a suspect without their knowledge. Montana's civil forfeiture reforms are vital to restore due process and protect the property rights of the innocent.

Shoe

Get outta Dodge: 35% of Americans would consider leaving U.S.

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© Reuters / Shannon Stapleton
A study polling American and emigrant adults found that 35 percent would consider leaving the US, according to TransferWise, an international money transfer company. The most popular reason for wanting to leave was to seek a better quality of life.

Despite the results of the survey, 59 percent said it was home. Another 58 percent said romantic and family ties were important reasons for staying in the US.

Another 22 percent in the survey cited democratic society as a reason to stay, and only 2 percent said low taxes. The online poll surveyed 2,000 American and emigrant adults.

The percentage of those willing to leave greatly increases for the millennial generation, with more than half of those aged 18 to 34, or 55 percent saying they would consider moving to another country for a higher paying job.

Bulb

Oklahoma court rules energy companies can be sued for injuries and damage caused by fracking

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© Reuters / Vincent Kessler
Oklahoma's highest court agreed energy companies can be sued for injuries to people and damage to property sustained during earthquakes.Plaintiffs in two lawsuits claim fracking companies are responsible for the earthquakes.

In a 7-0 decision, with two justices abstaining, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the plaintiff, Sandra Ladra, may seek damages from two energy companies for injuries sustained to her legs during an earthquake on November 5, 2011.

The quake shook the victim's hometown of Prague, causing rocks to fall from Ladra'a chimney onto her legs. It was the highest magnitude trembler the state has ever experienced, registering 5.7 on the Richter scale.

"The size of rock is about the size of your head, certainly, and a significant sized and heavy rock,"Scott Poynter, Ladra's attorney, told KFOR News Channel 4.

Poynter told the news channel Ladra is not looking for a payout, but the industry needs to stand up and pay for the problems they're causing. Ladra has been in pain since the incident and Poynter said she is going to have knee replacement surgery.

Comment: Hopefully this will curtail the actions of greedy energy companies who think nothing of the individuals who have to deal with the effects of fracking in their environment.


Camcorder

Baltimore to install cameras in police vans in wake of Freddie Gray murder

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© Reuters / Jim Bourg

Comment: It's hard not to read this and say, so what? Eric Garner's murder by police was caught on video, and it didn't change anything. Police will continue to find excuses for their brutality towards the population, and the authorities will continue to support that brutality.


In the wake of protests over Freddie Gray, whose death from injuries sustained in police custody in April provoked unrest in several US cities, Baltimore has pledged to install cameras in police vans for a "more complete record of what occurs there."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told reporters on Wednesday that the city of Baltimore has been"working through a process that will place cameras with recording capabilities in the backs of all our police vans."

In fact, the van in which Freddie Gray was transported on April 12 did have a camera that the driver could use to monitor the passengers, but it was reportedly not working at the time.


Comment: How convenient for Gray's murderers. So the reaction of Baltimore's leaders is to install more cameras that can conveniently fail to operate. Great idea, Mayor!


Gray, 25, suffered a severed spine while being transported in the police vehicle and passed away on April 19, his tragic death striking unrest in Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston and New York, just to name a few cities. The next day after his death police officials said that Gray had actually requested an inhaler while in police custody, but admitted that calls for medical assistance were not made for over 40 minutes.

By the time Gray arrived at the hospital, he slipped into a coma and died. On top of that, according to Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Gray was not secured in the van with a seatbelt, which is against police regulations. He was handcuffed instead and placed in leg irons. This led to his injuries most likely caused by a sudden slowing of the police van, the investigation has found. During one of the stops police officers checked on Gray only to find that he was unresponsive, but failed to take any actions. Gray's death has been declared a homicide by the state attorney.

Ambulance

Thousands evacuated in Tennessee after train derails releasing flammable and toxic gas

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More than 5,000 people in eastern Tennessee have been evacuated after a freight train carrying "highly flammable and toxic gas" derailed and caught fire on Thursday morning.

Seven firefighters have been taken to hospital after breathing in fumes from the blaze, while a 1-mile evacuation zone has been put in place around where the train came off the tracks.

"They are receiving treatment in the emergency room at Blount Memorial Hospital. At the time, some of them were pretty close to the scene of the derailment, while others were knocking on doors and evacuating residents," said a Blount County Sheriff's spokeswoman, Marian O'Briant who was speaking to NBC News.

Officials have put the number evacuated at 5,000; however, other sources are saying the figure is nearer to 1,200.


V

260,000 Austrians sign petition to exit EU, forcing parliament referendum debate

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© Reuters / Heinz-Peter Bader
The parliament in Vienna
Over 260,000 Austrians have signed a petition calling for the EU exit for the country, and now the Austrian parliament must discuss a referendum on the issue.

Overall, the 261,159 people who signed the petition represent 4.12 percent of the electorate. The petition was most popular in the regions of Lower Austria (where 5.18 percent of potential voters signed it) and in Carinthia (4.85 percent).

The threshold for calling a debate on a potential referendum is 100,000 people.

The petition was launched by 66-year-old retired translator Inge Rauscher, who composed a similar petition in 2000. On that occasion, it was signed by 3.35 percent of the electorate.

Comment: Looks like there are a lot of Austrians who are sick of the EU.


Heart - Black

Cop fired and charged with assault after body cam and surveillance footage show him beating man in holding cell

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Screenshot from YouTube.com video by The Daily Pig Report
Police body-camera video and surveillance footage became proof against a police officer who severely beat a suspect in holding cell in December. To warning calls that the beating was being video recorded, a cop answered only "F**k that!"

Two Federal Heights Police officers were attempting to calm a rowdy suspect at the suburban Denver police station in December. But the standard detention turned into a battering spree when one of the officers appeared to lose his temper after the detainee tried to slap him.

Officer Mark Magness, 51, pleaded guilty to assault, received year of probation and has been fired from Federal Heights Police force for mercilessly beating suspect Kent Lasnik, 48, detained for allegedly attacking a liquor store clerk. The beating that occurred in several stages ended in Lasnik bleeding from his mouth.

The incident took place in December but ABC7 obtained it recorded from several viewpoints only now.


Comment: This cop needs some serious therapy to deal with his anger issues. It's good he's no longer a cop so that he can't take them out on innocent people like the man in the video.


Eye 1

Nanny state: UK to allow teachers to 'confiscate and destroy' unhealthy lunches

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© Getty Images
Teachers can take away the food parents give children for lunch
As part of an assault on childhood obesity, the Government allows school staff the power to seize children's meals they judge to be "unhealthy or inappropriate".

As part of guidelines on lunchbox searches, teachers are also expected to consult and discuss healthy eating plans with pupils' parents. The Department of Education claims schools and teachers should also seek out legal advice if they have worries over pupils' food.

Education minister Lord Nash said: "Schools have common law powers to search pupils, with their consent, for items. There is nothing to prevent schools from having a policy of inspecting lunch boxes for food items that are prohibited under their school food policies. A member of staff may confiscate, keep or destroy such items found as a result of the search if it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances. If authorities and schools are concerned about their legal position, they should seek their own legal advice."

The wide-ranging powers for schools and teachers have led to a number of recent rows over pupil's packed lunches.

Comment: On top of the wholly draconian measure of the government forcibly taking away a student's lunch, this law is also worrisome because the government has a totally backwards idea of what is healthy food. School lunches have repeatedly been shown to have very little nutrition. Perhaps the government should step aside and let people decide for themselves what to eat.


Heart - Black

Mother charged for tying 4-year-old son to bush while babysitting other kids

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A Rockland County mother was facing serious charges Tuesday, accused of tying her child to a bush while she went to babysit.

As CBS2's Steve Langford reported, Mery Isabel Quinde Castro, 22, did not want to face CBS2's cameras Tuesday. She was charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Castro's 4-year-old son was found alone, tied to a bush outside a Spring Valley apartment block by his own mother. He was tied to the bush for about half an hour Tuesday morning - catching the attention of neighbors and then of police, Langford reported.

"Her child, this 4 1/2-year-old boy, did not want to go into the apartment," said Spring Valley police Chief Paul Modica. "So she tied him to the bush until she could get him into the apartment."

Stock Down

Americans not in the labor force soar by 640,000 to record 93.6 million

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© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The devastation of the US labor force continues.

In what was an "unambiguously" unpleasant June jobs payrolls report, with both April and May jobs revised lower, the fact that the number of Americans not in the labor force soared once again, this time by a whopping 640,000 or the most since April 2014 to a record 93.6 million, with the result being a participation rate of 62.6 or where it was in September 1977, will merely catalyze even more upside to the so called "market" which continues to reflect nothing but central bank liquidity, and thus - the accelerating deterioration of the broader economy.

Comment: Economic collapse in motion: 16 facts highlighting the financial devastation we are seeing all over the world