Ice used for soft drinks at leading fast food chains in the UK were found to contain bacteria usually seen in fecal matter.  This comes weeks after the same BBC investigation found similar contaminated ice at Starbuck’s, Caffe Nero, and Costa Coffee.

 

On the TV Show Watchdog, BBC reported more than half the samples tested at food chains including Burger King, McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) contained coliform bacteria, or bacteria that colonize intestines.  Harmful bacteria, such E. coli, however was NOT found according to a spokesperson for McDonald's.

 

So even though the bacteria discovered would not harm humans if ingested, the potential for a dangerous pathogen exposure is there.

 

Samples were taken from 10 random store locations for each of the fast food chains.

 

Of the samples tested on McDonald’s ice machines, 3 out of 10 samples were contaminated.  At Burger King, 6 out of 10 samples tested positive for coliform bacteria and at KFC, 7 out of 10 tested positive.

One theory is the cleaning of the machines and/or handling of the ice is done with direct human hand contact which could have fecal contamination from poor hand washing after bathroom use.

 

The contamination issues hopefully prompted chains in other countries, such as the US, to reevaluate their procedures on ice and cup handling.

 

 

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LearnHealthSpanish.com / Medical Spanish made easy.

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

Despite recommendations to resign his post, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions is preparing potentially the largest bust in the history of the online, drug trafficking market and has vowed to go after the “criminals and transnational criminal organizations” involved in the billion-dollar drug trade on the darknet.

What’s the Darknet?

The darknet is a version of the internet reserved for people who take special measures to protect their identity online. In fact, admittance requires users to be completely anonymous. Users most commonly gain access to the darknet by shielding their IP addresses with The Onion Router (TOR) and running virtual private networks (VPNs). Even the money is untraceable, as Bitcoin has allowed for anonymous, online transactions. You don’t have to be as tech-savvy as you think to access the darknet, either.

 

But how do TOR and VPNs conceal the online identity of darknet users? Usually when you type a link into your web browser, your computer accesses the server of that website directly. TOR creates an onion network that bounces your signal around a bunch before communicating with the website’s server. Think of how Shrek describes himself: ogres have layers, which makes them hard to read. The same is true of an anonymous online identity. This onion network conceals the users’ IP addresses so no one knows who or where they are. Naturally, businesses selling illegal goods and services flourished on the darknet -- until now.

The AlphaBay Shutdown

The combined efforts of U.S., Canadian and Thai law enforcement resulted in the shutdown of AlphaBay, the largest darknet website known to be a marketplace for illegal drugs. But the shutdown didn’t stop its users from trafficking illegal drugs. The darknet isn’t so unlike the internet. There are plenty of other websites, so sellers and buyers jumped to another known darknet site called Hansa. Unfortunately for all of them, Hansa was now the bait in a Dutch sting operation.

 

Three weeks before the shutdown of AlphaBay, Hansa’s secure servers were acquired by the Dutch law enforcement -- in secret. So if you used Hansa after AlphaBay went down, Sessions is coming for you. “You cannot hide. We will find you, dismantle your organization and network. And we will prosecute you,” he said.  

 

But all those people were using TOR and VPNs, so how can law enforcement find them? The cops don’t know their identities or their locations, right? Short answer: not necessarily. It takes a lot more than fancy router firmware and a VPN to remain anonymous online. AlphaBay’s alleged founder, who apparently hanged himself in a Thai prison, was in that Thai prison because of an unprotected email sent in 2014, according to Security Gladiators editor-in-chief Ali Qamar.

 

I’ve seen Snowden, so I assume just about anyone who bought or sold illegal drugs using Hansa after the AlphaBay shutdown can be found, prosecuted and convicted. If every AlphaBay user committed a transaction using Hansa while being monitored by the Dutch, that’s potentially 240,000 criminals in the short-sighted eyes of Sessions. That’s more potential prisoners than every country in the world except six, and would be more than a 10-percent increase to the U.S. prison population. So is there room in American prisons to house these drug offenders and how much would it cost?

The Darknet Drug Bust by the Numbers  

According to the Justice Bureau of Prisons, the average cost of incarceration of federal inmates was $31,977.65 in 2015. That’s $7.675 billion, divided by roughly 138.3 million American taxpayers in 2015, equals $55.50 per taxpayer per year.

 

But Donald Trump’s budget has to boost funding for federal prisons, right? Wrong. The U.S. Department of Justice requested $8.5 billion in total funding for fiscal year 2015, and Donald Trump’s budget proposal would cut funding for federal prison construction by a billion dollars in 2018. The cuts would result in a 17.9-percent decrease in funding for the federal prison system and detention trustee program over the next decade, which means fewer and fewer prisons built and fewer and fewer beds to go around.

 

The number of available prison beds in America changes daily with people bonding out or being released on parole or probation. We can, however, use 2015 Bureau of Prisons data to draw a conclusion. There were 196,455 American prisoners under federal jurisdiction in 2015, so it’s safe to say that more than doubling the federal prison population is impossible given the number of prisons operating at or over capacity.

 

In 2015, 18 states and the Bureau of Prisons met or exceeded the maximum capacity of their prisons. Eight more states met or exceeded the minimum number of beds allowed in their prisons. While the U.S. prison population has decreased 14 percent since 2013, the 1,500 to 2,000 more additional beds for which the Bureau of Prisons is requesting $80 million next year won’t be enough room for the nearly quarter-million criminals Sessions is pursuing on his drug-sniffing steed.

Will Sessions Resign as Attorney General?

Sessions might not lead the posse very long. It seems just about everyone agrees Sessions should resign if it’s indeed true he withheld information from Congress regarding his involvement in Russia’s attempt to alter the 2016 Presidential Election. The prior two U.S. Attorneys General forced to resign were in similarly hot water, but neither were linked to an attempt to alter a Presidential Election. And Sessions isn’t on Trump’s good side, either.

 

So the biggest bust of drug offenders in history might not be enough to save Sessions’s job, but that doesn’t mean his potential replacement won’t continue his work. While law enforcement’s initial focus should be on sellers who can lead them to the drug lords, that won’t be where it stops, regardless of who serves as Trump’s attorney general.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, Know Your Rights, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Erskine Overnight, Home Talk, The Josh Tolley Show, The Tom Chenault Show

The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the GCN Live newsroom. A guest editorial follows.

 

“Never take counsel from your fears.”-Stonewall Jackson

 

On a daily basis, Americans are being inundated with oppression through a corrupt system of not only the media, but also corrupt politicians as well.  

 

80 house members have been reported as communists.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQPfNs3_RO4

 

Through it all, we see such unlawful and unconstitutional organizations like that of the American Civil Liberties Union, The Southern Poverty Law Center , Planned Parenthood, Homosexual organizations and bureaucracies such as the TSA, Homeland Security etc, surfacing throughout the country (Psalm 55:11; Amos 3:1-15) only to upend American sovereignty. While in the end, they are making war against God by advocating that which He clearly condemns (Micah 3:5).

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaSQpEA8e8k

 

It has been rightly said by William Booth, “If you want to change the future, then you are going to have to trouble the present.”

 

It is a tactic that enemies of this country within and without are facilitating.

 

“Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty.” –Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda minister

 

The enemies of America are doing their best to tear down the United States Constitution while claiming victim status and perpetuating the crimes.

 

However, the good news is that it works both ways, if the American people are willing to enforce the law against them that commit the crimes (Psalm 40:8; 1 John 3:4).

 

“The strength of the Constitution (enumerated Laws) lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are the constitutional rights secure.” -Albert Einstein

 

America, there is no other side to the issue when it comes to America’s oppressors.  There is the law abider or the Lawbreaker.  Furthermore, America is a Constitutional Republic, ruled by law (Article 4, Section 4), not by the opinions of the criminals.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYzSEBx12LM

 

When you go to Judges 3, you find:

 

Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath.

And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.  So the corrupt Kings were allowed to remain only to PROVE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL TO KNOW WHETHER THEY WOULD LISTEN CAREFULLY UNTO THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD! This they failed to do, and because they did evil in the sight of The Lord they were delivered into the hands of their enemies…. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves. Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into “their hand and were forced to serve them!”

 

When you look into the history of the patriarchs, you can see that the Lord is willing to give the church what it is willing to fight for! (1 Timothy 6:12)  What an opportunity for us in this country to prove the God of Israel (Judges 2:22), who has not changed (Hebrews 13:8), that He might show Himself strong on our behalf once again (2 Chronicles 16:9).

 

Remember America, greater works will we do than Jesus did (John 14:12).  The sooner you take Him at His word, the sooner we are going to see the God of Israel in Jesus Christ glorified. America has been a beacon of light to the world (Isaiah 51:4), and it is for us to keep it lit up. To those who understand “to bring the light you must endure the flame,” we have a job to do, and your enemy is scared to death of this revelation of truth in action (Matthew 16:17-19). Let’s set the record straight.

 

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If you like this you might like the GCN live talk radio show, Sons of Liberty.

 

 

Last week, when we were told Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was being treated for a blood clot above his left eye, we suspected a tumor could have been involved, as he was a cancer survivor and tumors are thrombogenic, meaning clot forming.

 

Unfortunately, the 80 year old melanoma cancer survivor has been diagnosed with primary glioblastoma. However, it's been reported that the whole tumor was removed when the doctors performed a craniotomy (opening of the skull) to remove the blood clot. A statement from his office reports Senator McCain is home and recovering “amazingly well.”

What is Primary Glioblastoma?

 

Primary Glioblastoma Multiforme is a type of brain tumor that arises in the brain and spinal cord and is very aggressive in nature. “Primary” suggests the tumor is not secondary to another cancer, such as the melanoma Senator McCain successfully battled.

 

In 1993, 2000 and 2002, McCain had three malignant melanoma lesions removed, and the 2000 lesion was close to his left temple.

 

Those diagnosed with a glioblastoma may have a poorer prognosis compared to other cancers as the 5-year survival rate is only 10%. Its median survival is less than 15 months. However, with his lesion removed, and chemotherapy and radiation set to begin once his incision has healed, many medical teams are optimistic.

 

According to his daughter, Meghan McCain, her father is “confident” and “calm”. CNN reports that when the Senator awoke from surgery he was “cracking jokes” and ready to go home and get to work.

 

This is a developing story.

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LearnHealthSpanish.com / Medical Spanish made easy.

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

I don’t know about you, but I have always loved to read and study Louisiana History.  I’ve had the pleasure of teaching the history of the Bayou State at both Tulane University and LSU. And when it comes to examining the giant political figures that had a direct bearing on the stature and even the survival of Louisiana as an American state, two individuals stand head and shoulders above all others.

 

They each are former presidents. And without their vision and dramatic leadership, Louisiana might well not be an American state today. No one else could fill this role more than Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.

 

Jefferson was the nation’s third president, and could well be the brightest intellect that ever graced our country's political scene. He was the author of America’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, and he became the voice for the hopes and aspirations of a new America. Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, and he designed and built Monticello, one of the most stunning antebellum homes in the country.  And he was the driving force in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon in 1803.  Simply put, without Jefferson’s vision and tenacity in seeking the vast territory west of the Mississippi River, Louisiana would not be a state today.

 

Andrew Jackson was our country's seventh president, and was the only president to have been a prisoner of war, having been captured by the British at 17 while serving in the Revolutionary War. He later was Nicknamed “Old Hickory” for his legendary toughness on the battlefield.  During his presidential campaign in 1828, his opponents called him a jackass. Jackson was amused and used the image to win the presidency. He founded the Democratic Party and used the jackass as its symbol.

 

But what Andrew Jackson did for Louisiana was incredible. In the war of 1812, New Orleans was under siege by the British. Major General Andrew Jackson rushed to New Orleans and gathered a rag tag army made up of a motley group of local citizens, frontiersmen, slaves, Indians and even pirates.  And he was eager to fight the British, telling his wife: “I owe to Britain a debt of retaliatory vengeance, and should our forces meet I trust I shall pay the debt.”

 

Louisiana should regularly thank its lucky stars for Jackson’s tenacity to get his revenge.  He soundly beat the British at the Battle for New Orleans, became an American hero, and saved Louisiana from becoming a permanent British protectorate.

 

If ever there were any two individuals who should be regularly honored and commemorated in Louisiana history, there should be doubt the two should be Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. And for many years, the Louisiana Democratic Party did honor both American heroes by hosting an annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner as a yearly fundraiser. Democrats held similar events across the country.

 

But no more in Louisiana. Party officials have decide it is no longer “politically correct” to honor these two American icons. You see, they were slave owners. It made no difference that the first seven American presidents also owned slaves, as did most of the nation’s founding fathers. The democratic leadership apparently wants to judge these past heroes based on present-day values, and continue a warped effort to re-write Louisiana and American history.

 

The new dinner name is the “True Blue Gala.”  I suppose we will see a resolution at the dinner calling for the re-naming of Jefferson and Jackson parishes, Thomas Jefferson High School in Gretna, the town of Jackson, La., Jefferson Island in Iberia Parish; the list goes on and on.

 

The Louisiana Democratic Party is becoming more and more irrelevant in the Bayou State. And Jackson’s symbol for the Democrat Party would seem to have a different connotation today. The real jackasses are those ingrates who try to rewrite history and belittle past leaders who served and saved our nation, and particularly Louisiana. The party of Jefferson and Jackson deserve a lot better.

 

Peace and Justice

 

Jim Brown

 

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Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show, Common Sense, each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Communication Network.

Our newsfeeds are bombarded with so many stories about excessive use of force within the police department that it’s almost shocking to read something about cops that is the exact opposite. Now, I know that the vast majority of good deeds cops do go unreported because they are not sensational stories. The headline, “Cop does something nice” does not sell much of anything. And so there is a silent majority of cops that do their jobs and get little to no fanfare. And much has been written about the more and more common tragedy of a law enforcement officer shooting an unarmed civilian. But that’s not what I’m here to do today. Today I went and found a “cops do something nice” story. And I’m going to tell you all about it.

 

Meet: Heroes, Cops and Kids. A community organization comprised of Dallas Police officers, teachers and other community leaders created to be positive role models for the community and its kids. From their website, “We strive to promote good behavior, good decision making and to teach coping mechanisms for peer pressure.”

 

Well, that sounds delightful. BUT -- the cynical side of my brain immediately thought, “I bet it’s kind of racist. I bet it’s a bunch of white cops that go into poor black neighborhoods and tell the kids to stay off crack.”

 

Right?

 

Hrrmmm. Not exactly. In a moment where I must remind myself that my paranoid lefty-liberal brain is not always correct. (I try not to say that out loud too often -- I have a reputation to protect as a liberal know it all!).

 

So, what does Heroes, Cops and Kids, do? Well, basically, they dress up as superheroes and visit terminally ill children. They also work with communities to build positive relationships between the police and the community. A portion of their mission statement from the Heroes, Cops and Kids website:

 

"...WE CATER TO CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES, CHRONIC ILLNESSES OR BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS TO ENRICH THEIR LIVES AND ENERGIZE THEIR HEARTS ...

 

WE ARE A CHARITABLE, TAX EXEMPT, 501(C)(3) ORGANIZATION. WE DON'T RECEIVE FUNDING FROM ANY STATE OR LOCAL AGENCY. WE SOLELY RELY ON VOLUNTEERS AND DONATIONS TO ACHIEVE OUR GOAL.

 

WE'LL BRING "THE STORM"  TO ANY BULLY THAT STEPS IN OUR WAY! WE SUPPORT THE ANTI-BULLY MOVEMENT AND TEACH PROPER RESPONSE AND REPORTING OF BULLIES!

THIS ORGANIZATION INCLUDES A DIVERSE BACKGROUND OF INDIVIDUALS WHOM HAVE DEDICATED THEIR TIME AND RESOURCES TO STOP BULLYING!”

 

Okay. I’m on board.

 

Meet Officer Damon Cole, founder of Heroes, Cops and Kids. Officer Cole has several hero costumes -- Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Ironman and he even owns a tricked out Superman Dodge Charger.

 




Cole’s Twitter account is littered with photos of his visits to children’s hospitals, some of which he flies to and some of which he drives a thousand miles to get there in time. All on his own dime. Of course, now, through his charity he can accept donations. And I hope it works because he has literally spent tens and tens and tens of thousands of dollars costuming and tech'ing up -- his car, the costumes, his Batman costume alone has multiple gadgets and his War Machine costume has speakers that can blare music from within the armor. Which, apparently, the kids love.

 

 

In a fun, “life imitates art” moment, Cole, dressed as Batman for an off duty charity event, busted a man shoplifting DVD’s -- one of which was, “The Lego Batman Movie.

 

Inside Edition has a really cute one minute piece on the Batman / DVD shoplifting story.

 

Now, through his charity Cole can accept donations. He also has a team of volunteers that support, assist and costume up on their own. Reading about their organization, watching their videos and scrolling through their photos -- well, it even warms my dark liberal heart. I seriously love these people.

 

Heroes, Cops and Kids -- well done. 

 

Zoomin.TV has a short video on their organization.


To book an event with Heroes, Cops and Kids or to contact them for further information you can find them here.

 

Now that Republicans’ plans to repeal and replace Obamacare are all but dead, GOP Congress-men and -women will be working to preserve their jobs by accomplishing something -- anything. Now it seems the Republican budget proposals will get in the way of their next big project -- tax reform. But there is a lifeboat out there for Republicans, if they’re willing to accept a hand from a Democrat.

Progressive Consumption Tax

Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) reintroduced S. 3529, otherwise known as the Progressive Consumption Tax Act (PCTA), back in December. And while the bill wouldn’t do what many Republicans would like and get rid of the Internal Revenue Service, it would re-purpose and shrink the IRS and make tax collection a lot easier. It would also make it so most people would no longer owe individual income taxes, and it would reduce the corporate income tax rate to one of the lowest among industrialized nations.

“How?” you ask. Well, revenue once created by income taxes would be replaced by revenue created through a consumption tax, which is a tax on goods and services consumed rather than a tax on income. It’s a lot like a sales tax, except Cardin has proposed what’s called a value added tax.

Value Added Tax (VAP)

A value added tax is collected from each producer involved in the production chain of a product rather than the end consumer. So if a manufacturer buys $40-worth of product from other manufacturers earlier in the production chain, puts its own labor and materials into it and sells it for $100, the value added by that manufacturer is $60.

Why a value added tax? It’s more likely to be paid. Compliance is believed to be better when the tax is collected at all stages of production rather than the final stage, when the product is purchased by a consumer from a retailer. Both a retail tax and value added tax would produce identical revenue if compliance is perfect, and collecting at all stages of production would help ensure that is the case.

Flat Tax

Cardin’s proposed a 10-percent, flat tax because it simplifies taxation, facilitates compliance and enforcement, and doesn’t allow for distortions based on product type. The few exemptions to the consumption tax are financial services, “which are difficult to handle within a VAT and are often exempted, residential rents, and sales of existing residential housing.” So you won’t pay taxes for your accountant or broker, rent or mortgage, or the sale of your home.

According to the independent and nonprofit Tax Foundation’s Taxes and Growth Model (TAG), the plan would raise the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) 4.4 percent, increase the stock of capital used in production by 15.2 percent, and create 1.1 million jobs. It would also increase after-tax income for rich and poor, so every American would have more money with which to stimulate the economy. In fact, real after-tax hourly wages would increase 6.5 percent.

That all sounds great, right? But will it pay the bills? In short, yes. Cardin’s plan is designed to raise at least as much revenue as the current income tax system does, and the rate can be altered, but the revenue created can never be more than 10 percent of GDP. That doesn’t mean the percentage can’t increase, but the U.S. tax revenue as a percent of GDP was 26.4 percent in 2015. Cardin’s plan would refund taxpayers any revenue over 10 percent of GDP.  

Do you see how Cardin’s plan creates more revenue despite a lower percentage of GDP? Tax revenue, whether a consumption tax or income tax, is linked to economic growth. The more economic growth, the more tax revenue. Increasing the U.S. GDP 4.4 percent is no small feat. As of 2015 numbers that’s almost $800 billion, which would cover the entirety of the Republicans’ proposed military budget and then some ($621.5 billion).

Why should Congress enact a consumption tax? Well, much like healthcare, the United States is behind a lot of developed countries when it comes to taxation. About 150 countries have a consumption tax, most of which were established decades ago.

The consumption tax would also allow the U.S. to tax imports and subsidize exports without violating current World Trade Organization rules (WTO), which Donald Trump would love, even though economic theory indicates a border adjustment tax would end up trade neutral. But that’s what House Republicans want, even though, “Economists can show that the House Republican plan has the same effect as abolishing the corporate tax altogether, introducing a VAT, and then cutting payroll taxes.”

That makes the Republicans’ border adjustment tax nothing more than a political ploy that plays to its base, but that’s what Republicans need -- a political ploy that plays to its base. That and an accomplishment like tax reform. It ain’t gonna be healthcare or a budget anytime soon. So work together, Congress, and we can all get what we want.

Enacting a consumption tax is about as bipartisan as it gets. Republicans get to help corporations. Democrats get to help the poor, and Republican Congress-men and -women might get to keep their jobs. But apparently it’s a nonstarter for most Republicans -- unless you tell them otherwise. You can use Countable to keep your Congress-men and -women accountable to you. I urge you to contact them and tell them you want a progressive consumption tax. It will save every American money, and allows Americans to save and invest.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Free Talk Live

Now that we know Donald Trump's budget would increase the deficit and do little to improve the economy according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, you can expect fixed costs like energy and transportation to cut into the average American’s income even more so than in the past. In fact, the Trump administration made a $3.7 trillion mistake in its budget, which is far larger than the $776 billion and and $303 billion mistakes the Obama administration made with its budgets.

Energy cuts focus on energy-efficiency research

While the bulk of Trump’s proposed cuts in energy are research programs at the Energy Department ($3.1 billion, an 18 percent cut in budget) seeking ways to decrease carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants and more efficient batteries for electric cars, programs that actually help Americans save money on energy will also be eliminated.

 

The Energy Star program, with which you’re likely familiar, costs about $50 million annually, but will be cut from the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget despite the EPA estimating that the program helped American consumers and businesses save $34 billion in energy costs and prevent more than 300 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That little blue label won’t be there to tell you whether the appliance you’re looking to buy meets the EPA’s standards because those standards no longer exist.

 

The same goes for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which funds energy audits of homes inhabited by low-income Americans and the installation of energy efficient additions like attic insulation and plastic over windows. Those workers are doing a lot more than installing plastic over windows, though. They also address health and safety issues by fixing broken windows, replacing faulty water heaters, repairing holes in roofs as well as installing other protective measures.

 

WAP cost $193 million in 2015, and the it estimates that for every dollar invested in the program, it returns $1.65 in energy-related benefits. In the past 31 years, 6.2 million low-income families have taken advantage of the program, which also produces “non-energy” benefits of an additional $1.07 per dollar invested. By lowering energy bills on average of $413 per year, low-income Americans have more income with which to stimulate the economy. But not anymore, which is likely why the CBO doesn’t see any improvement to the economy in Trump’s budget.

 

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) received $280 million in 2015, and its budget will also be cut entirely. ARPA-E advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment, so cutting it would put more strain on technology businesses, resulting in higher costs for consumers.

 

The loan program that has made fuel-efficient vehicles more affordable, the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, would also be cut. Luckily, according to its website, the program has $16 billion in loan authority remaining, despite loaning Ford Motor Company $5.9 billion in 2009. The scrapping of the program will also make it harder for the average American to afford fuel-efficient vehicles.

 

Finally, Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the U.S. Department of Energy to support innovative clean energy technologies that are typically unable to obtain conventional private financing due to high technology risks through the issue of loans. Those loans will no longer be made available.

 

So that’s what’s happening to the U.S. energy budget. No more investing in American energy unless it comes in the form of decayed dinosaurs. But with fossil fuel exploration and drilling increasing, the price of fuel should go down, right? Well, the real price of gasoline and diesel fuel is already below nominal prices, which means they’re likely to increase to at least the nominal price.

Transportation budget cuts make Americans more dependent on cars, fossil fuels

Then there’s the U.S. transportation budget, or lack thereof. While shifting air traffic control to a nonprofit organization would transfer thousands of workers off the government payroll, it could impact smaller airports providing cheaper flights, which means more expensive rates for you. The elimination of $175 million in subsidies for commercial flights to rural airports will hurt rural Americans especially.

 

Also being eliminated is funding for many new transit projects and support for long-distance Amtrak trains, which, of course, would make Americans more car-dependent, and by design, more fossil-fuel dependent. Worst yet, the roads Americans will be forced to drive won’t be getting any better. The Republicans’ budget would cut $499 million from the TIGER grant program despite skyrocketing demand. The Department of Transportation received 585 eligible applications from all 50 States, and several U.S. territories, tribal communities, cities, and towns throughout the United States, collectively requesting over $9.3 billion in funding in 2016.

 

So how do we as Americans manage to get to and from the places we need or want to go with energy costs, both in the form of electricity and fuel, and transportation costs, both in the form of planes and trains, increasing? Well, here are 5 ways to save money despite budget cuts to energy and transportation.

1) Bicycle

If your roundtrip is under 10 miles, you need not drive. Get out the bicycle, put on the padded underwear and a helmet and take your share of the roads. I recommend wearing padded underwear if you intend to cycle for an hour or more. It generally only takes an hour to go 10 miles on a bike, and with a caddie and saddlebags, you can carry a towel and fresh clothes to change into once you arrive at your destination. Do not wear a backpack! You’ll regret it the moment you get a mile from home.

2) Carpooling

Not all of us live close enough to the places we frequent to do so on bicycle. But there are other people taking a similar trip. Mobile devices with unlimited data have made social circles a whole lot bigger than the water cooler at the office. Just because no one in your office goes by your house on their way to work doesn’t mean you can’t carpool.

 

Carpooling apps are becoming more popular in metro areas, with New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. already being served by Via. But growth of carpool communities is dependent on us as Americans to make them viable options. Apps like Duet and Waze need demand to be useful, and if we’re all set on wasting money and killing the Earth by driving our cars to work everyday, they might never be available in your area. So sign up to either drive or ride with all the carpool apps and share them with your friends on social media so we can grow the carpooling communities and all save on transportation.

 

In the future, your self-driving car will simply go out and drive people to work while you’re at work or asleep. Until then, we’ll have to take the wheel, both figuratively and literally.

3) Work from home

More and more Americans are working from home these days, as employers look to cut costs like rent and energy, and employees look to cut transportation costs. If you do most of your work on a computer or over the phone like me, you can probably negotiate a work-from-home agreement with your boss. You might not be able to work from home everyday, but a few days per week will still save you money on transportation costs. And there’s nothing really like working in bed to the sounds of Rick James on vinyl.

4) Buy an electric vehicle

This isn’t going to be feasible for the average American, but for the first time ever, a car doesn’t have to be a liability anymore. Buying an electric vehicle is an investment that will pay for itself. The payback period depends on the car, of course, but it could be as little as eight years for a Kia Soul EV and as many as 30 or more years for the mysterious Tesla Model 3. And if the average American drives 13,474 miles annually, a Model 3 owner will have paid for her car in 30 years. That’s seven years before Model 3 owners will have to worry about investing in replacement batteries given the 484,669-mile projection for the batteries’ ability to retain at least 80 percent of their capacity.

5) Invest in solar or wind energy

Regardless of where you live, there’s likely an opportunity for you to harness solar or wind to create energy and lower your energy bill. And until Republicans pass a budget, there are still tax incentives and rebates available to you for installing solar arrays and wind turbines. You might as well take advantage of them while you still can, as both technologies have become more affordable to install. Solar installations have dropped nine percent in a year, and wind turbines have dropped more than 60 percent in price since 2009.  

 

The energy companies are doing their best to deter customers from installing renewable energy sources, though. Many are charging flat fees just for hooking up a solar array or wind turbine, and then they’re taking the extra energy you don’t need, but that you provide, and selling it to others. That’s why you should consult an electrician and find things you can run directly from your renewable energy sources if your energy provider is looking to take advantage of you.

 

Maybe your solar panels charge a battery or generator that runs the lights and electricity in your newly built shop or garage. You can always rewire your solar array or wind turbine into the grid, so don’t give in to paying those flat fees to use your own energy. If we discovered farting in a can could run lights for an hour, the energy companies would find a way to suck the fart out of that can and make you pay rent on the can. Don’t let them get your farts.

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While monsoon season brings shifts in temperatures, it also brings heavy winds and thunderstorms.

Yet for an asthmatic this can be exceptionally dangerous.

“Thunderstorm Asthma” is a term used when a very windy storm can induce an asthmatic attack.

Last year, nine people died in Melbourne, Australia after a thunderstorm precipitated respiratory difficulties.

 

The storm, it’s believed, caused pollen particles to swell and rupture into much smaller particles, which were dispersed by wind.  The theory is that the immediate propulsion of much smaller (and more numerous) particles into one’s lungs was the recipe for asthma disaster.

 

We first learned of “thunderstorm asthma” in the 1980’s when epidemics occurred in parts of Europe, Australia and Iran. Environmental conditions change and asthma allergens meet the unsuspecting lungs.

Asthma is a respiratory condition in which inflammation causes the airways to narrow, restricting air flow and causing wheezing, shortness of breath and cough.  This bronchoconstriction can be deadly if the patient doesn’t receive enough oxygen. Bronchodilators, such as albuterol are used to dilate the airways and steroids are commonly given to decrease the inflammation.

 

If someone has baseline asthma, a storm forecast should warrant preparatory measures, including ensuring one has plenty of inhalers, and seeing their provider to determine if they are vulnerable to “tipping over”.  Many feel a false sense of security with rain as they believe it will wash away the dust.  As Melbourne witnessed, a thunderstorm can be just as deadly.

 

A variety of factors can cause asthma attacks including:

 

Pollen

Smoke

Alcohol

Cold air

Dust mites

Mold

Pet dander

Exercise

Laughing

Stress

Acid reflux/heartburn

Aspirin

Air fresheners, perfume, scents

Traffic and pollution

 

and more.

 

As we see, asthma is not solely caused by a Spring time flower particle. A variety of issues can trigger an attack.  If its sudden, unexpected, stressful and carries a concentrated variety of particles, this combination can be deadly.  Hence “thunderstorm asthma” can be a lung’s perfect storm…….

 

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LearnHealthSpanish.com / Medical Spanish made easy.

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Meeting your weight loss goals doesn’t have to be expensive or snack-free. Snacking can actually be good for you as long as it’s done in moderation. Snacking will actually make you eat less during meals, and spreading your calories throughout the day rather than eating three traditional meals will increase your metabolism and allow you to burn more calories and fat while at rest. I eat over 1,000 calories in snacks per day and have lost 12 pounds in two months and fit into my high school jeans.

You can keep snacking, too, as long as you know which snacks are best for you and which to avoid. Obviously, eating Hostess Twinkies every day isn’t going to be good for you. The 260 calories in two Twinkie cakes is more than even M&Ms, as is the 43 grams of carbohydrates packed into those golden cakes.

The high-calorie snacks not named Twinkies are Oreos, Chips Ahoy!, Lay’s Potato Chips (pick your flavored poison), Cheetos, Fritos Corn Chips (Chili Cheese and Original), and my personal favorite, Fritos Honey BBQ Flavor Twists. All come in packing 160 calories per serving, and all come with between nine and 10 grams of fat. I understand you probably love a snack on this list, and I feel for you, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy that snack. Just do so in moderation.

You don’t have to sacrifice taste for nutrition, and you don’t have to pay more for healthier snacks, either. While Smartfood Delight Sea Salt Popcorn is supposed to be healthy, it still has 140 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving. And at 50 cents an ounce, it’s the most expensive snack I found at Wal-mart. Another surprise was Sun Chips, which come in with 140 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving, all for 42.6 cents per ounce. They do have a lower salt content than most chips, with just 120 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Now that you know which snacks to avoid, here are the 5 healthiest and affordable snacks on the market.

5. Stauffer’s Animal Crackers

To my personal delight, Stauffer’s Animal Crackers came in with the second-lowest fat content (2 g) and fourth-lowest calorie content (120) per serving. Animal Crackers also have just 7 grams of sugars per serving, but don’t eat too many. They had the third-highest carbohydrate count (24 g), but at just 8.25 cents per ounce, they are an absolute steal.

4. Snack Pack Pudding

Snack Pack Puddings impressed. The chocolate flavor packs just 100 calories, which was second-best, and each serving comes with just two grams of fat. While the protein content leaves a lot to be desired (less than a gram per serving), the 7.12 cent-per-ounce price was the best of all the snacks studied.

3. Greek Yogurt

It took me awhile to get on the Greek yogurt bandwagon, but I’m on it for good. Brands matter when it comes to Greek yogurt, though. The Dannon Light Banana Cream Greek Yogurt packs just 80 calories, nine grams of carbs, and no fat per serving, while Chobani has 130 calories, 18 grams of carbs and 2.5 grams of fat. Yoplait impressed with 15 grams of protein per serving. At 18.9 cents per ounce, it’s a bit more expensive than the cheapest snacks here, but the protein content makes Greek yogurt very valuable. It was cheaper per ounce than Pepperidge Farm’s Cheddar Goldfish and Chex Mix.

2. Triscuits

In the head-to-head matchup between Triscuits and Wheat Thins, Triscuits took it in a knockout. With just 80 calories per serving, Triscuits took the title for lowest-calorie snack. They were second only to Greek yogurt with 13 grams of carbs, and their 2.5 grams of fat per serving is half as much as Wheat Thins. The only category Wheat Thins won was in cost. Triscuits were 27.5 cents per ounce, while Wheat Thins were 24.3 cents per ounce.

1. Fruits and Vegetables

I know you’re thinking, “Well, duh!” But to give you a sense of how fruits and vegetables stack up against some of the packaged snack foods, there’s just 46 calories in a cup of strawberries and just 11 grams of carbs and not even half a gram of fat. And they’re 8.9 cents per ounce when in season. A serving of carrots is just 15 calories and eight grams of carbs. They run 7.6 cents per ounce, so when you’re considering what you want to snack on during the week, don’t forget about fruits and vegetables.

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