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  1. #16741

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    People have been sounding the alarm about home DNA kits for a long time now and I agree with them except that a family reunion just took place in my family as a result of a home DNA test.

    For various reasons my oldest nephew had lost touch with his birth father and was anxious to find him. We did a test (Ancestry) and didn't expect much. Instead a woman was said to be a possible second or third cousin and I put him in touch with her. Not only was she his second cousin they've become friends and her uncle is my nephew's father. The reunion took place this past summer.

    Many AfricanAmerican families can only go back so far and as I've said here before the more African American and Caribbean people participate the better the data is. I'm on my third revision at Ancestry. There are risks but there are reasons people participate.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  2. #16742

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Ambushed: 15ft tumbleweeds trap drivers and force road closure
    Mobile plants forced authorities to close a highway in both directions for hours in Washington state on New Year’s Eve

    Associated Press in West Richland, Washington state
    Wed 1 Jan 2020 18.39 GMT

    Unlucky drivers in Washington state saw in the new year trapped under a glut of 15ft tumbleweeds, after the desiccated but mobile plants forced authorities to close a highway in both directions.

    The Washington state patrol announced via Twitter at around 6.30pm local time on New Year’s Eve that drivers on State Route 240 near West Richland should use alternative routes.

    Trooper Sarah Clasen told KAPP-KVEW vehicles were trapped in a pile of tumbleweeds that were up to 15ft (4.57m) tall.

    The state department of transportation used snow plows to clear the scene, a process trooper Chris Thorson said took about 10 hours. The road opened again at around 4.30am, well into 2020.

    Thorson said five cars and one 18-wheel semi truck were trapped. No injuries were reported.

    “People were still stuck at midnight and rung in the new year trapped under the weeds,” Thorson said, adding that troopers found one abandoned car trapped in the tumbleweeds at daylight. No one was inside.

    Trooper C. Thorson
    #tumblegeddon After 10 hours of SR 240 being closed last night on New Year’s Eve, it was opened around 0430 thanks to @WSDOT_East We still have one abandon car trapped in the tumbleweeds that was found at daylight, luckily no one was in it.

    January 1, 2020

    The incident was not without precedent. In California in 2018, for example, tumbleweeds shut down a whole town.

    Heavy winds sent thousands of tumbleweeds into Victorville in what some residents called an invasion, the prickly intruders blanketing yards and piling up outside homes.

    “It was just too much,” one resident said. “They were just coming and coming.”

    “It’s an invasion, definitely,” said another. “Normally you get a few flying down the street or whatnot but never this many. It’s never been this bad.”

    The phenomenon is not confined to America. In Victoria, Australia in 2016, “hairy panic” tumbleweeds blanketed the town of Wangaratta.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  3. #16743

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Power Outage Affects Two-Thirds of Puerto Rico After Earthquake
    Thousands of Puerto Ricans slept outside, fearing new tremors, after the 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck the island Tuesday.

    By Edmy Ayala and Frances Robles
    Jan. 8, 2020
    Updated 5:53 p.m. ET

    PONCE, P.R. — More than two-thirds of Puerto Rico had no electricity on Wednesday in the wake of a powerful earthquake that damaged buildings across the southern part of the island and prompted thousands of people to sleep outside in yards and parking lots.

    The magnitude 6.4 earthquake that struck before dawn on Tuesday caused serious damage to one of Puerto Rico’s major power plants, Costa Sur, which generates about 40 percent of the island’s electricity.

    Gov. Wanda Vázquez gave government workers the day off on Wednesday and urged everyone to stay home, to “avoid chaos.” Most traffic lights were not working.

    “This is an event we have never lived through before,” the governor said. “We were not prepared for this. There is no way to prepare for this. It hit us hard, hard, hard.”

    The governor said she and other senior officials traveled to the Costa Sur plant to check conditions after a series of earthquakes that have shaken the island since late December. “We were able to verify that it suffered severe damage to the infrastructure, to the point that employees were injured,” she said at a news conference Tuesday night.

    A wall fell on an employee, who was hospitalized in stable condition, she said. Officials said that the damage to the plant was so bad that it may be beyond repair. Engineers may instead decide to focus on another power plant, which has received federal funding for improvements.

    On Tuesday night, 97 percent of the island was in the dark. But nearly a half-million of the island’s 1.5 million customers had their power restored by Wednesday morning, the power authority said.

    On Twitter, the agency said it was generating 542 megawatts of power by Wednesday morning. That is less than one-quarter of the amount normally needed at this time of year. Authorities worked through the night to fire up power plants around the island, but it was unclear whether they could generate enough electricity to make up for the loss of the Costa Sur plant.

    José Ortiz, the chief executive of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, said he hoped to get everyone’s power back on in the next day or so. He stressed that service would be restored gradually, in order to avoid overloading an unstable system.

    “We learned from the mistakes of the past,” he said. “We want to do it little by little so that those who get their service back, keep their service.”

    Because of the power disruptions, about 250,000 customers were without running water on Wednesday, according to the island’s aqueduct and water authority.

    Elí Díaz, the president of the agency, told WKAQ radio that the authorities were scrambling to find generators to power the water plants, but were finding that some of the equipment that had been tested before the earthquakes did not work when needed.

    “This is a question of hygiene and health,” Mr. Díaz said. “People can go without water for one day, maybe two. Now is when things start getting a little harder.”

    The Trump administration approved Puerto Rico’s request for a federal disaster declaration for the earthquake, which will release some funding for things like debris removal and financial assistance for people who lost their houses.

    Many people fled their homes, even those that did not sustain damage, because they were afraid the earthquake would trigger a tsunami. No tsunami warnings were in effect.

    Lines were forming outside grocery stories in some parts of the island that were hardest hit by the quakes.

    “We are always the forgotten ones — no help gets here,” said Jessica Ramos Sotero as she stood in line under a blazing sun at one of the only three bakeries in the town of Guayanilla that were open. “Please, let people know what is happening here.”

    Customers were being allowed into the bakery five at a time, and were limited to buying no more than two pounds of bread and a small bag of ice. A nearby supermarket, where there also was a line, was limiting customers to purchases of five items each.

    In some parts of the southwestern coastal city of Ponce, the lights were back on.

    Xiomara Cedeño, 34, said her house has been shaking since the first temblor on Dec. 28. A number of lesser aftershocks followed, with the strongest ones coming on Monday and Tuesday.

    Monday’s quake, which registered 5.8 magnitude, destroyed a beloved rock formation known as the Punta Ventana in Guayanilla. One death was attributed to Tuesday’s quake.

    The ground continued to shake on Wednesday, with at least 10 recorded tremors of 2.5 magnitude or greater, according to the United States Geological Survey.

    Ms. Cedeño, 34, spent the night Tuesday in an S.U.V. with her two children and mother-in-law, but was pleased to return to her in-laws’ house Wednesday morning and find the power back on.

    “When María happened, we were without electricity for three months,” Ms. Cedeño said, referring to Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in 2017. “This time it went out after the second shake, during the night, and we were only without electricity for about a day and a
    half. It feels great. This time it came really, really fast.”

    Angel Figueroa Jaramillo, president of the electrical workers’ union, warned that the service restoration was not going to be quick for everyone.

    “The recovery process is going to be slow, but we have to go slow because we have to do this safely,” he told WAPA TV. “Anything that makes us hurry, causes a mistake, could collapse the system.”

    Those who have their electricity back need to conserve energy to help the restoration process, he said.

    “If you have several air conditioning units, turn on one, turn on two, don’t turn them all on,” he said. “Put them on a pleasant temperature, not so we freeze.”

    Edmy Ayala reported from Ponce and Guayanilla and Frances Robles from Miami. Patricia Mazzei contributed reporting from Ponce.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  4. #16744

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    MAGA Socialite Sentenced to 1 Month in Prison for Fraud

    Tracy Connor
    Executive Editor
    Published Jan. 11, 2020 1:09AM ET

    A Trump-loving socialite was sentenced to one month in prison this week for stealing her elderly mother’s Social Security benefits. Karyn Turk, a former Ms. Florida and self-styled conservative pundit, pleaded guilty but is appealing, according to the Sun Sentinel. Prosecutors said the 47-year-old pocketed $43,000 worth of checks that should have gone to the nursing home caring for her dementia-stricken mother, who has since died. The day she was sentenced to federal prison and five months of house arrest, Turk posted a photo on Instagram of herself posing in front of Mar-a-Lago.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  5. #16745

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Dave Stroup @DaveStroup

    Civil Air Patrol up over DC again tonight.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  6. #16746

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    FBI Busts Members of Neo-Nazi Group ‘The Base’ Days Before Richmond Gun Rally
    Two of the suspects allegedly built an assault rifle, amassed a pile of ammunition, and harbored an international fugitive.

    Will Sommer
    Updated Jan. 16, 2020 2:49PM ET / Published Jan. 16, 2020 1:02PM ET

    Police Handout

    The FBI arrested three members of a neo-Nazi group called “The Base” on Thursday morning, days ahead of a pro-gun rally in Richmond that is attracting fringe figures and has already prompted a state of emergency declaration.

    The three suspects—Brian Mark Lemley, William Garfield Bilbrough, and Canadian fugitive Patrik Mathews—face a variety of gun charges. Lemley and Bilbrough are also accused of illegally harboring Mathews, a former Canadian military reservist who fled his home country after being accused of being a recruiter for The Base. The trio is expected to face a federal judge in Maryland on Thursday afternoon.

    The suspects had discussed traveling to Richmond, Virginia, for a Jan. 20 rally in front of the state Capitol to protest new gun control legislation, The New York Times reported. The rally has become a flashpoint for the fringe right, prompting Gov. Ralph Northam to declare a four-day state of emergency and ban guns from the Capitol complex.

    Lemley and Mathews had allegedly built an assault rifle and amassed hundreds of rounds of ammunition before their arrest, according to the FBI. On a recording, Lemley said he had made the gun into an illegal machine gun and made plans to hide it from federal agents, according to the FBI

    “Oh oops, it looks like I accidentally made a machine gun,” Lemley, a former cavalry scout in the U.S. Army, said, according to the affidavit.

    “I’m going to stow it here until next week, just in case the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] shows up tomorrow,” he told Mathews.

    “Um, if they show up here, we got other problems,” Mathews replied.

    The Base, which is derived from the English translation of the name of radical Islamic terrorist group al Qaeda, is a white supremacist paramilitary group committed to race war. In an affidavit filed with an application for the arrest warrants, an FBI described how Base members discuss their racial terrorism plans online.

    “Within The Base’s encrypted chat rooms, members have discussed, among other things, recruitment, creating a white ethno-state, committing acts of violence against minority communities (including African-Americans and Jewish-Americans), the organization’s military-style training camps, and ways to make improvised explosive devices,” the affidavit reads.

    Mathews allegedly crossed into Minnesota from Canada around Aug. 19, according to the FBI. After learning that Mathews was hiding in Michigan, Lemley and Bilbrough allegedly drove from Maryland to pick him up, then allegedly drove him back to the mid-Atlantic area on Aug. 30.

    On Nov. 4, according to the FBI, Mathews and Lemley rented an apartment in Delaware, according to the FBI. They ordered a part for the gun and ammunition, according to the affidavit, and made regular trips to a Maryland gun range with the functional assault rifle they had assembled. At one point, Bilbrough visited the pair, and the three allegedly discussed the Base’s membership and tried to make the hallucinogen DMT.

    On Jan. 11, Lemley picked up hundreds of rounds of additional ammunition and components for body armor, according to the FBI.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  7. #16747

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Fighting suicides in dairy country through a Farmer Angel Network

    By Dan Simmons
    Jan. 18, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. EST

    LOGANVILLE, Wis. — On what would have been Leon Statz’s 59th birthday, two dozen plaid-shirted farmers sat in the basement of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church to talk about how they were coping with the forces conspiring against them — the forces that had pushed their neighbor, a third-generation dairyman, to kill himself.

    The gathering was therapy of the most urgent kind. Statz’s 2018 suicide was the first some of the farmers had ever experienced, and in the small community of Loganville, it was a tragic jolt. “He was stressed out,” remembers Dale Meyer, a close friend. “We tried to help, but we found that we didn’t know what we should have done.”

    In the aftermath, though, Meyer and others came up with an answer. They created a unique self-preservation effort. The Farmer Angel Network, they named it.

    And in a sign of how big the crisis is, the effort is growing. Though farmers throughout the country have faced stark times in recent years, the Dairy State’s plight has been the most severe by some measures. In 2019, its 48 farm bankruptcies led the nation. Many were in the Western District of Wisconsin, home to the Statz farm. The little guys keep taking it hardest: family-owned dairy operations, the kind traditionally passed from one generation to the next.

    So the Farmer Angel Network and similar offshoots are spreading into other communities in the state and bringing in outside resources, including social workers, agricultural educators, economic development consultants, pastors and more. At the same time, money is starting to flow from the federal and state governments.

    The U.S. Agriculture Department allocated more than $2.3 million for special initiatives that will, in part, expand emergency hotlines and support groups. Wisconsin legislators approved $200,000 in September to boost programs addressing farmers’ mental health and financial issues.

    Statewide, weekend sessions are being held this winter for farm couples to learn about dealing with stress and planning a future together. Starting in March, a series of town hall-style events will take place. Its theme: “Unexpected Tomorrows.”

    They all are aimed at helping individuals who typically work alone, worry alone and tend to be stoic until the end.

    “There’s a part of you that feels like you’ve completely failed,” says Terry Jindrick, who showed up for a “Stronger Together” event Tuesday on the University of Wisconsin’s satellite campus in rural Richland Center. It drew nearly a dozen farmers to a white-walled conference room, men and a few women with stolid faces who listened to a presentation about how to better respond to pressures and “breaking the cycle.” They were given paper plates and asked to write the joys in their lives on one half and the stresses on the other half. Stress outnumbered joy on most.

    Their lists reflected the challenges farmers face throughout the upper Midwest: long-slumping prices, the debilitating consequences of more extreme weather, President Trump’s trade tariffs. At 64, Jindrick also has other concerns.

    “I’m the fifth generation, and I can’t get [my farm] to the sixth generation,” he said. Jindrick’s two children chose other careers after college, leaving him, his wife and elderly parents with few options. The farm has been in their family since 1855, only several years after Wisconsin became a state.

    Yet, like their economic crisis, there’s no clear blueprint for how to solve farmers’ mental health crisis. Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the profession has a suicide rate double that of veterans and five times that of the general public.

    “Farmers are very proud, and they’re very private, and there’s a lot of resistance to seeking mental health assistance,” said Chris Frakes, who since May has served as project director for farmer suicide prevention at the Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program. Her position at the nonprofit, which is based a half-hour west of Madison, is paid through a $50,000 grant from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Executive Director Wally Orzechowski applied for the funding after realizing the scope of the problem required extra resources.

    “In my 16 years, it’s never been this bad,” Orzechowski said. One measure of that comes from state-issued vouchers available to farmers to visit mental health counselors. In 2016, just 31 vouchers were requested. By 2018, 89 farmers had asked for them. In the first half of 2019 — the most recent period available — the number reached 95.

    Part of the legislature’s increased financial support will cover 250 vouchers this year.

    One focus of Frakes’s work has been organizing events such as the one in Richland Center. Co-sponsored by the university’s extension service, they’re intended to bring farmers and their families together over lunch and then connect them with resources.

    “I’m really trying to think about how do we put positive community events, positive messaging, to get stories out into communities where people can realize, ‘I’m not alone,’ ” she said. “It’s really okay to ask for help, and we can do this together. Our communities can figure this out.”

    Yet it’s the informal conversation that many credit with saving lives. “Farmers need to talk to farmers,” explained Randy Roecker, who was at December’s meeting of the Farmer Angel Network.

    Brenda Statz was there, too. It was solace to spend her husband’s birthday helping others avoid his fate, she said. She has shared his story repeatedly, recounting how protracted financial struggles contributed to anxiety and depression that Leon never got past despite psychiatric care and medications. His October 2018 suicide represented his third attempt in a year. One of their children found the body.

    His name came up repeatedly during the more than two hours of talking over bean soup, ham sandwiches and homemade brownies. Retired dairy farmer Henry Elfers recalled driving Statz to psychiatric appointments in Madison, noting his friend’s humor and gentle nature, even on their last trip just before he took his life.

    “I had no idea that he’d pass in a couple days,” Elfers said quietly, still shaken by the memory.

    Steven Rynkowski opened up about overdosing on Tylenol and alcohol on a night in 2003 that he only vaguely remembers. His financial struggles had felt crushing. After he recovered, he said, he found peace singing in his church choir. He ultimately sold both his cows and land.

    “This is the first time I’ve shared my story,” he told everyone. “There is life past farming.”

    Roecker admitted that Statz’s death had reminded him of the desperation he’d felt a decade earlier, when the Great Recession plunged him millions of dollars into debt shortly after he’d made a huge investment in equipment and processes to modernize his dairy operation.

    “When I went through it 10 years ago, I felt so alone,” he said.

    Looking out over the group, he applauded their collective effort to save each other. “I’m proud of what we’ve done as a community,” Roecker said.

    Brenda Statz, sitting at a lunch table, agreed. She has stayed on the family’s 200-acre farm, persevering despite a health crisis with one son. She and the kids had harvested the last of the beans the day before the Farmer Angel meeting. They’d need another week to finish with all the corn.

    “We’re going to keep the farm going,” she says. “It’s what Leon would have wanted. You can’t just walk away.”
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

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