Iowa Bar Owner Arrested for Ignoring Social-Distancing Rules

The owner of an Iowa bar named the Pour Bastards Pub pub has been charged for not following the state-issued guidelines for social distancing, New York Post reports.

On Sept. 4, Newton police returned to the pub after a previous warning in August, officers found there was no social distancing at the bar and no clear distinction between groups. When officers approached the bar owner, Charles King with a copy of the guidelines, King said his customers were adults and it was their responsibility if they wanted to come to the bar they could. He also expressed his disagreement with the guidelines. When officers attempted to serve charges to King, he ripped through the paper with a pen and ripped the paper off the officers’ clipboard, according to a police report.

The bar owner attempted to return to the bar and was ordered not to do so. Officers grabbed King by the shirt to direct him back out in front of the bar where he was told he was under arrest. King became resistant and refused to put his hands behind his back.

King was arrested and taken to the Jasper County Jail and additionally charged for struggling with the police who arrested him and two counts of possession of contraband in a correctional institution when he was allegedly found with a vape cartridge that contained 87.2 percent THC and .2 percent CBD, the paper said.

King was released on a $5,600 bond with his initial appearance set for Sept. 29., the paper said.


Judge Rules Pennsylvania’s Coronavirus Shutdown Orders Unconstitutional

A federal Judge on Monday ruled Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) coronavirus restrictions that required people to stay at home, placed size limits on gatherings and ordered “non-life-sustaining” businesses to shut down are unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV ruled in favor of several local counties and businesses that included hair salons, drive-in movie theaters, a farmer’s market vendor, a horse trainer and several Republican officeholders who sued as individuals, according to Breitbart.

The federal lawsuit was filed against Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

Stickman, an appointee of President Donald Trump, wrote in his ruling that the Wolf administration’s pandemic policies have been overreaching, arbitrary and violated citizens’ constitutional rights.

Liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution cannot be subordinated even during times of an emergency, Judge Stickman IV wrote in his opinion, and the Constitution cannot accept the concept of a “new normal.”

The efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus “were undertaken with the good intention of addressing a public health emergency,” Stickman wrote. “But even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered.”

Previous rulings have rejected several challenges to Wolf’s coronavirus orders for businesses to close down during the pandemic.

Since the lawsuit was filed in May, Wolf lifted many of the restrictions allowing businesses to reopen and canceling the statewide stay-at-home order, however his administration maintained capacity restrictions and limitations on alcohol sales at bars and restaurants. The state also imposed a gathering limit of more than 25 people for events held indoors and more than 250 people for those held outside.


Cuomo Threatens Tax Hikes Over COVID-19 Shortfalls

Facing a huge budget shortfall due to the coronavirus crisis, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened Thursday to increase the burden on New York’s heavily taxed residents, The New York Post reports.

“This will be a hole in the financial plan so large that it will be impossible to fill,” the governor said during a conference call with reporters.

“What would we do to try to fill it? Taxes, cuts, borrowing, early retirements [of government workers]. All of the above.”

New York City is already No. 1 in the nation for the highest combined burden of state and local income taxes, with a total rate of 12.7%, that works out to an average annual amount of $2,877, according to the Tax Foundation.according to the Tax Foundation think tank.

Last month, the American Legislative Exchange Council ranked the Empire State’s economic outlook the worst in the country for the seventh year in a row.

In September Cuomo begged the wealthy New Yorkers to return to the city from their second-home retreats so they can pay taxes to help offset the state’s growing coronavirus-related revenue shortfall. The governor’s threat of a tax hike is a reversal to his previous warning that an increase would put New York at a competitive disadvantage with other states and lead to an exodus of high-income New Yorkers.

Cuomo has so far resisted liberal demands to raise taxes on the rich, however New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has less sympathy, saying he doesn’t base policies on “the wealthy few,” and voiced support for increasing rates on the rich. Instead, Cuomo hopes that President Trump and Congress will agree on a bailout package for state and local governments, if not he would have to rely on Democrat Joe Biden to beat Trump in November and ride to the rescue.

Due to his handling of the COVID-19 crisis the governor has projected a long-term deficit of $30 billion, and to help stay afloat has withheld funding to local governments and social service providers.

The shortfall for the current fiscal year is about $8 billion, according to EJ McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy.


Los Angeles Seizes Property From Church that Defied Coronavirus Restrictions

A major church in Los Angeles that has been defying coronavirus lockdown measures had a significant portion of its property seized by county officials, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Grace Community Church, led by Pastor John MacArthur, was informed by county officials that the nearly 50-year-old lease on its parking lot would be cancelled, and that the county would seize any property left behind in the lot.

The threat was made clear in a letter to Grace by the county, which read in part: “If Grace fails to vacate the premises as required, the District may enter the premises and remove Grace’s personal property in accordance with the Agreement and applicable law, and Grace will be responsible for any resultant expenses incurred by the District.”

Grace Church and Pastor MacArthur had become some of the leading figures in the fight of California churches to hold in-person worship services, after Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) banned such services, even going so far as to ban singing in public, claiming without evidence that singing is one method of spreading the coronavirus.

The church filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County in July, claiming that the restrictions on in-person worship constituted a violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The lawsuit was filed after Los Angeles officials noticeably turned a blind eye to months of Antifa and Black Lives Matter protests and riots, often featuring thousands of people, in clear violation of the same rules that Grace was expected to follow.

Jenna Ellis, an attorney for President Donald Trump and a special counsel to the Thomas More Society, which is representing the church and Pastor MacArthur, released a statement denouncing the move by the local government, noting that the “County is clearly trying to evict Grace Church from use of their parking lot for no other reason than because Pastor John stood firm and is challenging their power,” describing this as “the essence of tyranny.”


Los Angeles to Cut Off Water, Power If Homeowners Host Large Gatherings

According to Fox News the city of Los Angeles will shut off power and water to properties that hold large gatherings that break the city’s coronavirus related safety measures, announced LA Mayor Eric Garcetti at a press conference Wednesday night.

During the press conference Mayor Eric Garcetti authorized the city to shut off power and water to properties, including houses and businesses, that are in violation of gathering regulations as a means to “shut these places down permanently.”

“By turning off that power, shutting off that water we feel we can close these places down, which usually are not one-time offenders but multiple-offenders,” Garcetti said.

“We know we can do this,” Garcetti said, responding to a question about the measure’s legality.

The authorization comes as the state battles a recent surge in confirmed cases. Also concern was raised when a large house party in the Beverly Crest neighborhood of Los Angeles ended in a shooting that left one woman dead and two others hospitalized.

According to the mayor’s office, Los Angeles had nearly 198,000 cases as of Wednesday, as well as 4,825 fatalities.


Andrew Cuomo Suspends Liquor Licenses for a Dozen NYC Bars

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced on Tuesday that he would use his executive authority to suspend the liquor licenses of 12 bars in the New York City area, all for alleged “egregious” violations of various lockdown measures, as reported by The Hill.

The announcement came after New York state government employees conducted over 1,300 “compliance checks” over the weekend, with an additional 644 conducte on Monday. Cuomo’s office claimed that the inspections revealed 158 different violations. Each bar could face fines as high as $10,000 for each individual violation.

With these 12 bars over the weekend, a total of 45 businesses across the state of New York have seen their liquor licenses revoked directly by Cuomo himself. The governor accused such businesses of “disrespecting” fellow New Yorkers who have made “sacrifices” in order to comply with various lockdown orders.

Cuomo, along with other Democratic governors, has been ridiculed for some of the more specific restrictions he has implemented regarding bars and other restaurants. Cuomo, along with California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), recently issued new guidelines on what constitutes a full meal, forcing certain restaurants and bars to sell more “substantial” amounts of food if they want to remain open.


Local Police Begin Defying Orders to Enforce Public Mask Mandates

Although some states are now pushing their coronavirus lockdown measures to the extreme and demanding all citizens wear masks in public, some law enforcement agencies at the local levels are refusing to enforce those orders, according to ABC News.

One such example is the police department in the town of Marshall, Arkansas. Despite Governor Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) officially signing an order forcing civilians across the state to wear masks, Police Chief Lang Holland has said that his officers will not force anyone to do so, nor will they wear masks themselves.

Chief Holland said that people “have the freedom to choose” whether or not they wear a mask, and that such a move “should not be dictated by the nanny state.”

A similar example, also located in Arkansas, is found in Lonoke County. There, Sheriff John Staley said that while he agrees with Governor Hutchinson’s mask decision, his department will not “be out writing tickets for masks,” primarily because they simply do not have the manpower needed to enforce such an arbitrary rule.

Similar acts of civil rebellion by police forces have occurred in Texas, Montana, and Alabama, among other states. And even those who supported forced mask mandates, such as professor Cam Patterson of the University of Arkansas, admitted that “nobody’s asking for a mask gestapo…We’re just asking for good behavior and support from our local communities.”

The issue of masks has remained at the state level, with President Donald Trump saying that Americans have the right to choose for themselves whether or not they should wear masks, and that the government should not enforce such a rule.


New York City Public Schools Considering a Ban on Chocolate Milk

The New York City Department of Education is considering a ban on chocolate milk in all public schools, Fox News reports.

A major reason behind the possible ban is an effort to cut down on sugar in students’ diets, according to a DOE source who spoke to the New York Post, saying “these kids are already getting too much sugar, why are they getting it in their milk?” In an official statement, the DOE further said that “our priority is the health and well-being of our students.”

The ban would be the latest restriction on the types of milk that can and cannot be served in New York City public schools; in 2006, the city DOE banned the serving of whole milk.

In addition to backlash from parents on social media, the possible move also elicited criticism from the New York Farm Bureau, with NYFB President David Fisher pointing out in a letter to DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza that the ban would have a “substantial economic impact on New York dairy farmers that are already experiencing hardship,” in addition to negatively affecting the students “and the nutrients they receive.”

Previous efforts at government mandating the healthiness of school lunches have similarly proven widely unpopular, not the least of which includes former First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to nationalize lunch standards in public schools, which was a failure and eventually overturned by the Trump Administration.


Vapers Turn Back to Cigarettes After Media Scaremongering, Threats of E-Cigarette Bans

The Los Angeles Times has an unfortunate story of e-cigarette users turning back to deadly combustible tobacco.

Even though [Lucas] McClain knows the dangers of cigarettes — lung cancer runs in his family — he thinks it might be easier to kick cigarettes than his Juul. Plus, his mom keeps warning him about the mysterious vaping-related illnesses that have sickened hundreds across the country.

So last month, McClain bought his first pack of cigarettes in years. Then he tweeted about it.

“Bought a juul to quit smoking cigarettes,” he wrote, “now I’m smoking cigarettes to quit the juul.” He ended with this hashtag: #circleoflife.

Further the Times reports that some users are not returning to cigarettes, they are using them for the first time to get off of e-cigarettes.

Some are turning back to combustible cigarettes — or taking them up for the first time — in a dangerous bid to lower their nicotine intake and ultimately get off their vapes.

“Isn’t it ironic that to quit juul I bought cigarettes,” says one Twitter user. Another points out that it’s “strange” that she used the device to quit smoking cigarettes but is now “far more addicted to my Juul than I ever was to cigs.”

The Los Angeles Times is part of the problem, disseminating misleading information about recent vaping-related illnesses in the news. The paper writes:

Vaping may not be safe either. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating at least 380 cases of lung disease in 36 states — mostly among young people — possibly linked to vaping nicotine and marijuana. Six people have died. California is looking into 70 potential cases.

The paper doesn’t clarify that most of those cases are connected to illicit, black market THC cartridges and not traditional nicotine e-cigarettes. Instead, the paper identifies the process with a bad product.

The BBC reports there are more than 40 million adult vapors globally. Why aren’t we seeing deaths and illnesses around the globe if “vaping” is responsible for the current presentation of illnesses here in the U.S.? For those who question the harm reduction of e-cigarettes the BBC writes, “However, doctors, public health experts and cancer charities in the UK agree that, based on current evidence, e-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes. One independent review concluded vaping was about 95% less harmful than smoking. Professor Ann McNeill, who wrote the review, said “e-cigarettes could be a game changer in public health.”

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom is ready to take action and at least he appears to be focusing on the right targets: illegal and counterfeit vaping products.

On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a crackdown on illegal and counterfeit vaping products. He plans a $20-million public awareness campaign about the dangers of vaping. Michigan this month became the first state to ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes in an attempt to end teen vaping. In June, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors banned the sale of all e-cigarettes, beginning in early 2020. Juul is fighting back with a November ballot measure, Proposition C, backed by millions of its own dollars.

“I don’t plan on ever smoking again, but if I had to choose, I would much rather buy cigarettes over a Juul,” said Ryan Hasson, 25. “I think a lot of people are quitting completely or going back to cigarettes,” he said. “They’re waking up to the reality that maybe this isn’t as safe as we once thought.”

What a shame.

News • Uncategorized

Eleven Things You Need to Know About Vaping

Amid the media and political sensationalism cluttering up the public information stream, here are 11 things you need to know about vaping.

1. Vaping is a process not a product. It is the process of using a device to heat a liquid and inhaling the vapor that results. Vaping tools are known as “electronic cigarettes,” and come in several styles including a pen-style, a cig-a-like, or a tank system.

2. Some e-cigarette systems are a closed system and use a pre-filled cartridge, “cart,” or “pod” that contain a liquid called “e-juice.” The most popular closed e-cig system is the Juul device. Depending on the closed-system brand, users can choose their level of nicotine and the flavor of their juice. Closed systems use a type of nicotine for their juice called “nic salts” which is very concentrated and allows the e-cig device to have a small, sleek profile by using a small amount of liquid and a small battery to power the device.

3. An open, refillable system involves a tank and battery, often sold separately. Users can select juice flavors, nicotine levels including zero nicotine, and in some cases, at what temperature they want to heat their juice. The temperature affects the flavor and the nicotine levels delivered to the user. Most tanks systems use a form of nicotine known as “freebase nicotine” and because it is not concentrated requires a larger reservoir to hold the juice and larger batter to power the device.

4. There are four ingredients in legitimate nicotine e-juice: vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), nicotine and flavoring. The flavoring in e-juice is food flavoring used in many food products sitting on the shelves of your grocery store or 7-11.

5. Cannabis-based byproducts, legal in some places and illegal in others, can also be delivered through a vaping system. Many of the deaths and illnesses in the news headlines involve illicit, counterfeit THC cartridges cut with an oil to make the product appear more genuine. The New England Journal of Medicine, which studied 53 patients within 90 days of their symptoms, found:

“Among the 41 patients who were “extensively interviewed,” 80 percent reported using THC products, 7 percent mentioned CBD products, and 17 percent said they had vaped nicotine only. The authors note that “information on product use is based on reports by the patients, and patients may be reluctant to report illicit drug use.

Inhaling oil brings the risk of lipoid pneumonia, a deadly condition arising when the inside of the lungs are coated with inhaled oil. There are no oils in legitimate nicotine based e-cigarette juice. None of the illnesses of deaths have been linked to flavored nicotine juice but the CDC has explicitly linked contaminated THC carts to the outbreak of vaping-related illnesses.

6. E-cigarettes, as we use them today, were invented in 2003. They have been used for over a decade without a crisis of hospitalizations and deaths, and are used all over the world. Other countries are not reporting deaths associated with “vaping” as reported here in the U.S. which would be expected if the recent illnesses were caused by nicotine or flavored nicotine e-cigarettes.

7. E-cigarettes are used for harm reduction among smokers who want to quit and among former smokers who want to continue their break with tobacco. The Royal College of Physicians in London released a study concluding “the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.” E-cigarettes and vaping carry 95% less risk that combustible tobacco and the British health system actively encourages smokers to use e-cigarettes to quit tobacco.

8. Underage smoking is at its lowest level in history. There is a strong negative correlation between vaping and smoking: as vaping among teens rises, smoking among them declines. If vaping were a gateway to smoking, we would have seen the levels of smoking among teens rise along with the levels of vaping. That’s not to say it’s acceptable for teens to addict themselves to nicotine, but to say that e-cigarette use is not tied to the far dangerous addiction of smoking.

9. Many groups fighting against vaping are funded by the pharmaceutical industry which manufacturers competing albeit less effective smoking cessation products. One such group is The American Lung Association. Dr. Scott Gottlieb landed on the board of Pfizer pharmaceuticals after leaving his position as head of the FDA, which regulates e-cigarettes. Gottlieb’s FDA generated reports about the teen vaping epidemic strongly suggesting the need for a ban on flavored e-juice despite a successful track record of getting adults to quit deadly tobacco. Pfizer manufactures a product called Nicotrol, which is a nicotine inhaler.

10. Politicians and elected officials are especially hostile to vaping and e-cigs because every smoker that stops using tobacco and starts using electronic cigarettes is taking money out of their greedy pockets. Tobacco is highly taxed while e-cigarettes are not.

11. Flavored e-juice is almost exclusively the choice of adults who have kicked the smoking habit and are not marketed to lure children into a life of nicotine addiction. Banning flavored e-juice will have serious consequences for the people who have quit tobacco but now find themselves unable to obtain their preferred juice flavor that keeps them away from cigarettes. It also brings the risk that people will turn to newly illegal flavored juice that is not regulated and contains unknown ingredients, just like the illegal and deadly contaminated THC products.