Monthly Archives: April 2016

Judge Rejects Nun’s “Ambien Defense” and Finds Her Guilty of Drunk Driving

concept for drink drivingMore than 1.4 million people are arrested every year for a DUI first offense, but how often do you hear of a drunk-driving nun? A judge convicted a Philadelphia nun of a DUI on Wednesday, rejecting her claim of “sleep driving” as a result of taking Ambien.

Sister Kimberly A. Miller testified that she had mixed a sleeping pill with a glass of altar wine, causing her to have no recollection of the car crash that led to her arrest back in November in New Jersey’s Washington Township. Miller was pulled over by police after witnesses saw her drive into a Meineke auto repair shop and flee the scene.

Police alleged that she was clearly intoxicated and was staggering as she struggled to get out of her car. Officers reported finding a half-empty bottle of wine in the back of her sedan, which Miller claims was given to her by the bookstore owner to take back to the convent. A breathalyzer test found the nun’s blood-alcohol level to be .16, which is twice the legal limit in New Jersey.

Sister Miller’s lawyers argued during the six-hour trial that their client suffered an adverse reaction after taking the sedative Ambien. Miller’s defense insisted that she has a history of sleepwalking and that the medication was intended to help with her insomnia and chronic arthritis.

However, Miller did admit to consuming “two small glasses of wine” at a book fair in Haverford before going to bed at St. Veronica’s, the North Philadelphia convent in which she has lived for 17 years. Miller claims to have no memory of ever driving her car that night, but upon waking up, found herself handcuffed at the Washington Township police station 20 miles away from the convent.

Judge Whitcraft found the nun’s testimony “less than credible.” He commented, “She testified that this wine was placed in the back seat by two sober, reasonable people.”

Whitcraft noted, however, that leaving an opened container in the back seat would be a violation of both Pennsylvania and New Jersey state laws. Furthermore, he argues that a reasonable person would be aware of the risks that come with mixing a sleep aid with alcohol.

The judge has suspended Miller’s license for 90 days and fined her $257 plus in fees.

The nun also held a teaching position at Little Flower High School in Philadelphia and will remain on administrative leave for an indefinite period of time.

There’s no word, though, yet on how many Hail Marys Miller will need to say.

Bernie Sanders Officially Surpasses Hillary Clinton in Total Campaign Contributions

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders started his campaign with a steep financial hill to climb to compete with Hillary Clinton, but the Vermont Senator has finally leveled the playing field.

According to CNN, Bernie Sanders’ total campaign contributions reached $182,923,991 on March 31, which exceeds Clinton’s current campaign funds of $182,242,497. This marks the first time that Sanders has surpassed Clinton in any financial measurable throughout the campaign.Sanders-021507-18335- 0004

Sanders’ campaign had raised just $14 million by the end of June 2015, while Clinton’s campaign had already raised $47.5 million by that same time. Slowly but surely, Sanders eroded Clinton’s substantial lead thanks to a big boost that started in November.

In 2016, Sanders has been dominating Clinton when it comes to fundraising. His campaign has doubled Clinton’s fundraising efforts every month this year, which has finally placed him in a virtual dead-heat with Clinton when it comes to financial backing.

The “underdog mentality” of Sanders, paired with his progressive policies that are based in socialist principles, have endeared him to young people who have grown tired with the establishment. Roughly 75% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and 27% have no savings at all, which has made Sanders a symbol of hope for millions of people.

Unfortunately for his supporters, Sanders’ rapid ascension towards a financial draw with Clinton may have come too late in the election. Although he has eliminated her lead in campaign contributions, Sanders is still far behind Clinton in super PAC support.

Sanders has actually fallen so far behind Clinton in super PAC funds and superdelegates that his growing campaign fund may be essentially worthless. As NBC News reported, many Democratic party members are urging Sanders to drop out of the race after Clinton scored a runaway victory in the New York primary election.

During one of his rallies in Scranton, PA, Sanders only briefly mentioned Clinton and did not give any indication that he would be dropping out of the race anytime soon.

“When I talk about difference between Secretary Clinton and myself, one of the major differences is precisely how we raise money for our campaigns,” Sanders said. He added that Clinton has “several super PACs,” and that she “represents Wall Street and the billionaire class.”

For Sanders to match Clinton’s total funding in time for the Democratic National Convention, he would likely need to embrace super PACs. However, he has largely based his campaign on denouncing such groups, which makes this hard to imagine.

Tax Credit Available For Those Who Choose Metal Roofing In 2016

Eco-friendly homeowners have long enjoyed the savings, in carbon waste and money, that some building choices bring them. Metal roofing has long been lauded as an extremely energy-efficient and eco-friendly roofing product — and now the U.S. Federal government has given homeowners another reason to celebrate metal roofs.

Homeowners who add metal roofs to their primary residences in 2016 are eligible for a $500 tax credit — and for those who chose metal in 2015, they can take advantage of a tax break.

Metal roofs these days are high-tech wonders, many of which feature highly reflective coatings that provide year-round relief from high energy costs. They also come in a variety of styles, including tiles, shakes, shingles, or standing seam panels.

To find out exactly which kind of metal roofing qualifies for tax credit, homeowners can check out the Metal Roofing Alliance website and do research before picking out a specific kind of metal roofing.

Homeowners should make sure to obtain a Manufacturer Certification Statement form your contractor for their roofing products. This signed statement from the manufacturer confirms that the metal roof qualifies for the tax credit and will need to be filed along with an IRS Form 5695.

“Consumers are making informed environmental choices for everything from the car the drive to the clothes they war. The roof you choose should also be evaluated for its sustainability. This new tax credit makes the decision even easier,” said Dick Bus, the president of the Metal Roofing Alliance. “A metal roof is a long term solution that increases the value of your home while reducing its environmental impact and lowering energy bills.”

The tax incentive is awesome, but those homeowners who have been on board with metal roofing know that it always offered a pay off; they are durable, easily installed, and reduce as much as 25% of annual energy bills. Not to mention, they can shed water and snow very easily during inclement weather.

Alien Fish Found in Cabo San Lucas

There may be something mysterious in the water in Cabo San Lucas.

Illinois teen Scott McLaughlin has quite the fishyFishing story to tell after a fishing trip ended with a really odd looking catch that some believe belongs in outer space rather than in the depths of the sea.

McLaughlin, 18, was fishing with his dad in the Sea of Cortez off Cabo San Lucas when he reeled in a bewildering catch. This creature was small with raspy skin, three gill slits on each side of its head, three rows of tiny teeth, and was light in color with a puffed up belly.

The teen and his dad asked their guide what the fish was but he replied he had “never seen anything like it in 25 years,” reports The San Diego Union Tribune. The group kept the weird-looking creature out of the water for about 10 minutes and then threw him back in, thinking he was rare endangered species.

It turns out he was an albino or leucistic shark. According to David Ebert, program director for the Pacific Shark Research Center of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, swell sharks are common in that area, but of the identified 520 species of sharks, he has never seen an albino or leucistic one before.

Swell sharks expand with water when they feel threatened, explaining the creature’s puffy appearance. Leucism is a condition where there is partial pigmentation loss in an animal’s skin, which is why the shark had an uneven, patchy look.

While catching an albino shark may be a rare occurrence, Cabo San Lucas offers near perfect weather that gives tourists the ability to do any outdoor activity they’d like. With hot sunny days, low humidity, and an expected 350 days of sunny weather a year, visitors have plenty of chances to make their own unique wildlife discoveries.

French Cave Art Recently Named Oldest in the World

caveartSome of the world’s oldest prehistoric artwork was recently estimated to be at least 10,000 years older than previously thought. The cave drawings located in the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave in southeastern France are more than 30,000 years old, researchers stated.

Discovered in 1994, this UNESCO World Heritage site features red and black human hand prints as well as drawings of 14 different animal species.

Researchers collected and analyzed more than 350 dates obtained by radiocarbon, uranium-series, chlorine-36, and thermoluminescence methods. Scientists dated the materials used for the drawings like charcoal used for the fires, charcoal torch marks, and bones of different animals found inside the cave.

Anita Quiles, a scientist at the French institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo, states, “What is new in our study is that we have established the chronology of the cave for the first time in calendar years,” Discovery News reports.

This study gave a new timeline to the cave and found that there were two waves of human occupation. The first was between 37,000 to 33,500 years ago. The second wave lasted from 31,000 to 28,000 years ago.

Both waves ended with a rockfall in the cave. As no human remains were found in the cave, scientists believe humans did not live there but visited from time to time.

Due to stylistic similarities, the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave was thought to be from around the same period as the similar cave art found in Lascaux, France. But now, researchers have found that there were roughly 10,000 to 15,000 years between both caves.

Quiles reports that they can now say with absolute certainty there has not been any human activity in Chauvet for 30,000 years. This makes it the oldest in the world.

These interesting caves offer tourists a glimpse of France’s culture. With approximately 4,000 tourist sites and events attracting 300 million visits per year, along with 8,000 museums and 45,000 listed or registered historic monuments in France, it is no surprise France is the world’s most visited country.

Two Nuns Are Aiming to Heal With Medical Marijiuana

MarijuanaTwo self-proclaimed nuns are on a mission to heal with medical marijuana. Sisters of the Valley nuns Darcy Johnson, 24, and Christine Meeusen, 55, believe in the healing powers of marijuana rich in cannabidiol.

The sisters grow a variety of marijuana strains in the yard of their home in California’s Central Valley. They make salves, lotions, and tinctures harvested around the lunar cycle and cultivated during prayer.

Marijuana rich in cannabidiol is thought to be effective in treating the mental disorders anxiety and depression. Considering that 40 million Americans, or 18% of the population, struggle with anxiety disorders, the sisters believe this holistic, natural treatment route is the best option available.

Research shows that cannabis can also be used to treat chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, and even cancer. The sisters say their plants contain little to no THC, preventing the patient from getting high.

The Sisters of the Valley marketed their products through the eCommerce website Etsy up until they were shut down on March 24. Etsy said the Sisters of the Valley Shop was shut down in accordance to their policy that does not allow the sale of drugs on their platform.

While their sisterhood is not directly tied to the Catholic Church, their allegiance is to feminist ideals. CNN reports that their business statement is to “respect the breadth and depth of the gifts of Mother Earth, working to bridge the gap between Her and her suffering people.”

According to the sisters, women will bridge the gap between the acceptance of medical marijuana as a medicine and a recreation drug. They both insist they are not in this industry for fame or money; they just want to utilize their natural born gift for healing.

Virtual Reality Looks to Transform the Advertising Agency

Virtual reality is finally here, and advertisers are looking at how to utilize this new technology.

The advertising industry is always rapidly changing, and technology plays a major role in those changes. It was just a few years ago when phones were not in everyone’s pocket, and now more than 95% of people admit that they are reached by mobile advertisements in the United States.

Virtual reality seems like it’s the next big jump advertisers will take.

Recently, Immersv, a mobile advertising network, showed off its plan for virtual reality advertising. The company is currently targeted at VR developers, who can purchase advertisements in other VR games.

According to the IB Times, Immersv’s advertisements allow interaction by enabling users to virtually “click” by locking eyes. The experience takes the user to an entirely different world, and at the end of the ad, they’re virtually taken to a store where they can purchase whatever was advertised.

Mihir Shah, chief executive of Immersv, told International Business Times that these VR ads work much better than traditional mobile ads. “You get much more engagement in VR than a movie ad,” Shah said. During testing, about 80% of Immersv videos where watched until the end. Only half of mobile advertisements are watched to completion.

There are many companies that are eager to be firsts in the VR adverting industry.

McDonald’s is one of those companies looking to jump onto to the VR bandwagon. The Verge reports that at the recent SXSW festival, McDonald’s demonstrated their VR experience. The user is placed in an all-white room with a paint wheel in one hand and half paint brush half paint gun in the other. While the user paints and makes a mess, the McDonald’s logo flashes from all sides while a virtual Happy Meal drifts around.

Ross Gerber, co-founder of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, thinks that VR technology will be able to advertise for many different companies.

“I think it’s going to be huge for travel and hotels,” Gerber said. “Imagine having the Sports Illustrated model showing you around the Four Seasons in Wailea.”

“This is not about marketing to baby boomers,” Gerber added. “The younger demographics are all about experiences.”

This new virtual reality technology will be able to literally alter our realities, but marketers will be just as eager to use this breakthrough technology for their advertising needs.

Expensive Fertility Drugs Being Sold and Distributed on the Black Market

Many couples will do just about anything when they are struggling to get pregnant. But new research shows that for some, buying prescription medications over the Internet through the black market is no exception.

CBS Boston spoke with Dr. Brian Berger of Boston IVF about the issue.

“It’s more common than we think,” Berger said. “I think for the people that self pay, they are paying out of pocket.”

Between 85 and 90% of infertility cases are treated with either surgical procedures or drug therapy options. Yet many patients’ insurance will not cover the costs of these drugs, so they are looking elsewhere.

Nicole, a 44-year-old Boston woman, turned to Berger for fertility assistance, but her insurance doesn’t cover treatment for women her age.

“Extremely disappointing, shocking,” Nicole said of the issue. “It’s a big choice and then when you take paying out of pocket into consideration, it just makes it all that much more difficult.”

For some families, fertility drugs can cost as much as $10,000 on top of the cost for treatment and other general medical costs. These high prices can present significant obstacles for individuals and couples struggling with infertility.

“If you need to get medications and you can’t afford it,” Berger noted, “people are going to try to get it in other ways. Some of those ways may be getting it off the street so to speak.”

I-Team reporter Lauren Leamanczyk found that on websites like Craigslist.com and freegaragesale.com, there were many people willing to ship IVF drugs for as low as half the price.

Berger fears that more damage could be done if these drugs are not properly handled. “They could be actually injecting themselves with something that’s not the medication,” he warned.

For couples who cannot afford fertility medicines, there are legal discount programs available in some areas.

Staff (and Birds) Finally Return to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge

Birds_at_Creamers_Field_2007Whether they’re called patriots, extremists, terrorists, occupiers, or just a bunch of idiots, the siege of the Malheur wildlife refuge in Oregon has finally come to an end. Refuge staff members are finally going back to work, and as winter turns to spring, so, too, are the migratory birds that call the refuge home.

The anti-government extremists occupied the compound for 41 days, but for anyone who followed the drama in the media, it felt like a lot longer. As Ammon Bundy and his co-conspirators sit in jail cells, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given employees the go-ahead to reopen the 187,757-acre refuge.

The site’s 16 full-time employees returned to see long-legged sandhill cranes and thousands of snow geese arrive. In total, 302 bird species live in the area, but for now the refuge remains shuttered to the public while repairs are underway.

Birds can be very beautiful, but they can also carry up to 10 parasites on their bodies, while 40 known viruses and 60 diseases are borne by birds and their droppings. Yet for once, the biologists of the Malheur wildlife center are dealing with droppings of the human variety.

When the FBI finally entered the compound this February, they found a trench full of “significant amounts of human feces”, a road excavated next to a cultural site, and tons of trash. The FBI also said they are working with Burns Paiute Tribe to assess the extent of the damage to sensitive tribe artifacts stored at the compound.

“Occupiers appear to have excavated two large trenches and an improvised road on or adjacent to grounds containing sensitive artifacts,” wrote U.S. Attorney Billy Williams of Oregon.

According to The Seattle Times, “buildings were damaged, carpets were soiled and a septic system plugged up from overuse that was further damaged as contractors tried to make repairs. Occupiers dug trenches for garbage and sewage, but the headquarters area also was littered with trash and piles of human waste,” all within an “archaeological zone that contains Paiute tribal artifacts.”

So far, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates it will cost $1.7 million to repair the facilities, in addition to the $4.5 million the occupation has already cost the agency.

Meanwhile, the citizens of Harney County are finally settling back into a normal routine, just in time for the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival on April 8.

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