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Is Smoking Healthier Than Fascism?

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Last week, New Zealand announced a bold plan to end tobacco sales and smoking. The plan, which could be passed as early as next year, would not immediately result in a ban. Current smokers could expect to live out the remainders of their lives as smokers – though experts agree this is likely to shorten their lives. They will also be smoking mandated low-nicotine cigarettes. 

If passed, children who turn fifteen by 2023 will be legally able to smoke. Children who have not, will never be allowed. 

The measure is not out of character for the island nation. In 2011, New Zealand announced plans to curb smoking, setting a goal of bringing smoking down to five percent of the population by 2025. They have already come a long way, nearly slashing their smoking rate in half since 2008. They have taken down tobacco signs, sponsored anti-smoking advertising, and drastically increased the price of cigarettes. Campaigns targeted at students have been especially successful. 

Though not the first country to attempt a tobacco ban – Bhutan enacted legislation banning tobacco sales in 2010 that was only recently overturned – New Zealand marks the first developed nation to take such a hard line against smoking. The move has led some to wonder whether other countries will follow suit. 

Smoking ban proposals are often derailed by civil liberty groups arguing, in lesser or more words, that smoking is healthier than fascism. You can even buy the shirt

The argument is simple and generally effective: people should be free to make their own decisions. Even if those decisions will kill them. The health-related consequences of smoking are well-documented and downright scary. From cancer to heart disease and even stroke, no organ system is safe from the harm caused by tobacco. 480,000 deaths are thought to be associated with smoking in the United States each year. 

Civil liberty advocates nonetheless continue to fight against bans, but public opinion may be swaying the other direction, even in notably liberty-loving countries like the United States. There are currently smoking bans covering bars, restaurants, and workplaces in twenty-nine states. An additional two states allow smoking at work, but draw the line at bars and restaurants. Key to smoking ban legislation is often the protection of workers in these industries, who previously faced second-hand smoke exposure at work, independent of their own smoking status. 

A second argument against smoking bans is not whether they should exist, but whether they can achieve their goals. Prohibition didn’t stop alcohol consumption, but it did bolster organized crime. According to the New York Times, the New Zealand Government has already admitted that at least 10% of current tobacco sales take place on the black market and that organized crime around tobacco smuggling is on the rise. It was fears that smugglers might bring Coronavirus into the country that led Bhutan to rethink their ban.

In a plot twist, young Americans are choosing to leave smoking behind. Americans aged 18—24 have historically been a key smoking demographic. This age group hovered around a 20% smoking rate in the year 2000. By 2019 it had dropped to 8%. This trend is one aspect of an increasingly health-conscious culture, nationwide and across age groups, though no one can say whether this cultural shift will be long-lasting.

Perhaps anti-smoking and civil rights activists can agree that a cultural shift is a better solution to a ban. The healthiest thing may be a civilization that chooses not to smoke. We will wait to see whether a ban precedes an anti-smoking cultural shift in New Zealand, or instead feeds an underground tobacco market. That answer, more than anything else, will determine whether the rest of the world follows suit.

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Woman escapes horrifying torture and rape situation, held against her will for months

Woman escapes horrifying torture and rape situation, held against her will for months

On June 9th a desperate 22-year-old woman escaped a Chino Hills, California residence in the early evening and fled to a local park to find help. When authorities were called, she alleged she had just escaped nearly six months of agonizing torture and sexual assault at the hands of her roommate. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department was the first to respond to the call and the victim identified her attacker as Peter McGuire, 59, a resident of Chino Hills.

The victim had visible and horrific injuries that were found to be consistent with her allegations, the Sheriff’s Department claimed. They immediately took the victim to the hospital for evaluation and then secured a search warrant for McGuire’s residence. When they arrived at the residence, however, it appeared that McGuire had fled the scene. 

McGuire had another home in Placentia, Orange County, authorities discovered. They quickly executed a search warrant for this residence and found that McGuire had attempted to barricade himself inside the property. A SWAT team was called to end the stand-off between McGuire and authorities which led to them having to tear the garage door down to gain entry to where he was located. He gave himself up a few hours later at about 8:30, Monday morning. 

The suspect was taken into custody and plead “not guilty” to a serious list of charges including but not limited to kidnapping, infliction of great bodily injury, sodomy by force, and administration of controlled substances during the act of other grievous sex crimes. 

The victim, now stabilized at the hospital, is reported to have sustained very serious injuries where she had one eye completely destroyed, severe wounds were present on her ears, nose, lips, and her tongue had been almost severed from her mouth. 

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department explained that the woman had moved in with McGuire at the beginning of this year to be roommates and was suddenly held hostage by her new roommate. She elaborated that she was not allowed to leave the premises and was subject to a numerous amount of assault in egregious and horrific ways at the hands of McGuire. 

Authorities were absolutely stunned with the injuries the victim had received, and had somehow made it out, alive, to get help. 

McGuire is being held without bail until he is due back in court.

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Las Vegas Uber driver viciously attacked by her passengers

Las Vegas Uber driver viciously attacked by her passengers

Victoria Partridge is thankful to be alive after she was viciously attacked by her Uber passengers early Sunday morning in Las Vegas

Partridge went to Fremont St. to make a pickup at around 12:30 AM. When she got there, she saw there were 7 women waiting for her, more than her six-passenger van is permitted to carry due to seatbelt restrictions. 

Victoria told them she couldn’t take them all, but they pleaded with her several times telling her it was the last chance they had to get home. The driver opened the van door multiple times asking them to leave, but when they wouldn’t go, she gave up and took them to their destination, an apartment seven minutes away. 

When they got to the apartment, Victoria turned around to remind them to take their belongings when one passenger threw a drink into her face. 

Then all hell broke loose.

The passenger in the front seat began beating Victoria on the head. The woman in the back seat grabbed her tip jar. Another passenger opened the driver door, so she was being beaten on all sides. 

One woman took her cell phone while another complained she broke her nails during the assault. 

“I was trying to protect my eyes in the beginning, just because I didn’t want to go blind,” Victoria said. “When the attack started getting harder, punching harder, then I started thinking that I’m gonna die. And when they left, I was just praying to God. Thank God I’m alive.” 

In addition to being physically injured, Victoria’s van was also damaged. The side door was kicked in and the windshield wiper lever was torn off. 

Victoria contacted the police and Uber directly after the incident. The police told her an officer would be in touch. Uber asked her to upload any images she had of the incident. Thankfully, it had all been caught on her interior dash cam. 

She had also gotten a tip from the woman who originally booked through the Cash App, so she had her contact info and picture. 

But despite the evidence and criminal nature of the attack, Victoria didn’t hear from Uber or the police for three days. When she contacted Las Vegas police, they confirmed they had started a case for her but recommended she call the Downtown Command Center to jumpstart it.

Victoria was frustrated by the lack of response. “It feels like nobody cares. And it hurts. Hurts a lot,” she said. 

Partridge and her husband are both Uber drivers and count on their van for income. Now that it’s out of commission, they must wait until it’s repaired to get back on the road. 

Victoria is also injured. Her face is still bruised, and she thinks she has a slight concussion. She hasn’t slept much since the incident occurred. 

“I didn’t go to the hospital because I have no insurance. I didn’t know if Uber was going to cover it or not. Because if they’re not gonna cover I don’t know how the bill is going to be. Maybe $5000 for this visit,” Victoria said.  

As an update, Uber eventually offered to reimburse Victoria for her car repairs and will make a $5000 donation to her Uber account. 

Partridge has also started a GoFundMe account to cover medical, repair and attorney fees. Those wishing to donate can do so at this link.  

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The largest ever Python caught in Florida Everglades

The largest ever Python caught in Florida Everglades

Encountering a snake is never pleasant but imagine coming across one that’s 215 lbs. and 18 ft long. That’s the size of the Burmese Python that was captured in Florida on Thursday. 

Apparently, the female snake had been slithering around the Florida Everglades when biologists found her by using a male python named Dionysus who was outfitted with a radio transmitter. 

Researchers from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida wrestled with her for 20 minutes before she was subdued and eventually killed. 

“We knew he (Dionysus) was there for a reason, and the team found him with the largest female we have seen to date,” said state biologist Ian Bartoszek. 

The python, who was about the size of a giraffe when stretched out, was discovered to be pregnant with a whopping 122 eggs. Her last meal was an entire white-tailed deer. 

She was estimated to be about 20 years old. 

She beats the record for largest snake caught in the area topping a 16 ft. 140 lb., male previously captured nearby. 

Pythons have long been seen as pests in the Florida area. With no major predators, they tend to thrive on native species. 

They are often found in the Florida area due to irresponsible pet owners who released them or allowed them to escape. They are well suited to the state’s subtropical climate. 

Researchers have been hunting pythons in Florida for over 10 years to save the eco-system. 

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida was established in 2013 and has since removed over 1000 pythons from a 100 square mile region in southwest Florida. 

Florida also hosts an annual contest known as the “Python Challenge” which calls on the public for help hunting pythons. This year it will run from August 5-14. It’s expected to draw about 600 participants from 25 states. 

Prizes are given out including a $2500 reward for most snakes captured and a $1500 reward for longest snake caught. 

Last year’s winners included one hunter that caught 223 pythons and another that caught a serpent 15 feet long.

The largest ever Python caught in Florida Everglades

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British art teacher fired after allowing high school students to pose nude

British art teacher fired after allowing high school students to pose nude

One of the best things about art is how subjective it is. Even though art is subjective there are still certain lines that should never be crossed. Among them include allowing underage girls to pose topless in the name of art, but that’s exactly what one art teacher in the U.K has been accused of. The teacher, 41-year-old Emma Wright, was working at the Huxlow Science College in Northamptonshire, England at the time the incident occurred. The photoshoot took place back in 2017, but Wright wasn’t fired until the two year investigation surrounding the photoshoot concluded. To say that the photos were inappropriate would be quite an understatement.

Some of the photos included students using bottles of alcohol to cover their breasts, while other images consisted of the girls smoking in their school uniforms and making other offensive gestures. British media outlet, The Sun shared claims that one photo contained an image of a student “posing with their hand inside their underwear or in a pose which simulated masturbation.” While most people can understand the limits of art classes in school, Wright seemingly doesn’t. She criticized her firing as an “injustice”, and told The Sun, “I am a good person. I am not the person they are making me out to be.” Her track record seems to back this claim up, as she had a “good history” teaching at Huxlow Science College dating back to 2004.

Regardless, the Teaching Regulation Agency still deemed the photo shoot as “highly inappropriate.” This led to Wright being removed from the teaching registry for two years, but she now no longer has a desire to teach. “I feel there is a deep injustice about it, but I am not going to appeal because I no longer wish to teach,” she told The Sun. She’s now employed at a nursing home. Here’s hoping she can abide by the rules of her new employer better than she was during her time as a teacher.

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Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade

Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to overturn the 49-year-old Roe vs. Wade decision to legalize abortion throughout the U.S. It will uphold a Mississippi decision to ban the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy and leave the ultimate decision up to each state’s local government. 

Justice Samuel Alito also overturned a decision made in the 1992 case, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey which ruled not to impose and ‘undue burden’ on women in need of an abortion. 

“Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote in a statement. 

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division,” he continued. 

The decision was finalized more than eight weeks after Alito’s opinion was leaked to press causing outrage and protests across the country. 

Chief Justice John Roberts concurred with Alito’s decision saying, “Ample evidence suggests that a 15-week ban provides sufficient time, absent rare circumstances, for a woman to ‘decide for herself’ whether to terminate her pregnancy”. He also criticized liberal justices who supported Roe vs. Wade for displaying, “a relentless freedom from doubt on the legal issue that I cannot share.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who also joined in Alito’s opinion stated, “Because the Constitution is neutral on the issue of abortion, this Court also must be scrupulously neutral. The nine unelected Members of this court do not possess the constitutional authority to override the democratic process and to decree either a pro-life of pro-choice abortion policy for all 330 million people in the United States. 

“Instead of adhering to the Constitution’s neutrality, the Court in Roe took side on the issue and unilaterally decreed that abortion was legal throughout the United States up to the point of viability (about 24 weeks of pregnancy). The court’s decision today properly returns the Court to a position of neutrality and restores the people’s authority to address the issue of abortion through the processes of democratic self-government established by the Constitution.”

Justice Clarence Thomas disagreed requesting that the court review decisions like Roe and Casey based on substantive due process which states rights not included in the constitution are protected by the 14th Amendment. 

“Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous, we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” Johnson said. 

Liberals shot back accusing the majority of threatening the balance struck by the Roe v. Wade decision. 

“It says from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. 

“Whatever the exact scope of the coming (state) laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and their status as free and equal citizens,” the liberal’s response stated. 

Recent polling has revealed that although a majority of Americans wanted Roe v. Wade to be upheld, the decision will allow 22 states to implement total or near total abortion restrictions.

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