Today in History: A Close Call for President John Tyler

President John Tyler escaped death. Two of his cabinet members weren’t as lucky.
John Tyler, the 10th president of the U.S., nearly lost his life on a cruise.
John Tyler, the 10th president of the U.S., nearly lost his life on a cruise. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Feb. 28, 1844: During a pleasure cruise along the Potomac River on the USS Princeton, a cannon blew during a demonstration, killing several people, including two members of Tyler’s cabinet: Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur and Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer. The daughter of one victim later became Tyler’s wife. Julia Gardiner was 34 years younger than the president.

Quote of the day

“Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality.” —John Tyler

10 Things You Need to Know Today: February 28, 2014

Gunmen seize airports in Ukraine’s Crimea, the FDA upgrades nutrition labels, and more
Unidentified gunmen have seized two airports in Ukraine. 
Unidentified gunmen have seized two airports in Ukraine.  (REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili)

1. Armed men seize Ukraine airports
Several hundred pro-Russia gunmen in unmarked military uniforms took over the entrances to two airports in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, stoking fears of a separatist rebellion. Ukraine’s interior minister, part of the pro-Europe government that has just taken over, said the men were Russian troops launching “an armed invasion and occupation.” Moscow, which has military bases in Crimea, denied any involvement. [The New York TimesReuters]

2. FDA revamps nutrition labels
First Lady Michelle Obama announced Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration is changing nutrition labels on 700,000 food products to more accurately tell Americans whether what they are eating is good for them. The changes will be the first major revamping of food labels in 20 years. Mrs. Obama, whose “Let’s Move” campaign aims to combat obesity, said the labels would help grocery shoppers quickly and easily select healthy food. [The Christian Science Monitor]

3. Huge chunk of the U.S. faces another big winter storm
Another major snowstorm is expected to roll into the northern Rockies and central Plains beginning Friday. The system — the latest in a series of massive winter storms — is expected to shift toward the East on Sunday and Monday, threatening Chicago and New York, ultimately affecting areas with 100 million people. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said this winter’s unusually harsh weather might be causing signs of weakness in the economy. [Accuweather,Reuters]

4. Judge tells Kentucky to respect out-of-state gay marriages
A federal judge has ordered Kentucky to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who wed legally in other states. U.S. District Judge John Heyburn ruled Thursday that the state constitution and laws banning the recognition of these unions are “void and unenforceable” because they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. [USA Today]

5. Yanukovych turns up in Russia
Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych resurfaced in Russia on Thursday, insisting that he is still the legitimate ruler of his country. Yanukovych requested — and apparently received — Moscow’s protection after fleeing Kiev on Saturday. He said opposition leaders had backed out of a deal to share power. The interim government has accused him of ordering the killings of civilian protesters. [The Washington Post]

6. British spies intercept Yahoo users’ nude pictures
Britain’s signals intelligence division has stolen hundreds of millions of Yahoo users’ webcam videos, including a trove of nude and sexually explicit images, Britain’s Guardian reportedThursday. If the information is confirmed, Yahoo said, it would constitute “a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy.” About 1.8 million users’ video communications were intercepted in one six-month period in 2008. [The Associated Press]

7. North Korea responds to U.S. drills with Scud tests
North Korea fired short-range Scud missiles into the sea on Thursday. It was the first time the isolated communist regime had fired that kind of weapon since 2009. Security experts interpreted the move as a protest against annual joint military exercises the U.S. and South Korea began on Monday. North Korea called the drills a rehearsal for an invasion, but South Korea didn’t expect tensions to escalate over the exercises. [CNN]

8. Cemetery settles lawsuit over allegedly desecrated graves
The owners of Eden Memorial Park in Los Angeles agreed to pay $80.5 million to settle a lawsuit accusing their cemetery of dumping human remains from hundreds of graves. The settlement was tentatively authorized on Thursday, although the final approval isn’t due until May. Cemetery owner Service Corporation International said it had done nothing wrong. The Houston company settled a similar suit in Florida for $100 million in 2003. [The Associated Press]

9. Children of older men face risks of psychiatric disorders
Older fathers are more likely than younger ones to have children with psychiatric problems, according to a study published this week in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Kids whose dads are 45 or older, for example, are three times more likely to be on the autism spectrum and 24 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder, compared with those whose fathers are aged 20 to 24. Older men’s sperm might be more prone to genetic mutations. [CNN]

10. Studio starts work on a Minecraft movie
Warner Bros. has obtained movie rights to the wildly popular video game Minecraft, the game’s creator, Swedish programmer Markus Persson, tweeted Thursday. The game’s publisher, Mojang, has sold 35 million copies for game consoles and mobile devices since 2009, as well as 14 million copies for PC. As with The Lego Movie, the filmmakers will have to come up with a plot from scratch, as Minecraft players create their own action. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Man Dies After Reentering Burning Home to Rescue Forgotten Cell Phone

These days, Americans are increasingly reliant on personal electronics to help us get through our busy lives, but this story should remind us that, at some point, being temporarily inconvenienced by the loss of a device is not worth dying for.

According to the CBS News affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth, a Plano, Texas, man was killed in the early morning hours of Feb. 27, because apparently, he didn’t think that he could go on without his cell phone.

As reported by CBS DFW, the man died after running inside of a burning home around 1 o’clock in the morning:

Neighbors called 911 to report the house fire and crews arrived just three minutes later to find the building fully engulfed in flames. A total of three people lived in the home — the victim, his daughter and his roommate.

“The tragedy here is that the three adults living in the home actually made it out of the home, realized that they had no way to call 911, no phone with them,” said Capt. Peggy Harrell with the Plano Fire Department. “So, two of the residents — two males — actually reentered the burning home.”

‘The phone was replaceable’

The man who did not return alive has not yet been identified as of this writing, according to CBS DFW, but reports said he was in his early 70s. No other injuries were reported at the scene, and the cause of the fire, which firefighters extinguished very quickly, has not yet been determined.

Neighbors who were saddened by the man’s death said he had been living in the home for more than two decades.

“He could’ve come to any of the neighbors’ houses to call 911,” said Nakita Weseman. “I know he realized, probably, he didn’t have his cell phone, but that’s definitely replaceable. He wasn’t.”

No truer words.

Harrell recited an oft-repeated axiom used by firefighters everywhere — never run back into a burning building. She said that, nationally, nine out of 10 people who do that are killed by fire and smoke.

“Fire and smoke conditions change rapidly, and the fast-moving fire and toxic smoke can quickly incapacitate a person and make it impossible to get out,” said Harrell.


California Police Unveil Armored Surveillance Vehicle

Police in Modesto, California unveiled a newly acquired surveillance vehicle this week which will video and audio record local residents throughout the city.

The Armadillo, a refurbished armored truck, is equipped with four high definition cameras, four wide-angle lens cameras and advanced audio recording capabilities.

“We want this to serve as a deterrent or extra eyes out there for us,” police spokeswoman Heather Graves told Fox 40 News. “We are focusing on public areas, we’re not trying to impede anyone’s privacy.”

The vehicle’s surveillance features can also be accessed remotely, allowing officers to park the vehicle in any area of the city and control the cameras’ zooming abilities from a separate location.

“Smile, you’re on camera,” a bold message on the side of the truck reads.

While the vehicle itself was donated by a nearby precinct, Fox 40 notes that the surveillance equipment was purchased with “grant money,” likely from the Department of Homeland Security.

In a press release Tuesday the Modesto Police Department briefly mentioned the vehicle’s rollout, giving no specifics on how long obtained footage would be kept.

Despite Fox 40′s decision to only interview a supporter of the new armored truck, the news group’s Facebook page painted a much different picture.

“Suddenly all the dystopian books I read in high school make sense. I guess they were trying to prepare us for our future,” one commenter noted.

Already patrolling areas of the city, the vehicle is a staunch representation of 21st century America, where even military hardware once used in foreign countries is now aimed at the general public.

Several other departments across the country including a precinct in Fort Lauderdale have implemented the use of surveillance vehicles as well, with real-time video footage feeding directly into police headquarters.

Unfortunately, federal agencies such as the DHS, who labels self-described “liberty lovers” as domestic extremists, have flooded countless police departments with surveillance and military equipment.

This week the U.S. Army announced that it would be giving away 13,000 Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, designed for the streets of Afghanistan and Iraq, to law enforcement agencies here at home.

Last August, a former Marine Corps Colonel in Concord, New Hampshire warned that the DHS was building a “domestic army” of militarized police. Only days prior, Concord’s police chief secretly told the DHS that his department needed an armored vehicle to deal with the “threat” posed by libertarians and Occupy activists.

Other agencies like the Department of Defense have unloaded countless military vehicles on police departments also, with police in Utah recently receiving armored vehicles and grenade launchers.

Incredibly, even Ohio State University campus police obtained an armored vehicle last year, ignoring requests by media to explain the acquisition.

While police across the country argue that such equipment will only be used against suspected criminals, burgeoning surveillance revelations have only worked to create distrust among the public.

Ruger Will Be Expanding in North Carolina in 2014


Ruger, along with pretty much every other firearms manufacturer in the country, has had a pretty solid 2013.

During a sharehold earnings call this week, Ruger CEO Michael O. Fifer said that the company’s North Carolina facility would be enjoying the company’s job expansion efforts during 2014, citing a lack of workers/talent near their other facilities.

According to the New Hampshire Business Review,

“We may relieve some of the capacity constraints in Newport (N.H.) or Prescott (Ariz.) in moving existing products,” he said, adding that he would like all the factories – which currently employ a total of about 2,400 – to have the same size workforce.

“If you look at a workforce of 1,000 people in a factory, you might have 800 terrific folks, but when you are stretching that hard, the last 100 people you hired might not be the folks you hired if you had a choice, so if I can over time get manned enough and get enough products in there (North Carolina) to take a little of the pressure off the other two plants, we’ll be better off for it,” Fifer said.

The company had 823 employees in Newport in 2013, according to NHBR’s Book of Lists.

It’s good to see an American company focusing on states with liberty oriented gun laws. New Hampshire and Arizona have some of the best gun laws in the country. While North Carolina has a couple of laws they need work on, they are also generally considered a pro-gun state.

During the call Ruger also revealed they are enjoying a 55% increase in sales over the previous year. They also say this has dropped in late 2013 and early 2014. This is pretty much in line with the rest of the industry. As I’m sure you know, early-mid 2013 represented a huge spike in gun sales and gun companies are still playing catch up from those orders.

11 Year Old WA Girl Shoots and Kills Cougar That Was Following Her Teenage Brother

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 1.27.28 PM

Most of the stories we feature here are defensive gun uses against bad guys. However, in this case we have an 11 year old girl defensing her brother not from a violent criminal, but from Mother Nature.

According to media reports, a female cougar attempted to follow and 14 year old boy into a basement door of his home in Twisp, WA.

The boy’s sister, shot and killed the animal before it could become a threat. The cougar is described as being nearly 40lbs under weight, which could explain its desperation in blatantly approaching people.

The girl has a permit to hunt cougars, so there was no issue with the shooting.

Source: KPTV

Could Polio or Other Vaccinations be Behind the New “Polio-Like” Illness Outbreak in California?

According to reports, there are now about 25 or more cases, and counting, of a new “polio-like” outbreak in California children. Disease control officials have yet to determine the cause of the outbreak and they are looking for a new virus. Perhaps one direction they should take a look at is polio and other childhood vaccinations.

Initial reports have indicated that the children being affected by the new disease have all been vaccinated against polio. The scenario of children vaccinated against polio and other illnesses coming down with a “polio-like” illness is all too familiar. Look for example at what happened in India when widespread polio vaccinations were used to reportedly eradicate polio from India.

India’s polio vaccination experience

After years of massive administration of polio vaccine, India was declared polio-free and the last reported incidence of polio in India was in January 2011. Although the reported milestone has been widely publicized, what has not been so widely reported is that there were an extra 47,500 new cases in 2011 of the rare illness known as Non-Polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis (NPAFP).

The incidence of NPAFP in India in 2011 was 12 times higher than expected and was found to be directly proportional to doses of oral polio received. Though it may be called “Non-Polio” the symptoms of NPAFP are clinically indistinguishable from polio paralysis and the illness is twice as deadly.

The California “polio-like” illness outbreak

Researchers first identified a polio-like syndrome in a cluster of five children from California over a one-year period, according to a case report that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology‘s 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014.

The children were treated but their symptoms did not improve and they still had poor limb function after six months. Two children tested positive for enterovirus-68, a rare virus previously associated with polio-like symptoms. No cause was identified in the remaining three children.

“Although poliovirus has been eradicated from most of the globe, other viruses can also injure the spine, leading to a polio-like syndrome,” said case report author Keith Van Haren, MD, with Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. “These five new cases highlight the possibility of an emerging infectious polio-like syndrome in California.”

Van Haren said he and his colleagues noticed several of these cases at their medical centers and decided to look for similar cases in California. They reviewed all polio-like cases among children who had samples referred to California’s Neurologic and Surveillance Testing program from August 2012 to July 2013. The five children experienced paralysis of one or more arms or legs that came on suddenly and reached the height of its severity within two days of onset. Three of the children had a respiratory illness before the symptoms began. All of the children had been previously vaccinated against polio.

Cases were included in the analysis if the children had paralysis affecting one or more limbs with abnormal MRI scans of the spinal cord that explained the paralysis. They did not include children who met criteria for Guillain-Barre syndrome, another polio-like syndrome which has been linked to childhood vaccinations including flu shots.

Other countries where polio vaccinations have been used are also seeing increases in the new “non-polio” illness. Some have argued that NPAFB and other polio-like conditions are actually just different kinds of polio which were given separate classifications to enable authorities to claim victory over polio. After all, if it were actually some kind of polio instead of “polio-like” then polio could not be claimed to have been eradicated.

Sources for this article include: