Month: August 2017

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Americans paying more in taxes than for food, clothing


Americans spent more money on taxes than they did on food and clothing last year, according to data released earlier this week.

In an assessment of “Consumer Expenditures” for 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the average bill for federal, state and local taxes was $10,489. 

By comparison, Americans spent $9,006 on food and clothes, with most of that going toward food.

CNSNews.com first pointed out the findings. While it may not come as a surprise that American households are shelling out to Uncle Sam, the data showed that bill has risen sharply in recent years — the average tax bill rose 41 percent overall since 2013. 

According to the BLS, federal income taxes rose from $5,743 to $8,367 in that period. State and local income taxes rose from $1,629 to $2,046.

The stats come as President Trump prepares to pressure Congress to pass tax reform. In a Missouri speech on Wednesday, he called for simplifying the system and lowering rates. 

“This enormous complexity is very unfair,” the president said. “It disadvantages ordinary Americans who don’t have an army of accountants while benefiting deep-pocketed special interests.”

According to BLS, the largest expense for Americans in 2016 was on “housing,” costing an average consumer unit $18,886 during the year.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.



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Burmese python spooks Miami Beach pedestrians


A 6-foot Burmese python slithered near a popular Miami Beach pedestrian mall, scaring the crowd outside a convenience store.

Customers leaving Exprezo noticed the snake beneath a royal palm tree on Wednesday. Someone called Miami Beach police and the python was captured.

Police Chief Daniel J. Oates tweeted “suspect apprehended!” along with photos of the capture.

Store owner Indika Wanigarathne tells the Miami Herald she was thinking, “How big can it be?” Then she saw the python and “freaked out.”

Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez says the snake will be turned over to a wildlife refuge.

Officer Traci Sierra, whom Rodriguez describes as an animal advocate, captured the snake.

The store owner had another word for Sierra: hero. “Trust me,” she said, “I wouldn’t grab that thing.”



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Shark spotted swimming near man trying to escape police custody


A North Carolina man allegedly attempted to elude police on Wednesday by diving into the ocean and swimming away — but unknowingly he was just feet away from a shark while trying the brazen escape.

Zachary Kingsbury, 20, was pulled over for a traffic stop just before 5 p.m. in Surf City, according to WECT.

He allegedly tried to escape when officers spotted illegal contraband inside the vehicle and asked him to exit the car. Kingsbury jumped into the ocean and began swimming away, leading to an hours-long standoff, officials said.

Within an hour, Kingsbury was reportedly 4,000 feet from the shore, and the Surf City Police Department launched a drone to track the escapee.

“At that point, the operation became a rescue operation,” police said in a statement.

But as police were trying to save Kingsbury, they noticed a shark swimming near the man, drone footage showed.

Police were able to nab Kingsbury about 7:45 p.m., according to the Charlotte Observer. 

“I would’ve drowned after 10 minutes…dude’s an animal,” a witness wrote in a Facebook post. 

Kingsbury was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine, and possession of marijuana of up to a half an ounce.



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Subway's $520,000 footlong


The $520,000 sandwich scandal started in 2013 with a suit over the company’s famed “$5 footlong” not measuring up.

An Australian teen had posted a photo on Facebook of a Subway sandwich next to a tape measurer. The sandwich only came up to 11 inches. The post went viral, soliciting reactions – and a class action lawsuit – from those who felt gipped by the fast food chain.

$127 ICE CREAM CONE LAUNCHES AT LONDON BOUTIQUE

Subway vowed to take steps to ensure its rolls would be at least 12 inches, and in 2016 settled in a lower court with a promise for more uniformity in its bread. The suing attorneys were to make $520,000 in fees.

However, the director of the center for Class Action Fairness at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Theodore Frank, was not pleased with the handsome amount of dough the attorneys were set to receive. Frank objected to the settlement stating that the class in the lawsuit received “negligible to no relief,” as mentioned in The Wall Street Journal.

Judge Diane Sykes has agreed with Frank in the settlement benefitting no one but the attorneys involved in the suit, and on Friday threw out the class-action lawsuit settlement.

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During litigation, The Wall Street Journal reports, Judge Sykes noted that “after the settlement – despite the new measuring tools, protocols, and inspections – there’s still the same small chance that Subway will sell a class member a sandwich that is slightly shorter than advertised.”

Though the dough that is used for each roll will the uniform, there is still a risk that, when baked, the roll won’t come out at exactly 12 inches.

Judge Sykes concluded that Subway customers “know this as a matter of common sense.”



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Cartel members busted with $1M worth of meth in genitalia-shaped candles


Alleged members of a Mexican drug cartel were busted Tuesday trying to smuggle $1 million worth of methamphetamine into New York and New Jersey — by concealing it in genitalia-shaped candles.

Five suspects were arrested when undercover Drug Enforcement Agency agents allegedly tricked drug traffickers into delivering 1,300 pounds of candles full of drugs to a warehouse in Paterson, N.J. Some of the candles were phallic-shaped while others had religious themes, officials said.

“DEA has seen drugs smuggled in numerous ways: concealed in puppies, lollipops, furniture, and produce,” DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James Hunt said. “But secreting a million dollars worth of methamphetamine in wax candles of various shapes is shocking. This seizure signifies that drug trafficking organizations are determined to create a stronghold of meth users in the Northeast.”

METH FOUND ON LUNCH MONEY LEADS TO WOMAN’S ARREST

Authorities first got word of a large shipment of meth coming in when an undercover DEA agent held a meeting with one of the suspects, Agustin Zamora Vega, 30, in a Manhattan hotel to discuss storage locations and crystal meth-making facilities, officials said. They later looked at an apartment in Yonkers, N.Y., and the New Jersey warehouse where the bust occurred.

MEXICAN POLICE TRADE GUNS FOR GUITARS IN HOPE THAT MARIACHI RESTORES PUBLIC TRUST

The so-called ‘meth candles’ came into Long Island on Tuesday, packed into 27 cardboard boxes, officials said. According to a press release, the suspects planned to stay in the warehouse until the methamphetamine could be converted into crystal meth.

The 1,300 pounds of wax candles would have yielded a total of 60 kilos of crystal meth, according to the New York Post.



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Court: Oregon couple must have dogs' vocal cords cut


“We are just shocked.” That’s the reaction of the Oregon Humane Society to a Wednesday ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals that will require a Rogue River couple to have their six dogs’ vocal cords cut.

The court case was one between neighbors of nearly 20 years, reports the Oregonian: Debra and Dale Krein said the barking from Karen Szewc and John Updegraff’s Tibetan and Pyrenean Mastiffs began in 2002—at 5am each day, and didn’t stop.

The suit was filed 10 years later, with the Kreins alleging an auditory hell so bad their kids didn’t want to come home from school. Szewc and Updegraff reportedly did attempt to rectify the situation with methods including shock collars, to no avail.

A jury ruled in the Kreins’ favor in 2015; Szewc and Updegraff were ordered to pay the couple $238,000 and have their dogs undergo devocalization. The Appeals Court upheld that ruling.

Szewc and Updegraff had argued that the dogs were what kept their livestock—sheep, goats, and chickens on 3.4 acres—safe from predators. The Washington Post reports that as such, they argued the county’s public nuisance code didn’t apply as they were subject instead to farming ordinances.

But the AP in 2015 reported on the original ruling, which found Tibetan mastiffs aren’t a breed designed to guard livestock. It also cited the 2006 decision of a local hearings officer (related to a citation over the barking) who found the farm use defense was unavailable to the couple due to the small size and profits of their farming endeavors.

They have not decided whether to appeal the latest decision. The Oregonian notes the surgery still allows dogs to make a very quiet bark or squeak; critics call it a “cruel and unnecessary” procedure.

(Read about another case of discord between neighbors.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Oregon Couple Must Surgically Stop Dogs From Barking: Court

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High school dedicates baseball field to Pete Frates, retires jersey


A prep school in Boston honored one of their heroes on Wednesday, dedicating the baseball diamond to Pete Frates and retiring his No. 3 jersey. Frates, who became a household name after starting the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” following his own diagnosis, was also named St. Johns’ Preparatory School’s 2018 distinguished alumnus.

“As I read the Headmaster’s letter that delivered the good news, the tears started to flow,” Frates, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 at age 27, said in a statement. “There is no way I could ever express how unbelievably thankful I am.”

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Frates graduated from the school in 2003 and went on to play for Boston College, where he was named team captain in 2007. He started to notice changes in his upper body and arms after playing professionally in Germany. A wrist injury and worsening fatigue eventually led to his diagnosis.

St. John’s Prep Headmaster Edward Hardiman said Frates’ legacy still reverberates throughout the school’s hallways.

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“In the midst of competition, he had a real focused tenacity, but it wasn’t about him,” Hardiman told The Boston Globe. “What animates Pete is a sense of kindness. He didn’t focus on individual glory, but on the benefit of the team.”

Frates’ jersey is the first to be retired by the school in its 110-year history, The Boston Globe reported.

 



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Kamala Harris backs Sanders' single-payer plan that probably costs trillions


Sen. Kamala Harris, the California Democrat considered a potential 2020 presidential hopeful, aligned herself with the liberal wing of her party this week by endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ single-payer health care proposal – multitrillion-dollar price tag and all. 

Harris told constituents at a town hall in Oakland that she planned to co-sponsor Sanders’ forthcoming “Medicare for All” bill, explaining that it was “just the right thing to do.”

“It’s not just about what is morally and ethically right, it also makes sense from a fiscal standpoint,” Harris said Wednesday.

Last month, Harris said that she supported the single-payer system as a “concept,” but that lawmakers needed to “work out the details.” Her announcement to co-sponsor Sanders’ bill is the first time she has publicly supported a single-payer plan.

SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE: WHAT IS IT? 

Under this European-style health care system, the government is solely responsible for covering health care costs. Sanders, I-Vt., rolled out an earlier version of his proposal during the Democratic presidential primaries in 2016.

At the time, he initially estimated the plan would cost $13.8 trillion over the first 10 years. But according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Urban Institute, the single-payer system would cost the federal government more like $32 trillion over the first decade, requiring an average annual tax increase of $24,000 per household. (That increase would be offset in part by a big reduction in private health care spending, and state/local government spending.)

But a spokeman for Sanders told Fox News on Thursday that the Urban Institute’s figure was “not accurate” with respect to the 2017 proposal. 

“This bill is substantially different and more detailed than the brief plan released during the campaign,” Sanders’ spokesman told Fox News. 

Sanders’ office told Fox News that the bill has yet to be released, but, once it is finalized, they would have a “better sense” of the cost. The bill is expected to be rolled out the second week of September.

 “You’re seeing more and more movement toward Medicare for All,” Sanders said this week. “When the people are saying we need health care for everyone, as more and more Americans come on board, it will become politically possible.”

Sanders thanked Harris on Twitter late Wednesday for her support.

“Thank you @KamalaHarris for your support. Let’s make health care a right, not a privilege,” Sanders tweeted. 

Another bill, introduced in the House by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., would attempt to establish a Medicare for All program to provide Americans with a broad range of health care, including emergency care, primary care, prescription drugs and vision care. That bill currently has 117 cosponsors. 

Fox News’ Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.



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'I GRABBED AN AX' Boyfriend saves woman from home invader: cops


A Florida student who reportedly left class to rob a woman inside her home met his match when he was pinned to the ground by the woman’s ax-wielding boyfriend, police said.

Alex McMaster told Fox 13 he woke up in his Pinellas Park home Wednesday morning to the sounds of his girlfriend screaming at the front door. When he went downstairs he saw 17-year-old Matthew Cleveland punching and choking Christina Robles, authorities said.

McMaster said he then punched the teen and slammed him to the ground.

“I held him there a minute ’till he calmed down,” McMaster told FOX13. “Then I grabbed an ax that I had and held it above him and told him to follow my commands — or I could do something else to him.”

“Then I grabbed an ax that I had and held it above him and told him to follow my commands — or I could do something else to him.”

– Alex McMaster

McMaster said Cleveland then confessed to a robbery attempt and revealed he forced his way into the home after asking McMaster’s 33-year-old girlfriend where a park was located.

“I asked him what he was doing. He said he was trying to get money off her,” McMaster said. “He said he would have hurt her.”

TENNESSEE WOMAN BEATS HOME INVASION SUSPECT WITH BASEBALL BAT

Cleveland, a senior at a local school for teens with behavioral issues, had left morning classes apparently to attempt the home invasion, police told FOX13.

Cleveland was charged with home invasion robbery, felony battery by strangulation and two counts of simple battery, WPTV reports.

As for McMaster, he said he was fortunate the ax was nearby during the attack.

“Someone comes into your house, you don’t expect to see that,” McMaster said. “Everyone says what they are gonna do but you don’t think until the person is standing there.”



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Irma rapidly strengthens to Category 2 hurricane, forecast to be 'extremely dangerous'


Tropical Storm Irma “rapidly” intensified Thursday, strengthening into a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph sustained winds and is forecast to be an “extremely dangerous” storm for the next several days, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is located over the Atlantic Ocean, about 650 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands, moving west-northwest at 10 mph. 

Irma is forecast to become a major hurricane, a Category 3 with sustained winds between 111 to 129 mph, by Thursday night.

The National Hurricane Center said Irma is expected to be “an extremely dangerous hurricane for the next several days,” and is forecast to become a category 4 storm east of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean by next week.

Fox News Senior Meterologist Janice Dean said Thursday it’s still too early to tell whether Irma will pass well north of the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico, or have direct impacts there by next Wednesday or Thursday.

TROPICAL STORM HARVEY REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: EERIE SILENCE, NEIGHBORS PITCHING IN

“What we do know is that it will be an exceptionally strong hurricane, and all interest across the Lesser Antilles/Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba and the U.S — both Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast — need to monitor Irma’s path,” Dean said.

Any impacts to the U.S., if any, would be a full 10 to 11 days away, according to Dean. Forecaster should have a better idea by next week where the storm is going, once Irma moves father across the Atlantic. 

The storm does not pose an immediate threat to land and there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, the hurricane center said.

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Irma is the ninth named storm of the year, and comes a week after Harvey devastated Texas with record amounts of rain.

Earlier this month, forecasters said the Atlantic hurricane season would be “above-normal,” with 14 to 19 named storms ahead of the peak season.

An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes, according to the NOAA.



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