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July 04, 2015

Stranger Raises $35k for Exonerated Prisoner

When Alex Sutaru heard the story of Jonathan Fleming, a Brooklyn man exonerated after doing nearly 25 years in a New York prison for a murder he didn’t commit, he knew he had to act.
“This is somebody that wasn’t guilty of a crime; he was wrongfully convicted,” Sutaru said. “After the hell he’s been through for the past 24 years he came out with a positive attitude and said he wants to live the rest of his life, go to school, be positive and today’s the first day of the rest of my life.”
Fleming had been freed three weeks ago by a key piece of evidence – a phone receipt in the case files all along that put him at Walt Disney World with his children when the murder was committed in New York.
Though his release was astounding and a long time coming, Fleming was returned with no home, no job and no money.
“I had about $93 in my account so that’s all I was given when I got out of prison, $93,” Fleming said. “I’m living from house to house with my cousins.”
Amazingly, even after all of the hardship he endured, he expressed not one ounce of resentment.
After being asked how he could not be angry after such an ordeal, Fleming said, “I just have to move forward. I’m just so happy to be out and I don’t want to live that way.”
So Sutaru, a 32-year-old Wall Street banker, moved by Fleming’s demeanor and his story, went online and created a fundraising campaign.
Within days the campaign raised nearly $35,000 from more than 600 people in 14 countries. The money will help Fleming afford a place to live and food to eat as well as get him on his feet while he looks for a job.
“I think people recognize that donating a little they can help this person integrate back into society and build a life for himself that was wrongly taken away from him,” he said. “People are good. There is some bad out there but most people are good.”
On Monday, Fleming and Sutaru met for the first time.
“I want to thank you, man, I really do, I want you to know that, it really means a lot that you did this for me,” Fleming said. “You’re a wonderful man to do this for me. I appreciate it.”
“People, you know, I never thought they’d do this for me,” he told NewsPals. “I look at things really different now, I really do, I look at things real different.”

July 03, 2015

A Retired 9/11 First Responder Just Won $5 Million in the New York Lottery

"Everything is beautiful now," Carmelo Mercado says

A retired firefighter with a serious lung ailment has won $5 million in the New York lottery.
Carmelo Mercado, 63, won the top prize in the Cash X100 scratch-off lottery ticket, according to CNN. “Everything is beautiful now,” he said.
Mercado retired from Battalion 49 in Queens after serving at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks. A doctor advised him to give up firefighting in 2004 because of the serious damage that work had done to his lungs.
Since then, he’s dedicated his life to his four children and plays the New York lottery regularly.
Mercado wasn’t so lucky the first time he tried Cash X100. But when he noticed that the next ticket was No. 25, the inverse of his birth year, he thought he’d give the scratch-card game another shot, CNN reports.
“I went down three rows and I thought it said 5,000,” he said, describing the moment he began scratching the winning lottery card. “And then there was another comma and then I saw the other three [zeros]. I said, Holy mackerel! That looks like $5 million!”
He says he plans to purchase a vacation home at Disney, CNN says. At the same time, Mercado told reporters, “I’m just pacing myself. I’m still in shock.”

Obama Planning to Change 4th of July Celebrations FOREVER

The EPA recently got a smack down from the Supreme Court of the United States but Obama still continues to use them to hurt the country.
Apparently the EPA is going to push regulations that are so outrageous and draconian (and USLESS) that they will destroy Independence Day activities such as fireworks displays and grilling. 
From the Daily Caller:
Enjoy Independence Day while you still can. If President Obama gets his way, this could be the last Fourth of July worth celebrating.
New ground-level ozone standards being pushed by Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency would result in widespread bans on fireworks shows, backyard grilling and other Independence Day traditions.
Because the proposed ozone rule is set so low, things as harmless as a few backyard chefs grilling burgers in the same area at the same time, or even festive fireworks being launched during an Independence Day celebration, could cause an area to violate federal ozone standard thresholds.
Such a violation of the EPA’s unreasonably low ozone limit would result in fines and other penalties for local governments from federal regulators.
In an attempt to steer clear of punishment, local lawmakers will have to respond to the new EPA rules by enacting municipal grilling bans and canceling fireworks shows from sea to shining sea.
To make matters worse, the current EPA ground-level ozone standard was set just seven years ago. In fact, scores of places around the country are still in violation of the existing regulations and the EPA hasn’t yet cared to figure out how to help those get those areas into compliance. The new guideline would move the bar even lower, forcing whole regions of the country to pay fines and face other penalties, without any realistic hope of meeting the standard short of banning cars and forcing businesses to close.
The EPA is not only out of control but they are utterly useless.

Obama Puts a Price on the Head of Every American

Barrack Obama has essentially put a premium on the head of every American and has created a public market in the Middle East for their sale.
On Wednesday, the president announced he would sign an executive order which will make families of American hostages who pay ransom immune from federal prosecution.
By doing so he has sent a signal to all terrorists that there is money to be made in kidnapping Americans.
The United States used to have a hard rule about negotiating with terrorists. The logic is that giving any concessions to a terrorist would only incentivize more terrorists.

Obama already damaged this precedent by handing over 5 Taliban leaders in exchange for the release of US Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl. Now he has provided further incentive for our enemies to prey upon our servicemen, diplomats, and citizens.

It is estimated that 6.3 million Americans live overseas. These individuals have all been put at greater risk of harm because of the actions of President Obama.
In reality, no family has ever been prosecuted for trying to negotiate with terrorists. But Obama still felt the need to announce to the world that they are now practically encouraged to. Such an action is gravely irresponsible.
Even if families wanted to buy back a loved one from captivity, the average asking price in $2 million. Obama’s order does nothing to help these families and put the loved ones of countless more in harm’s way.

Stanford Will Now Be Free To All Students From Families That Earn Less Than $125,000 Per Year

Last week, Stanford University announced that more accepted students won’t have to pay anything for tuition, which normally runs nearly $46,000 a year.
Students whose families make less than $125,000 a year and have assets worth $300,000 or less, including home equity but excluding anything that they have saved in retirement accounts, won’t have to pay tuition. Students whose families make less than $65,000 also won’t have to pay for room and board, which can run about another $14,100. Scholarships or grants will cover the costs instead, and the school has a $21 billion endowment. The thresholds were previously $100,000 for free tuition and $60,000 for free room and board.
Students will still have to contribute at least $5,000 a year from part-time work during the school year, working during the summer, and/or savings.
“Our highest priority is that Stanford remain affordable and accessible to the most talented students, regardless of their financial circumstances,” said Provost John Etchemendy in a press release. “Our generous financial aid program accomplishes that, and these enhancements will help even more families, including those in the middle class, afford Stanford without going into debt.” The school says that 77 percent of undergraduates leave without student debt.
That makes Stanford graduates somewhat unique, as about 70 percent graduate with debt, owing an average of $29,000 at the end of last year. Student loan debt has tripled over the last decade. Meanwhile, nearly a third of those

Serta Will Stop Selling Donald Trump Mattress Line in Latest Defection

Serta, the largest U.S. mattress manufacturer, will end its business relationship with Donald Trump after he made disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants.
The company, which sells Trump Home-branded mattresses, won’t renew its licensing agreement with the billionaire presidential candidate when it expires at the end of the year, according to an e-mailed statement.
“Serta values diversity and does not agree with nor endorse the recent statements made by Mr. Trump,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. Serta is “in the process of unwinding our relationship.”
Serta is the latest company to distance itself from Trump following remarks he made in a June 16 speech announcing his run for president. In the speech, he accused Mexican immigrants of being rapists and bringing crime and drugs to the U.S. After advocacy groups complained, Macy’s Inc. announced Wednesday that it would phase out its Trump menswear line. Earlier in the week, NBCUniversal cut ties with Trump and said it wouldn’t be airing his annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants.

U.S. Manufacturing

Trump accused NBC and Macy’s of supporting illegal immigration in a statement Wednesday and said he was unhappy that his Macy’s line was manufactured in China. The Trump Home mattresses were made at plants in the U.S. and Canada, Serta said. Trump Organization representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Serta began selling Trump Home mattresses in 2009 in the U.S. and Canada. The line is priced from $1,299 to $2,999.

The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company accounts for 20 percent of the U.S. mattress market, according to market research firm IBISWorld. It is affiliated with National Bedding Company LLC, which is owned and managed by Serta Simmons Bedding LLC. It supplies many hotel chains, including ones owned by Marriott International Inc., Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., InterContinental Hotels Group Plc and Choice Hotels International Inc.

July 02, 2015

The U.S. Is Producing a Record Amount of Milk and Dumping the Leftovers

There’s so much milk flowing out of U.S. cows these days that some is ending up in dirt pits because dairies can’t find buyers.
Domestic output is set to be the highest ever for a fifth straight year. Farmers are still making money as prices tumble because of cheaper and more abundant feed for their herds. Supplies of raw milk are topping capacity at processing plants in parts of the U.S. and compounding a global surplus even with demand improving.
 
Agri-Mark, a 1,200-dairy cooperative in New England that had $1.1 billion of sales last year, started pouring skim milk last month into holes used for livestock manure. It was the first time in five decades, and farmers so far have unloaded 12 truckloads, or 600,000 pounds (272 metric tons). While having small amounts of milk spoil or go unsold isn’t unusual, Northeast dairies dumped 31 percent more this year through May than the same period of 2014, government data show.
“Usually we’d find someone to buy it at a reduced price, or ship it to the Midwest,” said Bob Wellington, a senior vice president at Andover, Massachusetts-based Agri-Mark, which was founded in 1913. “But those plants are full. There’s no way to process it in the time needed for a perishable product.”

Global Glut

Domestic output in May reached 18.4 billion pounds, the most in any month, and is on pace to reach a record 208.7 billion pounds this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said June 18. Globally, production will rise 2.1 percent to a record 582.52 million tons as top exporter New Zealand sells the most ever and the European Union ends limits on dairies that had been in place since 1984, the USDA said.
U.S. farmers expanded after futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange surged to a record in September, fueled partly by rising cheese demand and a jump in purchases by China. Since then, warmer weather has brought a seasonal increase in supply, demand slowed from importers, and a stronger dollar eroded exports.
 
“The world needs less milk,” said Eric Meyer, president of HighGround Dairy, a Chicago-based broker.

Price Slump

Global dairy prices have dropped 39 percent from an all-time high in February 2014 and are the lowest in five years, United Nations data show. In Chicago, benchmark Class III milk futures, used in cheese making, are down 36 percent to $16.11 per 100 pounds from a record $25.30 in September. Prices may fall to $14.41 by the end of the year before recovering in 2016, said Tom Bailey, a New York-based analyst at Rabobank International.
New Zealand’s dollar has tumbled to a five-year low as falling milk prices amplified speculation the nation’s central bank will cut interest rates this month. The kiwi slid against almost all of its 16 major peers this year.
The milk slump has been a boon to buyers including processor Dean Foods Co. and retailer Supervalu Inc., contributing to a slowdown in the pace of food inflation.
At the same time, the dollar’s rally against most of the world’s currencies helped to spur a 10 percent drop in U.S. milk exports in the first four months of 2015, while imports rose 12 percent, compounding the domestic surplus, government data show.
The bear market has been no barrier to more supply. At Mitch Breunig’s farm in Sauk City, Wisconsin, he’s still profitable even as the value of his milk fell 26 percent. Costs have dropped for things like fuel, and wet spring weather left an abundant alfalfa harvest, providing higher-quality hay for his 420 cows to eat. The animals are producing 3 percent more milk than last year.

Feed Profitability

“I just have way more feed than a year ago,” Breunig said, adding that his eight grain silos are full. “In terms of profitability, boy, that has a huge effect.”
Demand remains strong, with Americans eating more dairy products than ever, especially cheese and butter, said Bill Brooks, a Dearborn, Missouri-based dairy economist at INTL FCStone. Futures may reach $17.57 in the fourth quarter, he said June 18. The USDA estimates global milk demand will rise for a sixth straight year to a record 582.7 million tons.
There’s also concern output is dropping in California, the largest U.S. producer. A four-year drought may be eroding feed quality and cutting into profit, said Bill Schiek, an economist at the Dairy Institute of California in Sacramento.

Shrinking Profit

Dairy profits may not last much longer. Income over feed costs will fall 38 percent to average $8.90 per 100 pounds of milk in 2015, from a record last year, FCStone’s Brooks said. Profit margins below $7.50 usually signal output will drop, according to Matt Gould at the Dairy & Food Market Analyst newsletter.
For now, there’s more than enough incentive to produce more milk. Breunig, the Wisconsin farmer, estimates his alfalfa costs will drop 26 percent to $70 a ton this year, while corn will be down 10 percent. He’s also getting top dollar from the slaughterhouse for calves and old cows at the end of their productive life, because wholesale-beef prices are near the highest ever.
Dairies in the Northeast dumped 31 million pounds of milk in the first five months of 2015, including 7.9 million in May, which was 67 percent more than the same month last year, USDA data show. Farmers are saying it is the most ever, according to the dairy newsletter’s Gould.