Testing It Up

Michael Schumacher In Critical Condition After Ski Accident

Despite engaging in the very risky sport of car racing, Michael Schumacher is now in “critical condition” after injuring himself while skiing in the French Alps last Sunday.

michael-schumacherSchumacher, a seven-time champion in the Formula One racing circuit, was reported by SB Nation to have “suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and is in critical condition” according to doctors of the University Hospital of Grenoble. He is now in a comatose state after suffering head trauma, which requires immediate surgery.

The accident occurred in Meribel, France where the 44-year-old racecar driver fell during skiing and hit his head on a rock, albeit wearing a helmet. Despite this, Schumacher was still conscious when the National Gendarmerie — France’s authorities incharge of public safety and rescue operations — found him.

The champion driver was rushed to a medical station, and transferred to the hospital shortly after. It was there that doctors declared him under coma and needing surgical treatment.

Schumacher retired in late 2012 after his last race in the Brazil Grand Prix. He still holds the record for the most wins — 13 in total — in a season.

December 30, 2013 at 3:37 am Comments (0)

Merry Christmas from your friends at TestCountry!

As the title says, wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas from your friends at TestCountry!

Merry Christmas - Janine

Photo courtesy of Janine on Flickr

December 25, 2013 at 11:32 am Comments (0)

America’s Top Drug Reform Advocate Wants All Drugs Legalized


Photo courtesy of Josef Kandoll Wepplo with World Economic Forum from commons.wikimedia.org

Ethan Nadelmann, Leader of the Drug Policy Alliance, which was instrumental in getting marijuana legalized in Washington and Colorado and soon Uruguay, plus getting medical marijuana legalized in almost half the states in the US, aims to keep the momentum going in 2014.

But he’s not satisfied with just getting marijuana legalized. He believes in safe and legal access to all drugs in order to make users safer and not criminalize them. And with 65 employees, offices in five states, and $13 million at his disposal for advocation, Nadelmann and the Drug Policy Alliance are poised to make a big push in the coming year.

Although not a drug taker himself, Nadellman, 56, a Harvard-educated former university professor, believes legal access to all drugs is an issue of freedom under the first amendment.

“I’m always telling my marijuana reform allies, when they say we need to legalize marijuana and get tougher on the other drugs, ‘shut the hell up,’” he said during a speech at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs earlier this month. “We don’t need to end one discrimination and prohibition to double down on another. It’s absolutely pivotal, for building a broader movement for freedom and justice that we treat this thing as of-a-piece.”

Nadellman, whose father survived the Nazis during WWII but whose grandfather did not, sees persecution of responsible drug users as similar to the “demonization of a minority,” that went on in the 1940s in Gemany, that tries to force them, via “great fear” to live like the rest of society or face destruction.

“If you look at the fears about broader legalization,” he told NBC News, “the fears are almost identical to the fears that were expressed by authority figures and others if you were allowed freedom of speech two hundred years ago.”

Currently, Nadellman and his Drug Policy Alliance are focused on steering America’s drug policies toward the Portugal model, which in 2001 decriminalized the getting, having, and taking of a 10-day supply of any drug. But, as Portugal still prohibits distribution, he wants to go even further than that, moving drug-users out of the criminal justice system entirely and relocating them in the realm of public health via anything from decriminalization to outright legalization.

“People should not be punished for possessing a small amount of any drug,” he says.


November 28, 2013 at 7:22 am Comments (0)

Three-Time Fittest City in America Walks the Walk for Physical Activity

The most populous urban area in Minnesota has just been awarded America’s Fittest City for the third time in a row.

Twin cities Minneapolis-St. Paul were ranked as the top healthiest area in the US, says the American College of Sports Medicine. An advisory board led by Walter Thompson compiled the annual rankings based on a number of factors that tell if a city or locality is fit or not.

Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak couldn’t be happier. He said in a news release, “We get up off the couch in every season.”

Completing the top five list of the fittest cities for the year are Washington D.C., Portland, San Francisco and Denver. In comparison, Oklahoma City ranked last, and has been such since 2008.

Thompson credits the success of Minneapolis-St. Paul to its government funding for structures that enhance the physical activity of its residents. The Twin Cities spend roughly $227 per person each year for construction and maintenance of its city parks. It’s because of the presence of parks, playgrounds, pools and sports arenas that make its residents fit and healthy. People from Minneapolis-St. Paul are also more inclined to ride public transportation or simply walk to their destinations.

It also doesn’t hurt that Mayor Rybak is a lover of sports. Recently, he spearheaded a cross-country ski fest. Through the program, workers are encouraged to ski three miles or more going to work. Those who do this get a free pass to their summer sports event called Tri-Loppet.

Residents of the Twin Cities should also get excited for the mayor’s plans to put up skating parks, snowboard areas, and another park that connects the downtown area to the city’s new football stadium.

May 31, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Predicts End to Marijuana Prohibition

Dr. Henry David Abraham says the United States will eventually end its prohibition against marijuana and when that happens, people need to be educated about the drug.

Dr. Henry David Abraham, a psychiatrist in Lexington, MA, and 1985 Nobel Peace Prize recipient as co-founder of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, says marijuana will soon be made legal and regulated, much the same way that alcohol was after its brief prohibition.

Recently, Dr. Abraham shared his thoughts on marijuana prohibition eventually coming to an end with TestCountry and you can read what the doctor has to say about that here.

In keeping with his edict that people should be educated about marijuana as it inevitably becomes legalized, Dr. Abraham has recently published the e-book The No Nonsense Guide to Drugs and Alcohol for teens and young adults, available online at Amazon.com and BN.com.









May 22, 2013 at 7:36 am Comments (0)

Amanda Knox Details Sexual Harassment by Italian Police and Anxiety in Memoir

Amanda Knox became a household name following her arrest and conviction for the murder of her British flatmate, Meredith Kercher, in Italy. She was just in her early 20s then and should have beeen enjoying her life, instead, the exchange student ended up serving at least three years in prison for a crime she didn’t have anything to do with.

Now 25, Knox is releasing a memoir titled Waiting to be Heard in which she details, for the first time, the harrowing experiences she went through with the Italian justice system.

Knox says she was ordered to strip and stand spread-legged at an Italian police station after she was arrested. A doctor measured her vagina and photographed her private parts in full view of several female police officers, reports the New York Daily News which managed to obtain an early copy of the book.

But the humiliation didn’t stop there. At the Capanne prison, where Knox was detained during the four-year trial, she also experienced lewd harassment from a prison official, Vice-Comandante Raffaele Argrio.

Knox reveals Argrio had repeatedly engaged her in conversations about sex and at one point told her: “Promise me you’ll have sex with me.”

With friends and family miles away, Knox had more than once considered suicide. She talks about how she was tormented by anxiety waiting for the verdict and how panic attacks would leave her gasping for air.

“I imagined cutting both my wrists and sinking into oblivion in a calm, quiet, hot mist,” Knox writes.

On October 3, 2011, an Italian appeal court cleared Knox of her murder conviction, allowing her to fly back to her family in the U.S. But just last month, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the acquittal of Knox and ordered a re-trial.

Even though, Knox had at once received sour treatment from Kercher’s family, she has nothing to say but good words about her slain flatmate.

“We developed a comfortable familiarity in a short time . . . I treated Meredith as my confidante. Meredith treated me with respect and a sense of humor,” Knox narrates.

The 480-page Waiting to be Heard will be published by HarperCollins and is set to hit the bookshelves on April 30.

April 25, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

America’s First Marijuana Tourism Company Operates in Colorado

With recreational marijuana now legal in Colorado, who knows what other pot-related businesses might soon open in the state. But one thing’s for sure; Amendment 64 has given two Denver entrepreneurs the inspiration to establish the nation’s first marijuana tourism company.

My 420 Tours will arrange pick up of tourists at the airport, connect them to marijuana-friendly accommodation, set up hash-making demonstrations and dispensary-grow tours, and provide them with tickets to cannabis-themed events and concerts. The business will not provide visitors with marijuana, but it will help clients gain access to events where pot is likely to be shared freely, according to the Denver Post.

“If somebody flies out here,” said James Walker, one of the company’s owners, “we take care of the whole adventure for them.”

The company’s first tour package is built around April 20, or more popularly known as 4/20 for cannabis enthusiasts. Matt Brown, Walker’s business partner, said about 160 people have so far signed up for the tour. He noted that April is among Colorado’s slowest tourism months, and their 4/20 tour could help re-energize a vacation dead spot.

Although creating a marijuana-tourism industry wasn’t the goal of Amendment 64, Christian Sederberg — one of the measure’s authors — said the new law is likely to give rise to all sorts of side businesses.

For Walker and Brown, however, their latest venture is more than just serving cannabis enthusiasts. They see their business as similar to wine-country tours. If all goes well, they could set up programs aimed at prospective business owners who are seeking ideas about how the industry works. Additionally, they could organize visits about medical marijuana for people who live in states that don’t authorize it.

April 1, 2013 at 12:10 am Comment (1)

Alton Police Handcuffed 8-Year-Old Girl for Throwing Tantrum in School

Let’s face it — it’s annoying when children get angry and unreasonable over certain things. But is that behavior enough to handcuff a child and take him/her into police custody?

For Alton school officials and Alton Police, it seems it was the only resort to restrain an 8-year-old girl who reportedly threw a tantrum while in school.

Jmyha Rickman, a student at LoveJoy Elementary School, was handcuffed behind her back and taken to the police station on Tuesday afternoon.

Rickman’s family said the child is dealing with anxiety problems, including separation anxiety. Nehemiah Keeton, Jmyha’s uncle, told KMOV that the child is now too afraid to go back to school after the incident. He also added that while in the police station, Jmyha asked to use the restroom several times only to be ignored by police officials.

Meanwhile, both police authorities and school officials maintained they handled the situation the right way.

“As a last resort, we sometime have to involve law enforcement,” said Alton School District’s Assistant Superintendent Kristi Baumgartner, “They take the student into protective custody when the parent refuses to pick up the child.”

March 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm Comments (0)

15-year-old Boy Gunned Down Family Members in Their New Mexico Home

As the debate surrounding Obama’s proposed gun control regulations continues to heat up, a new shooting spree has occurred in one of the neighborhoods of New Mexico. This time the gunman is a 15-year-old and the victims were his own family members.

Nehemiah Griego, described as “bright and incredibly talented young man” by a relative, killed his father, mother, brother, and two sisters over the weekend using two different rifles, the CNN reports.

Investigators said the teenager also planned to proceed “at a Walmart” store to randomly shoot people and die in a shootout with police. Nehemiah also confessed that he was “frustrated with his mother,” but did not give further explanations.

According to the arrest affidavit, Nehemiah first shot his mother, Sara Griego, while sleeping with his 9-year-old brother Zephania who was awakened by the incident. The teenager showed Zephania the bloody face of their mother, after the latter refused to believe that their mother was dead. Zephania apparently got upset which prompted Nehemiah to shoot him as well. He then went to his sisters’ bedroom and shot both in the head. All four victims were killed using a .22-caliber rifle.

The teen used an AR-15 rifle in killing his father Greg Griego, a former pastor at Calvary Church.

Police said Nehemiah will stand trial as an adult on charges of murder and child abuse resulting in death.

January 24, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Gun Control Myths & Facts (Part 2)

Here is Part 2 of our article about the myths and facts surrounding the gun control debate. If you missed part one, visit Gun Control Myths & Facts (Part 1).

Myth 5: The NRA will remove politicians from office who support stronger gun laws.

FACT: The NRA’s ability to influence electoral outcomes has been exaggerated by the media.

The media watchdog group Media Matters reviewed election spending from both the NRA Institute for Legislative Action and the NRA Political Victory Fund for the 2012 U.S. presidential election from information they received from the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation. Media Matters determined that less than five percent of money spent by the NRA went toward victorious candidates in the 2012 elections. The NRA spent more than $18 million during the election, $12 million of that in their failed attempt to defeat Obama. Less than 5% of the total $18 million was spent on victorious candidates.

FACT: The NRA-backed candidate was not elected in six of their top seven targeted senate races.

According to Media Matters, despite heavy spending by the NRA, the only general election senate race where their preferred candidate won was in Arizona. The spending breaks down as follows:

Arizona - $323,474

Florida - $629,553

Maine - $117,612

Missouri - $343,299

Ohio - more than $1 million

Virginia – $688,802

Wisconsin – $571,811

FACT: Out of 26 incumbents in the House of Representatives defeated on election day, 18 were endorsed by the NRA. 

A great majority of U.S. Representatives were reelected in 2012, but among those who were defeated, the majority of them were NRA-baked candidates who received financial backing from the gun organization.

Myth 6: Assault weapons are essentially the same as firearms used for hunting and other sporting purposes.

FACT: Assault weapons, by design, are more lethal than hunting and sporting firearms.

A Violence Policy Center report from June 2011 outlined a trend in firearm manufacturing where civilian firearms are intentionally being made to be more military-like, enabling the shooter to deploy a high volume of fire over a wide swath. These military design features make rapid spray-firing easy and distinguish assault weapons from traditional sporting firearms.

  • High-capacity detachable ammunition magazines that hold as many as 75 rounds of ammunition.
  • A rear pistol grip (handle), including so-called “thumbhole stocks” and magazines that function like pistol grips.
  • A forward grip or barrel shroud.  Forward grips (located under the barrel or the forward stock) give a shooter greater control over a weapon during firing.

A report by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research released in October 2012 noted that many of the most recent mass shootings were done using assault weapons and/or a high capacity magazine. They include:

  • Virginia Tech massacre – April 16, 2007 – 32 victims dead and 17 wounded
  • Fort Hood shooting – November 5, 2009 – 13 dead and dozens wounded
  • Assassination attempt on former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – January 8, 2011 – 6 dead and 13 wounded
  • Aurora, Colorado shooting – July 20, 2012 – 12 dead and 58 wounded

Since the publication of that report, a gunman used an assault rifle to kill 20 children and 6 teachers in Newtown, Connecticut.

In addition to that report, the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City has identified, in a report, 30 mass shootings since 1984 where the shooter used a high-capacity magazine.

Myth 7: There is no such thing as a private sales loophole for buying a firearm.

FACT: Private sales without a background check, which are often conducted at gun shows, are extremely common.

Gun purchases from licensed dealers have required a background check since the Brady Act took effect in 1994. Federally licensed dealers have to verify that a purchaser has not been convicted of a serious crime or declared to be mentally incompetent or has been banned from purchasing a firearm for a number of other reasons. This is usually done online and takes only about a day.

But according to a Politifact.com report stemming from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s statement on a July 2012 appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation that 40 percent of guns are purchased without a background check, only licensed dealers must perform these checks, as the Brady law does not apply to private sellers at gun shows, flea markets or people who sell firearms over the internet. If a private seller suspects that a purchaser might be banned from buying a firearm under these regulations, they are obligated to stop the sale. However, no background check need be done during these sales and nobody needs to file any paperwork for these sales, making them essentially untraceable.

A 1997 study by the National Institute of Justice estimated that about 40% of all firearm sales took place through people other than licensed dealers. They based their conclusion on a random survey of more than 2,500 households.

In 1999, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released a report on gun shows that found that a quarter of the vendors were private sellers, not licensed dealers, and that “felons and other prohibited persons who want to avoid Brady Act checks and records of their purchase buy firearms at these shows.”

These two reports, although over a decade old, are the most recent data on the subject.

Also, undercover investigators working for New York City found that 77 out of 125 sellers on 10 websites that allow unlicensed sellers to list firearms for sale agreed to go forward with a firearm sale even after the purchaser said that he could not pass a background check.

Myth 8: Closing the private sales loophole would prohibit private citizens from selling firearms.

FACT: Gun Show Loophole Legislation allows for private sales to continue, so long as a background check is performed on the buyer.

Some states require a background check for all gun sales, including private sellers who sell their firearms to other individuals, and according to a summary of state law from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, these sales are perfectly legal providing the buyer undergoes a background check conducted by a licensed firearms dealer or a law enforcement agency.

Myth 9: The Obama administration will use executive order to override The Second Amendment.

FACT: Executive order proposals on gun violence have not involved restricting weapons that law-abiding Americans can purchase.

Vice-President Joe Biden told Democrats in the House of Representatives, according to a January 15 Politico article, that the White House has identified 19 executive actions for Obama to move unilaterally on gun control and those actions could include giving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authority to conduct national research on guns, more aggressive enforcement of existing gun laws and pushing for wider sharing of existing gun databases among federal and state agencies, all of which focus on enforcing existing law.

Source: www.mediamatters.org

January 23, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

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