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It’s No Longer Illegal to Serve Foie Gras in California


Foie gras, the fattened liver of duck or goose, is no longer illegal to serve in California, as long as the product is comes from an out-of-state seller and is transported by a third party, according to a ruling from a federal judge today, reports the Associated Press.

The luxurious delicacy has had a lengthy history in California, where it was first banned in 2004 at the urging of animal rights activists. In 2015, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson determined that the state law clashed with the federal government’s Poultry Products Inspection Act, ruling in the favor of the plaintiffs, which included Hermosa Beach restaurant Hots Kitchen (which is now closed), and multiple foie gras producers.

Foie gras could then be sold and eaten in California, but not produced in the state. Menus across Los Angeles and the state of California served foie gras, an expensive add-on or ingredient that often appeared in upscale restaurants. However, in 2017, Ninth Circuit judges rejected the the lower court’s ruling and said the state had a right to ban the food based on animal cruelty. In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, which meant the foie gras ban was indeed upheld and enforced for the past 18 months in California.

On July 14, 2020 U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, who originally ruled in favor of foie gras producers and a local LA restaurant in 2015, again determined that foie gras could be sold in California: “There is no principled way to distinguish between foie gras produced out of state and transported into California by the purchaser and that which is delivered by a third party,” wrote Wilson.

The ruling is a major win for out-of-state foie gras producers, who said they had lost nearly a third of sales due to California’s foie gras ban. Meanwhile, the current coronavirus pandemic has led to closed dining rooms, and only limited takeout and delivery service for restaurants. The situation has resulted in numerous permanent restaurant shutters across Los Angeles (and the state). But hey, chefs can start serving foie gras again (does it keep well in takeout containers?), as long as it comes from outside of California and arrives through a third party.



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U.S. Says Most of China’s Claims in South China Sea Are Illegal


“Will it also sanction companies that do business with China in what are now, in the U.S.’s eyes, illegally occupied waters?” said Julian G. Ku, a professor of constitutional and international law at Hofstra University. “I think it probably should, but it hasn’t done so yet.”

In June, Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, sent a letter to the U.N. secretary general that laid out Washington’s position on China’s “excessive maritime claims.” That was a precursor to Mr. Pompeo’s announcement, and it built on a legal opinion that the State Department had reached at the end of the Obama administration, after the ruling in The Hague.

“The State Department, I think, was just looking for ways that we can more forcefully act and speak out in support of the smaller claimants who are getting bullied by China,” said Bonnie S. Glaser, a senior director for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “And I think that comes across loud and clear in the statements. It’s all about supporting the actions of countries to fish and explore energy in maritime spaces that China has claimed.”

Daniel Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific in the second Obama term, said that the Obama administration had accepted the tribunal’s 2016 ruling as “final and binding,” and that Mr. Pompeo’s statement was more “chest-pounding and angry invective about China” than a change in policy.

The Trump administration has been selective in its endorsement of international rulings from The Hague. It warned last month that international investigators looking into charges of war crimes by Americans in Afghanistan would face economic penalties and travel restrictions.

Global Times, a nationalist Chinese newspaper, published an opinion essay on Monday saying that the U.S. “desires to stir up troubles” over the South China Sea and that “it takes advantage of regional countries’ claims to sow discord between these countries and China. It portrays a bully image of China.” While the essay was published before the State Department announcement, it seemed to anticipate U.S. action, saying that Washington “certainly wouldn’t miss something like the anniversary of 2016 arbitration.”

Maritime claims are just one of several areas where the Trump administration has been applying greater pressure on China in recent months.



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Illegal ATV and dirt bike riders captured on camera on Front Street; police concerned about ‘brazen behavior’


HARRISBURG, Pa. – Harrisburg Police are asking people to keep an eye out for people illegally riding ATVs and dirt bikes on streets. This past weekend, nearly two dozen riders were caught on camera driving illegally on Front Street.

“It’s alarming to see that many motorcycles and ATVs on the roadways,” said Sgt. Kyle Gautsch, Harrisburg Police. “Especially a roadway as commonly used as Front Street.”

Sgt. Gautsch says, most of these ATVs and dirt bikes don’t meet motor vehicle code requirements to be driven on the streets.

“It creates a humongous traffic hazard for illegal operations for those bikes and ATVs,” said Sgt. Gautsch. “But also those other vehicles on the roadways that are licensed properly.”

Creating traffic and safety problems is exactly what Niki Mullin, who lives in Harrisburg, tells FOX43 she’s witnessed from these illegal riders in the last decade.

“They run through the red lights, they run around the car,” said Mullin. “They’d run up and down the streets, up and down the blocks at all hours of the night. They’d go the wrong way down a one way street. It’s just not safe for any motorists.”

Police say they are constantly working to catch these riders, but without license plates it’s difficult. The riders also do things to try and prevent police from catching them.

“We’ve seen a growing trend in the operators wearing masks,” said Sgt. Gautsch. “So, they know that we’re out there, we’re trying to get them, we’re trying to identify who they are and hold them accountable for this.”

Police say if you do see these illegal riders out, call 911. They are hoping to find out where all these riders meet and catch them there before they head out on the streets.



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OK man cited for illegal deer possession after posting photo of deer head on Facebook


GARFIELD COUNTY (KFOR) – A picture of a deer head posted to Facebook led to a Garfield County man being cited by game wardens.

Photo credit: Oklahoma Game Wardens Facebook page

The man who posted a photo of a buck’s severed head was cited by Game Warden Blake Cottrill for Illegal Possession of Whitetail Deer, according to an Oklahoma Game Wardens news release posted on Facebook.

An investigation was launched after the photo was posted on the Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Facebook page.

“The picture online was captioned with ‘Got one for the books,’” the news release states.

Game wardens learned that the man who posted the photo did not have a hunting license.

“When interviewed, the suspect denied killing the deer. In fact, he claimed that he ‘found’ the fresh kill while coyote hunting in Northern Logan County, and only grabbed the head,” the news release states.

Game wardens frequently encounter suspects who “find” deer or claim to pick them up along the highway, according to the news release.

Individuals in possession of illegally caught wild game are cited, especially if they don’t have a tag for the wildlife.

“Penalties are just under $1,000 plus restitution, which can be from $750-3,000 depending on species and size,” the news release states.

The Game Wardens’ Facebook news release concluded with the following message: “#PoachingDoesntPay.”



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A man was arrested for allegedly smuggling illegal drugs in rotten goat intestines


Cenen Placencia, 71, from Kodiak, was arraigned on Friday for a complaint charging him with possession and intent to distribute controlled substances, the US Attorney for the District of Alaska said in a release.

Placencia was home from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Investigators asked to search the luggage he checked in, a 47-pound fish box that was sealed with duct tape and tied with rope, the District of Alaska said.

Teen arrested for using a remote-controlled car to smuggle drugs

CNN reached out to the Alaska Public Defender Agency for comment from Placencia’s attorney.

Investigators found “loosely wrapped meat pieces frozen together in a single large mass,” the District of Alaska said. “The meat did not appear to be for human consumption, and packaging and shipping was inconsistent with the standard methods of meat processing.”

Once the meat started to thaw, investigators said the meat’s odor revealed it was rotten and unsafe to eat.

Heroin worth $148 million seized in UK's biggest bust

Inside what investigators believe were goat intestines were 10 duct tape-wrapped balls of meth and heroin, the District of Alaska said. In total, 389 grams of methamphetamine and six packages of about 740.5 grams of heroin were recovered.

Placencia told investigators he bought the goat for $140 from a rancher in California and packed his luggage with the intention of eating the intestines, the District of Alaska said. Placencia denied knowing anything about the meth and heroin.

In February, the Alaska State Troopers said in a report a narcotics investigation had begun on Placencia. In March, police found drugs and cash in his home, including 247 grams of heroin and 13 grams of crystal meth, the troopers report said.

If convicted, the District of Alaska said, Placencia could face 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.



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Five people, including former Sheriff’s Captain, charged with illegal gun trafficking



Marco Garmo, 52, served as a sheriff’s deputy 27 years and was the captain in charge of the Rancho San Diego Station, according to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office.

He was charged with engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, making false statements in acquisition of a firearm, obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting the possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and other offenses.

Besides making a profit, Garmo sold guns to cultivate future donors for his anticipated campaign for sheriff of San Diego County, the news release said.

“This office will not tolerate public servants who abuse their positions of trust for personal gain,” Assistant US Attorney Peter Mazza said in the news release. “Law enforcement members who step outside of the law are subject to the same standards as everyone else in our community. No one deserves the fair application of the law more than all of the law-abiding men and women who wear the badge honorably to protect our communities.”

The 23-count indictment unsealed Friday alleges sheriff’s department Lt. Fred Magana, 42; San Diego jeweler Leo Hamel, 62; firearms dealer Giovanni Tilotta, 38; and El Cajon resident Waiel Anton, 35, aided Garmo in operating an illegal gun trafficking business.

Hamel and Magana entered guilty pleas Friday to aiding and abetting Garmo’s business and will be sentenced in February 2020. Garmo and Anton were arrested Friday morning scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Friday afternoon. Tilotta has not been arrested yet, Mazza said.

Hamel’s lawyer, Michael Pancer, issued this statement: “Mr. Hamel is pleased to have this matter behind him and he is satisfied with the agreement he has made with the government. This will allow him to get back to his family and continue to the businesses he enjoys along with his numerous community service activities.”

Jeremy Warren, the attorney representing Tilotta, told CNN: “Mr. Tilotta is a small business owner with a spotless record. He was out of town visiting his family when he learned of the charges. He will return to San Diego immediately to address the matter in court.”

CNN sought comment from the other three men but has not heard back. Garmo was put on paid administrative leave after federal agents searched his home earlier this year and he has since resigned from the department, CNN affiliate KUSI reported.

Between March 2013 and February 2019, Garmo acquired about 146 guns and sold or transferred 104 of them, the US Attorney’s Office said. Many of those transactions involved “off-roster” handguns, which under California law could only be sold to law enforcement officers, not members of the general public, Mazza said.

Garmo would engineer “straw” purchases of firearms by certifying he was purchasing them for himself, but in reality, he bought the guns for someone else not in law enforcement, the indictment says.

The other four defendants helped Garmo by participating in the straw purchases, backdating paperwork to avoid the 10-day waiting requirement and helping Garmo’s customers obtain expedited weapons permits through illicit cash payments.

Tilotta, the owner of Honey Badger Firearms, repeatedly facilitated Garmo’s straw purchase of firearms by accepting and submitting falsified firearms records, according to the indictment. According to the indictment, Tilotta sold and transferred firearms inside Garmo’s office at the Rancho San Diego Station, in violation of state and federal law.

Garmo is facing drug trafficking charges for allegedly tipping off a cousin, a partner in an illegal marijuana dispensary, to impending searches by the sheriff’s department, the indictment says.

San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore issued a statement, saying he was “disappointed by the actions of these two individuals, as they do not reflect the values of this department and its thousands of trustworthy, hard-working employees.”



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Students Clean Up Illegal Dumping Site



NEW MILFORD, Pa. — Normally, these dozens of National Honor Society students from Blue Ridge High School would be in the classroom on a school day, working toward helping to make the world a better place in the future. But on this day, they were outside trying to make a difference now.

“We have to take care of our land because it’s our future. If we don’t have a good, sustainable land, there’s no future for us on earth,” Blue Ridge High School senior Kaelin Hughes said.

For the second year in a row, these students conducted a cleanup at an illegal dumpsite along Route 11 in New Milford. In these wetlands, tires and tires were carelessly dumped off the side of the road.

“We cleaned out so many last year, that it’s amazing to come back and clean out so many more and it just makes you really aware of what can be hiding over the bank as you drive by and how much we can do to reach out and help our local community,” National Honor Society advisor Sarah Yeust said.

“I travel around here often and it’s a real dump around here sometimes, so it’s nice to see us picking stuff up around here and seeing our community look nice and everything,” Blue Ridge junior Ryan Mills said.

“Especially in our times now, the environment needs a lot of help, so even these little things, it makes such a big impact on our environment,” Blue Ridge senior Giavonna Fiore said.

And students add, dealing with the wet weather and mud was worth it for that reason.

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