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Image: youtube

If you want to throw a raft party, first consider throwing it on land. If, after some thought, you still really want to throw the party in water, stick to a pool.

Whatever you do, don’t get caught in a river current that illegally transports you across the Canadian border.

Unfortunately, for 1,500 Americans on Sunday, that is precisely what happened.

The Port Huron Float Down happens annually in Michigan. Thousands of people gather rafts, place beer cans in koozies and plan to let the current carry them down the St. Clair River, which runs between Michigan and Ontario, Canada.

Because Sunday’s winds were particularly strong, the floaters were steered toward the Canadian border. The Facebook page which advertises the Float Down suggests carrying “paddles and oars,” but that may not have been enough defense against the weather. This video from the day shows how quickly the sunny day turned gray.

As Jeanne Gardner, a regular at the Float Downs, explained to Canada’s Blackburn News, “I have almost ended up in Canada a few times but Ive always managed to get back, just not today. We spend about an hour and a half paddling and we were going nowhere.”

Because many riders weren’t carrying any ID, some people attempted to swim back toward the United States.

“We had to pull a lot of people out of the water and say ‘no,'” Peter Garrick of the Canadian Coast Guard told CDC television. Despite border laws, the riders were told to hop ashore for their safety.

As Canadian police officer Doug Warn explained to Blackburn News, “Were not concerned about citizenship at this point. If people are tired or cold we want them to get out of the water and make their way home. Make some phone calls and so forth. Were really not concerned about anything else.”

The Americans were bussed back to the United States by Canada’s Sarnia township police.

No severe injuries were sustained, and there is not yet word regarding whether or not people were charged for this incident. The Port Huron Float Down has been a Michigan tradition for over 30 years.

Despite the problems of this year’s Float Down, the Facebook page is already advertising next year’s ride.

Hopefully, everyone will wear a proper lifejacket and carry a valid passport in a waterproof holder in 2017.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/08/23/raft-party-gone-awry/

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Image: associated press/GDA

Aside from the Super Bowl, few television stages command as much attention as NBC’s broadcast of the Summer Olympics.

It’s the sort of broadly appealing, captivating live event that was supposed to remain intact even as traditional television eroded around it, or so popular belief in the advertising industry held.

So it came as a rude surprise when NBC’s ratings clocked in much lower than expected last week their first dip since the 2000 Games.

“Generally speaking, you’re always a little disappointed when it doesn’t meet previous expectations,” said Adam Schwartz, director of national broadcast and sports media at media-buying agency Horizon.

Worse yet, the missing chunk of TV viewers were more likely to be valuable young people millennial viewership declined by a quarter from 2012 many of whom migrated to NBC’s digital streaming options.

That led to a dramatically bigger-than-expected audience online, where Schwartz said the network charged almost double the per-impression rate of television.

If the trend here was a simple shift from analog to streaming video, it wouldn’t be as significant of an adjustment NBC could chalk these Olympics up to a lack of foresight and adjust how it sells ads accordingly next time.

But the digital boost isn’t enough to fill the hole left in the TV ratings. It’s possible that Olympics news and footage circulating on real-time social networks like Snapchat and Twitter and the immediacy of news alerts diluted the appetite for actually watching the games.

“They need new and creative ways to go out and sell it,” Schwartz said. “It’s a little unfair if you compare it to London, just in the fact that people are consuming television in general so much differently than they did in 2012.”

Despite the sting felt from the low ratings, Schwartz said NBC did a good job of padding the inventory enough to reimburse advertisers for the losses and most brands didn’t take a big financial hit.

Michael Nathanson, an advertising and media analyst at MoffetNathanson, said that concession inventory means NBC may have less to offer in coming months.

He said in a report that the event speaks to television’s inability to hold ground against the steady trickle of ad spending from TV to digital.

Still, with so many mitigating factors the ill-conceived tape delay, the lack of viewing options for people without cable, problems plaguing the events in Rio it’s hard to plug the results into one sweeping narrative.

As far as advertisers are concerned, it’s still impossible to beat the giant reach of big televised live events.

“People are a bit disappointed, but overall it did deliver some really strong numbers that you don’t see anywhere else in the marketplace,” says Schwartz.

But the decline does seem to be a clear sign that even television’s most important institutions aren’t safe as the medium is gradually swallowed by the internet.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/08/23/advertisers-disappointed-in-olympics/

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These days, it can certainly feel like the Pledge of Allegiance is turning into a bit of a battleground.

The pledge, which most children learn around the kindergarten mark, is a standard part of most publicly educated students morning routine. In general, during morning roll call or homeroom, kids are called to stand, face the flag, and recite those famous words.

And its not just part of the morning routine. The pledge is also rolled out everywhere,from cheerleader-guided pep rallies to professional sports games.

But the pledge, despite its ubiquity, has a history of controversy dating back to its origins in the late 1800s.

From debates about the wording, to conflicts over freedom of religion, the pledge has its share of detractors. One commonly cited criticism is that legally enforcing the pledge is a violation of the 1st Amendment, which protects free speech.

To that end, schools in Florida have taken a novel approach to the controversial pledge, one that has some parents applauding and has left others steaming.

Read on below to learn more about Floridas take on the classic morning pledge routine.

The controversy started with a form sent home with a number of students in the Tallahassee area during the first week of school.

One little girl brought the form home from elementary school, where it was spotted by her uncle, Micah Brienen, who had an immediate and very strong reaction to the contents.

He posted the form to Facebook, adding his own colorful addition to content.

Just days after posting, his variation on the form had been shared nearly 24,000 times.

The form is entitled “Pledge of Allegiance Request,” andthe body of the form reads as follows:

“I understand my rights as a parent and I request that my child, noted above, be excused from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

This request includes standing and placing his/her right hand over his/her heart.”

Brienen had added a thought of his own on the signature line: “This is the dumbest thing I have ever read and I am so ashamed of this.”

Lots of folks immediately agreed with Brienen, while others weren’t immediately sold on his take on the issue.

The pledge has been around for more than 100 years, but has faced controversy many times, including the addition of the phrase“under God” in the 1940s.

Some argue that the pledge is a violation of the constitutional right to free speech, and that they’re a violation of the right to religious freedom.

Legislators around the country have responded to the controversy around the pledge in a variety of different ways.

Though virtually every child that goes through the public school system will learn the pledge in kindergarten, some states will allow students with a religious or moral objection to the pledge to simply sit out.

In other states, including Florida, students are required to recite the pledge unless they have a written note from their parentsexempting them.

Florida Statue 1003.44

For the past 70years, Florida law has stated that students can be exempt from reciting the pledge with written consent from their parents, but that teacherscould still require all students to get to their feet and place their hand on their heart during the recitation.

As of 2016, the law was changed, sothat exempt students now reserve the right to stay seated during the pledge.

The relevant passage in Florida law reads:

“Each student shall be informed by a written notice published in the student handbook or a similar publication pursuant to s. 1006.07 (2) that the student has the right not to participate in reciting the pledge. Upon written request by his or her parent, the student must be excused from reciting the pledge, including standing and placing the right hand over his or her heart.”

Schooldistricts across the state approached the legislative change differently. Most simply updated the handbook to reflect the new rights.

But Leon County Schools, where Brienen’s niece is enrolled, chose to include the opt-out form in the handbook as well, under the misleading heading “Pledge of Allegiance Request,” which some parents read as a form that had to be signed if they didwant their child to recite the pledge.

Now, the school district, led by Superintendent Jackie Pons, is fielding irate complaints from parents, many of who feel that the inclusion of a convenient opt-out form is disrespectful to the flag and to the country.

Officials from the school are treading the line regarding this issue.

They have removed the opt-out forms from the handbooks completely.

They continue to defend the initial inclusionas a legal requirement ofFlorida law, but have also acknowledged that they could have simply included a note about the change in law in the parental rights section, and simply asked parents to sign the handbook to indicate they had been informed of their rights.

The form was an added touch to make it easier for parents to opt out of the pledge, but was actually superfluous to the legal requirement.

Where do you come down on opt-out forms for the Pledge of Allegiance?

Let us know your feelings in the comments below, and don’t forget toSHARE with friends and family negotiating the new school year!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/pledge-of-allegiance-controversy/

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One of the most amazing parts about watching sports is the unpredictability of plays. At any moment, a player can make history, forfeit the entire game to his opponent, or even break a tie much to the relief of a team’s supporters.

The unexpected is always expected, and it keeps fans and audiences on their toes!

Baseball is an American favorite.I love the sport for the atmosphere, the food, and the chance that I may catch a gland-slam home run the moment it happens. It would be a rare chance, but one can only hope!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching the Gateway Grizzlies when player Brandon Thomas hit a spectacular grand slam. The baseball landed all the way in the parking lot! I’m sure fans were thrilled, as it helped give the team an edge over itsopponent.

Thomas had to be happy about his achievement in the moment, but when he saw the baseball in the parking lot, he make an unbelievable realization: the ball had smashed the windshield of a car.

But not just any car his own truck! What are the odds?

While I’m sure that he thinks that breaking his own windshield was worth it, perhaps deep down inside, he’s wishing that he had parked a little farther away!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/baseball-player-grand-slam-smashes-windshield/

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It’s said that every mother knows what’s best for her babies and children, regardless of species. Human and animals mothers alike seem to have a natural instinct about what is safe and what isn’t, and when their little ones are in any kind of danger.

Check out this mother bear, for example, who jumped to action to save her cubs from getting washed down a waterfall!

Now, nature wows us again, but this time a little closer to home. Shelter workers at the Friends of Anne Arundel County Animal Control were absolutely baffled when a 9-month-old cat walked in on her own volition.

She also happened to be heavily pregnant, and looked like she was about to give birth at any moment.

She was named Chloe, and she proved to be a very docile and calm creature. In the video below, she’s seen walking around on a leash, just like a dog.

Just as predicted, she gave birth to a litter of healthy kittens. The family is now being taken care of, and awaiting adoption!

Chloe, a 9-month-old stray cat, walked into the Friends of Anne Arundel County Animal Control shelter unannounced.

The tiny cat was also very close to giving birth. She underwent a battery of tests, and shelter workers thought that she had a communicable disease, which would decrease her chances of being adopted out.

But with further tests, it was revealed that she was perfectly healthy, as were her kittens!

Soon after, Chloe gave birth to six tiny kittens.

The whole family is living in a foster home and is being very well taken care of.

Now, they are looking for a forever home. Employees are persuaded that this gentle mama would make the perfect companion!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/pregnant-stray-cat-gives-birth/

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Even if your interest in Broadway show tunes is as fleeting as flipping the channel on your television, youve certainly heard of Les Misrables before. Many of the songs are like Olympic feats of endurance, and it takes a truly talented performer to hit every note as precisely and cleanly as possible.

Thats why its always breathtaking when a young person sings a selection from the show, particularly if the song is sung by the infamous leading character Jean Valjean.

Its a role many men have attempted to embody, and yet, it seems as though theyre all to be upstaged by an 11-year-old boy.

Gaten Matarazzo is currently receiving a lot of buzz for his role in the Netflix breakout hit Stranger Things, an original drama that also features Winona Ryder. Hes 13 years old right now (soon to be 14!), but he actually got his start on the Broadway stage only a few years ago.

In this video, youll certainly see why.

Like the young man who was captured singing Sias “Chandelier” in an empty room,and the little girl who absolutely stunned the crowd with her version of Andrea Bocellis “Time to Say Goodbye,” its an emotional experience to watch a young person belt out a song intended for adults and completely nail it.

When Gaten opens his mouth to deliver a haunting rendition of “Bring Him Home,” all the brightly colored Spongebob decor just melts away. You forget that this was once a celebratory gathering, because now, its an impromptu theater performance worthy of a Broadway show ticket.

Gaten is clearly very talented, and Im excited to see where his career takes him next!

Please SHARE if you were also inspired by this video!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/gaten-matarazzo-sings/

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Image copyright Operation Resolve
Image caption The 19 witnesses identified by Operation Resolve were around Gate C at the Hillsborough Stadium

Detectives leading a criminal investigation into the Hillsborough disaster have released CCTV images of 19 men they want to speak to.

Ninety-six fans were killed as a result of the crush at the football ground in Sheffield in April 1989.

Images of potential witnesses at the stadium’s Leppings Lane end have been released as part of Operation Resolve.

Senior investigating officer Neil Malkin stressed the men pictured “had done nothing wrong”.

Det Ch Insp Malkin said the men seen near Exit Gate C when it opened at about 14:50 were in the “right place at the right time” and may be able to identify others.

“Together with evidence already gathered, it would mean we can provide a complete picture of events to the Crown Prosecution Service.” he said.

“We just want to focus on them to try and conclude what happened. The potential evidence could help shape our understanding of what happened at Gate C.”

In April an inquest jury concluded the 96 who died at Hillsborough were unlawfully killed.

It found a number of errors by South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Ambulance Service, as well as stadium defects, contributed to the deaths.

Operation Resolve is one of two criminal investigations ordered following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report in 2012.

A separate criminal investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is examining police conduct.

Hillsborough inquests: The 96 who died


Image caption Operation Resolve used police “super-recognisers” – officers trained to recognise individuals by finer details

Operation Resolve has taken more than 1,200 statements from fans who approached from the Leppings Lane end on the day of the disaster.

A video reconstruction of the ground as it was in 1989 has been created to help jog people’s memories.

Det Ch Supt Malkin said: “We are hoping with the context people will recognise themselves or friends and family. These people may recognise each other.

“We want to hear their experience of entering through Gate C, how they came to be there at that time, what they saw, what they heard.”

The detective urged people to come forward and to inform police if any of the 19 have since died so they can be eliminated from the investigation.

A file is expected to be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service at the end of the year.


Image caption Police errors also added to a dangerous situation at the FA Cup semi-final, the inquest found

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-37167290

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Image caption An image featuring Ms Brown once hung on the wall in the reception of New Scotland Yard

A former Met Police officer who sued the force for wrongly using its powers to investigate her has won a case over a breach of human rights and misuse of private information.

Ex-Detective Constable Andrea Brown was probed after going on holiday with her daughter while on sick leave.

She says she was left “emotionally, mentally and financially drained” by her battle against her former employer.

The Met said it would not make a full comment until damages were finalised.

The civil case at Central London County Court heard police cited an act of Parliament which did not exist to obtain personal data on their own officer – prompting surprise from the judge.

‘Always worrying’

For many years a photograph of Ms Brown on patrol at a football match hung proudly on the wall of the reception area in New Scotland Yard and she eventually she rose to become a detective constable.

But she resigned from the Met in November 2013 after a 20-year career, recalling: “I lost all my confidence and sense of self worth and, at times, I felt close to a complete nervous breakdown.”

To fund the 80,000 costs of the case, Ms Brown had to sell her house in South Croydon, and borrow savings from family members.

Ms Brown, who is in her 40s, told the BBC: “I have gone from having a well paid job and living comfortably to always worrying about money.”

She joined the police service in 1993 but while on sick leave for depression in 2011 her father died of cancer and she decided to take her mother and 14-year-old daughter to visit their wider family in Barbados for two weeks.

She told her Police Federation representative about the trip, but not her line manager.

Her failure to do so did amount to a minor disciplinary matter, but senior officers at Sutton police station in south London used powers designed to investigate crime to obtain personal data on their colleague.

Det Insp Sarah Rees approached the National Border Targeting Centre (NBTC), a division of the UK Border Force operated by Greater Manchester Police.

She also approved an application to Virgin Atlantic to obtain details of Ms Brown’s air travel, which cited the non-existent Police Act 2007.

Ms Brown said: “She hadn’t given a reason why she wanted the information… she hadn’t got it authorised. But yet she was able to get details of my and my daughter’s travel, and obtained five years’ worth of information about my travel movements.”

Image copyright SWNS.com
Image caption Former Det Insp Sarah Rees was criticised by the judge

Ms Brown sued the Met Police and Greater Manchester Police for breach of data protection, human rights, and misuse of personal information.

Shortly before the hearing both forces admitting breaching the Data Protection Act and Ms Brown’s right to respect for her family and private life under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

In July, the court ruled both forces had misused private information, although a claim for misfeasance in public office failed.

Judge Jan Luba QC was withering about Det Insp Rees, saying she appeared “glib, almost flippant”, and he expressed his astonishment at her “loose and casual grasp of the law”.

‘Totally excessive’

Ms Brown’s solicitor advocate David Gray-Jones said: “What is significant is that the judge commented that the senior police officers involved in this case didn’t appear to have any appreciation or understanding of the laws that regulate their conduct in this area, and didn’t acknowledge that they had done anything wrong.”

But Andrea Brown’s experience may be far from a one off.

In July, the group Big Brother Watch which campaigns on data and privacy protection, published a report entitled “Safe in Police hands?” It found that between June 2011 and December 2015 there were at least 2,315 data breaches by UK police staff.


Image caption Ms Brown joined the Met in 1993

In a statement, the Met Police confirmed the court decision but highlighted the fact it had successfully defended Ms Brown’s civil claim for misfeasance in a public office.

It added: “A final judgement and ruling on damages is awaited from the court and expected in the near future. Therefore, at this stage we will not be commenting further on the case.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “We acknowledge the findings of the court.”

Det Insp Rees has now retired from the Met and declined to comment. No officer has been disciplined as a result of the case.

For her part, Ms Brown believes an important point of principle about police behaviour was at stake.

“They are the ones who are supposed to be upholding the law, and protecting members of the public by chasing after people who have broken the law – criminals,” she told the BBC.

“I am not a criminal, my daughter is not a criminal. I can’t understand why they would feel justified in taking the action they did. It was totally excessive.”

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37167741

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Image copyright Lincoln Richford

Sitting at a height of 467m (1,532ft), it claims to be the highest village in Scotland.

And now the residents of Wanlockhead in Dumfries and Galloway have some pretty lofty ambitions for its future.

The local community trust recently held talks about a buyout involving purchasing land which is part of the Duke of Buccleuch’s Queensberry Estate.

They hope to improve economic development and enhance tourism and leisure in the area.

But what potential do they see in the south of Scotland village?


What is its history?

A village in the Lowther Hills, at the head of Wanlock Water, it sits about 11 miles (17km) north of Thornhill.

The area around the village and its neighbour, Leadhills, was long a centre for lead-mining.

The mines round Wanlockhead opened in 1680 and finally closed in 1959; Wanlockhead is now home to the Museum of Scottish Lead Mining.


Gold in them thar hills

Image copyright Sara Bain

Gold has been found in the streams round about, and small quantities are still found by eager panners.

Last year a nugget estimated to be worth 10,000 was discovered.

Gold from the area was used in the crown of James V, in a ring for Queen Mary and in a brooch for Queen Elizabeth.


Any famous figures?

Born in nearby Leadhills in Lanarkshire, William Symington became a mechanic at the Wanlockhead mines.

In 1787 he patented an engine for road locomotion and, in 1788, he constructed a similar engine on a boat fitted with twin hulls and paddle-wheels, which was launched on Dalswinton Loch.

In 1802 he completed at Grangemouth the Charlotte Dundas, one of the first practical steamboats ever built.


Commuter belt

Image copyright Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway

A narrow gauge railway runs between Leadhills in south Lanarkshire and the village.

It became famous earlier this year when it offered an unusual “commuter” service while the road link was closed for resurfacing.

It offered a “replacement train” service to allow people from Wanlockhead to get to the doctor’s surgery as well as ferrying some staff at the Museum of Lead Mining.


Cycling challenge

Image copyright Ross Dolder

A gruelling cycling challenge has its starting point in the village.

The Snowball Sportive allows riders to tackle some of the highest roads in the country.

But with six major climbs along its route, it is not for the faint hearted.


On the piste

Image copyright Ross Dolder

Winter sports fans can join the south of Scotland’s only ski centre.

The Lowther Hills Ski Club is situated near the village.

Volunteers who run the club believe that, with improved facilities, they could draw hundreds of people to the region.


Will the buyout happen?

First talks between the Wanlockhead Community Trust (WCT) and Buccleuch were described as “very productive”.

Lincoln Richford, who chairs the WCT, said: “We look forward to working further with Buccleuch Estates. I believe that we can find a mutually satisfying solution for both parties that will ensure a bright future for our village.”

John Glen, of Buccleuch, said: “We were pleased to have had this initial meeting with the trust as the estate is committed to playing its part in local economic development. We have held discussions with various interest groups over the years and there is a range of options that we should all consider that could help improve the sustainability of the area. As there are many complex issues to discuss, it is too early to form any conclusions or reach decisions. However, we look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with the trust’s representatives and villagers.”

Further meetings are planned and the WCT is expected to register a formal interest in the land with the Scottish government later this year.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-37165106

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Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder called the band to a halt in the middle of a song at Chicago’s Wrigley Field on Monday night to have an unruly fan ejected. 

“Hey! Hey mister! Hey, hey, get your finger out of that woman’s face motherf-” he said, cutting off the start of a R-rated word. “Hey mister  all the the fingers are pointing at you.” 

It’s not clear what the person was doing, but fans cheered as Vedder ordered the fan to “clear out” and waved as security took him away. 

“Ma’am, you’re OK? Yeah? You’re good?” Vedder asked the woman. “That’s a good man, taking care of your woman, and then she was taking care of herself too pretty good.”

The band then resumed the song “Lukin.” 

Here’s a look at it from another angle:

It wasn’t the show’s only unusual moment. 

Former Chicago Bulls star and Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman a noted Pearl Jam fan  carried Vedder during the band’s performance of the song “Black, Red, Yellow.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pearl-jam-kicks-fan-out-wrigley_us_57bcfa90e4b03d51368b9c19?section=&