Friday, September 19, 2014

The Fourth Amendment: the Age of Snowden

The following is from Congressman Rush Holt's newsletter

I am not a lawyer or a constitutional scholar; I only play one on C-SPAN. But this week, as we observe Constitution Day, I was pleased to give a talk sharing my thoughts about the Fourth Amendment in the Age of Snowden. The Fourth Amendment was added in 1791 and established the right of the people to be secure in their persons and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

Too often discussions of the Fourth Amendment refer to protection of privacy. Such a discussion misses the
larger significance of protection against unreasonable search and seizure. No person in America should be placed under suspicion, even provisionally, without probable cause. To do so destroys the founding presumption of equality. It is more subtle than profiling people of swarthy complexions at airports, but it is no less pernicious. The technological capability to break down, figuratively, a million computer memory doors does not, or at least should not, make that any more permissible than breaking into a hundred homes without warrants looking for scandalous attacks on the King.

The bulk collection of personal data about Americans surely degrades their privacy, but worse, it says to them, “Your government wants to make sure that you are not in that class of people suspected of doing harm. We’ll get back to you after we are sure.” In today’s society of sharing details of one’s life on social media, arguments of privacy lose saliency. Let us hope the principle of equality does not lose its saliency.

As we commemorate the signing of the document that underpins our representative democracy, I am happy to send you a free, pocket-sized copy of the Constitution. I always carry one. To receive a copy, please request one by clicking here.

ISIS in Iraq and Syria

This week, Congress approved an amendment that authorizes aid to “moderate” Syrian rebels. The idea of arming the Syrian opposition has been discussed and debated over the last several years. Until now, Congress has rejected military involvement with Syrian opposition groups because Americans and our leaders did not really understand the size, composition, abilities, and intentions of the various opposition groups, and we were concerned that the unforeseen consequences of our involvement could easily ruin any advantages there might be. The surprising success of the vicious Islamic State (ISIS) forces only demonstrates that we really did not understand the situation in Syria.

The President's proposed strategy seems very similar to what we have pursued in previous conflicts: arm and train local forces in the region and plan to turn over responsibility for the fight to those governments. That strategy failed spectacularly in Iraq, and in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, and in Vietnam. During his trip to the region earlier this month, Secretary of State Kerry came up short when he sought concrete military commitments from other countries--even countries directly threatened by ISIS ideology. I voted against training the yet-to-be determined Syrian opposition fighters and against putting more American lives at risk on the ground in Iraq and Syria.

The NIH Challenge

By now, the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease) Ice Bucket Challenge has garnered the attention of celebrities and citizens everywhere, increasing awareness of this debilitating disease, and raising over $100 million to fund research for a cure.

However, I believe that there is an issue going relatively unnoticed in the uptick of donations: federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the federal agency devoted to funding biomedical research, has been slipping. Over the past five years, the NIH has directed over $225 million to ALS research. Yet this figure would be significantly higher had Congress not voted to implement budget cuts across the board. Today, the NIH budget is at the same level as in 2003, and its Director, Francis Collins, has stated that NIH has lost 25 percent of its purchasing power over the last decade. While the Ice Bucket Challenge is raising awareness and money to cure a terrible disease, we should also be demanding that Congress reverse course, supporting increased funding for NIH and investing in basic research at the National Science Foundation. The best way for us to tackle difficult-to-treat diseases such as ALS is to fund biomedical research fully.


Rush Holt
Member of Congress

Wilson Avenue Scheduled For Improvement in 2014

From Middletown Public Information:

Wilson Avenue is the latest township thoroughfare slated to be repaved this year.

The Township Committee approved a contract at their September meeting to improve Wilson Avenue from Cherry Tree Farm Road to Highway 36. This well-traveled road was heavily damaged by the elements this past winter. The contract also includes reconstruction of a section of nearby Maple Street, said Mayor Stephanie C. Murray, noting both streets are scheduled to be completed by year’s end.

Meanwhile Liberty Street, located between Conover Avenue and Church Street in Middletown Village, is currently being reconstructed with new pavement and historic peanut stone curbs. In the Hillside section, the gravel portion of Farview Avenue will be paved, according to Township Engineer Ted Maloney.

Township roads already paved this summer include the second phase of Murphy Road as well as Sunrise Place in River Plaza, Smoke Tree Terrace in Shady Oaks, Irving Place and Edward Street in Belford, Monmouth Avenue and Tan Vat Road in Navesink, Weekhawken Avenue and Hegel Place in North Middletown, Chapel Hill Road from Lombardi Court to Independence Drive, and Pine Street from Hwy 35 to Stephenville Boulevard, he said....

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Memorial Sloan Kettering Outpatient Facility Coming to Middletown

From Middletown Public Infomation:

MIDDLETOWN – Construction of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s 285,000-square-foot outpatient cancer treatment facility located at the former Lucent building on Red Hill Road is getting into full swing.

(Photo credit
State, county and local officials and MSK leaders gathered at the site Thursday to mark the start of the project. The Mayor and Township Committee were in attendance along with New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, and Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholder Tom Arnone.

“The response from the community upon hearing Memorial Sloan Kettering is moving into town has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. MSK is synonymous with elite care and cutting edge technology and research in the cancer field worldwide,” said Mayor Stephanie C. Murray. “Not only will this facility provide critical care, it will generate jobs and stimulate economic growth in the local community. We welcome Memorial Sloan Kettering to the Middletown and look forward to seeing the facility in full operation.”

MSK Monmouth is slated to open in late 2016. Services will include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, diagnostic and interventional radiology, outpatient surgery, clinical research trials, oncology rehabilitation, social work services, nutritional counseling, and support programs.

MSK Monmouth will reduce the need and burden for most patients to travel into Manhattan by allowing them to receive care closer to where they live. Currently, more than 6 percent of MSK patients live in the areas that will be served by this state-of-the-art cancer care facility.


Read more @

Reminder Middletown Day Set for September 27

From Middletown Alerts:

Middletown Day returns to Croydon Hall on Saturday, September 27th from noon to 6:00pm followed by an anniversary concert and fireworks display.

Middletown Day 2014 is the pinnacle of a year-long celebration of the township’s founding 350 years ago. The fall festival will feature an anniversary cake created by the legendary Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, the Business and Community Showcase, live demonstrations, and an expanded food court. The Beatlemania Stage Show will begin at 6:00pm. A fireworks display follows 7:30pm to mark the close of the Middletown 350 celebration.

The Business and Community Showcase features local businesses, community associations and school groups that support Middletown. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the many businesses spread across the township’s 42 square miles and meet the volunteers that work so hard to make Middletown a great place to call home.

The day will also include family favorites such as bouncy houses and carnival games, children's activities, a craft fair, hayrides, live local music, a petting zoo, pony rides, Touch-A-Truck exhibits, and a tag sale.

Middletown Day has opportunities for family learning as well. Learn about nature and colonial times at the Poricy Park Conservancy exhibit; storm water pollution at the Clean Communities display; emergency preparedness at the Emergency Management tent; and fire safety in the Fire Department’s smoke house.

Middletown Day activities and exhibits will close at 6pm. The best place to view the concert and fireworks will be on the football field. A beach chair or blanket is recommended.

Middletown Day, which is sponsored by local business, community groups and individuals, will be held rain or shine. Free shopping bags will be given to the first 1,000 attendees.

Visitors should park at Bayview Elementary School or Kunkel Park and ride the free shuttle to and from the Middletown Day grounds. Continuous round trip shuttle services will be provided every 5 to 10 minutes. Parking very limited at Croydon Hall.

Visit for more details and a schedule of events.

Volunteers Needed For Comptons Creek Clean-Up Sunday 10am

Please, your help is needed to clean up the Bayshore region from the mess that construction crews post-Super-storm Sandy leave around and from ignorant people. We really need your help!


SUNDAY, September 21, 2014
10am to 12pm

The Bayshore Watershed Council & NY-NJ Baykeeper are having a cleanup of Compton's Creek wetlands, located along Church Street, near the old fish factory in the Belford section of Middletown Township.

Meeting Location: On-street parking along Church, located in between Port Monmouth Road and Broadway in the Belford section of Middletown Township, zip code 07718. The wetlands and creek will be located on either side of the road..

Time: 10am to 12pm
Be part of the solution to clean up the Bayshore and restore the shore!

Come with friends, family and lots of energy! Wear long pants, sturdy shoes, and gloves. Bring boots or waders. Join us as we restore the health of our creeks and waterways. Join in the effort to protect our environment by helping us remove litter from our beaches, creeks, and wetlands; thereby reducing the harmful impact caused by both litter and urban runoff and enhancing the natural beauty of our watershed.

Pallone Announces $36,100 in Federal Funding for First Responders in Asbury Park & Keyport

WASHINGTON, DC —Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced that the Asbury Park Fire Department has been awarded $24,700 and the Keyport Fire Department has been awarded $11,400 through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program. The AFG program is part of a coordinated, ongoing effort by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration to improve the nation’s ability to respond to emergency situations.

"It is critical that our brave first responders have all the tools necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and themselves in the case of an emergency,” said Congressman Pallone. “I am very pleased that the Department of Homeland Security has selected Asbury Park and Keyport to receive these federal grants. These funds will enhance the response capabilities of our emergency personnel, making our community an even safer place to live.”

Grants under the AFG program are awarded directly to fire departments and non-affiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations for emergency response equipment, personal protective equipment, firefighting and emergency vehicles, and training. In Fiscal Year 2013, the AFG program will provide approximately $320 million in competitive grants to first-responder organizations.

Free Screening, Panel Discussion of "Shored Up," Exploring Coastal Development and Sea Level Rise in New Jersey

The documentary film Shored Up, which examines the collision between coastal development and severe weather in New Jersey and North Carolina, will be shown Sept. 20 at a special screening in Rumson.

The planning advocacy group New Jersey Future, which is working with Sea Bright and Highlands on long-term recovery planning after Hurricane Sandy, is sponsoring the screening with Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long.

At the conclusion of the film, there will be a panel discussion and question-and-answer session featuring the film's director and several local coastal and environmental scientists.

The screening begins at 7:00 pm at Holy Cross School, 40 Rumson Rd. in Rumson. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Through New Jersey Future's sponsorship of the event, admission is free. Parents are welcome and childcare will be provided.

"This film does an excellent job of examining all sides of the issues surrounding the best way to develop and redevelop our shoreline," said Steve Nelson, the local recovery planning manager from New Jersey Future who is working in Sea Bright and Highlands. "We hope as many community members as possible will come to see it, and will engage in the conversation afterward. While there are no easy answers to the questions raised by the film, it's important that the entire community be involved in the dialogue, and we want this film to provide a well-informed start to the conversation."

"I made Shored Up to explore what it means to live beside the beauty of the ocean where, as we saw with Hurricane Sandy, we are always just one storm away from catastrophe," said the film's director, Ben Kalina. "In the wake of the storm, I believe that only by gaining a greater understanding of the coastal environment can we develop effective recovery strategies that will meet the diverse, long-term needs of each community."

Besides Kalina, panelists include Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action; Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society; and Norbert Psuty, professor (emeritus) of coastal geomorphology at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University. Dillingham and Psuty are both featured in the film. The panel will be moderated by Tony MacDonald, director of the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions.

What: Screening of the documentary film Shored Up
When: Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, 7:00 - 9:00 pm
Where: Holy Cross School, 40 Rumson Rd., Rumson
Admission: Free


About New Jersey Future

New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings together concerned citizens and leaders to promote responsible land-use policies. The organization employs original research, analysis and advocacy to build coalitions and drive land-use policies that help revitalize cities and towns, protect natural lands and farms, provide more transportation choices beyond cars, expand access to safe and affordable neighborhoods and fuel a prosperous economy. More recently, New Jersey Future has expanded its work to include local engagement and implementation, most notably in Sandy-affected communities.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

NBC 4 New York: After 9 Months, Federal Probe of GWB Closure Finds No Link to Christie, Federal Sources Say

Governor Christie just may have been telling the truth, He may not have known anything about he George Washington lane closures last year, but it should be kept in mind that this was an anonymous sources in the Federal prosecutors office that leaked this information. No official word was released by Prosecutor Fishman's office. Chris Christie's administration is still under investigation for other Port Authority shenanigans.

From NBC4 New York:

The U.S. Justice Department investigation into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s role in “Bridgegate” has thus far uncovered no information he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York.

The September 2013 closures -- where several entrance lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Ft. Lee were shut down causing a traffic nightmare for commuters -- has been the subject of several federal and state investigations.

Federal officials caution that the investigation begun nine months ago is ongoing and that no final determination has been made, but say that after nine months authorities have uncovered no information Christie either knew in advance or ordered the closure of traffic lanes.

According to one former federal prosecutor, who had no involvement in any of the probes into the bridge closure, investigations of this kind will often turn up a solid connection early in the inquiry.

“My experience with federal law enforcement is that once you reach critical mass if you don’t have it within nine months or so you’re not likely to ever get it,” former federal prosecutor Robert W. Ray said.

When the final report is issued, Christie may still face complications from the scandal, said Lee Miringoff, Director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion....

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Doctor admits he intentionally misdiagnosed cancer, ordered unneeded chemo

This doctor should be drawn and quartered after he takes a full regiment of Chemo and radiation to his balls. But that would be much too lenient for him.


A Michigan doctor faces life in prison after he admitted to intentionally misdiagnosing patients with cancer and recommending unnecessary chemotherapy to dying patients.

Dr. Farid Fata pleaded guilty Tuesday to 13 counts of health care fraud, two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, reported the Detroit Free Press.

The crimes were part of a moneymaking scheme, he said.

“It is my choice,” Fata told the court. “I knew that it was medically unnecessary.”

Prosecutors plan to seek life in prison for the 49-year-old married father of three, saying the case was “the most egregious” health care fraud their office had ever seen.

“In this case, we had Dr. Fata administering chemotherapy to people who didn’t need it, essentially putting poison into their bodies and telling them that they had cancer when they didn’t have cancer,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade. “The idea that a doctor would lie to a patient just to make money is shocking.”

Fata made about $35 million as part of a Medicare fraud scheme through his practices in suburban Detroit.

The Lebanon native had about 1,200 patients and received about $62 million from Medicare, although he billed for more than $150 million.

A chemotherapy nurse first reported the wrongdoing in 2010 after a job interview with his practice, where she noticed patients receiving chemotherapy in an incorrect manner....

Continue reading

Middletown Arts Center Presents Savor the Arts Series of Cultural Experiences

Series Begins With Celebration of Italian Culture Through Cuisine and Performance, November 14 – 16

Middletown, NJ (September 18, 2014) – Starting in November 2014, the Middletown Arts Center (MAC), located at 36 Church Street in Middletown, NJ, will offer a unique way to enjoy artistic experiences from around the globe with Savor the Arts, a series of culture-specific events that blend performances with culinary tastings, exhibits, workshops, armchair travel presentations and more. Patrons will have the opportunity to enjoy engaging activities that bring a particular culture to life.

Each multi-sensory weekend will be a mini-cultural immersion meant to educate and entertain. The Savor the Arts series begins with a celebration of Italian culture from November 14 – 16. Events include armchair travel presentations on the Almafi Coast and Puglia, as well as culinary tastings, a Paint and Sip Workshop featuring an Italian scene, an exquisite presentation of Italian art and music, and the Off-Broadway One-Man Production “Blood-Type: Ragu.” Information regarding the events will be posted on

“Blood-Type: Ragu,” written and performed by actor/playwright Frank Ingrasciotta, will debut at the Arts Center on Saturday, November 15. Ingrasciotta gives a tour-de-force one-man performance in this funny and tender coming-of-age story exploring the first-generation American's delicate dance between culture and identity. The actor plays more than 20 characters who live, love and laugh in this fast-paced journey that is both comedic and dramatic. The New York Times has called it, "A garrulous and enlightening production with a lasting rewarding flavor.”

As part of the series, the Middletown Arts Center will produce the Savor the Arts Cookbook featuring Italian recipes from the Middletown Township community. The public is asked to visit and log in to submit their recipes, using the username MAC2014 and password fresh185. Only 150 recipes will be included in the cookbook. The deadline for recipe submission is October 1, 2014. Advertising space is available in the cookbook as well.

This celebration of Italian art and culture is made possible by support from individuals and local businesses. For information on a range of sponsorship packages that include participation and marketing communication options please contact Jen Packer at

Former Mayor Lucas Found Guilty in Land Deal; Democrats Call To Reinstate Ethics Board

Former Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas was found guilty on all 11 federal charges against him earlier today in his scheme that bilked Manalapan, Monmouth County and state residents of nearly $1.2 million of farmland preservation funds.  Lucas is now facing a long jail sentence in a federal penitentiary.
"A jury in federal court here has found former Manalapan mayor Andrew Lucas guilty of all charges in an indictment surrounding a questionable land deal that netted him nearly $1.2 million in taxpayer money.
The jury reached the verdict Thursday following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson.
Lucas, 37, remains free on a $500,000 bond, pending sentencing on Jan. 20, 2015, when he could face decades in federal prison..." - Asbury Park Press, 9/18/14

It should be noted that incumbent Freeholder candidates Lillian Burry and Gary Rich voted in favor of giving Lucas nearly $278K of Monmouth County open space funds. It's because of this and other alleged improprieties by the currently all Republican Monmouth County Freeholders Board that  Democrats are calling for the reinstatement of the short-lived Monmouth County Ethics Board.

"... Democratic candidates Joe Grillo and Larry Luttrell say the ethics board is needed to prevent recent scandals like the farmland preservation land deal involving former Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas and financial improprieties by former Brookdale Community College President Peter Burnham.
“The ethics board would be looking at any concerns or ethical issues in county government. It would be a place of redress,” Grillo said. “I think the freeholders owe it to the people we serve.”
Monmouth Democrats have been relentless in trying to pin those scandals and others to their opponents, Republican freeholder incumbents Lillian Burry and Gary Rich...."            - Asbury Park Press,  9/18/14

The Middle Class Jumpstart

The following is a newsletter from Congressman Frank Pallone:

As your Member of Congress, my focus has always been and will always be ensuring that every American, regardless of their race, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or socio-economic status, has a fair shot at making it in this country.
Frank Pallone

Unfortunately, Republicans continue to ignore legislation in Congress that would safeguard this essential element of the American Dream. Instead, they have chosen to double-down on political stunts and partisan gridlock. Meanwhile, the American middle class remains on the losing end.

Democrats in Congress, however, have proposed a legislative initiative – called “the Middle Class Jumpstart” – that addresses the challenges facing the middle class with a three-prong strategy:

• Providing tax incentives for creating good-paying jobs here at home, as well as authorizing the repair and modernization of America’s roads, rails, bridges and broadband technology

• Guaranteeing both women and men get equal pay for equal work, as well as strengthening the “Violence Against Women Act” and expanding access to comprehensive health care and family planning

• Making college more affordable and allow students to refinance their college loans to new, lower rates, as well as increasing access to effective early childhood learning

I remain committed to passing these bills and revitalizing our middle class to ensure our nation remains prosperous and rich with opportunity for all Americans.

Frank Pallone
Member of Congress

NJ Watchdog appeals denial of Christie travel records

For immediate release:

Gov. Chris Christie’s attempt to flout state travel rules will be contested in New Jersey appeals court.

The case pits the governor’s power versus transparency in government – a cause Christie once championed.

In the Superior Court Appellate Division, a New Jersey Watchdog reporter is challenging a trial judge's rejection of a lawsuit seeking records of who paid for Christie’s unofficial out-of-state trips.

Under Treasury Circular 12-14-OMB, third-party organizations that fund the travel of state officials must disclose the payment arrangements in writing. The state agency or office is required to retain those records.

“Our position is that the regulation does not apply,” argued Assistant Attorney General Lewis Scheindlin on behalf of the governor in Mercer County Superior Court. “If it doesn’t apply, the next question is whether these records exist.”

As evidence, Christie’s lawyers submitted a 35-year-old memo to former Gov. Brendan Byrne. In it, a former budget director decreed: “I hereby rule that the governor and staff of the governor’s office are granted exemptions from these State Travel Regulations.”

Instead of addressing the issue, Judge Mary C. Jacobson dismissed the suit in July. She ruled the reporter’s Open Public Records Act request was “overbroad and lacking in specifics and clarity” even though it sought specific records required by state rules.

Donald M. Doherty Jr., the reporter’s attorney, filed the appeal last week asking the higher court to make a decision Jacobson avoided.

“This case will establish whether or not an executive branch employee can exempt the governor from travel regulations,” stated Doherty. “The court did not decide whether or not the defendants’ position regarding the memo was correct, but instead held the request was unclear.”

The full story is now online at

Pallone Announces $425,000 Grant to Respond to Victims of Abuse

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced that Middlesex County, New Jersey has been awarded a $425,000 federal grant through the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Training and Services to End Violence Against Women with Disabilities Grants Program (Disability Grant Program). The Disability Grant Program increases the capacity of organizations to respond to individuals with disabilities who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking and to hold perpetrators of such crimes accountable.

“These crimes are horrific and we must continue to work to end the cycle of violence so that not one more person is a victim of abuse,” said Congressman Pallone. “Programs like the Disability Grant Program are critical to ensuring that those who are victimized are able access services and get the support needed in order to recover. We have made gains since the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law twenty years ago, but we still have work to do to make sure that no one is living in constant fear. This grant will help us support survivors and bring us one step closer to ending this unfathomable violence.”

The Disability Grant Program was created in the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 and has been reauthorized in the years since. It is run through the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), which is a component of the DOJ. Created in 1995, OVW implements the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and subsequent legislation and provides national leadership on issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

38 % Of N.J. Households Live In Poverty

I was asked about this the other day and couldn't believe it what I was hearing. N.J. is one of the wealthiest states in the country, how is it possible that 38% of our population (1.2 million households) fall below the poverty line? It's obvious that poverty affects more than just the stereotypical lazy, shiftless black or Latino welfare Kings and Queens. It affects many of our friends and neighbors as well!


...A new study conducted by the United Way of Northern New Jersey shows an alarming number of New Jersey residents are in Ticehurst’s position. Data compiled by the group show that 38 percent of New Jersey households are struggling to meet basic needs. These households are just scraping by, one lost job or medical emergency away from potential fiscal ruin.

The report, called ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), paints a stark picture of how widespread financial hardship like Ticehurst’s is in New Jersey.

While 11 percent of state residents fall below the Federal Poverty Line, which stands at an annual income of $22,811 for a family of four, the report found that when adjusted for cost of living the same family needs nearly triple that -- $61,200 – just to meet a basic survival budget.

In one of the wealthiest states in the country, 1.2 million households fall below this threshold. And while the state’s economy has shown signs of recovery in the wake of the Great Recession, the number of households struggling by the United Way measure increased by about 24 percent from 2007 to 2012, the most recent data available....

Read the full story