Thunberg joins climate rally in Germany ahead of election

By KARIN LAUB

BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of environmental activists staged a rally outside Germany’s parliament two days before the country holds a national election to demand that politicians take stronger action to curb climate change.

The protest outside the Reichstag in Berlin on Friday was part of a string of rallies around the world amid dire warnings the planet faces dangerous temperature rises unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut sharply in the coming years.

The idea for a global “climate strike” was inspired by teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s solo protest in Stockholm three years ago. It snowballed into a mass movement until the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to large gatherings. Activists have only recently started staging smaller gatherings.

Thunberg was scheduled to speak at the Berlin protest. German activists have referred to the Sept. 26 election as the “vote of the century,” arguing that the decision taken by the next government will influence the country’s efforts to tackle climate change for decades to come. The issue has been a major topic during the election campaign.

Friday’s rally was a multi-generational event, drawing school-age participants as well as adults. Rene Bohrenfeldt, an IT expert taking part in the Berlin rally, said he hoped older Germans would consider the issue when casting their votes on Sunday.

“The majority of voters are older than 50 and determine the outcome of the election,” Bohrenfeldt, 36, said. “I appeal to all grandmothers to make the right decision for the climate and for their grandchildren.”

Christiane Koetter-Lietz, who attended with her children and grandchildren, said she would be voting for Germany’s Green party, which has campaigned for tougher measures to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“We have water catastrophes, fire catastrophes, the world is burning. This is the very last warning,” said the 69-year-old from the western town of Unna.

Global warming also has been a top election issue in Iceland, where voters heads to the polls for a general election on Saturday. All parties running for seats in the North Atlantic island nation’s parliament acknowledge global warming as a force of change in a sub-Arctic landscape but disagree on how to respond to it.

While many of the protests worldwide were family affairs, activists in Britain blocked the country’s busiest ferry port Friday to highlight the climate crisis and fuel poverty in the U.K.

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Follow AP’s climate coverage at http://www.apnews.com/Climate

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Best of Orange County 2021: Best day spa

1. Burke Williams Day Spa

Mission Viejo, Orange; 866-239-6635; burkewilliams.com

With locations in Mission Viejo and Orange,  Burke Williams is a favorite for Orange County residents in need of some rest and relaxation. The European-inspired, California-based chain of spas offers services that range from massages to wet room treatments.

Massages are in-demand right now, according to Lee Gollnick, general manager of Burke Williams’ location in Orange, as are detoxes. In fact, the day spa offers a detox enhancement, which includes aromatherapy and a Himalayan salt scrub with the massage, that’s a hit with customers.

After more than a year of wearing masks, facials are also heavily requested. The Rescue facial, which incorporates benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid in the treatment and is offered for either a 50-minute or 80-minute service, is typically what’s used for people looking to clear up a case of “maskne,” or breakouts resulting from wearing masks.

If you’re looking for a quick retreat during your lunch break, Burke Williams does offer 25-minute facials or massages that are targeted to your specific needs. For longer visits, spa amenities, include the eucalyptus steam room, jacuzzi, dry sauna and a quiet room. At Burke Williams, Gollnick says, guests can disconnect from the outside world. “It’s your hotel resort spa, but it’s in the city,” he says.

Burke Williams has a membership program available at different price points for those who plan to make massages and/or facials part of their regular routine.

2. Spa Gregorie’s

Newport Beach, Rancho Santa Margarita; 949-644-6672, 949-858-9455; spagregories.com

Since 1998, Spa Gregorie’s has been helping Orange County residents rest and rejuvenate and it’s a go-to spa for massage.

“Clients love massage,” says founder and owner Angela Cortright. Both locations in Newport Beach and Rancho Santa Margarita offer a full menu of massage styles, including options for people who are pregnant or undergoing cancer treatment. The Fassage, a 90-minute session that includes both a full body massage and a facial, is one popular option. “If you’re looking for something unique and different, that would be a good way to go,” says Cortright.

The spa’s extensive facial menu includes options for a variety of skin types and issues, including techniques to help alleviate maskne. Particularly during the summer months, folks head here for spray-tans and body exfoliation as well.

Be sure to book an appointment in advance and know that there might be a longer wait to get in on the weekends. If you’re over 50 years old, ask about the 50 & Up Club, which offers discounted services on select days of the week.

3. La Vita Salon and Spa

2721 East Coast Highway, Suite 110, Corona del Mar; 949-723-0406, lavitasalonspa.com

Mariella Boniadi, known simply as Mariella to her clients, describes herself as an “intuitive hair artist.” The owner of seven-year-old La Vita Salon and Spa, Mariella trained in London and Paris, and with naturally curly hair herself, she has devised cutting and blow-drying techniques to create straight styles without harsh chemicals. She researches hair products before introducing them in the salon and brings in homey touches, like cooking organic food for guests.

La Vita offers manicures with Dazzle Dry products, which are non-toxic, hypoallergenic and custom, organic facials, in addition to services like micro blading and the popular hot jade stone massage. The salon and spa also hosts small groups for events like guided meditations. Mariella is planning to start workshops to teach her methods creating smooth, straight hairstyles without products or flat irons.

La Vita Salon and Spa is appointment only. “Each of us see one client at a time so we can give them our full attention and the highest quality services,” explains Mariella in an email. “We are all about connecting with our guests and listening to their needs.”

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Earthquake hits in Joshua Tree National Park area

A magnitude-3.3 earthquake struck in the Joshua Tree National Park area early Tuesday morning, according to preliminary information from the US Geological Survey.

The shaker hit at 4:15 a.m. and 56 seconds, according to USGS data.

The quake was centered 17.4 miles northeast of Indio, the USGS reported. Its depth was calculated as 2.3 miles.

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1 in 500 U.S. residents has died of Covid-19

By Madeline Holcombe | CNN

The United States has reached another grim milestone in its fight against the devastating Covid-19 pandemic: 1 in 500 Americans have died from coronavirus since the nation’s first reported infection.

As of Tuesday night, 663,913 people in the US have died of Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data. According to the US Census Bureau, the US population as of April 2020 was 331.4 million.

It’s a sobering toll that comes as hospitals in the US are struggling to keep up with the volume of patients and more children are grappling with the virus. In hopes of managing the spread and preventing more unnecessary deaths, officials are implementing mandates for vaccinations in workplaces and masking in schools.

They are fighting against a sharp upward trend in cases and deaths: The US is reporting a more than 30% increase in average daily cases and a near tripling of average daily deaths over the past month, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But with only 54% of the population fully vaccinated, the rate of people initiating vaccinations each day has declined over the past month.

Health experts have hailed vaccinations as the best source of protection against the virus, noting that the majority of people hospitalized with and killed by Covid-19 are unvaccinated. In Pennsylvania, from January 1 to September 7, 97% of the state’s Covid-19 deaths were among unvaccinated people, Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of health said Tuesday.

Another layer of strong protection, experts say, is masking.

The CDC recommends people — even those fully vaccinated — wear masks indoors in areas with substantial or high community transmission. More than 99% of the population lives in a county with one of those designations.

In Ohio, where children’s hospitals are overwhelmed with Covid-19 and respiratory cases, Gov. Mike DeWine is encouraging schools to issue mask mandates since the state legislature has told him it would overturn any mandate he issued.

“Reasonable people may disagree about a lot, but we can all agree that we must keep our children in the classroom so they don’t fall behind and so their parents can go to work and not take time off to watch their kids at home,” DeWine said.

The combination of masks and vaccinations is the way to keep children in school, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Tuesday.

“If you surround the kids with vaccinated people and you have everybody wear a mask, you can get a situation where the children will be relatively safe in school,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Fight brewing over vaccine mandates

In the effort to manage the spread of the virus, many officials and experts have promoted vaccine mandates — but others are opposing such measures.

New York issued an order in August requiring all health care workers be vaccinated against Covid-19 by September 27. But on Monday, 17 Catholic and Baptist medical professionals filed a federal complaint seeking to prevent the state from enforcing the mandate, saying they oppose getting the vaccine for religious reasons.

On Tuesday, a federal judge issued a restraining order temporarily suspending New York state from enforcing its vaccine mandate if health care workers claim a religious exemption.

Because the mandate does not require health care workers to receive their first dose of the vaccine until September 27, the judge’s order states the temporary restraining order “does not, as a practical matter, go into effect until that date.”

A hearing is scheduled for September 28.

After the ruling, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s press secretary, Hazel Crampton-Hays said in a statement that the governor is considering all legal options.

“Governor Hochul is doing everything in her power to protect New Yorkers and combat the Delta variant by increasing vaccine rates across the State,” Crampton-Hays said.

In Los Angeles, despite a mandate that all city employees be inoculated against the virus, nearly a quarter of the police force is seeking an exemption, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office. Those who are not vaccinated will be required to show evidence of weekly testing and a negative COVID result if regularly reporting to work.

By November 1, Nevada workers who serve “vulnerable populations” must show proof of vaccination under a new emergency regulation passed Tuesday.

New hires must have at least one dose by their start date and must follow through on the required vaccination schedule to remain employed. Workers are allowed to ask for a medical or religious exemption.

Booster meeting won’t be a slam dunk

On Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet to discuss whether most Americans need a booster of their Covid-19 vaccine.

Unlike other meetings to discuss the vaccine, this one, with requests from Pfizer to authorize a third dose for most people, won’t be a slam dunk.

“This will be much messier than in December,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. The FDA committee was quick to recommend authorization of vaccines made by Pfizer and rival Moderna last December.

When the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets Friday, it will be presented with dueling data, some of it suggesting there’s a need for boosters, but other pieces of data suggesting there is no such need.

Three separate articles published last week in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggest that we don’t need boosters.

On the other hand, an Israeli study found that over time, the vaccines’ power to keep people from getting very sick with Covid-19 diminished. Looking at illnesses in the second half of July, that study found that those who’d received their second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine in March were 70% more protected against severe disease than those who received the second shot in January.

President Joe Biden announced plans last month to begin administering booster doses next week. While she wouldn’t say directly if that date would be met, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday she is hopeful about the timeline to get doses administered.

If the booster does get approved, experts will still have to wait and see how much protection is added by the third dose.

“I would hope that that would sustain us for an extended period of time, but I don’t know that right now,” Fauci said. “We’re just going to have to do the boost, and then follow people long enough to determine what the durability of that protection is.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Beware the red flags from inattentive, unskilled lawyer

Many years ago, my dog was diagnosed with cancer. His prognosis was not good. Weekly I drove him to a veterinarian oncologist clinic for treatment. The oncologist was cold, uncaring and uncommunicative. Worse, she never offered any hope, leaving me wondering why my dog and I were there.

Finally, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I complained to the doctor who owned the clinic. “That’s why we have several doctors here,” she said. “Not every doctor is a good fit for every person or pet.”

And just like that, I had a new veterinarian oncologist assigned to us. She was warm, caring and eternally optimistic.

I’ve always remembered both the importance of maintaining hope and the lesson that not every professional is a good fit for every person. The same is true for lawyers. How do you know if a lawyer is the right one for you?

Do your research

The State Bar of California opened nearly 17,500 cases of attorney misconduct in 2020 and filed notices of disciplinary charges against 180 attorneys in State Bar Court. In 2020, 79 California attorneys were disbarred, and another 114 were suspended. (I suspect the number of unhappy clients is much higher than these statistics would represent.)

Always check the California State Bar website to see if the attorney you’re considering has had any disciplinary actions filed against them. Also, make sure the attorney is licensed to practice law.

A client once brought me their trust to review to see if it needed updating. The trust was so poorly written I looked up the “attorney” who drafted it, only to find he’d been disbarred 10 years before drafting the client’s trust. The attorney still maintained a website that mentioned “legal services” and prominently displayed “JD” behind his name.

JD simply means the person graduated from law school. It doesn’t mean they’ve passed the bar or are admitted to practice in the state of California, which requires much more than a law school degree.

Getting a recommendation for an attorney is a good place to start but be sure to ask the person making the recommendation whether they liked the attorney, had a good experience and felt they were treated well. You don’t want just a name.

Do they have experience?

How long has the attorney you’re considering been practicing? How long have they been practicing in the field where you need services? Do they specialize in that field?

Gone are the days when the neighborhood attorney could handle your speeding ticket, your divorce, your estate planning and your property line dispute with your neighbor. Most attorneys now, out of necessity, practice in only a few related areas of law. It’s hard enough to keep up with two or three areas of law, given the complexities of each in modern times. An attorney offering services in multiple unrelated areas of law is likely barely scratching the surface in each.

Similarly, someone who immediately opens a law practice upon graduation from law school is likely not a good choice. A law school graduate has no idea how to practice law — they may know the law and be well versed in theory, but experience is always the best teacher. A new attorney may be enthusiastic and charge less, and that can be great for you as long as they’re supervised by a more seasoned attorney who knows where things go wrong, can offer practical solutions and understands best practices in a particular field.

Communication is key

Lack of reasonable communication is one of the most common complaints filed with the State Bar of California against attorneys.

Once you hire an attorney, it’s reasonable to expect your questions will be answered and you’ll be kept up to date on matters.

If your lawyer can’t explain things to you in a way you can understand, or worse, won’t bother explaining matters, that lawyer isn’t a good fit for you. Likewise, if the lawyer isn’t returning calls or emails within a reasonable time, doesn’t keep you updated on your matters, or is annoyed by your questions or concerns, that might not be the right lawyer for you.

You have a choice

Just like I could choose a different oncologist for my dog, you can choose a different lawyer. You can fire your lawyer. You can interview multiple lawyers before hiring one. I am amazed how few clients do interview lawyers before hiring one, though many attorneys do free initial consultations (particularly in my field of estate planning).

There are more than 190,000 active lawyers in good standing with the State Bar of California. Make sure you choose one who is well-equipped to handle your matter and that you’re comfortable with. It’s an important and often long-lasting relationship.

By the way, my dog lived another nine years. There was hope after all.

Teresa J. Rhyne is an attorney practicing in estate planning and trust administration in Riverside and Paso Robles, CA. She is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “The Dog Lived (and So Will I)” and “Poppy in The Wild.”  You can reach her at Teresa@trlawgroup.net

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The myriad steps to close a commercial real estate deal

Today, I focus my labor on the closing process in commercial real estate deals. After all, I’m penning this post before Labor Day weekend, so it proved prescient.

Whether you rely on the rent generated or for the utility gained by your business as an investor or an occupant, you execute a similar process to become an owner. Let’s dive in, shall we?

A search is conducted, a candidate for purchase is selected and negotiation commences. Once the terms of the buy are settled between buyer and seller, a contact, the purchase and sale agreement, is drawn. That part is relatively easy. Now the fun begins. The buyer and seller now must complete the deal. What occurs after the paperwork is signed is the subject of this column.

Purchase and sale agreements – whether standard or proprietary – provide a roadmap for how to proceed. Price, financing, if any, due diligence period, escrow holder, title company, deposits to open, deposits once contingencies are waived, and closing period are all neatly niched.

Price. Fairly straightforward but typically a combination of cash and debt. The seller – unless providing a loan – receives all the proceeds, less closing costs once a deed is recorded. Can this sum vary from what’s agreed? Yes. See “due diligence.”

Financing. Many deals we see these days are financed but not subject to lender approval. Confusing? Yes. But this seller’s market, in which we are mired, has produced this wrinkle. A seller may say, “Sure, Mr. Buyer, go get a loan. But, failure to qualify won’t allow you to cancel. Plus, if your lender is tardy – tough taco.”

In a more conventional approach, a buyer seeks loan proceeds to couple with her cash infusion to make the buy. If she can’t get a loan, she walks away and her deposit is returned.

Escrow. Generally, in California, an escrow holder is a clearinghouse to accept the agreement and conduct the symphony — also known as executing the deal. Deposits, documents and closing instructions are all neatly folded into an escrow holder’s task.

Title. Most title companies also have an escrow department, but frequently, these two functions are separate. Your title officer will produce a preliminary title report early in your transaction. This uncovers things such as loans the seller must have paid off, easements, liens, status of property tax payments, legal description, and other “exceptions.” A commitment to insure a clean title will be issued. Should a problem arise, post-close, you’re covered.

Deposits to open escrow. In commercial deals, there is no real standard. It’s whatever the buyer and seller negotiate. However, typically these run about 3% of the purchase price. Should the buyer elect not to proceed with the purchase and prior to a waiver of contingencies, in most cases, the deposit is returned.

Due diligence. Also referred to as a “contingency period,” this ranges from as few as 15 days to as long as 90, and a ton of work must occur during this time frame. Financing must be secured, title exceptions approved, inspection of the building (roof, electrical, HVAC, etc.) accomplished, vesting documents drawn, financial aspects of the tenancy – if any – analyzed, and environmental health diagnosed. Whew! Within each of the main categories of approval – there are checkpoints that guide us to the end.

Financing, for example, involves credit of the buyer, the tenant, an appraisal, an enviro report and lender concurrence. There’s a lot to be done in a short time. What if something isn’t approved? That, dear readers, is a subject for another column.

Deposits once contingencies are waived. You’ve traveled the gauntlet of contingencies and are full speed ahead. You’ll now add some “skin” in the form of an increased amount of money to the escrow. Deposits, by the way, are generally applicable to the purchase. But, once you nod your head, deposits are non-refundable. Can you still back out? Sure. But not for free.

Closing. A cacophony of chords completes the transaction. Akin to a family reunion group photo, all must be looking at the camera and smiling before the image can be captured. The lender funds the loan, the buyer adds supplemental dollars, granting deeds are deposited and recorded and monies are apportioned. The seller gets hers, the buyer gets the title, the lender gets a trust deed, and agents get their fees. Boom!

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at abuchanan@lee-associates.com or 714.564.7104.

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Out of time: California legislators won’t extend eviction ban

The legislative session ends Friday, so that’s the last day that lawmakers could push off that deadline. But the political appetite just isn’t there to act, according to David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who spearheaded the previous efforts to stall the displacement of tenants amid the pandemic.

“I believed our eviction protections for tenants should be extended beyond September 30. The delta variant and the end of many unemployment benefits make that even more urgent,” Chiu told CalMatters. “Unfortunately, some of my colleagues feel differently, and there’s not enough consensus for that.”

“The Legislature has kind of set a trap for itself because it won’t be in session when that expires,” said Brian Augusta, legislative advocate for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, who has been lobbying for stronger protections throughout the pandemic. “So, that means, what we see is what we get.”

Augusta said the governor could still call a special legislative session to extend protections before the end of the month, or issue an executive order as he did at the beginning of the pandemic to pause court proceedings relating to evictions. But he said that’s unlikely.

The governor’s office also declined to comment.

The California Rental Housing Association, which represents more than 20,000 landlords and has sued the state over the last round of protections, was pleased by the decision, but not surprised.

“Our lobbyists did not come to us and say, ‘Hey, you know, we’re going to have to compromise somewhere or anything like that,’” said Sid Lakireddy, a board member for CalRHA. “So, I think the legislators are starting to get it as well. This can’t go on at infinity.”

The eviction protections in place state that tenants will have a defense in court should their landlord evict them over non-payment of rent through Sept. 30. They still have to submit a declaration saying they are unable to make full rent, and pay at least 25% of their monthly rent since Sept. 1, 2020, in installments or in bulk, by Sept. 30.

The protections are tied to $5.2 billion in federal aid for rent relief. People making less than 80% of their area median income who were financially affected by COVID-19 can still apply for the full amount of missed rent and stave off eviction. They can also now apply for three months of forward rent.

But distribution of those dollars remains a problem. While the state has received applications for about $1.9 billion in rental aid, it has distributed only about $491 million. Still, that’s about a 500% increase since the current moratorium passed at the end of June, according to Russ Heimerich, spokesperson for the state’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.

According to a recent analysis of California’s rental debt by Policy Link, an Oakland-based research group, about 753,000 families are behind on rent, and owe a cumulative $2.8 billion.

“I think everybody’s hope was that more families would have received the funds by now, and that the people who didn’t apply or were denied were a minority, as opposed to an overwhelming majority,” said Francisco Dueñas, executive director of Housing Now!, a tenant advocacy group.

Existing law has some stopgaps that, in theory, should prevent the tsunami of evictions tenant advocates and researchers have predicted. Heimerich said tenants will be shielded from an eviction procedure by the courts for 15 more days to apply for their missed rent — a provision that extends through March 2022.

To take advantage of those protections, tenants will have to show evidence they applied for the rental assistance program in court, Heimerich said. He said the state agency is working closely with the Judicial Council to inform judges of the procedure.

While the stopgap might seem promising on paper, tenant advocates are leery of its application.

“The problem with relying on the courts is it requires people to go to court,” Dueñas said. “And a lot of people don’t respond to a court notice. They just move.”

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California moves to outlaw ‘stealthing,’ or removing condom without consent

By DON THOMPSON | The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO  — California lawmakers moved to make the state the first to outlaw “stealthing,” which is removing a condom without permission during intercourse.

Legislators sent Gov. Gavin Newsom a bill on Tuesday adding the act to the state’s civil definition of sexual battery. It makes it illegal to remove the condom without obtaining verbal consent.

But it doesn’t change the criminal code. Instead, it would amend the civil code so that a victim could sue the perpetrator for damages, including punitive damages.

Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia has been pushing for the legislation since 2017, when a Yale University study said acts of stealthing were increasing against both women and gay men. Her original bill attempted to make it a crime.

But legislative analysts said at the time that the act could already be considered misdemeanor sexual battery, even if it isn’t specifically referenced in the criminal code. But the analysts said it is rarely prosecuted, if only because of the difficulty in proving that a perpetrator acted intentionally instead of accidently.

Analysts this year said Garcia’s bill would remove any ambiguity in civil law.

Garcia said the act can cause long-term physical and emotional harm to its victims.

Lawmakers in New York and Wisconsin previously proposed related legislation, but Garcia said California would be the first to make it illegal. Her bill passed in California this year with no opposition.

“It’s disgusting that there are online communities that defend and encourage stealthing and give advice on how to get away with removing the condom without the consent of their partner, but there is nothing in law that makes it clear that this is a crime,” Garcia said in a statement.

Her bill has support from the Erotic Service Providers Legal Educational Research Project, which said it could allow sex workers to sue clients who remove condoms during otherwise consensual sex.

Also Tuesday, the state Senate moved to treat the rape of a spouse the same as the rape of a non-spouse. The bill removes an exemption to the rape law if the victim is married to the perpetrator.

California is one of 11 states that distinguish between spousal rape and other forms of sexual assault. The bill’s supporters said the distinction lingers from a time when women were expected to obey their husbands.

Those convicted of spousal rape currently can be eligible for probation instead of prison or jail, although there is no difference in the maximum penalties. Those convicted of spousal rape also must register as sex offenders only if the act involved the use of force or violence and the spouse was sentenced to state prison.

The bill passed, 36-0. It returns to the Assembly for a final vote before lawmakers adjourn for the year on Friday.

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Florida gunman killed 4, including mom still holding baby

By KELLI KENNEDY

A man wearing full body armor fatally shot four people, including a mother and the 3-month-old baby she was cradling, and engaged in a massive gunfight with police and deputies before he was wounded and surrendered, a Florida sheriff said Sunday. An 11-year-old girl who was shot seven times survived.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a press conference that even after 33-year-old Bryan Riley was arrested Sunday morning, he was so aggressive that he tried to wrestle a gun from police as he lay on his hospital gurney.

Judd said Riley, a former Marine who served as a sharpshooter in both Iraq and Afghanistan, seemed to have targeted his victims at random and appeared to be suffering from mental health issues. Judd said Riley’s girlfriend told authorities Riley had been slowly unraveling for weeks and repeatedly told her that he could communicate directly with God.

“They begged for their lives and I killed them anyway,” Judd said Riley told them during an interrogation.

Investigators said preliminary evidence shows 40-year-old Justice Gleason just happened to be an unlucky stranger out mowing his lawn Saturday night when Riley drove by his home in Lakeland, about 30 miles (48.28 kilometers) east of Tampa, saying God told him to stop because Gleason’s daughter was going to commit suicide.

A second, unidentified person also confronted Riley, telling him that story wasn’t true and warned they’d call police if he didn’t leave, Judd said. He referred to the person as a victim but declined to clarify which one.

Authorities responded to the scene but never found Riley.

About nine hours later, around 4:30 a.m., Riley returned to the home, laying out glowsticks to create a path leading to the house to draw officers “into an ambush,” Judd said.

Randomly, a lieutenant far in the distance heard popping noises and immediately put the agency on active-shooter mode, bringing all state and local law enforcement in the area to the scene.

Following the sounds of gunfire, authorities arrived at the home and found Riley’s white truck ablaze and an unarmed Riley outside, dressed in camouflage.

Riley immediately ran inside, where authorities heard another round of gunfire, “a woman scream and a baby whimper,” Judd said.

Officers tried to enter the front of the house, but it was barricaded. When they circled to the back, they encountered Riley, who appeared to have put on full body armor including head and knee coverings and a bulletproof vest.

Authorities exchanged heavy gunfire, with dozens “if not hundreds of rounds” fired, before Riley retreated back into the home, according to the sheriff.

Everything fell silent, Judd said, until a helicopter unit alerted authorities on the ground that Riley was coming out. He had been shot once and was ready to surrender.

Meanwhile, officers heard cries for help inside the home, but were unsure whether there were additional shooters and feared the home was booby-trapped. A brave sergeant rushed in and grabbed the 11-year-old girl who had been shot at least seven times.

She told deputies there were three dead people inside, Judd said, adding that she was rushed into surgery and was expected to survive.

Deputies sent robots into the home to check for explosives and other traps. When it was clear, they found the bodies of Gleason; the 33-year-old mother; the baby; and the baby’s 62-year-old grandmother, who was in a separate home nearby. Authorities released only Gleason’s name, and did not say if or how he was related to the other victims.

Authorities declined to say how many times the victims had been shot or where they were in the home, but said they were all hiding and huddling in fear. The family dog also was shot to death.

Authorities said Riley’s girlfriend of four years, whom he lived with, had been cooperative and was shocked, saying he was never violent but suffered from PTSD and had become increasingly erratic.

She said he’d spent the previous week on what he called a mission from God, stockpiling supplies that he said were for Hurricane Ida victims, including $1,000 worth of cigars.

“Prior to this morning, this guy was a war hero. He fought for his country in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Judd. “And this morning he’s a cold-blooded killer.”

Riley, who had no criminal history, also told authorities he was on methamphetamines. His vehicle had also been stocked with supplies for a gunfight, authorities said, including bleeding control kits.

While being treated at the hospital, Riley jumped up and tried to grab an officer’s gun.

“They had to fight with him again in the emergency room,” Judd said, adding that Riley was ultimately tied down and medicated.

He is expected to recover and will be transferred to jail to face charges.

“The big question that all of us has is, ‘Why?’” State Attorney Brian Haas said. “We will not know today or maybe ever.”

___

This story corrects a reference to the number of people killed. There were four, not three. It also clarifies a reference to one of victims. The infant’s grandmother was 62 years old and lived in a nearby home.

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How to see the red flags Bernie Madoff’s clients overlooked

Sometimes red flags are waving gently in front of us, but we are blind to their signals.

Many of Bernie Madoff’s clients failed to notice the warning signs that something wasn’t quite right. Madoff was the infamous architect of an epic securities swindle that lost billions in clients’ money. At one point, Madoff’s wealth management business was the largest in the world. He seemed reputable, likable, and well connected. The former Nasdaq stock market chairman was known for providing high, steady investment returns for his wealthy clients’ portfolios.

Unfortunately for Madoff’s clients, his wealth management business was a massive Ponzi scheme. Ultimately, losing billions of his clients’ assets earned him a 150-year prison term for his actions. As investors, we can learn from the red flags that Madoff’s clients experienced but for some reason chose to ignore. Madoff died in April in a federal prison.

Signs or red flags that something was not quite right

–Clients were denied online access to their accounts.

–All information was sent by mail.

–Madoff’s firm served as its own broker-dealer and allegedly processed its own trades. (Typically, funds are held at a securities firm such as Charles Schwab or Fidelity, trades are placed on their platform, and confirmations of trades, monthly statements, and tax statements are mailed or emailed to the client directly from the custodian.)

It may be difficult to pull off such an elaborate Ponzi scheme, but there are signs that may reveal a poor advisor. Signs that may signal future problems are:

The adviser can’t clearly explain how they’re paid

–Fee-only advisers are always paid either a percentage of assets under management or by a set project or hourly fee. This fee is typically 1% of the assets under management. A fee-only adviser does not receive any commission or other payments from the providers of financial products that they recommend. Often fee-only advisers have a fiduciary duty to their clients, meaning that they must place the client’s best interests first.

–Fee-based advisers are paid by the client but also via other sources, such as commissions from financial products they sell to their clients. This could present a conflict of interest; the adviser could steer you to products that they will profit from, which may not be the best option for you.

–Commission-only advisers earn their income by receiving commission on the products they sell you. Products for commission-based advisers include financial instruments such as insurance packages and mutual funds. The more transactions they complete or the more accounts they open, the more they get paid. Again, this could create a conflict of interest or at least call into question whether the adviser has your best interests in mind.

Spend some time researching the adviser. Access to the internet has made researching the credentials of a potential adviser an easy task. Confirm they are licensed, have a clear record and are not using a designation they do not have legally.

–FINRA BrokerCheck: Fee-based advisers and insurance or annuity salespeople are governed by FINRA. Use the FINRA BrokerCheck tool at brokercheck.finra.org to investigate their history and qualifications.

Use the SEC Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website for due diligence on fee-only registered investment advisory firms at adviserinfo.sec.govCertified Financial Planner professionals are all listed in the CFP Board’s database, so you can verify credentials. letsmakeaplan.org

They guarantee a return that seems too good to be true

When an adviser promises or guarantees a return that does not seem realistic, it is most likely not. When investing in the stock market, the returns are not guaranteed and will be both positive and negative at various time periods. Historical returns can be referenced, but unless the investment offers a fixed return, future returns are unknown. If an adviser promises a specific return, ask for clarification and documentation to support the statement. And then do your research before you invest.

You are being pressured to buy a product

When an adviser is pressuring you to buy a product such as an annuity, do not commit until you understand what you are purchasing. Ask what commission the adviser will receive from the sale and how the surrender charge is calculated. A surrender charge is a fee that you will be assessed a contract is terminated.

According to annuity.org, the surrender period can be as long as 10 years and, in many cases, as short as three years. If you are not satisfied with the performance of your annuity, you will lose the amount of the surrender charge when you close the account and possibly even owe some income tax.

You are being asked to take on additional debt to invest with the adviser

If an adviser is asking you to take on additional debt or refinance your home to pull out equity to fund investments under their management, question whether or not you are comfortable with gambling the equity in your home. This is a sign the adviser has their own best interest at heart, not yours.

They are not discussing capital gains or losses before liquidating your taxable portfolio

When you establish a relationship with an adviser, and if you are transferring taxable assets from another adviser, the topic of capital gains or losses should be part of the conversation.

Be wary of an adviser who is not discussing the tax ramifications of liquidating your account. It could be a red flag of future problems if tax ramifications are not discussed initially, and as future changes are being made within the portfolio. This could be a sign that the adviser is thinking about their commissions more than your financial well-being.

The adviser is slow to return calls and follow up

Advisers are running a business and should clearly set the expectation of how often they will communicate with you. For the adviser to return the call by the end of the day or within 24 hours is standard business practice. Unless the adviser is on vacation, they should not be taking a week to return your call or reply to an email.

I would ask myself if they are not following up in a timely manner, what else are they not doing?

Before hiring a new adviser, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the industry. Conduct an internet search for potential advisers’ names and review their websites, including partner profiles, services offered, industries served, and any information for potential clients.

Following your initial discovery work, set up meetings and interview at least two advisers before signing an engagement letter. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it just might be.

Teri Parker CFP® is a vice president for CAPTRUST Financial Advisors. She has practiced in the field of financial planning and investment management since 2000. Reach her via email at Teri.parker@captrustadvisors.com.

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