Tax Season Is Here

Tax Season Is Here

Tax Season Is Here

Tax season is here and that means that businesses have already hand out tax forms to their employees, and people are gathering all of the paperwork that they are going to need. This is the time for everyone to sit down and fill out some paperwork for the government. How exciting!

Most people aren’t very excited about this time of the year. It means extra work filling out dull paperwork or paying someone to fill it out for you. Sometimes, you can get some money back from the government, other times you end up owing them money. All the while, you are hoping you filled everything out properly, so you do not get audited.

This year, taxes are due to be completed by Tuesday, April 17th.

If you fail to file your taxes by then, you can miss out on any money that might be owed to you. However, if you owe money on taxes, you can face a failure to file fee. The fee is 5% of your unpaid tax bill every month that the balance remains unpaid.

If a person repeatedly fails to file their taxes for a number of years, they could face criminal charges. They will also receive a visit from the IRS if their unpaid taxes equal more than $25,000. This is why it is a good idea to pay your taxes on time.

Sure, filing tax returns may not be the most exciting thing in the world to do, but it can be very nice when that extra bit of money comes in. Plus filing taxes doesn’t take that long if you just commit to doing it. It is better to file your tax than winding up on the bad side of the IRS.

Real ID: A New Type Of Identification Card

Real ID: A New Type Of Identification Card

Real ID: A New Type Of Identification Card

If you have been paying attention to the news lately, then you have probably heard something about Real IDs. This is a new type of identification card that is compliant with the federal Real ID Act, which was enacted in May of 2005. The new law was in response to the 9/11 terror attacks. These new cards will have more information on them and will be more difficult for criminals to duplicate.

The big concern for many Americans, is that these new ID cards will be required for anyone looking to fly on a commercial flight within the United States. The California DMV has recently begun accepting applications for these new ID cards, though there is no need for people to rush to get the cards just yet. They will not be required to board a flight until October of 2020.

For a person to get one of these new cards, they will need to visit their local DMV office. They will need to bring with them:

  • Proof of identity like a birth certificate, US passport, or something of the sorts.
  • Proof of California residency.
  • Proof of social security number.

These new Real ID cards will be used to not only get through TSA checkpoints at airports, but they will also be used to enter federal buildings, such as military bases.

For the most part, these new Real IDs will only affect people who are looking to fly from state to state and do not have a US passport or a military ID card. Thankfully, there is still plenty of time for a person to get their own Real ID card from the DMV.

Watson Murder Charge: What Is It?

Watson Murder Charge: What Is It?

Watson Murder Charge: What Is It?

This is one of those many legal terms out there that worry people the moment they hear it. They have no idea what the term can mean, and that causes quite a bit of fear. When someone is facing a Watson Murder charge, they should be very concerned.

A Watson Murder charge occurs when a person commits DUI and kills someone as a result.

The name for this charge comes from the ruling in the People v. Watson court case. This allows someone to be charged of second degree murder if they kill someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A Watson Murder charge is a felony offense and comes with very hefty penalties. A person convicted of a Watson Murder charge will face 15 years to life in a California state prison. They will also face a fine that can be as much as $10,000.

Driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is never a good idea. Doing so not only puts the driver at risk, but risks the lives of everyone else on the road. If a person accidentally kills someone while committing DUI, then they can count on receiving a harsh punishment. This just gives more reasons to never drink and drive.

California’s 2018 Minimum Wage

California’s 2018 Minimum Wage

California’s 2018 Minimum Wage

It’s 2018, and for Californians that means another increase in the state’s minimum wage. This increase was brought on by Governor Brown’s signing of SB 3 back in 2016. The bill made it so that at the start of each new year, the minimum wage would increase slightly until it reached $15 per hour in 2022.

This year, 2018, the minimum wage increases to $11 an hour for all companies that have 26 or more employees. Companies that have 25 or less employees have a minimum wage of $10.50 an hour.

The reason for the pay difference between these two companies is that the smaller ones will likely have a harder time being able to afford the pay increase for their employees. This is why the state of California has given smaller companies an extra year to reach the goal minimum wage of $15 an hour.

While this pay increase is nice for many people out there, it has many business owners concerned. There are many companies out there that simply cannot afford to pay these kinds of wages, which is leading them toward automation, downsizing, or even going out of business. Many fast food companies are considering using kiosks instead of cashiers to take orders, thus reducing the amount of money they need to pay for labor.

At least now some people will actually be able to make a living wage working at their job, so long as the company can afford to pay it. This should be a good thing for many Californians, but only time will tell if that will be true.

Should Parents Spy On Their Kids?

Should Parents Spy On Their Kids?

Should Parents Spy On Their Kids?

Do You Have the Rights to Spy on Your Kids?

Some parents believe they have the absolute right to go through their children’s belongings, check social media accounts, etc. Other parents say we shouldn’t invade our children’s privacy, but should trust them unless they give us a reason not to.

At the center of this debate lies the question, “Do our children have a right to privacy?” I don’t think there is a black-and-white answer to this question. It is important to build relationships with our kids that are based on trust and mutual respect, affording them as much privacy as we can. However, God has entrusted us to parent our children, and it is our job to love and care for them. So a dependent child really has no “right” to privacy.

How Do We Protect Our Kids & Keep Them Safe Online?

A lot of the things we do to protect our children might be considered “spying” by our kids, but they are in fact measures we take to keep them safe from others, as well as from themselves. Today, the technology exists for parents to spy on their kids in all sorts of ways, but that doesn’t mean that they should. I know it’s hard to believe, but children have some basic human rights as well, and I think that privacy should be one of them.

Now of course, you want to know if your child is getting into anything bad: talking with their friends about illegal drugs or drinking, planning to sneak out after curfew, talking to strangers on the Internet, etc. But the truth is, no matter how intently you watch their online activities, they will find ways around it. Unless you want to imprison your child in a room with absolutely no connection to the outside world, they’re going to communicate with other people without your knowledge.

Let’s say you find a way to track all the websites your children visit on the home WiFi, you track their text messages and phone calls, and you don’t let them have Facebook or any kind of instant messenger. Great. But what about when they’re at school? Or at a friend’s house? They can still do bad things and make plans to do bad things when you’re not around. They can use their friends’ phones or computers or public WiFi hotspots or proxies to get around your parental controls. You’ll never be able to fully control everything your child does.

You can argue that by spying on at least most of what your children are doing, you can have some sort of control or influence over them, but I have to say that the opposite is true. Children whose parents constantly stalk what they do, looking over their shoulder and reading every message and Google search, those children are the ones who want to rebel. They’ll grow sick of having no privacy and overprotective parents, and they’ll be much more likely to attempt bad things outside their parents’ watch.

Now of course, there’s no foolproof way to prevent your children from getting into trouble. In fact, it will probably happen no matter what you do. But respecting your children and giving them some degree of privacy will allow you to forge a much stronger relationship with them based on mutual trust, instead of them seeing you simply as an evil dictator who they must work to avoid.

The Argument For Spying On Kids

Should Parents Spy On Their Kids?

Gone are the days when kids can walk free on the streets without fear of getting abducted. The communities where children are safe to roam is shrinking. As of 2010, according to the a National Survey of Children’s Health in the U.S., in 2010 a whopping 11.4% of parents sometimes felt like their kids weren’t safe in their own community. Nearly 3% feel like their kids are never safe.

Take it online, and the problems only get worse. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, 26% of online sex offenders make use of social networks to get information about where kids live or their whereabouts during the day. If that isn’t scary enough, consider the fact that according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1 in 7 kids receive some kind of sexual solicitation online at some point, and over half of those solicited are asked to send a picture of themselves.

These statistics prove there’s a very real danger to anyone under the age of 17 on the Internet. It would be completely irresponsible of any parent to not take an active role in monitoring a child’s use of the Internet, and making sure that the activity taking place doesn’t leave a door open for Internet predators to take advantage of a child’s naivety.

The children that get into these situations are not stupid or immature, nor do they lack the understanding that there is a very real danger online that needs to be avoided. What children lack is the years of experience that adults have in dealing with people who may not be completely honest.

This isn’t a situation or a personality that many children are accustomed to, and the idea that someone who appears to be so kind online could actually be a terrible criminal is unfathomable by the teenage mind. It isn’t until the crime has been committed and it’s too late, that the child may understand the reality of the situation.

This is why it’s up to the responsible parent to install strong and effective filters and surveillance software, in order to track what sorts of IM software the children are using, who they are talking to, what social networks they use and who they are communicating with through those networks as well. The idea isn’t to spy or intrude into the private lives of the child — it’s to monitor for the tell-tale signs and red-flags that only adults with years of hard-earned life experience will recognize. To do anything less would be irresponsible, and even dangerous.

There is no argument here that talking with your child about the dangers that are present on the Internet — dangers that have most certainly grown since the growth of social networks and online gaming — is the single most important thing a parent can do with their child. However, just flipping the switch and opening the floodgates without appropriately monitoring who is communicating with your children is irresponsible as a parent.

Kids Find Ways To Outsmart Parents

Teenagers can (and will) buy cheap phones, tablets, or laptops without their parents’ knowledge, and free public WiFi is then widely available. Younger children will use the computers or phones of their friends, or they will get around their parents’ Internet filters or the weaker filters at their school.

And then, because they are already defying their parents, they will not tell their parents about any of it. If your children have to sneak behind your back to do something, you won’t hear of any of it until it’s too late.

Instead of instating harsh rules and regulations that you (falsely) believe can’t be broken or circumvented, try building a genuine relationship with your children; educate them about the dangers that lurk online and make them feel comfortable talking to you about it.

A relationship of mutual trust between you and your child is the only real thing that you can do to protect them online.

So what’s your take? Is talking with your child enough? Is monitoring necessary?

 

references: www.makeuseof.com | www.focusonthefamily.com | www.empoweringparents.com

Can I Get Arrested For Filming Cops On Duty?

Can I Get Arrested For Filming Cops On Duty?

Can I Get Arrested For Filming Cops On Duty?

In today’s modern age, just about everyone has a smart device in their pocket or purse. These spectacular little devices allow us to do so many different things. We can talk to loved ones who live on the other side of the country, search for information online, and even take pictures and videos of the world around us.

It is this last use that has stirred up a bit of controversy over the last few years. People now have the ability to record whatever they want at a moment’s notice. Anything a person does out in public can be recorded, which has a lot of people concerned about their own privacy.

What’s more, is the problem that many law enforcement officers are currently facing, which is being recorded while working. There have been dozens of videos in recent years where police officers have been caught on video using excessive force. In an effort to prevent themselves from being filmed, some officers try to claim that recording them on the job is illegal. However, that is not the case.

Can You Record the Police?

The short and simple answer to this question is: yes.

It is perfectly legal for a civilian to film and otherwise record a law enforcement officer while they are working in a public place. Everyone has the legal right to film anything that is in a public space, whether that be everyday people or working police officers.

Filming on-duty police officers is viewed as a form of public oversight over the government. It is also protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. This is why it is legally acceptable for someone to record an officer, even in California.

California is one of a few states where a person can only record a conversation if all parties participating within the conversation give their consent. However, California courts have ruled that this law does not apply to on-duty officers.

Recording an officer can cause a bit of a power struggle. Officers are not used to being recorded for doing their job, and many people view allowing someone to record them as a power of theirs. They get to control what people do and don’t see about them. No one wants to give up that power, especially to a stranger. This is why some officers have issues with people recording them, and why they will try to stop the recording. They may try to claim that it is illegal for someone to record them, but they are wrong.

What Will Get You Into Trouble?

Can I Get Arrested For Filming Cops On Duty?

While the act of recording an on-duty police officer will not get a person into trouble, there are other things a person can do while recording that could get them into a bit of trouble. No matter what a person is doing, they still need to follow police instructions and stay out of the way. If a person gets in the way of a police investigation, they can be arrested for obstruction of justice.

Due to this fact, it is important that a person filming an officer keep their distance and follow officer instruction. However, if an officer tells a person to stop filming them, the person has the right to keep doing so. They will need to remain calm, and politely inform the officer that they are expressing their First Amendment right to film the officer. Depending on the situation and the officer involved, that could be the end of it, or the officer could find some other reason to arrest the person filming them. It all depends on how the person handles the situation, and what kind of mood the officer is in at the time of the confrontation.

At the end of the day, it is legal to film an on-duty police officer while they are in a public space. This goes for filming anyone when they are in a public space. Of course, the polite thing to do would be to ask for a person’s permission, however it is not always necessary under certain circumstances.

If a person feels that they are about to witness a police officer doing something potentially wrong, then they can start recording if they want. Doing so is a part of all United States citizens’ rights. Everyone has a right to keep an eye on the government, and that includes recording police officers while they are on-duty.

So what’s your take? Can police film you too without your consent?

Earthquake Preparation

Earthquake Preparation

Earthquake Preparation

If there were anything California is famous for besides Hollywood, it would probably be earthquakes. Californians are used to the impending doom of earthquakes and knowing how to properly seek shelter in any room. Even though we know that the “Big One” will hit us any moment, how prepared are we really?

It may seem like a broken record to talk about earthquakes, but the bottom line is they are a part of California. The best source for disaster readiness would be Ready.gov. It’s a government website that was put into place to help people plan for any natural disaster. They break down the process by separating each disaster into three phases: before, during, and after.

Before an earthquake:

  • Have an emergency kit.
  • Form a plan.
  • Prepare your home.
  • Mount large furniture to the walls.
  • Practice drills.

During an earthquake:

  • Get down on your knees.
  • Cover your neck and head with your hands.
  • Crawl to safety away from possible falling debris.
  • Stay where you are until shaking stops.

After an earthquake:

  • Once shaking has stopped, assess the damage and possible dangers around you.
  • Remove yourself from dangerous environment if possible.
  • If you’re stuck, stay put and call for help if possible.
  • If you’re near the coast be prepared for tsunamis.
  • Prepare for aftershocks.

No one can be fully prepared for any natural disaster, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. By taking the time today to go over these safety precautions, you could be saving yours or someone’s life. Don’t just wait for the “Big One” to hit, be prepared.

Talk To Your Children About Bullying

Talk To Your Children About Bullying

Talk To Your Children About Bullying

Childhood can be pretty rough at times. All kinds of things are happening, and many times those things can feel bigger and more important than they actually are. As kids learn about themselves, others, and the world around them, they may develop some bad habits. The worst habit they can pick up, is bullying other kids.

Bullying is defined as using force or threat to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. It can happen at all ages, but it typically starts in childhood. People like to pick on and mock people who are different in any sort of way. This can be incredibly damaging to a person’s self-esteem. No one likes to be made fun off.

Far too often, you hear on the news about the worst possible outcome for bullying victims, the ones who have had enough and just want an escape. Nobody should have to go through that, parents or child. That is why it is important for a parent to be involved with their child.

A child needs to know that they can always talk to their parent, that there is an adult in their life they can rely on. Let your child know that they can always come and talk to you about anything, and that you will help them solve any problems that they may have. Make sure he or she knows to be kind to others, and to report any bullying they experience to a trusted adult.

No one wants to be bullied and it is up to all of us to erase it from existence. It will not be easy, but by being there for one another, bullying can be conquered.

Nature In California

Nature In California

Nature In California

California is a large state full of opportunities and things to do. Even though it’s winter, the temperatures don’t always show it. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors by checking out some of the parks within California. With hundreds of hiking trails, 118 state parks, and 9 national parks, California is loaded with outdoor activities.

California is typically divided up into three parts: northern, central, and southern. Each part of the state has different environments to offer. In Northern California you find more trees, and in particular you can find redwoods. The Redwood National Park is home to some of the tallest trees on earth. The National Park Service (NPS) helps preserve, and maintain the park so you can go hiking, camping, or even just drive on through.

In Central California you can find Yosemite National Park. Yosemite National Park is famous for the stunning waterfalls and gorgeous valley. NPS welcomes visitors to “take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints”. Within Yosemite you can go hiking, camping, and swimming.

In Southern California there’s Death Valley National Park. Death Valley is the hottest, driest, and lowest national park. NPS stated that you should be prepared to visit this park by planning ahead. One should check the weather conditions beforehand and be ready for extreme conditions when visiting. Even through the conditions in this park can be dangerous, you can still go camping and sightseeing. Death Valley is full of beautiful desert landscapes.

There are plenty of parks within California that are waiting to be explored. Every good weather day is an opportunity to get out and see more of this amazing state.

California: The Sanctuary State

California: The Sanctuary State

California: The Sanctuary State

For those unaware, the start of the new year also marked the start of California being a sanctuary state. The controversial decision to become a sanctuary state was decided on by California politicians at the end of 2017. At the beginning of October, Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law, and the law would take effect on January 1st, 2018.

California has announced itself a safe place for undocumented and illegal immigrants.

The new law effectively limits what state and local law enforcement agents can do to assist federal immigration authorities. The law bans enforcement agents, at both the local and state level, from enforcing immigration holds on arrested individuals.

This new law is in direct defiance of President Trump’s calls to focus on deporting millions of undocumented and illegal immigrants. This only led to a greater rift between Washington D.C. and the state of California.

Many California police chiefs opposed the bill in its early stages, and switched to a neutral stance when the bill was later amended. However, many still express concerns for the safety of the general public. They fear this new law will allows certain career criminals, ones who stick to lower levels of crime, will be continually released back onto the street due to the new law.

Only time will tell if California’s decision to become a sanctuary state was a good idea or not.