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Whistleblowers and the Law

Whistleblowers have been mentioned frequently in the news lately due to the conversation surrounding President Trump and his impeachment. Despite how frequently the term is mentioned, many people are unsure what a whistleblower is and what protections a whistleblower receives under the law. 

If you find yourself among those who are a bit confused, keep reading. You’ll learn more about what a whistleblower is, whistleblowers in history, and how whistleblowing carries out under the law. 

What is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower is an individual who reports illicit activity conducted by an individual or, as is most common, a powerful corporation or entity. The reported activity is usually illegal, but it doesn’t have to be and can also be unethical or incorrect within a private or public organization. 

The reporting can be done either internally or externally. Internally, the whistleblower reports the alleged misconduct to someone who is their superior, usually an immediate supervisor. However, a whistleblower can also take the external route, exposing the misconduct to an outside party, such as the media, the government, or law enforcement. The external reporting is usually what ends up getting huge amounts of attention.

Whistleblowers in History

Whistleblowing is not a new phenomenon. Several whistleblowers throughout history have brought misconduct by powerful companies and entities to light. One of the most famous whistleblowers in recent years is Edward Snowden, who exposed the practices of the National Security Agency (NSA). Snowden was formerly an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He exposed several global surveillance programs put on by the NSA and was hit with several lawsuits from the United States government. Currently, Snowden lives in Russia.

Sometimes whistleblowers aren’t known until years after the information they revealed came to light. Such is the case with former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Officer Mark Felt, better known as “Deep Throat” — the anonymous source who tipped off the Watergate scandal to reporters at The Washington Post. Felt revealed his identity as “Deep Throat” in 2005, 33 years after the Watergate scandal. 

Other notable whistleblowers include Daniel Ellsberg (the Pentagon Papers), Chelsea Manning (WikiLeaks), and Linda Tripp (the Lewinsky Scandal).

Whistleblowing Under the Law

As you may have assumed, whistleblowing creates a lot of tension between the idea of keeping private information private and exposing immoral and most of the time, illegal, behavior. However, there are many protections for whistleblowers — both on the federal level and the state level. 

Federally, the False Claims Act makes it a crime for a business or an individual to commit fraud against government programs. If a whistleblower were to expose fraud against a government company within their business, they would be protected under that federal law. 

Likewise, many states have created protections for whistleblowers. Many states stipulate situations that are covered under whistleblower law, including Ponzi schemes, tax evasion, unlawful billing and more. The best thing you can do is reach out to a whistleblower attorney in your state to learn more. 

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Factors Affecting Mineral Value

Do you have valuable minerals on your property? Many people assume that the only valuable thing you could find on someone’s property, especially in the South, is oil, gas, or some type of product that is used in the petrochemical refining process. This is simply not the case!

Even prevalent minerals like talc could be really valuable — to the point that someone might offer to buy them from your property. If you receive an unsolicited offer by someone who wants to buy minerals as obviously valuable as oil, as niche as talc, and as seemingly rare as gold, you will probably not know how to proceed. Some companies like The Mineral Auction are great at helping you determine the value of your minerals as you prepare to sell them to another party.

I am not an expert regarding mineral pricing and value determination. However, I have researched the topic at length and in this piece, I will describe some of the most common factors that affect the value of minerals on your property, including:

  • Property potential
  • Property characteristics

And more!

Potential for more

When you sell your mineral rights to another party, you are giving them permission to extract the materials from your land. The other party does not own the land as you do, they just pay you money in order to use your land and extract the valuable minerals. One of the ways in which a property’s mineral rights’ value can be astronomically higher is if it is determined that the property has the potential for a large number of additional minerals to be discovered or excavated.

If it is known that the area near the property or conditions of the property area (such as certain geological features) are predisposed towards producing large amounts of valuable minerals, then it stands for potential buyers to view the property as a worthwhile investment!

Property characteristics

No surprise, the different characteristics of your property is also determinative of the value of the property. If you have a lot of lands then the rights to the minerals on the land are naturally going to be more valuable since the opportunity to “strike gold” — figuratively or literally — will be higher. Additionally, if the land near the minerals is higher quality (for some minerals, this means that soil is more nutrient-rich, or perhaps the conditions are more inclined to support production) then the value of the mineral rights is also higher.


Similar to the ability for your mineral production to be higher than it initially appears as previously outlined, the ability for your mineral rights to be viewed as an investment could increase the value of your property’s rights!

Investors will sometimes look at mineral rights on property not as something that has value in the short term, but a small investment they can make so that in the case that the mineral production or capacity randomly increases, they can turn a serious profit. You can earn money from their ability to shell out cash in the case that something turns up!

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Paths to a Green Card

When I was a child I didn’t pay too much attention when friends of mine would mention that they got their green card, but I’ve learned a lot about our geopolitical environment as I’ve grown up. I’ve come to realize that the process to get a green card is super lengthy. It requires a lot of paperwork and patience. This process is especially difficult for people that may not be native English speakers, and doubly so when you’re unfamiliar with the legal processes of the United States. To someone who is already trying to find footing in a new country, applying for a green card is another added stress to deal with. I began to wonder if there were people that helped newly immigrated people obtain their green card and I stumbled upon the website for the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC. They are Austin family-based immigration attorneys who work so that people can obtain their green cards as efficiently as possible. They make sure that no mistakes are made on any applications or court filings. Our Department of Homeland Security has a very strict process for getting a green card, and honest mistakes cost people the ability to ever get one. They’re trying to prevent any fraudulent information or identification from making its way into the system.

There are a number of different reasons that can qualify you for a green card. To get one, you must only match one of these qualifications to start the process and one day obtain your green card.

You may obtain a card by familial relation. If you are the parent of a citizen older than 21, married to a citizen or your parents are U.S. citizens, you may apply. Family relation extends a bit beyond direct relations. You may apply if one of your daughter or son in laws is a citizen. You may also apply if you have a brother or sister that is over 21 and is a citizen.

The second most common way that people seek a path to citizenship is through their employment status. Within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there are three levels of employment preference. The first preference level is ranked the highest and will grant you the easiest access to a green card. The government defines first preference workers as: with keen ability in sciences, arts, education, business or are established in the field of university teaching, research, or are a high-ranking multinational manager that meets other criteria. They are only a select number of applicants but don’t worry if this doesn’t sound like you. Only a small portion of migrants meet these criteria, and you still have a great shot at getting a green card even if you do not fall into the first preference bracket. The second bracket is for people that: are involved in a profession that requires a degree above that of a bachelor’s. They have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business, or are applying for a national interest waiver. The third bracket is for those that: are in a profession that requires a United States bachelor’s degree. Overseas degrees may qualify as equivalent. This must be a skilled worker, which means their job must require two years of training or experience.

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Defending Child Support

It may seem incredible, but around Atlanta these days, I hear more and more often people who denigrate the very concept of child support. This argument seems to go as follows: child support is often misused. Instead of going to the child or children, the parent uses it for themselves. They either buy drugs or else they use it to avoid working. Therefore, we should eliminate child support altogether so that no one has an excuse not to work, and children have fewer parents on drugs.

I really think this misconception is important to correct because child support does so much good for parents and children. There may be room to improve the system, but it’s a system we need to maintain for many reasons, a few of which I’ve put down here.

It really does go to the kids. First of all, almost all child support money does go to the kids. Whether it’s paying for food, the house over their heads, clothes, or school activities, most parents receiving child support are conscientious and use the money the way it should be used. Those that take advantage of the system are few and far between.

It can make all the difference. Child support comes in all sorts of situations. Sometimes, it is there just so both households can maintain a certain level of comfort for the children. In other words, it might not be possible for them to go between homes in the same expensive town without child support going from one parent to the other. Other times, it’s there so one parent can continue to put their career second and take care of the kids. Particularly when kids are young, someone often has to either work part-time or not work at all in order to take proper care of them. Even if this isn’t the case, the cost of childcare is very high, and it can take a huge chunk out of any but the biggest paychecks.

There are also cases where child support really does allow the kids to eat meals every night or stay in a safe home.

In any of those cases, child care is a necessity. While it may seem more significant in certain families, anyone of those family arrangements mentioned above would be significantly worse without child support.

It’s the parent’s job. It’s better to think of child support not as money going to an ex-spouse, or as a means to allow an ex-spouse to be lazy, but as money that the children need when they aren’t with you. And that, really, is the whole job of a parent, to provide for what children need at all times. It may not be pleasant to hand money off to an ex-husband or ex-wife, but it really is making the lives of the children better.

Anyone who needs child support and either isn’t getting it or is afraid they won’t get it should contact an Atlanta child support lawyer as soon as possible. We need to stop making assumptions about these things and make sure parents are getting the money they need to do the best for their children.

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Biker advocacy group

Let me give you a simple slogan: “Looking Twice Saves a Life.”

I’m trying that out here to see what the reaction is. Let me know what you think.

Before you do, though, some explanation:

I’m not a biker myself, by my husband is, and several of our close friends. One of those friends, we’ll call him Daryl here, since I didn’t ask permission to publicize this story, nearly got hit by a semi on the road the other day. Daryl was riding along the interstate when this truck just decided to switch lanes. Daryl was in the middle of the trailer, too far back to speed up and too far forward to slow down. Thankfully, there was a breakdown lane and he swerved into that.

When he collected himself and sped back up, the truck driver gave an apologetic wave. It seems, he just hadn’t seen Daryl.

That got me thinking, how many bike accidents happen just because the driver of the bigger vehicle didn’t look carefully?

It turns out, a lot. In fact, not just a lot, most! According to this lawyer’s site, the majority of accidents involving a motorcycle are due to the other car performing some action without seeing the biker. It’s simply a matter of being more careful, or, in this case, looking twice.

So, the idea is to take this slogan and try and make it into something. I don’t have any experience with this, but I’d like to start a…I don’t know…organization maybe. A charity seems too big. I’d just like to have a local group here around Fort Worth that tries to raise awareness of this point. Maybe we could get some signs up on the side of the interstates. I’m sure there are enough bikers, and friends and family of bikers, to find enough people who support the idea of increasing the carefulness of those of us who drive cars and trucks.

What else could we do? I’m actually asking. Along with the slogan critique, let me know your suggestions for how a small group could help influence this issue. Commercials seem a little beyond my ambitions, but is there another way to get people’s attention and inform them of the issue?

I’ll be honest, I’m quite excited by this idea. I’ve always wanted to advocate for something, but politics is just too ugly these days, and I normally can’t find an issue I want to take a stand on. After what happened to Daryl, though, I think I could really get behind this and do something significant to help bikers in the area.

What should I call the group? All I have right now is Biker’s for Careful Driving, or BCD. Maybe I could make that American Bikers for Careful Driving, and then we’d have ABCD. That sounds fun and catchy, but again, I’m open to ideas.

So, send those ideas along, people, and if anyone is interested in joining up, contact me about that as well!

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Top Tips For A Successful Personal Injury Case

Life often throws unexpected challenges your way, and that can often include personal injury events. How the injury is dealt with is your decision. This article contains many tips you can use to prepare yourself for a legal battle. No matter what questions you have about the process, you will find the answers here, and if you can’t, check out this personal injury resource:

Do not just take a personal injury lawyer’s word for it when it comes to their record. Talk to some of their clients, and ask the lawyer for a written record of their practice. This will give you a good idea as to how often this lawyer wins and what type of money he is used to dealing with.

Find a bar association to help you locate a lawyer nearby. This place will give you recommendations and present the file of your lawyer to date.

When choosing a personal injury attorney, you need to meet up with several different ones before making your selection. Lots of them provide free initial consultations to discuss the merits of your case. You’ll be able to get a good idea of the costs involved, which will help you determine the approximate price range for your case.

One of the most common types of personal injury lawsuits involve injury from a defective product. Products on the market are required to be safe for use, and when it can be proven a product is not the manufacturer can be held responsible. You and your lawyer have the obligation of proving the product is not safe.

Knowledge is important, so take note of what this article has to say. You need a good attorney that has your interests in mind and you also need to know what kinds of legal proceedings will be going on. It isn’t always obvious who is at fault in some of these cases which is why you must be capable of relying on your lawyer to make that distinction clear in the court room.

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Addictive Prescription Drug Overdose: Who is to Blame?

A 43-year old bipolar man, who had been addicted to prescription drugs since his teenage years, has had a long record of drug arrests and had overdosed many times, took a walk after dinner, one night, and then sat down to rest on a curb . . . he never got up again. For months, he had been taking Hydrocodone, a painkiller, and Carisoprodol, a skeletal muscle relaxant, along with seven other medications.

A female, 22 years in age, whose childhood had been ruined by excruciating stomach pains, which also caused severe indigestions, and who had suffered pain almost her entire life, was found by her father in bed (on the night of his birthday). She was curled up, pale, motionless and with blood from her nose. She was discovered to have abused her medications (pain reliever), which included Morphine and Methadone (a synthetic painkiller similar to morphine in effect, but which acts longer).

There are, at least, a dozen more stories like those above, wherein persons just suddenly drop, their lives snatched out of them. The identified causes of their deaths are drugs – an overdose of drugs. Not illegal ones, but those that have been prescribed by their doctors, such as pain and anxiety medications, most of which have very strong effects.

Narcotic pain relievers, which have been causing, at least, 20,000 deaths each year since 2009, is the new serious threat to health that America needs to face this 21st century, as revealed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And besides those who have been prescribed with, and overdosed, the medication, many other fatalities come from the groups of teenagers and young adults, who use the drugs recreationally, especially during parties. The most commonly abused addictive medicines identified by the CDC are OxyContin (a synthetic analgesic drug with effects like morphine), Vicodin (an Opioid analgesic that is used as a recreational drug; it contains acetaminophen and hydrocodone), Xanax (a sedative of the Benzodiazepine group that is taken to treat anxiety) and Soma (a muscle relaxant drug). These are usually mixed together by party people, who take and drink a handful of them to get the high that they want, not knowing the severe or deadly effect the mixture has. (Fatal overdoses are usually results of the combination of Benzodiazepines, used as tranquilizers, and Opioid analgesics, pain relievers which work on the central nervous system).

Doctors may be guilty of recklessly prescribing the addictive prescription drugs to patients with records of drug overdose; but what about parents who, in turn, put these within easy reach of their children? And since teens see their parents using these drugs, why, then, would they think that these can cause severe harm?

Drugs, whether prescription or over-the-counter drugs, are products of long research and clinical tests. These tests are required to prove their safeness and effectivity, so as to merit the Food and Drug Administration’s approval for patient use. These drugs, or medicines, are intended as fast relief for pains and other ailments, used to treat or keep illnesses from getting worse or just to maintain people’s good health.

Sometimes, proving liability where prescription drugs are used or overused, can be complicated. Is it the fault of the manufacturers, who may have failed to warn patients of the severe effects of their drugs when not used properly, the doctors, who have prescribed the strong pain relievers despite the patient’s tendency to overdose, the patients, who have overused the medicine or failed to properly secure the medicine, or the teenage / young adult abusers themselves, who ought to know the dangerous consequences of overdosing?

In a personal injury lawsuit, proving whose negligence it was that caused the injury or death of someone is long and complicated. It necessitates arguments and counter-arguments, proofs of negligence or reckless behavior, and the fact that this behavior caused the victim’s injury or death. Seeking the services of a highly-competent personal injury lawyer is often a necessity to bring the liable party to justice and for the victim to merit the compensation that he/she legally deserves.

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A Perfect Integration of Hardware and Software in Google’s Autonomous Car

From Google comes the possible solution to reducing the annual number of car accidents to as much as 50%, that is, by using a car that can operate itself and which can make the same decisions as a human driver would.

Designing and manufacturing autonomous cars within the next 5 to 8 years are the latest concerns of car manufacturers around the world. In an auto show in Frankfurt very recently, Mercedes-Benz displayed a prototype that is capable of accelerating and braking by itself, needing only a human driver to steer the wheel. Whereas Volvo, Toyota, Nissan, General Motors, Ford, BMW and Audi, according to the Los Angeles and New York Times, are not far behind in their plans.

Google’s huge participation in the whole thing is on the production of the software that will allow automakers’ cars to operate on their own; however, due to the slow-going negotiations, it seems that Google has decided to design and develop its own model, which, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, the company will release to the market in 2017. Even now, Google is conducting road tests in California, making sure that their newly developed technology works and is safe.

Autonomous cars are designed to significantly reduce driving errors through the help of sensors and cameras, laser-range finders and radars which are supposed to create a detailed map of the vehicle’s surroundings to enable it to react to any road obstacle. Besides having the capability of significantly reducing drunk-driving, speeding and reckless driving cases, it can also allow car owners to get off and proceed to work, while leaving it to park by itself.

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Minimum Wage Violation

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates a minimum wage for all employees on the federal level. Each state may have its own minimum wage but it may not be lower than the FLSA rate. In Wisconsin, there are several categories for minimum wage which reflects the FLSA regulations and may provide the basis for any claim of minimum wage violation.

The current minimum wages in Wisconsin, effective as of July 24, 2009, are the following:

  • General Employees
    • Non-opportunity – $7.25 an hour
    • Opportunity – (less than 20 years old, employed for 90 days or less) – $5.90 an hour
  • Tipped Employees
    • Non-opportunity – $2.33 an hour
    • Opportunity (less than 20 years old, employed for 90 days or less) – $2.31 an hour
  • Agricultural Employees
    • Adults – $7.25 an hour
    • Minors – $7.25 an hour
  • Caddies
    • 9 holes – $5.90
    • 18 holes – $10.50
  • Camp counselors (adults and minors)
    • With board and lodging – $210 a week
    • With board only – $265 a week
    • No board or lodging – $350 a week

For employees for whom board and lodging is provided for the employees, the following are the maximum that may be deducted from an employee’s salary:

  • Non-agricultural Employees
    • Board
      • Non-opportunity – $58.00 per week or $8.30 per day
      • Opportunity – $47.20 per week or $6.75 per day
    • Meals
      • Non-opportunity – $87.00 per week or $4.15 per meal
      • Opportunity – $70.80 per week or $3.35 per meal
  • Agricultural Employees
    • Board  – $58.00 per week or $8.30 per day
    • Meals – $87.00 per week or $4.15 per meal

When employers fail to follow these guidelines for the minimum wage law as well as the maximum deductions for room and board, this may be a minimum wage violation. Provided the plaintiff is not exempt from the minimum wage law, a claim may be filed to recover lost wages and perhaps to get some compensation for any losses that resulted from a lack of proper compensation. For more information in Spanish about minimum wage laws in Wisconsin, your legal options can be further explained by an experienced lawyer.

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Drains Can Cause a Swimming Pool Accident

Small children are especially vulnerable to injury in and around swimming pools because they are curious, energetic and at the same time weak. Statistics indicate that drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children below 14 years of age. For children between 1 and 4 years old in that group, the leading cause is a residential swimming pool accident.

Drains are a necessary part of swimming pools. It circulates and filters the water that provides so much enjoyment to children of all ages. However, there is a dark side to those little holes at the bottom of any home or public swimming pool that can spell danger to children.

What most people may not know is that while relatively rare, the suction of a swimming pool drain can cause injuries, even death through circulation entrapment. This means that aside from drowning, drains can capture and hold body parts to the extent of disembowelment, such the case of 6-year-old Abigail Rose Taylor, who later died of her injuries. And because children are usually too weak to pull themselves free, most fatalities due to drowning because of circulation entrapment are children. There is the case of Virginia Graeme Baker, the 7-year old that drowned when she was trapped by the force of a drain’s suction to the bottom of the tub, prompting the passing of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act.

It is therefore important to keep an eye on small children at all times when they are in swimming pools, whirlpool tubs, hot tubs, spa or anything that has a drain. It doesn’t take a lot of water, or time, for a child to get sucked in and stuck. Even when no serious injury or death occurs, it can traumatize a child considerably. Only vigilance can keep a child from a swimming pool accident.


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