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Be careful about partying too hard over declining oil prices and cheaper gasoline. Folks in the ranks of the petroleum industry are getting laid off by the thousands, putting many individuals and families in dire straits. And layoffs have a trickle-down effect on economies in general.

Oil prices are down about 50 percent compared to last year. Industry giants are responding, trying to save what they can of their profit margins. Exxon Mobil just reported a spending cut of $1.5 billion in the second quarter. Chevron is laying off 1,500 employees. Royal Dutch Shell is cutting its global work force by 6,500. Oil exploration and mining operations are down $29 billion over year worldwide.

In all, The Wall Street Journal reports, oil layoffs around the planet have surpassed 100,000 – and still counting. Granted, that’s only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of oil-industry workers worldwide. But still, considered individually, those being laid off face the huge challenge of a life-altering event.

Why we’re not going to Earth-like planet – Perhaps you have read about the recent discovery of an Earth “twin” – dubbed Kepler 452b, a planet about 60 percent larger than Earth orbiting its sun-like star at about the same distance as Earth is from our own sun.

Scientists say the discovery is important because it could mean Kepler 452b could sustain human life.

But don’t get too excited about making the trip. Kepler 452b is 1,400 light-years away. In other words, it’s a “fur piece” – a single light year (the distance that light travels in one Earth year) equates to 6 trillion miles. Moreover, Kepler 452b might not even exist by the time a NASA crew got there. What we’re seeing today took 1,400 light years to reach our purview.

Heck, it took a NASA space probe nine years to complete a fly-by of Pluto – the outermost “dwarf” planet in our solar system. Pluto is a mere 6 light-hours away from Earth.  (Strike a match on Pluto, and you would see it 6 hours later on Earth.)

So, pending the discovery of “worm holes,” if anybody offers you a ticket on the first trip to Kepler 452b, pay ‘em in wooden nickels.

Baltimore is no place to visit – If you’ve ever visited Baltimore in past years, you undoubtedly have found it to be a charming old city with a vibrant waterfront and an avid sports fan base.

But Baltimore also is today’s murder capital of Maryland. In May, riots leading to $9 million in damage erupted in the city in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray as he was being taken to jail by police. Violence continued in the wake of Gray’s controversial death.

In July, according to The Associated Press, Baltimore recorded 45 homicides. That’s more violent death in a single month than Baltimore has recorded in any month in the previous 43 years. So far this year, the city has experienced 189 homicides.

What’s behind the killing? Authorities blame public mistrust of Baltimore police officers, hopelessness and anger because of lagging job opportunities for young black men, and deadly competition among street thugs dealing illegal drugs obtained by looters of prescription pills during the riots.

Pick another vacation spot – you don’t want to be the unwitting victim of a crazy crossfire in Baltimore.

Cloudy with no chance of transparency — A word or three about the details of the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal. Congress passed a law called the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, in part requiring the Obama administration to make the deal’s unclassified text freely available to members of Congress. The idea was to foster open debate on provisions of public interest.

But President Obama’s lackeys have locked away 17 unclassified provisions of the deal in a “top secret” vault, along with the single provision that is highly classified. So, the public is being denied access to these 17 unclassified provisions. To paraphrase Dr. Phil: What the hell is King Obama thinking?

It feels like somebody just shot the tires out from under the First Amendment. So much for Obama administration transparency.

When critters shoot back – Finally, something quickly went wrong when an unidentified east Texas “hunter” tried to take out an armadillo in his yard the other morning. (Armadillos in Texas are like cockroaches in Mississippi – never very well liked and always fair game.)

The shooter spotted the armadillo at 3 a.m., stepped out of his house with his .38 revolver in hand, and shot at the critter three times, according to the local sheriff’s report. The attack backfired. One of the shots bounced off the armadillo’s shell, striking the shooter in the jaw.

The man was airlifted to a local hospital. The armadillo apparently got away. The sheriff reported that searching deputies could not find the beast.

Moral of the story: Shoot at your own risk when you’re dealing with Mother Nature.

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