Why These Popular Chocolate Easter Eggs Are Banned in the US, despite Being Legal Almost Everywhere Else

In January 2011, Manitoba resident Lind Bird was stopped at the US border in northern Minnesota and selected for a random search of her vehicle. During the search, US border officials found and seized a small piece of contraband. Bird was unaware that the item was illegal to bring into the US, but she was informed that she could face a $300 fine if she was caught with it in the country.

Bird was allowed to continue her trip, but a few days later she received a seven-page letter from the US government asking her to formally authorize the destruction of the item that was seized or pay $250 for them to store the item if she wished to contest the seizure.

The item in question was a small chocolate egg with a toy inside, called a Kinder Surprise.

Understandably, Bird found the entire ordeal quite bizarre.

“It’s just a chocolate egg,” Bird said. “And they were making a big deal…It’s ridiculous. It’s so ridiculous.”

When she got the letter, she had trouble taking it seriously. “I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I had to read it twice. But they are serious.”

similar incident took place in June 2012, when two Seattle men were driving back into the US after a visit to Vancouver. After border officials discovered six Kinder Surprise eggs in their car, the men were detained for two hours and told by a border guard that they could be fined $2,500 per egg.

“I thought [the American border guard] had done his search and hadn’t found anything, and he was joking with us,” said Chris Sweeney, one of the men detained.

“He wasn’t joking.”

“We really didn’t know what was going to happen,” Sweeney continued. “I didn’t know if maybe this was some really important thing that I just wasn’t aware of and they were going to actually give us the fine of $15,000.”

After waiting for 2 hours, the men were allowed to carry on with their trip and take the eggs with them.

“If it was so important that we be stopped and scolded and threatened with thousands of dollars in fines, you’d think it would at least be important enough for them to take [the Kinder eggs], but they didn’t,” Sweeney said.

“Keeping the border secure is obviously important,” he continued, “but somebody needs to take a common sense look at this rule and probably just get rid of it.”

Keep reading

Massachusetts’ Tobacco Ban Went as Badly as You’d Expect

In November 2019, Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco and nicotine products, including flavored electronic cigarettes and menthol cigarettes. Four additional states have since imposed flavor bans on some products and similar policies are under consideration in many other jurisdictions. Such bans are popular among legislators and anti-smoking groups, but the latest data from Massachusetts highlight the ban’s unintended consequences. The state’s experiment in prohibition has led to thriving illicit markets, challenges for law enforcement, and prosecution of sellers.

Massachusetts’ Multi-Agency Illegal Tobacco Task Force publishes an annual report providing insight into how the state’s high taxes and flavor prohibitions affect the illicit market. As opponents of the flavor ban predicted, the law has incentivized black market sales of menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes (“ENDS,” or “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” in the parlance of regulators). “The Task Force identifies the cross-border smuggling of untaxed flavored ENDS products, cigars, and menthol cigarettes as the primary challenge for tobacco enforcement in the Commonwealth,” according to the report. “Inspectors and investigators are routinely encountering or seizing menthol cigarettes, originally purchased in surrounding states, and flavored ENDS products and cigars purchased from unlicensed distributors operating both within and outside the Commonwealth.”

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue reports conducting more than 300 seizures in FY 2022, compared to 170 in 2021 and just 10 in 2020. Many of these involve substantial amounts of products and missed tax revenue. For example, a single search warrant yielded “a large quantity of untaxed ENDS products, [other tobacco products], and Newport Menthol cigarettes affixed with New Hampshire excise tax stamps” representing an estimated $940,000 in unpaid excise taxes.

Revenue officials are seizing so many illicit products, in fact, that they are running out of room to store them. The “Task Force’s increased investigative and enforcement activities during the past year have led to the seizure of large quantities of illegal tobacco products, resulting in a strain on the Task Force’s storage capacity,” says the report. But fear not, they are working on leasing additional space “that will significantly increase storage capacity and allow for continued increased enforcement.”

Keep reading

What is the US “Gas Stove Ban” REALLY about?

The Biden administration is apparently looking to ban gas stoves, calling them a “hidden danger”. But while that sounds bad enough, a deeper dive shows – as usual – it’s not really about what they say it’s about.

Talk of banning gas stoves and “unregulated indoor air quality” could be a Trojan horse designed to get even more “smart” monitoring technology into your home.

Let’s jump in.


Well, according to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the New Scientist and million other outlets and pundits who started talking about it in the last two days, yes.

Earlier this week near-identical articles from the National Review, Bloomberg and CNN detail how the US Consumer Product Safety Commission will be opening “public comment on the dangers of gas stoves sometime this winter”.

The articles claim:

The emissions have been linked to illness, cardiovascular problems, cancer, and other health conditions. More than 12 percent of current childhood asthma cases are linked to gas stove use, according to peer-reviewed research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health last month.

Now would be a good time to talk about the phrase “linked to”. It’s always a good one to look out for in any mainstream publication. Journalists love it because it implies causation without stating it.

Consider, one hundred per cent of serial killers have been linked to the ingestion of water and the wearing of shoes.

If this manipulative use of language were not evidence enough of an agenda, the rather premature deployment of the race card proves it:

Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) and Representative Don Beyer (D., Va.) wrote a letter to the agency last month urging the commission to address the issue and calling the harmful emissions a “cumulative burden” on black, Latino and low-income households.


Actually, probably not.

Considering that, according to Bloomberg, some 40% of US homes use gas stoves to cook, an outright ban would be impractical to the point of madness. You can’t criminalise 40% of the country. It would be almost unenforceable.

Perhaps they might try a “phasing out”, as they plan for petrol cars in California.

But most likely of all is that this was never really about banning stoves in the first place.

Keep reading

Kathy Hochul moves to ban gas stoves in New York

On Tuesday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul gave her State of the State address which included detailing “The New York Housing Compact,” which she described as a “strategy to address New York’s housing crisis,” and part of the compact involves a ban on gas stoves, oil furnaces, and hot water heaters in commercial construction and new homes. Gas stoves are used in roughly 40 percent of American households.

In her remarks, Hochul said, the compact would mandate “all new construction to be zero-emission, starting in 2025 for small buildings and 2028 for large buildings,” and she said that her plan to use more electric appliances would help “residents struggling with high electric bills.” 

Hochul’s spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays said, “Governor Hochul has been clear that we have to take bold steps on climate to protect the health and safety of our children, and 30 percent of state greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings.” 

A report from Bloomberg earlier in the week claimed that the Biden administration was looking into banning gas stoves to “reduce climate-warming emissions (such as from methane) that exacerbate climate change.” US Consumer Product Safety Commission Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr said, “This is a hidden hazard” and “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” 

According to Bloomberg, “peer-reviewed research published last month” connected 12 percent of asthma cases in American children to emissions from gas stoves, and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission was considering regulating gas stoves as a response.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization have claimed that gas stoves emit gasses such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide at levels that are “unsafe and linked to respiratory illness, cardiovascular problems, cancer, and other health conditions.”

Keep reading

New Zealand Imposes World’s First Ban on Smoking for Next Generation

New Zealand on Tuesday passed into law a unique plan to phase out tobacco smoking by imposing a lifetime ban on young people buying cigarettes.

The law states that tobacco can’t ever be sold to anybody born on or after Jan. 1, 2009.

It means the minimum age for buying cigarettes will keep going up and up. In theory, somebody trying to buy a pack of cigarettes 50 years from now would need ID to show they were at least 63 years old.

But health authorities hope smoking will fade away well before then. They have a stated goal of making New Zealand smoke-free by 2025.

The new law also reduces the number of retailers allowed to sell tobacco from about 6,000 to 600 and decreases the amount of nicotine allowed in tobacco that is smoked.

“There is no good reason to allow a product to be sold that kills half the people that use it,” Associate Minister of Health Dr. Ayesha Verrall told lawmakers in Parliament. “And I can tell you that we will end this in the future, as we pass this legislation.”

She said the health system would save billions of dollars from not needing to treat illnesses caused by smoking, such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and amputations. She said the bill would create generational change and leave a legacy of better health for youth.

Keep reading

Netherlands to ban laughing gas from January

The Dutch government is banning the use of nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, amid concerns over the health risks for the growing number of young people using it.

The ban, which starts in January, makes it illegal to buy, sell or own the gas.

However, the authorities say it can still be used for medicinal purposes and in the food industry.

The government also hopes the ban will reduce the number of road traffic accidents involving the drug.

According to road safety monitor TeamAlert, laughing gas has played a role in 1,800 accidents across the Netherlands over the past three years.

“Almost two a day, figures that really shocked us,” Maartje Oosterink of TeamAlert told AD newspaper earlier this month.

Keep reading

This Biden Proposal Could Turn US into A “Digital Dictatorship”

Last Wednesday, President Biden was widely praised in mainstream and health-care–focused media for his call to create a “new biomedical research agency” modeled after the US military’s “high-risk, high-reward” Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. As touted by the president, the agency would seek to develop “innovative” and “breakthrough” treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, with a call to “end cancer as we know it.”  

Far from “ending cancer” in the way most Americans might envision it, the proposed agency would merge “national security” with “health security” in such as way as to use both physical and mental health “warning signs” to prevent outbreaks of disease or violence before they occur. Such a system is a recipe for a technocratic “pre-crime” organization with the potential to criminalize both mental and physical illness as well as “wrongthink.”

The Biden administration has asked Congress for $6.5 billion to fund the agency, which would be largely guided by Biden’s recently confirmed top science adviser, Eric Lander. Lander, formerly the head of the Silicon Valley–dominated Broad Institute, has been controversial for his ties to eugenicist and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and his relatively recent praise for James Watson, an overtly racist eugenicist. Despite that, Lander is set to be confirmed by the Senate and Congress and is reportedly significantly enthusiastic about the proposed new “health DARPA.”

This new agency, set to be called ARPA-H or HARPA, would be housed within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and would raise the NIH budget to over $51 billion. Unlike other agencies at NIH, ARPA-H would differ in that the projects it funds would not be peer reviewed prior to approval; instead hand-picked program managers would make all funding decisions. Funding would also take the form of milestone-driven payments instead of the more traditional multiyear grants.

ARPA-H will likely heavily fund and promote mRNA vaccines as one of the “breakthroughs” that will cure cancer. Some of the mRNA vaccine manufacturers that have produced some of the most widely used COVID-19 vaccines, such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, stated just last month that “cancer is the next problem to tackle with mRNA tech” post-COVID. BioNTech has been developing mRNA gene therapies for cancer for years and is collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create mRNA-based treatments for tuberculosis and HIV.

Other “innovative” technologies that will be a focus of this agency are less well known to the public and arguably more concerning.

Keep reading