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24 Jan 19:17

Republicans Have Made a Mockery of Impeachment

by Marjorie Cohn

This piece originally appeared on Truthout.

In a scene straight out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the GOP-controlled Senate has refused to allow timely testimony from witnesses who had front row seats to Donald Trump’s abuse of power. The senators voted 53-47, strictly along party lines, to table any possible discussion of whether to allow witnesses and documentary evidence until six days of legal arguments and two days of senator questioning had occurred. That means the parties will argue the case and senators will ask questions before they ever get to see documents or hear from prospective witnesses.

The House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed several documents and witnesses to testify during the impeachment inquiry. But unlike any prior impeached president and despite the Constitution’s command that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole power of impeachment,” Trump totally refused to cooperate with the inquiry. He declined to provide even one document. He forbade all members of the executive branch to testify, raising the discredited theory that subpoenaed witnesses who refused to testify would enjoy “absolute immunity” from civil and criminal prosecution. But every court to examine that theory has rejected it.

Ultimately, 17 witnesses testified in the House inquiry. Nine followed Trump’s command and defied their subpoenas. The testimony provided overwhelming evidence of Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress as charged in the Articles of Impeachment issued by the House.

On the first day of the Senate trial, the Democratic House impeachment managers made 11 motions to amend Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed trial rules to allow witnesses and documents. The managers moved to subpoena relevant documents from the White House, State Department, Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget. They also moved to issue subpoenas to Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff; John Bolton, former national security adviser; Mike Duffey, White House budget official; and Rob Blair, adviser to Mulvaney.

In the course of arguing their motions, the managers laid out the case of Trump’s abuse of power. The four men the managers want to testify witnessed Trump’s withholding of almost $400 million of congressionally authorized military aid to Ukraine until President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to announce investigations into one of Trump’s political rivals.

During arguments on the managers’ motions, Trump’s lawyers repeatedly bemoaned the threat to executive privilege if witnesses were required to testify. Executive privilege means that some internal executive branch communications are protected from compelled disclosure. But Trump has relied on the “absolute immunity” theory to prevent witnesses from testifying; he never asserted executive privilege. During a witness’s testimony, Trump can invoke executive privilege to prevent an answer to a specific question. But he can’t stop the witness from testifying in the first place. In United States v. Nixon, a unanimous Supreme Court denied Richard Nixon’s claim of executive privilege and ordered him to produce the inculpatory tapes. Nixon resigned shortly thereafter.

Even if Trump asserts that a witness is absolutely immune from compelled testimony, House manager Jerry Nadler observed, the president has no authority to block that person from testifying. Nadler cited a judge who recently wrote, “Presidents are not kings. That means they do not have subjects … whose destiny they are entitled to control.”

Trump’s legal team spent the bulk of its time arguing about process. His lawyers criticized the method the House used to issue subpoenas even though the House has the “sole power of impeachment.” They claimed that Trump was denied due process in the House inquiry even though he was invited to participate and declined. What Trump’s lawyers didn’t do was to refute the powerful evidence presented by the managers.

All 100 senators must sit silently, on pain of imprisonment, for six days a week for the duration of an impeachment trial except for during the 16 hours when the senators get to ask questions. McConnell is under pressure from Trump to conduct a quick trial so that the president can brag about his acquittal during his State of the Union address on February 4. McConnell insisted that all motions be resolved on Day 1 of the trial so the arguments could begin on Day 2. Thus, the senators and Chief Justice John Roberts, the presiding officer, were forced to sit in the Senate Chamber for nearly 13 hours into the early morning hours.

McConnell wants a “rushed trial with little evidence in the dark of the night,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “If Trump is so convinced he’s innocent,” he added, “why not in broad daylight?” Because, the managers argued, Trump wants to minimize the incriminating evidence the American people hear.

“A trial without evidence is not a trial; it’s a cover-up,” Schumer charged. All prior impeachment trials featured evidence. “The witnesses we subpoenaed weren’t Democrats,” Schumer said. They’re “the president’s own men.”

The most important decision the senators can make is whether there will be a fair trial, lead manager Adam Schiff noted, saying this decision is “more important than the vote on guilt or innocence.” If senators wait to call witnesses, they “won’t have any of the evidence the president seeks to conceal during most of the trial,” he added.

Moreover, Schiff argued, limiting the evidence to that developed in the House would make the Senate function as an appellate body, meaning that it would just review what the House inquiry had found. This role is inconsistent with the Constitution, which grant the Senate the “sole power to try all impeachments.”

Zoe Lofgren, the first woman ever to address the Senate as an impeachment manager, challenged the senators to “end President Trump’s obstruction” by authorizing subpoenas. “If the Senate fails to take this step, you won’t even ask for the evidence,” she said. “This trial and your verdict will be questioned.”

The managers also made a motion to rectify an unfair defect in McConnell’s draft resolution that would permit Trump to cherry-pick documents he had refused to provide to the House and then introduce them in the Senate. That would allow Trump to “use his obstruction not only as a shield to his misconduct, but also as a sword in his defense,” Schiff noted. The proposed amendment said that if any party tries to admit evidence that wasn’t produced in the House, it must provide the other party with all documents responsive to the subpoena. This is consistent with the well-established Rule of Completeness, which prevents the selective introduction of evidence that would mislead the jury. That motion was also tabled by a 53-47 vote.

But the rubber hit the road when the Senate tabled the managers’ motion to ensure they would be able to argue for witnesses and documents later in the trial. Before trial, a few moderate GOP senators had publicly expressed a desire to hear witnesses. On the first day of trial, however, they walked in lockstep with McConnell and Trump in refusing to guarantee even the opportunity to discuss whether witnesses will be called. Schumer accurately told CNN at a break earlier in the day that when the Republicans say “later” for witnesses, “they mean never.”

Finally, the managers moved to allow the chief justice to determine whether a requested witness’s testimony would be relevant to the inquiry, a determination that could be overruled by the Senate. That motion, too, was tabled by the same margin.

“Every Republican senator has shown that they want to be part of the cover-up by voting against every document and witness proposed,” Nadler said.

Indeed, Day 1 of the trial is a harbinger that all Republican senators will ultimately serve as loyal foot soldiers to the president, seriously imperiling the constitutional separation of powers. To borrow Frank Rich’s striking characterization, they are “Vichy Republicans,” referring to the French government that did Hitler’s bidding during the Nazi occupation of France.

26 Nov 16:33

Texas Republicans Accidentally Deliver 2020 Playbook To Democratic Inboxes

by Kate Riga

Texas Republicans’ 2020 election game plan somehow made its way into Democratic inboxes Monday evening, listing 12 statehouse districts to attack and focusing on how to mitigate “the polarizing nature” of President Donald Trump.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Republicans intend to set up attack “microsites” for the 12 incumbents who won by less than 4 percent in 2018. Part of the plan includes buying ostensibly supportive domain names to reroute them to the negative sites.

The document is also permeated with Republicans’ concern about the Trump effect on down-ballot races.

“Given the polarizing nature of the President, I suspect some Republicans will refuse to turnout during the General Election because they don’t want to vote for him – though I don’t know that we will know what this universe would look like without us or a stakeholder creating a model,” the document reads. “Regardless, I suggest we set up a contingency budget to target these folks with mailers, digital ads, and texts to encourage them to turnout for U.S. Senate, State Senate, State House, and so on.”

Democrats are aiming to win the majority in the Texas House for the first time since 2003, after making significant gains in the 2018 blue wave.

13 Apr 16:01

7 Women’s Athleisure Pants That Work for Work From Lululemon, Outdoor Voices, Prana, and More

by By (Gideon Grudo)

Like I wrote last week, athleisurewear is no longer just a weekend category. Brands are increasingly stepping up options, styles, and value to get your attention and prove to you that theirs is the best of the best.

One such push combines the efficiencies and technologies of athleisure with the style and elegance of office attire. And so you have a sea of options that lets you elevate your clothes to high-function and maintain your favorite style for a day at the office or an important dinner. Comfortable, durable, breathable, sweat-wicking, quick-drying — these are just some of the features we’re seeing in more and more office-worthy apparel.

After we put out our prequel to this (obviously) main story, readers asked for a women’s edition. Here are some great options to keep in mind about the pants best fit for your work, your style, and the fire within you.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

02 Dec 18:40

20 Minute Meals

by kevin

100 easy, family meals that are on the table in less than 20 minutes! Looking for some super quick meals for busy school days and nights? I’ve got plenty of quick, easy and tasty recipes that fit the bill without sacrificing anything in the way of flavour! Not only that but you have lots of...

Read On →

The post 20 Minute Meals appeared first on Closet Cooking.

19 Feb 20:43

Rural business idea: Rent chicks for Easter

by Becky McCray
Baby points to baby chicks. Photo by Becky McCray

Kids (and adults) love baby chicks. There’s a business idea in that. Photo by Becky McCray.


Everyone loves baby chicks. That’s probably why every Easter, we hear about families who buy chicks for their children, only to realize they grow up to be full size chickens that don’t really fit into their lives. One farmer in Nebraska turned that into a business idea: she rents chicks to families for Easter.

Mariel Barreras is the farmer, and the Barreras Family Farm‘s Rent-a-Chick is the result.

Families come to the farm, pay $60, and take home a kit with two cute chickies, keep them for a couple of weeks, then bring them back to rejoin the Barreras’ flock where they grow up and live out their happy chicken lives laying eggs.

Barreras has grown it into an educational program that caters to day cares, schools and home school families. They’re now providing a full kit of supplies, emails with activities, and a certificate good for the eggs the chicks will grow up to lay in the fall.

It’s important to note that Barreras’ program started much smaller. In 2017, the third year for the Barreras, the price was $35, and chicks came only with a cardboard box.

Anyone could start with a simple setup like that. I could even see a 4H or ag student group trying this idea.

Hat tip to @maniactive on Twitter for the link

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11 Aug 19:09

My Introduction to Chemotherapy

by Ronni Bennett

Pancreaticcancerawareness160leftWhat interesting, useful and fruitful discussions you - TGB readers - have been carrying on in the comments of posts about my pancreatic cancer. Some of you have been-there-done-that with a variety of cancers and I appreciate your generosity in sharing your experiences – it enriches our understanding.

On Wednesday, I met with the medical oncologist and her team to talk about my upcoming chemo. I had been dreading the meeting since it was booked a few weeks ago.

Despite what you think from my written reports here, my upbeat, optimistic days run parallel with dark, pessimistic, even frightening ones that include horrible images that appear unbidden as I am falling asleep at night or for an afternoon nap.

My mood worsened in the days leading up to Wednesday's meeting with memories of how chemo sickened my father and wasted his body 35 years ago, which I tried to counter with the success my friend Joyce Wadler had with chemo through three different cancers.

It didn't help much and even though I told myself that there was no point in having gone through the terrible recovery period from the Whipple procedure surgery and not follow up with the recommended chemo was just stupid, my gloom persisted.

“Stupid” is the word since, as the experts keep telling me, I am in better shape to beat this cancer than 90-plus percent of patients. To recap:

Because most pancreatic cancer is detected after it has spread, only ten percent of people diagnosed are eligible for the surgery.

The portion of my pancreas that was removed, including the tumor, was “clean at the margins” meaning it has not spread from that organ.

In addition, 17 lymph nodes touching the pancreas were removed and tested for cancer cells; three were positive.

Eighty percent of patients in my circumstance who take the chemotherapy are dead from the disease in five or fewer years.

And you wonder why I'm sometimes morose about this?

On the other hand, there is what my primary care physician said when I saw him a couple of weeks ago: “Ronni, you are very healthy - except for the cancer.” Maybe that is what made the medical oncologist on Wednesday more upbeat about my chemo outcome than some others: that it will be “curative” which means, like many other cancers, it is considered cured if the patient is cancer-free in five years.

To know that, there will need to be regular checkups, tests and scans to monitor the cancer (or – best case scenario – lack thereof) which, of course, leaves me with the life I have always wanted to avoid: being a professional patient.

But what other choice is there? So in mid-September I will begin chemotherapy with two drugs – one intravenous weekly through a port permanently embedded (for the duration) in my chest, and the second drug taken orally twice a day every day, each for three weeks in a row, then a week off before starting again.

For six months this goes on which will take me to March 2018. There are, of course, potential side effects – fatigue, various kinds of sores, peeling and cracking skin but not, in my case, hair loss, or not much they say.

With the intravenous drug alone, 55-60 percent of patients are alive after three years, the medical oncologist tells me. When the second, oral drug, which is relatively new, is included that number is increased by 15-plus percent.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the cancer might come back, usually in the liver or lungs and there is little treatment then.

Those of you who have discussed your chemotherapy in the comments undoubtedly know all about this with whatever differences apply to your kind of cancer.

To me, this is all new and in my gloom, I sometimes lean toward agreeing with those people who renounce these “poisons” in favor of herbs and other “natural” treatments.

My more rational self knows perfectly well that if flax seeds cured cancer we would have heard about it and they would cost $5000 an ounce.

Like me, you have probably noticed through the years, that people are remarkably adaptable to difficult even, sometimes, severe circumstances and once I get started with this new weekly routine in mid-September, I'm sure it won't feel as burdensome as it does now.

* * *

ABOUT THE PURPLE RIBBON: For readers who have commented or emailed objections to my use of the pancreatic cancer purple ribbon, I ask you to consider this advice Albus Dumbledore gives to Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, with which I heartily agree and applies to symbols as well as words:

"Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself."

13 Jun 20:53

Missouri Storm Victims May Qualify for Relief

by Bob Williams

The Internal Revenue Service has granted tax relief for victims of the recent severe storms in Missouri. The April storms produced straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding in at least 26 counties.

The post Missouri Storm Victims May Qualify for Relief appeared first on Taxing Subjects.

19 Apr 18:55

ICE Building More Private Prisons For Immigrants!

by Jenn Budd
ICE Building More Private Prisons For Immigrants!

Right on the heels of Jeff Sessions' announcement that even non-criminals will now be charged with a felony and imprisoned for simply trying to find a job, ICE just announced they awarded The GEO Group with a brand new contract. The GEO group is one of the largest private prison corporations with seventy-four prisons,fifty residential re-entry facilities, sixty-one day reporting groups and twelve juvenile prisons. Thanks to all the money they shell out to politicians, they can add one more prison specifically designated for immigrants. This new facility is to be built in Conroe, Texas where it already owns and runs the Joe Corley Detention Facility that also houses immigrants and federal Marshall's prisoners.

Federal pay for play using tax payer dollars

Private prisons have been dumping money into politicians' pockets for years now. It's nothing new. And all of that money, every bit of it, is taxpayer money. Over the last fourteen years, GEO alone has hired over 290 lobbyists costing over $11.5 million. Add to that another $7.5 million given directly to candidates and you've got a pay for play scandal. GEO maintains prisons all over the country, but their biggest political targets are in Florida and the southern border states.

read more

31 Mar 00:43

Big Pharma’s Big Secret: Study Finds Legal Weed Reduces Rate of Opioid Overdose

by KJ McElrath

There is a reason for hope in the ongoing tragedy of America’s growing opioid crisis – and that is medical marijuana. According to a study coming out in the April issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, hospital admissions for opioid addiction and emergency room visits for opioid overdose have dropped significantly in states

The post Big Pharma’s Big Secret: Study Finds Legal Weed Reduces Rate of Opioid Overdose appeared first on The Ring of Fire Network.

05 Jan 18:08

Third World America – Clean Drinking Water Is Now A Rare Commodity

by Gary Bentley

With thousands of water systems in the United States testing positive for higher-than-allowable levels of lead and other contaminants, clean water has become a luxury in the United States. Even worse, this story doesn’t appear to be bothering too many people and the corporate media is completely ignoring it. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses

The post Third World America – Clean Drinking Water Is Now A Rare Commodity appeared first on The Ring of Fire Network.

05 Jan 04:00

No, Donald Trump did not just save jobs at Ford

by (Laura Clawson)

Every time a company decides not to move jobs out of the United States, expect Donald Trump to claim credit and too many gullible reporters and, especially, headline writers to go along with it. Still more poisonous, expect some crafty CEOs to give Trump credit, knowing that he’ll eat it up … and maybe toss them a few favors later on.

Ford is the latest in the “no, not really” crew, with its announcement that rather than opening a factory in Mexico, it would be expanding one in Michigan. Ford’s CEO cited “the pro-growth policies [Trump] said he’s going to pursue” (translation: tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, weakened consumer and worker protections) and called it a “vote of confidence.” Kind of a turnaround from the last time Ford and Trump were in the news, way back in September, when Trump was claiming Ford was moving jobs to Mexico that they actually weren’t and the CEO was publicly unhappy about it. It’s almost like in the interim, something happened that made Ford think sucking up to Donald Trump was a good business move.

But, you’re thinking, maybe something about this really is Trumpy. Except not.

Analysts, though, say Ford’s decision stemmed more from its long-term goals than the new administration or devotion to U.S. workers. The company aims to invest $4.5 billion in electric vehicles by 2020. (The company would not comment on the specifics of the 700 new positions.) [...]

The Ford engineers, tasked with creating these models, work in Dearborn, Mich. — 20 miles from the Flat Rock assembly plant. Moving production to Mexico would have made their jobs harder, said Brett Smith, an auto analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

“Keeping a new technology near the engineers is an important thing, at least in the first generation,” he said. “That gives them a lot more control to monitor a system.”

Trump can be vindictive and inappropriately threaten companies’ federal contracts. He can throw tantrums that briefly depress stock prices. He can give companies good headlines and the belief that future tax breaks or favorable regulatory decisions are coming. But he can’t change market dynamics—at least not quickly, not yet. He can't bring back coal jobs. He can’t make it easier for engineers in Michigan to oversee work being done in Mexico. He’s not personally responsible for the willingness of American consumers to buy electric cars or small cars.

But if sucking up to him by giving him credit for market forces beyond his control gets a company into his good graces? Plenty of CEOs are ready to say “sign me up.”

16 Dec 20:25 Moves Sign Up Deadline To 11:59 PM PST Monday


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is giving consumers a few extra days to sign up on in time for health insurance coverage to take effect Jan. 1.

Read More →
15 Oct 20:19

People Magazine Editor Shoots Down Trump’s Attack On Sexual Assault Report

by Ellen


Deputy People editor JD Heyman told Fox News viewers there had been “absolutely” no coordination or communication with the Hillary Clinton campaign about a bombshell account of one its reporters being sexually assaulted by Donald Trump.

29 Sep 17:18

The new solar-powered Wheelys 5 bicycle cafe serves up coffee and much more

by Nicole Jewell

The original Wheely's café was little more than a humble coffee-making box on a bike. But, the company's dedication to sustainable products and efficient design led to 550 cafés popping up in over 65 countries. The latest Wheelys cafe branches out from selling strictly coffee to act as a full-service, high-tech mobile kitchen.

Related: Tiny Human-Powered Wheely’s Cafe Serves Coffee Brewed by the Sun

The Wheelys 5 is decked out in cutting-edge technology. A solar panel on top the cart provides clean renewable energy, and built-in LED lights illuminate the cafe at night. The kitchen offers a 3 burner gas stove, running water, a hand sink, and a built-in display, and the cafe can event be outfitted with Wi-Fi. Despite all that tech, Wheelys is still a small organic business based on down-to-earth sustainable values. It's still your friendly neighborhood cafe, just with more stuff.

+ Wheely's 5 Open Source Bike Cafe

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21 May 16:07

Scoop And Toss

by David Perryman
BY DAVID PERRYMAN Raising cattle provided a nearly endless supply of “organic fertilizer” for our garden and flower beds. Gathering the fertilizer from our corrals, pastures and pens was relatively labor intensive but it paid huge dividends. The spring I got my license to drive our old 1951 Chevy pickup to town, I scooped and […]
10 May 22:43

Studies show what we already knew: Torture isn't just evil, it elicits false information

by (Meteor Blades)

Back a dozen years ago after the initial reports and photos of Abu Ghraib appeared and proved torture had been used on suspected terrorists, foes of the practice—which you would think would include everyone, but obviously doesn’t—made three basic arguments: moral, legal, and utilitarian. 

The moral argument was easy enough. Torture is evil and its modern practitioners claiming they are using it only to save civilization are, in fact, barbarians beneath a veneer of fake probity. 

The legal argument was more complicated. While torture foes argued that it violated the Geneva Conventions, pure and simple, it was learned that the amoral sophists in support of the Bush administration had secretly laid out a twisted justification. Alberto Gonzales was key. Before President Bush appointed him as attorney general in the winter of 2005, he was the prime legal architect for the policy of torture carried out in violation of the Geneva agreements. You may perhaps remember what he wrote in a January 25, 2002 memorandum about the post-9/11 world: 

"This new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges." 

This was followed up less than two weeks later by a memorandum from Bush himself under the Orwellian title “Humane Treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda Detainees.” Then, in August 2002, there was the so-called Bybee memorandum, a 50-page document approving “coercive interrogation” drafted by John Yoo as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States and signed in August 2002 by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, head of the Office of Legal Counsel of the United States Department of Justice.

Outside of a few people with a top security clearance, what was in those memos was unknown to Americans until much later.

20 Jan 22:42

Small town restauranteurs transform former church into a stunning cafe

by Laura Mordas-Schenkein
07 Jan 23:08

The New York Public Library Just Unleashed 180,000 Free Images. We Can’t Stop Looking at Them.

by Mark Murrmann
Blossom Restaurant, 103 Bowery, Manhattan Bernice Abbott/The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

The New York Public Library just digitized and made available more than 180,000 high-resolution items, which the public can download for free.

The images come from pieces in the library's collection that have fallen out of copyright or are otherwise in the public domain. This includes botanical illustrations, ancient texts, historical maps—including the incredible Green Book collection of travel guides for African American travelers in the mid-1900s. They've also released more than 40,000 stereoscopes, Berenice Abbott's amazing documentation of New York City in the 1930s, and Lewis Hines' photos of Ellis Island immigrants, as well as the letters of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, among other political figures.

One of the related projects they've created with this release is a cool visualization tool that lets you browse every item released.

It's a true treasure trove and—warning!—a total time suck.

Say goodbye to your afternoon.

26 Jul 14:16

This week in the war on workers: Turning teachers into robots

by (Laura Clawson)
Teacher oversees students taking a test.
Teacher Amy Berard describes her experience under a creepy, creepy, creepy instructional model in Lawrence, Massachusetts:
"Give him a warning," said the voice through the earpiece I was wearing. I did as instructed, speaking in the emotionless monotone I’d been coached to use. But the student, a sixth grader with some impulsivity issues and whose trust I’d spent months working to gain, was excited and spoke out of turn again. "Tell him he has a detention," my earpiece commanded. At which point the boy stood up and pointed to the back of the room, where the three classroom "coaches" huddled around a walkie talkie. "Miss: don’t listen to them! You be you. Talk to me! I’m a person! Be a person, Miss. Be you!" [...]

If you’re not familiar with No Nonsense Nurturing or NNN, let’s just say that there is more nonsense than nurturing. The approach starts from the view that urban students, like my Lawrence, MA middle schoolers, benefit from a robotic style of teaching that treats, and disciplines, all students the same. This translated into the specific instruction that forbade us from speaking to our students in full sentences. Instead, we were to communicate with them using precise directions. As my students entered the room, I was supposed to say: "In seats, zero talking, page 6 questions, 1-4." But I don’t even talk to my dog like that. Constant narration of what the students are doing is also key to the NNN teaching style. "Noel is is finishing question 3. Marjorie is sitting silently. Alfredo is on page 6."

Oddly enough, the Lawrence schools ultimately decided Berard was not the right fit.

Continue reading for more of the week's labor news.

11 Jul 17:55

Open Thread - Draft Or Peace?

by Bluegal aka Fran
Open Thread - Draft Or Peace?

Open Thread below...

01 Jun 19:31

The first step to save a town

by Becky McCray
If you want to save your town, you have to take action.

If you want to save your town, you have to take action.


You don’t have to wait for someone from outside to come in and save your town. You don’t need some other person with some special qualities to show up and help you. You don’t have to wait for fate to take its course. You have the choice to act to shape the future of your town.

Here’s where you should start: downtown. Start with downtown. 

Here’s why. A lively downtown means…

  • a lively environment for your local small businesses
  • a better breeding ground for new businesses
  • more chances for people to realize that you have more local businesses than they thought
  • more chances for people to run into each other and interact, and ultimately make new things happen.

A lively downtown means a healthy town.

Here’s one idea: a Pop-up Fair.

What is it? It’s a festival of local businesses, artists, direct marketers, home-based businesses and others who have neat stuff to sell, creating pop-up temporary businesses right on your downtown sidewalks, just for one day.

Like an old-fashioned sidewalk sale, but with a decidedly new feeling of life and interesting new vendors. Rather than boring old tables and clothes racks from stores everyone knows all too well, we’re talking new and different mini-stores that pop up right on the sidewalk with shelves and displays and interesting items for sale.

You are welcome to take that idea and just run with it. But we know you’re much more likely to follow through and actually do it if we keep pushing you step by step. So that’s what Deb Brown and I are going to do.

We’re sending out four weekly emails guiding you through the process. You can always hit reply and ask questions, and we’ll come up with answers. We’re charging for it because we know that, too, will make you more likely to stick to it and actually follow through.

We know if you’ll take this idea and actually do it, you’ll kick off a run of good things for your town. We wanted something small enough to do in a town of 300 people, but flexible enough to scale up to big small towns and neighborhoods.

So if you’re ready to shape the future of your town, head to

Don’t wait too long. The sales close on June 15, 2015, and then you’ll have missed it.

01 May 15:38

Reliance Foundry bike lockers provide secure storage for cyclists on-the-go

by Yuka Yoneda

bike locker, reliance foundry, lockers for bikes, bike security, green design, eco design, sustainable designs, secure bike storage, bike storage

It’s a heart-dropping feeling: you come back to the pole where you left your brand new bike and all you see is a dangling, clipped chain. Even as biking grows in popularity as a form of green transportation, worries about bicycle theft and vandalism still prevent many from taking it up. Reliance Foundry‘s bike lockers are a reliable, durable and secure solution that offers peace of mind to cyclists. The versatile, heavy-duty storage chambers are an ideal alternative to easily clippable chain locks, and a way to encourage more people to put down their car keys and pick up their bike helmets.

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20 Apr 23:39

Bonus Quote of the Day

by Taegan Goddard

“I think it’s worth noting that Republicans seem to be talking only about me. I don’t know what they’d talk about if I weren’t in the race.”

— Hillary Clinton, quoted by Politico.

07 Apr 18:13

Jon Stewart: When Gays Want Equality, It’s Militancy; When Christians Deny Service, It’s Freedom

The “Daily Show” host dedicated two segments Monday night to discussing Indiana’s heinous Religious Freedom Restoration Act, including a witty bit on “pizza hate.”

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07 Apr 17:47

Walmart will sell these violent books, but refuses to sell Ronda Rousey's autobiography

by (Shaun King)
Feb 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Ronda Rousey (red gloves) reacts after defeating Cat Zingano (not pictured) during their women's bantamweight title bout at UFC 184 at Staples Center. Rousey won in 14 seconds of the first round. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports - RTR4RL96
UFC Champion Ronda Rousey celebrating victory after a recent match
Come on, Walmart!

We were just slightly proud of you for asking the governor of Arkansas to veto the state's so-called religious liberty laws, but then you go and do this? According to Richard Johnson, writer for Page Six of the New York Post:

Walmart — the largest seller of guns and ammo in the country — is refusing to sell a book by cage-fighting cutie Ronda Rousey on the grounds that she’s too violent.
“My Fight/Your Fight” (due May 12 from Regan Arts) has pre-sold thousands of copies at Barnes & Noble, and the ravishing Rousey is already booked on “Good Morning America,” “CBS This Morning” and other shows. But the mouth-breathers at Walmart will be denied.
In addition to selling more guns and ammo than any retailer in the country, the following books are all listed on Walmart's Top 200 bestseller list:

American Sniper—In which Chris Kyle shoots and kills at least 160 men, women, and children.

Walking Dead Graphic Novels—In which heads are routinely blown off and faces regularly eaten off by zombies

Every book by Bill O'Reilly about killing someone—Patton, Jesus, Kennedy, etc.

10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse—which is basically about violent butt explosions in the name of weight loss.

The point is this: Guns, which actually kill people, aren't too violent for Walmart, books about men who actually kill people with those guns aren't too violent for Walmart, but a book from an Olympic silver medalist who fights for sport is too violent?

Something's off. What do you think?

07 Apr 17:38

USDA links insecticide to 20 year decline in monarch butterfly populations

by Cat DiStasio

monarch butterfly

Planting a butterfly garden isn’t enough to help monarchs thrive in North America, according to the USDA. A new study published last week in the journal Science and Nature illustrates the deadly relationship between the neonicotinoid insecticide clothianidin and the rapid decline of monarch butterfly populations over the past 20 years in North America. The USDA research shows that the butterflies are facing a two-fold fight for survival. On one hand, farmers are eradicating milkweeds, the main food source of monarch caterpillars, by using the Monsanto herbicide RoundUp. On the other, neonicotinoids used to control other insect pests are also being applied in agriculture fields and, as the report indicates, “negatively affect larval monarch populations.” The USDA report is the first to link neonicotinoids to monarch butterfly survival and reproduction. This news comes on the heels of a ban on neonicotinoid insecticides in Portland, Oregon, where city officials were concerned about its lethal impact on local bees.


Images via Shutterstock

monarch butterflies, monarch butterfly population, butterfly population decline, monarch butterflies endangered, insecticides and butterflies, neonicotinoid insecticides, effects of neonicotinoids, farming pest control, agriculture pest control, killing butterflies

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07 Apr 14:01

4/7 NOOK Daily Find: Raylan

by Amanda Cecil
Screen shot 2015-04-02 at 2.57.05 PM

April 7, 2015:  Today’s NOOK Daily Find offer is RAYLAN: third in the Raylan Givens series by Elmore Leonard for just 1.99. 


The revered New York Times bestselling author, recognized as “America’s greatest crime writer” (Newsweek), brings back U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, the mesmerizing hero of Pronto,Riding the Rap, and the hit FX series Justified.

With the closing of the Harlan County, Kentucky, coal mines, marijuana has become the biggest cash crop in the state. A hundred pounds of it can gross $300,000, but that’s chump change compared to the quarter million a human body can get you—especially when it’s sold off piece by piece.

So when Dickie and Coover Crowe, dope-dealing brothers known for sampling their own supply, decide to branch out into the body business, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens to stop them. But Raylan isn’t your average marshal; he’s the laconic, Stetson-wearing, fast-drawing lawman who juggles dozens of cases at a time and always shoots to kill. But by the time Raylan finds out who’s making the cuts, he’s lying naked in a bathtub, with Layla, the cool transplant nurse, about to go for his kidneys.

The bad guys are mostly gals this time around: Layla, the nurse who collects kidneys and sells them for ten grand a piece; Carol Conlan, a hard-charging coal-mine executive not above ordering a cohort to shoot point-blank a man who’s standing in her way; and Jackie Nevada, a beautiful sometime college student who can outplay anyone at the poker table and who suddenly finds herself being tracked by a handsome U.S. marshal.

Dark and droll, Raylan is pure Elmore Leonard—a page-turner filled with the sparkling dialogue and sly suspense that are the hallmarks of this modern master.

Don’t have a device? Read this title on the free NOOK Reading App™, newly updated for Android and IOS.

This special price is valid for today only – stay tuned for tomorrow’s NOOK Daily Find.

PLEASE NOTE: You will no longer be able to find the Daily Find on the NOOK Blog! Find the Daily Find on our Twitter (@nookBN) every morning at 10 AM and on our website, updated daily. 

02 Feb 17:00

Open Thread - Non Profit?

by Bluegal aka Fran
Open Thread - Non Profit?

via Occupy Seattle. Open thread below...

25 Jul 21:30

Anger Management

by DocHoc
Image of Picasso work

I received a lot of supportive feedback about my last post in which I criticized Gov. Mary Fallin for trying to boost her reelection campaign by generating collective anger towards the refugee children now housed at Fort Sill in Lawton.

Fallin's campaign has started a petition drive that aims to force President Barack Obama to move the Central American children-most of whom are fleeing violence in countries such as Honduras and Nicaragua-from the federal facility in Oklahoma. The petition drive is superfluous. Its only purpose is to create anger among conservative Oklahoma voters and activate them to support Fallin, who has been sinking in the polls  recently.

The children are part of a widely reported exodus of Central American young people seeking asylum and refuge in the U.S. They have been labeled "migrant" or "illegal aliens" by the media and right-wing here, but the reality is they're political refugees and victims of botched U.S. international and immigration policies.
The Oklahoma governor's message is clear and simple: We don't want these children in Oklahoma.  As I wrote, this is a craven message and really tests the limits of Oklahoma voters. Do they really have that much hate inside themselves that they would allow children to suffer and even die and revel in it? Fallin's campaign is banking on it. It's also banking on the fact that voters won't look more deeply into the issue and note a policy enacted under former President George Bush has prevented the federal government from acting more quickly to resolve the issue. Blame Bush, not Obama.

Here are some more extended arguments about the issue:

(1) Both the Catholic Church and, more importantly for Oklahoma, some Southern Baptist Church leaders have come out in support of giving aid to the children and treating them humanely, but the local right-wing religious folks have been fairly silent on the issue. Fallin's campaign ploy really sets a new low in arousing "group hate" against a group of vulnerable children. It sets an unbelievable precedent in hatred and cravenness. The fact that Southern Baptist Church leaders here, in particular, aren't fully criticizing Fallin's lack of compassion shows how craven this religious denomination-rooted in racism-has become at the local level.

(2) To extend the argument further, I think about all the sanctimonious Oklahoma people who make mission trips to impoverished countries, preaching their gospel and undoubtedly furthering the anti-abortion cause among people. But now that these brown-skinned people are in their home state in the U.S., the home-grown "missionaries" turn their backs on them and become red in the face with anger and indignation. These people simply lack moral compunction. Their religious beliefs are twisted and sordid.

(3) What about American "exceptionalism," the right-wing canard? So our country is so exceptional that we're going to deport children back to countries in which they face death and misery and impoverishment?

(4) The cliché is that Oklahomans are so nice, but what type of craven people would support a politician who agitates essentially for the mistreatment of children? What type of people would get some type of visceral thrill by mistreating children? Let's be clear: Many, many Oklahomans are not "nice" at all in any traditional sense. They burn inside with hatred and spite. It's the state's shame, and the dirty little secret you won't find on any state tourist brochure.

(5) Let's also be clear about this: Fallin's campaign ploy is racist. If these children were white, would there even be a question about helping them? Fallin's attempt to agitate the hateful mob is rooted in the darker side of the American story, the racist story, the one coated over with euphemisms in our elementary-school textbooks.

Conservative politicians, of course, have a long history of whipping up anger among voters in order to get votes while deflecting attention way from issues that matter, such as income inequality. So there's nothing really new here, with the exception that these are young children who need our help. Fallin may well reverse her slide in the polls, but let it be noted at the very least that doing so at the expense of vulnerable children is an ugly way to do so.

26 Mar 14:09

Don’t Get Caught Short on Short Sales

by taxingadmin

Don’t Get Caught Short on Short Sale


After the real estate crash, many taxpayers’ mortgages exceeded the value of their properties, so they did a short sale or went through a foreclosure. In a short sale the bank will accept less than the value of the mortgage to satisfy the debt, the difference between what the bank accepts and what the property owner owes may be income to the property owner. In a foreclosure the unpaid balance mortgage less the fair market values of the property may be income to the property owner. Many of these taxpayers received Form1099-C, from their banks, showing large amounts of debt cancellation.

Generally, cancellation of debt is taxable income, but due to the magnitude of the crisis, Congress passed a temporary exclusion of up to $2 million for taxpayers who lost their primary residence.  This temporary exclusion expires at the end of 2013, so taxpayers who lose their homes in future years could be stuck with a substantial tax liability. These taxpayers should contact a knowledgeable tax professional who can clearly explain the tax consequences of short sales and foreclosures before surrendering their property.

First, it must be determined if the canceled debt is “recourse” or “non-recourse.” If the mortgage is non-recourse, there will be no cancellation of debt income (CODI), but the taxpayer will be required to treat the transaction as a sale where the gain or loss is equal to the amount of the debt forgiven minus the taxpayer’s basis in the property.

For instance, Jimbo owns a house with a basis of $150K subject to a $200K non-recourse mortgage. The house is foreclosed on and Jimbo receives nothing from the sale.  Jimbo will have a gain on the sale of $50K ($200K minus $150K).

When the cancelled debt is recourse, the taxpayer needs to calculate the CODI and the gain or loss on the sale.  The CODI equals the debt forgiven minus the fair market value (FMV) of the property, and the gain or loss equals the FMV of the property minus the taxpayer’s basis.

For instance, Jimbo owns a house with a basis of $150K subject to a $200K recourse mortgage. The house is foreclosed on when its FMV is $75K and Jimbo receives nothing from the sale.  Jimbo will have CODI in the amount of $125K ($200 minus $75) and a loss of $75K ($75 minus $150).  If the house is a rental property Jimbo will be able to deduct the $75K loss; however, if the house is his personal residence, none of the loss will be deductible. The taxpayer then must determine if the CODI can be excluded.

Taxpayers who are insolvent and have gone through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy will be able to exclude CODI under a permanent section of the code, 108(a) (1) (a).If the taxpayer is solvent, however, and the mortgage was for a primary residence, then under the temporary exclusion passed by Congress, 108(h) (1), the taxpayer can exclude up to $2 million of the CODI.

It is important to note that only qualified principle mortgage debt qualifies for the special exclusion. Qualified principle mortgage debt is debt used to acquire or improve the property; therefore, any refinance or home equity loan that exceeds the original principle and is not used to improve the property will not be eligible for the special exclusion.  Only CODI from primary residence qualifies for the special exclusion. CODI from vacation or second homes is not excludable and must be reported as income.

Two other exclusions related to real property used in a taxpayer’s trade or business (not rentals) and certain qualified farm debt may be available to solvent taxpayers. Also, taxpayers that use exclusions are usually required to adjust their tax attributes (decrease their tax basis in properties) but when the home mortgage exclusion is used and the taxpayer no longer owns the property no adjustments to tax attributes are required.

Most taxpayers who have gone through a short sale or foreclosure that resulted in CODI are outraged when their tax accountant informs them of their tax liability.  Many will get second opinions or rant about statements their real estate agent made. In cases where solvent taxpayers short-sell their vacation homes, they are usually stuck with large CODI and a non-deductible loss, the worst of both worlds.


About the author – Gregory Fallon, EA provides tax planning and preparation services for individuals and businesses located in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, CA.  For more information about this article, contact Gregory at