Snarky Puppy Is Throwing Their Very Own Music Festival

first_imgGrammy-winning jazz/funk collective Snarky Puppy has some exciting news to share, as the group announced their very own festival! Called GroundUP Music Festival, the event will run from February 10-12, 2017 in Miami Beach, FL.Even though they have yet to announce a lineup (it’s due out in a few weeks), there’s plenty to be excited about so far. Of course there will be music from Snarky Puppy, but the venue itself is very close to the beach, and only 1,500 tickets will be sold. There are also late night jams, interactive workshops, great local food, and more! We can’t wait.Head to the official website for more details, and we’ll keep you posted about the rest!last_img

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Former MIT president to serve as visiting professor at Harvard Kennedy School

first_img Read Full Story Susan Hockfield, who served as the 16th president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been named the Marie Curie Visiting Professor at Harvard Kennedy School,  Dean David T. Ellwood announced Sept. 7.Hockfield is a distinguished life scientist who has focused much of her research on the development of the brain and on glioma, a deadly form of brain cancer. She joined the faculty of Yale University in 1985 after serving on the scientific staff at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. From December 2004 through June 2012, Hockfield served as the first female president of MIT, where she continues to hold a faculty appointment as professor of neuroscience.“I have long admired Susan Hockfield’s passion and dedication as a research scientist, university leader and national policy advocate,” said Ellwood. “Hers is a track record of remarkable distinction, and we are thrilled to welcome President Hockfield to the Kennedy School.”At the Kennedy School, Hockfield will be affiliated with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, where she plans to continue her work on behalf of sound policies and practices for sustainable energy and a resurgence in American manufacturing.  She also plans to explore neural foundations of community and leadership.last_img read more

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Sugarcane Aphids

first_imgSugarcane aphids have turned their back on their namesake and become a major pest for Georgia’s grain sorghum growers. The pest began infesting fields in the state two years ago and, last year, devastated farmers who chose not to apply spray controls, said University of Georgia small grains entomologist David Buntin. “Farmers who didn’t spray last year didn’t harvest a yield, and others had to spray three to four times,” said Buntin, a UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researcher based on the university’s campus in Griffin, Georgia. Similar in appearance to the yellow sugarcane aphid, Buntin describes the pest as medium to pale yellow with black feet, black antennae and two black “tail pipes.” The adult aphid has black stripes on the wings, making it very distinctive.The pest was discovered in the United States near Beaumont, Texas. In 2013, it was found in four states and 38 countries. By 2015, sugarcane aphids were found in 17 states.In 2013, the insect shifted from its preferred host, sugarcane, to sorghum. “They’ll attack anything that has sorghum in the name, and Johnsongrass is their main alternative host,” Buntin said. The pest does not like wheat, oats, barley, rye, switchgrass or cool-season grasses.“All the females are born pregnant, and they have a very high reproduction rate. The good news is that they don’t overwinter in Georgia, and they are not known to transmit any viruses,” Buntin said. “They like it hot and dry.”Sugarcane aphids colonize on the undersides of leaves. Generally, by the time a farmer notices the pest, “the damage has been done,” Buntin said. Left untreated, the pest will reduce or prevent the plant’s head from emerging.In addition to destroying a farmer’s crop, they also cause annoying damage. “They create a lot of sticky honeydew that can really make a mess of harvesting equipment,” he said. The sugarcane aphid’s natural enemies include a host of lady beetles, hoverflies, green lacewings and a parasitoid.Studying the pest in research plots on UGA CAES research farms, Buntin determined farmers should apply pesticides as control when 50 or more aphids are found on 25 percent of the crop. “Doing this during preboot or boot stage is critical to control damage,” he said. (“Boot” is when the seed head is developing, but is still inside the stem and has not emerged. “Preboot” is the vegetative stage before the seed head is present in the boot.) Several insecticide seed treatments are available, all of which are equally effective for controlling the pest in the first 30 days. By 51 days, Buntin said, the treatment has dissipated. In partnership with UGA Cooperative Extension entomologist Phillip Roberts, Buntin conducted trials using a variety of chemical treatments. The untreated grain sorghum plots did not produce heads as a result of the aphid damage. The best control method was determined to be Sivanto 200 SL at 4 to 7 fluid ounces per acre. Transform WG at 1 to 1.5 ounces also was effective. Transform was used in Georgia in 2015 under an emergency use exemption to Section 18, which has expired, Buntin said. A new Section 18 exemption will be needed for 2016. “Pyrethroid-type insecticides are not effective against the aphid. They will flare aphid populations, but kill the predators and parasitoids,” he said.Buntin says planting treated seeds are sugarcane farmers’ first line of defense.“I would suggest, once the seed treatment plays out, that farmers apply Sivanto and follow with Transform. Aerial applications need to be in the 5-gallon range. Coverage is critical, and you need to get the spray down into the canopy,” he said.Buntin reminds farmers that no insecticides are labeled for use on sweet sorghum, which is used for making sorghum syrup.“It’s going to be a tough year for sorghum, especially the forage and silage types,” said Buntin, who conducts research on all small grains grown in Georgia. “Farmers should try to suppress the aphids before the crop gets too big and should remember to spray with a ground sprayer.”last_img read more

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Bridge on Route 7A in Bennington to close for one month

first_imgThe Vermont Agency of Transportation on April 14, 2010 will close a portion of Route 7A in Bennington. The closure, which will last approximately four weeks, is necessary to perform structural repairs and widening of Bridge 1 just north of the intersection with Route 67A, commonly referred to as Northside Drive.During construction, VTrans will replace a deteriorated bridge rail as well as rehabilitate the existing bridge deck and widen the travel portion of the bridge from 19 feet 8 inches to 24 feet. The final product will be a new, wider, bare concrete bridge deck with fascia mounted rail designed to last for years to come.Berard Street, a town highway adjacent to the project, will also be closed during this period. Traffic will be re-routed to Phyllis Lane. The detour will constitute less than a half mile, and motorists are advised to allow for extra time to reach their destination.Access to local business along Barard Street will be maintained throughout the duration of the project. Source: VTrans. 4.12.2010last_img read more

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Welch fights proposal that threatens the existence of the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport

first_imgRepresentative Peter Welch took to the House floor Thursday afternoon to fight legislation that threatens rural airports throughout the country, including the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport.A provision in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011 (H.R. 658) would eliminate the Essential Air Services (EAS) program starting in 2013. The EAS program provides funding for approximately 140 rural communities throughout the country that would otherwise not have scheduled air service. In 2010, service to and from the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport to Boston Logan International Airport received $797,141 under the EAS program.      ‘Eliminating this program would deal a devastating blow to the Rutland region,’ Welch said. ‘The Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport connects the Rutland region to the national air transportation system, sustains local jobs and spurs economic activity. Simply put, this bill represents an abandonment of our long-standing commitment to America’s rural communities.’ ‘The potential negative impact of the reduction in EAS funding for both the City of Rutland and the entire region simply cannot be understated,’ said Rutland City Mayor Christopher Louras in a letter to Welch. ‘It is critical to the well-being of the region’s economy and already inadequate transportation system that the federal government continues to fund this program at a level, and in such a manner, that allows the airport’s EAS provider to credibly continue operations.’ Welch proposed an amendment to preserve the EAS program, which was rejected by House leadership. Welch is now working to defeat H.R. 658, which is expected to come to a vote tomorrow.  Welch’s office. 3.31.2011last_img read more

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NDAA, Indefinite Detention, And The Battle Raging Against The Most Important Law You’ve Never Heard Of

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Imagine the American political spectrum as a steel rod.On the far left are stalwarts of the progressive liberal movement forged in academia and protest movements from the 1960s and ’70s. The furthest point to the right is a blend of neoliberal free-market ideologues and libertarians fused together to form the extreme core of the modern conservative movement. Most Americans lie somewhere between these two extremes—two camps that for the better part of the past half century have drifted further and further apart.Now imagine a single issue that is so heavy, it bends our ideological steel rod into a perfect circle that unites both sides. Conservatives and liberals perfectly aligned; dogs and cats living together.Such is the weight of Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, a provision so potentially destructive to our democracy that it has galvanized both liberal and conservative activists alike. Known as the indefinite detention provision, it deals with the circumstances under which the government has authority to detain persons deemed to be supportive of terrorism. According to the U.S. government, the section was adopted as part of the NDAA—a bill that is passed at the end of every fiscal year to organize military funds and clarify, but not alter, existing legislation granting certain powers to the president to fight terrorism—and does nothing to broaden the scope of existing authority.Opponents of the law, including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and world renowned linguist and political theorist Noam Chomsky, among others, contend Sec. 1021 allows the president of the United States to militarily detain U.S. citizens without due process, thus violating the First, Fifth and Fourteenth amendments of the Constitution, powers not seen in the United States since the controversial internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.They and four other respected journalists and activists—Tangerine Bolen, Icelandic Parliament member Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Alexa O’Brien and Kai Wargalla, collectively dubbed “The Magnificent Seven”—argue as much in a federal lawsuit against the Democratic president.“The deterioration of civil liberties under the Obama Administration has complete continuity with the attack on civil liberties under the Bush Administration,” Hedges told hundreds of supporters outside the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse Second Circuit Court of Appeals Feb. 6, following oral arguments from both sides of the issue. “In fact, under the Obama Administration it has been worse. The radical interpretation of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act [AUMF] has given the U.S. government, in particular the executive branch, the right to assassinate American citizens.”SOUNDING OFF: Former New York Times foreign correspondent Chris Hedges galvanizing opponents of the Obama Administration’s NDAA indefinite detention provision outside the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan following oral arguments on the government’s challenge to a federal district judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional Feb. 6, 2013. (All Photos by Christopher Twarowski)“This case is one of the most important cases in decades,” added Ellsberg, continuing that the provision “overturn[s] 200 years of domestic law to allow the military onto our streets” and hold those suspected “indefinitely.”Notwithstanding assurances from President Obama nor the Department of Justice, a federal judge— U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Forrest, who the president himself appointed to the bench—ruled 1021’s language unconstitutional, issuing a permanent injunction on its implementation of indefinite detention in September 2012. The Obama Administration appealed the following day, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issuing a stay on the injunction pending the outcome of the government’s appeal. Thus, the Feb. 6 hearing.CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF NDAA PLAINTIFFS AND PROTESTERSDespite the significance of the act and the prominence of those who oppose it, chances are you haven’t even heard of it. There has essentially been a mainstream media blackout surrounding the NDAA, save for some intrepid reporting and editorials in The New York Times and a handful of alternative media outlets. Yet it has ignited a firestorm in the blogosphere and, depending upon the outcome of the court case already in federal appeals court, it may eventually, hopefully, reach public consciousness.The language of the provision, authored in secret by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI), was troublesome from the beginning, enough so that several of their colleagues recoiled immediately upon reading the text for the first time. Senators Udall (D-CO) and Feinstein (D-CA) even attempted to pass legislation to effectively unwind or, at a minimum, diminish its scope.1021’s language is also vague, using such ambiguous terms as “associated forces,” “directly supported” “substantially supported”—and for the first time, introducing the “Law of War”—without precise definitions.Members of Congress weren’t the only ones to take notice. Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer, New Jersey-based civil rights attorneys, sounded the alarm almost immediately and determined to bring suit against the government. The key, according to Mayer, was to find a plaintiff who could provide “standing” in the lawsuit, which is to say, someone whose profession or routine expression of speech clearly placed him or her at risk of detention under Sec. 1021. Enter Hedges, an old friend who happens to be one of the most fearless and celebrated journalists of our time. A former foreign correspondent for The New York Times, he understood the gravity of the provision and took on the role of lead plaintiff for the case.Hedges boils the government’s motives down to a primary objective, telling the Press: “They want to empower the military to be able to maintain order. That’s it. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it.”Yet before examining the allegations against the government it’s important to stress that this is not a lawsuit against President Obama that is secretly funded by a right-wing organization. Every one of the plaintiffs can be considered on the far left of the spectrum, banded together in a case against a Democratic president over what they feel is perhaps the greatest threat to free speech in modern U.S. history. And each has demonstrated legal standing in this case.Forrest’s ruling was not only a resounding victory in favor of the plaintiffs; her opinion was a blistering rebuke of the government’s case.—Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Obama Administration’s NDAA indefinite detention provision.“The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for greater protection: it prohibits Congress from passing any law abridging speech and associational rights,” she wrote. “To the extent that § 1021(b)(2) purports to encompass protected First Amendment activities, it is unconstitutionally overbroad.“A key question throughout these proceedings has been, however, precisely what the statute means—what and whose activities it is meant to cover,” continued Forrest. “That is no small question bandied about amongst lawyers and a judge steeped in arcane questions of constitutional law; it is a question of defining an individual’s core liberties.“The due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment require that an individual understand what conduct might subject him or her to criminal or civil penalties,” she added. “Here, the stakes get no higher: indefinite military detention—potential detention during a war on terrorism that is not expected to end in the foreseeable future, if ever. The Constitution requires specificity—and that specificity is absent from § 1021(b)(2).”Shockingly, it’s also Forrest’s opinion that the provision may in actuality be a codification of liberties the government has already taken—a way to legalize unconstitutional detentions that have and are already taking place, such as those at the United State’s detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.“Section 1021 appears to be a legislative attempt at an ex post facto ‘fix’: to provide the President (in 2012) with broader detention authority than was provided in the AUMF in 2001 and to try to ratify past detentions which may have occurred under an overly-broad interpretation of the AUMF.”The Second Circuit Appellate judges reserved their decision on the government’s challenge to Forrest’s ruling Feb. 6, suggesting to Afran and Mayer that they would defer it until after the resolution of another case—Clapper v. Amnesty International, which challenged a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which broadened the government’s authority to eavesdrop on international emails and phone calls.The Supreme Court turned back that challenge Feb. 27, likely meaning its justices will never rule on its constitutionality. What this decision means for the NDAA battle remains anyone’s guess.That the NDAA case now before the Court of Appeals will also eventually be appealed to the highest court in the land, no matter what side wins, is inevitable. What its justices may rule, if they even decide to hear the case, is also anyone’s guess.Regardless, the battle sparked by Mayer and Afran’s handful of journalists and activists will determine the course of our entire democracy far into the foreseeable future, and the plaintiffs would argue, is the last hope to save it.Chris Hedges vs Obama ComplaintTHE WAR ON TERRORFor centuries, wars were affairs of nations. Governments waged war on one another in the name of nationalism, religion or unrestrained imperialism. Borders were established and re-established. Conflicts and enmity could last centuries, but every war had a beginning and an end. And there were rules.The industrial age witnessed the dawning of the most significant war power in human history: the United States of America. For the better part of the 20th century, America was the world’s hammer; at times deterring or settling conflict abroad, at other times exporting warfare with hawkish enthusiasm. In every battle, the case was made for the defense of the homeland and democracy and our fury was unleashed on discernible foes.In September of 2001, America’s understanding of war was forever changed. Our foe was now amorphous. We targeted a figurehead named Osama bin Laden, but he had no army, no country, no borders to protect and no assets to be taken. There were no sanctions to levy, or threats that mattered.This was Jihad. America was at war with an idea. America was being terrorized.In the days immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Congress gave the Bush Administration unprecedented authority to wage full-scale war on terror. On September 14 of 2001 Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) allowing the executive branch to leverage all available military assets to bring to justice combatants deemed responsible or materially supportive of forces associated with the terrorist attacks of 9/11.It was under this authority that the United States government declared war first in Afghanistan and then Iraq shortly thereafter. It is under this authority as well that the executive branch has carried out everything from covert assassinations to drone strikes in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The plaintiffs in the Hedges suit allege that the language in Sec. 1021 is a significant departure from the scope and intent of the AUMF and that it granted new, sweeping military authority to the executive branch of, including the power to militarily detain U.S. citizens.Put simply, the plaintiffs have argued that Sec. 1021 grants the president of the United States exclusive authority to detain citizens without due process and “until the end of hostilities.”Because the War on Terror is indeed an open-ended battle against an amorphous enemy, it is fair to state that we will be at war for an indeterminable period of time. In fact, the government has effectively argued as such.It’s hard to imagine the U.S. government ever declaring an end to the War on Terror and Hedges’ attorney, Carl Mayer, is keeping score. Standing in his lower Manhattan office shortly after oral arguments before the appellate court Feb. 6 he tells the Press, “We’ve been at war now for 4,163 days by my count… the longest war in American history by far. Twice as long as World War I and longer than World War I and World War II combined.” The idea of perpetual war is important to establishing the plaintiff’s fear of detention, he explains, because “during that time the government keeps expanding the definition of who a terrorist is and everything has become terrorism.”When Afran and Mayer discussed the case with Hedges in order to determine whether or not Hedges could credibly claim standing in the suit, it was instantly apparent to the trio that he did. In fact, in the course of his tenure as a foreign correspondent, Hedges had intimate contact with 17 organizations on the government’s terrorism watch list including Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda and the Taliban, to name a few. Their argument was that Sec. 1021 was so vague with respect to what constituted a U.S. citizen’s involvement with a terrorist organization that Hedges had a reasonable fear of being militarily detained. So far, the courts have agreed with this contention.Perhaps that’s because the secretive detention of U.S. citizens is already taking place, in pseudo-black-ops prisons right here on American soil.Long Islander Andrew Stepanian knows this all too well. He’s one of the few who’ve seen the inside of these facilities and made it out to tell the world. Actually, he was the first.SPREADING THE WORD: The Sparrow Project co-founder Andrew Stepanian, amid the Occupy Wall Street anniversary protests in New York City September 2012. His grassroots activism PR agency has helped get the messages out about the Occupy Movement and the importance of a federal lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration’s NDAA indefinite detention provision.LIVING PROOFStepanian, an animal rights activist and co-founder of grassroots activism publicity agency The Sparrow Project, was convicted of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act in 2006 and served the last six months of his three-year sentence at one of these prisons, known as Communication Management Units (CMUs)—also referred to as “Little Gitmos” by their guards, he says, and “Guantanamo North” by critics.There are two known CMUs in the United States: tucked inside the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Ill., where Stepanian was transferred, and within the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Ind.He describes the Marion CMU as “a prison within a prison,” with much stricter surveillance of all forms of communication among inmates—whether telephone, mail or visits—than those incarcerated within the rest of the federal prison system.“It’s actually isolated from the rest of the larger prison populous, and it’s also isolated from the staff of the prison,” says Stepanian, whose firm has done PR work for the Hedges suit as well as the Occupy Wall Street Movement. “The people that essentially police the communications management unit are instructed not to communicate with the prisoners that are there.”Federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the units offer more details.All phone calls and visitations are subject to recording and monitoring, with “no-contact” visits and “English-only” telephone conversations and visits, unless previously scheduled and conducted through “simultaneous translation monitoring,” state documents in a 2010 complaint on behalf of CMU prisoners, including inmates who are American citizens that had been serving sentences for non-terrorist-related crimes.The suit alleges First, Fifth and Eighth Amendment violations as well as violations of the Administrative Procedures Act, a federal law dictating how government agencies, in this case the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, propose and implement regulations. Additionally, it charges the plaintiffs’ very assignments to the isolated units were discriminatory and retaliatory, since “All Plaintiffs have been classified by the BOP as low or medium security, and were designated to the CMU at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana or the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois despite having a relatively, and in some cases, perfectly, clean disciplinary history.”All this flies in the face of what the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ official explanation of what dictates transfer to CMUs.“The purpose of CMUs is to provide an inmate housing unit environment that enables staff to more effectively monitor communication between CMU inmates and persons in the community,” a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) tells the Press in an emailed statement for this story. “Examples, although not an all inclusive list, of the types of inmates who may be housed in a CMU, include: Inmates who have been convicted of, or associated with, international or domestic terrorism; Inmates who repeatedly attempt to contact victims or witnesses, including those who threaten, harass and intimidate victims or witnesses; Inmates with a personal history of, or prior offense conduct or conviction for, soliciting minors for sexual activity; Inmates with court ordered communication restrictions; Inmates who attempt to coordinate illegal activities via approved communication methods while incarcerated; and Inmates who have extensive disciplinary histories for the continued misuse/abuse of approved communication methods.”Another explanation could be another tidbit from the lawsuit—the fact that the vast majority of inmates incarcerated at the CMUs —“upwards of two-thirds,” the suit states—are Muslim.—The Sparrow Project co-founder Andrew Stepanian, referring to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ Communication Management Units, or CMUs, in Illinois and Indiana.Stepanian supposes that’s why he ended up there—adding that for the majority of his incarceration prior to his transfer, he was housed in a medium-security prison and had been participating in programs and activities, and staying out of fights and disruptions, things that would lower his security classification, not raise it.“My time spent there was only to create balance,” he says. “Because the unit was over 70 percent Muslim. And what they were trying to do, in my eyes, was offset that majority balance with individuals that at least fit some sort of criterion of people that could be designated to this unit, when originally I believe that the units were created to house Muslims in this kind of post-9/11 vacuum, and they need to make sure that it’s not an ethnic discrimination lawsuit powder keg waiting to explode.”Stepanian says he was told as much.“One of the guards in there referred to me as a balancer,” he says. “I was doing my laundry by myself. A guard came up to me and was just like, ‘Hey, kid, keep your head up, you’ll be out of here soon enough. You’re just here for balance, man, just relax, okay.’ I said, ‘Just here for balance?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, man, this thing’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.’”The BOP says there are presently 40 inmates assigned to Terre Haute’s CMU and 41 at Marion. The agency was unable to provide a breakdown of these inmates by ethnicity, religion and citizenship by press time.Stepanian’s not denying that some of his fellow inmates were suspected terrorists—through his conviction for involvement with the international animal rights campaign Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty [SHAC, whose cause was to close animal-testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences], he’s branded a “terrorist” too, something some right-wing groups will not let him live down—but impressing that the government can’t simply circumvent civil liberties in the name of national security.“You can’t sidestep due process, you can’t sidestep the Constitution when it comes to detaining someone,” he says. “And that’s not [the plaintiffs] saying that people that are involved with criminal activity or involved with terrorist organizations shouldn’t be detained. They should completely be detained. You should just abide by the law when you do so. You can’t just ship them off someplace, with no rights, no access to trial and no due process, nothing, to some black site.”Hedges views the NDAA as the final sinister step in what has been a long deterioration of Americans’ civil liberties in the name of government-sponsored corporate personhood, whereby the financial well-being of Big Business takes precedence over individuals’ Constitutional rights.“We’ve undergone a corporate coup d’ etat,” he blasted outside the courthouse Feb. 6 to NDAA opponents, many carrying signs. “There is no impediment left now to corporate power, and the corporate state understands that as the economy continues to deteriorate as the effects of climate change—and we just bore the brunt of that with Hurricane Sandy over $70 billion worth of damage kicks in—there will be an inevitable blowback on a betrayed population. And what’s happening in this court now is the last thin line of defense between protecting what is left of our anemic democracy and the imposition of a military state.”“It’s all connected,” he said later that evening at a panel discussion organized by The Sparrow Project, which included Mayer and Afran; co-plaintiffs Tangerine Bolen, Daniel Ellsberg and Alexa O’Brien; Government Accountability Project National Security and Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack; National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake; and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. “It’s all a part of this very rapid descent into a frightening form of corporate totalitarianism…and as we go down, and they know we’re going down, these forces are cannibalistic.“Forty percent of the summer arctic sea ice melts and here we’re literally watching death throes of the planet and these corporations like Shell look at it like a business opportunity,” he continued. “They know only one word, and that’s ‘More.’ They have commodified everything, human beings are commodities, disposable commodities, the ecosystem is a disposable commodity and now with no impediments they will push and push and push, it makes Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, which I’m just re-reading, the most pressing study of the American character.“They’re not going to stop themselves, the formal mechanisms of power are not going to stop them,” Hedges added. “It’s up to us.”FOR THE PEOPLE: Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (l) and Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times foreign correspondent Chris Hedges discussing the importance of defeating the Obama Administration’s indefinite detention provision to the NDAA and its ramifications on American’s civil liberties at a panel discussion organized by The Sparrow Project Feb. 6, 2013 in Manhattan.“TIPPING POINT”The legal stage for the next chapter of the NDAA battle has been set.Whether the three appellate judges weighing the Feb. 6 oral arguments will side with Forrest, Hedges and the rest of “The Magnificent Seven,” or the Obama Administration, whoever loses will appeal the case to the Supreme Court.If the high court’s justices elect not to hear the case, as was their Feb. 27 ruling against Clapper, then whatever the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decides will forever be law. Though the Clapper decision may indicate to some the justices inclination to find in the favor of the Obama Administration, Afran, believes that’s not the case.“It’s different,” he tells the Press, “because here [Hedges v. Obama], the journalists are in fact directly within the scope of the law. But in the Clapper case the journalists were not the subject of the wiretaps but they happened to interview people who were. And so, they were not directly harmed by the statute. But here [in Hedges v. Obama], the journalists are harmed or brought within the statute.”If the Supreme Court does hear the NDAA case, the publicity over the decision, regardless of what it is, will undoubtedly make it to the ears of the unsuspecting public—but by then, say opponents, it will be too late.Just what’s at stake was most concisely outlined at an evening panel discussion organized by The Sparrow Project following the Feb. 6 Court of Appeals hearing in Manhattan.Topics ranged the gamut, from the lack of transparency plaguing the case of Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified materials to Wikileaks and Obama’s use of drones, to Occupy Wall Street and major corporations’ power and influence on elected officials and the legislative process.Each panelist weighed in on the importance of defeating 1021.—Revolution Truth Executive Director Tangerine Bolen, one of “The Magnificent Seven” plaintiffs in the federal court case Hedges v. Obama.“It’s a retroactive attempt to legislatively fix the fact that they didn’t have these powers all these years and they were probably using them,” said Tangerine Bolen, executive director of Revolution Truth, who’s responsible for compelling several of the plaintiffs to join Hedges in the suit. “This case is the latch on Pandora’s Box, and it needs to be addressed, because what they would like to see is have it be swept under the rug and disappear, because we’re a threat to the fact that they haven’t been behaving well for quite a long time, and that’s quite obvious. 
“This has been a long road for all of us,” she told the packed theatre. “I think I can safely say that some of us have sacrificed greatly to engage in this lawsuit and we do so because we have every reason to fear the United States government and what it has become since 9/11.”Alexa O’Brien, a journalist and founder of the U.S. Day of Rage, talked about an alleged plot to link her group to Islamist fundamentalist movements, a plan exposed on Wikileaks and by confidential sources who apprised O’Brien of this effort. Fear of detention under 1021, she said, has already had a chilling effect on her.“I don’t have a capacity of a large bank account and a team of lawyers to protect me from the U.S. Government and prosecution,” explained O’Brien. “So I’ve held back on two articles related to the War on Terror because of the NDAA.”NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake told attendees about the Obama Administration’s attempts to convict him under the Espionage Act and its proclivity to target whistleblowers.“The Constitution for them is just a piece of paper, it’s an inconvenient truth, it’s not a grand experiment,” said Drake. “We don’t really have constitutional governance anymore. It is a figment of our imagination. It is hollowed-out Constitution. So the NDAA takes it to the next level.”Moore stressed the importance of enlisting the American public in defeating the law through awareness and direct action, asking panelists: “What’s going to be the tipping point?” that sparks such outrage.Hedges explained that a major obstacle to awakening the general populous was that the “corporate coup” has seized the people’s avenues of communication, but that the Occupy Wall Street Movement is a critical piece of the answer.“That struck terror in the heart of the corporate state,” he said.As for a “tipping point,” Hedges surmised that if what he’s witnessed in other countries during his more than 20 years as a foreign correspondent is any indication, the threshold is “usually something utterly benign.”Ironic, since the alternative is something so utterly and catastrophically monumental.“What we’re talking about today is the capacity of the U.S. government to make you disappear,” he said, bluntly.Chris Hedges vs Obama Opinion and Orderlast_img read more

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Investing in small business

first_img 28SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The Small Business Administration defines a small business as having fewer than 500 employees. In Maine, where I live, more than 95 percent of employers fit the bill. Since the Great Recession, small businesses nationwide have been responsible for the majority of new job creation, spurring economic growth. Small businesses across Maine (and the rest of the country) are just beginning to come out of hibernation. And it’s important that they receive the support they need to thrive and expand.Since the economic turbulence that first hit at the end of 2007, businesses of all sizes have been slow to hire and make capital expenditures—even in a low interest rate environment. But that trend is starting to reverse. According to the SBA, small business indicators are improving, with lower bankruptcy levels, net employment gains, rising proprietors’ income, and an interest in capital investments. In Maine, we’re seeing business loans for vehicles, equipment and renovations.This might seem ironic, given that signs point to a rate lift-off later this month. However, small businesses tend to be conservative. So an uptick in borrowing now is a positive sign that, like the Fed, business owners are seeing more favorable market conditions.With small businesses representing the lion’s share of Maine’s economy (with similar patterns across the country), credit unions must do everything we can to encourage this growth. Very small businesses in particular—restaurants, garages, cleaning businesses—can benefit from developing a relationship with their credit unions and vice versa. They might not be immediate loan candidates, but think of it as an investment in the future. continue reading »last_img read more

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Senate passes comprehensive tax reform bill

first_img 12SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Dennis Zuehlke Dennis is Compliance Manager for Ascensus. Mr. Zuehlke provides clients with technical support on tax-advantaged accounts (including individual retirement accounts, health savings accounts, simplified employee pension plans, and Coverdell education … Web: www.ascensus.com Details The U.S. Senate, by a vote of 51-49, passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that makes sweeping changes to the tax code, including changes to IRAs and other tax-advantaged saving plans. The good news for credit unions and their members is that the credit union tax-exemption would remain in place and changes to IRAs would be minimal. The Senate vote comes on the heels of the House passing its version of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, by a vote of 227-205. Following is a summary of provisions in the House-passed bill that would affect tax-advantaged savings plans.The ability to recharacterize a Roth IRA contribution to a Traditional IRA, or a Traditional IRA contribution to a Roth IRA would be eliminated. This provision would also eliminate the ability to recharacterize a Roth IRA conversion contribution.The deduction and exclusion for contributions to Archer medical savings accounts (MSAs) would be eliminated. Contributions to MSAs would no longer be permitted and employer contributions to employees’ MSAs would no longer be excludable from income. Contributions to Coverdell education savings accounts (ESAs) would no longer be permitted. Existing Coverdell ESAs would remain in place and existing Coverdell ESA balances could continue to be rolled over to another Coverdell ESA or to a state-sponsored 529 savings program. Under the House bill, state-sponsored 529 savings programs would be enhanced so that assets could be used for elementary and secondary school tuition and for costs associated with qualified apprenticeship programs, up to $10,000 per year.The Senate-passed version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would also repeal the rule that permits recharacterizations of IRA contributions, consistent with the House bill provision. The Senate bill, however, does not contain the MSA or ESA provisions. The Senate bill does include a provision that changes the formula used for calculating the annual cost-of-living adjustments for IRAs, HSAs, MSAs, and the Saver’s Credit. The change would mean that cost-of-living adjustments would occur less frequently than under the current formula. The House and Senate bills both contain a provision to extend the rollover period for certain plan loan offsets and numerous other provisions that would affect employer-sponsored retirement plans. However, neither the House nor the Senate bill contains the “Rothification” provision that was rumored prior to release of the tax bills, which would have treated some or all retirement plan contributions as after-tax contributions, similar to how Roth 401(k) and Roth IRA contributions are currently treated. Many in the industry were worried that tax-advantaged savings plans would be sacrificed to pay for tax reform, given the cost of the plans to the Treasury, which is second only to the cost of employer-provided health insurance. These concerns increased when it was rumored, prior to release of the tax bill, that contribution limits to 401(k) plans and IRAs would be reduced, prompting President Donald Trump to tweet, “There will be NO change to your 401(k). This has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works, and it stays!”In the end, House and Senate Republicans were able to advance their respective tax reform proposals and stay within the budget constraints without using deferrals to 401(k) plans and Traditional IRAs as revenue offsets. Surprisingly, neither bill contains easy revenue raisers that have been proposed in the past and have bipartisan support, such as requiring beneficiaries of an inherited IRA to deplete the account within five years of the IRA owner’s death. To pass the tax reform legislation into law, both the House and Senate will work in conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two versions of the bill. Each chamber will then need to vote and pass the compromise bill before sending it to President Trump for his signature. The tax reform package is being advanced under the budget reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority—rather than 60 votes—for passage. This means that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can lose the support of only two Republican Senators, given that no Democrats are likely to vote for the bill. As House and Senate negotiators work on a compromise bill, they will be constrained by the requirement that the tax reform bill can only increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion in the first 10 years. Any increase in spending will need a corresponding offset, and therein lies the risk that a retirement-related revenue raiser could still be added to the final bill. Although there is much work yet to be done, passage of a tax reform package is likely, given its importance to the Trump administration, but in a politically-correct adaptation of the old colloquialism, “It ain’t over ‘til the President signs the bill.” Stay tuned.last_img read more

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What’s up with the New Season of ‘True Detective’?

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York HBO’s first Sunday evening of programming since Game of Thrones’ season five finale left us so demoralized we would’ve done anything to watch Daenerys soar into the sky atop Drogon once more—ahh, the memories. Alas, we couldn’t turn to Veep, the most potent chaser of them all.Instead, the network gave us the ballyhooed return of its noirish crime drama True Detective, a season two premiere that began with an off-putting theme song from Leonard Cohen with his vocals at their harshest as the opening credits dripped with weird melting imagery of L.A. and its freeways superimposed on the cast members’ faces. From there it quickly went downhill, with dumbfounding one-liners and shoe-horned psychobabble that doesn’t quite feel as poetic now that Matthew McConaughey isn’t the one delivering the lines and Woody Harrelson isn’t the one reacting to them. The episode’s final moment—a breathtaking view of the California coast—was the most pleasing. Everything else felt like a complete waste of time. And Tim Robbins and Jack Black in the pseudo-political satire, The Brink, making light of a coup in Pakistan, made us only long more for Julia Louis-Dreyfus running amok in the White House, but her show is on hiatus.So here we are in this summer of our discontent, trying to make the best of HBO’s most hyped night-time offering, and it raises a few questions: Are we going to be forced to watch Ray (Colin Farrell) self destruct into a father-pummeling, journalist-intimidating, chemically imbalanced corrupt cop for the entire season? Was there no better way to introduce a strong female character like Ani (Rachel McAdams), a sheriff, than by portraying her sexual promiscuity, her dysfunctional relationship with her cult-leading hippie dad, and her apparent icy emotional detachment from her male partner? On the other side of the coin, we see California Highway Patrol officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch), appearing on our TV screens for the first time, questioning an erratic driving, clearly inebriated female celebrity who suggests he escort her back to her place nearby where she left her license, presumably soliciting her body to get out of trouble. The ambiguous scene led to Paul being put on administrative leave during an internal investigation, revealing that he’s an Iraq war veteran still struggling to adjust to civilian life, but was there no other way to get there? Perhaps he could’ve pummeled someone instead, like one of the script writers. Or better yet, punch out Ray. He actually deserved it. And what was up with that damn bird head on the passenger seat beside the city manager? Was it a stuffed stool pigeon? A raven mask? What a pile of horse-feathers, we say!It appears the show runners—who must have just graduated from film school—are trying their darnedest to put a million miles between this season and the last—which was hugely successful and garnered several high-profile nominations, but they can’t budge an inch because they’re stuck on the 405 Freeway in rush hour with a trunk load of pretention. So, instead of the vast murky nothingness that was rural Louisiana (season one’s setting), we get urban southern California, and all the refinery smoke stacks, casinos, and garish colors that come with it. At least the ocean looks nice.And the prolific and profoundly interesting two character leads (McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) of season one have been replaced with four key figures, the three aforementioned cops working in separate agencies on a murder investigation and Vince Vaughn, who plays a career criminal named Frank with fantasies of making big bucks the, ahem, legal way. His girlfriend tells him he’s the best of the bunch. Then he enlists Ray to beat down the poor journalist investigating corruption in his city. Sigh. The episode devoted most of its time developing the foursome, a seemingly cumbersome task that may eventually be this season’s undoing.Rachel McAdams as Ani Bezzerides in Season 2 of True Detectives. (Photo credit: HBO/True Detective)Frank is emboldened to secure a profitable land deal in Vinci, a fictionalized corrupt city, whose city manager—Frank’s business partner—has gone missing. The politician’s lifeless body—minus his eyeballs—is discovered propped up on a park bench by Paul, who moments before had seemed intent on committing suicide by crashing his motorcycle but suddenly thought better of it. He swerves to a stop, and there in the motorcycle’s headlights, is the murdered victim. How convenient.We don’t ever actually meet the dead city manager—only his corpse—but we do get a look inside his kinky private life when Ray and his stereotypical partner, a raggedy, overweight detective straight from central casting, break into the guy’s house in search for clues to his whereabouts and find a skeleton in costume, graphic depictions of sex acts, kinky adult toys and canvases emblazoned with naked women decorating the walls.We are left to assume that the land deal and the city manager’s death are linked, but no one tells us for sure. It doesn’t matter—we’ve seen this plot before. We get a lot of character development but it’s unclear where any of these twisted characters are headed in the darkness that passes for their existence. Will Ray, Ani, and Paul join forces to find the city manager’s murderer? Will they compete for glory? Should we even care?The first episode gives us few clues to these eternal questions.Maybe the bird head is meaningful. Who knows? Remember the Maltese Falcon? We do, and so do the show runners. Only that bird has flown.last_img read more

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Arsenal eye Barcelona academy graduate Alex Grimaldo as potential Nacho Monreal & Sead Kolasinac replacement

first_imgAdvertisement Comment Advertisement Metro Sport ReporterFriday 8 Feb 2019 10:09 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link419Sharescenter_img Arsenal eye Barcelona academy graduate Alex Grimaldo as potential Nacho Monreal & Sead Kolasinac replacement Alex Grimaldo has been targeted by a number of heavyweight European clubs (Picture: Getty)Arsenal are eyeing a move for Benfica left-back Alex Grimaldo, but will face competition from several European heavyweights.Jose Mourinho had ordered Manchester United to keep tabs on the 23-year-old before his sacking in December, while the likes of Atletico Madrid and Manchester City are also monitoring the Barcelona academy graduate.Left-back has turned into something of a problem position for Unai Emery, with Nacho Monreal’s season severely disrupted by a number of muscle injuries.The 32-year-old’s contract was due to expire at the end of the season but reports claim Arsenal opted to trigger a 12-month extension clause in January.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTMore: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man City ‘We want to win’: Emery speaks before Huddersfield gameTo view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video Play VideoLoaded: 0%0:00Progress: 0%PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration Time 11:35Fullscreen’We want to win’: Emery speaks before Huddersfield gamehttps://metro.co.uk/video/we-want-win-emery-speaks-huddersfield-game-1858426/This is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.In Monreal’s absence, Sead Kolasinac, a free signing from Schalke 18 months ago, has emerged as a key attacking weapon but remains suspect defensively, especially on the occasions Emery has reverted to a flat back four.Arsenal were restricted to signing players on loan during the most recent transfer window and Emery could be handed as little as £45million to work with in the summer before player sales.Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi are two players who could be sold in a bid to raise extra funds, but even then Arsenal would struggle to secure the services of Grimaldo without the carrot of Champions League football.Mundo Deportivo, however, claim Arsenal lead the race for the player who cost Benfica just £2m when he moved from Barcelona three years ago.More: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errorslast_img read more

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