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The Other One Percent

Huffington Post News - 10 min 49 sec ago

As a high school student, I came across an observation by Abraham Lincoln who said that "With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed." Today "public sentiment" would be called "public opinion."

Over the years, I have been astonished at how less than one percent of the citizenry, backed by the "public sentiment," have changed our country for the better by enacting reforms to protect the people from abuses of power, discrimination and deep neglect.

Specifically, if - one percent or less - were to dedicate a modest amount of their time and money working together for much-needed changes that are overwhelmingly supported by public opinion in each congressional or state legislative district, they would prevail against the government and corporate power structures.

There are obstacles, such as a corporate influence over City Hall and wavering politicians who insincerely pledge support, but defer and delay action. But, if people work together, almost any problem can be solved.

History shows that it only takes a dedicated few to gain the momentum from many more to enact change. The major drives to give women the right to vote, workers the right to form unions and secure numerous protections, and farmers regulation of railroads and banks did not require more than one percent of seriously active champions. Those in power understood that there was overwhelming support for these reforms by affected populations.

Even the abolition movement against slavery was well under way in our country before Ft. Sumter and did not involve more than one percent of the people, including the slaves who fled via the Underground Railroad. By 1833, the British Empire, including Canada, had already brought slavery to an end.

More recently, the breakthrough laws in the late sixties and early seventies regarding auto and product safety, environmental health and occupational safety drew on far less than one percent of seriously engaged supporters. The air and water pollution laws were supported by widespread demonstrations that did not require a large burden of time by the participants. These air and water pollution laws, not surprisingly, were very popular when introduced and the public made its support known to lawmakers with numerous phone calls and letters. Other reforms (auto safety, product safety and occupational safety measures) were pushed through with far less than one percent of engaged citizens, as was the critical Freedom of Information Act of 1974.

Along with the small full-time advocacy groups, a modest level of visible activity around the country aroused the media. The more citizen power the media observed, the more reporting, and this in turn led to greater public awareness.

Lately, this pattern can be seen in the efforts to enact civil rights for the LGBTQ community and to pass a substantially higher minimum wage for tens of millions of workers being paid less now than workers were paid in 1968, adjusted for inflation. The latter has become a front burner issue at the city, state and congressional levels with picketers in front of McDonald's, Burger King, Walmart, and other giant low-pay chains over the past two years. Those pushing for higher wages number less than the population of Waterbury, Connecticut (approximately 110,000). The Service Employees International Union

(SEIU), some think tanks, organizers, writers and economists rounded out this less than one percent model of action for justice.

It is important to remember that the active one percent or less, with the exception of a handful of full-timers, are committing no more time than do serious hobbyists, such as stamp and coin collectors, or members of bowling leagues and bridge clubs, or birdwatchers.

Why is all this important? Because in a demoralized society full of people who have given up on their government, on themselves and are out of the public civic arena, learning that one percent can be decisive, can be hugely motivational and encouraging, especially with emerging Left-Right alliances. Prison reform, juvenile justice, crony capitalism, civil liberties, unconstitutional wars, and sovereignty-shredding and job-exporting trade treaties that threaten health and safety protections are all ripe for Left-Right action (see my recent book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State).

Youngsters grow up exposed to numerous obstacles that tell them they "can't fight City Hall" or the big corporate bosses. Unfortunately, they are not taught to reject being powerless because they learn myths, not reality, and they graduate without civic skills and experience. Small wonder why so many of them could easily be members of a Society of Apathetics.

But lawmakers want to retain their jobs. Companies want to keep their customers. On many issues that could so improve livelihoods and the quality of life in America, it is important to bring to everyone the history and current achievements of the one percent who stood tall, spoke and acted as the sovereign people our constitution empowers them to become.

Send more 1% examples to info@nader.org.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

In Congress, NY's Silver Case Becomes Asbestos Reform Political Football

Huffington Post News - 14 min 49 sec ago

It will be months before Sheldon Silver, the ousted New York Assembly Speaker facing federal corruption charges, finally gets his day in court. But Mr. Silver, or at least his case, got a few hours of judicial review in the halls of Congress last week.

While the discussion was legislative, involving asbestos liability and committee approval of a bill with little chance of becoming law, it illustrates how the high-profile New York indictment is becoming a tort reform talking point. Along with other developments, it also suggests the political climate around the asbestos litigation industry -- which we've argued has annual revenue in the same neighborhood as the National Football League -- is changing against the plaintiff's bar while putting actual asbestos victims at new risk.

Those risks might include creating "perjury pawns" and even un-addressed debts to government agencies.

At issue this month at the House Judiciary Committee was a Republican-backed bill requiring increased disclosures from dozens of federally approved trust funds set up to meet bankrupt company's asbestos liability exposure. That idea is supported by business interests with asbestos liability, in part, because they believe it improves chances to more fairly distribute liability. The plaintiff's bar, which of course contributes heavily to Democrats, opposes the bill.

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) of Texas introduced the proposal and pointed out that limiting fraud protects "limited funds" for future claims. He also suggested that anyone saying there's no abuse of the current liability process might look toward Speaker Silver's charges, which The New York Times, citing prosecution sources, described thus: "... an even more lucrative scheme, according to prosecutors, involved clients whom Mr. Silver referred to Weitz & Luxenberg, a large personal injury law firm where he has worked for more than a decade."

"The referrals came from a doctor who directed possible asbestos victims to Weitz & Luxenberg. Mr. Silver then secretly funneled state grants, worth $500,000 in total, to finance the doctor's research. The relationship was lucrative for Mr. Silver: He received more than $3 million in fees for the patients referred to Weitz & Luxenberg, prosecutors said."

The reference brought an instant response from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, who accurately noted that Mr. Silver has not been convicted of anything. Mr. Silver's fellow New Yorker, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D), who represents part of Manhattan, noted that referencing Mr. Silver was not an argument for the bankruptcy bill and that it only proves that "... yes, lawyers can make a lot of money."

The actual bill, called the "Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency," or FACT Act, has little chance of passing. This bill is identical to one passed by the full House last year but lost momentum in the Senate. Even if circumstances should change this time around, there's no chance President Obama signs this bill.

It's worth noting that a half-dozen states have either passed or are seriously considering their own version of FACT legislation, and at least one leading 2016 presidential figure, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, has signed it into law.

While the Speaker Silver case might be of limited relevance until his day in court, the House committee also debated the North Carolina "Garlock" bankruptcy case, which certainly involved allegations of "double dipping" by telling one story to trust funds and another story in liability lawsuits. That case is not only still under way, but has also prompted civil RICO lawsuits based on a judge's findings of hijinks in some 15 specific cases.

It is the Garlock case findings, not the New York kickback allegations, that should fuel any asbestos trust fund reform. The House Judiciary Democrats dutifully stepped up to propose amendment after amendment to fine-tune the Republican measure, but eventually the measure cleared the committee with a vote along party lines.

What was not mentioned was the one amendment that might garner bipartisan support and protect actual asbestos victims. One would have to assume that only Democrats are positioned to champion those families. Party lines aside, I think both sides might agree that there should be an exemption for citizens getting and following bad legal advice, especially if that advice led them to commit perjury. The option of suing your attorney is lengthy, arduous, and expensive.

Eventually, this debate will move beyond how Mr. Silver raked in his millions or how many fibs Garlock litigants did, or did not, tell during their lawsuits -- this is going to involve tragic asbestos victims and their families facing allegations of perjury and failure to Uncle Sam.

Trust me, that will not be "inside baseball" at all, and my fellow Democrats should get well in front of that scandal.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

The Justice Department Wants Annual Domestic Drone Checkups

Huffington Post News - 19 min 58 sec ago

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Justice announced Friday that its agencies deploying surveillance drones in the U.S. will conduct annual privacy reviews. It also placed some limited restrictions on the use of such unmanned aircraft systems.

Under the new policy guidance, DOJ employees will need to "assess the relative intrusiveness of the proposed use of [drones], and balance it against the particular investigative need." The goal is to ensure that federal law enforcement officials "use the least intrusive means to accomplish an operational need."

The memo calls for personnel who operate drones to be "appropriately trained and supervised."

It says that those DOJ agencies using drones must report on that use to the deputy attorney general on an annual basis, and that agencies that have not previously used or have discontinued use of drones must notify the department's No. 2 official before starting or re-introducing a program.

Although several law enforcement agencies under the Justice Department umbrella have run drone programs in the past, a recent inspector general report said the FBI is currently the only one with an active program. The bureau has used unmanned aircraft on an infrequent but regular basis over the last several years. It reportedly has about 17 working drones and two pilots.

Other federal law enforcement agencies outside DOJ, like Customs and Border Protection, have their own drone programs.

Read the Justice Department memo below:

Justice Department UAS Policy

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Overmedicating Children in Foster Care

Huffington Post News - 27 min 25 sec ago

On any given day nearly one in four children in foster care is taking at least one psychotropic medication—more than four times the rate for all children. Nearly half of children living in residential treatment centers or group homes take psychotropic medications. Children in foster care are more likely to be prescribed multiple psychotropic medications at very high doses, although research shows higher doses can result in serious side effects.


Viewers of the ABC News program 20/20 may remember Ke’onte Cook from a few years ago, a 10-year-old who had already spent four years in foster care being treated with a dozen different medications for conditions including seizures, bipolar disorder, and ADHD. Ke’onte had never been diagnosed with the conditions some of the medications were meant to treat. Under his adoptive parents’ care he stopped taking all the medications and started relying on therapy, and with that new treatment plan he was transformed. Why are some children in foster care being overmedicated, and what steps do we need to take to do something about it?


Psychotropic medications act on the brain and central nervous system to cause changes in mood, behavior, or perception. They can be effective treatments for certain serious mental health conditions but there is a growing concern that too many children in foster care are overmedicated—in some cases as a form of behavior control.


Children who come into foster care often have been exposed to multiple traumatic events including the removal from their families, and may be at higher risk for mental health problems and emotional disorders. Too often multiple medications may be used without other kinds of effective treatments that might better address the underlying trauma children are experiencing. There’s evidence some children in foster care are subjected to powerful medications at very young ages and/or in combinations and amounts that are unsafe for children of any age. Many psychotropic medications are not approved for use in children at all.


Often children in foster care are prescribed drugs without any psychotherapy because resources aren’t available. They may not receive a proper initial diagnosis or any of the ongoing monitoring or extra services that should accompany the use of such powerful drugs—all essential considering the serious side effects from some that can include nightmares, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and even death. The 20/20 special included the heartbreaking story of Gabriel Myers, a Florida seven-year-old who hung himself in his foster family’s bathroom. A state investigation concluded the use of psychotropic drugs was a contributing factor in his death. His foster father said the doctor who prescribed the many drugs Gabriel was taking—some so strong that even the pharmacy filling them raised red flags—would spend no more than five minutes with the little boy before sending him out the door with another prescription.


We must do better. Last year JooYeun Chang, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children, Youth, and Families (ACF), testified before Congress that despite important steps taken by the Administration and Congress to promote the monitoring and management of psychotropic medications and the development of trauma-informed practices, too many child welfare agencies lack the proper non-pharmacological treatments to address the mental health needs of children in foster care. This year, for the second time, in President Obama’s budget proposal ACF and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have jointly proposed a demonstration to promote trauma-informed psychosocial interventions to meet the complex needs of children who have experienced maltreatment and other trauma and to address the over-use of psychotropic medications for children in foster care.


The Administration seeks to reduce the over-reliance on drugs and increase the use of appropriate screening, assessment, and interventions. ACF is asking Congress for $250 million over five years to create the necessary infrastructure to do this, including creating a special workforce to recruit families who can care for children receiving alternative treatments; better training in trauma-informed practice for child welfare professionals; better coordination between child welfare and Medicaid agencies in case planning and case management; and better data collection and information sharing by child welfare agencies, Medicaid, and behavioral health services. The budget request also includes an additional $500 million for CMS to provide incentives to states that demonstrate improvements to reduce inappropriate drug prescribing practices and overutilization of psychotropic medications, increase access to evidence-based and trauma-informed therapeutic interventions, promote child and adolescent wellbeing, and improve outcomes for children in the child welfare system. These common sense and necessary steps build on best practices already in place in some states. May is National Foster Care Month and now is the right time to ensure children in foster care get the treatment and care they truly need.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

American Indians Serve in the U.S. Military in Greater Numbers Than Any Ethnic Group and Have Since the Revolution

Huffington Post News - 30 min 58 sec ago

Kevin Gover (Pawnee), Director, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

On this Memorial Day holiday, as we remember those who have given their lives in service to our country while protecting the freedoms and ideals we hold dear, many of our fellow Americans remain unaware of the major contributions Native Americans have made to our nation's armed forces. In fact, American Indians serve in their country's armed forces in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group, and they have served with distinction in every major conflict for over 200 years.

Best known are the Native American Code Talkers who served in World Wars I and II. Theirs is a remarkable story and their contributions were vital to our success, but there are countless other Native Americans who have served in the U.S. military who deserve recognition. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, as of 2012 there were over 22,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives on active duty, and the 2010 Census identified over 150,000 American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. 27 Native Americans have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor.

As the director of the National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, I've witnessed first-hand why Native Americans feel compelled to serve. I was raised with stories of friends and family members' bravery on the battlefield. Native Americans served in World War I even though they were not citizens of the United States. In fact, it was not until after World War II in the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act that all states were required to allow Native Americans to vote on the same basis as any other American. Despite decades of persecution and broken promises, despite being dispossessed of, and often forcibly removed from, their ancestral homelands, American Indians have served and continue to serve in our nation's armed forces in numbers that belie their small percentage of the American population. They step forward when duty calls. Now, let us on this Memorial Day support a memorial on the National Mall dedicated to the selfless service and patriotism of our Native American servicemen and women.

In December 2013, Congress passed legislation authorizing the National Museum of the American Indian, working with the National Congress of American Indians, to create a memorial on the grounds of the museum honoring Native American veterans. An advisory committee is being formed, with members representing Native veterans from across the United States and all branches of military service. Following a series of discussions with Native communities and veterans, a design competition will be conducted and a winning proposal selected.

I hope you agree the time has come to honor the extraordinary service, dedication, and patriotism of American Indian veterans with a National Native American Veterans' Memorial.



Image Caption: The late Woodrow Roach of Tahlequah, OK, fought for the U.S. Army from 1944-45 and believed the prayer to be his good luck charm while serving in Italy and the Philippines. The prayer is written in the Cherokee language syllabary as well as phonetically, as Roach was a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. It is now in the permanent collection of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Southfield holding community-wide garage sale, fees waived - The Oakland Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 31 min 6 sec ago


Southfield holding community-wide garage sale, fees waived
The Oakland Press
Second-hand scavengers, get ready. Garage sale season is upon us, and Southfield will be holding a commuity-wide sale June 4-7. Permits and fees will be waived for the duration of the sale, so anyone can participate, no city hall registration required.

and more »

Categories: Berkley Area News

A sign of the times -- 1941 -- is back up in Clawson at former movie theater - The Oakland Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 31 min 6 sec ago


A sign of the times -- 1941 -- is back up in Clawson at former movie theater
The Oakland Press
Workers install a replica of the original 1941 Clawson movie theater marquee on the former theater building, which is now owned by Leon and Lulu's retail home furnishings store next door. The former theater building is being renovated as additional ...

and more »

Categories: Berkley Area News

Hazel Park veteran gets home makeover by volunteers before Memorial Day - The Oakland Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 31 min 6 sec ago


Hazel Park veteran gets home makeover by volunteers before Memorial Day
The Oakland Press
Michael David Caloni, a Hazel Park resident who served two tours in Vietnam as a U.S. Army engineer, stands on the porch of his home which was renovated by volunteers. Photo by Aftab Borka/THE OAKLAND PRESS. By Aftab Borka, The Oakland Press.

and more »

Categories: Berkley Area News

Report: D.C. Police Failed To Identify Themselves In Hundreds Of Cases

Huffington Post News - 31 min 46 sec ago

WASHINGTON -- The District of Columbia's Office of Police Complaints issued a scathing report this week on how officers with the Metropolitan Police Department continually fail to identify themselves to citizens. Since 2006, the office fielded about 400 complaints on this issue.

In some cases, the officers allegedly retaliated against citizens after they complained by writing them a traffic ticket or arresting them. In 7 percent of the cases, the officers refused to identify themselves to good Samaritans, witnesses to a crime or crime victims.

This has been an issue in the city for more than a decade. In 2004, D.C. passed the First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act to reform the way the department handles demonstrations and how individual officers are required to identify themselves.

“It's a fundamental problem,” explained Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, whose cases helped spur the police reforms. Being able to shield their identity, she said, gives the officers “the green light to violate people’s rights with impunity.”

But two years after the legislation passed, residents were still filing complaints on the issue. The OPC's board recommended that cops hand out business cards. Although the MPD agreed, it did not require officers to have them, nor did it appear to have a uniform standard. The OPC noted that in some cases officers created business cards in such a way that it made it unclear as to whether the cop was a real officer or impersonating one.

The OPC found one card that included “the ‘skull and crossbones’ logo, with knives in place of the crossbones and a cobra on the top of the skull.” On the back, there was a quote from the Bible: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth; but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Another card, also featuring a skull and crossbones, included the Latin phrase “Veneratio, Officium, Silentium,” which translates to “respect, duty, silence.”

“We identified a pattern of complaints that had developed and determined that there was a need to take a closer look at the reason why there was a high number of allegations of officers failing to identifying themselves,” explained Mike Tobin, the OPC's executive director.

The problem extends beyond D.C. Protestors raised similar complaints in Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of the police shooting death of Michael Brown. Other jurisdictions have sought remedies. In Portland, Oregon, the OPC report notes, every officer keeps business cards provided by their department, and are required to give them out during certain interactions.

The OPC reported a wide range of complaints. In one case, an officer allegedly refused to provide ID to a witness to a car accident. In another, a citizen went to a police station to provide information about a murder. An officer at the front desk asked her for ID. When the citizen realized she didn’t have her license on her, she offered her tag number and a piece of mail with her name on it. The officer said that was not good enough and told her to leave. After asking the officer for their name, the cop said: “I think you better get out of here, before I lock you up for not having an ID.”

The MPD did not respond to a request for comment.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Kathleen Matthews Made An Awkward Donation For A Future Democratic Candidate

Huffington Post News - 59 min 8 sec ago

WASHINGTON -- Former D.C. news anchor Kathleen Matthews is expected to enter the race for Maryland’s open 8th District seat soon. As a Democratic congressional candidate, she may have to answer some awkward questions about recent campaign contributions she made to a Republican senator.

Despite a long history of giving to Democrats, Matthews, who is married to MSNBC host Chris Matthews, gave a maximum $2,600 contribution to GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri in November 2014. Blunt is running for re-election next year. He is one of a handful of Republicans targeted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as the Democrats seek to win back control of the upper chamber.

“Kathleen Matthews has contributed to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, John Delaney, Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, Amy Klobuchar, Debbie Dingell, Bob Casey, Ed Markey, Ben Cardin, Alison Lundergan Grimes, Steny Hoyer, Don Beyer, Bob Menendez, and Senator Roy Blunt who she got to know through her work on travel and tourism,” said Matthews spokesman Ethan Susseles in a statement, reeling off a long list of Democrats.

Matthews' work on “travel and tourism” came as executive vice president for Marriott International, a position she resigned on May 20 in anticipation of launching her congressional campaign. Her contribution to Blunt can be understood in the context of that job and the senator’s support for Marriott’s business interests.

Blunt has been a major proponent of hotel- and tourism-related issues in the Senate. He successfully pushed bipartisan legislation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to ease the visa process in 2012 and, again with Klobuchar, inserted in the 2014 omnibus spending bill a provision to extend a program that used funding from non-visa entry fees to promote tourism in the United States overseas. Both policies were supported by Marriott.

In March, Blunt helped pass a Senate resolution applauding the tourism industry with the help of Sens. Klobuchar, Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

Blunt and Klobuchar were also guest speakers at the hotel industry’s lobbying conference in 2014. Back in 2012, the duo sat down on stage at the industry conference for a question-and-answer session moderated by Matthews.

Maryland’s 8th District stretches from Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington, D.C., to the more western Frederick and Carroll counties. It is a heavily Democratic district, and the winner of the party primary will likely wind up the victor in the general election.

Candidates already in that primary race include state Sen. Jamie Raskin (Montgomery), state Delegates Kumar Barve (Montgomery) and Ana Sol Gutierrez (Montgomery), and former Obama White House aide Will Jawando. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Barbara Mikulski.

Have a tip or story idea to share with us? Email us at scoops@huffingtonpost.com. We'll keep your identity private unless you tell us otherwise.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

HUFFPOST HILL - Buzzkill McPartyfoul Transitions To Skadden

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 3 min ago

A reporter touched Hillary clinton’s knee, probably to investigate its role in telling her legs to stand down. Harry Reid says he likes everyone, even the fatties. And Skadden Arps employees are actively campaigning to have a group of street musicians near their office removed. If you ask us, the law should require them to take a two-year cooling off period. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, May 22nd, 2015:

STATES CONSIDERING MERGING INSURANCE EXCHANGES - Due to the death panels, there simply won't be enough people left to run the individual ones. Sarah Farris: "A number of states are quietly considering merging their healthcare exchanges under ObamaCare amid big questions about their cost and viability. Many of the 13 state-run ObamaCare exchanges are worried about how they’ll survive once federal dollars supporting them run dry next year. Others are contemplating creating multi-state exchanges as a contingency plan for a looming Supreme Court ruling expected next month that could prevent people from getting subsidies to buy ObamaCare on the federal exchange. The idea is still only in the infancy stage. It’s unclear whether a California-Oregon or New York-Connecticut health exchange is on the horizon. But a shared marketplace — an option buried in a little-known clause of the Affordable Care Act — has become an increasingly attractive option for states desperate to slash costs. If state exchanges are not financially self-sufficient by 2016, they will be forced to join the federal system, HealthCare.gov." [The Hill]

Read the story about how a Wall Street Journal reporter touched Hillary Clinton's knee and everyone in the room practically DIED.

WALL STREET FATCATS FOILED BY SCRAPPY STREET BAND - From the internal Skadden Arps email obtained by Above the Law this week: "As many of you are aware, a group of musicians have established themselves on the other side of 15th Street near the Treasury Building, and their 'playing' is making it difficult for people in the 1440 building to work. Originally, they were only performing between noon and 2pm two days a week, but as of this week, they have been performing every day and longer hours. We tried negotiating with the band to relocate to another location, but were unable to convince them to move." Washingtonian reports today that someone from the firm tried to pay the band $200 to go away. The firm has also apparently tried calling local police AND the Secret Service, but it turns out bringing 30 seconds of joy to passersby is a legal way to make a living in this great nation (at least until Skadden Arps manages to change the law). Here's to you, Spread Love Band. May your bucket be plentiful.

DAVE DOWNER - Each year, on the last Monday of May, millions of Americans ditch work to hit the beach, light up the barbecue or catch a ballgame in honor of those who died serving our country. To top it off, we typically get paid just as if we'd clocked in for the day -- not a bad way to kick off summer. That is, unless we happen to work on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Compared to their better-paid counterparts, American workers in low-wage jobs are vastly less likely to get paid holidays through work. That means come Memorial Day, they face a downer of a choice: Either show up and work the shift, or forgo a day's pay in order to relax on the holiday. Among private-sector workers whose pay falls in the bottom quartile, not even half enjoy access to paid holidays, according to the most recent estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet more than 90 percent of workers in the top quartile receive such benefits." [HuffPost's Dave Jamieson]

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HARRY REID PREFERS BEATINGS TO K STREET - Manu Raju and Burgess Everett: He noted that 'maybe someday' his vision would return if research on retina transplants advances.'If my other eye was like this, I’d need a seeing-eye dog,' he said...'Since Reid stunned the political world two months ago by announcing plans to retire at the end of this term, a spirited race has emerged in Nevada for his seat. Reid has endorsed the former Nevada attorney general, Catherine Cortez Masto, even as Democratic Rep. Dina Titus is considering a run. He said Titus 'can make her own decision' and said the two were 'friends.' He even praised the Republican who may run for his seat — Rep. Joe Heck. 'I like him,' Reid said. 'I like everybody.' Reid indicated that he intends to split time in retirement between his home state and D.C. But he said a lobbying career is definitely not in his future. 'I would rather be taken to Singapore and caned,' he said." [Politico]

March 2017: QGA Public Affairs announced today that it has hired Harry Reid to go to Singapore to chew gum.

@SenatorReid: I was just being honest. http://t.co/gtQKXfqMdS

DEMS TRYING TO BRING MODERATES INTO 2016 FOLD - tl;dr: Don't talk about anything concrete, just talk about "jobs." Emma Dumain: "On Thursday morning, New Democrat Coalition Chairman Ron Kind of Wisconsin met privately with Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York, both lawmakers confirmed to CQ Roll Call. Israel, charged with developing a unified narrative to help the minority pick up House seats next year, wanted to talk to Kind about the substance of the New Democrats’ 'American Prosperity Agenda,' 23 policy proposals that centrist Democrats contend are keys to winning again in swing districts. Israel had some news to share with Kind: DPCC-commissioned polling shows the New Democrats are onto something…. One of the things Israel wants to do as he synthesizes the many voices in the House Democratic Caucus is craft a narrative that can speak to as wide a reach of voters as possible and on which a majority of members can agree. The New Democrats’ 'American Prosperity Agenda' also seeks to frame issues using inviting, non-incendiary language — even as many of the agenda’s pro-business policies, such as an overhaul of the tax code, will be harder to sell in the party than the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal." [Roll Call]

TODAY'S SPIT TAKE AWARD GOES TO… - Birth control has a way of shutting that whole thing down. Laura Bassett: "Republicans in Congress are not known for their efforts to expand access to birth control, but on Thursday they introduced a bill that they claim would do just that. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced legislation that aims to encourage pharmaceutical manufacturers to take the necessary steps to allow 'routine-use contraceptives' -- like the pill -- to be sold over the counter. Essentially, the companies need to obtain permission from the Food and Drug Administration. The proposed Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act would waive the FDA filing fee for such applications and put them at the top of the agency's priority list. 'It’s time to allow women the ability to make their own decisions about safe, effective, and long-established methods of contraception,' Gardner said in a statement. 'Most other drugs with such a long history of safe and routine use are available for purchase over the counter, and contraception should join them.' But the proposal also represents a GOP end run around the Affordable Care Act provision that requires most employers to cover the full range of contraception at no cost to women. Republicans have long opposed and even pledged to repeal that rule because they claim it violates the religious freedom rights of employers who are morally opposed to birth control." [HuffPost]

AMERICANS JUST A BUNCH OF POT-SMOKING QUEERBOTS - Ariel Edwards-Levy: "For the first time in at least 16 years, Americans are equally likely to describe themselves as socially liberal as they are to say they're social conservatives, a new Gallup poll finds. Thirty-one percent of Americans say they're liberal on social issues, with another 31 percent calling themselves conservatives and the rest identifying as moderates. In 1999, when Gallup first began tracking questions on ideology, Americans were 18 points more likely to describe themselves as social conservatives. Since then, the gap has narrowed, with the exception of a spike in conservatism at the beginning of President Barack Obama's first term. Much of the change is due to a long-term shift among Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party, a record 53 percent of whom now call themselves social liberals. A majority of Republicans still say they're social conservatives, but that number has also dipped in recent years, with an increasing minority in the party instead saying they're moderate on social issues." [HuffPost]

WASHINGTON IS FILLED WITH LIARS AND CHEATS - Nah, girl, she's just my bae pro tem, you're the real thing. Perry Stein: "The city topped a list ranking the country’s most adulterous cities for the third year in a row. The dubious title comes courtesy of Ashleymadison.com, a dating Website for married people looking for extramarital affairs, which culled through its membership data to determine which cities have the most members per capita. Ashley Madison claims to have more than 59,000 people registered on the site with a D.C. Zip code. (Note: This does include people who register for the site while visiting D.C. using a city Zip code.) And the neighborhood with the most cheaters? Capitol Hill, the land of politicians, staffers and lobbyists. The dating Web site says 10.4 percent of Capitol Hill residents are registered on the Web site. Tenleytown and Takoma Park finished second and third, respectively. With the exception of Capitol Hill, all of the top 10 D.C. neighborhoods are in the Northwest portion of the city, with the majority of the neighborhoods in affluent upper Northwest." [WaPo]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a gator battling a truck.

GOOGLE PROBLEM - Amber Ferguson: "Google has corrected an issue with its Google Maps search algorithm which had led users who searched for 'nigga house' to the White House. 'This week, we heard about a failure in our system -- loud and clear,' Jen Fitzpatrick, Google's vice president of engineering and product management, wrote in a blog post Thursday. The Huffington Post was first to report this week that entering the racist term in Google Maps led some users to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., where the White House is located. In other cases, the map pinpointed the historically black Howard University or a location of the Waffle House." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Chris Pratt gives drunken acting advice.

- Coldplay and the cast of "Game of Thrones" put on a musical.

- Three roommates throw garage sale with amazing video.

TWITTERAMA

@stefanjbecket: The State Department should get Slack.

@timothypmurphy: "Watch our live video stream of Jim Webb's talk at the Scottish Games in Greenville, SC"

@elisefoley : Is “If you tweet it, I will retweet it” the greatest expression of friendship of our time?


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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Exclusive: Leaked Report Profiles Military, Police Members Of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 23 min ago

Nuclear power plant technicians, senior military officers, FBI contractors and an employee of “a highly-secretive Department of Defense agency” with a Top Secret clearance. Those are just a few of the more than 100 people with sensitive military and government connections that law enforcement is tracking because they are linked to “outlaw motorcycle gangs.”

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Jeb's Climate Dodgeball

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 26 min ago

If you've ever seen the movie Dodgeball, starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughan, then you'll know the rules guiding Jeb Bush's still-undeclared campaign when it comes to climate change: "Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge."

I'm guessing that somewhere a team of pollsters, strategists and PR experts got paid a lot of money to craft every word of Jeb's latest dodge on climate change so that he could avoid the "denier" label. In nearly identical remarks at a house party in New Hampshire and in an interview in Iowa, he gave his position on the human contribution to climate change. In both cases, he started by acknowledging that "the climate is changing" but went on to say that "I don't think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It's convoluted." He continued by calling it "intellectual arrogance" to say the science is decided.



Jeb surely knows that two-thirds of voters, including nearly half of Republicans surveyed, are more likely to vote for a candidate who acknowledges human-induced global warming is happening. It seems to me that Jeb is trying to carefully calculate precisely how much lip service must be given to climate change to make it seem that he's not extreme, not a denier. But, voters who care about climate change shouldn't be fooled.

To be sure, there is still much to learn. There are plenty of opportunities for new scientific discoveries about the surprising and subtle ways that climate change is endangering our health and disrupting the natural systems on which our food and water supplies, our livelihoods and our safety depend.

But anyone who still questions whether unlimited carbon pollution is causing dangerous climate change is still practicing climate denial and confusion. And that is what Jeb is doing.

According to NASA, "97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities." Jeb's carefully crafted talking points are just a fancy dodgeball move calculated to confuse the voters, rather than accept the massive scientific consensus that we must act urgently.



Jeb has been in the denial business for a while now. In a 2009 Esquire interview, Bush said "I'm a skeptic. I'm not a scientist." In a 2011 Fox News interview, he said "It is not unanimous among scientists that it [climate change] is disproportionately manmade."

In April, he said he was "concerned" about climate change, but, at the same time, he dismissed the need for action. Duck! Don't get caught saying you want to act!

Dodging the "Denier" Label

What exactly is it that Jeb's dodging? I think he is trying to escape the "denier" label. He has constructed an extreme strawman in an effort to seem moderate. He addressed the word "denier" in this most recent interview, mocking those (like me, I suppose) who use the word, by saying, "If you don't march to their beat perfectly then you're a denier."

Well, Jeb, you don't need to agree me 100% of the time. I'd love to debate with you about the best approaches to limiting carbon pollution. But if you consistently voice doubts about the scientific consensus for action and clearly oppose making the carbon pollution cuts we need to avert the largest environmental crisis of our time, then, yes, that absolutely makes you a climate denier in my book. If you deny the problem and deny the need to act, you're a denier. No dodging.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

It Is Time for a Woman to Take the Helm at the UN

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 38 min ago

Hillary Rodham Clinton's announcement for entering the race to become the first female President of the United States has seen increasing calls to address a critical gender imbalance in world leadership. This campaign, which stands a very good chance of success, is a pivotal moment in the history of women's empowerment.

Meanwhile, another political process of historical significance is underway, but is receiving less publicity: the selection of the next UN Secretary General.

It is an issue of such importance that I too feel compelled to act and launch SheUNited, an initiative calling for Ban Ki-moon's successor to be a woman.

In its 70-year history the United Nations has had eight secretaries-general drawn from a broad cross-section of the world's nations and cultures. Although four out of the first five appointees were Western Europeans, the U.N. started taking active steps to correct that imbalance from the 1980s onwards. There have now been two secretaries-general from Africa, two from Asia and one from Latin America. Yet despite the U.N.'s efforts to be more representative and inclusive, half of humanity still remains excluded to this day. This because every candidate selected to fill the U.N.'s top job so far has been a man.

The growing demand for the U.N. to address that omission by appointing a woman in 2016 is not a matter of tokenism. This is acquainted since the U.N. itself has stated as much on countless occasions.

In reports and resolutions over the previous decades and with increased attention to women empowerment the U.N. and its agencies have advanced the case that strengthening the role and status of women is an effective tool for promoting international security and human development globally. Those tasked with implementing the U.N.'s agenda have come to realize that gender equality is not about political correctness; it is about creating a better world by utilizing its human potential to the full and by tapping the largest yet inadequately used reservoir of talent in the world, women.

Fifteen years ago the Security Council's landmark Resolution 1325 was the first time the U.N. formally acknowledged the central importance of women to its work, specifically for the maintenance and the achievement of international peace and security. Noting that women account for a disproportionate number of those affected by conflict, either as refugees or the victims of violence, it called for them to be given a full and equal role in conflict prevention and resolution. Greater decision-making power for women would confront warring parties with the full social impact of war and create a new dynamic for peace.

The empowerment of women has also become a crucial to the U.N.'s development strategy, both as an end in itself and as a means of increasing prosperity and creating stronger societies. A survey stated that in 2014 women were controlling 15 trillion US dollars in spending, by 2028 BCG states that women will be responsible for 2/3 of spending worldwide.

Experience shows that improving female participation rates in education, work and politics has huge spillover benefits in terms of growth, productivity, knowledge, health and public policy. There is growing evidence that women are more likely to reinvest their profits and transform economies and society. Closing the gender gap strengthens the skills base and spending power of developed and developing economies alike. It encourages governments to focus on the things that drive human development. Studies indicate that greater political representation for women correlates with the improved provision of essential services, including clean drinking water, childcare and education.

However, one thing missing in all these has been a willingness of the U.N. itself to lead by example. If stronger representation for women can be such a positive force for change in the U.N.'s member states, the same must surely apply to the U.N. itself. It is true that women now run some of the U.N.'s most important agencies and that more than a third of the countries sitting on the Security Council are represented there by women. But only 24 of the U.N.'s 193 member states has a woman as head of state or government and only one of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United Kingdom -- has ever been led by a woman.

Things are gradually changing for the better. The proportion of women parliamentarians globally has nearly doubled in the last twenty years from 11.3% to 22%. As well the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton is establishing a significant milestone for women in politics yet the pace of change is still very slow. At the current rate, it will still take decades to achieve anything close to real equality. It is of vital importance for the International community to create a powerful catalyst for change by choosing a woman as the next Secretary-General of the United Nations.

There is certainly no shortage of talented and well-qualified women candidates able to take on the role. There are several from Latin America, including Colombian Foreign Minister, María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar and Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet. Two very capable women currently running major UN agencies -- Irina Bokova of UNESCO and Helen Clark of UNDP -- enjoy great international support and are being widely discussed. Irina Bokova has the advantage of coming from Eastern Europe, the region that should secure the job under the principle of geographic rotation. With a candidate pool this strong, there can be no reasonable excuse for looking elsewhere.

The decision of whom to select as the world's top diplomat is one with huge symbolic and practical significance. It represents an opportunity for the UN to live up to its own declared principles and give real global leadership to the cause of gender equality. But it may not happen unless women and men alike worldwide speak out in support of change.

A number of groups such as 1 for 7 billion and Equality Now Time for a Woman campaign have already voiced their support for the next UN Secretary General to be a woman. I too want to add my voice to this debate, and to encourage others to do the same. That is why last week -- at the Harvard Women's Leadership Board at the Harvard Kennedy School, in front of 100 of the world's most eminent female leaders −- I presented the SheUNited campaign.


If there is one thing we know from our past, it's that change only comes to those who demand it and as the founder of the World Economic Forum Professor Klaus Schwab stated: The lower the gap difference the higher the productivity.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Escaped Slave Calls on President Obama to Speak Out, Halt Violence in South Sudan

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 50 min ago

Sudanese-American human rights activist Simon Deng is entering day seven of his hunger strike to petition President Obama to act in order to "save the lives of untold multitudes of Africans and their country ... South Sudan," according to an open letter Deng has sent the President.

Deng, who has eaten nothing in seven days, is in Lafayette Park across from the White House. He is appealing to President Obama to speak out to "stop the carnage" in South Sudan in advance of Obama's planned trip to Africa in June.

A former champion swimmer on Sudan's national team, Deng, who is drinking water and a small amount of juice, says he will continue his hunger strike until the U.S. President demands the leadership of warring factions in South Sudan, the world's newest nation, come to the table to negotiate peace.

"Sanctions on Southern Sudanese leaders who are obstacles to peace, now, not tomorrow," Deng said. "These are the words I want to hear from the President. If I will hear it I will eat ... If I don't hear it, I will stay with the Southern Sudanese who are starving to death."

Since July 2011, when Southern Sudan was declared an independent nation, approximately 70,000 South Sudanese have been killed, according to the United Nations. Two million are refugees and some 4 million are on the verge of starvation.

The Southern Sudanese, mostly Christians and animists--or practitioners of native religions--had previously been victims of a radical Islamist government; today the fighting is the result of actions of warring factions in the South.

But Deng believes U.S. leadership in the form of President Obama "speaking out" and threatening to sanction the warring factions can halt the violence, which recently killed Deng's 9-year-old niece.

Deng is no stranger to activism. A Christian, as a child he was enslaved by an Arab Muslim family against the backdrop of a decades-long civil war that raged between Sudan's Islamist North and mostly Christian South. After enduring beatings, torture, and forced labor for three and a half years, he escaped. He went on to become a competitive swimmer on Sudan's national team, and to immigrate to the United States.

In March, 2006 he walked 300 miles from the United Nations to Capitol Hill to protest the massacre of Darfuri Muslims at the hands of Sudan's radical Islamist government. His historic Freedom Walk, on which he was accompanied by NBA legend Manute Bol, gained him an audience in April of that same year with President George W. Bush.

He believes that the crisis in South Sudan at present is like that in Rwanda in 1994; absent leadership from the West, it will escalate.

"Southern Sudan now is another Rwanda in slow motion," Deng told me today in a phone call. "Rwanda was ignored the way Southern Sudan is being ignored now...tomorrow the whole world will be saying, 'We didn't know.'"

In concrete terms, what can the U.S. do about it?

Number one, says Deng, the U.S. President must "speak out."

Deng believes that, because the United States brokered peace between the North and South, effectively creating South Sudan, America has the "moral authority" to take the lead in demanding the warring South Sudanese leaders halt the violence.

The warring parties are Salva Kiir Mayardit, South Sudan's President, and Reik Machar, South Sudan's former vice president. The bloodshed, according to Deng, began with an intra-party dispute between them. Unable to solve their problems, they turned to violence, beginning with members of the presidential guard fighting among themselves in Juba, South Sudan's capital. The President's tribe (the Dinka) slaughtered some 2,000 Nuer people (Machar's tribe), Deng says.

The bloodshed has now spilled beyond the capital and claimed the lives of tens of thousands of South Sudanese who are members of neither tribe. Both sides, according to Deng, are committing atrocities.

The U.S. has leverage over both sides, Deng believes.

For one thing, President Obama can threaten "harsher sanctions on South Sudanese oil exports" as well as an arms embargo, to get the parties to stop the violence, Deng asserts in his letter.

Sudan's sovereignty can be called into question, for "national sovereignty is abrogated by genocidal policies," he writes.

Warring parties can be threatened with prosecution in the International Criminal Court if they do not stop inciting, Deng adds.

Deng's open letter to President Obama also suggests that the U.S. President appoint an envoy to "help monitor how aid funds are being allocated, and report directly" back to Obama.

Suggestions for the envoy are former Senator Jon Danforth, former Secretary of State Colin Powell or former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

"Mr. President, you are the only person in a position to stop the carnage," Deng states in his letter. "Before your planned trip to Africa in June, you must speak to South Sudan's rulers with force and conviction."

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

The True Way to Reform is to Educate: Reinstate Pell for Incarcerated Students

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 52 min ago

Criminal Justice Reform has been on the minds and tongues of many this year, making what was once seen as a controversial subject become a more common talking point on both sides of the aisle. Politicians like Hillary Clinton, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Conservative Senator Rand Paul and even Oscar winner John Legend are using their voices to call for change in a broken system.

While important movements like the Black Lives Matter campaign continue to keep criminal justice reform in the forefront of our minds, and on the front page of our papers, it is a new move by one congresswoman that has potential to be the real game changer.

Thursday afternoon US Representative Donna Edwards of Maryland, along with the support of five of her colleagues in the House, introduced the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, which would re-grant access to Pell grants for qualified incarcerated students across the country.

Offering Pell grants to incarcerated students is not a new idea. Up until the 1990s, incarcerated students in prison had access to Pell grants, which allowed more than 300 in-prison college programs to thrive in our country. When a "tough on crime" wave hit Washington under the Clinton administration it stopped in-prison post-secondary education programs across the country dead in their tracks. The culprit: the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which banned Pell grants to currently incarcerated individuals, and immediately crippled the once thriving in-prison college programs, diminishing them to merely 12 by 2005.

A big mistake, one even Clinton himself has recently admitted, given the myriad of data that shows in-prison education has a direct link to lowered recidivism, and lessens the stress on public services upon reentry due to the ability to qualify for better jobs. Not to mention an increase in mental health and quality of life in the process.

America has more documented incarcerated individuals than any other country in the world. Forty percent of which are released only to re-offend and end up back in prison within three years. This is largely due to the fact that few programs exist in prisons that properly prepare incarcerated citizens to face the challenges of life on the outside.

As a nation, we spend roughly $68 billion a year on corrections, an estimated $39 billion of which comes directly from the taxpayer. What Representative Edwards understands, is that re-granting federal assistance to qualified incarcerated students will help reduce costs, by educating individuals, so that those involved in the criminal justice system exit with the necessary tools to set and achieve goals that will keep them out of prison and place them on a more positive path.

I see this truth everyday in the lives of the women I work with at College and Community Fellowship, a New York based nonprofit I run, which helps formerly incarcerated women enroll in and complete college and graduate school.

Time and time again I have heard professors praise students who have made the choice to go college during incarceration or post-incarceration, calling them the best in their class. I've watched as our women go out into the world, and see how society views a person with a criminal history record. Our students and alumnae are fully integrated into society, and ready to take back the future for themselves and their families.

Punishment does not lead to reform. If the goal is to punish, then punishment works. But the true way to reform is to educate and provide opportunity. More so, to offer a quality education, one that makes incarcerated men and women utilize critical thinking skills, which will ultimately help cut down on our prison populations across the country. Representative Edwards knows this, and if recent articles are to be believed, President Obama's Administration does too. In addition to Edwards' Act, it appears the Department of Education may soon announce an experimental access to Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals as well.

These are exciting times! Our nation's leaders are finally coming to terms with the mistake of using the criminal justice system as a blunt weapon to deal with social problems. The nation is learning that our prison system must be severely reduced and that, to the extent that the prison system exists, it doesn't have to be a dehumanizing experience; it can be a place where we help build up character, teach critical thinking skills, and encourage people to set goals for the future. Because let's face it, if you really want people to escape poverty, addiction, crime and all the other social issues that keep them marginalized, you've got to create policies that support that vision. This includes equipping them with the intellectual skill-set that education brings.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

California Water Board Approves Voluntary Cutback Program By Growers

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 54 min ago

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California regulators on Friday accepted a historic offer by farmers to make a 25 percent voluntary water cut to avoid deeper mandatory losses during the drought.

Officials with the state Water Resources Control Board made the announcement involving farmers in the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers who hold some of California's strongest water rights.

The several hundred farmers made the offer after state officials warned they were days away from ordering some of the first cuts in more than 30 years to the senior water rights holders.

California water law is built around preserving the water claims of those rights holders. The threat of state cuts is a sign of the worsening impacts of the four-year drought.

The state already has mandated 25 percent conservation by cities and towns and curtailed water deliveries to many farmers and communities.

The most arid winter on record for the Sierra Nevada snowpack means there will be little runoff this summer to feed California's rivers, reservoirs and irrigation canals. As of Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor rated 94 percent of California in severe drought or worse.

About 350 farmers turned out Thursday at a farmers' grange near Stockton to talk over the delta farmers' bid to stave off deeper cuts.

"That doesn't necessarily mean they'll all participate" in the proposed voluntary cutbacks, said Michael George, the state's water master for the delta. But based on the farmers' comments, George said, he believed many will.

Under the deal, delta farmers would have until June 1 to lay out how they will use 25 percent less water during what typically is a rain-free four months until September.

The delta is the heart of the water system in California, with miles of rivers interlacing fecund farmland. It supplies water to 25 million California residents and vast regions of farmland that produces nearly half of the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the U.S.

Agriculture experts, however, say they would expect only modest immediate effects on food prices from any reduction in water to the senior water-rights holders. Other states will be able to make up the difference if California moves away from low-profit crops, economists say.

State officials initially said they would also announce the first cuts of the four-year drought to senior rights holders on Friday. Water regulators said Thursday, however, that the announcement involving farmers and others in the watershed of the San Joaquin River would be delayed until at least next week.

It is unclear whether the delta farmers' offer would go far enough to save drying, warming waterways statewide.

Farmers use 80 percent of all water taken from the land in California. Senior water-rights holders alone consume trillions of gallons of water a year. The state doesn't know exactly how much they use because of unreliable data collection.

The 1977 cutback order for senior rights holders applied only to dozens of people along a stretch of the Sacramento River.

Although thousands of junior water rights holders have had their water curtailed this year, Gov. Jerry Brown has come under criticism for sparing farmers with senior water rights from mandatory cutbacks.

Increasing amounts of the state's irrigation water goes to specialty crops such as almonds, whose growers are expanding production despite the drought.

___

Knickmeyer reported from San Francisco. Fenit Nirappil contributed to this story from Sacramento.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Weird items got big bucks at Northland mall auction - Detroit Free Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 2 hours 1 min ago


Detroit Free Press

Weird items got big bucks at Northland mall auction
Detroit Free Press
This week's Northland Center liquidation auction offered more evidence for the expression that one man's trash is another man's treasure. More than 40,000 people logged on to the online auction event on Tuesday, with hundreds of them staying to bid on ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

What We're Really Fighting For

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 5 min ago

My fans are the best. There's no other job that pays as well in the currency of love. People tattoo themselves with my songs. They sing them at their weddings. They sing them to their dead as they lower them into the ground.

A lady once told me she laid in the hospital for months, singing my song to her unborn baby girl, praying she'd wait to be born until she was healthy enough to live. She did, and I was her first concert.

Last night I defaced (autographed) a perfectly good hat for a young lady in Maryville, Tennessee. It got me thinking about the way we value things.

Because oil is more expensive than water, it's easy to get confused and start thinking that oil is more valuable. We will readily believe in an energy crisis though humanity survived millions of years without fossil fuels, but we're skeptical about an environmental crisis that threatens to make the Earth unlivable. As we're learning again on the California coast, clean water and the lives it supports are worth more than the 105,000 gallons of oil that have fouled it.

Do you know how long it would take to burn 105,000 gallons of oil if it made it to the U.S. market? LESS THAN TEN SECONDS. We're enduring an environmental disaster and an official state of emergency for less than ten seconds of convenience. Your share wouldn't even get you to the end of your driveway. How many species is that worth to you?

This Memorial Day weekend, I'm thinking about the value of human lives. Are our young men and women worth less than the political will of our government? What are they dying for? Why are they coming home and sleeping on the sidewalk with nightmares? What have we gained in exchange for their loss? There is no doubt in my mind that there are times in history when our soldiers' lives bought priceless freedom and human rights. But what have we gained in the last twelve years? Twenty five years? Sixty years?

Music is valuable. I know because my fans tell me. There's less money in it than ever but there's no less love. In fact, there's more love than ever because all the people who were in it for the money are getting out of the business. Money replaces relationships. I give you my dollar, you give me your biscuit. I don't have to provide you with anything of actual value or even wish you a good morning. I don't like using my credit card at the register because it's even less personal, each of us looking at our respective screens waiting to be released from the transaction back into our separate worlds. Money becomes a shield against a messy and rewarding relationship with the real world. I refer to Guy Clark regarding true love and homegrown tomatoes.

This weekend, I'm thinking about the real value of the "cheap" gas we're burning, the real value of a small plastic bottle of clean water, the real value of an American soldier. I guarantee I am burning more fuel than you this weekend. I lost count of the plastic bottles on stage and in the green room (thanks to Barley's in Maryville for tap water in pint glasses last night). You paid me for four years of service in the U.S. Navy and I'm not sure if there was any return on your investment.

I'm not in the pulpit on this one. I'm in the congregation. My fans are preaching to me about the value of my life. Thank you for reminding me at every show and every day online. Thanks for every message, every story you're embarrassed and yet compelled to tell me at the cd table after the show, every hoot and holler, every request, every spare bedroom, every "keep the change," every honest tear and belly laugh, every tapping foot and bobbing head in the audience. You've taught me not to worry too much about making a living, and to focus more on making a life.

It's Memorial Day weekend. Remember those who died in service, and do the things they would have wanted to do if they were still with us. Make a margarita from scratch. Tell your kids an embarrassing story about yourself. Let someone who doesn't deserve it cut in front of you. If you come see us, I promise it'll be worth more than the money you spend:

Friday May 22 8pm
The Down Home
Johnson City, TN

Saturday May 23 7pm
Cowee School
Franklin, NC

Sunday May 24
White Squirrel Festival
Brevard, NC
#WSFest


Your fan,

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Conservative Leaders Slam Boy Scouts Official's Call To End Ban On Gay Adult Members

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 8 min ago

LGBT advocacy groups have been quick to praise Boy Scouts National President Robert Gates, who called for an end to his organization's ban on gay adult participants earlier this week. But Gates' remarks have drawn their fair share of conservative criticism, too.

Gates raised the possibility of revising the Boy Scouts' policy May 21 at the BSA's national annual meeting in Atlanta, saying that the current "membership standards cannot be sustained," referencing a number of Scout councils that have defied the ban.

Franklin Graham, son of evangelical leader Billy Graham, was quick to slam Gates' remarks in a lengthy Facebook post, arguing that any forthcoming revision to the policy would "put young, innocent boys at risk."

He wrote:

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Robert Gates, shame on you for not having the moral courage to do what is right. Yesterday Gates, the president of Boy...

Posted by Franklin Graham on Friday, May 22, 2015

Echoing those sentiments was Bryan Fischer, who previously served as director of issue analysis for the American Family Association and who is no stranger to anti-LGBT remarks. He tweeted:

A word to fathers: if you care about the sexual integrity of your sons, GET THEM OUT OF THE BOY SCOUTS NOW.

— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) May 22, 2015


Meanwhile, Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, a conservative lobbying organization, blasted both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, the latter of which reiterated its transgender-inclusive policy this week after the American Family Association launched a petition against the organization because of that stance.

As Right Wing Watch first reported, Perkins argued that allowing openly gay adults to participate in the Boy Scouts would be another example of "the emasculation of our culture" and ultimately would make boys "soft" in a "Washington Watch" interview this week.

"You cannot survive as a culture," he said in the broadcast, which can be heard below. "You have to have warriors, you have to have a subculture that’s a warrior culture, that’s just a reality, and that’s being dismantled, one organization, one piece at a time."



The Boy Scouts last revised their policy in May 2013, when the organization ruled to accept openly gay youths starting on Jan. 1, 2014. Since that time, the ban on openly gay adults has remained in place.







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