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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Have Obamacare? You May Need It to Get Through Tax-Filing Season

Obamacare is about to collide with the U.S. tax-filing season, adding frustration for millions of taxpayers trying to figure out how to comply and how much they will owe the government.

Tax filing for 2014 opens Jan. 20. The biggest change for most taxpayers is on Line 61 of Form 1040: a box to check if you have health insurance and a tax to pay if you don’t. Millions who received insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges will have a more complicated set of calculations to complete.

“There’s going to be tons of questions and confusion and uncertainty and complexity,” said Kathy Pickering, executive director of the Tax Institute, the research and analysis division of H&R Block Inc. “We still have a lot of questions.”

The added strain on taxpayers will increase burdens on the Internal Revenue Service at its busiest time of the year. The IRS is already warning that about half the people who call its toll-free phone lines won’t be able to get through.


When it's okay to blame the victim

Nowadays, you can’t suggest that a woman watch her drink, avoid getting blackout drunk or to walk in well-lit areas without being accused of victim-blaming. But why is it okay to claim that students falsely accused of sex crimes somehow deserved to be falsely accused?

The most recent example of this form of victim-blaming, where the men who were falsely accused are the real victims, can be seen in the University of Virginia’s ham-handed response to an uncorroborated but explosive allegation of a brutal gang rape at one of its fraternities. U.Va. responded to the allegation by banning Greek social activities until Jan. 9, and only allowing fraternities and sororities to resume such activities if they sign new contracts. Those contracts are of course much more stringent for fraternities and have led to two campus organizations refusing to sign.

And remember, those new contracts were announced after the Washington Post discovered significant faults in the original rape allegation. The fact that the accuser made up a story about having a date or even being invited to a fraternity party by that fantasy date should have made U.Va. officials think twice about rushing to judgment and condemning Greek life on campus.

The university still wants fraternities to sign the agreements and accept punishment, even though local police found “no substantive basis” for the allegation that the rape in question occurred at Phi Kappa Psi. Instead of punishing just Phi Psi without evidence, U.Va. decided to punish all fraternities without evidence — the stated reason being that past behavior at fraternity parties warrants such restrictive punishment.


CocoJet 3D Printer

Goochland Homeschool Religion Bid Fails

School district officials in a generally rural central Virginia county have decided not to try to force homeschooling parents and children to justify their religious beliefs to the satisfaction of the government.

The taxpayer-funded school board for the Goochland County Public Schools voted on Tuesday night to reverse course — at least partially — on a policy that had required children ages 14 and older to furnish local school bureaucrats with a statement concerning their religious beliefs.

The repeal came after hundreds of angry parents showed up at a school board meeting to show and voice their concerns, area CBS affiliate WTVR reports.


Ciena to lay off 57 in Anne Arundel

Ciena Corp., the Hanover-based telecom networking equipment company, is laying off 57 employees in its distribution and product engineering departments, according to state officials.

The company filed a WARN layoff notice with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation that says the job cuts will take effect May 29. The state agency says it will provide outplacement services, as needed, for the affected employees.The company employs about 4,700 people.

Ciena spokeswoman Nicole Anderson said the company is outsourcing its distribution, repair and related activities. She said 55 employees in the company's supply chain team in Maryland will leave Ciena on a staggered timeline in May, August and October.


Mexican Government To Issue Birth Certificates In The US

On Thursday, the Mexican government began issuing birth certificates to its citizens at its 50 U.S.-based consulates, a move that will make it easier for illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses and work permits and to stay in the U.S. under President Obama’s executive amnesty decision.

In the past, Mexican citizens had to obtain their birth certificates from offices in Mexico. Individuals would often have relatives and friends obtain the documents and send them into the U.S.

But with the Mexican government’s help, its U.S.-based citizens will receive documents more quickly, which will help them apply for amnesty under Obama’s plan, which is expected to provide relief from deportation to approximately five million illegal immigrants.


New Governor Supports Post-Labor Day School Start; Online Petition Garners 13,244 Signatures For Change

OCEAN CITY — One day into the 2015 General Assembly session, the drive for a mandated statewide post-Labor Day start to the public school year in Maryland took front and center with supporters, including new Governor-Elect Larry Hogan, touting the benefits of the change.

In August, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot was on the Boardwalk in Ocean City to launch a petition drive seeking 10,000 signatures advocating a mandated post-Labor Day start to the public school year in Maryland.

On Thursday, Franchot gathered in Annapolis with Senator Jim Mathias (D-38), Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, other elected officials, small business owners, educators and tourism officials for a press conference thanking the 13,000-plus Marylanders from all over the state who signed the “Let Summer Be Summer” petition. Conspicuous by his presence was Hogan, who had not publicly weighed in on the issue.



“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” ― Aldous Huxley,Ends and Means

If 2014 was the year of militarized police, armored tanks, and stop-and-frisk searches, 2015 may well be the year of technologized police, surveillance blimps and scan-and-frisk searches.

Just as we witnessed neighborhood cops being transformed into soldier cops, we’re about to see them shapeshift once again, this time into robocops, complete with robotic exoskeletons, super-vision contact lenses, computer-linked visors, and mind-reading helmets.

Similarly, just as military equipment created for the battlefield has been deployed on American soil against American citizens, we’re about to see military technology employed here at home in a manner sure to annihilate what’s left of our privacy and Fourth Amendment rights.

For instance, with the flick of a switch (and often without your even being aware of the interference), police can now shut down your cell phone, scan your body for “suspicious” items as you walk down the street, test the air in your car for alcohol vapors as you drive down the street, identify you at a glance and run a background check on you for outstanding warrants, piggyback on your surveillance devices to listen in on your conversations and “see” what you see on your private cameras, and track your car’s movements via aGPS-enabled dart.

That doesn’t even begin to scrape the surface of what’s coming down the pike, with law enforcement and military agencies boasting technologies so advanced as to render everything up until now mere child’s play.

Once these technologies, which used to belong exclusively to the realm of futuristic sci-fi films, have been unleashed on an unsuspecting American public, it will completely change the face of American policing and, in the process, transform the landscape of what we used to call our freedoms.


Montgomery County police force to purchase body cameras

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — One Maryland police department will soon become the first in Montgomery County to buy and test body cameras.

The Gaithersburg Police Department will purchase five body cameras to be used in training scenarios that involve force.

The cameras will cost just more than $11,000, and the department hopes to begin the pilot program testing them next month.


Owner makes Arkansas gun range 'Muslim-free zone'

Jan Morgan, who owns the Gun Cave Indoor Firing Range in Hot Springs, Arkansas, has banned Muslims from her business. She says the ban is for safety reasons. Morgan barred two Arkansas men of Indian descent from the facility Sunday even though they are Hindi. 'I'm not Muslim, I'm just brown,' one said.


Larry Hogan says manufacturing jobs aren't 'gone for good in Maryland'

State leaders in Annapolis honed in on Maryland's economy and next year's in-the-red budget Thursday, with Gov.-elect Larry Hogan laying out some of his economic development priorities and top lawmakers warning of upcoming pain from balancing the state's books.

The Republican Hogan appeared back-to-back with legislative leaders from both parties at a Maryland Economic Development Association conference, delivering a speech wound tightly around business issues. Hogan said it is time to revamp the job training programs strewn around different departments in Maryland's government.

"Across our administration, successful programs will be expanded, faltering ones will be scrutinized, duplicative programs will be eliminated," Hogan said. "One area that clearly needs refining are the countless job-training programs that are scattered throughout state government."


To Beat the Coming Disability Insurance Disaster, Stay Healthy

For years Social Security’s trustees (of which I am one) have warned that lawmakers must act to address the troubled finances of the program’s disability insurance (DI) trust fund. Congress has nearly run out of time to do so. Legislation will be required during this Congress or, at the very latest, in a rush at the beginning of the next one, to prevent large sudden benefit cuts. The House of Representatives recently passed a procedural rule to prepare for the coming legislative debate. In this column I explain the issues in play.

The Problem
The problem in a nutshell is that Social Security’s disability trust fund is running out of money. The latest trustees’ report projects a reserve depletion date in late 2016. By law Social Security can only pay benefits if there is a positive balance in the appropriate trust fund (there are two: one for old-age and survivors’ benefits (OASI), the other for disability benefits). Absent such reserves, incoming taxes provide the only funds that can be spent. Under current projections, by late 2016 there will only be enough tax income to fund 81 percent of scheduled disability benefits. In other words, without legislation benefits will be cut 19 percent.


Ocean City Struggling With Purchase Price Of New Beach Playground Equipment

OCEAN CITY – The resort is dealing with sticker shock when it comes to replacing playground equipment on the beach.

On Tuesday, the Recreation and Parks Commission received an update on the endeavor to place additional playground equipment on the beach.

Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito announced the town received another donation of $2,000 from Greg Shockley of Shenanigans Irish Pub & Grille and the Shoreham Hotel to purchase additional beach playground equipment. Shockley had been working with a group of Boardwalk business owners to collect funding but has been the only donation from the group so far.

“This group would really love to see additional play structures in the future but they are unable to donate money right now,” Petito said. “Play equipment is very expensive.”


Transit labor union: Congress should raise gasoline tax, spend money on us

Low gas prices mean more cash in all consumers’ pockets.

But some members of Congress are talking about using the low gas prices as an opportunity to increase gasoline taxes, and at least one public-sector labor union boss thinks the extra cash should be in his members’ pockets instead.

“Given the recent dramatic drop in gas prices, now is the best time to eliminate the funding shortfalls that have plagued the federal transportation fund for years with an increase in the gas tax,” said Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents about 190,000 public transit workers in the U.S. and Canada.

A one-penny increase to the federal gasoline tax — 14.8 cents per gallon, where it has been since 1993 — would give the government to spend $1.5 billion on transportation infrastructure projects. Hanley said that money should be used to increase mass transit options in cities across the country.



PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona on Thursday became the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring high school students to pass a civics exam before graduation.

The swift action by the Arizona Legislature comes as states around the country take up similar measures. The proposal requires high school students to correctly answer 60 of 100 questions on the civics portion of the U.S. citizenship test.

The test is being pushed nationally by the Scottsdale-based Joe Foss Institute, which has set a goal of having all 50 states adopt it by 2017, the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. The institute says legislatures in 15 states are expected to consider it this year.


FDNY drops physical test requirement amid low female hiring rate

The Fire Department has stopped requiring probationary firefighters to pass a job-related physical-skills test before getting hired — a move that critics derided as a lowering of standards.

The move by first-year Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, which allows probies to fail components of the Functional Skills Training test but still graduate from the Fire Academy, comes amid criticism of the department’s low hiring rate of women.

“It’s a lowering of the standards across the board,” said one former FDNY official familiar with training protocol.

“What needs to matter is how well you perform the tasks of firefighting,” he added. “The question is when you’re 270 pounds and you’re on the fourth floor and someone comes through that window — can they pick you up and drag you out or not?”


For Valentine’s Day, Care for Your Heart with a Free Women’s Heart Screening at PRMC

Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to think of your heart – and to stay healthy for those you love. The Women’s Heart Program at Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s Guerrieri Heart & Vascular Institute is a free heart disease risk assessment that includes:
  • Cholesterol & HDL
  • Ankle/brachial index
  • Resting 12 lead EKG
  • Body fat
  • Body mass index
  • Waist to hip ratio
  • Blood pressure testing
  • Pulse oximetry testing
  • Coronary Risk Profile
  • Risk factor analysis
  • Review of current medications
  • Follow-up care plan
  • Exercise/nutrition recommendations
Women choosing to participate must not currently be under the care of a cardiologist or have a known history of heart disease. Appointments are available on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Call 410-543-7026 to schedule your free Women’s Heart Screening appointment.

Flu shot just 23 percent effective

Miami (AFP) - This US winter season's flu vaccine has been just 23 percent effective at preventing doctor visits for people of all ages, according to health authorities' early estimates out Thursday.

The flu vaccine for 2014-2015 is not the worst ever -- the past decade has ranged from 10 percent to 60 percent effective -- but its record is worrying enough that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged doctors to ramp up the use of antiviral medications in people who fall ill with influenza.

Its lack of punch is being blamed on multiple strains of the H3N2 virus that are circulating and making people sick, but that were not included in this season's vaccine.


SFD Calls For Service 1-16-15

  • Friday January, 16 2015 @ 20:53Nature: Medical EmergencyCity:Salisbury
  • Friday January, 16 2015 @ 19:46Nature: Medical EmergencyCity:Salisbury
  • Friday January, 16 2015 @ 19:09Nature: Medical EmergencyCity:Salisbury
  • Friday January, 16 2015 @ 18:02 Nature: Pro Qa FireAddress: 111 Circle Ave Salisbury, MD 21801
  • Friday January, 16 2015 @ 17:24Nature: Medical EmergencyCity:Salisbury

Bait & Switch: “Economic Development” in the States

Businesses do not locate in any one place solely because of the tax laws

North Carolina recently offered Boeing $683 million in tax incentives to open a plant in North Carolina to build Boeing’s new 777X jetliner.

The NC bid failed, as did those from some other states, when Boeing decided to build the 777X in its home state of Washington where there is no state, personal, or corporate income tax.

More recently, North Carolina was prepared to offer Toyota up to $107 million worth of incentives to lure the automaker’s North American headquarters from Los Angeles to Charlotte, bringing 2,900 jobs with it. The Charlotte Observer reported that Charlotte lost out to Plano, Texas. The Texas offer was only $40 million but Texas has no corporate or personal income tax and has direct flights to Japan.

Businesses do not locate in any one place solely because of the tax laws. However, as tax burdens climb, the tax treatment of the business itself, and of its higher-paid employees and executives, becomes a more important consideration. Thus the incentive packages, made up primarily of special tax abatements for a set period of time, are developed and used in recruiting new businesses.


In Middle of Fox News Blackout, Docs Reveal Dish Chairman Donated Thousands to Dems

One look at the political history of Dish Network founder and Chairman Charles Ergen places the idea that the network dropped Fox News over a simple contract dispute in serious doubt.

Since Dec. 20, when the Dish network dropped Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, the former has lost about 90,000 subscribers.

The Media Research Center’s Dan Joseph decided to take a look at OpenSecrets documents revealing Ergen’s political donations from last year, which immediately raised some red flags. Ergen donated a total of $64,000 to the Democratic Senatorial campaign Committee, according to the report.

As Joseph writes, Ergen’s donating record obviously doesn’t prove he is intentionally blocking Fox out of spite for his political preferences. But, that’s not all:

In 2012, a federal complaint was filed against Ergen in which several company executives alleged that he had intimidated them into making contributions to specific candidates, the majority of which were Democrats.

The claim was filed by an unnamed company insider who accused Ergen of "forcing" Dish Network’s Chief Operating Officer Bernard Han to donate to a Democratic Party candidate in the 2009/2010 election cycle.

The complaint also claimed that Han was “encouraged" to attend Democratic functions and fundraisers and that other Dish employees were strong-armed by Ergen in a similar way.

Since Dec. 20, when the Dish network dropped Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, the former has lost about 90,000 subscribers.e look at the political history of Dish Network founder and Chairman Charles Ergen places the idea that the network dropped Fox News over a simple contract dispute in serious doubt.

Since Dec. 20, when the Dish network dropped Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, the former has lost about 90,000 subscribers.

The Media Research Center’s Dan Joseph decided to take a look at OpenSecrets documents revealing Ergen’s political donations from last year, which immediately raised some red flags. Ergen donated a total of $64,000 to the Democratic Senatorial campaign Committee, according to the report.

As Joseph writes, Ergen’s donating record obviously doesn’t prove he is intentionally blocking Fox out of spite for his political preferences. But, that’s not all:


Council Mulls Options For Pension Savings

OCEAN CITY – It is that time of year for the current fiscal year to receive its first update, as the council weighs its options in how to spend pension contribution savings.

The first amendment to the current fiscal year budget (FY15) came before the Mayor and City Council during Tuesday’s work session.

According to Budget Manager Jennie Knapp, the budget amendment appropriates an additional $855,680 from fund balance to cover council approved expenditures for street paving, Beach Patrol headquarters, the town’s local match for repaving of a runway at the municipal airport and the transfer of Beautification Committee donations to fund a water feature at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center.


Feds say red tape bars firing incompetents, but won't, even when they can

Managers in the federal government say they can’t fire underperforming employees because of too-restrictive civil service rules, but when they do have ample opportunity and authority to do so — during the one-year probationary period for new hires — they use it less than two percent of the time, according to the Merit Systems Protection Board.

The board also reported that most federal hiring managers don’t rely on references from previous employers when evaluating applicants.

And President Obama’s removal of an essay portion of the job application process has led to people applying for jobs indiscriminately, leaving civil service bosses with little ability to judge whether a person is a good fit for a job and whether they really want that particular job at all.


Rand Paul says 'over half the people on disability' are undeserving'

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told attendees of a New Hampshire meet and greet this morning that 'over half the people on disability' are undeserving and are 'gaming the system.'

The 2016 presidential hopeful made the remarks while speaking at a breakfast for legislative leaders at Murphy's Diner in Manchester that was open to the press.

His speech was videotaped by a Democratic tracker, and an excerpt containing the remarks on persons claiming to be disabled was posted to YouTube.


Atlantic Hotel’s 120th Anniversary Benefit Event To Honor Founders

BERLIN — The Atlantic Hotel will host a special fundraiser on Friday, Jan. 30 to benefit the continued promotion of “Cool Berlin” during 2015.

This event will honor the families who were responsible for the 1980’s restoration of The Atlantic Hotel. The community is invited to join in celebrating the 120th anniversary of this iconic landmark.

A tapas and wine tasting evening will feature food and appropriate wines from France, Spain, Italy and Germany.


Two crashes shutdown Rt. 13 in Accomack County

ACCOMACK, Va. (WAVY) Two crashes in Accomack County shutdown Rt. 13 Saturday morning.

The first one happened around 4:40 a.m. when a tractor trailer carrying 50,000 pounds of milk overturned in the southbound lanes of Rt. 13 near Tasley Road. The crash fuel and milk to spill across the roadway and into a ditch, according to a spokeswoman for Virginia State Police.

Police closed the southbound and northbound lanes of Rt. 13 while the Tasley volunteer fire Department to clean up the spill.


Wicomico County Council Agenda For January 20th

How the Obama-Sharpton Alliance Began

Obama dispatched Valerie Jarrett in 2008 to woo the reverend.

Near the end of 2007, Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett met with Al Sharpton in New York City and began to cement a relationship that would eventually make the inflammatory activist the president’s “go-to man” on race, according to multiple sources.

The backdrop to the incipient Obama-Sharpton alliance was the then-senator’s 2008 presidential campaign, which still hadn’t locked away the black vote, and the political cross-currents created by two other controversial reverends, Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah Wright.

That tentative relationship has now grown into a full-blown partnership that has vastly increased the once-shunned Sharpton’s influence and prestige and elevated him into a key White House ally at a time of heightened tension over policing and race.


IRS Watchdog: Elderly and Disabled Taxpayers Not Allowed to Leave Messages

In its annual Report to Congress today, the office of the National Taxpayer Advocate outlined a series of Internal Revenue Service failures. In the “Access to the IRS” section, the report details the trouble taxpayers face reaching the right person in order to meet their tax obligations:

"The IRS does not answer the phone at local offices and has even removed the option it once provided for taxpayers, including the elderly and disabled, to leave a message.”

Until 2013, taxpayers — including the elderly and disabled — were allowed to leave a voicemail requesting an in-person appointment. But now, elderly and disabled taxpayers attempting to navigate the automated helpline maze are asked to email the IRS to set up an appointment. The automated message instructs as follows:

“If you are disabled or elderly and require special accommodations for service, please email us at…"

But this leaves many taxpayers in the dark. As the report states:

"Demographic research data show only 57 percent of adults over age 65 use the Internet compared with 87 percent of all adults. According to 2010 Census data, only 41 percent of those with a non-severe disability use the Internet and only 22 percent of those with a severe disability age 65 and older use the Internet. For those without Internet access, the only viable ways to reach the IRS are by phone, or in person."


Street Performer Issues Likely Main Focus Of Boardwalk Task Force

OCEAN CITY – The Town of Ocean City is looking to form a Boardwalk Regulation Task Force that will weigh ongoing issues with street performers on the Boardwalk and make recommendations to the Mayor and City Council about changing local laws.

This week the Mayor and City Council decided to pass forward legislation approving the formation of a task force to study issues regarding Boardwalk regulations.

According to City Manager David Recor, the town’s legal counsel regarding street performers on the Boardwalk is Venable LLP, and its scope of services includes the formation of a task force to study current Boardwalk regulations and make recommendations, as appropriate, in connection with the impact of recent court rulings addressing regulation of the Boardwalk, such as steps that the town has taken to satisfy those court rulings; issues that have arisen as a result of the town’s implementation of those court rulings; the current state of applicable law; and any revisions to the Town Code to address issues relating to the regulation of the Boardwalk.


Need help filing out your tax return? Don't call the IRS

WASHINGTON (AP) — Filing a federal tax return is about to get more complicated for millions of families because of President Barack Obama's health law. But they shouldn't expect much help from the Internal Revenue Service.

Got a question for the IRS? Good luck reaching someone by phone. The tax agency says only half of the 100 million people expected to call this year will be able to reach a person.

Callers who do get through may have to wait on hold for 30 minutes or more to talk to someone who will answer only the simplest questions.

"Taxpayers who need help are not getting it, and tax compliance is likely to suffer over the longer term if these problems are not quickly and decisively addressed," said a report Wednesday by agency watchdog Nina E. Olson.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says budget cuts are forcing the agency to reduce taxpayer services and other functions. The number of audits will decline, technology upgrades will be delayed and the agency might be forced to shut down and furlough workers for two days later this year, Koskinen said.

The IRS will no longer help low-income taxpayers fill out their returns, and tax refunds could be delayed for people who file paper returns.

"It couldn't be worse timing," Koskinen said of the budget cuts.




The following is from The Salisbury Advertiser of February 19, 1876.

At the time, it was published and owned by Lemuel Malone. Mr. Malone was also an attorney and dealer in real estate. A subscription to the Advertiser was $1.00 per annum. It was published every Saturday. Their office was located at 46 Main St. It was destroyed in the Fire of 1886.

I first became interested in this copy of the old newspaper years ago when I spotted an article about a baseball game. According to the newspaper, “A game of baseball was played on Pea Hill last Monday”. No score, no particulars. Research led me to do a map search of Pea Hill. The best I could come up with was a Pea Hill somewhere between the junction of Cooper Road and Collins Wharf Road. It was out in the country and I thought that was a logical place for a ball field.

Later discoveries proved me wrong in my original placement of Pea Hill. It seems that the plot of land that is now known as the Oaks was a popular recreation area in 1876. The name of the park area was known as Pea Hill. The land is on the Northwest side of the intersection of Isabella and Division Streets. By the 1880’s Elihu Jackson bought the land and built his Mansion on it. But in the 1870’s Pea Hill was a popular gathering place for Salisburians on the weekends to picnic and have the occasional baseball game.

More items from the paper:

Item 1: “We are of the opinion that the “ground hog” story is a barefaced
fraud”. (Remember this paper was published on Feb. 19th and “ground
hog day” was fresh in everybody’s mind.)

Item 2. “The debating society have decided that the Bible should remain
in the public schools. That settles it”. (Where did we go wrong?)

Item 3: “Needed improvements: We are glad to notice that the Town
Commissioners have taken steps to have the breaks in the sidewalk
on Division street placed in proper order. Not only will the pavements
in the front of private property be attended to, but the crossings will
have plank put down. The lumber is now on the ground ready for
using and it will not be long we hope before we shall have a
continuous path walk from Mr. T. Humphreys mill dam to the Park.
The matter should have been attended to long ago”.

City pressing ahead with app amidst transit complications

After years of floating the idea, the city is closer than ever to making a deal on a system that will allow visitors to track municipal buses using a web or phone application.

But now that the technology is in reach, the city still must decide how far it wishes to go – and how much it wishes to spend – on a program whose utility may be limited for a community that only has one bus route, on a single straight road, that’s only used for about four months of the year.

“What we have to decide is what we think we need today, and what we can add on later,” said Mayor Rick Meehan during last Tuesday’s Transportation Commission meeting.


132-year-old Winchester rifle found propped against tree in Nevada desert

(CNN) — If this rifle could talk.

In a gravely voice, it may recite a yarn of weary settlers swaying on horses’ backs in the parched, rocky Nevada wilderness. It may talk about riding in a saddle holster across neighboring Utah more than a decade before it became a state of the union.

Great Basin National Park workers found the Winchester Model 1873 propped against a tree in the desert in November.

Who knows how many years the rifle stood there, after someone left behind the model called “the gun that won the West.” Did they have to depart in a hurry — running from danger?

Or did they not see it, as it stood neatly camouflaged against the arid trunk of the juniper tree?


Romney falls flat with GOP lawmakers

Republican lawmakers aren’t jumping on the Mitt Romney 2016 bandwagon.

Even among his onetime allies, the news that the former Massachusetts governor is considering a third consecutive run for president is being met with criticism or cool indifference on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Romney’s congressional liaison for his 2012 run, said Tuesday he might support one of his Senate colleagues for president.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who backed Romney before the 2012 Iowa caucus, said he’s going to “wait and see.”

And another senator who spoke on background to offer a candid assessment of how Romney could affect the 2016 race offered a stark dismissal.

“What we know about Romney last time, he lost the election with working Americans,” said the conservative senator, who backed Romney in 2012. “[Among] those making $30,000 to $50,000, he lost it by 15 percent, and [those making] under $30,000 by 28 percent. You can’t win an election like that. And it can’t just be words. I’ll be looking for candidates who are authentic, who have credibility.”


WCBOE -Public Budget Hearing 1-15-15

Dear Jamie Dimon: This Is Why US Banks Are "Under Assault"

Earlier today, during the JPM conference call, when Jamie Dimon wasn't busy explaining why the Q4 earnings presentation was sorely missing the page showing JPM's latest Net Interest Margin, a staple placeholder page in the presentation appendix, he found time to lament something totally different. As Bloomberg reports, Dimon lashed out at U.S. regulators for putting his bank "under assault."

"We have five or six regulators or people coming after us on every different issue,” Dimon, 58, said today on a call with reporters after New York-based JPMorgan reported fourth-quarter results. “It’s a hard thing to deal with."

"In the old days, you dealt with one regulator when you had an issue, maybe two. Now it’s five or six. It makes it very difficult and very complicated. You all should ask the question about how American that is. And how fair that is. And how complex that is for companies.”

We don't know how American, or how fair, or how complex, but we know why. The reason: JPMorgan and the rest of the world's banks have now become the world's biggest organized crime syndicate.

The evidence? $178 billion in government kickbacks  to keep their criminal scheme going for the past 5 years: something which none other than the BCG called a "cost of doing business" - criminal business that is. And as of this morning, another "unexpected" $1 billion more, thanks to you.


Dover Police DashCam Confessional

Wake Forest donor boycott sought over Imam Khalid Griggs' ties to radical groups

Chaplain linked to Islamic Party, which advocates U.S. Muslim sovereignty under Shariah law

A Wake Forest University alumnus is calling on fellow graduates to stage a donor boycott until the university addresses the ties its first Muslim chaplain has with some radical groups and conducts a “fair and open debate to air the very real dangers” of Shariah law.

In an email to 24,000 alumni who graduated before 2000, Donald Woodsmall questions the 2010 hiring of Imam Khalid Griggs, who has acknowledged ties to groups that advocate for U.S. Muslims to separate from mainstream society to form a “sovereign” Muslim-American community, governed by Shariah — or Islamic law and ethics.


UVA Fraternities Refuse To Sign New Agreement

Two University of Virginia fraternities are refusing to agree to a new set of rules governing fraternity parties, arguing that the new requirements are based on a lie.

“The University violated the previous FAO [Fraternal Operating Agreement] as well as student individual and organizational rights,” the two fraternities, Kappa Alpha Order and Alpha Tau Omega, wrote in similarly-worded letters on Tuesday.

“The system-wide suspension, which was initiated for reasons that were found to be untrue, unfairly punished all members of fraternities and sororities,” the letters continued.

The fraternities are referring to UVA president Teresa Sullivan’s blanket suspension of all Greek-life activity on Nov. 22, days after the publication of a Rolling Stone article which reported claims made by a student named Jackie who said that in Sept. 2012 she was gang-raped by seven members of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.


Economic Death Spiral: More American Businesses Dying Than Starting

In a stunning Tuesday report, Gallup CEO and Chairman Jim Clifton revealed that “for the first time in 35 years, American business deaths now outnumber business births.”

Clifton says for the past six years since 2008, employer business startups have fallen below the business failure rate, spurring what he calls “an underground earthquake” that only stands to worsen as lagging U.S. Census data becomes available.

“Let’s get one thing clear: This economy is never truly coming back unless we reverse the birth and death trends of American businesses,” writes Clifton.


Is the White House a ‘Sleeper Cell’?

I’m still trying to figure out why Obama — or any high-level U. S. government official other than Eric Holder, who was in Paris but evidently had better things to do — didn’t join the nearly 4 million people who marched throughout France protesting the terror killings at #CharlieHebdo and the Hyper Cacher market. White House press secretary Josh Earnest has admitted the mistake and apologized (perhaps a little wishy-washily, but we’ll give him a pass), informing us that, unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough time to arrange presidential security for the trip.

That’s interesting. Somehow there was time for security for 40 or so other world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel (arguably the most highly regarded politician on the planet at the moment and the de facto president of the EU), the UK’s David Cameron, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy and even Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu (probably a considerably bigger target than Obama these days and not exactly welcomed by France’s President Hollande, if reports are correct). Of course, the “American president” is supposedly more important but — correct me if I’m wrong — Obama was not originally so gung-ho on American exceptionalism, equating it with British exceptionalism and Greek exceptionalism, etc., etc. All countries, after all, feel they are exceptional.

Well, he’s changed his mind on this several times, so who’s to say? And there was a game on. I’m a sports fan, too, tennis more than football (wimpy, huh?), so I understand. You’d have trouble prying me away from the Australian Open when it starts next week. (Djokovic and Nadal ain’t so wimpy.) But still, in the event of one of the biggest and ugliest terror events in recent years, if I were president, I hope I’d TiVo a couple of rounds.

Just yesterday I theorized the real reason Obama didn’t go is he just couldn’t put the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” together in one sentence even if, forgive the tired image, it hit him in the face. (The exception of course being when insisting that something is NOT Islam.) He just can’t handle it after nearly fifty years of virtually non-stop anti-imperialist programming. His mind would fly apart if he had to utter the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” which French PM Valls, and any honest person, was quite willing to do.

Now I admit that was just a supposition. Just because I’ve never heard him link Islam and terror doesn’t mean in his heart of hearts he doesn’t. Though not a genius, he does have an IQ in triple digits and sees what’s right in front of his nose, I assume. He just interprets it differently. But why?

Is someone whispering in his ear?


Senators Call on Justice Department to Stop Sharing Asset Forfeiture Funds

Leading members of the House and Senate judiciary committees called on the Justice Department on Friday to cut off the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of proceeds from seized property to police departments around the country.

The congressmen said in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that the Justice Department should stop distributing funds from its “equitable sharing” program, which pools money seized under asset forfeiture laws and shares it with law enforcement agencies across the country.

“We believe that in many circumstances, civil asset forfeiture is a valuable tool in combating serious wrongdoing,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, we have concerns that the government is not using the process fairly and instead is infringing on the rights of small business owners and motorists, some of whom are our constituents.”


Is the Stock Bubble Bursting?

Houston we have a problem…

For most of the “recovery,” the inflation trade was relatively correlated with high yield credit and stocks moving alongside economically sensitive commodities such as Oil and Copper.

This all fell apart in early 2013. From that point onwards, according to Oil, Copper, and credit, the economy flat-lined. In contrast, stocks kept chugging along, oblivious.