Sunday, April 26, 2015

Today's bible lesson

Saturday, April 25, 2015

On the veteran returning home

Gretchen Peters sings "When All You Got Is A Hammer" from her latest Blackbirds album.

Once seen it can not be unseen

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

Their last can of Who Hash

If left to their own devices peasants will last forever. But all to often in this world those who have all and more than they need feel the urge to go "Full Grinch" on some quaint group of peasants somewhere and take the last thing of value they have. This may entail commodities or food stuffs. A fine recent example of this is the grain quinoa, left for the peasants to eat because the Haves did not want it, until some trend setter made it the next coming of Vegetable Christ. And now the Central & South American peasants who lived comfortably on cheap and plentiful quinoa are having trouble being able to afford it. And now the peasants of Ethiopia are being targeted with the opportunity to share their manna with the otherwise overfed asses of the trendy world.
Outside Ethiopian diaspora communities — and Ethiopian restaurants — teff remained largely anonymous for decades. But growing appetites for traditional crops and nutritious foods mean customers ranging from families to hipsters in New York and London are now seeking their fix too. The crop is now grown in about 25 U.S. states, but Ethiopians claim you can’t beat teff grown in its homeland for flavor and quality.

Previously heralded so-called superfoods, however, such as Andean quinoa, have illustrated hidden consequences for locals when their indigenous staples find eager customers in more affluent countries. Even before the growth in international demand, poor Ethiopians were struggling to afford increasingly expensive teff.

“A piece of injera used to cost about 50 santeem ($0.02), but now it’s nearly four Ethiopian birr ($0.19),” said Nathaniel, the manager of a hotel in the eastern Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa. It’s estimated that 29 percent of Ethiopia’s population lives on less than $2 a day.

Nathaniel said that the tables on the hotel terrace lacked lunch patrons because people can’t afford to eat out and that many locals, faced with low incomes and high food prices, skip breakfast each day and eat only a midmorning snack followed by an injera-based meal later in the afternoon.

Teff, primarily ground into flour to make injera, is the backbone of Ethiopia’s food. But throughout millennia of farming, most Ethiopians remained unaware of the nutritional gem in their midst.

Though teff is tiny — about 100 grains match a kernel of wheat — it is a nutritional heavyweight. It has a mild, nutty flavor, and it’s high in calcium, iron and protein, with an excellent balance of amino acids. Plus it’s naturally gluten-free. In flour form, it can be used to make foods ranging from bread and pasta to tortillas, piecrusts and cookies, with a far larger potential market than just diaspora Ethiopians needing a taste of home.

"People are dreaming of teff nowadays. After thousands of years, it has become the trendy thing over here," said Sophie Sirak-Kebede, a British-Ethiopian co-owner of London-based Tobia Teff, which sells teff flour, teff bread, breakfast cereals such as teff flakes and teff porridge and, of course, injera.
And the new front in Gastronomic Imperialism will not make it easier for those who have gone before. The pressures will remain as the lesser trendies take up that cause.

Public Safety

Friday, April 24, 2015

Too much talent

Nellie McKay, American singer, songwriter, actress, comedienne has a habit of making her music for herself. Which makes it very hard for the music business to turn her into the next Lady Gaga or Beyonce, but she is kool with that. From her latest album, My Weekly Reader, we see she is content covering a Country Joe McDonald tune "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine"

When you have only one big idea

From the pen of Jim Morin

So we get a few extras now and then

We are still having good hunting when we go droning in Waziristan, and that is what we are aiming for.
While the C.I.A. drone strike that killed two Western hostages has led to intense criticism of the drone program and potentially a reassessment of it, the American successes over the years in targeting and killing senior Qaeda operatives in their home base has left the militant group’s leadership diminished and facing difficult choices, counterterrorism officials and analysts say.

That process of attrition has been accelerated by the emergence of the Islamic State, whose arresting brutality and superior propaganda have sucked up funding and recruits. In the tribal belt, a Pakistani military drive that started last summer has forced Qaeda commanders into ever more remote areas like the Shawal Valley, where two of them were killed alongside the American hostage Warren Weinstein and an Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto, on Jan. 15.

Even the death of Mr. Weinstein, a prized hostage whom Al Qaeda had long sought to exchange for prisoners or money, is emblematic of the state of siege. Whereas in Syria, the Islamic State has turned hostage execution into a macabre propaganda spectacle, Al Qaeda has seen any dividend from its captives snatched away, albeit inadvertently, by its American foes.

“Core Al Qaeda is a rump of its former self,” said an American counterterrorism official, in an assessment echoed by several European and Pakistani officials.

The Pakistanis estimate that Al Qaeda has lost 40 loyalists, of all ranks, to American drone strikes in the past six months – a higher toll than other sources have tracked but indicative of a broader trend. Now, they say, Qaeda commanders are moving back to the relative safety, and isolation, of locations they once fled, like the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, and Sudan.

Yet militancy experts caution that it is too early to sound the death knell for Al Qaeda’s leaders, for whom patience and adaptability are hallmarks, and who, despite the adversity, remain the principal jihadist militants focused on attacking the West.
Is it our fault we don't get bonus points for the extras?

Will "Pro-Life" Nebraska kill the death penalty.

One of the enduring hypocrisies of the "Pro Life" crowd has been their usually unwavering support for the death penalty. On the face of it, the contradiction is glaring but t hat is only if you think the "Pro Life" crowd was in any way based on a positive life affirming belief. Taken as the ultimate big government intrusion into your life, it fits in perfectly. Now the legislature of Nebraska wants to end that.
State lawmakers approved Legislative Bill 268 late last week, which would replace the death penalty with life without parole, in a lopsided 30-13 vote, enough to overcome Ricketts’ promised veto if support holds. Backers of the bill, including several Republican advocates, are now trying to wrangle additional supporters to overcome the remaining legislative hurdles. Two more rounds of voting must take place under the rules of Nebraska’s unicameral legislature — the only one of its kind in the nation — and 33 state senators may be needed to break debate at the next stage.

“I’m actually very optimistic that we can get the votes we need for cloture to end the filibuster,” said Stacy Anderson, the executive director of Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, an advocacy group that has been lobbying legislators on the issue. “There are senators in the body who don’t support the repeal, but they support this being given an up-or-down vote. They believe a vote should be taken.”

The rejection of the death penalty in Nebraska shows that more Republican lawmakers at the state level feel free to express their qualms about capital punishment and champion abolishment efforts. Similar legislation has been introduced in Kansas and Arkansas, but in those states, the bills have not made it out of committee.

“It makes sense for Republicans to support repeal. It’s antithetical to life,” said Marc Hyden, the director of the national group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. “What’s happening in Nebraska is what we’re seeing nationwide — more and more people are seeing the death penalty as a broken system that doesn’t line up with their values.”

If the proposal succeeds in Nebraska, it will be the first solidly red state to abolish capital punishment in decades. (Blue states Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland repealed the death penalty in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively.) In 32 states, however, executions are still legal, according to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.

“There’s strong conservative leadership in the body to actually get the repeal bill passed,” Anderson said. “We’re in a race with several states to be the first red state repeal, so I think it’s just a matter of time before we see that happening.”
Everything about the death penalty is getting pretty iffy. If this passes, they won't have that headache anymore.

A classic performance from Cuban Ted Cruz

In the matter of Loretta Lynch and the Senate confirmation of her appointment, Ted Cruz carried on in the manner to which we should become accustomed to until we can safely deport him to Cuba. First he made a series of loud and most obvious noises unto his lizard brained base and then when the vote came, he was off fundraising.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, lectured his colleagues in a floor speech Thursday about how unsuitable Loretta Lynch was for U.S. attorney general, only to skip the vote on her confirmation and catch a plane to Dallas for a meeting and a fundraiser for his presidential campaign.

Cruz, who has been one of Lynch’s chief antagonists, was the only senator who missed the vote, which made the New York federal prosecutor the nation’s newest chief law enforcement officer by vote of 56-43.

Cruz’s absence was noteworthy and set political networks buzzing, because just a few hours earlier on the Senate floor he chided Republicans for failing to band together against her nomination.

It was a signature move for the first-term senator from the Lone Star State, who revels in tweaking and undercutting his own party colleagues in the chamber as much he does the Democrats.

Asked why he missed the confirmation vote, Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said that the senator “had a commitment in Texas.”
We must set the priorities.

What the GOP has on offer

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fourteen years of teaching songwriting

At the Berklee School of Music makes it difficult for Susan Cattaneo to pick a bad song for her sets. Funny about how she does so well at C & W having grown up a Jersey girl. Here she sings "Lorelei" from her Haunted Heart album.

Preparing for the future

From the pen of  Jeff Stahler

The joys of stealing big

If you put no limit on how much you can and will steal, the authorities will have a hard time grasping the extent of your grasping and any penalty when you are caught will in no way match the size of your gain. Deutsche Bank is the latest to benefit from this anomaly as it will pay a piddly $2.5B in fines for manipulating rates on the shit it sells.
Deutsche Bank will pay a $2.5 billion penalty to United States and British authorities to settle accusations that it helped manipulate the benchmarks used to set interest rates on trillions of dollars in mortgages, student loans, credit cards and other debt, officials said on Thursday.

The penalty is by far the largest in a yearslong investigation into whether large banks conspired to set the price of debt in ways that would be profitable for them. Until Thursday, the largest fine was the $1.5 billion the Swiss bank UBS agreed to pay in 2012 — one of several global banks linked to the gaming of interest rates.

The size of the fine reflected Deutsche Bank’s large share of the market for derivatives and other financial instruments tied to the rates. The authorities denounced the bank, Germany’s biggest financial institution and one of the last European banks with a major Wall Street presence, for what they said was lax oversight of traders and employees involved in setting rates, as well as a failure to respond to warning signs of misconduct. They also said the bank also misled investigators and dragged its feet in providing information.

Excerpts from electronic messages showed traders from Deutsche Bank and other investment banks addressing each other as “dude,” “mate” and “amigo” as they colluded to help their own trading positions at the expense of millions of borrowers.

The fixing of interest rates by Deutsche Bank employees in London, Frankfurt, New York and Tokyo from 2005 to 2011 was deliberate, and the employees were aware that it was wrong, the authorities said.

“One division at Deutsche Bank had a culture of generating profits without proper regard to the integrity of the market,” Georgina Philippou, acting director of enforcement and market oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority in Britain, said in a statement. “This wasn’t limited to a few individuals but, on certain desks, it appeared deeply ingrained.”

As part of the settlement, one of Deutsche Bank’s British subsidiaries will plead guilty to fraud, and the company will install an independent monitor who will ensure that the bank complies with New York laws.

The authorities also ordered the bank to fire seven managers suspected of involvement in the wrongdoing, all but one of whom are in London. They were among 29 employees believed to have taken part, most of whom have already left the bank.
Actually getting an admission of guilt must be the Brits fault, the US never seems to be able to accomplish that. The same with the firing of seven small to medium sized fish.

Well, it's $4.75 higher than Republicans think is necessary

So it's not as much as most would like and and it comes later as well, but a $12 Minimum Wage by 2020 is the new Democratic tool to bedevil the Republicans.
Democrats in Congress are uniting around a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Within the next several days, Senator Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that deals with labor issues, plans to introduce a bill to increase the minimum wage, in steps, from its current level of $7.25 to $12 by 2020.

The measure has little chance of passing the Republican-controlled Congress in the near future, but it is the latest indication of Democrats’ rising ambitions for lifting the wage floor, an issue with considerable popular support in an era of increasing income inequality. The party is determined to elevate the issue in next year’s congressional and presidential elections.

Senator Murray’s forthcoming bill, and a companion measure by Representative Robert C. Scott in the House, have considerable support within the party, according to congressional aides. Among the 15 to 20 Democrats who already back the effort in the Senate are Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, and Charles E. Schumer of New York, his chosen successor.

“The politics, substance and morality coincide to make it a winner issue for us in 2016,” Senator Schumer said. “It appeals not just to the people who would benefit,” he added. “Polling data shows it appeals to middle-class people, people of high income.”
By 2020 it will still be less than necessary. And if we are still fighting for it by 2020 we will be in deep shit.

For those who haven't read it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

While in Blighty on her world tour

Caitlin Rose recorded this version of her tune "Own Side" from her album of the same name.

Master Debater or World Class Wanker

The New York Times
has look at the undergraduate debating career of Ted Cruz and it shows how he has honed his strengths and weaknesses during those heady days.
To many former teammates and opponents who recounted his Princeton debating career, Mr. Cruz, the Texas senator who has emerged as a formidable Republican presidential candidate, stood out as a remarkable orator in a college circuit brimming with Type A strivers.

But in the upper echelon of a rollicking debating world that exalted extemporaneous thinking, where topics ranged from the concrete to the absurd, and where facts and moral assessments took a back seat to quick thinking and wit, Mr. Cruz had a different reputation.

Regarded as a powerful speaker who depended on overly prepared, or “canned,” cases, Mr. Cruz could be foiled with humor. His emotional zeal, no matter which side he was arguing, rubbed more experienced judges the wrong way. So did his stilted speaking style and standoffishness on the debate world’s vibrant social scene, where kegs flowed at Friday night parties. His raw ambition sometimes soured the student judges, as well as the audiences who voted in championship rounds, on him.

A lawyer who came to prominence arguing before the Supreme Court, Mr. Cruz has leveraged his intellectual bandwidth and ability to articulate a defiant brand of conservatism into a political career that has taken him to where he always expected to be. As a presidential candidate, he is now calibrating his arguments to win over evangelical Christians, Tea Party voters and moneyed donors.

Mr. Cruz honed those skills as a college debater, an experience that served as a beta version for his national campaign. It was a time when his strengths, weaknesses and occasional self-defeating ploys were all on display.
An interesting glimpse of the man who sees himself as El Guapo. So lets close with one of the first efforts to stop this golden child from thinking too much of himself.
Mr. Cruz did not get along with his first roommate, a liberal who put Super Glue on Mr. Cruz’s alarm clock snooze button.

Earth Day Greetings from a Republican

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

Good news and bad news

The good news is that green energy employment is climbing faster than coal employment is declining. This would mean that the lost jobs are being replaced, if the job openings were in coal country, but they are not.
Far more jobs have been created in wind and solar in recent years than lost in the collapse of the coal industry, and renewable energy is poised for record growth in the United States this year.

“I started this company in 2009 and I have seen tremendous growth since then,” said John Billingsley, CEO of Tri-Global Energy in Dallas.

Billingsley built his business on wind energy, which generated more than 10 percent of the electricity in Texas last year. He said he is hiring more workers to expand into solar power as well.

Researchers at Duke University, using data from renewable energy trade associations, estimate in a new study published in the journal Energy Policy that more than 79,000 direct and spinoff jobs were created from wind and solar electricity generation between 2008 and 2012.

That compares with an estimate of about 49,530 coal industry job losses, according to the study. While natural gas was the biggest winner in creating jobs for electricity generation, with almost 95,000 jobs created in that time, it’s clear renewable energy has been on the rise in the United States.

“The capacity growth in wind was amazing, and the growth in solar has been absolutely phenomenal,” said Lincoln Pratson, professor of earth and ocean sciences at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Wind power created 9,000 jobs in Texas in 2014, according to the American Wind Energy Association, and there are 7,500 megawatts of wind projects under construction in Texas, more than all other states combined.

California is the solar king and is expected to account for more than half the solar construction this year.

But the region hardest hit by the decline of the coal industry, Appalachia, is seeing few green jobs created.

“In West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, where a lot of the job losses have occurred, it is very rugged terrain, these are not easy places to set up wind and solar facilities, they are heavily forested,” Pratson said.

State laws also helped drive the growth outside of Appalachia. Pratson said. Twenty-nine states specify a percentage of renewable electricity that utilities should meet, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Kentucky and West Virginia are not among them.

“States with incentives have more growth,” said Drew Hearer, a Duke University research analyst who co-authored the study. “The Southeast is incentive-free, and there is almost no development of green energy there compared to other regions.”
So once again the people of Appalachia are getting screwed, as usual by the people they made wealthy. People too damned unchristian to share and increase that wealth.

One man knows more than 19 Republicans

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Heart of the Hudson River Americana Revival

Spuyten Duyvil is a band that loves the old time music so much they went back to the Dutch for their name. This is "Hell Or High Water" from their recent Extended Play Session.

They are all small, he should buy them all

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

The Two Faces Of Eric Holder

It has long been known that during his time as Attorney General, Eric Holder has been a man who talks a great game and delivers less, much less. And as his time is coming to an end, the NYTimes gives us a look and one of his skeevier duplicities.
Teresa Sheehan was alone in her apartment at a mental health center, clutching what her lawyers said was a small bread knife and demanding to be left alone. San Francisco police officers, responding to a call from a social worker, forced open the door, blinded her with pepper spray and shot her.

It was the kind of violent police confrontation that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has frequently criticized in Cleveland, Albuquerque, Ferguson, Mo., and beyond. But last month, when Ms. Sheehan’s civil rights lawsuit reached the Supreme Court, the Justice Department backed the police, saying that a lower court should have given more weight to the risks that the officers faced.

At the Supreme Court, where the limits of police power are established, Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has supported police officers every time an excessive-force case has made its way to arguments. Even as it has opened more than 20 civil rights investigations into local law enforcement practices, the Justice Department has staked out positions that make it harder for people to sue the police and that give officers more discretion about when to fire their guns.

Police groups see Mr. Holder as an ally in that regard, and that pattern has rankled civil rights lawyers, who say the government can have a far greater effect on policing by interpreting law at the Supreme Court than through investigations of individual departments.

“There is an inherent conflict between people at the Justice Department trying to stop police abuses and other people at the Justice Department convincing the Supreme Court that police abuses should be excused,” said Ronald L. Kuby, a Manhattan civil rights lawyer.

To some extent, conflict is built into the system. The Justice Department’s core mission is law enforcement. It oversees the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, among others. In every administration, it is in the government’s interest for federal agents to have as much leeway, and as little liability, as possible.

“It’s natural that the instinctive reaction of the department is to support law enforcement interests, even when a particular case may have compelling facts for the individual defendant,” said Neal K. Katyal, a former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration. He said the Justice Department had a duty to tell the court what effect a ruling could have for federal law enforcement agencies.

When police abuse cases make it to the Supreme Court, even if they have nothing to do with federal agents, the Justice Department often weighs in. Last year, the department sided with police officers in West Memphis, Ark., who shot a driver and passenger 15 times, killing them at the end of a chase.

John F. Bash, a Justice Department lawyer in that case, told the justices that “there is some level of reckless driving in response to a police pursuit that authorizes the use of deadly force.” What was certain, he added, was that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity, which shields them from civil rights lawsuits. The Supreme Court unanimously agreed.

Every such victory makes it harder for citizens to prevail when they believe they have been mistreated by police officers. It also adds obstacles for the Justice Department’s own civil rights investigators when alleging police misconduct. That has led to some tense debates inside the department, current and former officials say, as the government’s civil rights and appellate lawyers discussed when the department should weigh in, and on which side. Those debates have led the Justice Department to take more nuanced positions than government lawyers might have otherwise, the officials said.
The concept of protecting your own is not hard to understand, despite the tenuous connection, but the failure to set and enforce the standards that the police should operate under is appalling. And the failure of Eric Holder to follow up his strong talk on civil rights with any meaningful action ranks up there with his treatment of the Wall St. Frauds & Banksters as one of his greatest failures.

Children are part of the takeover.

Idaho, Home of the Best Potatoes in the Land. And every one of those spuds is smarter than the average Idahoan, which puts them lightyears ahead of the folks elected to the legislature.
It took five years for negotiators to work out the details of a multinational treaty on child support that would make it easier to track delinquent parents around the world. It took only a couple of minutes for a committee of the Idaho Legislature to endanger America’s participation.

In a 9-to-8 vote in the closing hours of the legislative session, the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee killed a bill that state and federal officials had said was crucial to the finely crafted choreography of the child support treaty reached at The Hague. All 50 states must approve the mechanics of the treaty for American ratification to proceed, and 19 have signed off thus far.

A major factor seems to be Idaho’s ornery streak, the part of the state’s identity that does not like the federal government — or, worse still, foreign governments — telling it what to do.

In Boise, the state capital, members of the committee — which is dominated by Republicans, as is the Legislature as a whole — raised concerns about foreign tribunals, perhaps ones based on Shariah, the Islamic legal code, potentially making decisions under the treaty that Idaho might not like. At least 32 countries, along with the European Union, have ratified the agreement.

“I’m concerned about women’s rights in some of these countries,” Representative Heather Scott, a Republican member of the committee, said during a hearing on the bill. “I’m seeing a problem,” added Ms. Scott, who ultimately voted along with eight other Republicans to table the bill without sending it to the full House for a vote.

The stakes are potentially immense, both for child support recipients across the nation, who risk losing the benefits that the treaty protects, and for parents and children in Idaho — particularly poor ones — who will lose various federal subsidies unless legislators change their minds.

Federal officials said that $16 million in funding for Idaho’s child welfare system would be cut within 60 days, effectively dismantling the state’s child support enforcement arm, which can take steps like garnishing a parent’s pay. Another $30 million in block grants could dry up too, including federal money for Head Start, the preschool program for low-income children.

“People are realizing the dimensions, and it’s blowing wide open,” said Taryn Thompson, 35, a divorced mother in Kootenai County who depends on child support.
Who knew the Republican Party was the party of deadbeat parents?

Bernie meets Teddy

Monday, April 20, 2015

Diana Krall does Route 66 in Montreal

With one hell of an intro from her guitar player Russell Malone. Don't miss a lick.

Have you ever wondered why?

Tom Tomorrow reveals the secret. No it didn't die on the Trollenberg.

Many cycles of life

And most of them serve a necessary function in life. On the other hand, some are a vicious and insidious corruption of good intentions. Take for example child support. A way to insure people take responsibility for what they do in life, until it is used to take away their opportunity for life.
Walter Scott’s death has focused attention not just on police violence, but also on the use of jail to pressure parents to pay child support, a policy employed by many states today. Though the threat of jail is considered an effective incentive for people who are able but unwilling to pay, many critics assert that punitive policies are trapping poor men in a cycle of debt, unemployment and imprisonment.

The problem begins with child support orders that, at the outset, can exceed parents’ ability to pay. When parents fall short, the authorities escalate collection efforts, withholding up to 65 percent of a paycheck, seizing bank deposits and tax refunds, suspending driver’s licenses and professional licenses, and then imposing jail time.

“Parents who are truly destitute go to jail over and over again for child support debt simply because they’re poor,” said Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights, which filed a class-action lawsuit in Georgia on behalf of parents incarcerated without legal representation for failure to pay. “We see many cases in which the person is released, they’re given three months to pay a large amount of money, and then if they can’t do that they’re tossed right back in the county jail.”

There is no national count of how many parents are incarcerated for failure to pay child support, and enforcement tactics vary from state to state, as do policies such as whether parents facing jail are given court-appointed lawyers. But in 2009, a survey in South Carolina found that one in eight inmates had been jailed for failure to pay child support. In Georgia, 3,500 parents were jailed in 2010. The Record of Hackensack, N.J., reported last year that 1,800 parents had been jailed or given ankle monitors in two New Jersey counties in 2013. (The majority of noncustodial parents nationwide are men.)

Unpaid child support became a big concern in the 1980s and ’90s as public hostility grew toward the archetypal “deadbeat dad” who lived comfortably while his children suffered. Child support collections were so spotty that in the late 1990s, new enforcement tools such as automatic paycheck deductions were used. As a result, child support collections increased significantly, and some parents rely heavily on aggressive enforcement by the authorities.
Continue reading the main story

But experts said problems could arise when such tactics were used against people who had little money, and the vast majority of unpaid child support is owed by the very poor. A 2007 Urban Institute study of child support debt in nine large states found that 70 percent of the arrears were owed by people who reported less than $10,000 a year in income. They were expected to pay, on average, 83 percent of their income in child support — a percentage that declined precipitously in higher income brackets.

In many jurisdictions, support orders are based not on the parent’s actual income but on “imputed income” — what they would be expected to earn if they had a full-time, minimum wage or median wage job. In South Carolina, the unemployment rate for black men is 12 percent.
If you have the money to pay, you can afford to keep out of jail. If you don't have the money, you will go to jail and never again have the opportunity to have any money.

Be happy they let you out of jail

And any money that your family sent you or that you may have earned in one of those fifty cents an hour prison jobs? Half of that will be going to the issuer of your debit card for various charges and fees every time you even look at it.
“There were fees for transferring the money to a bank and closing the account. There was even an inactivity fee if you didn't use the card for 90 days. I left prison with $120. Because of the fees I was only able to use about $70 of it.”

Correctional facilities across the country are increasingly sending former inmates home with their funds returned on pre-paid debit cards, known in the industry as release cards. In addition to adoption by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 17 state prison agencies reported using them in a 2014 survey commissioned by the New Jersey Department of Corrections. Prison reform advocates like Peter Wagner of the Prison Policy Initiative say that their use is even more widespread among the nation’s nearly 3,300 jails. With almost 12 million people admitted to county and city jails each year, these local facilities provide a steady source of cardholders subject to high fees. “The money is in the recidivism not rehabilitation,” said Cavaluzzi.

The use of these cards is expanding into jobs programs for current inmates. In 2014 the Alabama DOC began using debit cards with high ATM fees to pay inmates at a small number of its work-release facilities and plans to roll out the program statewide by July.

Unlike consumer debit cards, prison-issued cards are completely unregulated when it comes to the fees that can be charged. The result is high transaction and maintenance fees that bear little relation to the actual costs of the services provided.

Banking giant JPMorgan Chase is the exclusive release-card vendor in federal prisons. At state and local facilities these cards are provided by a handful of smaller vendors like JPay, Keefe Group, Numi Financial and Rapid Financial Solutions. A review of bids and contracts in several states and counties found ATM withdrawal fees of nearly $3 per transaction. A simple balance inquiry typically incurs a charge of $1.50. Account maintenance fees, deducted even if no transactions are made, can be as much as $2.50 per week. Cardholders who opt to transfer their balances to a bank account can be charged closing fees of $30. These cards are designed to generate income for the private vendors that furnish them.

That income is crucial because it allows vendors to offer the debit card service at no charge to correctional facilities while eliminating those facilities’ cash management expenses. The cost of issuing and managing the cards is paid for solely by the exorbitant fees former inmates must pay, fees that quickly deplete their already meager balances.
Not all thieves go to jail, some merely profit from them, with the blessing of The Man.

Embarrassed by the clowns

Now that the current clown car full of presidential candidates is obviously impressing no one, the second line is considering stepping up to fill in the yawning gap. Various governors are making the necessary rumblings prior to throwing their hats in the ring.
Think the Republican field is already crowded? Better find more room, because the roster of potential candidates for the GOP presidential nomination may grow even more.

New Hampshire Republicans heard from 18 people who are or may be running this weekend. Two others didn’t attend.

It probably didn’t matter, because when the marathon ended, no one could claim momentum. And no one could reliably say what the primary ballot will look like.

Prominent party figures barely known outside their home states are weighing bids. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich are thinking about it. Snyder loyalists have set up a fund that so he can travel and boast about his battered state’s economic comeback. Ehrlich, who won the governorship in heavily Democratic Maryland, has made several visits to New Hampshire in recent months.

Others are being mentioned in insider circles. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s prospects sank during the recent flap over Indiana’s religious liberty law, but he still has fans among conservatives. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who’s won two terms in a state that’s been trending Democratic, has also been mentioned, though more as a potential vice presidential pick.

This muddled, still-emerging field is the result of an unusual convergence of political influences. Republicans for years have given their nomination to the next in line, often a runner-up in the previous cycle or a vice president. This time, “there’s no heir apparent,” said Steve Duprey, the state’s Republican national committeeman.

There is a widespread feeling that Republicans have a good shot at winning the White House. Only once since World War II has the same party won the presidency more than twice in a row – Republicans in 1980, 1984 and 1988.

So GOP activists have two broad standards for picking a candidate: They want someone reliably conservative. And, “I want a winner,” said Tanja Owen, an Amherst marketing director. It’s a sentiment echoed repeatedly.
Having run their states into the ground, they have the necessary party cred, but do they have the approval of their particular invisible sky demon? Rumor says that is what Ohio's John Kasich is waiting for.

Happy 420 Day!

The Late Freddie Gray - 3 broken vertebrae and damage to his thorax

And the law says he was in possession of an illegal knife. Once upon a time he was in possession of his life as well.

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