Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sanders to Democrats: Whose Side Are We On?

Bernie Sanders. (photo: Karen Bleier/Getty Images)
Bernie Sanders. (photo: Karen Bleier/Getty Images)

By Michael Briggs | Bernie 2016
aying that “our job is to revitalize American democracy,” U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday challenged the Democratic Party establishment to decide if it will fight for working families or do the bidding of Wall Street, big oil, the pharmaceutical industry and other special interests.

“Are we on the side of working people or big-money interests? Do we stand with the elderly, the sick and the poor or do we stand with Wall Street speculators and the insurance companies?” the Democratic Party presidential candidate asked 8,300 supporters at an outdoor rally at Island Park.

He said a key reason why 63 percent of voters did not go to the polls in the last election and nearly 80 percent of young and low-income people stayed home is that “the Democratic Party, up until now, has not been clear on which side they are on on the major issues facing this country.”

On issue after issue, Sanders challenged the Democratic Party to pick sides. “You can’t be for Wall Street and the working people of this country. You cannot be for the drug companies and senior citizens and veterans,” he said. “You cannot be on the side of workers and support those corporations that have thrown millions on the street.”

The failure of Democratic leadership to send a clear message on where the party stands is why Republicans have grabbed control Congress and Statehouses. “The problem in my view is not that the Republicans are winning elections. It’s that Democrats are losing elections,” he said.

Sanders also faulted Democrats for not pushing election reforms that would increase voter turnout and help Democrats win elections. For example, he said, Democrats should get behind legislation he introduced in the Senate to register everyone to vote when they turn 18 years old. “The Democratic Party has got to be very clear. We need automatic voter registration.” In 2015, Oregon became the first state in the nation to require state agencies to automatically register voters when they get a new driver’s license or identification card.

He also called on Democrats in states where access to the voting booth is restricted in primary contests to open the process and let millions of independents participate, “Republican governors want to make it harder to vote. Our job is to bring more people into the system. We need open primaries.”

Sanders also spelled out differences with Hillary Clinton. On trade policy, he opposed and she backed most of the job-killing trade deals. On climate change, he challenged Clinton to support a carbon tax to discourage burning the fossil fuels that are warming the planet. He pressed her to support a nationwide ban on fracking that imperils safety of drinking water and encourages fossil fuel. He asked Clinton to join him in supporting a Medicare-for-all health care system and to crack down on pharmaceutical companies that charge Americans the highest prices for prescription medicine anywhere in the world.

“Secretary Clinton may not believe the American people have the ability to take on the insurance companies and take on the drug companies. I disagree.”

Sanders also cited his big leads over Republican White House hopefuls Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Sanders beats Trump by twice as big a margin as Clinton. He also holds leads over Cruz and Kasich. She holds a narrow edge over the Texas senator and loses in many polls to the Ohio governor.

“I hope delegates to the Democratic National Convention take heed of this,” Sanders said at the rally.

Sanders, who launched his campaign one year ago as an underdog, has so far won 17 primaries and caucuses and amassed 1,350 delegates to this summer’s Democratic National Convention. He has set fundraising records with 7.3 million donations. And he is drawing the biggest crowds for any presidential candidate.

“I think Secretary Clinton and I agree that we must not have a Republican in the White House but I think the evidence is overwhelming that you are looking at the strongest Democratic candidate,” Sanders said. “And the reason for that is that our campaign is able to reach beyond the Democratic base and win the support of millions of independents.

“This is the campaign that is generating excitement and enthusiasm and a large voter turnout."

Oregon is among 14 states, territories and the District of Columbia which have yet to vote in the contest between Sanders and Hillary Clinton. He thanked U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon for being the only member of the United States Senate “to have the guts” to back Sanders.

Jazz guitarist Howard Alden returns to Rim Country

2 pm Sunday, May 22nd, jazz guitarist Howard Alden makes a return visit to the Payson Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main St., to perform in a quartet

Joining him will be Devon Bridgewater on violin and trumpet, Steve Douglas on upright string bass, and Gerry Reynolds on the drums. All have had extensive experience playing jazz in the west. The Church and the Payson Friends of Jazz are hosting the event.  A $5 or greater donation is requested.

Downbeat Magazine has recognized Alden’s talents seven times. Music critics have hailed him as possibly the very best jazz guitarist working today. The New Yorker magazine said about Alden “…utter assurance … crystalline sound … each note articulate and complete. His solos are succinct orderly, and swinging.” 

The Jazz Times said “Howard Alden may be the best of his generation” and the Newark Star Ledger proclaimed he is “the most impressive and creative member of a new generation of jazz artists.”  Alden has worked with some of the best in jazz, but perhaps the most significant person in shaping his music career was his mentor, the all-time great guitarist, George Van Eps. Besides the long line of appearances he makes each year, including Brazil and Europe more recently, and working and living in New York City for most of his career, Alden found the time to record more than three dozen albums for Concord Records over a span of 15 years.

In what was the most significant event in the history of the Payson jazz program, which began in 2002, Howard Alden appeared in Payson last November. It was thought that performance would be the series finale, because future support was uncertain. But he gave new life to the series, and so the series continues with his return on May 22nd.

It is very important for those who love live jazz programming that the Church is again filled on May 22nd. Jazz still lives, and hopefully it will continue to live in Payson.

An RSVP to, or a telephone message to 602-619-3355 with name and the number of those attending will be very helpful. However, the Church doors will remain pen to anyone who wants to attend.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Kim Chittick opens run for Payson Town Council with big Western Village fundraiser

Payson Town Council candidate Kim Chittick thanks supporters for turning out at her first fundraiser as Jimmy Slider of Plum Krazy looks on.

Kim Chittick's event was catered by Susie of Susie's Q, shown here with the candidate.

Kim Chittick shared the stage with local band Plum Krazy at Western Village Thursday night.  (Photos by Patti Keyworth.)

All eyes were on Payson Town Council candidate Kim Chittick as she opened the local political season with a spectacular fundraiser at Western Village Thursday evening.

 Chittick, who got into the race to bring transparency back to local government, outlined her platform to enthusiastic attendees:
  • Transparency in town government.
  • Support small, local businesses.
  • Increase tourism promotion.
  • Update town's emergency and firewise plans.
  • Term limits, checks and balances for mayor, council and town manager.
  • Increase usability of Multi-Event Center.
  • Support public safety departments and work towards bringing salary and equipment needs in line with state averages.
  • Let private sector deal with four-year university while town government focuses on public projects.
  • Find and develop the "Heart" of Payson.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Payson Council candidate Kim Chittick holding fundraiser tonight at Western Village

Payson Resident Kim Chittick, a town council candidate who is running to bring some transparency to local government, is holding a fundraiser tonight (Thursday, April 28) at Western Village.

Chittick decided to run after being kicked out of the Payson Roundup's office when she tried to present information she had uncovered about Mayor Kenny Evan's alleged four-year university.

The event, catered by Susie's Q, is open to the public.  Cost is $7 per person.

Western Village is located on the Beeline at the south end of town.

Salt lounges could be the latest trend in allergy relief, relaxation

Alice Gilbert, a Salties Mind and Body Spa frequent customer, credits halotherapy for relieving her allergy symptoms. (Photo by Elena Mendoza/Cronkite News)
Suzi Provenche, owner of Salties Mind and Body Spa, said the salt has anti-microbial properties that kill bacteria in the sinuses. (Photo by Elena Mendoza/Cronkite News)

TOP: Alice Gilbert, a Salties Mind and Body Spa frequent customer, credits halotherapy for relieving her allergy symptoms. (Photo by Elena Mendoza/Cronkite News)
BOTTOM: Suzi Provenche, owner of Salties Mind and Body Spa, said the salt has anti-microbial properties that kill bacteria in the sinuses. (Photo by Elena Mendoza/Cronkite News)
Cronkite News 

SCOTTSDALE – Some allergy sufferers are beginning to turn to salt therapy to alleviate their symptoms instead of over-the-counter or prescription medicines.

The treatment, also known as halotherapy, is a form of alternative medicine that requires the patient to breathe in micro-sized salt particles dispersed through a halogenerator.

“You find yourself sitting for 45 minutes in this kind of cloud of salt and your only job is to breathe,” said Suzi Provenche, owner of Salties Mind and Body Spa.

“You can breathe better, you just feel healthier and stronger,” said Alice Gilbert, a frequent spa customer. “It’s so relaxing, you can go to sleep in here.”

In addition to the calm atmosphere, some people also enjoy the lack of allergic reactions that they can have with medications.

“I’ve lived in Arizona all of my life and I’ve tried everything… the pills and everything. They have some side effects that are tough,” said Cherie Cordova, another customer.

Provenche said the salt has natural anti-microbial properties that kill bacteria in the sinuses.

“It doesn’t change the mediators or the chemicals that we release in our body that cause the allergic symptoms, but it helps alleviate the symptoms that you develop,” said Dr. Michael Manning of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Associates.

Dr. Manning compared the effects of halotherapy to being by the beach.

“If you’ve ever been in the ocean, your nose kind of clears up and it runs,” said Dr. Manning. “Saline like that can help mobilize secretions, help them get it up and out so they’re not kind of drowning in that stuff.”

“What happens is the salt starts an anti-inflammatory process, it starts to break up the mucus,” Provenche said. “It’s not uncommon for them to immediately start coughing and coughing up mucus or needing to clear out their sinuses.”

According to Provenche, the holistic practice has roots from salt mines in eastern Europe.

However, it has only been in the last decade it has become more common in the U.S.

“I think it’s going to be one of the next big thing we’re going to here about,” said Provenche. “Just like we believe in oral hygiene, I think it’s going to be mainstream that we all want respiratory hygiene too.”

Salties Mind and Body Spa is one of two salt lounge businesses in the Phoenix metro area.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Let's Be Clear About Andrew Jackson (and Lord Jeffery Amherst)

The image of Andrew Jackson on the US $20 bill. (photo: Politico)
The image of Andrew Jackson on the US $20 bill. (photo: Politico)

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News
23 April 16
he decision to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill is long overdue. So is the movement to remove the name of Lord Jeffery Amherst from that college town in western Massachusetts.

Let’s start with Jackson, our most racist major president next to Woodrow Wilson.

Jackson was our first president from west of the Alleghenies, and the first to not wear the powdered wigs favored by Virginia plantation owners.
Andy’s parents were Irish immigrants who died early. He had a brutally impoverished childhood. One of his fourteen duels left a bullet permanently lodged near his heart. (Teddy Roosevelt also had one of those.)

Jackson is most revered as the “Common Man” who fought Alexander Hamilton’s national bank. He later personally profited from kickbacks paid him by cronies who owned smaller banks that benefitted.

A vicious racist, Jackson also made a fortune in the slave trade, and from stolen Indian land, leaving him with a slave plantation of his own.

At the 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Jackson enlisted Cherokee warriors to fight their rival Creeks. Then he brutalized his “allies” as well as his defeated enemy. His troops took slices of the dead Creeks’ noses for a body count, and used their skin to make bridles.

During his failed campaign against Seminoles in the Florida Everglades, Jackson illegally executed at least two “disloyal” white men.

Jackson’s defining document is his 1830 Indian Removal Act, demanding that all native peoples be moved west of the Mississippi.

But the Cherokee had a written language, state capital, constitution, elected leadership, newspaper, and at least seven lumber mills. Most lived in frame houses or log cabins with nuclear families. Some owned plantations and slaves.

Chief Justice John Marshall turned down a Cherokee petition for statehood. But he ruled they did have sovereignty and could not removed against their will.

Jackson told the Court (and the Cherokee) to drop dead. In 1838, Martin Van Buren (Jackson’s vice president and successor) sent in the troops. That May, some 14,000 Cherokee were forced out of their homes at gunpoint. They were imprisoned on an open field (a concentration camp!) without shelter, food, or care for their children or animals. About a thousand escaped into the hills.

In the fall about 13,000 were “ethnic cleansed” to Oklahoma. More than a quarter died along their infamous “Trail of Tears.” They were promised the right to live in Oklahoma as long as the “rivers flow and the grasses grow.” But 50 years later their land was divided.

Jackson’s face does not belong on our money. Harriet Tubman was a great hero who repeatedly risked her life to win freedom for others. Hopefully the idea to replace him with a black female anti-slavery activist is making Andy flip in his grave.

Likewise Jeffery Amherst. As supreme commander of Britain’s North American forces during the French-Indian war, Lord Jeff infamously approved the “gift” of smallpox-infected blankets to Ohio Valley Indians. In the guise of making peace, he purposely caused a terrible plague that killed countless innocent men, women, and children (many of them nearby white settlers). There are few acts in human history more thoroughly infected with cynicism and greed.

That numerous towns and counties in North America are named after this war criminal is a travesty. The lovely college town in the western Massachusetts hills now nurtures a nascent movement to cleanse itself of that vicious war criminal. The College and Inn there have already taken preliminary steps.

And the town has a perfect alternative.

Ninety miles west of Boston, it’s the ancestral home of the legendary Emily Dickinson. Emily lived nearly all her life on Main Street, in a home and garden that can still be toured. She quietly wrote scores of simple, subtle pieces filled with ecstasy and grace. Composed in the mid-1800s, few were published until the 1950s, when Emily became one of our most beloved literary figures.

There’s currently only one other American town (in Minnesota) called Emily. None can claim the birthplace of one of our truly great poets.

The Treasury Department says that Harriet Tubman’s face could be on our $20 bills by 2020. Let’s make sure some find their way to the gentle hills of Emily, Massachusetts. 

Harvey Wasserman’s Organic Spiral of US History will be published soon ( He wrote Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth, and long ago taught history at Hampshire College, in the town soon to be known as Emily.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Koch Brothers Consider Purchasing First Democrat

Billionaire Republican megadonor Charles Koch. (photo: Getty Images)
Billionaire Republican megadonor Charles Koch. (photo: Getty Images)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
25 April 16 

harles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who have spent decades acquiring a world-class collection of Republicans, revealed over the weekend that they are considering purchasing their first Democrat.

“We’ve always bought Republicans, and our father bought Republicans before us,” Charles, the elder Koch, said. “They’re bred to be obedient, and they respond to simple commands.”

He said that he and his brother had considered acquiring a Democrat only after determining that none of the Republicans on offer this year was worth adding to their collection.

“It’s kind of a scary proposition for us, because we’ve never owned a Democrat before,” he said. “We don’t really know what we should be looking for.”

Koch said that he and his brother learned, after making some phone calls, that other oligarchs have bought Democrats in the past, and “had good experiences with them.”
“That was very reassuring,” he said.

But he bemoaned the absence of online consumer reviews that could help people who are, like him and his brother, interested in purchasing a Democrat for the very first time. “Yelp needs to jump on this,” he said.

While acknowledging the risk inherent in owning their first Democrat, Koch said that it would probably turn out to be a better investment than some of the Republicans they have recently purchased. “It can’t be worse than Scott Walker,” he said.

M3.7 Earthquake shakes NW Arizona in vicinity of recent earthquake swarm

(Click on graphic to enlarge.)
Contact: Michael Conway (520.209.4146 |

Tucson. A magnitude 3.7 earthquake shook northwestern Arizona south of Littlefield, Arizona, at 9:06 pm on 17 April 2016. This event is part of a swarm of more than 42 small magnitude earthquakes that began on 28 March with an M2.1 event located approximately 29 miles SSE of Littlefield, Arizona. The most recent event, M1.3, occurred at 4:58 pm (MST) on 18 April.

The M3.7 event was the largest earthquake yet and was felt in Littlefield and Mesquite, Nevada, along the remote Arizona-Nevada border. The earthquake sequence includes 2 events >ML3.0, 8 events >ML2.0 with the remainder below M2.0.  The depths of the earthquakes range from near-surface to approximately 14km.

The earthquake swarm is situated along the physiographic boundary between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Province, an area of active crustal extension and seismicity.

We anticipate additional small magnitude aftershocks in the wake of the M3.7 event.

This apparent increase in earthquake activity of northwestern Arizona may be the result of efforts by the Nevada Seismological Laboratory (NSL) to capture and record small magnitude events along the Nevada-Arizona border. The Arizona Geological Survey’s broadband seismic network, comprising 8 seismometers, is unable to record small magnitude events in northwestern Arizona.

AZGS operates the seismic network without any state or federal funding so continues to look for ways to maintain the system and to increase statewide coverage of currently undetected earthquakes.

From a report by Dr. Jeri Young, AZGS Research Geologist.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It's Amazing What America Could Do With the Money the Rich Hide Overseas

Panama City, home to the law firm Mossack Fonseca, from which the confidential documents known as the Panama Papers were taken. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Panama City, home to the law firm Mossack Fonseca, from which the confidential documents known as the Panama Papers were taken. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By Max Ehrenfreund, The Washington Post
he documents known as the "Panama Papers" have created a global scandal around the ways the world's rich conceal their wealth from the authorities. The prime minister of Iceland offered his resignation after the papers reportedly revealed that he and his wife had a fortune hidden away in the British Virgin Islands. British Prime Minister David Cameron is taking criticism as well, and he acknowledged that he profited from a secret family trust.

The Washington Post has not reviewed the Panama Papers or verified their authenticity, but what seems certain is that wealthy people all over the world — and in the United States — pay much less in taxes by moving their income and assets to foreign countries.

In the United States, the Treasury would collect about $124 billion a year in additional taxes — $36 billion from individual taxpayers and $88 billion from multinational corporations — if it weren't for such schemes, according to estimates by Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley.

That's a lot of money — and we're all paying for it, Zucman said.

When the wealthy pay less in taxes, the rest of the population bears the burden. Either the government spends less money, providing fewer public services, or ordinary citizens pay more to make up the cost."

The taxes that are evaded at the top have to be compensated by higher taxes for the middle class," Zucman said. 
Alternatively, the government borrows the money, and interest rates increase as ordinary people have to compete with the government to get loans.

To get an idea of how much money is at stake, here is a list of a few things Congress could do with $124 billion a year.

1. Feed the poor
The money that Americans avoid paying in taxes by shifting their wealth abroad would be more than enough to feed tens of millions of people for a year.

The number of Americans receiving food stamps increased from 26 million in 2007 to 48 million in 2013. While that number has decreased as the economy has improved — falling to 45 million at the end of last year, according to federal data — helping all these people put food on the table is a huge expense all the same, and this expansion has been controversial.

Even in 2013, though, the cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — the technical term for food stamps — totaled less than $80 billion.

2. Pay the troops
In fact, all the money at stake in international tax shifting would be enough to pay every uniformed member of the U.S. armed forces. Excluding housing and health care, the Pentagon's personnel costs totaled $116 billion in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which is less than Zucman's estimate of $124 billion.

(That's counting retirement pay as well as compensation for reservists and the National Guard. Housing was another $19 billion, and the Department of Veterans Affairs is asking Congress for $182 billion this year.)

Another source of controversy in the federal budget has been the cost of the Pentagon's F-35, a new warplane that military leaders hope will be more versatile and resilient than past aircraft. While the F-35 is intended to replace several planes currently in use, the Government Accountability Office pointed out in a recent report that the cost of the program will be twice that of four legacy aircraft combined.

For all that, the annual costs of the F-35 are projected to reach only $20 billion a year.

If wealthy Americans and multinational corporations couldn't avoid paying taxes by shifting their income overseas, the Pentagon could pay for its F-35s six times over.

3. Send every kid to preschool
With just $90 billion a year, Congress could set up a national network of high-quality early-education programs open to all families, according to a recent analysis from economist Josh Bivens and his colleagues at the liberal Economic Policy Institute.

Their goal is to allow every family in the country to provide preschool and child care for infants and toddlers 4 and younger for no more than 10 percent of their incomes.

The federal government would pick up the rest of the tab. The plan also calls for a staff of nurses to coach pregnant mothers and families with infants on child rearing.

Bivens, it's worth noting, says the plan would pay for itself over the long term, and that the government wouldn't need a windfall from money squirreled away in the Caribbean to make it happen. "The kids who grow up 10 to 20 years from now would be more likely to earn higher wages and avoid contact with the criminal justice system," he recently told Wonkblog.

4. Give working families cash
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has proposed giving families an annual tax credit of $2,500 per child to help cover the cost of raising children, to replace the current credit of $1,000. Under Rubio's plan, the credit would be worth less for affluent families with more than $300,000 a year in joint income. It would reduce the taxes that families pay on their salaries and wages, so families that pay less than a certain amount in taxes because they are poorer would also receive less in credits.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center projects that Rubio's credit would cost $122 billion on average over the next decade. If Americans stopped avoiding taxes, Congress would have enough money to give parents a few grand every year while still having a couple of billions to spare.

Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, argued that policymakers shouldn't forget about workers who don't have children.

President Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the speaker of the House, have indicated that they'd like to expand a crucial bonus for this group of taxpayers known as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The cost of the plan they've discussed would only be about $6 billion a year.

5. Borrow less money
"I would use some of this to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit," Strain said. "I would use a big chunk of it to close the deficit."

The $124 billion in unpaid taxes would be enough to eliminate nearly a quarter of the annual deficit — the difference between what the government collects in taxes and the amount it spends, which the Congressional Budget Office projects will be $534 billion this year. That's money the government borrows.

Much of that deficit is due to Social Security's shortfall. The program's actuaries project that the New Deal program will no longer be able to pay retirees all of what they're owed beginning in about 20 years, when the trust fund will be exhausted and the program will be able to pay out no more than what it collects in taxes every month.

Strain's colleague Andrew Biggs estimates that making up Social Security's actuarial deficit would cost about $182 billion a year beginning now. The unpaid taxes could go a long way toward making up that money.

Jared Bernstein, who served as Vice President Biden's chief economist, did not agree that the money should be used to reduce the deficit. In a note to Wonkblog on Friday, he wrote that the government should work to pay down the national debt, but that now is not the time. The U.S. economy is still operating below its potential, he contends, and the goal should be stimulating the economy rather than saving money.

Bernstein wrote that the federal government should put more money toward maintaining and building the country's physical infrastructure. That includes highways, railroads, bridges, dams, levees, power lines and airports, but also public schools. Bernstein pointed to recent research that suggests the country should be spending an additional $46 billion a year or so keeping up the schools.

Zucman's estimate of $124 billion wouldn't be enough to fund the most ambitious plans for infrastructure, though. Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidate, has introduced legislation that would appropriate $200 billion a year for a period of five years. The centrist advocates at Third Way say the country needs to spend even more than that — about $240 billion a year over five years.