April 16 — Bulletin: A Texas appeals court ruled April 13 to accept an emergency application asking the U.S. Supreme Court to restore a district court’s temporary restraining order that would allow patients access to medication abortions during the pandemic. The appeals court asked if a medication abortion was a “procedure.” Plaintiffs explained medication abortion consists of two pills administered without personal protective equipment and is not a procedure. Medication abortions and surgical procedures are now available before the gestational age of a pregnancy exceeds the state’s legal limit of April 22, the day after Gov. Abbott’s COVID‑19 order expires. Litigation against ban continues.April 7 — The overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. are doing everything in their power to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, which is both a public health crisis and an economic disaster of worldwide proportions. But women of childbearing age, 15 to 44, in six conservative states led by politically ambitious, anti-abortion officials — Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas — face an additional threat. Those states are intent on banning all abortions for the duration of the pandemic. The battle for the reproductive rights in Texas has raged for decades, here at a 2016 protest.At present only the Texas ban has gone into effect due to a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on March 31. There is a proposed end date of April 21, but it can be extended at the governor’s whim.Judges in other states have issued restraining orders on the ban, thanks to such reproductive rights legal defenders as the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Planned Parenthood Federation. On April 6, Oklahoma District Judge Charles Goodwin wrote that Oklahoma “acted in an ‘unreasonable,’ ‘arbitrary,’ and ‘oppressive’ way — and imposed an ‘undue burden’ on abortion access — by imposing requirements that effectively deny a right of access to abortion.” (CNN) What is the pressing argument for such bans? That the use of personal protective equipment for abortions takes valuable resources away from frontline health care providers during the epidemic. And that, since abortions are considered “elective” procedures, they belong in the category of “nonessential” surgery. Not only is that reasoning false, but the Texas ban includes medical abortions, which do not require any surgical intervention. Rather the patient is instructed to take two well-spaced pills in the privacy of their home. This restriction exposes the ban as obviously deceptive, malicious and criminal. (See “For gender-oppressed people: COVID-19 complicates health care” in April 2 WW, which discusses telemedicine during the pandemic.) Exposing blatant bias of Texas banA March 18 joint statement by major national medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology, asserted: “Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care.” Stressing that it is a time-sensitive service, the statement concluded: “The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.” “Anyone who believes in facts and evidence-based public health will witness the absurdity and cynicism of these arguments with alarm because all pregnancy-related health care — whether it’s ensuring healthy pregnancies and safe births, preventing pregnancies, or ending pregnancies — is by its very nature time-sensitive and essential care.” wrote Dr. Herminia Palacio, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, a primary resource of reproductive science, on March 30. She concluded: “In recent years, we have witnessed a renewed, systematic, and coordinated effort by anti-abortion advocates to dismantle abortion access and otherwise undermine reproductive health and rights. These ideologues have found strong allies in the White House, many state governments, and an increasingly conservative judiciary.”Multiplying the stressful effects of the ban in Texas is mass unemployment. Women may try risky measures by taking matters in their own hands if they do not have the cash to travel hundreds of miles out of state to get a legal abortion. These can cost hundred of dollars, in addition to other related expenses. Statistics show that women in Texas already have a higher rate of attempted self-abortions than the national average. According to Alwa Marwadi writing April 4 in the Guardian, “There is nothing pro-life about exploiting an emergency to further a political agenda. There’s nothing pro-life about forcing women to give birth during a pandemic. There’s nothing pro-life [about] women having to put themselves in danger to get the help they need, and the services the Constitution is supposed to protect. But, as has always been clear, anti-abortion fanatics don’t care about ‘life,’ they care about control.”While noting that the Texas ban is temporary, Marwadi warned: “But our civil liberties are most fragile during times of fear and crisis; rights that are lost are not easily won back. It’s not just our physical health that we need to worry about during this pandemic. … A small minority of zealots will do everything they can to use this crisis to eradicate the right to an abortion in America.”A legal eagle at Slate, Mark Joseph Stern, pointed out in a March 31 article: “For several years, the 5th Circuit has been pioneering the jurisprudence of Trumpism, which includes a fervent desire to end abortion. … The court has already defied Supreme Court precedent to uphold one blatantly unconstitutional abortion restriction.” [Louisiana law now before the court. See Feb. 26 WW article.] But Stern cautions, “Only the Supreme Court may restrict the breadth of its rulings. … COVID‑19 gives them a perfect pretense to erode [legal abortion].” Longtime prisoner activist in Texas, Gloria Rubac told Workers World about Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: “Denial of abortions is so wrong. Abortions are an essential healthcare procedure. Delaying an abortion is denying a woman the decision to control her own body. I really take exception to the Texas governor saying religious services are an essential business but abortions are not. What a piece of misogynist crap!” FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Download (PDF, 416KB)Download (PDF, 539KB) A presentation at a public meeting last week offered details on two of the big questions surrounding the proposed new skateboard park in Ocean City: “Where will it go?” and “What will be there?”The graphics above show the latest plans.Ocean City has $750,000 in hand and a site selected to replace a park that was dismantled in 2011. The project could possibly be complete as early as spring 2015. The meeting was an effort to provide information to the public and to solicit feedback that could help address concerns about the new facility (read more).City Council is expected to consider a bond ordinance authorizing the spending on the project at its meeting on Thursday. WHEREThe proposed 200-by-70-foot concrete would be constructed atop an existing parking lot to the north (toward Fifth Street) of the Ocean City Fire Department and the Ocean City Ecumenical Council Clothes Closet. The new skateboard park in Ocean City, NJ, would be constructed 13 feet to the north of the sidewalk that runs beside the existing Ocean City Ecumenical Council Clothes Closet.A 13-foot buffer area would separate the skate park from the sidewalk that runs beside the Clothes Closet. A large portion of the existing parking lot would remain on the Fifth Street side of the park.The park’s other immediate neighbors are the Ocean City Primary School (across the West Avenue to the west), the Ocean City Tabernacle (across Asbury Avenue to the north) and a commercial property (Gabriel Building Group across Fifth Street to the north).Plans call for trees to surround the park. WHATThe new park design would be constructed of concrete and feature a bowl with extensions, a snake run and other features that would “lean toward the carving culture,” a style of skating more reminiscent of surfing.“Twinkie rollers,” “stairs with Hubbas,” an “A-Frame fun box,” and a quarter pipe are among the design elements.Helmets and pads would be required for anybody who wants to use the park. There would be no fee to use the park, which will be called the Cape May County Skate Park in OCNJ (because a county grant provides $500,000 for the construction of the park).Rules and plans to monitor the park are still being worked out. If bicycles are permitted to use the park, they would be able to do so only at times scheduled separately from skateboarders. Steel pegs on bikes would not be permitted and the park designer recommends against even plastic pegs.An ADA ramp would lead to a small spectator area. READ MOREGroup Zeroes in on Skate Park Site for Ocean CityNIMPS, not NIMBYs, in Ocean City Skate Park DebateOcean City Gets $500,000 Grant for Skateboard Park__________Sign up for OCNJ Daily’s free newsletter and breaking news alerts“Like” us on Facebook
Widespread Panic returned to the stage at Mud Island Amphitheatre last night only a few days after their annual trip to Red Rocks Amphitheatre. As to be expected for a show in the South, the Georgian boys played a dirty set full of swamp, grit, and flavor as the muddy Mississippi River rolled and tumbled behind the stage. Unfortunately, a young fan went missing after jumping into the Mississippi River following last night’s show, and the local authorities are still searching for him (more details can be found at the end of the review). To kick off the first set, the band played an aggressively thumpin’ “Henry Parsons Died” before annihilating a fiery “Junior.” Dave Schools pummeled his bass while providing support vocals and supplementing a hilarious “Who’s your daddy?” on “Junior”. The boys then dove into a slow and sexy version of The Meters’ “It Ain’t No Use” which they last played with George Porter Jr. at Panic en la Playa Siete in January. Everyone took turns ripping solos with an epic back and forth volley between JoJo Hermann and Jimmy Herring. JoJo Hermann on keys led the segue into a stirring cover of the Talking Heads’ “Heaven” as John Bell crystallized the lyrics with his emotional swagger. Fueled up on Memphis soul food, the boys incinerated an intense jam connecting an uplifting “Airplane” into a triumphant cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” which hasn’t been played since the second night of Panic en la Playa Siete. A cut from their most recent album “Steven’s Cat” mellowed the tempo before Dave Schools led the charge on a devastating “Imitation Leather Shoes.” To close the set, dem boys aced a cover of Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul” with Jimmy Herring standout for his lightning guitar work.To open the second set, Colin Butler on turntables (from Big Ass Truck) assisted the returning musicians to play a rippin’ “Dyin’ Man” as well as a cover of Bobby Rush and Calvin Carter’s “Bowlegged Woman.” John Bell laid down a mysteriously spicy rap during this “Bowlegged Woman” to the pleasure of the ravenous fans. A sizzlin’ “Thought Sausage” from Don’t Tell the Band preceded a jaunty “Worry” with Dave Schools descending the music into the depths of madness. John Bell captivated throughout an emotionally wrought “Mercy” before a heavy jam emerged that eventually resulted in another cover of Neil Young’s “Vampire Blues”.Widespread Panic – “Bowlegged Woman”[Video: TNspreadhead]An intense musical sandwich began with the first verse of a rugged “Provin’ Ground” with John Bell igniting the audience with a fiery “Find out just how tall I am… by jumping in the middle of the river!” The percussionists, Duane Trucks and Sonny Ortiz, remained on stage to berate their drum kits before the musicians returned and executed an exhilarating “Saint Ex” from their album Dirty Side Down. The band segued into the back half of “Provin’ Ground” before ending the set with an always raucous rendition of the party-anthem “Tall Boy” off Bombs & Butterflies.The rock n roll giants returned for a swingin’ cover of the Yardbird’s “Drinkin’ Muddy Water” which hasn’t been played since 2015. With the muddy Mississippi rollin’ in the background and the venue of Mud Island, this was an appropriate choice in encore. To end the first night of music, Panic tugged on heartstrings with a sentimentally sweet version of “Vacation.” The audience was tight and reciprocated the immense amount of energy that the band gave. Widespread Panic – “Drinking Muddy Water”It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness to report that, after the show, a teenager jumped the concrete wall and into the Mississippi River. As of this afternoon, the teenager, identified as Pace Taylor (described as white, 5’7’’, 170 lbs) is still missing. If you have any information as to his whereabouts, please contact the Memphis Police Department immediately. Prayers for his family as a search party continues their efforts.Widespread Panic resumes their two-night run tonight at Mud Island. There is still plenty of southern soul left on the table. Look out for each other and be safe, friends, brothers, sisters.Setlist: June 29 | Mud Island | Memphis, TN | June 29, 2018Set One: Henry Parsons Died, Junior, It Ain’t No Use > Heaven, Airplane > A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Steven’s Cat, Imitation Leather Shoes, Mr SoulSet Two: Dyin’ Man*, Bowlegged Woman*, Thought Sausage, Worry, Mercy > Jam > Vampire Blues > Proving Ground > Drums > Saint Ex > Proving Ground, Tall Boy Encore: Drinking Muddy Water, Vacation* w/ Colin Butler on turntables (Big Ass Truck)
37SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by: Hadley Malcolm, USA TODAYA low credit score thwarted Marie Kapelke and her husband Mike Biethan’s plans to try to buy a house early last year.When the couple, both 26, met with a mortgage specialist in December 2013, they found out Biethan would need to improve his score in order for them to get pre-approved for a mortgage. In fact, neither of them knew their credit scores before meeting with the banker, but they were ready to buy their first home after living in Seattle for about six years.“We found out, OK your credit score really affects your interest rate,” Kapelke says. Biethan worked to improve his score over the past year, and the two revisited homeownership in the fall. They closed on a townhouse in West Seattle last month.With rents rising into unaffordable territory, housing inventory up and mortgage rates hovering below 4%, 2015 may prove to be the year of homeownership for millions of Millennials. Real estate website Zillow predicts Millennials will overcome Gen X as the largest group of home buyers this year — more than half of 18- to 34-year-olds said they plan to buy a house in the next one to five years, according to a survey by Zillow last summer.But after putting away enough savings, the biggest hurdle for Millennial buyers may be the learning curve that comes with understanding the process, as well as a host of new financial terms, trade-offs and commitments to consider.It’s a stressful process, especially when you’ve never done it before, recent first-time Millennial buyers say. Kenny Coleman, 25, bought his first place — a loft-style apartment in Cincinnati — in December. He says the first bank he went to for a mortgage wasn’t good at explaining the financing process to a first-timer. “They used all this jargon,” he says. “And they’re talking about all these different insurances.” Coleman, who says the process took him from “complete idiot to pretty well versed” in a matter of weeks, ultimately went to a different bank that was willing to give him a fixed-rate mortgage instead of an adjustable-rate mortgage. continue reading »
“The big balancing act is between the implied or expected cautiousness of pillar one and how you maximise pensions”Mats Langensjö“Having this kind of structure in the first pillar system is rare, as there are not many such systems that rely on market returns – in fact, I haven’t come across any others where this is the case,” he said.“So the question is, how do you then position that? It is a given that the structure is there, but what is the appropriate level of risk and appropriate objective, particularly for the savers?”Other issues that needed to be resolved in the report included defining the target group for the default fund.“In one sense you are targeting the whole population of Sweden, but maybe you need to prioritise certain groups such as people who are younger, older, or have different earnings levels,” he said.New investment guidelines?Langensjö said he would also consider whether AP7’s investment universe should be updated, as a consequence of the objectives and risk profile.AP7 currently invests more than 80% of its portfolio in equities, but its leadership has called on the Swedish government to broaden investment rules to allow real estate and infrastructure allocations.In his report, Langensjö said he would also address AP7’s use of leverage.He cited Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler, who last year stated that AP7 should not apply leverage to its investments, but Langensjö said there were good arguments for and against the use of gearing.Langensjö refused to be drawn on the specifics of how the investment universe might be altered.“It is too early in the process to say, but the big balancing act is between the implied or expected cautiousness of pillar one – the social security approach – and how you maximise pensions, which in simplistic terms is to maximise risk,” he said. “In the end that will define the investment universe and the type of portfolio.”Further readingSweden cuts one third of investment options in system overhaul Pensions regulator outlines plans to cull a third of the investment funds from the PPM, transferring roughly SEK9bn (€879m) to AP7Swedish Premium Pension: Safe and sound Reform of the Premium Pension System aims to root out poor management practices and make the system sustainable, writes Gail Moss “It was set up at a time when there were no other investment options in the first pillar system, then later it became the default option and now it is a fund in excess of €50bn because more than two thirds of savers have chosen to stay in it.”AP7 was the most rapidly growing investment fund in the world, he said, which meant the framework had now to be changed. According to data from IPE’s Top 1000 Pension Funds survey, it has grown from €8bn in 2009 to almost €62bn as of last year, as a result of investment returns and policy reforms.AP7’s growthChart MakerLangensjö’s report is likely to be submitted by the summer and will probably be put out for consultation later this year as part of the second stage of the PPM reform that is currently under way.Just over 13% of Swedish individuals’ state pension contributions – equating to 2.5% of salary – are directed into the PPM, which allows people to put their money into a wide range of private investment funds or into the default option, the balanced Såfa fund run by AP7.In compiling his report, Langensjö said he would look at what the future role and objective for AP7 should be as the default fund. The Swedish Finance Ministry has tasked pensions expert Mats Langensjö with devising a new framework for the country’s largest public sector pension fund.AP7 is the manager of the default option within the defined contribution (DC) segment of the state pension, known as the Premium Pension System (PPM).Langensjö – who has played significant roles in several pension reform processes in Sweden – is considering all options for the fund, including expanding its investment universe as well as changing its use of leverage.He told IPE: “AP7 has been around since 2000, but nothing has really changed since then in terms of the framework.