Saturday, 17 March 2018

Republicans Want to Cut Food Stamp Rolls by 20 percent say House Democrats

House Democrats, still reeling from a historic tax win on the right, say Republicans are working to cut the social safety net by kicking 8 million, about 20 percent of all participants, off of the food stamps program.
Negotiations broke down over the Farm Bill, which is mostly comprised of nutrition programs, after the proposed Republican cuts were leaked. In addition to lowering the rolls, the plan would increase the work requirement age limit from 60 to 65. The approximate $1 billion saved each month from the cuts will go to states to create job training initiatives, say Democrats.
“We have grown increasingly concerned about the nutrition policies being pushed by the Majority. Items you have outlined in your meetings with us and that have been reported in the press are a significant cause of concern,” 19 Democratic House Committee on Agriculture members wrote in a joint letter to ranking member Congressman Collin Peterson Thursday.  
The Committee members said they held 23 hearings on the future of food stamps, and no changes as radical as the ones outlined by Peterson were mentioned. They expressed concern about being asked to negotiate on the nuances of the bill without having seen the full text. The group asked Peterson to refrain from further negotiation until Congressman Mike Conaway, Committee Chairman, shared the full text of the bill.

GettyImages-453823089Brooklyn residents receive free food as part of a Bowery Mission outreach program on December 5, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Christian ministry says it have seen a spike in need since food stamps to low-income families were reduced in November with cuts to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). John Moore/Getty Images
“The Democratic members have made clear that they unanimously oppose the farm bill’s SNAP language as it has been described to them and reported in the press,” said Peterson. “My next steps are clear and I will not be continuing negotiations with the Chairman per the unanimous request of all Democratic members of the Committee.”
Peterson has seen the text of the bill but “it’s the Majority’s proposal and, at their request, we can’t share details,” said his spokesperson Liz Friedlander.
The standstill presents a real challenge to the bill, which was seen until a few weeks ago as a largely bipartisan endevor and one of the only large pieces of legislation likely to pass in an election year.
Nearly 43 million Americans depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP—the initiative commonly known as food stamps, to supplement or, in some cases, provide all of their food. The average American receives $132 each month to grocery shop with and is subject to a number of work requirements to receive the money.
The farm bill must be passed every five years. The last bill was in 2014 and caused partisan battles over funding for food stamps. House Republicans first proposed to cut the food stamp program by $20 billion over a decade, and eventually passed a bill that chopped the plan by $8 billion.
Conaway says he isn’t planning any large funding cuts cut this time around. “I have made it clear that policy, not budget cuts, will govern the writing of this farm bill, including SNAP,” he told Politico. “In fact, not one person would be forced off SNAP due to the work or training requirements we have been discussing. Not one.”

Google spent about $270K to close pay gaps across race and gender

Google says there are currently no 'statistically significant' pay gaps at
Google says there are currently no 'statistically significant' pay gaps at the company across race and gender. This is based on the company's most recent pay analysis, where it looked at unexplained pay discrepancies based on gender and race and then made adjustments where necessary, Google wrote in a blog post today.
In total, Google found statistically significant pay differences for 228 employees across six job groups. So, Google increased the compensation for each of those employees, which came out to about $270,000 in total before finalizing compensation planning. That group of 228 employees included women and men from several countries, including the U.S., as well as black and Latinx employees in the U.S.
In its analysis, Google says it looked at every job group with at least 30 employees and at least five people for every demographic group for which Google has data, like race and gender. You can read more about Google's methodology on its blog.
Earlier this year, Google was hit with a revised gender-pay class-action lawsuit that alleges Google underpaid women in comparison with their male counterparts and asked new hires about their prior salaries.
The revised lawsuit added a fourth complainant, Heidi Lamar, who was a teacher at Google’s Children Center in Palo Alto for four years. The original suit was dismissed in December due to the fact the plaintiffs defined the class of affected workers too broadly. Now, the revised lawsuit focuses on those who hold engineer, manager, sales or early childhood education positions.
Prior to the class-action lawsuit, the Department of Labor looked into Google's pay practices. Last January, the DoL filed a lawsuit against Google in an attempt to gain compensation data, as part of a routine compliance evaluation. In April, the DoL testified in court that pay inequities at Google are “systemic.”
Google, however, denied the DoL’s claims that the pay inequities at the company were systemic. In June, an administrative law judge sided with Google, ruling that it did not need to hand over all of the data the DoL requested.
  • This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.

5-Year-Old Cries as He Watches His Mom Walk Down The Aisle

It was a an unforgettable moment.

A 5-year-old boy was overcome with emotion as he watched his mother walk down the aisle at her Ohio wedding.
Tearra Suber said she didn’t notice her then 5-year-old son, Bryson, was so emotional until she got closer to the altar at her 2016 wedding.
Bryson was serving as a ring bearer.
“It melted my heart,” Suber said. “Seeing him express him those powerful emotions is one of my most cherished memories to date.”
The mom said when she later asked Bryson why he was emotional he said he was "very happy" to see his parents tie the knot.
Suber said she wasn’t expecting his reaction and it was amazing to have it caught on camera.
“When I first saw the photo, the tears were flowing,” Suber said.
The couple’s photographer, Paul Woo, has since posted the special moment on social media where it went viral.
Suber said many people now feel like they were apart of the couple’s day because they got to share in the moment.

Linda Perry talks lack of respect, representation for female producers: 'If I were Rick Rubin, they wouldn't have done that'

Linda Perry performs at the Townsend on March 13 in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Lorne Thomson/Redferns)
Linda Perry started off as a ’90s rock trailblazer with 4 Non Blondes, then established herself as one of the most successful producers and songwriters in the business as she worked with fellow strong women like P!nk, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Adele, and Courtney Love. But Perry is an anomaly in the business: A famous study from 2010 claimed women accounted for less than 5 percent of music producers and engineers, and Terri Winston from Women’s Audio Mission more recently said she thinks the number is even smaller than that. Furthermore, only six women have ever received a Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, and no woman has ever won that award. In the words of 4 Non Blondes’ biggest hit, what’s going on?
In Austin, Texas, this week to give a keynote address at the South By Southwest festivaland support her protégés — 13-year-old singer-songwriter Willa Amai (who recently went viral after her cover of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” was featured in an Intuit QuickBooks commercial) and eponymous rock band Dorothy — Perry sat down with Yahoo Entertainment for an eye-opening conversation about the plight of women in music today.
Yahoo Entertainment: There has been a lot of talk recently about the lack of female record producers out there. You’re one of the few successful ones. Why do you think that is?
Linda Perry: I really don’t know, to be quite honest. I know that I work hard. Producing is a lot of f***ing work, and I put in a lot of hours. A lot of people call me a “machine,” and I don’t think a lot of men or women operate the way I do. But then you take the normal woman: I don’t think the hunger and the drive is there as much. It’s not a “sexy” position, being the producer. You have to be very bossy. You have to be very aggressive. And I think, right there, that takes a lot of women out.
As a female producer, have you ever felt resistance or disrespect from male artists, or from male studio colleagues?
There’s been a couple times. I’ve gotten attitude from a couple guys before. I just don’t let it affect me.
What, specifically?
Well, I actually didn’t even think about it as a guy/girl thing, but this was screwed up: I had gotten a job. I wasn’t “auditioning.” I actually got the job to produce a Green Day record [21st Century Breakdown]. … Billie [Joe Armstrong] was very confused about what they wanted to do. He had saw this documentary on me and Courtney [Love] and loved the way I was with her. We sat for three hours. He’s like, “I want you to do our next album. I feel you’ll be great at directing this,” blah, blah, blah. We talked, we talked. I sent him things to focus on, whatever. And then, three weeks in, I went to Oakland to their studio, and set it up over there. They hadn’t even been playing together live … I mean, in the studio together. They didn’t record in the same room together, since Dookie. And I’m like, “Oh, no, no, no, no. You guys got to get in the room together. I would make a ’60s type of album. You obviously love the Who. Why don’t you go make that album? Let’s focus on that.”
And then, three weeks later, I didn’t hear a peep from them. They didn’t return any of my phone calls. And then, I started seeing all this internet stuff come up about, “What the f***? You guys are working with Linda Perry, the pop producer?” And then it hit me: “Oh, they totally chickened out on having me come in and do this.” And hey, I’ll take it as maybe they felt I wasn’t the right person, but what did it in was that they never called me. I got fired without a phone call, without anybody telling me. They just disappeared. And that was pretty f***ed up. If I were Rick Rubin or anybody else, they wouldn’t have done that.
Rick Rubin’s amazing, by the way. I just need to say that. … But anyway, that was probably my first and only chick/dude thing where that got in the way. But it didn’t really affect me. I just was like, “OK, all right, just keep getting better at your craft.” [Editor’s note: At the time, Green Day’s management denied rumors, sparked by Love, that the band was working with Perry. Butch Vig ended up producing 21st Century Breakdown.]
You theorize that not enough women are putting themselves out there in a production role. What did you think about that comment from Recording Academy president Neil Portnow at the Grammys this year, when he said, “Women need to step up”?
I know Neil. He is a very, very nice man, and he is all about music. … I think what he was probably trying to say was, “Hey, ladies. Great. Now it’s time to step up. You have this avenue. The window, the door, is now open. Step up and run through it!” That’s probably what he was trying to say. But he didn’t say it well. I feel sorry for him, because I know he has a lot of respect for women — but it was his time to go. That’s the way it is. Sorry, dude. In this world, in this time right now, we don’t have second chances anymore.
All the award shows this year — Grammys, Oscars, Golden Globes — were really focused on #MeToo and #TimesUp. Do you feel we’re at a turning point in the entertainment industry right now?
Absolutely. We’re in a turning point in life right now. With this Trump guy, I mean, we are just in a terrible, terrible situation with just this chaotic energy and this total moron. I don’t think anybody can debate that. It’s like, at this point, even his followers know the guy is not very smart. But what he did, unknowingly, is woke everybody the f*** up. The country, the world, is now wide-awake. Everything is out in the open right now. We see the mean people, we see the racists, we see the nice people, we see the good intentions. We see the people who are workers, we see the people who are just riding the coattails. We see the f***ing murderers and the rapists. We see them all. They’re all coming to f***ing light right now. And now, what’s happening is, the world is uniting. And we haven’t had that in a very f***ing long time. And women are uniting, I think, for the very first time in a very, very long time.
Why do you say it is for the “first time in a long time”?
Women are a**holes to other women. They are. There’s a lot of jealousy: “I don’t want her opening up for me because she looks better that me.” There’s a lot of competition in the music business. I work with a lot of women, and I see it. I see the jealousy and the competitive nature. And now, it’s like we’re free of that. Women are getting together and going, “You know what? We’re far bigger, and we should be further along than we are, and maybe it’s time we f***ing get together and move this f***ing mountain together.” I think that’s what’s beautiful to see, and that is going to carry us a very, very long way. That’s what’s been needing to happen for a very, very long time.
The ’90s, when 4 Non Blondes came up, were a good time for women, though. There was Lilith Fair, and a lot of coed and female-fronted bands. I don’t know why the progress didn’t continue.
I think what happened was the pop came in, and [record labels] didn’t want to see the girls all bruised and dirty. They wanted a clean-cut girl. Britney Spears showed up. … And then bands like L7 weren’t considered valuable, because, “Well, gee, Britney Spears is making s***loads of money.”
Do you foresee a return to the rock idealism of the ’60s through the ’90s? Or music becoming more political?
Yeah, punk rock is coming back. We’re going to see a lot of that. We’re in very crucial time right now. Every time we have a bad president, great music comes from it. Incredible music is coming, and you can hear it now. And this new generation of girls, they want someone that they can actually become to represent them. Remember The Legend of Billie Jean? They want that girl. They want someone real. They want Willa. They want Dorothy. They want something strong to represent a survivor, a warrior, not a f***ing makeup queen. Those days are done. That’s over.
What is your advice to young women like Dorothy and Willa, who are new to the industry and need to be prepared for the struggle? 
Well, I think in general you have to have a certain common sense in this business. If you’re not confident, people push you around. That’s it. It’s super-simple. We will always have bullies. The world will never be that amazing. It’s just never going to happen. It won’t be that evolved. But how we become evolved is by just standing our ground and being comfortable with who we are, and by being confident and moving forward.
Willa Amai and Linda Perry on the set of Intuit QuickBooks’ film for the “Backing You” campaign. (Photo: Business Wire)
Going back to you saying how there aren’t as many women who want to be record producers, do you foresee that changing as well?
Maybe. I mean, that’s the part I don’t know. I honestly don’t know why there aren’t more female producers out there. It could be also because it’s not in the DNA. Listen, I’m gay, right? In Los Angeles, there’s Santa Monica Boulevard, which has probably 100 f***ing guy bars. But there was one lesbian bar, the Palms — and the Palms went under. And everybody’s like, “Why?” And I’m like, “Because women aren’t loyal to the bar. They go out, they have fun for a moment, they meet their future wife, they get the U-Haul, buy a puppy, and they go f***ing watch movies until the breakup. And then they wonder why the bar isn’t there anymore, because ‘I want to go out and meet my next wife.’” The women bars close down because one, there’s no dedication and commitment, and two, lesbians are the worst tippers. But the [gay men] go out every f***ing day, barhop all over, and keep all those bars open.
So, how is this analogous to the producer situation we’re discussing?
Because what I’m saying is, it’s a lot of work, being a producer. It’s a lot of fighting, and you have to be very headstrong. You have to have a vision and be very opinionated, and I do not feel being a producer is at the top of women’s to-do list. It’s more, “I want to be a songwriter. I want to be a big star. I want to be an actress. I want to be a model.” You can probably sit in a room with 100 girls … and only a couple of them are going to say, “I want to be a producer.”
Back to the Grammy thing, few women have ever been nominated for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, and no woman has ever won.
Well, I just finished this amazing project. I can’t talk about it now, but I promise you when I can, you’ll be the first one I’ll call. It’s a pretty f***ing awesome project, and a lot of [male producers] wanted this one. A lot of the big-name dudes wanted this project, and they didn’t get it. I got it, and that was a big win for me. And I will be nominated next year for the producer award — actually, probably for several.

'Exhausted' Toys 'R' Us suppliers weigh options as huge retailer shuts

CHICAGO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Toys 'R' Us secured a $3.1 billion bankruptcy loan in September, toy makers were reassured they would be paid for goods delivered to the company as it tried to emerge from Chapter 11.
Now those payments are at risk in a dramatic turn of events as the iconic toy retailer speeds toward U.S. liquidation.
More than a dozen executives, specialists and lawyers interviewed by Reuters said they expected many small vendors to go bankrupt due to the disappearance of Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us in the United States.
While the downfall of Toys 'R' Us came quickly in the United States, the Wayne, New Jersey-based retailer is still trying to find a buyer for its businesses in Canada, Europe and Asia. In the meantime, it wants to keep stores stocked to maintain customers and value.
"We have a $14-$15 million payment due that hasn't been paid," Isaac Larian, chief executive of Bratz dolls maker MGA Entertainment, said. "If I was a guessing man, I wouldn't think I'd get all of it back."
MGA, whose L.O.L. Surprise! toys were the industry's top seller last year, stopped supplying goods to Toys 'R' Us on Wednesday, Larian said. Toys 'R' Us accounted for 15 percent of MGA's annual sales. Larian spent Thursday and Friday on the phone with his lawyers and tending to a bid he and other vendors have made to acquire Toys 'R' Us' Canadian operations.
“I have been working from 4 a.m. till midnight every day on this talking to other toy company executives, lawyers, bankers, other retailers," Larian said. "I’m exhausted.”
At a Thursday hearing at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia, vendor lawyers said they were receiving hourly calls from clients about hundreds of millions of dollars of claims. Whether or not they receive payment will depend on the outcome of the liquidation proceedings.
For some, the writing for Toys 'R' Us had been on the wall. Marc Wagman, who heads insurance broker Gallagher's U.S. trade credit and political risk business, said credit insurers stopped covering Toys 'R' Us in the first and second quarters of 2017.
"Unfortunately, for a lot of these toy companies, Toys 'R' Us represented a means of testing consumer taste, a big retail opportunity and, for some, accounted for 20-40 percent of revenue. How that's going to be replaced remains to be seen," Wagman said.
Toys 'R' Us, with $11 billion in annual revenue and shops up to 50,000 square feet (4,600 square meters) in size, was the last major specialty toy retailer, a loss not only for small, innovative toy makers that relied on it as a showcase, but also for brands such as Walt Disney Co that rolled out products with partner labels for blockbuster films like "Frozen" and some of the "Star Wars" series.

“I have a short-term concern about the loss of business, the loss of one of my best partners over many, many decades," said Joseph Shamie, president of Delta Children, one of the chain’s biggest vendors of children’s furniture, with roughly 470 employees.
He has been selling to Toys 'R' Us for more than 40 years, since he was 19. "I’m losing a lot of business and in very quick, unmanaged amount of time."
Shamie said his company will continue to supply products to Toys 'R' Us stores outside the United States, but that they are “watching closely.”
“I have to create opportunity so I can continue to employ the people I employ," he said.
In a dire landscape that claimed 17 retail bankruptcies and more than 8,000 U.S. store closures last year alone, vendors are wising up on their customers' financial health, paying close attention to online sales, new sources of revenue and, especially, liquidity.
Among those that could pick up toy market share: big-box retailers Walmart Inc and Target Corp ; chains such as JC Penney Co Inc , Kohls Corp and Bed Bath & Beyond ; drugstores like CVS Health Corp and Rite Aid Corp ; and discount outlets like Dollar General Corp or TJ Maxx .
“We’ll work really hard with folks like Walmart and Target to see if they can take up volume by year-end,” said Jay Foreman, chief executive of Basic Fun!, which sells Cake Pop Cuties and Poopeez as well as classics like Lite-Brite.
Foreman expects a 10 percent revenue hit from the loss of Toys ‘R’ Us.
He is also working with Inc , which will become its second- or third-biggest account this year versus ninth in 2015, but said Amazon does not give minimum orders.
“They’ll put it online and say 'we’ll see how it does.'”
Without mass distribution and a physical showcase, co-Chief Executive Nick Mowbray of toymaker Zuru Inc said innovations would become far riskier, leaving a dent in toy selection for customers.
"Doing business with a company in Chapter 11 was not supposed to be a 'gotcha' situation, but apparently in this case it was," said Learning Resources Inc Chief Executive Rick Woldenberg. His Vernon Hills, Illinois, company is owed more than $1 million by Toys 'R' Us.
He said his company will no longer supply to Toys 'R' Us. "I don't know how many times they think we can be punished."
(Additional reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del.; Writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Vanessa O'Connell Nick Zieminski)

Friday, 16 March 2018

Parkland surveillance video shows officer standing outside school during shooting

NAPLES, Fla. — Surveillance footage released Thursday shows then-school resource deputy Scot Peterson standing outside of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building where students and faculty inside were being shot, then running out of view, not to be seen again on other school cameras. 

The 27-minute video was released after multiple media organizations, including the USA TODAY Network, petitioned for it to be made public. The footage shows Peterson’s movements during the Feb. 14 shooting from four camera angles.

In the days following the massacre, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson should have gone into the building and “killed the killer.” 

Peterson retired from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office following the criticism.

Peterson's attorney, Joseph A. DiRuzzo III, previously said in a statement the deputy thought shots were coming from outside the school and followed protocol for such an incident. Peterson took a "tactical position" outside the building and initiated a Code Red lockdown, according to the attorney.

Wisconsin legislator to propose banning marijuana tests for most jobs


Eric Marsch doesn’t understand why some companies are still testing employees for THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.
“Especially with cannabis being legal in so many states, no one should have to worry about losing their job for recreational cannabis use,” says Marsch, an organizer with the southeastern Wisconsin chapter of NORML — the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws.
“We strongly believe that no one should be penalized at work for what they do in their free time,” adds Marsch.
The group has an ally in state Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee). Bowen tells Isthmushe plans to introduce a bill on Feb. 15 that would block employers from urine testing for THC, or disqualifying people for jobs based on testing positive for cannabis. The bill would apply to both public and private sector workers, but would not apply to those with jobs operating heavy equipment.
“Consuming THC weeks or months out from a job interview should not disqualify someone from finding employment any more than someone who drank a few beers on another date should be kept out of work,” Bowen says in an email. “While I am in favor of the safe legalization and regulation of marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use, until that happens, people should not be stigmatized for using a substance whose effect on society is less negative than society's reaction to it.”
NORML will hold a rally on Feb. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Capitol to draw attention to the issue. The group will distribute information and talk to legislators about the prospect of legalization.
Over the years, NORML has used its network of volunteers and friendly politicians to help lobby in favor of cannabis legalization. In states where the drug is illegal, the group works on educating the public about the plant and possible benefits of legalization.
Wisconsin NORML argues urine tests are ineffective, since THC is detectable long after being psychoactive. Someone could fail a urine test weeks after consuming marijuana. Marsch says drug testing “serves only to persecute medical patients and people with alternative (yet increasingly mainstream) lifestyles by denying them the right to employment.”
He notes a failed drug test “can make a skilled and responsible worker unemployable, sending them into a downward spiral of poverty.”
Marsch argues that people should only be fired if their marijuana use causes a “danger or hindrance” on the job. Right now, people can be fired for “simply choosing a safer recreational alternative to alcohol,” he says.
Cannabis advocates point to a 2017 study by the National Academies of Sciences that found cannabis users present no more risks on the job than non-users. They also point to a 2016 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research that found states with legal medical marijuana had higher employment rates among adults over 50.
NORML expects resistance to Bowen’s proposal.
Marsch blames Republican leaders for refusing to consider cannabis reform, saying they are “putting partisanship before the people of Wisconsin.”
He notes that a 2016 poll found 59 percent of Wisconsin residents favor legalizing marijuana. And a November 2017 national poll by the American Civil Liberties Union found 91 percent of Americans want criminal justice reform.
Despite the strong support for legalization, Marsch says getting there will take a lot of work. The group plans to promote pro-cannabis political candidates, host rallies and continue its public information campaign.
“With tens of thousands of Wisconsinites being directly harmed by prohibition every year, we know this will be a winning issue as long as we keep dialogue and attention on it,” Marsch says.