Elaine Luria to host Congressional Art Competition

Elaine LuriaCongresswoman Elaine Luria announced this week that her office will host its second annual Congressional Art Competition in Virginia’s Second District.

The Congressional Art Competition is an opportunity for high school students to show their artistic talents to the nation with an opportunity to have their work hung in the Capitol.

“I am looking forward to hosting our second annual Congressional Art Competition after seeing the impressive submissions from last year’s competition,”  Luria said. “I am always honored to showcase the talent of students from Coastal Virginia, and investing in the arts is critical for our next generation. I encourage students to reach out to their office to learn how to get involved”

Between now and April 24, students from Virginia’s Second Congressional District can submit artwork for the competition. A panel of three judges representing the Eastern Shore, the Peninsula, and the Southside will choose the winners.

The winning submission will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for a year and regional winners’ artwork will be displayed in Congresswoman Luria’s district offices.

On May 2, all participants and their families and friends will be invited to Congresswoman Luria’s Art Competition Awards Ceremony. It will be held in the Watts Grand Lobby and Gallery at Virginia Wesleyan University’s Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center at 2 p.m.

For more information about the Congressional Art Competition, including rules, important dates, and eligibility requirements, click here.

Wildlife Center of Virginia seeking volunteers for busy spring baby season

wildlife center of virginiaThe Wildlife Center of Virginia is seeking volunteers to help care for the hundreds of spring babies that will soon flood the center’s clinic.

In 2019, the center, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife located in Waynesboro, helped a record-setting 3,345 patients, including 490 Virginia opossums, 460 eastern cottontails, and 220 east gray squirrels.

Many of these mammals were orphaned or separated young animals, admitted in the spring, that were healthy but needed to be fed and cared for until they were old enough to be released back into the wild.

“Feeding these spring babies – the little opossums, rabbits, and squirrels – is a somewhat time-consuming but very rewarding part of our work at the Wildlife Center,” said Kelsey Pleasants, wildlife rehabilitator and head caregiver at the Wildlife Center.

Pleasants noted that orphan care is a large part of the center’s daily operation.

In the spring and summer, the center often cares for nearly 100 baby mammals at one time, in addition to a couple hundred patients also on the property.

The center is looking to recruit, train, and equip volunteer apprentices who can help with care and feeding of these hungry young animals as home-based wildlife rehabilitators, operating under a permit issued by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

“We will teach apprentices the skills they need to care for these young animals in their homes,” Pleasants said.

Individuals interested in learning more about this opportunity are asked to join center veterinary and rehabilitation staff for a one-hour orientation session, which will include a description of the requirements to become a center care apprentice and a permitted rehabilitator.

These sessions will be offered on:

  • Friday, March 6 at 10 a.m. and repeated again at 3 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 7 at 9:30 a.m.
  • Friday, March 20 at 10 a.m. and repeated again at 3 p.m.

The center’s Apprentice Care Program is open to individuals 18 years and older who are residents of Albemarle, Augusta, or Nelson Counties, or the Cities of Charlottesville, Staunton, or Waynesboro.

Additional information about the Wildlife Center is available at www.wildlifecenter.org. Questions and RSVPs to the Apprentice Orientation should be sent to vetvolunteer@wildlifecenter.org.

Ken Plum: Budgeting the sate’s resources

ken plumIn contrast to the federal government’s method of budgeting, the budget for the Commonwealth of Virginia is more than balanced. The state Constitution prohibits the borrowing of money for operations, and it requires a “rainy day fund” of reserve monies that can be drawn upon in an economic downturn. That is in part why the state has a perfect AAA bond rating giving it the best terms when monies are borrowed for capital projects.

Both the House and the Senate have completed work on their versions of the budget that was proposed by Governor Ralph Northam earlier this year. The two budgets will be reconciled in a conference committee that will resolve differences between the two. Total spending for the biennium will be about $48 billion in general funds raised through taxes. Individual and corporate income taxes provide three quarters of the revenue with sales tax providing about seventeen percent and additional smaller taxes making up the rest. General funds coming from taxes make up about 36 percent of total revenue. Non-general funds that consist of fees such as motor vehicle and gas taxes, college tuition, federal grants and other fees make up 64 percent of the budget.

Noteworthy features of the House and Senate budgets that are being reconciled and are subject to change before a final budget is adopted include a much needed increase in rates for personal care providers in Medicaid programs, an increase in developmental waiver disability slots by 1,135 in the Governor’s budget to 1,635 in the Senate version of the budget. While the increase will help, the number of persons on the waiting list still number in the thousands. The Governor and the House budgeted for 630 supportive housing slots for persons with serious mental illness while the Senate provided 1,630. Budget language provides for the establishment of a state-based exchange for health insurance.

The budgets of both houses provided for teacher raises as did the Governor’s budget. The amount differs in each with an expected three to four percent over the biennium. The ratio of counselors to students in the public schools will be improved. The Governor proposed a ratio of one counselor per 250 students. The House ratio is 325 and the Senate’s is 300. Likewise, the ratio of teachers for English learners will be improved. A major point of contention among the Governor’s and the House and Senate budgets is that only the House has proposed to restore the cost to compete funding for Northern Virginia schools because of the high cost of living in the region. The average per pupil direct aid for public school students ranges from $6,206 in the Governor’s budget to $6,297 in the House budget.

A major emphasis in the budget is an increased investment in preschool education that was championed by the First Lady. The Governor’s “Get skilled, Get a job, Give back” (G3) funding to provide tuition assistance to low- to moderate-income students who meet certain criteria is receiving significant funding. The Housing Trust Fund will receive a much-needed infusion of cash proposed in all the budgets.

For information comparing the three budgets, go to Budget Comparison.

Ken Plum is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Sixteen schools selected for Dominion Energy Solar for Students program

Dominion EnergyDominion Energy is adding 16 new schools to its Solar for Students program, giving students across Virginia and the Carolinas a hands-on experience with solar energy.

Nine schools in Virginia, one in North Carolina and six in South Carolina will have the unique chance to learn firsthand about harnessing solar energy from a solar array installed right outside the classroom.

The program, which started in 2015 with four public schools, now includes a museum and 33 different schools.

“We’re excited to provide the opportunity for more children to learn about solar energy,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. “This program will give students a better understanding of a renewable energy source that will play an important role in a clean energy future.”

Dominion Energy currently has more than 60 solar projects operating or under development in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, and owns the fourth-largest solar fleet among utility holding companies in the United States. Investing in solar energy is part of Dominion Energy’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The following organizations have been selected to participate in Solar for Students:

  • Advanced Career Education Center (ACE) at Highland Springs (Henrico County, VA)
  • Bowen’s Corner Elementary School (Berkeley County, SC)
  • Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Career Tech Academy (Halifax County, VA)
  • C.S. Brown High School STEM (Hertford County, NC)
  • Dinwiddie High School (Dinwiddie County, VA)
  • Eau Claire High School (Richland County, SC)
  • Gilbert High School (Lexington County, SC)
  • Great Bridge Middle School (Chesapeake City, VA)
  • Irmo High School (Lexington County, SC)
  • Louisa Middle School (Louisa County, VA)
  • New Horizons Regional Education Centers (Hampton, VA)
  • Port Royal Sound Foundation (Beaufort County, SC)
  • Quioccasin Middle School (Henrico County, VA)
  • Riverside High School (Loudoun County, VA)
  • Dent Middle School (Richland County, SC)
  • Spratley Gifted Center/ Hampton City Schools (Hampton, VA)

Each participant will receive a 1.2-kilowatt photovoltaic system that converts sunlight into electric power, as well as technical support, educational materials and training for educators. Each solar array will have a visual display that shows students and faculty real-time data on the amount of electricity generated.

Each array will generate enough electricity to power up to 18 desktop computers, 40 ten-gallon aquariums or 15 42-inch LED televisions.

The NEED Project (National Energy Education Development) will administer the program once again by providing technical support, coordinating the installation of solar panels, preparing educational materials for students, and training the teachers.

Students will be able to track the generation of electric power by viewing their data online and can challenge other participating schools around the world to a solar power match. They will learn about their state’s energy resources and how weather and temperature impact solar electricity. Students will also help choose school colors or other designs for their solar array.

After the solar installations are completed, the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation will sponsor a “Solarbration” at each location to showcase the solar projects and give students, local officials and community members the chance to learn more about this collaborative learning project.

For more on this program, visit www.dominionenergy.com/solarforschools.

How to begin the process of writing a will

computer essay writing translation

(© Wrangler – stock.adobe.com)

When you are younger, writing a will is likely very low down on the list of priorities. The challenge with that ideology though is we are never sure when it will be our time. If you have assets or money at your disposal, then you want to be sure that it goes where you intended it to, if the worst should happen. Without a will, your assets and wealth are at the mercy of the law, which may not be what you want. The process of writing a will is fairly straightforward, but not something everyone is aware of. To get a better grasp of what is required to begin your will, consider this simple guide.

Advice is a good thing

Taking advice on your will doesn’t mean asking your family who should get what, as that will likely lead to a potentially awkward conversation. Gathering advice from lawyers in Melbourne is, however, a very good idea. The law can be difficult to understand without the benefit of practising for many years. Consulting with a lawyer about your will and intentions is a great way to gain clarity, not only on the process but how to frame your will as well. Simply stating where assets should go, might not be enough, especially if there is a legal loophole. Lawyers are best placed to advise on your individual case and help you craft a will that will ensure your assets and wealth go where you intended them to after you pass away. Don’t take a chance on your interpretation, let an expert guide you.

Find an executor

Finding someone to execute your will after you pass away is an incredibly important decision to make. There are a number of factors to consider, such as your relationship with the person, any personal interests they may have, their age and many more. Simply choosing your partner or sibling may not be the best choice for your will. The executor is responsible for ensuring that the division of your assets is carried out per your wishes, therefore trust is a major factor in that decision. Another important consideration is the complexity of your will. If you have a number of assets to be divided or complicated liquidity issues, then finding an executor with those skills is probably a fantastic idea. Take the time to make this decision properly and always ensure there is someone who can back them up if you outlive this person.

Pay attention

Getting assistance in writing your will is very important. An improperly written, witnessed or signed will won’t be legally binding. Take the time to write your will properly, as per the legal requirements. Then allow plenty of time to have your will witnessed and ultimately signed to ensure its binding. The last thing your loved ones want to deal with is a dispute over assets because your will doesn’t stand up in court. Often times there are free will services to help check over your will to ensure its validity. If you are at all concerned once you’ve prepared your will, do some research to find a support centre near you.

A lot of people think of a will like a long term task that can be put off for a while. Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball to know when our time may be up. It’s critical to take some time as soon as you can to think about the division of your assets should you pass away. Writing a will doesn’t have to be a morbid discussion, but rather an insurance policy to ensure you can look after your loved ones as you intend. Instead of putting it off another day, use this guide to help start the process of writing your will today.

Census Bureau to hold Charlottesville public information session on 2020 Census

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Photo Credit: lilcrazyfuzzy/iStock Photo

The Census Bureau will present Charlottesville’s first public information session about the 2020 Census on Sunday, March 1 starting at 3 p.m. at Congregation Beth Israel, 301 E. Jefferson Street.

The event, hosted by the CBI Social Action Committee and co-sponsored by Sin Barreras, is free and open to all and will feature:

  • Kathy O’Connell, the Census Bureau’s partnership specialist for Central Virginia, explaining the census-taking process, how to fill out the census form, why a full count is so critical, and what community members can do to help ensure its success. She will take questions from attendees at the end of her presentation.
  • Spanish language interpretation by Sin Barreras (which is also doing outreach to the local Latinx community).
  • Del. Sally Hudson (VA District 57, Charlottesville) making opening remarks
  • A representative from The Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) answering questions after the presentation concludes.

The program will also devote significant attention to concerns about undercounting some minority groups. The Census Bureau estimates that minorities, including African Americans and Hispanics, were undercounted by 1.5 million in 2010; The Urban Institute fears an even bigger undercount this year.

Hudson emphasizes that “Charlottesville is counting on all of us to fill out the Census. For each of our neighbors who go uncounted, our community could lose up to $20,000 in federal funding for schools, housing, and health care. We need all our community leaders to spread the word so we get the resources we need to invest in those critical programs for each other.”

Other topics to be addressed include:

  • the 2020 Census counts everyone, not just citizens (no citizenship question is asked)
  • for the first time, the census can be filled out by phone, by mail, or online at 2020census.gov
  • the census determines how many seats Virginia gets in the House of Representatives.

“Every person has a role to play in encouraging their neighbors, co-workers, and fellow community members to participate in the census” says the Census Bureau’s O’Connell. “Sharing messages on social media, engaging faith leaders and school leaders, distributing information to groups who might be less likely to respond, etc. Every action helps and moves us closer to a full and complete count.”

Inside the Numbers: Dammit, stop apologizing for this Virginia team

uva basketball fans

The Hoo Crew celebrates the final moments of the OT win. Photo by Dan Grogan.

We’re like Canadians, going around, always telling people, sorry, we’re Virginia Basketball people.

Sorry, we only win games 50-something to 50-something.

Sorry.

Sorry. Sorry! Sorry!!!

Stop it!

This team is 6-3 on the road in the ACC.

Among Power 5 conference teams: that’s fourth-best.

(Top three: Kansas, Kentucky, Duke.)

Two of the losses: at Florida State, at Louisville, both Top 10 teams, both in games in which Virginia led late.

Seven losses this season, only one of them, that loss at Purdue, way back in December, was out of reach.

Granted, even the wins aren’t pretty.

Virginia is 211th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom.com, still averaging less than a point (precisely .999) per possession on offense.

The defense: first in scoring, fourth nationally in points per possession.

They’re all rock fights.

This team: has stones.

In the recent five-game winning streak:

  • 50-49 OT win over Notre Dame, in which the final tally in OT was Virginia 3, Notre Dame 2. For sake of comparison, Duke had four points in the second OT of its loss to Wake Forest last night. And gave up 16. Virginia won a game scoring less in OT than Duke got in OT in the process of getting the s–t kicked out of it.
  • 64-62 win at North Carolina, on a last-second three from Tomas Woldetensae.
  • 78-65 win over Boston College, a relative blowout. Literally only the second double-digit win since the exam break. We are all going to age several years this winter.
  • 59-56 win at Pitt. Led by 13 inside of four minutes to go. Had to hang on.
  • 56-53 win at Virginia Tech. Led by 15 at the break, had to rally from three down inside of three to go. We picked the wrong week to collectively stop sniffing glue.

This team has 20 wins, 12 in the ACC, eight away from JPJ, after losing three guys early to the NBA draft.

We could easily be North Carolina right now, 4-13 in the conference, our coach cursing at pressers, when he isn’t telling reporters about how his team has no talent.

This team could legitimately win out and finish … third in the ACC?

It’s an election year. I’m voting for Tony Bennett for everything.

Story by Chris Graham

Virginia Museum of History & Culture announces National History Day Program 2020

virginia museum of history & cultureThe National History Day program in Virginia is gearing up for its 2020 season of competitions.

Virginia’s History Day program is coordinated by the Virginia Museum of History & Culture and competitions begin at the district level. The state is broken down into eight districts, representing every geographic region of the state.

The Central Virginia district contest will be held on Saturday at John Tyler Community College in Midlothian. The district contest is coordinated by Dr. John Kirn, professor of history, and Greg Hansard, instructor of history, at John Tyler Community College. The state Virginia History Day program is coordinated by Sam Florer at the VMHC.

History Day is very similar to a science fair program, but for history. Specifically, it is a project-based program focused on historical research, interpretation, and creative expression for fourth to 12th grade students. By participating in History Day, students become writers, filmmakers, web designers, playwrights, and artists as they create unique contemporary expressions of history around a yearly theme. This year, the theme is Breaking Barriers in History.

The experience culminates in a series of contests at the local and state levels and an annual national competition at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), in June.

The National History Day program sees over 500,000 students participate every year from all 50 U.S. states, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Soma, and international schools in China, Korea, and south Asia. Virginia History Day reaches over 8,000 students each year around the Commonwealth. The Richmond area district contest is the second largest in Virginia and is growing every year.

Last year, participation increased by 300% with 358 middle and high school students displaying their projects at John Tyler Community College in Midlothian. Additional growth in the program is anticipated for this year, especially as elementary students in grades 4 and 5 will be eligible to compete for the first time.

Last year, the top two winners in each category and age division at the district contest were invited to the state contest held at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture in April 2019. Representatives from the Central Virginia district did very well at the state contest. Six students from the area received third place, five second place, and one entry won first place. The six second and first place winners went on to compete at the national History Day contest held at UMCP.

Due to the successful growth of the program, this year the state contest will be held over two days for the first time. Elementary and middle school students will compete on Saturday, April 25 and high school students will compete on Sunday, April 26.

The state contest sees approximately 300 students from every region of the Commonwealth gather at the museum, along with several hundred family members, volunteers, and judges. The top two winners in each category of project and age division are invited to the national History Day contest held at UMCP.              

The Virginia Museum of History & Culture is owned and operated by the Virginia Historical Society — a private, non-profit organization established in 1831. The historical society is the oldest cultural organization in Virginia, and one of the oldest and most distinguished history organizations in the nation.

For use in its state history museum and its renowned research library, the historical society cares for a collection of nearly nine million items representing the ever-evolving story of Virginia.

The Virginia Museum of History & Culture is located at 428 N Arthur Ashe Boulevard in Richmond’s Museum District. Hours are Monday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for the galleries and museum shop, Monday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for the research library.

For more information call 804.340.1800, visit VirginiaHistory.org, or connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The looming financial nightmare: So much for living the American Dream

john whitehead“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” ― Frédéric Bastiat, French economist

Let’s talk numbers, shall we?

The national debt (the amount the federal government has borrowed over the years and must pay back) is $23 trillion and growing.

The amount this country owes is now greater than its gross national product (all the products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the citizens). We’re paying more than $270 billion just in interest on that public debt annually. And the top two foreign countries who “own” our debt are China and Japan.

The national deficit (the difference between what the government spends and the revenue it takes in) is projected to surpass $1 trillion every year for the next 10 years.

The United States spends more on foreign aid than any other nation ($50 billion in 2017 alone). More than 150 countries around the world receive U.S. taxpayer-funded assistance, with most of the funds going to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Meanwhile, almost 60% of Americans are so financially strapped that they don’t have even $500 in savings and nothing whatsoever put away for retirement, and yet they are being forced to pay for government programs that do little to enhance or advance their lives.

Folks, if you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re not living the American dream.

We’re living a financial nightmare.

The U.S. government—and that includes the current administration—is spending money it doesn’t have on programs it can’t afford, and “we the taxpayers” are the ones who will pay for it.

As financial analyst Kristin Tate explains, “When the government has its debt bill come due, all of us will be on the hook.” It’s happened before: during the European debt crisis, Cypress seized private funds from its citizens’ bank accounts to cover its debts, with those who had been careful to save their pennies forced to relinquish between 40% to 60% of their assets.

Could it happen here? Could the government actually seize private funds for its own gain?

Look around you. It’s already happening.

In the eyes of the government, “we the people, the voters, the consumers, and the taxpayers” are little more than pocketbooks waiting to be picked.

Consider: The government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes. Government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing. And the IRS insists on getting the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.

We have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow.

We have no real say, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.

It wasn’t always this way, of course.

Early Americans went to war over the inalienable rights described by philosopher John Locke as the natural rights of life, liberty and property.

It didn’t take long, however—a hundred years, in fact—before the American government was laying claim to the citizenry’s property by levying taxes to pay for the Civil War. As the New York Times reports, “Widespread resistance led to its repeal in 1872.”

Determined to claim some of the citizenry’s wealth for its own uses, the government reinstituted the income tax in 1894. Charles Pollock challenged the tax as unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor. Pollock’s victory was relatively short-lived. Members of Congress—united in their determination to tax the American people’s income—worked together to adopt a constitutional amendment to overrule the Pollock decision.

On the eve of World War I, in 1913, Congress instituted a permanent income tax by way of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution and the Revenue Act of 1913. Under the Revenue Act, individuals with income exceeding $3,000 could be taxed starting at 1% up to 7% for incomes exceeding $500,000.

It’s all gone downhill from there.

Unsurprisingly, the government has used its tax powers to advance its own imperialistic agendas and the courts have repeatedly upheld the government’s power to penalize or jail those who refused to pay their taxes.

Irwin A. Schiff was one of the nation’s most vocal tax protesters. He spent a good portion of his life arguing that the income tax was unconstitutional, and he put his wallet where his conscience was: Schiff stopped paying federal taxes in 1974.

Schiff paid the price for his resistance, too: he served three separate prison terms (more than 10 years in all) over his refusal to pay taxes. He died at the age of 87 serving a 14-year prison term. As constitutional activist Robert L. Schulz noted in Schiff’s obituary, “In a society where there is so much fear of government, and in particular of the I.R.S., [Schiff] was probably the most influential educator regarding the illegal and unconstitutional operation and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code. It’s very hard to speak to power, but he did, and he paid a very heavy price.”

It’s still hard to speak to power, and those who do are still paying a very heavy price.

All the while the government continues to do whatever it likes—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.

To top it all off, all of those wars the U.S. is so eager to fight abroad are being waged with borrowed funds. As The Atlantic reports, “For 15 years now, the United States has been putting these wars on a credit card… U.S. leaders are essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

If Americans managed their personal finances the way the government mismanages the nation’s finances, we’d all be in debtors’ prison by now.

Still, the government remains unrepentant, unfazed and undeterred in its money grabs.

While we’re struggling to get by, and making tough decisions about how to spend what little money actually makes it into our pockets after the federal, state and local governments take their share (this doesn’t include the stealth taxes imposed through tolls, fines and other fiscal penalties), the police state is spending our hard-earned tax dollars to further entrench its powers and entrap its citizens.

For instance, American taxpayers have been forced to shell out more than $5.6 trillion since 9/11 for the military industrial complex’s costly, endless so-called “war on terrorism.”

That translates to roughly $23,000 per taxpayer to wage wars abroad, occupy foreign countries, provide financial aid to foreign allies, and fill the pockets of defense contractors and grease the hands of corrupt foreign dignitaries.

Mind you, that staggering $6 trillion is only a portion of what the Pentagon spends on America’s military empire.

That price tag keeps growing, too.

In this way, the military industrial complex will get even richer, and the American taxpayer will be forced to shell out even more funds for programs that do little to enhance our lives, ensure our happiness and well-being, or secure our freedoms.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in a 1953 speech:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?

This is still no way of life.

Yet it’s not just the government’s endless wars that are bleeding us dry.

We’re also being forced to shell out money for surveillance systems to track our movements, money to further militarize our already militarized police, money to allow the government to raid our homes and bank accounts, money to fund schools where our kids learn nothing about freedom and everything about how to comply, and on and on.

Are you getting the picture yet?

The government isn’t taking our money to make our lives better. Just take a look at the nation’s failing infrastructure, and you’ll see how little is being spent on programs that advance the common good.

We’re being robbed blind so the governmental elite can get richer.

This is nothing less than financial tyranny.

“We the people” have become the new, permanent underclass in America.

It’s tempting to say that there’s little we can do about it, except that’s not quite accurate.

There are a few things we can do (demand transparency, reject cronyism and graft, insist on fair pricing and honest accounting methods, call a halt to incentive-driven government programs that prioritize profits over people), but it will require that “we the people” stop playing politics and stand united against the politicians and corporate interests who have turned our government and economy into a pay-to-play exercise in fascism.

We’ve become so invested in identity politics that label us based on our political leanings that we’ve lost sight of the one label that unites us: we’re all Americans.

The powers-that-be want to pit us against one another. They want us to adopt an “us versus them” mindset that keeps us powerless and divided.

Trust me, the only “us versus them” that matters anymore is “we the people” against the police state.

We’re all in the same boat, folks, and there’s only one real life preserver: that’s the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution starts with those three powerful words: “We the people.”

The message is this: there is power in our numbers.

That remains our greatest strength in the face of a governmental elite that continues to ride roughshod over the populace. It remains our greatest defense against a government that has claimed for itself unlimited power over the purse (taxpayer funds) and the sword (military might).

This holds true whether you’re talking about health care, war spending, or the American police state.

While we’re on the subject, do me a favor and don’t let yourself be fooled into believing that the next crop of political saviors will be any different from their predecessors. They all talk big when they’re running for office, and when they get elected, they spend big at our expense.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is how the middle classes, who fuel the nation’s economy and fund the government’s programs, get screwed repeatedly.

George Harrison, who would have been 77 this year, summed up this outrageous state of affairs in his song Taxman:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,

If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.

If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,

If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Don’t ask me what I want it for

If you don’t want to pay some more

‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman.

Now my advice for those who die

Declare the pennies on your eyes

‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

And you’re working for no one but me.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

Likes/Dislikes: Notes and observations from Virginia’s win at Virginia Tech

Dislike: The grabbing and clutching of Woldetensae is getting ridiculous

UVA AthleticsYou look at Tomas Woldetensae’s line – 1-of-8 from the floor, 1-of-6 from three – and you assume he had just an off-night.

You’d have an off-night, too, if you were getting grabbed, clutched, basically wrestled trying to run off screens.

More maddening was that Woldetensae actually got called for an offensive foul late in the second half when he tried to free himself, and the defender flopped, Premier League-style, to the floor.

For all the talk about freedom of movement for offensive players, Woldetensae has been getting the hockey treatment of late, and you can’t blame coaches for giving it a try.

Seriously, the scouting report on checking Woldetensae should be, grab him to keep him from running to the screener, and if they call a foul, OK, make them call another one, and if they don’t call a foul, great, keep grabbing until they do.

This has been the formula for the past couple of games, and it needs to goddamn stop.

We’ll never know this, but assume that somebody from the Office of Tony Bennett makes contact with the folks in Greensboro with a videotape spliced to highlight the nonsense that Woldetensae is having to fight through to get open.

Like: Mamadi Diakite has a YUGE!!!! game

Diakite was everything for Virginia Wednesday night: 19 points, 9-of-13 shooting, six rebounds, two blocks.

The only thing he wasn’t was … more.

Like: Braxton knocked ‘em down

Braxton Key, 58 percent from the line coming in, faced a couple of free-bacon situations in the second half.

You know the deal, because we do it in JPJ, too – when an opponent misses two free throws in a row in the second half there at Cassell, the kids get free bacon.

Key missed the front end of one two-shot foul, and the crowd went bonkers, tasting the bacon, it was so close.

He sank the second.

Second time, he took the drama away early, swishing the first, then banging home the second.

No bacon for you!

Key had a Braxton Key statline: 10 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one block, one steal.

Like: Casey at the bat

OK, so, Casey Morsell was officially just 3-of-10 from the floor, and 1-of-5 from three.

He made the three before the other three, a left-corner jumper that put Virginia up 53-51 with two minutes left, on a nice dish from a dribble-penetrating Kody Stattmann.

Morsell has enough trust from Tony Bennett that he got 34 minutes of floor time Wednesday night.

Another step forward for the young buck.

Dislike: Jay, come on, man

Jay Huff got the start, which, considering he only logged 12 minutes in the win over Virginia Tech last month in Charlottesville, was a bit of a surprise, considering how Tech goes four-guard so much.

He ended up only getting 13 minutes Wednesday night.

Final statline: two points, on 1-of-2 shooting, and two rebounds.

He did block two shots.

But on offense, he was lost.

Story by Chris Graham

Tony Bennett on Virginia’s ACC road win, sweep of Virginia Tech

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett. Photo by Dan Grogan.

Virginia Tech managed just 11 points in the first half, on 5-of-24 shooting. Tony Bennett wasn’t at all comfortable in the locker room.

“We had a good stretch of defense, but they were a little cold and didn’t make those shots,” said Bennett after his team’s 56-53 win.

The Hokies (15-13, 6-11 ACC) scored 42 points in the second half, connecting on 14-of-27 (51.9 percent) from the floor and 8-of-14 (57.1 percent) from deep.

And honestly, those numbers seem off, because it felt like Tech was making everything it threw in the direction of the rim in the final 20 minutes.

“You knew they were going to make a run here, and they started attacking and made some long 3s. A few of them were contested and on a few of them we had some breakdowns because they were running good actions. So, give credit to how they attacked and what they did,” Bennett said.

First-year Virginia Tech coach Mike Young had a similar view from his locker room.

“We had great shots in the first half, and had the same shots in the second that we had in the first. We just happened to get the second half shots to go down,” said Young, whose team has now lost eight of its last nine, to fall out of contention for an NCAA bid, maybe all the way down to having to play on Tuesday in the ACC Tournament in a couple of weeks.

Virginia (20-7, 12-5 ACC), on its side, clinched a double-bye, meaning the ‘Hoos don’t have to lace ‘em up until Thursday in Greensboro.

But getting there hasn’t been easy, even as the ‘Hoos have now won eight of their last nine.

Up 26-11 at the break, the extended hot streak from Tech put the home team ahead by three inside of three minutes to go.

Virginia was finally able to get the clamps back on, closing on an 8-2 run.

In this recent hot streak, UVA has two overtime wins (Wake Forest and Notre Dame), a pair of wins in games that came down to the last possession (Pitt and Virginia Tech), a five-point win over Florida State, a seven-point win over Clemson, and one relatively easy 13-point win over Boston College.

“We’ve been in so many of those. I don’t think our guys have a problem with that. They have a steadiness about them,” Bennett said.

It’s almost like you expect the opponent to make a run, and Bennett acknowledged as much.

“When they got the lead, this place got very loud. Our guys responded well,” Bennett said.

Bennett on the game-winning three

A Tyrece Radford layup tied the game at 53 with 11 seconds left.

Bennett decided not to use a timeout, allowing point guard Kihei Clark to create.

Clark ended up creating a shot for himself, with a crossover that gave him a sliver of space for an open three, which he drained with 2.6 seconds left.

“Sometimes we call timeouts, sometimes I decide not to, and thank goodness I didn’t,” Bennett said afterward. “They [Virginia Tech] could’ve set it up, the score was tied, and sometimes it’s just better to let a guy get momentum and attack. Kihei backed the guy up and what a beautiful, beautiful three. He’s a winner, and I’ve said that often.

“I kind of challenged him – I didn’t think he had the greatest second half with some of his defensive things, but he responded the right way with the way he played, and we needed every ounce of it,” Bennett said.

Story by Chris Graham

Runaway teen believed to be in Waynesboro: Authorities seek info

The Augusta County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a runaway Fort Defiance teen. Toni A. Mawyer, 17, was last seen at her home in Fort Defiance at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

She is 5’4”, 130 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes.

She is believed to be in Waynesboro, according to authorities.

If anyone has any information about this missing juvenile, contact the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office at 540245-5333 or Crime Stoppers at 800-322-2017.

Mawyer

Toni A. Mawyer. Photo courtesy Augusta County Sheriff’s Office

VCU freefall continues: Rams lose at UMass, 60-52

vcu men's basketballIt’s all over for VCU as an NCAA at-large team. Just can’t lose to UMass.

That’s precisely what the Rams (17-11, 7-8 A-10) did on Wednesday, by a 60-52 final.

UMass (13-15, 7-8 A-10) won with defense, holding VCU, which has now lost five straight, to 7-of-30 shooting in the second half.

The Rams still held a 38-30 lead on an Isaac Vann layup with 15:07 to go, but UMass’ Sean East and Mitchell kicked off an 11-0 run with back-to-back three-pointers to give the Minutemen a 41-38 lead with 10:51 left.

UMass pushed its lead to as much as 50-43, but VCU trimmed the margin to 53-50 following a three-pointer by De’Riante Jenkins with 36 ticks on the clock.

VCU would get no closer.

Junior forward Marcus Santos-Silva had 14 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and a pair of steals for VCU, which also got 13 points from Jenkins.

Carl Pierre led all scorers with 21 points for UMass. Freshman phenom Tre Mitchell provided 19 points and 15 boards to the Minuteman effort

VCU will play host to George Washington on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 4 p.m. at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. CBS Sports Network will broadcast that contest.

Story by Chris Graham

Women’s Lacrosse: #7 UVA loses 13-12 in 2OT to Richmond

UVA women’s lacrosseSeventh-ranked Virginia suffered its first loss of the season 13-12 to Richmond in double-OT on Wednesday evening at Klöckner Stadium.

The Cavaliers (4-1) trailed until the 1:51 mark in the second half, when it took its only lead of the game.

Richmond (5-0) scored the final two goals, with the game-winner coming with four seconds remaining in double-overtime.

Olivia Schildmeyer (Upper Arlington, Ohio), Sammy Mueller (Pelham, N.Y.) and Courtlynne Caskin (Potomac, Md.) each had three goals to lead the Cavaliers. Taylor Regan (Larchmont, N.Y.) had three assists.

Sam Geiersbach led Richmond with six points on three goals and three assists.

Richmond led in shots (37-21), draw controls (16-11) and ground balls (23-12). Virginia had 10 saves to three for the Spiders.

Chris Graham, Scott German break down UVA’s 56-53 win over Virginia Tech: Podcast

Breakdown and analysis from Chris Graham and Scott German of Virginia’s 56-53 win at Virginia Tech.

 

About Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the editor of The Augusta Free Press, an award-winning journalist and editor, is a 1994 graduate of the University of Virginia, and has covered Virginia politics since 1997.

An author of seven books, Chris co-wrote Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championshippublished in 2019, and also co-wrote a book on the history of University of Virginia basketball, Mad About U: Four Decades of Basketball at University Hall, which was published in 2006.

Chris has covered University of Virginia sports since 1995, and is a sports broadcaster with experience as a play-by-play man and color analyst on ESPN3 and ESPN+ broadcasts of college baseball, college football, collegiate wrestling and women’s water polo.

He is a member of the Football Writers Assocation of America, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

From 2009-2014, Chris was the play-by-play voice of the Waynesboro Generals, a team competing in the Valley Baseball League, a premier college summer baseball league affiliated with Major League Baseball and the NCAA.

The former co-host of ACC Nation, a syndicated radio show that ran for four years, ending in 2007, Chris is currently a contributor to The Mark Moses Show on 95.9-The Fan in Melbourne, Fla.

Chris also served as a member of the creative team and on-air TV commentator for Awesome Wrestling Entertainment on AWE’s Night of the Legends live pay-per-view event in 2011.

Chris wrote a book on that experience, The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, that was published in 2018.

He is also the former co-host of “Viewpoints” on WVPT, a weekly news affairs TV show that aired from 2016-2017.

About Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.

Late Clark three helps Virginia rally late, defeat Virginia Tech, 56-53

uva basketball

Photo by Dan Grogan.

Good news: Kihei Clark drained a three with 2.6 seconds lift, lifting Virginia to a 56-53 win over rival Virginia Tech. Bad news: we all lost five years off the ends of our lives watching.

Virginia Tech (15-13, 6-11 ACC) scored just 11 points in the first half on 5-of-24 shooting, but scored on six of its first seven possessions in the second half to get back into it.

Virginia (20-7, 12-5 ACC), meanwhile, went through some Virginia-like stretches – two points in one 5:26 stretch, four points in the 4:06 to follow.

The Hokies kept making shots, and finally took their first lead of the game, at 47-46, on a three by Hunter Cattoor with 4:51 to go.

A pair of Landers Nolley free throws with 3:31 to go pushed the Tech lead to three, at 51-48.

Clark scored on a short jumper at the 2:22 mark to get it back to one, then rebounded a missed Jalen Cone jumper.

Kody Stattmann, off dribble penetration, found Casey Morsell in the left corner for the splash three with 2:00 on the clock to put the ‘Hoos back on top.

It would stay right there until a short Tyrece Radford jumper tied things up with 11 seconds to go.

That still left Virginia the last shot in regulation, and Clark took the inbounds pass, crossover-dribbled himself open left of the top of the key, and calmly sank the open triple.

The win was the eight in nine games for Virginia, which hosts Duke with third place in the ACC on the line on Saturday at JPJ.

But there will be things to clean up between now and then. For the second straight outing, Virginia built a big lead and needed to close things out in the final seconds, and in this one, it also required a rally from the Cavaliers late to pull the victory out.

Flip side: that’s six ACC road wins now, with one more road game to go, next week at Miami.

Mamadi Diakite had 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting to lead Virginia Wednesday night.

Clark had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists in 39 minutes of floor time.

Braxton Key had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Nolley had 13, on 4-of-15 shooting, to lead Tech.

Story by Chris Graham

General Assembly passes bill committing Virginia to RGGI

virginia general assembly

Photo Credit: traveler1116/iStock Photo

The Virginia General Assembly has passed the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act.

Both chambers voted Wednesday to pass the legislation – HB 981 and SB 1027 – which commits Virginia to joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The chambers now need to approve final changes to the bill.

RGGI is a carbon-trading program, already in place in 10 states from Maine to Maryland, which reduces carbon emissions from dirty gas- and coal-fired power plants by putting a price on carbon. Joining RGGI will create nearly $1 billion in revenue for the state by the year 2030, proponents say.

The bill will invest that money in flood protection for vulnerable residents in Virginia, and energy efficiency gains for low-income residents.

“By passing this bill, we will make polluters pay for their climate damage,” said Harrison Wallace, Virginia director of the CCAN Action Fund. “We will then invest that money in home weatherization for low-income Virginians and sea level rise adaptation for vulnerable coastal residents. This is a win-win for protecting our common societal home.”

Spanberger calls for administration to appoint point-person to coordinate coronavirus response

Abigail SpanbergerRep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., is pushing the Trump administration to get serious about the coronavirus.

“It’s not enough to simply say we’re prepared. We must be prepared with a plan,” Spanberger said Wednesday. “That’s why I’m calling on the administration to select one point-person to coordinate a robust, nationwide response and U.S. engagement in the international effort to address the increasing severity of this situation. That person must work in tandem with all levels of government to address the concerns of our neighbors, prepare local officials with the information they need, and provide sufficient healthcare resources in case of a long-term global health crisis. The time to mobilize was yesterday.”

During a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Asia-Pacific and Nonproliferation Subcommittee earlier this month focused on assessing the coronavirus outbreak, Spanberger questioned witnesses about how the United States can best prevent the further spread of the virus in the United States.

Additionally, she described her concerns about how ongoing U.S. diplomatic vacancies could be restricting the ability of the United States to respond to growing numbers of Coronavirus cases in countries around the world and adequately prepare U.S. citizens for a long-term public health threat.

Witnesses at the coronavirus-focused hearing included Ron Klain, the U.S. Ebola Response Coordinator from 2014 to 2015. In response to Spanberger’s questions regarding current diplomatic and foreign service vacancies, Klain expressed similar concerns about how ongoing gaps in federal positions could slow down logistics management in response to a burgeoning epidemic like the Wuhan coronavirus.

In a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Asia-Pacific and Nonproliferation Subcommittee tomorrow, Spanberger will continue to press for details on the Coronavirus outbreak and the international and U.S. response to this growing public health emergency.

Click here for more information.

Earlier this month, Spanberger cosponsored the bipartisan Global Health Security Act, which would strengthen Executive Branch coordination in response to outbreaks and pandemics like the Wuhan Coronavirus.

The legislation would also make clear that global health security is a core national security interest of the United States—and it would establish a Special Advisor to the President for Global Health Security at the National Security Council.

Two Route 29 crossovers in Albemarle County to close overnight Thursday

route 29Two median breaks on Route 29 (Seminole Trail) north of the Airport Road/Proffit Road intersection will be closed to traffic overnight Thursday.

The two crossovers, at the northern terminus of Airport Acres Road and at Cypress Drive, are being closed in connection with the new traffic patterns being implemented for the North Pointe development east of Route 29.

After the closures, northbound traffic from both Airport Acres Road and Cypress Drive should turn right on Route 29 to the Airport Road intersection and make a U-turn onto Route 29 north.

Once construction of the North Pointe entrances and crossovers are complete this summer, northbound traffic from Cypress Drive will be able to use the new median crossovers. Northbound Airport Acres traffic will continue to use the southern Airport Acres Road median break.

Updates and other real-time travel information can be found on the 511 Virginia website, the free VDOT 511 mobile app or by calling 511 from any phone in Virginia.

Local updates are also posted to Twitter.com/VaDOTCulp.

Albemarle County man wanted by United States Marshals Service

Miguel Angel Fernandez is currently wanted by the United States Marshals Service, according to a news release from the Albemarle County Police Department.

Fernandez is wanted for violating his conditions of federal supervised release.

He was originally convicted of knowingly possessing a stolen firearm in 2017.

The United States Marshals Service is requesting information regarding Fernandez’s current whereabouts.

Fernandez is 5’5” and 165 lbs.

Tips can be forwarded to USMS84.tips@usdoj.gov or USMS Tips.

Miguel Angel Fernandez

Miguel Angel Fernandez. Photo courtesy Albemarle County Police Department

Bernie Sanders campaign launches two Virginia TV ads

The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign launched two TV ads in Virginia today, ahead of the March 3 primary, titled “Justice” and “Fights for Us.”

Mike Bloomberg 2020 releases social media ads targeting Virginia ahead of Super Tuesday

The Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign released two videos on social media platforms as part of its on-going strategy to reach Virginia voters.

Fishburne Military School brings home hardware from AMCSUS Awards

fishburne military schoolFishburne Military School was honored on Monday evening during the annual Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States conference for its performance in two competitions held at the end of 2019.

The Caissons earned first place in the AMSCUS PT Challenge and third place in the AMCSUS Logic Bowl. Both competitions were open to all of the association’s membership which includes military schools of all sizes and grade levels from all across the country.

FMS Superintendent, Capt. Mark Black, US Navy (Ret), who attended the AMCSUS Conference and Awards Banquet on behalf of Fishburne Military School expressed his pride in the Caissons.

“I want to stress my heartfelt congratulations to our young men who represented themselves and their school in such high fashion,” Black said. “Fishburne Military School was one of only three schools, whether senior military colleges, junior colleges or high schools, recognized multiple times during the awards ceremony. Job well done, gentlemen.”

Although Fishburne Military School is the smallest of all schools competing, the Caissons took home hardware that required both brains and brawn.

“Our teams,” noted Fishburne Military School Senior Army Instructor, LTC Robert Hunt, USA (Ret), “as led by Cadet Joshua Elms (junior-Phoenix), performed at an extremely high level, and brought a great amount of competitive spirit and pride into the events.”

In addition to Elms, the FMS team consisted of cadets Harlan Earhart (senior-Fairfax Station), Ethan Gaudin (sophomore-Baton Rouge), Justin Hill (sophomore-St. Augustine, Fla.); and William Terry (junior-Charlottesville).

In the Logic Bowl competition, cadets were required to take a one-hour computer-based examination consisting of mathematics problems, word puzzles, logic riddles, and spatial relations exercises. The team of cadets from Fishburne took the exam late last year and learned on Tuesday night that they took third place.

For the PT (physical training) competition, cadets were required to complete as many pushups and situps as they could in one minute (per exercise) and then run 1.5 miles for the best time.

The team from Fishburne earned first place in the high school category.

What casino game has the highest chances of winning?

online casino games

(© Rawf8 – stock.adobe.com)

Want to enjoy online casino gaming, but don’t want to waste your time on games that are pretty much set against you from the start?

It makes sense. Online gambling can be a real thrill, but games that offer small payouts and low chances of winning can just become demotivating and boring over long periods. For this reason, it’s important to consider the variety of games on offer, your chances of winning, and how you can improve those odds and get some great Casino Vibez.

Understanding the Odds

Every online casino user should understand how odds work. The term “House Edge” is used to refer to the likelihood that the house is going to win, and that you are going to lose. Choosing the right game, if you’re thinking purely in terms of your chances of winning, should be based on this House Edge principle.

There is a simple way to calculate the House Edge, and it the formula is (L-H) x W = T.

T X 100 is the House Edge percentage, W is the odds of winning, H is the house odds (or payout), L is your odds of losing, A is all the potential outcomes, and T is your total. This calculation is what the payout of your favorite game is based on. Unless you have all the information as outlined above available to you, it might be difficult to calculate those odds – so, we’ve outlined the best casino games with the highest chances of winning below.

The Best Chances with These Casino Games

If you really want to ensure you have the highest chance of winning, you should stick with online Blackjack. This game as the lowest House Edge, meaning that you have the biggest chance to win and the house as the lowest chance of winning. If you become experienced in this game and know how to make the most of it, it is entirely possible to lower the House Edge to a figure as small as 0.28% in land-based casinos, and even 0.12% if you play online casino games.

Every time you add a deck to your game, the House Advantage grows by 0.02%. So, when you play, be sure to choose single and double-deck games. Remember that Blackjack is simply a matter of looking for a number on a card that beats the number the dealer has, without going above the number 21. It truly is a game of skill and something you can master over time. There is a reason there are professional card players out there!

If you like card games, Baccarat is another game that offers a decent House Edge. You can play this game at land-based casinos, online casinos, and even on live casino platforms. It’s a game played with a standard 78 decks. The probability that the banker will win is 0.4586%, and the probability of a player winning is 0.4462%.

You’ll find higher payouts in tie bets, but the House Edge increase to 14.36% on these games, so it probably isn’t worth your time. Just remember that this is not just a game of skill but also a game of chance, and every banker bet that wins will also be subject to some kind of commission.

Table games are always going to be your best bet if you’re trying to increase your chances of winning. In fact, these games give you a significantly higher chance than winning with slots. You can become familiar with the game by reading the rules, watching other people play at casinos, or watching videos and tournaments on the television or online. The more you watch, the more you learn – and as you become more familiar with the game, you can improve your skills and your chances of winning when you start putting down your own money.

Craps and Roulette Might Surprise You

OK, so while card games offer you good odds because they are games of skill, you might be surprised at the good chances you have of winning a game of Craps, or at the Roulette table.

Craps is a game with roughly 50-50 odds, which is pretty much the best you can ask for when it comes to gambling. It might be intimidating if you’ve never played the game before, so it’s going to be something you want to practice. But, by betting on a dice roll, you are giving yourself a fairly consistent chance of winning – and an opportunity to get that classic casino thrill without throwing you money away on really terrible odds.

The same is true with Roulette. Your odds are the same whatever numbers you bet, so you should simply bet your favorite numbers and enjoy the experience. As with Craps, you have a roughly 50-50 chance of winning money – so why not start learning the rules and playing this legendary game?

The 1990 WMHS Academic Team: Us Against the World

chris graham espnPatrick Hite’s story on the Fort Defiance scholastic bowl team has me waxing nostalgic about my own academic team experience from high school.

Way back in 1990, we’re talking here, I was a member of the academic team at Wilson Memorial that qualified for a national-level tournament.

We won both the fall and spring regional competitions sponsored by WAYB, the AM station that has long since gone off the air, and were runners-up on WVPT’s “Pop Quiz” and the iconic “It’s Academic” TV show.

Along the way, we upset the St. Anne’s-Belfield School team at its own tournament, defeated a team from The Collegiate School, and came to think in the process that we were about to take over the world.

Because, in case this point got lost on you, we were the academic team from Wilson Memorial, a Group A high school, graduating class of 120, from Middle of Nowhere, Virginia.

Patrick’s story about the Fort Defiance team not being scared at all of having to compete with the kids from big schools reminded me of our mentality back in the day.

We relished the opportunity to beat the private-school kids on their turf.

And for our trouble, we got exposed to the world outside our mountain ranges. “It’s Academic” got us a trip to Washington, D.C., for a weekend, and the national tournament was in Chicago, for a week, including three games at Wrigley Field, sitting in the Ferris Bueller seats.

The kids on the team turned out OK. There’s me, doing whatever I do today, plus a doctor, plus a government contractor.

One quibble with the reporting on the Fort Defiance story: the coach noted how the topics include what he called trash questions on sports and pop culture.

My single most indelible memory of the 1990 academic season comes from “It’s Academic.” The second round had us matching up pro athletes with the teams that they were most known to have played for.

Getting all 10 correct would give us a 100-point bonus.

You don’t need me to tell you that we got that 100-point bonus because I got the 10th and final one right, matching Drew Pearson as a Dallas Cowboy.

Trash questions.

I do this for a living now.

Things worked out the way they were supposed to.

Go read the story.

Story by Chris Graham

How online casinos can manipulate their customers

Online casinos

(© nazarovsergey – stock.adobe.com)

Online casinos are a big industry. They give people the chance to play classic casino games without leaving the comfort of their own home, and they continue to grow. New games, new innovations, and new themes keep bringing customers back to their favorite mobile casino platforms.

But there are ways that users can be manipulated, and it’s important to understand the limitations and catches that come with playing on these websites. While the gambling industry is entirely transparent and players understand that they are always playing with the chance of losing, there are two important things to remember when playing these games online.

You Can’t Count Cards Online

In traditional casinos, some players attempt to count cards and increase their chances of winning. It’s an old technique and one that casinos obviously don’t like. However, with online games, it works a little differently. Once you know how to count cards it’s fairly easy to do, which is why online casinos take steps to ensure you can’t do it.

According to Bogdan Cazino, the method only works when the deck isn’t shuffled after every hand. It is a method that depends on the deck staying as it is every time. However, the very nature of random number generators means that every hand starts with a brand new shuffle.

Computer programs are designed to get rid of the quirks of land-based casino games, and whenever you play these games online, you’ll find it completely impossible to count cards and cheat the system. Some see this as a way in which casinos manipulate their customers, but in reality, it’s about preserving the integrity of the game. You just need to make sure you’re aware of it before you go ahead and try to do it!

You can’t beat this by playing live casino games online, either. Even though the cards are dealt by a real dealer, and shown on a live stream, the cards are still shuffled after every hand.

Casino Bonuses Come with a Catch

When you first sign up to play games on an online casino, you’ll likely be pulled in by the amazing offers made available to you. Typically these include signup bonuses, free spins, matched deposits, and more. They give you a reason to jump headfirst into the casino gaming experience and are geared towards ensuring that you spend more money on the platform in a shorter period of time.

While these bonuses can definitely be used to your advantage if you’re unfamiliar with how the system works then it’s possible that you might see it as somewhat manipulative.

When you sign up, you will typically be given free money to play with on the website. That money appears in your account but cannot be withdrawn, and you’ll be told which games you can use it with. In many instances, when you deposit a certain amount of your own cash into the casino account, that number will be matched. So, for instance, a casino might offer a 100% matching bonus worth up to $300. That means when you put down an initial deposit of $100, you will be given a full bankroll of $200. You can exploit this promotion up to the value of $300.

This gives you more money to play with on the site and is advantageous if you genuinely intend to play lots of games – but if you’re looking to cash out as much as you can as quickly as you can, then all is not quite as it seems.

In the early days of casino bonuses, wagering requirements did not exist – or were extremely small. That meant you didn’t have to wage very much in order to withdraw any winnings you make by using the free cash you’re given upon sign up. These days, however, casinos will impose strict wagering requirements that mean you have to continue making deposits, sometimes in quite large amounts, before you are able to withdraw any winnings you make from the promotional deal.

In many instances, a wagering requirement might be as high as 15X your deposit bonus. That means, if you were given a $100 bonus, you will need to deposit $1,500 before you are able to cash out any winnings you make from the deal.

Be Smart and Play Responsibly

Casinos are always looking for new ways to bring in new customers, and for ways to maximize their winnings – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do the same. There are ways to maximize your potential when playing online casino games, from choosing the games with the lowest House Edge, to thinking strategically and managing your money properly.

Be smart and you can overcome these challenges, enjoy amazing casino games, and avoid the common pitfalls of the average casino gamer. Know the system, and you can succeed.

Kent Bonacki explains how stagnating wages are negatively impacting education

business

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Around the country, education budgets are in trouble. When budgets are cut, students are no longer able to receive the same quality of education. Since society depends on the proper education of children, everyone loses when schools are not adequately funded.

Not many people realize that teacher wages have stagnated in this era of budget cuts. Teachers are no longer able to keep up with increases in the cost of living, and many teachers need to take on second and third jobs to make ends meet.

When teachers are forced to work outside of school, they have to give up all-important preparation and professional development time outside the classroom. Teachers who have other jobs cannot devote their full and complete attention to their students.

Kent Bonacki explains how stagnating teacher wages are having a serious impact on our educational system.

Statistics

According to the National Education Association, average teacher salaries are down 4.5 percent over the past decade. There is a serious pay gap between teachers and professionals in other fields with similar levels of education and experience.

About 80 percent of public-school parents around the country agree that teachers are underpaid and want to raise their compensation. Unfortunately, people who perceive that they do not have a stake in education believe that teachers are paid well and that education budgets are not critical to the public.

Many areas around the country pay their teachers extremely low salaries. Several states have begun to put programs into place which will give a minimum salary for teachers. In New Mexico, this is budgeted at $41,000. In Idaho, new teacher salaries have been boosted from $35,800 to $40,000. Still, teachers with families may find that they are living at the poverty level.

The Effects of Outside Work

Since many teachers are so poorly paid, they often have to take jobs outside education in order to make ends meet. Teachers take on such low-paying jobs as pizza delivery drivers, rideshare drivers, and fast food employees. Teachers who have to work outside of school have less ability to keep up with their schoolwork, and they may be overtired and have difficulty maintaining control in the classroom as well.

Losing Quality Teachers

Stagnation in teacher salaries also has another serious impact on education. Many teachers are quitting classroom work in order to take part in more lucrative occupations. This is especially true in rural and underserved areas where hiring another teacher may not be so easy.

Teachers often do not want to leave their profession, but they feel as if they are being forced out by budget constraints and local governments which do not put an adequate value on education.

When teachers leave the workforce, they leave a gap behind them. Teacher experience is value-added, and a teacher with even a few years under their belt is an asset to any school system. Teacher vacancies being filled by inexperienced educators drive down the average salary of the entire district and cause student achievement to go down. Experienced teachers also reduce student absenteeism.

The latest data from 2015 states that 1 million teachers left their jobs. While some of these teachers stayed in education, others left the field entirely. 8 percent of teachers leave their profession each year.

The cost of turnover is another drain on city and state governments. Turnover can cost as much as one-half to five times the teacher’s annual salary. Taking this into consideration, cities and towns need to do more to keep their talented educators.

Possible Solutions

There are several possible solutions that could stem the tide of teacher departures. The simplest way to keep more teachers in the profession is to raise their salaries, but this is not always possible in today’s financial climate.

Most of the new teachers coming up through the educational system today are millennials. Millennials value fair compensation, but they are also attracted to occupations where they will have opportunities for growth and learning. Millennials want to have both a paycheck and a career with purpose.

Another way to find out why teachers are leaving is to perform an exit survey when they leave their jobs. This way, administrators will be able to find any common themes and work to fix the problem.

Engaging teachers in their work is probably the most effective and certainly the most cost-effective solution. Teachers are motivated by the satisfaction of educating and leading students. When teachers have greater job satisfaction, they will be less likely to give up on the profession.

Serious Problems for our Educational System

The stagnation of teacher wages presents a huge problem for our educational system. When teachers are not compensated adequately, they will look elsewhere for work. Even though they love their profession, sometimes they are not able to make ends meet while working in schools.

Bonacki reminds parents and administrators that the cost of having subpar teachers in the schools is far greater than the cost of paying them properly.

Sanders, Bloomberg: Democrats are going to screw this up

2020 election vote

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Center and center-left Democrats are starting to come to grips with the reality that Bernie Sanders is going to be the party’s presidential nominee.

The moment of reckoning could come as soon as next week’s Super Tuesday, in which roughly a third of the delegates will be up for grabs.

In fact, it’s likely that, even if the race isn’t decided, it at the least will be seriously winnowed down to Sanders and perhaps one or two other top candidates, plus maybe a spoiler who doesn’t get it that the writing is on the wall.

I’m expecting it to come down to Sanders and Mike Bloomberg, personally, a classic left vs. center.

I’m personally not a great fan of either, but to be fair, I’ve not been sold on any of the candidates in the mix on the Democratic side for 2020.

Sanders concerns me because it doesn’t seem to me that he has any chance of being able to get anything from his platform accomplished.

Bloomberg, on the other side of the ledger, likely loses a big enough chunk of the Sanders base to guarantee re-election for Donald Trump, which in my view the American experiment just can’t stand.

Similar logic, of course, do center and center-left Democrats peel off from Sanders to the degree that Trump is the odds-on favorite in a head-to-head with Sanders?

I think that’s just as likely as the first scenario.

Republicans, from the polls I’ve seen of late, are perfectly content to hold their noses to pull the lever for Trump, with in the area of 90 percent of self-identified Republican voters saying they’ll vote Trump in November, no matter what.

Republicans are doing everything they can to keep the base energized. Here in Virginia, for example, Republicans have been whipping up a frenzy in the hinterlands by playing up the Second Amendment sanctuary nonsense that was highlighted by a faux siege of the State Capitol last month.

I don’t see what they’re doing here working enough to flip Virginia back into the red column in November, but it will be close here, and similar efforts ongoing in the Midwest seem to have muddied the waters there enough to think a repeat of 2016 in those battleground states is in the offing.

It’s going to be close, which makes no sense, because the current president is historically underachieving, putting a restrictor plate on economic growth with his senseless trade wars and budget-busting tax breaks for the ultrawealthy, and that’s not even considering the unprecedented corruption that has to date marked the Trump years.

Republican voters only seem to care that a supposed one of their own is in the Oval Office, and on the other side, Democratic voters seem intent on letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Logic would seem to dictate that doing what is necessary to save the Republic from a person using the White House to claw himself out of massive personal debt by selling our country to the highest inimical bidder would be the paramount priority, but, then, we are talking about Democrats here.

This is the group of people who figured out ways to lose not one, but two, presidential elections in the past two decades on the heels of having had successful and popular two-term incumbents to take the ball from and run with.

Basically, if there’s a way for somebody to eff up a sure thing, it’s Democrats, and it seems clear at this writing that Democrats are dead set on doing what is necessary to give us four more years of Trump, whichever way they go.

It’s going to be Sanders.

The center and center-left will revolt.

But hey, good news there being, once that happens, we won’t have to worry about effing things up again in 2024, because the republic as we know it isn’t going to be long for any of this.

Story by Chris Graham