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OPB TV – BBC Newshour

Northwest Family Farm Bankruptcies Increase

 

The number of family farms seeking bankruptcy protection grew 24% over the last year, according to an Ameican Farm Bureau Federation analysis of recent court data.

The analysis found family farm bankruptcies are rising fastest in the Northwest.

“We’ve seen low crop prices, low livestock prices for a number of years now,” said chief economist John Newton. “On the back, now, of that we have the trade war where agriculture’s been unfairly retaliated against.”

Newton monitors Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings as one measure of health for the farm economy. Chapter 12 is a kind of bankruptcy protection meant to help family farmers reorganize and keep farming.

Courtesy of the American Farm Bureau Federation

Nationwide, 580 family farms filed for bankruptcy in the 12-month period ending in September 2019. Newton considers that a sign of poor health.

“While it’s nowhere near the historical highs we saw in the ‘80s, it’s an alarming trend that continues to get worse,” he said.

Newton said farmers are also assuming record debt and taking longer to pay it back.

“I’m getting calls from farmers across the country that may not be at Chapter 12 bankruptcy point, but they’re very close to it,” he said.

Thirty-three farms in the Northwest filed for Chapter 12 protection over the time period measured. Most of them were in Idaho and Montana, but the figure includes Oregon apple farmers struck by tariffs in their major export markets.

Richard and Sydney Blaine, for example, filed for Chapter 12 protection just days after President Donald Trump signed a law this summer making it easier to access. The Family Farmer Relief Act increased the amount of debt a farmer can have —$10 million — and still qualify for Chapter 12 protection.

The 33 Northwest bankruptcies represent a 74% increase over the previous year, according to the American Farm Bureau’s analysis. The size of the increase appears large in part because the Northwest previously had fewer bankruptcy filings than some other regions, such as the Midwest.

Still, economist John Newton said each Chapter 12 bankruptcy matters.

“These are family farms,” he said. “And these are family farms that are having to restructure their debt due to tough financial conditions in agriculture.”

Because of the new bankruptcy rules, more farms could seek protection in the months ahead.

Girls Won All Five Top Prizes at the Broadcom Masters STEM Competition

A Mighty Girl

For The First Time In History, Girls Won All Five Top Prizes at the Broadcom Masters STEM Competition

When the winners were announced at this year’s Broadcom MASTERS Competition, America’s premiere science and engineering competition for middle school students, the stage looked a little different than previous years — for the first time ever, all of the top prize winners were girls! 14-year-old Alaina Gassler won the top award, the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, while 14-year-olds Rachel Bergey, Sidor Clare, Alexis MacAvoy, and Lauren Ejiaga each took home $10,000 prizes. “With so many challenges in our world, Alaina and her fellow Broadcom MASTERS finalists make me optimistic,” says Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public, which runs the competition, and Publisher of Science News. “I am proud to lead an organization that is inspiring so many young people, especially girls, to continue to innovate.”

The Broadcom MASTERS — which stands for Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars — was founded in 2011 and aims to encourage middle school students to see how their personal passions can lead to career pathways in STEM. The competition is open to students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades; science fairs affiliated with the Society for Science & the Public nominate the top 10% of their participants, who then apply for the chance to join the national competition. This year, there was a pool of 2,348 applicants; 30 finalists were chosen, including 18 girls and 12 boys — the first time the finalists have been majority female as well.

In this blog post, we introduce you to these clever and creative Mighty Girls and their incredible projects. Their initiatives include reducing the size of blind spots in cars, creating new methods for protecting trees from an invasive insect species, studying how to build bricks on Mars, inventing a water filter that can remove heavy metals, and researching how increased ultraviolet light from ozone depletion affects plant growth. Their innovation and curiosity is sure to inspire science-loving kids everywhere!

To encourage your Mighty Girl to see herself as a scientist, just like these competition winners, check out our blog post Ignite Her Curiosity: The Best Books to Inspire Science-Loving Mighty Girls.

Meet The Winners Of The 2019 Broadcom MASTERS

 

Alaina Gassler: Making Vehicles Safer By Removing Blind Spots

Alaina Gassler’s mother hates driving their Jeep Grand Cherokee: the large A-pillar design around the windshield, which provides protection in a rollover crash, also impedes her view with blind spots. The problem piqued the curiosity of the 14-year-old from West Grove, Pennsylvania: “I started to think about how blind spots are a huge problem in all cars,” she says. Alaina knew that her solution had to be inexpensive, easily accessible, and work in different lighting conditions. She created a mount for a webcam that could be installed on the passenger side A-pillar, and 3D printed a part that allowed a projector to display the image at close range inside the car. Her invention won the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, but she’s not done yet: she’s already got plans to create a new prototype with an LCD screen, which is easier to see in bright light. “There’s so many car accidents and injuries and deaths that could have been prevented,” she says. “Since we can’t take [the pillar] out of cars, I decided to get rid of it without getting rid of it.”

 

Rachel Bergey: Trapping Invasive Insects to Protect Trees and Agriculture

In Rachel Bergey’s home in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, spotted lanternflies are a huge problem: “thousands of them have invaded my family’s maple trees,” she says. The invasive species, which is originally from Asia, damages trees and threatens over $18 billion worth of agricultural crops in Pennsylvania alone. One trap currently in use is sticky tape, but tape needs frequent replacement, doesn’t always catch the spotted lanternflies, and it can hurt helpful insects and even birds. As an alternative, Rachel came up with a trap made of a tinfoil dome with a tunnel that leads to insect netting: once the spotted lanternflies are inside, they can’t get out. When she tested it, “the tinfoil and netting trap… caught 103 percent more spotted lanternflies and 94 percent less other insects” than tape. Rachel won the $10,000 Lemelson Award for an invention that shows a promising solution to a real-world problem with her trap. She tells other young scientists to remember that most of science is hard work: “You don’t have to be super smart to be a scientist,” she says. “You just have to be observant… Hard work pays off.”

 

Sidor Clare: Making Bricks on Mars

Like many kids today, Sidor Clare is imagining a future Mars mission but one of her questions was how to build structures when the astronauts arrived. “Astronauts need sturdy building materials,” the Sandy, Utah native points out, “and it takes 9 months and a ton of money to ship materials to Mars.” She and her partner Kassie Holt decided to  find a binding agent that would allow people to make bricks with regolith, Martian soil. The girls used Mars Global Simulant MGS-1, a soil mix that imitates the chemical and mechanical properties of regolith, and tried different binders, including polyester resin, polystyrene, and recycled high density polyethylene, or HDPE. The resin brick was the strongest — so strong that they had to use construction equipment to test it: “Our Mars resin brick can withstand more pressure than concrete.” Sidor won the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation, which recognizes a young inventor with vision and promise. “A lot of people want to go to Mars,” she says, “and I wanted to help further that exploration.”

 

Lauren Ejiaga: Studying The Effects of Ozone Depletion

“I was always fascinated by nature,” Lauren Ejiaga says, so when she learned about how the thinning of the ozone layer let more ultraviolet rays through the atmosphere, she wondered how that change was affecting plant growth. The aspiring doctor from New Orleans, Louisiana decided to analyze the effects of increased UV radiation on plants, particularly UVB rays. She grew pansies in hollow growing cases that she built from plastic pipes and connectors. Each case had a filter that filtered UVA ray, UVB rays, or neither. She found that plants that got UVA radiation only lost 14% of their chlorophyll, the pigment that allows plants to photosynthesize, compared to her control group, while plants that got UVB radiation only lost 61% of their chlorophyll. “[Ozone depletion] affects us in more ways than what we know,” she concludes. Lauren won the $10,000 STEM Talent Award, sponsored by DoD STEM, which celebrates leadership and technical ability in STEM. She hopes to show other students that you can do science with minimal resources. “[You] don’t really need a bunch of fancy gadgets or whatever to prove that something’s happening,” she says. “They can do it in their home, their backyard. If they want to do a topic, they can go for it.”

 

Alexis MacAvoy: Designing Low-Cost, Eco-Friendly Water Filters

Alexis MacAvoy’s home in Hillsborough, California is near San Francisco Bay, where efforts to clean up heavy metals in the water have cost millions of dollars — a cost that could have been avoided if people had filtered their wastewater. But even today, she says, “80% of the industrial wastewater isn’t filtered whatsoever.” Activated carbon filters can effectively remove these heavy metals, and Alexis wondered if it was possible to make these filters using biowaste like coconut shells or sawdust. After testing several materials, she created filters using sawdust and walnut shells, ground to a specific mesh size and treated with sodium bicarbonate and fluoride; these filters absorbed up to 30 times more copper than a commercial filter! Alexis won the $10,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement for her work to make it easier to keep our water clean. She hopes her win will raise public awareness of the multiple benefits of water filtration: “preserving ecosystems so that no further damage is conducted can actually benefit our health as well.”

Mosco Mitch – Obstructing America’s Business

Attack on the Middle Class

November 7, 2019

These high-pocritical republi-con bastards in the senate then try to blame the Democratic House for doing nothing. John Hanno

No photo description available.

Trump to pay millions in case over fraudulent charitable foundation

MSNBC

The Rachel Madow Show – The MaddowBlog

Trump to pay millions in case over fraudulent charitable foundation

Trump ordered to pay $2 million over scammy foundation ‘charity’

As a presidential candidate in 2016, Donald Trump took great pride in boasting to the public that he doesn’t settle lawsuits. “I don’t settle cases,” the Republican bragged during a primary debate in March 2016. “I don’t do it because that’s why I don’t get sued very often, because I don’t settle, unlike a lot of other people.”Indeed, in June 2018, when the president’s fraudulent charitable foundation was taken to court, Trump made a specific vow via Twitter: “I won’t settle this case!”

Yesterday, he settled the case, agreeing to a $2 million judgment for improperly using the now-defunct Trump Foundation.

The order appears to bring to an end the New York attorney general’s lawsuit against the president and three of his oldest children over the now-shuttered foundation, which the attorney general said had engaged in repeated wrongdoing.

“Our petition detailed a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more,” then-Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleged in a statement late last year.

The Washington Post had a report on the developments, which added, “In a statement signed by Trump’s attorney, the president admitted to poor oversight of the charity.”

And while I’m sure the president isn’t pleased with the $2 million judgment, this case could’ve been much worse for Trump. We are, after all, talking about an entity that was supposed to be a charitable foundation, which Trump repeatedly misused for his own interests.

As regular readers may recall, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office compiled evidence of the president using his foundation “for his own benefit and [the] benefit of entities in which he had a financial interest.” Trump was accused of, among other things, using charitable assets to pay for portraits of himself, make political donations, pay for advertisements for Trump Hotels, settle lawsuits involving his business, and improperly intervening in the 2016 election.

According to one of the court filings in the case, the misuse of the charity was “willful and intentional.” Trump was “aware of” the legal limits, the state attorney general’s office concluded, but he ignored those limits anyway.

Given details like these, the president should consider himself lucky the judgment wasn’t more severe.

None of this, of course, should be confused with the $25 million settlement Trump had to pay in the Trump University case, in which the president ran a “school” that was little more than a scam created to take advantage of unsuspecting students who trusted the New York Republican.

It can be difficult at times to keep track of the multi-million-dollar settlements the president has had to pay in cases in which he was accused of perpetrating public frauds.

Postscript: In case this isn’t obvious, in 2016, voters were told Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both had charitable foundations, but Clinton’s was the controversial one. The irony is breathtaking.

Marine veteran walked 810 miles in 42 days for veteran suicide awareness

ABC News

Marine veteran walked 810 miles in 42 days for veteran suicide awareness

By Ella Torres        October 10, 2019

PHOTO: Travis Snyder walked 810 miles in 42 days to raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention.
Courtesy Travis Snyder

One year after Travis Snyder returned home from deployment in Afghanistan, a close friend from his task force died by suicide.

Snyder, 32, knew of the harrowing statistics of suicide among veterans, but his friend’s death last April left him shocked.

“Before that, I read about it and had awareness but I didn’t fully understand the magnitude that this epidemic has on people,” Snyder told ABC News on Thursday.

There were more than 6,000 veteran suicides in 2017, with an average of 16.8 per day, according to the most recent data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Snyder felt the need to help, so he came up with a plan: leave his job and apartment to start a mission to raise awareness.


Travis Snyder walked 810 miles in 42 days to raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention.

 

He decided on walking around Lake Michigan for 42 days, and creating a Facebook page where he could post daily updates about the cause.

On Sunday, Snyder finished his walk with 810 miles under his belt and more than 3,500 people following his journey on Facebook.

“I’m still getting messages and phone calls from people who just want to talk and share their story,” Snyder said. “Just when I think I understand the magnitude, I learn more.”

During his walk, which he began in Manistee, Michigan, he averaged about 20 miles per day.

He planned to sleep outside each night, but was stunned by the acts of kindness that both friends and strangers offered.

“Every single day people were reaching out to support the cause whether it was a roof or a meal … I did not sleep outside once,” he said.

“I’m just glad that people have built a community together,” added Snyder, who served in Afghanistan as a corporal from October 2017 to April 2018.

PHOTO: Travis Snyder walked 810 miles in 42 days to raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention.
Courtesy Travis Snyder

Travis Snyder walked 810 miles in 42 days to raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention. 
He hopes his mission will continue to make people “more aware of resources that are available to them and more comfortable to talk about suicide.”

 

Just before speaking to ABC News, Snyder said he got off the phone with a woman from Michigan who lost a loved one to suicide two days before he began his walk.

He plans to keep the Facebook page open for that exact reason: so more people can reach him.

“I feel humbled and honored to share the burden of those who are still healing from losing a loved one or feeling the pain of someone going through challenges that they’ve been facing,” he said.