April is here, which means warmer weather for most of us. Unfortunately, it also brings income tax time.
This year you get an extra day to procrastinate since April 15 falls on Sunday. A small consolation, but I’ll take it.
As an ETF investor you have some advantages in the tax department, but you aren’t completely off the hook.
Today I’ll give you some links to helpful information, update you on a type of tax-friendly ETF, and shed some light on those mysterious “K-1″ forms you may be dreading.
Stay InformedApril 15 is almost here!
Let’s start with some references that may come in handy as . . . → Read More: ETF Tax Forms and Tax-Free Alternatives
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Starting in 2008 seven states -- Louisiana, South Dakota, Kentucky, New Mexico, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas -- passed measures or promoted policies that would change the education curriculums in their states to begin teaching "different perspectives" in environmental science instruction. The major newspapers in each of these states gave varying coverage to the issue with some not even covering the issue at all. In addition a Media Matters investigation shows that, despite the appearance that these state proposals and model legislation by the conservative organization the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), not once did these newspapers mention ALEC or their model legislation in their coverage.
ALEC "Exists To Bring Business-Friendly State Lawmakers Together With Lobbyists For Corporations." From Fortune magazine:
The organization, founded in 1973 and funded mostly by corporations and conservative foundations, exists to bring business-friendly state lawmakers together with lobbyists for corporations, including AT&T (T), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Wal-Mart (WMT), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). It drafts model bills related to its goals of free markets and limited government. Issues that ALEC has influenced include Arizona's anti-immigration law, tort reform in Mississippi, and the opposition to Net neutrality.
In the 2009 legislative session, by ALEC's reckoning, state lawmakers introduced 826 bills the group conceived -- 115 of which made it into law. That's quite a record, and it's going to get stronger. One overlooked aspect of the Republican resurgence has been its revolution at the state level. The GOP picked up more than 700 seats in state legislatures and now controls 25 of those bodies outright, from 14 before November. [Fortune, 1/10/11]
"Close To 1,000 Bills" Based On ALEC Model Legislation Are Introduced In State Legislatures Each Year. From ALEC's website:
To date, ALEC's Task Forces have considered, written and approved hundreds of model bills on a wide range of issues, model legislation that will frame the debate today and far into the future. Each year, close to 1,000 bills, based at least in part on ALEC Model Legislation, are introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20 percent become law. [ALEC.org, accessed 3/15/12]
NRDC: ALEC Is "The Ultimate 'Trojan Horse' For Industry Forces Seeking To Bend State Laws." From the Natural Resources Defense Council:
"While the Congressional debate over campaign finance reform has focused the nation's attention on corporate influence over politics at the federal level, ALEC provides a chilling example of even more brazen manipulation involving state legislatures," said Gregory Wetstone, NRDC's director of advocacy. "ALEC is the ultimate 'Trojan Horse' for industry forces seeking to bend state laws to maximize corporate profits, often at the expense of citizens and the environment."
ALEC touts itself as a membership association of state legislators. But corporations and trade associations finance virtually all of ALEC's activities. [NRDC.org, 2/28/02]
ALEC promulgated a model climate science denial bill in 2000. Starting in 2008, seven states -- Louisiana, South Dakota, Kentucky, New Mexico, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas -- passed similar measures. However, despite the extensive and obvious influence of ALEC on these state initiatives, state media has largely ignored the group.
The following is a record of mentions of ALEC in the pages of the aforementioned states' largest newspapers as well as Texas' second largest newspaper (ranked by total circulation, based on numbers provided by the Audit Bureau of Circulations) since January 1, 2007 (based on a Nexis search using "ALEC" or "American Legislative Exchange Council") and their appearance in articles relating to a bill title or bill number pertaining to climate denial teaching measures. [Audit Bureau of Circulations, Accessed 4/4/12]
(NOTE: Wire service reports appearing in a newspaper are not always included in the Nexis database.)
The Louisiana Bill "Mirrors The Provisions Of The ALEC Bill." According to the DeSmogBlog:
The Louisiana bill calls for, "an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including...global warming..." The bill also calls for "instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner."
This bill mirrors the provisions of the ALEC bill which say that teachers should "provide instruction in critical thinking so that students will be able to fairly and objectively evaluate scientific...controversies," and mandates that "balanced and objective environmental education materials and programs will...be used." [DeSmogBlog.com, 1/26/12]
The New Orleans Times-Picayune Has Not Mentioned ALEC in Conjunction With The Climate Change Denial Bill But Has Mentioned The Bill 40 Times. Since January 1, 2007 (based on a LexisNexis search for "ALEC" or "American Legislative Exchange Council" and "Louisiana Science Education Act" or "Louisiana Science and Education Act" or "S.B. 733" or "SB 733" or "Senate Bill 733") ALEC is never mentioned in conjunction with the climate change denial bill. However, the bill was mentioned by the paper 40 times since January 1, 2007. [LexisNexis, 1/1/07 - 4/4/12]
The South Dakota Bill "The Bill Mirrors The Provision Of The ALEC Bill That Call For The Providing Of 'A Range Of Perspectives Presented In A Balanced Manner.'" According to DeSmogBlog:
In 2010, the South Dakota Legislative Assembly passed House Concurrent Resolution 1009, a non-binding resolution introduced by 33 members of the House of Representatives and 6 members of the Senate, 39 in total, and 12 of whom are current members of ALEC. The bill calls for "balanced teaching of global warming in the public schools of South Dakota."
The bill mirrors the provision of the ALEC bill that call for the providing of "a range of perspectives presented in a balanced manner." [DeSmogBlog.com, 1/26/12]
The Sioux Falls Argus Leader Has Not Mentioned ALEC in Conjunction With The Climate Change Denial Bill And Has Never Mentioned The Bill. Since January 1, 2007 (based on a LexisNexis search for "ALEC" or "American Legislative Exchange Council" and "House Concurrent Resolution 1009" or "HCR 1009") ALEC is never mentioned in conjunction with the climate change denial bill. In addition, the bill was never mentioned by the paper. [LexisNexis, 1/1/07 - 4/4/12]
Kentucky's Bill "Mirrors Major Provisions Of The ALEC Model Bill." According to DeSmogBlog:
Two key provisions of the H.B. 397 "encourage local district teachers and administrators to foster an environment promoting objective discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories" and "allow teachers to use, as permitted by the local board of education, materials in addition to state-approved texts and instructional materials for discussion of scientific theories including...global warming..."
This bill mirrors major provisions of the ALEC model bill that say teachers should "provide instruction in critical thinking so that students will be able to fairly and objectively evaluate scientific...controversies," and mandates that "balanced and objective environmental education materials and programs will...be used." [DeSmogBlog.com, 1/26/12]
The Louisville Courier-Journal Has Not Mentioned ALEC in Conjunction With The Climate Change Denial Bill And Has Never Mentioned The Bill. Since January 1, 2007 (based on a LexisNexis search for "ALEC" or "American Legislative Exchange Council" and "Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act" or "H.B. 397" or "HB 397" or "House Bill 397") ALEC is never mentioned in conjunction with the climate change denial bill. In addition, the bill was never mentioned by the paper. [LexisNexis, 1/1/07 - 4/4/12]
New Mexico's Bill "Mirrors The Provisions Of The ALEC Model Bill." According to DeSmogBlog:
H.B. 302 says that schools shall "not prohibit any teacher, when a controversial scientific topic is being taught in accordance with adopted standards and curricula, from informing students about relevant scientific information regarding either the scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses pertaining to that topic." One "controversial scientific topic" listed is the "causes of climate change."
This bill mirrors the provisions of the ALEC model bill which call for teaching "a range of perspectives presented in a balanced manner," teaching "different perspectives" to allow for students to "form their own opinions," and creating an "atmosphere of respect for different opinions and open-mindedness to new ideas." [DeSmogBlog.com, 1/26/12]
The Albuquerque Journal Has Not Mentioned ALEC in Conjunction With The Climate Change Denial Bill But Has Mentioned The Bill Once. Since January 1, 2007 (based on a LexisNexis search for "ALEC" or "American Legislative Exchange Council" and "H.B. 302" or "HB 302" or "House Bill 302") ALEC is never mentioned in conjunction with the climate change denial bill. However, the bill was mentioned by the paper once. [LexisNexis, 1/1/07 - 4/4/12]
Tennessee's Bill Is "Essentially A Replica Of The ALEC Model Bill." According to DeSmogBlog:
Tennessee's House bill, H.B. 368, essentially a replica of the ALEC model bill, overwhelmly passed the House in April 2011, but its Senate-version cousin, S.B. 893, failed to pass. As the Los Angeles Times article makes clear, efforts to push the bill through are far from over.
Key clauses of that bill read,
- "[T]eachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught."
- "[P]ublic elementary and secondary schools...[should]...respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues."
These excerpts match, almost to a "T," bullet points one, three and four of the ALEC model bill. [DeSmogBlog.com, 1/26/12]
The Nashville Tennessean Has Not Mentioned ALEC in Conjunction With The Climate Change Denial Bill But Has Mentioned The Bill 5 Times. Since January 1, 2007 (based on a LexisNexis search for "ALEC" or "American Legislative Exchange Council" and "H.B. 368" or "HB 368" or "S.B. 893" or "SB 893" or "House Bill 368" or "Senate Bill 893") ALEC is never mentioned in conjunction with the climate change denial bill. However, the bill was mentioned by the paper 5 times. [LexisNexis, 1/1/07 - 4/4/12]
The Oklahoma Bill's First Bullet "Is Exactly The Same In Both The Tennessee And Oklahoma Bills." According to DeSmogBlog:
Titled, the "Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act," H.B. 1551 is also essentially a copycat of Tennessee's version of the ALEC model bill -- it failed to pass. A Senate version of that bill, S.B. 320, was also proposed in 2009, but failed to pass through committee.
Key clauses of that bill read (emphases mine),
- "[T]eachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught."
- "[N]o student in any public school or institution shall be penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a particular position on scientific theories."
Notice how the first bullet is exactly the same in both the Tennessee and Oklahoma bills -- also notice how similar bullet number two is in both language and substance in both states' bills. [DeSmogBlog.com, 1/26/12]
The Oklahoma City Oklahoman Has Not Mentioned ALEC in Conjunction With The Climate Change Denial Bill But Has Mentioned The Bill 5 Times. Since January 1, 2007 (based on a LexisNexis search for "ALEC" or "American Legislative Exchange Council" and "Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act" or "H.B. 1551" or "HB 1551" or "S.B. 320" or "SB 320" or "Senate Bill 320") ALEC is never mentioned in conjunction with the climate change denial bill. However, the bill was mentioned by the paper 5 times. [LexisNexis, 1/1/07 - 4/4/12]
Instead Of Proposing A Bill, "The Texas School Board Passed An Amendment Calling For 'Balanced' Teaching Of Climate Change, Meaning Both Science And 'Skepticism.'" According to DeSmogBlog:
Texas, in this case, is a bit of a wild card. Rather than a bill proposed by a state legislature, in 2009, the Texas School Board passed an amendment calling for the "balanced" teaching of climate change, meaning both science and "skepticism."
The Austin Statesman explained,
"The State Board of Education...adopted standards on the teaching of global warming that appear to both question its existence and prod students to explore its implications.
Standards are used to guide textbook makers and teachers.
Language...instructed students to 'analyze and evaluate different views on the existence of global warming,'"
This provision mirrors and is likely inspired by the ALEC model bill provision on global warming, which suggested science teachers should "Provide a range of perspectives presented in a balanced manner. [DeSmogBlog.com, 1/26/12]
Neither The Dallas Morning News Nor The Houston Chronicle Has Mentioned ALEC in Conjunction With The Climate Change Denial Measure And Only The Houston Chronicle Has Mentioned The Measure At All. Since January 1, 2007 (based on a LexisNexis search for "ALEC" or "American Legislative Exchange Council" and "Texas School Board" or "School Board" or "State Board of Education" and "Climate Change" or "Global Warming" or "Climate Science") ALEC is never mentioned in conjunction with the climate change denial Measure. However, the measure was mentioned only by the Houston Chronicle three times. [LexisNexis, 1/1/07 - 4/4/12]
He's had a hard few weeks, heck a hard few months. But today's tepid jobs report comes at just the right time for Mitt Romney, allowing him to get back into an argument about the economy versus President Obama. [...]
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Christians were not always opposed to evolution - mainly because Christianity has progressed and made slow, significant changes over time.
Darwin?s theory of evolution is 160 years old. Christianity has been thriving for more than 1700 years.
So, evolution denial is a new modification for the religion.
Has the church ever been against science before? Yes. Pope Urban VIII condemned the Father of Science, Galileo. But by the time of the Internet in 2008, the church decided to erect a statue of the former heretic in the Vatican. A natural selection.
There are many variations of Christians today. They all have a common ancestry but are split off into distinct groups and sub-groups: Different continents and environments have forced different adjustments.
For example, in Peru the Inca had an ancestor ceremony in which at certain times of the year they paraded mummies of their dead relatives through the town square. After the Conquistadors, the same ceremony was re-interpreted. Now they parade statues of deceased Catholic saints instead of the deceased revered locals. The Cathedral de Cusco hangs a painting of the Last Supper showing the Twelve Apostles eating cuy (a Peruvian delicacy of roasted Guinea pig). This is notably a behavior adaptation that isn?t found in other Christ-based events.
Christianity has had its own evolutionary dead ends, too. The 19th century had the Shakers - a subset who believed in the second coming of Christ, spin dancing and absolute celibacy. The lack of procreation proved to be a real hurdle in the advancement of their kind. Thus they?re extinct.
There are also mutations of Christianity who survived because of their fitness. Islam has its common descent with Christianity ? a different branch of the same religious tree, with an acknowledgement of Jesus as a prophet in the Quran. Migration and isolation spurred other mutations. Mormonism and Christian Science are native to North America.
Even the Christian Bible, the basic text of Christianity, has evolved. Bart Ehrman?s 2005 book ?Misquoting Jesus? masterfully documents modifications made over the millennia. In the Bible?s first 1300 years changes were made as it was copied by hand. After the invention of the printing press, the tome was subjected to translations into new languages spawned from other languages; e.g., modern English.
The point is: Christ wasn?t against Darwin?s theory of evolution, but some Christians clutching to alleged originalism have opted to be. It?s a relatively new characteristic.
And like the furry little ferret cousin, the skunk - it?s also a distinctly American mutation. Other developed nations don?t deny biological evolution on the basis of religion.
The next thing you?ll say is, ?Americans are more religious than those other countries.?
Many studies have found Americans are not more religious in practice than people in other nations. We just lie to pollsters as to what we?re doing on Sundays. Philip Brenner at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research did a paper looking at ?500 studies over four decades, involving nearly a million respondents.? The findings were summed up by Slate?s Shankar Vedantam, ?Brenner found that the United States and Canada were outliers?not in religious attendance, but in overreporting religious attendance. Americans attended services about as often as Italians and Slovenians and slightly more than Brits and Germans.? So really we attend church as much as other countries ? even European countries. Americans and apparently Canadians just lie about it?in astonishingly un-Christ-like numbers.
Last year on Bill Maher?s Real Time, Congressman Jack Kingston (GA-R) admitted he doesn?t think he came from a monkey. Other public figures hold fast to the same conviction. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the face of all evidence still denies evolution.
They deny all missing links, yet they are straddled between medieval mysticism and medical science. Technology can grow a human ear on the back of a rat (whether members of Congress believe in it or not). Science deniers are starting to look like America?s transitional fossils.
American Christianity eventually evolved to oppose evolution, but it?s not getting more Americans to church or helping us in science literacy. Then like the other profound questions in evolution - male nipples comes to mind - what is the purpose?
The poster child for everything that's wrong about American politics is back in the news again. Much like JP Morgan's CEO Jamie Dimon, former Democratic Senator Chris Dodd never knows when to shut his mouth. In this case, it's a good thing because Chris Dodd has once again helped bring SOPA and the MPAA's bad policies back into public view. And Dodd, incredibly, claimed that President Obama is working behind the scenes to do everything Dodd wants on SOPA.
Ah, Chris Dodd. It seems like every time he opens his mouth, he makes things worse. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, he responds to a series of questions about SOPA by trying to tiptoe around the issue, but basically admits that there are backroom conversations going on between a small number of people, and that "between now and sometime next year," Hollywood and the tech industry will "come to an understanding." He's asked specifically if there are conversations going on now, and if the White House is pressuring folks to come to such "an understanding."President Obama is using his good relationships to do "exactly" what Chris Dodd, number one paid SOPA lobbyist, is talking about? Really?
THR: Are there conversations going on now?
Dodd: I'm confident that's the case, but I'm not going to go into more detail because obviously if I do, it becomes counterproductive.
THR: Did you feel personally blindsided by Obama over SOPA?
Dodd: I'm not going to revisit the events of last winter. I'll only say to you that I'm confident he's using his good relationships in both communities to do exactly what you and I have been talking about.
In honor of the recent discovery of a 125 million year-old, 30 foot-long dinosaur with feathers, the largest feathered dino ever found, we have They Might Be Giants with "I Am a Paleontologist," from the terrific Here Comes Science, an antidote to every insipid kids' song you've ever heard:
Cities located in drought-stricken states around the U.S. are experiencing a dramatic spike in rabies outbreaks.
The outbreaks are being linked to warm weather and drought conditions, which are forcing infected animals to seek water and food in more urban areas. That is increasing infection rates and causing headaches for cities around the country.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the rash of outbreaks happening in water-deprived states:
While the number of reported rabid animals declined nationwide in 2010, according to the most recent federal data, states such as South Dakota, Kansas and Texas have recently seen a jump in the number of skunks testing positive. In drought-stricken Texas, more than 1,000 animals last year were exposed to rabid skunks, double the number in 2010. “More skunks seem to have migrated to suburban areas where there is water,” said Ernest Oertli, a veterinarian with the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Researchers continue to issue warnings about the link between global warming and the spread of zoonotic viral diseases like Rabies, Bird Flu and Yellow Fever.
A warming planet will limit biodiversity, change migration patterns of infected animals, and influence extreme weather patterns ? creating ripe conditions for the spread of deadly diseases.
For example, changing temperatures are helping to spread dengue fever in 28 states; flooding in Australia has increased outbreaks of the deadly Hendra virus in humans; and a changing climate could also influence genetic changes in bacteria like E.Coli, making them more hearty and deadly.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today that the American economy added 120,000 jobs in March, and though that number is lower than in previous months, the unemployment rate ticked down a tenth of a point to 8.2 percent, largely due to a decline in labor force participation rate (which accounts for how many Americans are actively seeking employment).
After struggling to criticize President Obama for more positive jobs reports over the last three months, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney’s campaign seized on today’s numbers. Eric Fehrnstrom, a top adviser to Romney’s campaign, cited the drop in the labor participation rate as the only reason for the drop in unemployment, criticizing Obama on MSNBC for creating an economy in which people have been forced to stop looking for work.
But when host Chuck Todd pushed back , citing Moody’s analyst Mark Zandi’s explanation that the retirement of Baby Boomers and the drop in immigration has contributed heavily to the declining participation rate, Fehrnstrom could only dodge the question, choosing instead to talk about gas prices and other issues:
TODD: Actually, we just had one of those experts, and he didn?t say that. He said that the unemployment rate ticking down had a little more to do with demographics, the aging population and retirements of the Baby Boomers, and that he expected this report to be revised upward when all the data was in.
FEHRNSTROM: If you look at the labor participation rate, you?ll see that it?s going down. It?s been steadily going down. If we just maintained the participation rate that we had when Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 11%, not 8.2. So this is very troubling.
TODD: I understand. But he said demographics, the aging population, there are fewer people in the workforce because there are more people 65 and older now who are retiring and you have fewer immigrants coming into the country.
FEHRNSTROM: Mitt Romney has been around this country meeting with thousands of voters, including people who have grown so discouraged with the state of the economy and the failure of this president to lift us out of these economic problems that they?ve just stopped working altogether. This is a very troubling development. And it’s not just high unemployment, Chuck, you add to that rising gas prices, you look at the increase in consumer goods, the continued decline in home values. It all adds up to a very bad economy.
This isn’t the first time Fehrnstrom has dodged questions about the Romney campaign’s statements on the economic recovery. After Romney slammed Obama for making the economy “worse” at a debate in New Hampshire (a claim he has made and walked back multiple times), Fehrnstrom wasn’t able to answer reporters who asked for evidence that the economy is in worse shape than it was when Obama took office.
With Savages, a movie about a pair of pot growers and their shared girlfriend, who gets herself kidnapped by goons attached to queenpin Salma Hayek, Oliver Stone’s become the latest director to cast Mexican drug cartels as the villains in a flashy action movie:
Navy SEALs movie Act of Valor portrayed a tunnel system run by Mexican cartel leaders as a valuable aid to al Qaeda. Tony Scott’s working on Narco Sub, a movie about the submersibles the cartels used in smuggling operations. Breaking Bad‘s most recent season came up with a novel, moving, bloody twist on a cartel story, but it relied heavily on the visuals of sparkling pools, heavy gold jewelry, hot girls and hotter cars to set the scene. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to come up with a novel movie villain, or wanting to tap into new and different current of global anxiety. But there’s something weird about the assumptions of all of these movies that the most interesting stories you could tell about the cartels involve their impact on individual Americans rather than on Mexican society. It’s almost like there are compelling stories you could tell about Mexican characters that wouldn’t overstate the impact of drugs in the United States.
The men in the Republican Party may not think they’re fighting a “war on women,” but its female senators certainly do. Yesterday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Kay Bailey Hutchison in criticizing the GOP’s push for legislation to restrict access to contraception and other basic health care services:
“It makes no sense to make this attack on women,” she said at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “If you don’t feel this is an attack, you need to go home and talk to your wife and your daughters.”
Murkowski — who recently said she regretted her vote for the anti-woman Blunt amendment — promised to fight for Planned Parenthood funding and also spoke out against Rush Limbaugh’s attack of Sandra Fluke, adding, “To have those kind of slurs against a woman ? you had candidates who want to be our president not say, ‘That’s wrong. That’s offensive.’ They did not condemn the rhetoric.”