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    Reading the landscape | News, Sports, Jobs – Evening Observer - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Photo by Katie FinchWalking on an old road can lead to unexpected discoveries.

    There was an oil painting hanging in my grandparents house of an old man. His skin was a warm brown and covered with lines. There were fine creases around the eyes from laughing or squinting in the sun. Curved grooves from his nose to the outside corner of his mouth ran deep from smiling. There were wrinkles across the forehead, often called worry lines. I imagined other dark marks to be scars from a long-ago injury.

    I was intrigued by this face and so many others like it because of the story then could tell. Who was this man? What joys and tragedies happened in his life that were so strong they were etched in his physical being? A persons face is a record of the events that shaped who they are.

    The land holds a record of its experience in a similar way. In outside explorations, we may come across old human-made objects or see scars in the landscape that tell of the lands past use or natural events that changed the landscape.

    On a recent trip to Allegany State Park, my partner and I decided to hike a trail we knew nothing about other than the location and length. The trail was cut into the side of a gently sloping hill. About half a mile into the hike, we came across an opening in the woods that ran from the top of the hill downward. The opening, about the size of a road, was fairly overgrown, with brambles and small trees where there once was grass. The trees along the edge were all curved over the opening, making a tunnel-like effect, as they reached for the available sun. As we continued walking, we came across similar opening. Then another. Then another. Power lines? Gas lines? Old roads? There were a few old metal posts, not large enough for telephone poles but much higher than fence posts.

    On the way back, he said, It feels like a ski slope. A glance at a more detailed map showed us he was right. We were on the Eastern Meadows trail that traversed the old Big Basin Ski Area. In further research, I learned Allegany State Park was a downhill skiing hub in Western New York from the 1930s to the 1970s. There were two alpine ski areas and ski jumps that attracted both amateur and world-class skiers. As I walked among the remains of the ski slope, I had no idea of the history at the time but the land still showed me, even as the plants began to cover it over and time degraded even the fire-forged metal of the ski lift.

    Seeing the history of the land in what remains is detective work. Or perhaps more an archeologic dig, revealing scraps and fragments of the past. There are clues in what plants are present and the way they grow and the shape of the terrain. Sometimes old human-made remains are left behind. Ive walked on level, straight trails that can be nothing else but an old road or rail line. My favorite clue I saw on a winter walk after a light snow was followed by warmer temperatures.

    On a straight path deep in the woods, there were alternating long rectangles of snow. What I figured is the snow stayed either on the old railroad ties and melted from the ground in between or vice versa.

    Seeing this was like pulling back a 100-year-old curtain to a time when this forest was full of loggers, hauling out their harvest on narrow-gauge railway. As I look around at what was once a devastating change to this landscape, I also marvel at the lands ability to recover. I have a sense of discomfort at a very real paradox. Nature is both fragile and resilient. The evidence of our past reminds us of the huge impact we can have on the natural world but also of natures resiliency. Still, I wonder, what was this forest like before us? And what other far-reaching effects of humans dont I even see?

    The history of natural events is also written into the land. In Maine, I worked in a forest, whose ground was full of full of small humps or mounds right next to holes or pits. When a tree falls over and pulls out the root ball with it, it creates this pit and mound topography over time. The pit is formed from the uprooted root ball. The mound forms as the roots slowly decay. In this forest, there were tons on pits and mounds all oriented in the same direction. This told the story of a tornado that passed through the area tipping over the trees half a century ago.

    Humans are a part of nature. This is a fact. To acquire the things we both need and want, we use the land, sometimes lightly, sometimes too heavily. But either way, we are not removed from it. I am reminded of this when I read the landscape and see our mark upon it.

    Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature. ACNC is located just east of Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are still open from dawn to dusk as is Liberty, the Bald Eagle. The Nature Center is partially open, including restrooms, the Blue Heron Gift Shop, and some exhibits. More information can be found online at auduboncnc.org or by calling (716) 569-2345.

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    Excerpt from:
    Reading the landscape | News, Sports, Jobs - Evening Observer

    OPINION EXCHANGE | ‘Hope is the thing left us in a bad time’ – Minneapolis Star Tribune - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    On a sunny May morning in 2014, I packed a dibble bar and a box up a hill in the forest of northeastern Itasca County. The half-acre knob had been logged the previous summer, and I noted most of the stumps were red pine. Good, because the box held 360 red pine seedlings, fresh from a Canadian nursery.

    I surveyed the site and figured I had just enough trees to "fill it up." I also appreciated the breeze playing across an expansive marsh sweeping to the northwest. The bugs were back twizzling scrums of gnats and mosquitoes in their post-winter hordes and the wind was toxin-free repellent. It's difficult to be entirely cheerful on a planting mission while insects are prospecting for blood in your nostrils.

    The hill overlooks the Link Lake Trail Forest Road, a relatively well-traveled gravel stretch between Side Lake and Hwy. 65. Also good. Passing taxpayers would glimpse a DNR wildland firefighter in a yellow Nomex shirt vigorously working to re-establish pine on a cutover. After filling a tree bag with the first hundred seedlings, I buckled it around my waist then stashed the box in the shade of an elderly white spruce.

    I inspected the ground, probing soil with the dibble. It's a tapered steel snout affixed to a long wooden handle, a kind of spear. There's also a metal foot pad that allows you to press the point into the dirt. The ground was soft and sandy ideal for young pine and no rocks were apparent. That meant I could thrust the dibble, one-handed, into the soil, which is faster and somehow more satisfying than easing it in with the foot pad. Striking rock with a thrust transmits a remarkable shudder of pain from your hand to your shoulder, like the sensation of an electrical shock.

    At the north edge of the cutover I made my first stab, twisting the dibble a little to widen the hole. I cradled a seedling in my left hand and poked it in. These were "plugs" the roots packed with moist soil in a tubular shape, about nine inches long to the tip of the terminal bud. The needles were green and lush. I sealed the hole with the toe of my boot, the root collar flush with the ground.

    On a forgiving site I can plant plugs at the rate of 200 an hour, but the hill had remnants of slash to negotiate. I timed my first 10 trees and extrapolated a rate of about 160 an hour. So, three hours with a couple of short breaks done in time for lunch.

    And so it was. Just enough labor to feel righteous but not exhausted. I'd be ready for wildfire response in the afternoon if needed. With popcorn cumulus speckling an azure sky, and the bugs tamed by the breeze, it was a pleasing morning of proficiency and accomplishment.

    But would the seedlings survive?

    Like all living beings they were in peril. If drought ensued they'd shrivel to brown sticks. Deer or hares might literally nip them in the bud. A fire could turn them to ash. Disease might decimate. A careless human on an ATV could crush and uproot them. I've personally planted over 62,000 seedlings (about 88 acres) at several dozen locales over the past three decades, and overseen the planting of 60,000 more. I've had the privilege of returning to sites and relishing the spectacle of healthy trees 35 feet tall. Unfortunately, I've also gone back to ground where most of the little ones had vanished. I've said to fellow planters only half in jest, "Do good work, but don't come back here to look."

    A year later, I was driving past the hill and slowed down to look. Grass and brush had resprouted, but I spotted some handsome young pine. I pulled over, scaled the hill, and was delighted to see that almost every seedling was still there. I pumped a fist, though aware the tale was not fully told.

    This past May, six years after the planting, I returned with some trepidation again. To my joy, at least 95% of the trees, most of them taller than me, remained. Aspen saplings and some youthful balsam fir were interspersed with "my" red pine; a carpet of sweet fern, bracken, raspberry canes, blueberry bushes and large-leaved aster anchored the soil. It was a healthy young forest. Not all my doing, of course, but I'd been a significant agent.

    Part of the satisfaction of that May morning in 2014 arises from the possibility that some of those trees could be still growing in 2114 and well beyond giants on the landscape, their root networks interlaced and signaling, creating and maintaining local habitat a sweet legacy of the labor.

    But there's more than that. Whether the trees grow older or not, the planting was its own prize. The work was worthy, and since I was paid that day I earned my keep.

    But there's another stratum to that morning. Besides the trees and the labor there was a happiness not strictly dependent upon either. I was close to the soil, intimate with the land. It was jammed beneath my fingernails. I smelled it. I scuffed it. There was a sense of orientation I knew precisely where I was and the generic name of that locale is "home." There was also a sense of fecundity, the emerald energies of spring, of renewal and release. There was literally no better place to be, and everything present even the damn bugs enunciated the word "alive."

    During our pandemic (and it is ours, we own it), it's been widely reported that more people are spending more time outdoors than usual. The Minnesota State Parks, for example, have been bustling. Sure, it's safer outside and that is not to be discounted, but in the face of widespread illness, disability and death, where else is the antithesis health, vigor and life more evident than in the woods, on the lakeshore, in the garden, under the sky?

    "Hope," wrote essayist E.B. White, "is the thing left us in a bad time." Webster's defines hope as "a feeling that what is wanted will happen." And in a bad time our wants can be clarified in close contacts with the happenings in the natural outdoors. Poet Emily Dickinson called hope "the thing with feathers," and perhaps it is also the thing with roots, needles, leaves, fur, waves and the crystalline design of snowflakes. I grant that May is kinder than December, but the latter merely requires more clothes.

    As I write this, my red pines on the hill are draped with snow, and as trees do, they've entered a phase of exquisite respite that primes them for rejuvenation. The winter landscape will generously display its own charms and unctions. We too will be rejuvenated.

    Peter M. Leschak, of Side Lake, Minn., is the author of "Ghosts of the Fireground" and other books.

    Read more here:
    OPINION EXCHANGE | 'Hope is the thing left us in a bad time' - Minneapolis Star Tribune

    Newsmax issues clarification on Smartmatic, Dominion claims | TheHill – The Hill - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Conservative media outlet Newsmax issued a clarification on Monday about recent claims made by guests about a voting software company the network suggested flipped votes to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenJudge throws out GOP lawsuit to close Georgia ballot drop boxes after business hours First responders serenade Fauci with 'happy birthday' Joe Biden can be the president for middle class workers and all races MORE.

    "Newsmax would like to clarify its news coverage and noteit has not reported as true certain claims made about these companies," the outlet said in a statement posted online and read by host John Tabacco. "There are several facts our viewers and readers should be aware. Newsmax has found no evidence either Dominion or Smartmatic owns the other, or has any business association with each other."

    The clarification comes after Florida-basedelectronic voting system company Smartmaticissued legal notices and retraction demand letters to three conservative outlets including Newsmax for what they said were defamatory and untrue reports about the company.

    "They have no evidence to support their attacks on Smartmatic because there is no evidence. This campaign was designed to defame Smartmatic and undermine legitimately conducted elections,Smartmatic CEOAntonio Mugica said in a statement. "Our efforts are more than just about Smartmatic or any other company. This campaign is an attack on election systems and election workers in an effort to depress confidence in future elections and potentially counter the will of the voters, not just here, but in democracies around the world."

    The company has been at the center of attacks from Trump's legal allies such as Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiPowell says White House aides won't let her help Trump Trump attorneys risk disciplinary action over wave of election suits Louisiana congressman-elect in intensive care after COVID-19 diagnosis MORE and Sidney Powell. The New York times reported the company was not used in any states Trump has contested the result of the election in and only helped one U.S. county run its election.

    Newsmaxacknowledgedthis in its clarification, writing: "Smartmatic has stated its software was only used in the 2020 election in Los Angeles, and was not used in any battleground state contested by the Trump campaign and Newsmax has no evidence to the contrary."

    Trump has pointed to Newsmax as an alternative to Fox News for his conservative supporters in recent months. The network resisted calling Biden the president-elect until last week and has been attempting toattractFox News's audience.

    A growing number of pro-Trump Republican politicians, pundits and strategists are appearing on the networkdespite Fox's dominance across the cable news landscape.

    See more here:
    Newsmax issues clarification on Smartmatic, Dominion claims | TheHill - The Hill

    Problem at Lord Hill Park is not bikes but their speed | HeraldNet.com – The Daily Herald - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Letters

    I am a long-time hiker and equestrian user of Lord Hill Park. I believe mountain biking can be a fine use of the park if it is a way of traveling through it at a pace that allows for appreciation of the wonderful natural landscape in the park.

    When technical mountain bike flow trails or down-hilling trails are built and used, the focus becomes the speed and features of the trail itself. It is analogous to snowshoeing versus downhill skiing, both are fun but the focus on your surroundings is different due to the speed at which you are traveling through the terrain.

    Certainly, there is a need for technical biking trails that allow mountain bike riders to experience speed and features, but I believe these types of trails could be built in other venues where the landscape and nature might not be the main attraction. This way, the bikers get their fast trails, and Lord Hill Park remains a serene space for quiet enjoyment by everyone- hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers.

    Marla Hamilton Lucas

    Snohomish

    Read more:
    Problem at Lord Hill Park is not bikes but their speed | HeraldNet.com - The Daily Herald

    To recover endangered species, reduce conflict and reward landowners who restore habitat | TheHill – The Hill - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced two new regulations governing designation of privately owned land as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. This designation can restrict property rights, reduce land values, and make habitat features a significant liability for landowners. As with any change involving the Endangered Species Act, the reforms have generated hyperbolic criticism. However, the new rules, if implemented properly, could reduce conflict and allow focus to shift to other, effective means to recover species.

    Both regulations arise out of a unanimous Supreme Court loss the agency suffered in 2018. In Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a timber company and forest landowners, the latter represented by Pacific Legal Foundation, challenged the designation of 1,500 acres of privately owned timberland in Louisiana as critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog, a designation that could cost the landowners $34 million.

    Despite this exorbitant cost, there was little reason to think the designation would ever benefit the frog. No frogs lived on the land. Indeed, the land could not support the species without substantial effort to convert it to suitable habitat by clearcutting the existing trees, establishing a different forest type, and maintaining the landscape with prescribed burns steps the landowners had no intention or incentive to perform.

    Adopting the maxim unpopular with many federal agencies that Congress means what it says, the Supreme Court held that there are limits on the agencys power to designate privately owned land as critical habitat. First, only land that is actually habitat can be designated. Second, critical habitat designations are subject to a judicially enforceable cost-benefit requirement. Rather than defend the dusky gopher frog designation under these standards, Fish & Wildlife agreed to settle the case.

    The new regulations aim to avoid this sort of conflict going forward and reconcile the agencys approach with the courts decision. First, the rules define habitat as only those areas that can, in their current state, support a species. In other words, the mere possibility that land might become habitat in the future does not make it habitat today.

    Second, the rules prevent designations that impose costs on landowners that exceed any benefits to species. This will avoid the most controversial designations, such as the one at issue in Weyerhaeuser, where the designation significantly reduces land value in exchange for only speculative potential benefits to the species.

    The rules are not perfect, to be sure. They contain ambiguities that may lead to conflict, which is why it remains vital that courts continue to enforce constitutional and statutory limits on agency power. But the rules are, nonetheless, a move in the right direction.

    Many criticisms of the rules rest on a false premise: that critical habitat designations are effective at encouraging landowners to create or restore habitat on land that is currently unsuitable. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

    Critical habitat designations, by reducing land values and triggering costly land-use restrictions, make habitat features or the potential to restore them a significant liability for landowners. Designations offer no corresponding benefit to landowners to encourage costly and difficult habitat restoration efforts. Consequently, the available evidence suggests that critical habitat designations increase development pressure on privately owned land, as landowners respond to this perverse incentive.

    This is a major challenge. The primary threat to most endangered and threatened species is lack of adequate habitat. Climate change may make this problem even worse, as areas currently occupied by a species become unsuitable in the future. Therefore, most species simply cannot be recovered and some may not even persist unless new habitat is established for them.

    Fortunately, there are other effective means to encourage habitat restoration and species recovery. In a recent report for the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, co-authored with a colleague from the Property and Environment Research Center, I explain how secure property rights and markets can better encourage habitat restoration and species recovery. Rewarding landowners who maintain or restore habitat creates the right incentives by making endangered species assets to the landowners on whom their recovery depends.

    Sam Hamilton, a former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, summed up the Endangered Species Acts basic flaw: If a rare metal is on my property, the value of my land goes up. But if a rare bird occupies the land, its value disappears. The new reforms are an improvement, but much work remains. Recovering endangered and threatened species ultimately depends on broader reforms that respect property rights and provide the right incentives to private landowners.

    Jonathan Wood (@Jon_C_Wood) is a senior attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation and a research fellow with the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). He represented the landowners before the Supreme Court in the Weyerhaeuser case and is an author of the report, Critical Habitats Unique Private Land Problem.

    Read the original post:
    To recover endangered species, reduce conflict and reward landowners who restore habitat | TheHill - The Hill

    Quieted by pandemic and trashed by break-ins and squatters, Capitol Hill gay dance club Neighbours says it needs your help to survive – CHS Capitol… - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Break-ins and squatters have decimated the space home to Capitol Hill dance club and iconic Seattle LGBTQ venue Neighbours, shuttered for months under COVID-19 restrictions.

    After 9 years in Vancouver and 38 years in Seattle, Neighbours may have to close their doors, performer Roxy Doll writes in a fundraiser plea launched to help the nightclub. COVID-19 is one thing, but to have to replace and rebuild everything on top of being shut down for who knows how much longer. I dont know if they are going to make it.

    The goal, Doll tells CHS, is to raise enough so that Neighbours can reopen again when restrictions are relaxed and to give any extra to a charity to help others. You can give here.

    But that day is currently a long way away made even more distant by a mix of brazen and desperate actions. People breaking in cut through the fire door and even a walk-in freezer door at one point.The sound systems, all alcohol, lighting equipment, and all the cameras have been stolen, Doll said. The club has ended up filled with human waste, needles, and trash dragged in from outside. The floor and walls have been spray painted and tagged. Someone cut holes in the walls looking for copper pipes.

    The performer has taken on the role of clean-up manager to help the club where she has been performing for years while the clubs owner Moustafa Moe Elassiouti is in Egypt due to COVID-19.

    Neighbours is not alone. CHS is also gathering information on a nearby office building left empty by the restrictions that also suffered a major break-in and squat situation. By the time police acted to clear that building this month, it was trashed inside and filled with left-behind high end items including a large Apple monitor and piles of electronics.

    Doll says police also didnt do much to stop what was happening at Neighbours as the first break-in came the night of a July protest march. Over the months, Doll says police were called several times. They just tell them to leave, Doll said. Not doing much about it or caring much.

    Word spread about the severity of the break-ins and squatting at Neighbours this fall after the situation worsened through summer. Egan Orion of the Broadway Business Improvement Association says his organization learned about the situation in late October as it added to an already bleak landscape for the neighborhoods LGBTQ nightlife scene.

    Every bar and nightclub is on life support, Orion said.

    The Seattle Gay News tells CHS it is also planning to help support the Neighbours fundraiser.

    Another neighborhood icon got a boost through a community fundraiser during the pandemic. E Pikes Wildrose raised more than $50,000 to help it stay afloat. Meanwhile, another legendary Hill gay bar The Cuff found new ownership with neighborhood nightlife entrepreneur Joey Burgess to start 2020.

    The Neighbours property owned by Elassiouti remains for sale CHS reported on the $6.9 million price tag placed on the property in January 2019. It was relisted last month for $5.75 million. Up the block, development of The Eldridge, an eight-story affordable housing project focused on LGBTQ+ elders, is moving forward with the city currently working through the demolition permit on the preservation-focused project.

    Even if the Neighbours property somehow sells during the pandemic, the club could be in place for years to come. But only if people step up to help, Doll says.

    Once COVID restrictions lift, Neighbours will most likely be the only gay club standing, Doll says, and hopefully ready to open If we get enough help.

    You can give to help Neighbours via GoFundMe here.

    CHS WISHES YOU HOLIDAY LOVE -- We need your support! Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Jointo become a subscriber at$1/$5/$10 a monthto help CHS provide community news withNO PAYWALL. You can also sign up fora one-time annual payment.

    Read the rest here:
    Quieted by pandemic and trashed by break-ins and squatters, Capitol Hill gay dance club Neighbours says it needs your help to survive - CHS Capitol...

    Massachusetts police reform bill making its way back through Beacon Hill – WCVB Boston - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Members of the Massachusetts Senate passed an amended version of the state's police reform bill, which will now be sent to the Massachusetts House of Representatives.The highly-anticipated and controversial legislation is making its way back through Beacon Hill after both the Massachusetts House and the State Senate passed it earlier this month. Gov. Charlie Baker, however, returned the bill to state lawmakers with several changes and the threat of a veto.Baker says police training programs should not be controlled by a civilian commission, but leaders in communities of color made it clear that it is critical for the civilian-led commission to have a say in the development of use of force regulations. In response, the State Senate adopted a change that will give the civilian-led Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission and the Municipal Police Training Committee join responsibility in approving, promulgating and implementing use of force regulations.In addition, the governor wants to allow the use of facial-recognition technology. In an effort to preserve the totality of the bill, state senators adopted changes to the amendment that limits law enforcement's use of facial recognition to appropriate circumstances while maintaining the original bill's requirements on transparency in data collection and the creation of a new commission on facial surveillance."What we put on the governor's desk was a full ban of facial-recognition techniques. This is a partial ban, if you will," said State Sen. Will Brownsberger, chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.The State Senate passed the modified legislation by a 31-9 margin Monday night, just days after Boston police body camera footage recorded during May 31 protests over the death of George Floyd was released by the online outlet "The Appeal." The video release has resulted in a police sergeant being placed on administrative leave and an internal investigation by the Boston Police Department."There is a ton in this bill that is going to really set a new standard for the national policy landscape on police accountability and prevention of misconduct," said State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz.In a statement released Monday night, Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka said passing meaningful police reform and racial justice legislation this session is her "top priority."The bill that we are advancing today is not a magic bullet to reverse the pain and injustice endured by communities of color and those disproportionately affected by law enforcement in Massachusetts -- no one is claiming that it is, nor is it even possible for one bill to do that," reads Spilka's statement. "But when given the choice of making necessary compromises or letting this bill be vetoed, it was unconscionable to me to not do what was necessary to lay this important foundation of accountability and transparency." The following statement from Lizzy Guyton, the communications director for Baker's office, was shared with NewsCenter 5:Todays Senate proposal reflects the amendments that the governor made to the bill two weeks ago. After discussing the governors amendments with the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, the administration believes this package addresses the issues identified by the governors amendments and he looks forward to signing this version should it reach his desk.The police reform bill will now go before the Massachusetts House, which has formal sessions scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.The current legislative session is scheduled to end Jan. 5.

    Members of the Massachusetts Senate passed an amended version of the state's police reform bill, which will now be sent to the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

    The highly-anticipated and controversial legislation is making its way back through Beacon Hill after both the Massachusetts House and the State Senate passed it earlier this month. Gov. Charlie Baker, however, returned the bill to state lawmakers with several changes and the threat of a veto.

    Baker says police training programs should not be controlled by a civilian commission, but leaders in communities of color made it clear that it is critical for the civilian-led commission to have a say in the development of use of force regulations. In response, the State Senate adopted a change that will give the civilian-led Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission and the Municipal Police Training Committee join responsibility in approving, promulgating and implementing use of force regulations.

    In addition, the governor wants to allow the use of facial-recognition technology. In an effort to preserve the totality of the bill, state senators adopted changes to the amendment that limits law enforcement's use of facial recognition to appropriate circumstances while maintaining the original bill's requirements on transparency in data collection and the creation of a new commission on facial surveillance.

    "What we put on the governor's desk was a full ban of facial-recognition techniques. This is a partial ban, if you will," said State Sen. Will Brownsberger, chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

    The State Senate passed the modified legislation by a 31-9 margin Monday night, just days after Boston police body camera footage recorded during May 31 protests over the death of George Floyd was released by the online outlet "The Appeal." The video release has resulted in a police sergeant being placed on administrative leave and an internal investigation by the Boston Police Department.

    "There is a ton in this bill that is going to really set a new standard for the national policy landscape on police accountability and prevention of misconduct," said State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz.

    In a statement released Monday night, Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka said passing meaningful police reform and racial justice legislation this session is her "top priority."

    The bill that we are advancing today is not a magic bullet to reverse the pain and injustice endured by communities of color and those disproportionately affected by law enforcement in Massachusetts -- no one is claiming that it is, nor is it even possible for one bill to do that," reads Spilka's statement. "But when given the choice of making necessary compromises or letting this bill be vetoed, it was unconscionable to me to not do what was necessary to lay this important foundation of accountability and transparency."

    The following statement from Lizzy Guyton, the communications director for Baker's office, was shared with NewsCenter 5:

    Todays Senate proposal reflects the amendments that the governor made to the bill two weeks ago. After discussing the governors amendments with the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, the administration believes this package addresses the issues identified by the governors amendments and he looks forward to signing this version should it reach his desk.

    The police reform bill will now go before the Massachusetts House, which has formal sessions scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

    The current legislative session is scheduled to end Jan. 5.

    Here is the original post:
    Massachusetts police reform bill making its way back through Beacon Hill - WCVB Boston

    Oppenheim Architecture’s Otherworldly Designs Meet Their Match on The Mandalorian – Interior Design - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The breakout Disney+ series "The Mandalorian" had die-hard "Star Wars" fans and fandom rookies alike clamoring for a subscription to the new streaming platform late last year. Now, the show is a cult favorite and infinitely meme-able, thanks to its compelling characters, namely The Child, a beloved creature also known colloquially as Baby Yoda. But the deep glassy brown of The Childs eyes and the action-packed plot are not the only draws of the show, or the "Star Wars" universe at large. A big part of the series allure is its world-building, and the unique landscapes that define each piece of the story. "The Mandalorian" takes advantage of the world George Lucas built and explores new horizons across the galaxy.

    The design of "Star Wars" and "The Mandalorian" may appear futuristic, but the events take place A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away as the iconic opening scroll tells us. Design firm Oppenheim Architectures projects echo the space odysseys otherworldly structures with a link to the past. In a funny way, what informs these new, future-focused designs are the form and function of architecture from the past, says founder Chad Oppenheim. Looking at the most basic methods of architecture as a craftimagining how civilizations sprouted from the earth in which they were foundedand envisioning buildings that use nature to carve out space, a view, a way of life.Here, Interior Design takes a closer look at some of Oppenheims projects with parallels to "The Mandalorian."

    Editor's note: This story contains spoilers for Season 2 of "The Mandalorian."

    Season 2 of "The Mandalorian" kicks off with a side quest in Tatooine, the planet where Anakin and Luke Skywalker both grew up. The original design of this planet was inspired by a province south of Tunisia called Tataouine. For theAyla Golf Academy and Clubhouse in Aqaba, Oppenheim constructed a concrete shell, which mimics the desert landscape and takes cues from ancient Bedouin architecture.

    By episode five, the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda find their way to the city of Calodan in search of the remaining Jedi. The landscape of its forest planet Corvus has seen destruction of the Empire, but the walls of Calodan are still standing. In another part of the galaxy, Oppenheim creates a similar contrast between wilderness and the built environment with the Muttenz Water Treatment Plant in Switzerland. The stone and clay exterior keeps the faade in the natural realm, while the modernist form of the building stands out from its wooded surroundings. Many of my most 'futuristic' projects aren't in cities, but rather, isolated in nature, Oppenheim remarks.Respecting these surroundings has inspired what might appear, on the surface, to be such a departure from nature."

    In episode six, the Mandalorian lands his Razor Crest on the mysterious planet of Tython inhopes of findingthe seeing stone at the Jedi temple ruins. Baby Yoda meditates on the stone, situated on top of a rocky hill, while the Mandalorian protects him from a wave of Imperial stormtroopers. Back in Jordan, Oppenheims concept for a series of luxury lodges proposes structural forms with minimal interference to the natural setting.

    See original here:
    Oppenheim Architecture's Otherworldly Designs Meet Their Match on The Mandalorian - Interior Design

    South of the James Farmers Market Coming Back to Forest Hill Park on Thursdays – rvahub.com - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    When it is safe to travel again, the Richmond region will be on top of many peoples vacation plan lists.

    Richmond was named as one of the 50 Best Places to Travel in 2021 this month by Travel + Leisure, one of the countrys leading magazines covering domestic and international travel.

    The designation is significant for the region, according to Richmond Region Tourism, the nonprofit organizationdedicated to promoting the Region to meeting, convention and sports event planners, tour operators and leisure travelers.

    We know national recognition helps drive interest and visitors to our region, said Jack Berry, Richmond Region Tourisms President & CEO. As we look to the future, we know the health of our regions economy depends on a strong travel sector. Our team is actively working with partners to welcome visitors back to the region when it is safe to do so.

    Richmond Region Tourism launchedTravelSafeRVA.comas a resource for visitors to navigate safety protocols when traveling in the future.

    Travel + Leisure noted Richmonds focus on inclusion, public art and central location as reasons to visit:

    One of 2020s most indelible images, and the one that best captured the changing identity of Richmond, was that of Marcus-David Peters Circle on Monument Avenue: A statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee astride a horse, its stone plinth a kaleidoscope of tags in support of Black Lives Matter. Now, with the statues removal in the works, Richmond is looking toward a new, more inclusive future. Virginias governor announced a proposal to allot $10 million in state funding to redesign the site, along with the stretches of Monument Avenue that once held similar tributes to Confederate figures. Another $9 million is proposed to help improve Richmonds existing Slave Trail and establish a Slavery Heritage Site. Elsewhere in the city, look for public art created this year as part of Mending Walls RVA, a project spearheaded by muralist Hamilton Glass that brings together artists from disparate backgrounds to create murals around Richmond. Newly launched nonstop flights from Florida, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles will make visiting in 2021 a breeze, and Richmonds location within easy reach of Charlottesville, Virginia Beach, and wine country makes it an ideal home base for a lengthier exploration of the state.

    Earlier this year, Richmond Region Tourism released its 10-year strategic plan aimed at responsibly growing the regions tourism industry while supporting quality of life for residents. Richmond Region 2030 focuses on experience development, infrastructure investments, and hospitality industry advocacy. The plan will be an important roadmap as the regions tourism economy rebounds.

    The rest is here:
    South of the James Farmers Market Coming Back to Forest Hill Park on Thursdays - rvahub.com

    On the Money: Congress unveiled a $2.3 trillion spending package | Mnuchin expects people to start receiving stimulus checks next week | Year-end… - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Hello, happy Monday, and welcome back to On The Money. I'm Niv Elis, filling in for Sylvan Lane, with your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

    See something I missed? Let me know at nelis@thehill.com or tweet me @NivElis. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here: http://bit.ly/1NxxW2N.

    Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.com, njagoda@thehill.com and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane, @NJagoda and @NivElis.

    THE BIG DEAL: Congress unveiled a $2.3 trillion spending package Monday just hours before its expected passage in both chambers, funding the government though the end of the fiscal year and providing relief to a coronavirus-battered economy.

    The package includes a $1.4 trillion omnibus bill based on a 2019 spending deal, which consists of $740.5 billion in defense spending and $664.5 billion in domestic spending.

    It also includes a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, which Congressional leaders agreed to over the weekend (more on that below).

    The bill included:

    Ive got more details for you about the bill and everything in it right here.

    LEADING THE DAY: Lawmakers late on Sunday released details about a long-awaited $900 billion coronavirus relief, covering stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, and small business aid.

    Both Democrats and Republicans touted various aspects of the relief package, though Democrats wanted a significantly larger bill.

    Democrats argue that more relief legislation will need to be enacted once President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenJudge throws out GOP lawsuit to close Georgia ballot drop boxes after business hours First responders serenade Fauci with 'happy birthday' Joe Biden can be the president for middle class workers and all races MORE takes office, though Republicans are already resisting that idea. A state and local aid package and liability protections were left out of the agreement.

    When Congress approves the legislation it will have appropriated more than $4 trillion to respond to the coronavirus pandemic that has caused more than 300,000 deaths across the country.

    So whats in the bill? Naomi Jagoda, Alex Bolton and I have all the info you need right here.

    Year-end package extends expiring tax breaks: The massive year-end package that lawmakers unveiled on Monday addresses a host of expiring tax provisions, making some of them permanent.

    Tax breaks that are made permanent include excise tax relief for alcohol producers that was originally included in the 2017 GOP tax-cut law. Making these tax reductions permanent was a key priority for alcohol industry groups and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

    Another tax provision that is made permanent allows people to claim a deduction for medical expenses to the extent those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of their income, rather than 10 percent as was the case for people under 65 between 2013 and 2017.

    Several other tax provisions are extended through 2025. They include the new markets tax credit that is aimed at incentivizing investment in low-income communities, the work opportunity tax credit designed to incentivize businesses to hire people from groups that have consistently faced barriers to employment, a tax break for the motorsports industry and a tax credit for employers who provide paid family and medical leave.

    Naomi has more info for you right here.

    Businesses see transformed landscape even after vaccines: The coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath could transform the landscape for U.S. businesses.

    With a larger remote workforce, expanded delivery options and lingering health fears likely to last long after the pandemic is under control, business owners and entrepreneurs are asking tough questions and bracing for an uncertain future.

    Businesses that pay richly for offices and storefronts in bustling downtowns are reconsidering whether high rents and tight crowds still make sense. A national wipeout of small businesses may leave plenty of vacated real estate for major companies to fill. And shortfalls in federal aid for struggling businesses could deepen the economic damage to be repaired when the pandemic subsides.

    Sylvan Lane lays it out for you here.

    GOOD TO KNOW

    OPINION

    More:
    On the Money: Congress unveiled a $2.3 trillion spending package | Mnuchin expects people to start receiving stimulus checks next week | Year-end...

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