State GOP urges ‘civil disobedience’ over new Seattle tax, says residents should not pay

Republicans in Washington state are calling for civil disobedience as they openly encourage Seattle residents to refuse paying a newly passed income tax that critics claim is illegal.

The tax, passed by the Seattle City Council, targets high-income earners as part of what local lawmakers call a new formula for fairness.

But critics and analysts say it was passed in defiance of state law, and the state GOP has escalated its opposition by urging residents to forcefully resist.

This law is unconstitutional, illegal, and against the voters will expressed nine times at the ballot box and it deserves nothing less than civil disobedience that is, refusal to comply, file or pay, the Washington State Republican Party said in a written statement.

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Trump’s Plan To ‘Let Obamacare Fail’ Is Morally Appalling

Before even taking office, and well before the Republican bid to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump started saying the best political strategy for his party would be to let the laws health insurance exchanges collapse and then blame Democrats.

As if on cue, Trump returned to this argument Tuesday, the day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) conceded embarrassing defeat in his effort to advance the Better Care Reconciliation Act, his proposed vehicle for repeal-and-replace.

At the White House later in the day, Trump was at it again.

Ive been saying for a long time: Let Obamacare fail, Trump said.

I think were probably in that position where well just let Obamacare fail. Were not going to own it. Im not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it. Well let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us, he said. Trump expressed the same sentiment in March after the Houses initial failure to vote on the American Health Care Act.

Lets be plain about what Trump and his willing partners on Capitol Hill are threatening.

The president of the United States and members of the party that controls Congress are saying that they see problems in the health care system, and their plan is to stand by and do nothing while people suffer.

This is breathtakingly cynical, and reveals the Republican Partys priorities. Getting rid of the dreaded Obamacare at any cost is more important to Trump and his party than acting to improve the health care system for the people they represent.

Barack Obama is no longer president, but thumbing him in the eye and destroying his biggest accomplishment still outweighs taking even the most basic steps to provide relief to health insurance consumers whose plight Republicans have so often and so vividly bemoaned.

Whatever its deficiencies, and however Democrats soft-pedaled them, the Affordable Care Act was an effort to make the lives of Americans better by expanding health coverage to millions, and creating new consumer protections against health insurance industry practices like refusing to cover people with preexisting conditions.

What Trump is proposing is the opposite. Hes threatening to bite off your nose to spite Obamas face.

Rather than try to help people, Trump will actively avoid helping. Even if you accept his highly debatable premise that the Affordable Care Act is irreparable, what hes saying is that because he and the Congress his party controls failed, they will now do nothing to solve the problems with the American health care system they themselves have been decrying for seven years.

Indeed, the Trump administration instead has taken steps to suppress health insurance enrollment and make the ACA function worse. Trump repeatedly has threatened to cut off payments the federal government owes health insurance companies that cover low-income customers, which would send the insurance market into a tailspin.

Asked about those payments, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had nothing to say Tuesday: I dont have anything further than where weve been the last several months on that. Nothing new to update.

Were probably in that position where well just let Obamacare fail. Were not going to own it. Im not going to own it President Donald Trump

Its an odd political gambit Trump proposes. What hes counting on is that, after he and his party failed to replace the Affordable Care Act with a plan of their own, and after the Trump administrationhas taken charge of managing the laws programs, voters in 2018 and 2020 will somehow blame the party that isnt in power for problems.

To be clear, the Affordable Care Act is not functioning as well as Obama and the Democrats who it wrote hoped.

The uninsured rate is way down, thanks to the laws Medicaid expansion and subsidies for private health insurance. Twenty million people who didnt have coverage before do now, and everyone has guaranteed access to health insurance regardless of their preexisting conditions.

But enrollment on the health insurance exchanges is lower than expected. Premiums are too high for many households, especially those who qualify for little to no subsidy because even though they arent wealthy, their incomes are too high.

To keep prices as low as possible and to protect themselves from high expenses, insurers designed policies with large deductibles and high cost-sharing that make obtaining care too costly for a segment of the market that buys plans regulated by the Affordable Care Act.

Some insurance companies have lost money because too few healthy customers signed up to offset the costs of covering the sick, although insurers are seeing better financial results this year.

As a result of the problems in past years, rates rose a lot this year, and will again next year. Some big insurers have abandoned these marketplaces entirely, leaving consumers with fewer choices, including just one. Some states are doing much better than others, but problems in places like Alaska, Arizona and North Carolina are real and demand attention.

Despite what Trump and other Republicans keep saying, the exchange markets are not in a death spiral. Analysts at the Congressional Budget Office, Standard & Poors and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, for example, have concluded that these markets are stable or stabilizing, if imperfect, in most states.

Still, Trump insists Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster. Theres not much you can do about it, Trump said in March. I would love to see it do well, but it cant.

This is simply not true. The Better Care Reconciliation Act and the House-passed American Health Care Act were not the final word in health policy. The difficulties facing the Affordable Care Acts health insurance exchanges in some states high prices, insufficient competition between insurers, high deductibles are fixable in smaller, more targeted ways.

While he was in office, Obama proposed a slate of improvements both in submissions to Congress and in a Journal of the American Medical Association article. So did Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pleaded with Republicans to collaborate on health care Tuesday, and House Democrats have proposed fixes of their own.

Minnesota and Alaska already have taken steps to alleviate the cost issues that some of their consumers have faced.

One simple solution is money. Bigger tax credits to make insurance more affordable would work. So would funds to backstop health insurance companies that have higher-than-expected expenses from sick customers. The Affordable Care Act actually included funding mechanisms for that very purpose, but Republicans in Congress rescinded the money, calling it a bailout.

When it was their turn to write a health care reform bill, the GOP seemed to recognize the need to support insurers in that way. Both the House-passed and Senate health care bills included more than $100 billion that wouldve been distributed to states, which could have used the funds to shore up their local health insurance markets.

The collapse of the repeal effort doesnt prevent Congress from taking other, more modest measures like that one to make the health care system better for consumers.

At this point more than seven years after Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law legislating and regulating to make its health insurance markets work better is a responsibility Trump and congressional Republicans accepted when they took their oaths of office.

This isnt helping Obamacare, its helping Americans. Theres no such thing as Obamacare anymore. Its just the health insurance system.

In the words of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on the day he abandoned the original version of the American Health Care Act: Obamacares the law of the land.

But if youre one of those people who cant afford your health insurance or your deductible, Barack Obama cant help you anymore. Donald Trump can. And he just told you he wont.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on March 24.

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‘Triple sickie’ policeman sacked over horse racing trips – BBC News

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPC Jonathan Adams called in sick but was seen on TV celebrating a win at Ascot (Footage courtesy Racing UK)

A police officer who threw a “sickie” three times to watch horse racing has been sacked after being found guilty of gross misconduct.

PC Jonathan Adams went twice to Nottingham Racecourse and to Royal Ascot where he was seen celebrating a win on television.

The officer said the trips were “therapeutic” to deal with a “toxic” work environment.

A disciplinary hearing concluded PC Adams was “not as sick as he claimed”.

PC Adams, an officer at Gloucester’s Barton Street station, part-owned a horse with a racing syndicate.

Image copyright Gloucestershire Live / SWNS
Image caption PC Jonathan Adams said trips to the races were ‘therapeutic’

The panel was told that in September 2015 and April 2016 he had reported in sick and went to Nottingham racecourse to watch the horse he part-owned, named Little Lady Katy.

In June 2016 he reported in sick again and went to Royal Ascot to watch Quiet Reflection, another horse owned by his syndicate, win the Commonwealth Cup.

The misconduct panel was shown a television clip of PC Adams jumping around and celebrating.


Stephen Morley, presenting the case for the force, told the hearing: “In a nutshell, on three occasions he deliberately reported sick in order to go to the horse races.

“We do not accept he was sick at all. He was throwing a sickie to go horse racing.”

PC Adams said he had taken time off to avoid a “toxic” environment at Barton Street station. He described suffering stomach cramps, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome.

The hearing was told it was “quite clear” he was “not OK” and was “struggling with his environment”.

Richard Shepherd, representing PC Adams, said: “He would not have let his colleagues down to go on a jolly at the races. It is not in his DNA.”

But Alex Lock, chair of the panel, said: “We are forced to conclude that Pc Adams was not suffering the degree of sickness that he claimed he was.

“It is important that police officers are honest and that public confidence should be upheld.

“In the circumstances we conclude that dismissal without notice is appropriate in order to maintain public confidence in the force.”

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Baroness Hale appointed as UK’s first female top judge – BBC News

Image copyright PA

Baroness Hale is to become the first female president of the UK’s Supreme Court, Downing Street has said.

The 72-year-old will succeed Lord Neuberger, who is retiring in September, having been his deputy since 2013.

Lady Hale, who will be sworn in on 2 October, said: “It is a great honour and a challenge.”

Lord Neuberger said her appointment was “a fitting pinnacle to a truly ground-breaking career”.

Baroness Hale: The legal trailblazer

Born in Richmond in North Yorkshire, Lady Hale’s other career highlights include becoming the UK’s first woman Law Lord in 2004, and then the first woman Justice of the Supreme Court in 2009.

She has previously criticised the judicial appointments system for selecting from a pool of predominantly white men from similar economic and academic backgrounds.

High-profile cases

During her time as deputy president of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale has ruled on many high-profile cases, including the government’s Brexit appeal and the appeal from the parents of the sick baby Charlie Gard.

She was recently on the panel of justices who ruled in favour of a gay man who won a landmark ruling to give his husband the same pension rights as a wife would receive.

The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal for civil cases in the UK, and criminal cases from England, Northern Ireland and Wales, which means it considers cases where an order has already been made in a lower court and is being challenged.

A family law expert, Lady Hale said: “I look forward to building upon (Lord Neuberger’s) pioneering achievements, including developing closer links with each part of the United Kingdom, for example by sitting outside London, and improving the ways in which we communicate our work to the public.

“Recent high-profile cases mean that more people than ever before have heard of the Supreme Court, and we hope that this will help to create a broader understanding of how the judiciary serves society.”

‘Encouragement to all’

The Bar Council said the appointment will “serve as encouragement to all” for greater diversity in law.

Andrew Langdon QC, chairman of the Bar, described Lady Hale as “most distinguished” and said she “has long been at the forefront in the task of arguing for a properly diverse judiciary”.

Lady Hale will be officially sworn in as president in October, along with three new justices, including a second female judge, Lady Justice Black.

“While I of course look forward to working alongside all my colleagues, it is a particular pleasure for me to be taking up the post at the same time as we welcome only the second ever woman to sit on the UK’s top appeal court,” Lady Hale added.

Who is the first lady of the law?

Image copyright PA
  • Baroness Hale of Richmond began her career teaching law at the University of Manchester, becoming Professor of Law in 1986.
  • In 1984, she became the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission – the statutory body which promotes the reform of the law.
  • She spent 10 years redefining the face of family law, and was instrumental in legislation such as the Children Act of 1989.
  • She was the founding editor of the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, and authored a pioneering case book on the family, law and society.
  • Lady Hale was made QC in 1989, and a High Court judge in 1994. She went on to become the UK’s first woman Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in January 2004, and then the first woman Justice of the Supreme Court in 2009 – and the first family lawyer to fill the post.
  • She once said: “I have had such an unusual career, my colleagues don’t compare themselves to me in the way that they otherwise might.”

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equality, said she was delighted by the appointment.

She added: “Not only because she is a woman but because her judgements often reflect a true understanding of women’s lives and the violence and discrimination they experience.

“But I’ll look forward to the day when we will no longer be commenting on women firsts at all.”

Adam Wagner, a barrister specialising in public law and human rights, tweeted of the news: “Let’s forget the gender thing for a sec: Brenda Hale is a great judge. She writes clearly, is principled, is respected by other judges.”

He added: “Hale came from a different background to most other judges. She wasn’t a barrister – [she] was an academic. This is a good thing.

“Hale is passionate about rights issues – she has given important judgements on mental disabilities, rights of children, women’s rights.”

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This woman is helping Google fight the darkest parts of the internet

Yasmin Green, head of research at Jigsaw

Fake news, terrorist propaganda, hateful comments the internet is not the nicest place in the world. Jigsaw is trying to change that.

Formerly under Google, Jigsaw now is a subsidiary within Alphabet. The company, under the direction of Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt and Google Ideas founder Jared Cohen who serves as founder and CEO of Jigsaw, focuses on researching some of the darkest corners of the internet and implementing ways to address them.

Yasmin Green, director of research and development at Jigsaw, joined Mashable‘s Biz Please podcast this week to share what her team has worked on over the last year.

As Mashable business editor Jason Abbruzzese noted, Jigsaw is not just about sitting at your desk, staring at your computer, and looking for tech solutions to the internet’s problems.

Rather, the team visits areas all over the world to speak face-to-face with people involved in these online and real-world conflicts, including ISIS sympathizers and producers of fake news.

Green was one of the people who spoke to people who had left home and trained as suicide bombers in Iraq.

“So [I asked], ‘If you knew everything you know now would you still have gone?’ And they say, ‘Yes’ and I’m like, ‘Why?’ and they say, ‘At that point I was so convinced, I was so brainwashed,'” Green said. “So the takeaway is this is an access to information problem.”

Jigsaw experimented with a program called “Redirect Method,” where they looked to target these potential ISIS recruits with online ads that “debunk the ISIS’s narrative,” educating against terrorism. During an eight-week trial, the program reached 300,000 people in English and Arabic. The viewers watched 500,000 minutes of video.

For the case of online harassment, Green pointed to a partnership Jigsaw has currently with The New York Times. The tech company and the news organization are working together to build a moderation system, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, that will help improve comment moderation on websites.

It’s not perfect, of course, but they are working to train the system to be as unbiased as possible. For example, the algorithm once consistently flagged the word “gay” as hateful, due to the fact that many of comments used to train it were identified as toxic. To balance that out, they added news stories including the word “gay” into the system.

“The data they were given is based on society, and we know, society is pretty shitty,” Green said. “The first thing is: Are you reflecting your data? And the second is: Do you need to hold yourself to a higher standard than your data?”

For more Biz Please, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and find us here on Stitcher.

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SoulCycles New Exercise Bike Will Make Your Workout Even Harder

SoulCycle Inc., the exercise boutique with a cult-like following of more than 18,000 “spinners” a day, has been introducing a redesigned bike since May in select New York locations. The company hopes the new equipment will reduce maintenance costs—enabling quicker expansion—while also giving its members a harder workout.

Called the Soul Bike Next Generation, the new bike looks bigger and sturdier, though at 115 pounds, it’s actually 15 pounds lighter than the old version, because of its aluminum frame. The company aims to roll out the new bikes nationally by the end of 2018.

The biggest change is a switch to electromagnetic induction to supply the friction, instead of the previous model, in which the brake comes into direct contact with the flywheel. Using a carbon-belt drivetrain built by Portland, Ore.-based Stages Cycling, it’s smooth, quiet, requires no lubricant, and almost never needs to be adjusted.

Rear view of the new design.
Source: SoulCycle

It’s also a much tougher workout: As anyone who’s ever taken a Soul Cycle class knows, one of the great joys of the class is climbing hard and then giving yourself a breather while you coast. With the new bikes, you can’t quite cheat like this as much. You have to do more turns on the resistance knob to come to a grinding halt, which cuts down on the ability to cruise along at high speeds after pedaling hard.

“The wheel is a little heavier than the old wheel, so it takes more effort to keep the same tempo on the new bike,” said Daniel Wiener, a master instructor at SoulCycle who has been with the company for nine years. He says that a “zero” level of resistance on the new bike feels more like one and a half turns on the old one.

Gabby Etrog Cohen, senior vice president of public relations and brand strategy, says the magnetic system will cut the time spent on maintenance by half, due to the lack of physical wear and tear. And a lower-maintenance stationary bike will make it easier to open new studios. “The ride is smoother, more comfortable, and more effective,” Cohen said. The ride is so smooth, one reviewer has called it “the Marvin Gaye of spin bikes.”

Spinners in session.
Source: SoulCycle

When I tried it out at the West 77th Street location in New York, I found the handle bars have more cushion and slant upward, instead of lying flat. There is a nook to allow for better grip and form, too. Upper-body choreography was a bit easier—I didn’t get close to smashing my face or elbows as I usually do—while bouncing up and down or attempting pushups without losing speed.

“The bikes feel like they’re working all your muscles more than the older ones,” said Nina Cochrane, who was in my class. “You definitely finish the 45 minutes dripping with sweat, and you can feel the intensity of the workout the next day.”

Even then, the transition to the new bike can be tricky. I found that it’s easier now to adjust the seat and handlebar positions, thanks to levers instead of knobs. But others found them wobbly, less secure, and difficult to set up. The bike still keeps the standard-setting, split-seat design pioneered by the original designer, Villency Group.

Founded in 2006, the workout has become an icon of the independent fitness boutique movement in part by staying low-tech, even as competitors such as Flywheel Sports Inc. and Peloton Interactive Inc. have lured others by using big data to attract riders. SoulCycle’s new bikes stay true to this culture: There are no computers or data measurement tools. Riders must continue to rely on red faces, drenched bodies, sweat puddles, and that shell-shocked feeling to measure performance.

Source: SoulCycle

The workout has been so popular that riders will dole out roughly $34 for a single class, more than competitors with fancier bells and whistles. In 2011, an arm of the giant gym chain Equinox Holdings Inc. bought out majority ownership and then upped that stake to 97 percent in 2015. (The company declined to say how much it’s spending on these new bikes, only that it replaces them every five years when the warranty runs out.)

In a 2015 SEC filing, Equinox documents a jump from 12 studios in 2012 to 36 in 2014, increasing annual riders from 969,000 to 2.9 million. Operating income jumped to $26.5 million from $7.8 million in the same period. As of this year, the company claims roughly 6.6 million riders per year and 85 locations.

But there was one flagrant flaw that Wiener and some of his early morning riders found on the new bike: The beverage baskets have been replaced by horizontal trays, giving them no place to keep their fresh cups of coffee within hand’s reach during the ride. “You can’t put your coffee in it anymore,” he said. “That’s what I miss, and a lot of people say they miss.”

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Google Glass gets a second life as a workplace tool

Image: Alphabet

Reports of the death of Google Glass have been greatly exaggerated.

Google launched the Google Glass Enterprise Edition (or Google Glass EE) on Tuesday, officially rebooting the wearable as a workplace tool, with Backchannel‘s Steven Levy first reporting the news.

Instead of logging everyday life events, answering random search queries, and generally creeping everybody out, Glass will now be a staple of factory floors and emergency rooms. Workers will wear the headset to get hands-free guidance on tasks while keeping their eyes on their work.

The small team that adapted Glass for the workplace is part of Alphabet (not Google), the report says. For the most part, Glass 2.0 works as the wearable always hasputting messages and information directly in the wearer’s field of viewwith an important difference: At the end of the day, the users leave their headsets at work.

Image: Alphabet

There are a few other differences, too. Google Glass EE is built to support both regular frames and safety glasses, and from the looks of the photos the visor protects the wearer’s eyes better than, say, the trendy frames that were an option on the consumer edition. Also, workers activate their company-specific software with the command, “OK, Glass, proceed.” The frames are foldable, and Alphabet says the new Glass has more processing power, better battery life, and a superior camera (now 8 megapixels). It also has “the ability to connect with other devices.”

Another big change: The electronics are removable. A button will release the “Glass Pod” the actual computer from the frame so a worker can easily switch between prescription and safety glasses. Finally, the headset has a visible red LED that lights up when the device is recording video, directly addressing the privacy concerns the original Explorer Edition raised.

Since the beginning, Glass has had a role to play in the workplace, with early adopters like North Carolina firefighter Patrick Jackson creating Glass apps specifically for their lines of work. As the headset got more exposure and the tide of public perception started to turn for the worse, Google started playing up those enterprise applications. It was too late, though: Just as those workplace applications were gaining credibility, Glass had become a jokea ridiculously geeky symbol of tech excess and a cautionary tale of how not to do consumer wearable technology.

Image: Alphabet

But Glass was never officially dead. Google said all along that Glass had “graduated” from Alphabet’s moonshot factory, X, and a software update in June of this year proved someone was still keeping the lights on at the project.

Now Glass is getting a second life as what it probably should have been all along: a workplace tool. Boeing, GE, DHL, and Volkswagen have all been testing the device, and some are expanding their pilot programs into full-on adoption because they’re seeing big gains in productivity. With custom software designed by its partner Upskill, GE claims mechanics using Glass boosted their efficiency by 8-12 percent.

Will Glass find in the workplace the success that eluded it among consumers? It’s apparently off to a strong start, but it’s also facing a resurgent field of smart-glasses upstarts from the likes of Vuzix, ODG, and Epsonand those competitors promise true augmented reality with transparent displays that cover close to the entire field of view over both eyes (as opposed to Glass’s smaller display, which is only above the right eye).

Still, Glass has a lighter form factor and an ease of use that competitors lack. Plus it has the benefit of renewed focusGoogle flirted with the consumer market, but found that it wasn’t ready for smart glasses. Google Glass 2.0 will know to keep its relationship with its users strictly professional.

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