Opinion Columns, Columnists
They came shrouded by early-morning darkness near San Jose, Calif., equipped with night-vision goggles, AK-47s and an apparent lust to spill some transformer fluid. The snipers opened fire on the electrical substation, a critical “node” in the region’s grid, and disabled huge transformers.
It’s a dramatic and — as is any story about a group of people shooting into the night with assault rifles — scary tale. But in this case, grid operators were able to bypass the substation without cutting off power to Silicon Valley. Disaster averted.Learn more »
The NFL hinted it would move the Super Bowl, and Apple said it could find a new place for a planned plant if Arizona legitimized discrimination most foul, most un-American, against gays and lesbians.Learn more »
Initially, I thought it was odd that a column fell due each year on the same holiday. It only took a few, slightly embarrassing moments to make the correlation between the fact my writing typically appears on a Wednesday, and Ash Wednesday always falls on, well, Wednesday. I guess it’s one holiday I have no excuse to miss. I love learning about the more obscure holidays, and there are plenty of them around, like one of my perennial favorites, Talk Like a Pirate Day, falling on Sept. 19. This day also leaves me wondering about its origins, who had the gumption to make it “official” and, really, how do we know how pirates converse? We’ll leave that one for September, matey.
This week’s holidays seemed to be marked by their apparent contrasts. While we generally miss out on Mardi Gras, it being a school night and all, no doubt many enjoyed the fun to be had last night. Come Wednesday things become a bit more subdued as we start our trek toward Easter. This year, Easter rolls around on April 20, a bit later than usual. The late date may suggest Easter will not be accompanied by the snowstorm that’s stymied many a prior egg hunt, but I’m not willing to bet on it.Learn more »
Would you believe there is a type of tax that nearly every American is subject to, but only 1.6 percent of people actually pay? When the subject of use tax comes up, most people look at me incredulously, but I promise if you read on, you’ll know it’s not a joke, and with $11.4 billion in uncollected taxes on the line across the country, it is here to stay.
What is use tax? It’s technically an excise tax, charged to both businesses and individuals in the 46 states that charge a sales tax. If you live in a city, county or state that charges a sales tax, you are required to pay that tax on any taxable purchase. But, if you order something online, from an individual who doesn’t charge you sales tax, or you cross county or state lines to another taxing district with a lower tax rate, you haven’t paid your full tax liability. While some retailers are beginning to send out purchase reports at year end, this is not yet a law and very few retailers send reports.Learn more »
I admit it; I was wrong. I didn’t think that Russia’s Vlad the Terrible would act with such speed to return the Ukraine to the prison-house empire he seems intent on reassembling. But act he did, and with such power and contempt for world opinion that one is reminded of another collapse in the face of naked aggression.
At the Munich conference of 1938, the British and French ignored their mutual defense treaty with Czechoslovakia and threw Central Europe’s sole remaining democracy to the wolves, thinking they had bought themselves peace. World War II began a year later.Learn more »
Remember when President Obama was lambasted for saying “you didn’t build that”? Turns out he was right, at least when it comes to lots of stuff built by the world’s wealthiest corporations. That’s the takeaway from this week’s new study of 25,000 major taxpayer subsidy deals over the last two decades.
Entitled “Subsidizing the Corporate One Percent,” the report from the taxpayer watchdog group Good Jobs First shows that the world’s largest companies aren’t models of self-sufficiency and unbridled capitalism. To the contrary, they’re propped up by billions of dollars in welfare payments from state and local governments.Learn more »
‘Snake handling pastor dies.’
That headline was enough to get my attention and also make me thirst for more information. My first thought was, “Oh my God, a snake handling pastor died! I wonder what killed him — car accident, heart attack, stroke?” Upon reading the rest of the story, I learned that he was killed by a rattlesnake he was holding as he preached. Who would have guessed that? It is kind of like the movies — “Titanic” and “Grizzly Man” — there wasn’t a surprise ending.Learn more »
On television, radio and billboards in the West, the energy industry sells the notion that natural gas production provides badly needed jobs. The ads feature stunningly clean landscapes, sound almost euphoric and are designed to make us feel good.
The contrast between the feel-good nature of the ads and the reality of many of the jobs they tout is also stunning. There are jobs available, yes, but most of the workers in the gas fields are low-paid laborers who have no job security, no health benefits, no unions and no recourse against industry abuses.Learn more »
Watch out, ranching families, a “docu-reality” television company wants to cast you in a new series, but only if your personalities can be described as “dynamic, engaging and uninhibited.” Tim Marema, whose blog, AgricultureProud, helped spread the word, found much of the producers’ concept laughable, especially the requirement that “All members of the family need to live a classic cowboy lifestyle and have rugged good looks.” So just how does Hollywood define “classic” in this case? For Orion Entertainment, it’s all about an extended family (at least three kids, plus active grandparents) having a fabulous time effortlessly doing the work of an army — herding cattle, shearing sheep, farming, participating in “rodeos every weekend” and then, when they’re not “chasing grizzlies and wolves away from cattle,” playing the harmonica or guitar while also writing and reciting poetry, cooking the best darn BBQ in the county, making their own clothes, raising bees or keeping wild animals as pets, and last but surely not least, “All members of the family need to have big, strong personalities.” Cattle prices, broken farm equipment and the family’s fraught relationship with a bank, however, are not mentioned in the company’s announcement. For Marema, who wonders what his gritty life would look like if he were followed around by a camera crew, the proposed show is another example of reality television pushing “its way into rural America like urban sprawl.” A rural-reality show already on the air is Buckwild, which engages “in an astounding amount of mud wrestling, even for their teen-aged demographic.” Another is Duck Dynasty, starring the mouthy Phil Robertson, whose lurid opinions on gay rights and racism continue to keep him in the news. What Marema doesn’t say is that lot of ranching families could meet the criteria for this new show; the question is why they would want to bother.
Learn more »
This is not a story about the avalanche. I wasn’t there.
This is a story about me and the mountains. Two days before the deadly avalanche in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon, I hiked up Hurricane Creek, my snowshoes sinking over a foot deep into unconsolidated powder. “Promise me you won’t go into the mountains,” my husband had said before leaving town, but I went anyway. The winter we had been waiting for had finally arrived after months of inexplicable rain and ice. Over 14 inches of new snow blanketed the mountains over a hard crust. I knew I shouldn’t go, but I could not resist.Learn more »
Some might accuse me of being a diva, but I try to balance my passion for fashion with my environmental values. Have any tips for staying eco-chic? — JustineLearn more »
There are many issues raised in the context of residential tenants and marijuana, some of which remain legally unclear. This article discusses a number of issues and I may follow up with another article about more.
First, there may be a misconception that marijuana is now legal, which is untrue. Most anything to do with marijuana remains illegal because it violates federal law. The situation is that Colorado state law now allows use and cultivation of marijuana in certain circumstances, and the federal government is being less active in enforcing federal marijuana laws. However, landlords and tenants should understand that the federal government can, and does, continue to enforce marijuana laws in Colorado from time to time, particularly where a person is also accused of other law violations.Learn more »
“The President…shall have the power, by and with the consent of the Senate, to make treaties…to appoint Ambassadors, other Public Ministers and consuls…” — US Constitution, Article II, section 2.
It surprised me too: the president is actually in charge of our country’s foreign policy. From current events, one could be forgiven for thinking that Joe Biden — the administration’s Inspector Clouseau — was running things. Or John Kerry, everyone’s favorite nagmiester.Learn more »
If ever there was a perfect example of how employment discrimination against gay people operates on a day-to-day basis — and why Congress needs to outlaw such discrimination — the National Football League just provided it.
Following SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam’s announcement that he is gay, the league issued an official statement saying: “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”Learn more »
I promised Paul I wouldn’t share this story until he was a grandfather. This might be the longest I’ve kept a secret that could have gotten me a laugh at someone else’s expense.
Paul, at the age of 26, was one of the first in my circle of friends to get married. I considered it my duty to talk him out of it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like his fiancée; quite the contrary, Cathy was great, Paul was the mess.Learn more »
Deep in the rugged wilderness of Washington’s Olympic National Park, the East Fork Quinault River, swollen by this winter’s floods, has nearly reached the doorstep of a historic building. Photographs taken in January show the river a mere 18 inches from the north wall of the Enchanted Valley Chalet.
The iconic, three-story log building was constructed in the early 1930s, before the creation of the park, by the Olympic Chalet Co. It was part of a system of commercial lodges and shelter camps proposed for Olympic National Forest. It was also part of a plan championed by local business interests to construct a highway up the Quinault River and across the Olympic Mountains. Aggressive development schemes such as these were a significant factor driving the creation of Olympic National Park.Learn more »
I’ve never been one to dwell on anniversaries. But what the heck.
Last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act came in the sesquicentennial year of the Emancipation Proclamation.Learn more »
I think it was Mark Twain who said, “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over.” But it was Wallace Stegner who said that the history of the American West was driven by aridity. I know it was Stegner, in fact, because I heard him say it a long time ago in Logan, Utah, at a writer’s conference in the Cache Valley.
He said the West’s history was jammed with regional battles over water, an element more precious than the precious metals that initially attracted Anglos to dry and inhospitable places. Now, as the Golden State turns ever crispier after 14 years of an increasingly severe drought, the war for water is growing even more fierce.Learn more »
In 1936, the editor of a newspaper in Alamosa, Colo., wrote a letter to Henry J. Anslinger, commissioner of the federal government’s Bureau of Narcotics. The letter, introduced as evidence into a congressional hearing, informed Anslinger about a “sex-mad degenerate” who had recently “brutally attacked a young Alamosa girl” while under the influence of “marihuana,” as it was then spelled.
“This case is one of hundreds of murders, rapes, petty crimes, (and) insanity that has occurred in southern Colorado in recent years,” proclaimed Floyd K. Baskette, city editor of the Alamosa Daily Courier. “Can you do anything to help us?” And then this nasty bit of racism: “I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigarette can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents.”Learn more »
I am a small-business owner who just moved to Summit County. I am looking for ways to incorporate more eco-friendly practices into my business model without it costing an arm and a leg.
Margaret, BreckenridgeLearn more »
For the last few weeks the Olympics have taken center stage in our home, where the chance to root for genuine hometown favorites nightly draws us into the Olympic fold. In a winter world of speed and spectacle, an odd favorite has emerged in our household. The mystique of curling has captured our collective family attention. So much so, the girls recently voiced a desire to join an international curling team, and have taken to designing appropriate curling uniforms. We’re not alone, I hear. Just this morning I learned other Summit locals also are infatuated with the sport, including the Bill’s Ranch Lake Curling Club, where tea kettles grace the ice instead of granites stones. Perhaps Summit will become the next Olympic curling training ground, providing a new breed of athletes to cheer on.
After ruling out snowboard cross as my next athletic endeavor, it occurred to me that curling offered the perfect opportunity to combine my extensive collegiate shuffleboard experience with a newfound, and often underappreciated, expertise in cleaning. Uniting the clean sweep with yesteryear’s sawdust glory might be a textbook mix for this Olympic hopeful.Learn more »
“He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient … he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed …” — Constitution of the United States, Article II, Section 3.
“I taught constitutional law for 10 years. I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America.” —Senator Barack Obama at a Lancaster, Pennsylvania Town Hall Meeting, 2008.Learn more »
In a world of screaming cable television hosts and partisan media outlets, PBS is supposed to be the last refuge for honest news. This is ostensibly why taxpayers still contribute money to the public broadcasting system. That money is appropriated to try to guarantee that there remains at least one forum for unvarnished facts, even if such facts offend those with money and power.
The problem, though, is that because our government spends so little on public media as compared to many other industrialized countries, our most prominent public media outlets are becoming instruments for special interests to launder their ideological agenda through a seemingly objective brand. Starved for public resources, these outlets are increasingly trying to get their programming funded with money from corporations and wealthy political activists — and that kind of cash comes with ideological expectations.Learn more »
I hit the voicemail icon. “Hey, little buddy, this is your big brother Mike; sorry I missed you. I’m sure you’re probably at a peace rally before heading to the welfare office for food stamps. Or, now that pot is legal in your state, you could be sitting in the bathroom of your neighbor’s house, which you mistakenly thought was yours. At any rate, you will be missed over the President’s Day weekend; in your honor we will say the Pledge of Allegiance and Lord’s Prayer in front of our Ronald Reagan portrait. Despite your politics, we still love you.”
My big brother Michael is a “compassionate conservative” with a wicked sense of humor. He walks the walk of kindness and Christianity. He recently became a legal guardian of a developmentally disabled middle-aged man who was languishing in a state institution. When his three children left for college he moved the man into his home. My brother believes in a small federal government, local control of local issues, limited national and Supreme Court intervention and traditional values. He also is one of the kindest men I’ve ever met.Learn more »
Growing up in Montana, I was surrounded by wilderness. Yet I never set foot in a designated wilderness area until I was 14 and assigned to study earth science with a teacher named Dan O’Leary.
He was a passionate rock hound and a tough grader; even the smartest kids struggled to pass his class. While the students across the hall watched episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy, the ones in Mr. O’Leary’s class could be overheard comparing minerals by porosity and density. His field trips were always adventures; we’d hike to abandoned stamp mills near mines or to crystal-digs in places known only to Mr. O’Leary and his cantankerous cousin, Red.Learn more »
Man, I hate being called a hypocrite! But over the last year or so, I’ve come to realize something: I are one!
I have long thought of myself as an environmentalist. I hang my laundry out to dry. I worked in public-land management for the U.S. Department of Interior. I drive a truck that gets comparatively good gas mileage, and my wife drives a high mpg little nothing of a car. I recycle all the boxes and plastic packaging that holds all the stuff I buy that’s been extracted from the earth. I verbally and financially support environmental causes. I bad-mouth oil and gas companies, coal-fired plants and couples who have a zillion children.Learn more »
Seven years ago, I first saw the archaeological damage that had been done to Utah’s Recapture Canyon. The extent of the destruction was stunning.
Somebody, or more likely several people, had created an illegal all-terrain vehicle trail on Bureau of Land Management land. Sections of the trail ran right through 1,000-year-old Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites, bisecting one prehistoric village the size of a football field — all this in a place that archaeologists have described as a “mini-Mesa Verde.” The scar through Recapture Canyon, just east of Blanding, Utah, is 7 miles long and 4 feet wide.Learn more »
I am interested in starting my own food garden this summer but my soil is terrible. Do you have any suggestions for building garden beds that create their own soil? — Cathy, Summit CoveLearn more »
Wrong. Incorrect. Erroneous. Fallacious. Bogus.
Choose your modifier for the headline-a-palooza the other day that alarmed (much of) a nation.Learn more »
Just before the government shutdown late last year, the IRS issued its guidance on same-sex marriages, clearing up years of confusion for many taxpayers. Based on this 2013 ruling, same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income, gift and estate taxes.
In the past, these rules were murky at best. Couples were able to get married at the state level, but their marriage wasn’t recognized on their federal tax return and they were still paying much higher single filing rates. There were also scenarios when a couple married in a state that recognized same-sex marriage, but then moved to a state that didn’t recognize their marriage. The new law acknowledges these challenges and gives definitive information for taxpayers and tax preparers alike.Learn more »