Comprehensive tax information for Uber drivers and Lyft drivers goes beyond TurboTax tips

(2/1/2016 Headline News.Guru) I Drive with Uber (IDWU), the evolving authority for Uber and Lyft drivers, released free comprehensive tax information specifically geared towards ridesharing drivers.

I Drive With Uber is regarded as a leading authority and information provider for Uber drivers. The website’s mission is to do just that – provide information for Uber and Lyft drivers/passengers that goes beyond the actual Uber website.

Time For Taxes Message Shows Taxation Due
Time For Taxes Message Showing Taxation Due

If you are one of the many new drivers for Uber or Lyft (or one of other ride sharing companies), filing your 2015 taxes is most likely uncharted territory for you. “I Drive With Uber” realized this and collaborated with a tax specialist to lay down the ‘rules and regulations’, and created a tax preparation guide for drivers. I Drive With Uber is providing this free extensive info packet on their website.

Uber identifies its drivers as independent contractors and not as employees. This subject, whether Uber drivers should be classified as employees or independent contractors, is currently being litigated in numerous states in the US. However, until a decision has been reached, Uber drivers will have to file taxes as self-employed individuals (1099 contractors).

This is one of the key points the tax guide on the IDWU website focuses on: the difference between being a 1099 independent contractor versus a traditional employee (which many new drivers mistakenly think they are). Furthermore, the guide elaborates on the tax benefits and deductions that are available for ride share drivers. Many drivers will be surprised about the numerous tax deductions they are actually entitled to.

The IDWU guide provides relevant information for any Uber or Lyft driver in the process of preparing for the current 2016 tax season. Other than the above-mentioned topics, other covered subjects include: self-employment tax, estimated tax payments, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, and many more. If you’re thinking of becoming an Uber driver or already are driving for Uber or Lyft, IDWU is a valuable information platform for you.

Michael Gingino \ 2012 Multi awarded ICFJ Honoree

Headline News Guru – International Journalism Review

657 222-7074 Newport Coast / New York

Top candidates attack but express cautious optimism about winning

Headlinenews.guru 2/1/2016 – The first major test for the 2016 presidential candidates is now just hours away with the Iowa Caucus on Monday — its outcome a likely sign of whether front-running Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump can hold their leads or if the unpredictable and often-angry electorate has other plans.

Trump and Clinton made their closing arguments Sunday, barnstorming across Iowa and battling on the political shows, in a final effort to beat back close rivals like Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, both eager for an upset in the first-in-the-nation balloting.

“Thirty six hours from now, the men and women of Iowa are going to caucus,” Cruz, who is trailing Trump in Iowa by roughly 5 percentage points, told “Fox News Sunday.” “And we have a grassroots army. We’ve got 12,000 volunteers in the state.”

Still, Cruz, who argues that he’s the true conservative in the GOP field, was, like the rest of this year’s White House candidates, steering clear of predicting a win, then having to face the fallout from a loss or even a below-expectations finish.

“Right now, this is all about turnout,” said Cruz, a Texas senator in a close race for second with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “This is all about who shows up tomorrow night at 7. … If conservatives come out, we will win.”

Sanders, a Vermont independent, told ABC’s “This Week”: “I think we have a shot to win it, if people come out.”

His populist message about the economy being “rigged” against the middle class and “billionaires buying elections” has resonated with the largely disaffected and angry electorate and has posed a clear alternative to the Clinton political dynasty.

Even the supremely confident Trump, who has a double-digit national lead over the GOP field, tamped down Iowa expectations Sunday.

“I don’t have to win it,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I’m doing really well with the evangelicals in Iowa. But I’m also doing tremendously well all over the country with the evangelicals. … I think we have a good chance of winning Iowa.”

Still, Trump, who has a wider lead among the more independent-minded voters of New Hampshire, who vote second, on Feb. 9, realizes the importance of a lead-off victory.

“I have a very substantial lead in New Hampshire,” he told CBS. “But I think it would be really good to win Iowa. I’d like to win Iowa.”

And at least 9 percent of potential Iowa caucus-goers remain undecided, according to a Des Moines Register-Bloomberg Politics poll released Saturday.

After New Hampshire, the voting continues in South Carolina and Nevada, with the outcomes of those so-called “early-state votes” expected to winnow the GOP’s 11-candidate field.

After Trump and Cruz, Rubio is the only other GOP candidate with double-digit poll numbers.

They are followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former business executive Carly Fiorina and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Santorum and Huckabee, popular among social conservatives, won Iowa in 2012 and 2008, respectively.

Though none of the candidates below Rubio is expected to make a strong Iowa finish, Kasich, Christie and even Bush could do well in New Hampshire and challenge the frontrunners — as the GOP and Democratic races head across the south and into the late spring before this summer’s nominating conventions.

Kasich was the only candidate in New Hampshire on Sunday, telling potential voters at an Elks Lodge in Salem that cutting regulations that kill small businesses would be a priority of his first 100 days, if elected president.

Trump and Cruz each attended Sunday morning church services with family members.

Trump attended services at the First Christian Orchard Campus, a nondenominational church in Council Bluffs.

Cruz went to the Lutheran Church of Hope, outside Des Moines. The sermon called on politicians to treat their opponents with love, not attack ads.

Trump has tapped into the angry electorate with plans to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out “drug dealers” and others from Mexico. And in the wake of two recent terror attacks, he proposed keeping Muslim from entering the United States until the government improves its immigrant-screening process.

Amid some public outcry, Trump’s poll numbers increased by double digits after his called for the ban, in the aftermath of the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre in December.

Since Cruz emerged in recent weeks as Trump’s closest primary rival, Trump has called Cruz “a nasty guy” and a “liar,” particularly about whether Trump essentially supports ObamaCare.

The only other Democratic candidate is former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has single-digit poll numbers.

The front-running Clinton, who has a superior fundraising and campaign apparatus, continues to hold a roughly 25-point national lead over Sanders.

However, the former first lady has been stuck defending herself in a controversy about her use of a private server/email setup to conduct official business when secretary of state.

On Friday, the State Department said it had identified 22 “top secret” emails that it would not release, as part of a court order to make public Clinton’s email correspondence.

“It’s a continuation of a story that’s been playing out for months,” Clinton told ABC News.

Clinton also said that none of the emails was marked classified at the time, and she again called for their released, in an apparent effort to help end the controversy. She also suggested that Republicans were “grabbing at straws” on the issue.

“I want to see them disclosed,” she told ABC.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

How-To-Reenergize-The-Hard-Hit-Oil-And-Gas-Industry

How To Reenergize The Hard-Hit Oil And Gas Industry

Here’s a piece of legislation the Republican Congress should pass pronto: end the decades old, misbegotten ban on the export of crude oil, as well as the stifling bureaucratic restrictions on the export of natural gas. Astounding advances in technology and new discoveries of oil and natural gas reserves have skyrocketed U.S. energy production. America is drilling and refining more oil than it has in decades. Gas is so abundant that electric utilities can’t build or retrofit plants fast enough to absorb it all.

These barriers were put in place to help American businesses and consumers by keeping the stuff at home rather than letting foreigners get their hands on it. Back in the 1970s people thought we were running out of both resources because nominal prices were going up. The real cause was the weak dollar. When President Ronald Reagan and Paul Volcker’s Federal Reserve ended the terrible inflation of the 1970s, commodity prices crashed. Oil fell from almost $40 a barrel to $10 before stabilizing in the $20-to-$25 range.

In the early part of the last decade the Fed, with the connivance of the Treasury Department, weakened the greenback, with the same consequences: Commodity prices zoomed up, with oil reaching a peak of more than $140. Now that the dollar has strengthened—something the Fed didn’t intend, which says something about its competence—commodities such as oil have taken a hit, just as they did in the 1980s. The price of natural gas was already low because of the surplus generated by fracking.

This is why antiquated restrictions on oil and gas exports are especially harmful now. Our oil storage capacity has peaked, which means oil fields will have to cut production because there’s no place to store the stuff. It’s one thing when lower prices or less demand affect output; it’s quite another when production is reduced because of artificial, government-caused reasons. At a time when falling oil prices have put many drillers under serious financial pressure, removing wrong-headed obstacles to increase demand would make all the sense in the world.

Repealing these prohibitions would not only lead to more demand from overseas for our oil and gas but also bring closer the day that the U.S. becomes the world’s leading energy producer. More to the point, rising output at low prices will spur the use of natural gas—an ultraclean fossil fuel—for both new purposes (think transportation) and traditional ones, such as a raw material for the chemicals industry.

Opening up the export taps would also lead to a more efficient, i.e., cheaper, oil market. Most of our refineries, particularly on the Gulf Coast, are geared toward processing what’s known as “heavy” crudes. The surge in U.S. production, however, has come in what are labelled “sweet” or “light” crudes. It would make sense–and in dollars and cents–to allow us, in effect, to swap light crudes for heavy crudes until the day comes when we can construct new refineries here.

Licensing for liquefied natural gas export facilities should be approved in a timely manner instead of falling victim to the foot-dragging that’s all too common. The House of Representatives has passed such legislation. It should be coupled with a bill to end the ridiculous ban on oil exports and passed expeditiously.

Most people don’t realize that the U.S. is already the world’s largest exporter of fuels, which include diesel, gasoline and jet fuel. We send roughly 4 million barrels of these products overseas each day. In the natural gas arena U.S. producers have used technology to impressively lower costs. Whatever happens to the dollar, we can easily be a major player in the global fuel market.

It makes no sense to ignore this colossal opportunity any longer. According to one report, between 394,000 and 859,000 U.S. jobs could be created by lifting these export bans. Americans would receive lower long-term energy prices, and increased U.S. energy output would make the world a safer place.

Detroit-police-officers-accused-of-robbing-drug-dealers

Detroit police officers accused of robbing drug dealers

DETROIT — A Detroit police lieutenant and an officer — accused of robbing drug dealers and stealing money and drugs obtained during police searches — were arraigned on charges Thursday.

The indictment, which came down Wednesday, comes months after Detroit Police Chief James Craig disbanded the department’s troubled drug unit and officers became the target of a federal investigation.

Lt. David Hansberry and Officer Bryan Watson are each facing charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, possession with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine, possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a crime of violence, possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a crime of violence and drug trafficking crime and multiple counts of interference with commerce by robbery and extortion.

Kevlin Omar Brown — who the indictment says is an “associate” of Hansberry — is charged with one count of interference with commerce by robbery or extortion.

Hansberry and Watson were arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court and Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub entered not guilty pleas for them. Brown appeared in court, but his arraignment was continued to Friday because he did not have an attorney. All three men were given $10,000 unsecured bonds.

Additionally, Brown was ordered to clear up any outstanding warrants within 90 days, must remain confined to his Detroit home and must wear a tether. Brown ignored requests for comment as he was leaving the courtroom after the hearing.

Watson was ordered to turn over four weapons he owns, as well as his concealed pistol license. His attorney, Steve Fishman, was not immediately available for comment.

Michael Harrison, Hansberry’s attorney, said his client, who has been aware of the investigation for months, maintains his innocence.

Hansberry is “confident he’ll be vindicated,” Harrison said, adding that his client has been a police officer since he was 18 years old, was promoted to sergeant at age 25 and then promoted to lieutenant at age 33. “Never had so much as a parking ticket.”

Hansberry and Watson, though, are accused of arranging “drug transactions with civilians, including confidential sources, so that they could rob and extort them,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office says. “The defendants allegedly carried out traffic stops and fake arrests, and then stole drugs, money and personal property from their victims.”

At a news conference this afternoon, Craig said he was “troubled” by the allegations against the veteran officers. He said criminal allegations of this magnitude impact the public trust.

“The vast majority of the men and women of the Detroit Police Department are honest and hardworking, they honor the badge they wear and the oath they took to serve and protect the citizens of this city,” Craig said.

He said he believes four other former narcotics officers remain suspended with pay “until this investigation is fully complete.” Craig said he couldn’t comment on whether those officers would be charged.

In place of the disbanded narcotics unit, the department — which Craig previously said also investigated narcotics officers for an allegation of theft — created the Major Violators Section. Craig said officers assigned to that section work there for a limited duration of time.

The indictment says Hansberry — also known as Sarge or Hater — was a sergeant in the department’s narcotics section from November 2009 through November 2013, when he was promoted to lieutenant.

Hansberry, 34, and Watson, 46 — who have been on suspension since October — are accused of failing to log money and drugs seized during searches into evidence, instead splitting the proceeds and arranging to sell the drugs.

From June 2010 through about October 2014, Hansberry and Watson, whose nickname was Bullet, arranged drug transactions “in which substantial amounts of controlled substances were intended to be purchased or sold by private parties, including informants of the defendants,” the indictment says.

They are accused of using their status as police officers “to assist in their scheme.” It says they drove police vehicles, activated the lights, wore police clothing and badges and carried guns.

The indictment says the officers carried out “pretext traffic stops and fake arrests.”

According to the news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office: “Hansberry and Watson also allegedly identified themselves as police officers to coerce their victims into complying with their demands and to encourage their victims to flee, leaving behind illegal drugs, money and personal property.”

“The vast majority of the men and women of the Detroit Police Department are honest and hardworking, but these defendants betrayed their oath and their fellow officers,” Craig is quoted saying in the news release. “We are committed to the highest standards of integrity, and we will remove any officers who do not live up to those high standards.”

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said they applaud Craig’s “commitment to root out any officers who tarnish the badge.”

She said: “Officers who violate the law cannot be tolerated because effective law enforcement requires public trust.”

Jobless-rate-in-the-US-at-its-lowest-since-June-2000

Jobless rate in the US at its lowest since June 2000

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits over the past four weeks than at any time in almost 15 years, signalling underlying strength in the labour market even as hiring cooled last month.

From mid-March through the seven days ended April 4, jobless claims averaged 282,250 a week, the lowest since June 2000, a Labor Department report showed yesterday in Washington.
Applications over the latest week climbed by 14,000 to 281,000.
The median forecast of 45 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 283,000.
The level of dismissals is consistent with an improving labour market and indicates companies are optimistic demand will strengthen after a weaker first quarter. Figures earlier this week showing job openings at a 14-year high point to a pickup in the pace of hiring after a March slowdown.
Applications stabilising at this level are “evidence of a healthy labour market”, said Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial in Detroit, whose projection for 280,000 claims for the latest week was among the closest in the Bloomberg survey. “I don’t really see us going much lower than where we are now.”
Stock-index futures were little changed as Alcoa unofficially kicked off the earnings season with quarterly sales that missed projections.
The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index maturing in June fell 0.1pc to 2,072.9 at 8:44am in New York. Estimates in the Bloomberg survey for jobless claims over the past week ranged from 275,000 to 325,000. The Labor Department revised the prior week’s reading to 267,000, matching the lowest since April 2000, from an initial 268,000.

Rand-Paul-and-the-future-of-the-GOP

RUDGLEY: Rand Paul and the future of the GOP

Conventional wisdom tells us that, in 2016, the Republican Party needs a transformational figure who can broaden the party’s appeal for an ever more diverse electorate or else it will become a minority party. The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Their edge in the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014 only underscores the extent of their demographic woes: they can only win when turnout is low — 2014’s turnout was the lowest in 70 years — and when the electorate tilts whiter, older and more conservative. Just as the party needed Reagan over 30 years ago, the GOP needs a leader to realign its narrative, its policy platform and its image to adapt to the demographic and ideological realities of the twenty-first century. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who announced his candidacy for President in Kentucky on Tuesday, is the only candidate in the field that can take up this mantle and is thus the GOP’s best choice for 2016.

Paul, more than any other candidate, has tried to reach out to disaffected voting blocs that when they do vote, vote blue, like African-Americans and college-age voters. His bold ideas, like scaling back surveillance programs or criminal justice reform, represent a departure from establishment Republicans who appear intent on adding to their party’s litany of failures and embarrassments (that range from George W. Bush’s costly, disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to Todd Akin’s cringe-inducing comments on rape and pregnancy). In spite of Paul’s ideological purity, charges that he is unelectable seem unfounded as he actually outperforms all of his rivals in polls that have he and Clinton head to head. His uncompromising fiscal conservatism, noninterventionist foreign policy, civil libertarianism and advocacy for criminal justice reform all position him as a transformational candidate the GOP needs.

Paul is the most ideologically consistent candidate whose integrity and honesty highlight the most attractive elements of small government conservatism. Republicans’ rhetoric of limited government, low taxes and free market principles rarely translates to responsible fiscal governance; the Bush administration accrued trillions of dollars in debt with reckless wars in the Middle East while Republicans in Congress more recently have caused countless episodes of hyper-partisan brinksmanship and government shutdowns. As the most consistently conservative candidate on fiscal issues, Paul can build a coalition of libertarians and Tea Partiers that can go all the way in the primaries. Furthermore, Paul’s populist economic message (and unrelenting opposition to corporate welfare) can resonate with independents and disaffected voters in ways similar to how Elizabeth Warren’s anti-Wall street rhetoric has.

Paul’s noninterventionist foreign policy philosophy will be his biggest obstacle in the primaries just as it was for his father and libertarian icon, Ron Paul. His disdain for foreign intervention sharply contrasts with the demagogic war-mongering exhibited by his rivals for the Republican nomination. However, Paul might see an opening following President Obama’s recent triumph — in securing a framework for a nuclear deal with Iran that would defuse tensions in the Middle East by stopping Iran from building a nuclear weapon while lifting its crippling, yet ineffective, sanctions. The deal could be the defining validation of President Obama’s entire foreign policy philosophy — that is predicated on tireless diplomacy rather than hawkish and combative posturing — and if it is, then the public might be sold on more prudent approaches to foreign threats. Furthermore, Paul’s emphasis on national security rather than brash nation-building illustrates his broader affinity for constitutional governance and limited government domestically and overseas.

Where Paul really steps out of the mainstream is in his affirmation, both in rhetoric and voting record, of the inviolable importance of civil liberties. His denouncement of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs that spy on law-abiding American citizens represents that he is the only true maverick on either side of the aisle that would stand up to the executive agencies that quietly erode the constitutional protections and freedoms that this nation was founded upon. Casting himself as an outsider who will fight to reclaim civil liberties from overreaching, unaccountable executive agencies could have huge electoral benefits both in the primary season and the general election. Furthermore, a corollary of Paul’s civil libertarianism is that he takes a more moderate stance on social issues like gay marriage and marijuana legalization where the public is increasingly veering leftwards. The GOP cannot afford to let the Democratic nominee corner his or her (likely her) opponent by highlighting their unpopular conservative positions on social issues; Rand Paul is the candidate who can most feasibly navigate the potentially hazardous social issues that have long plagued Republicans.

Senators Rand Paul and Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) bipartisan criminal justice reform package — the REDEEM Act —highlights Paul’s determined effort to broaden the Republican Party’s appeal to minorities (who consistently vote Democratic ostensibly because of a complete lack of courting from the right). Though this legislative initiative won’t be enough to deliver minority votes to the GOP, it is a first step and without the “Obama effect” (80 percent of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans voted Democratic), it is very possible that Paul will siphon enough of the minority blocs to give a GOP ticket the electoral edge in what is likely to be the most diverse election in American history.

Together these pillars of Paul’s campaign approach and governing philosophy set him aside from the familiar cast of establishment figures. His unerring commitment to limited government and constitutional principles lend him the ideological purity necessary to excite the conservative base in the primaries. His vigorous defence of civil liberties and rebukes of hawkish interventionism would also position him well in a general election. Rand Paul is the change candidate that could become a transformative Republican icon for decades to come.

Ben Rudgley is a Viewpoint writer.

Tsarnaev-guilty-of-all-30-counts-in-Boston-bombing

Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 counts in Boston bombing

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his face a blank, stood with his head bowed and his hands clasped as the guilty verdicts tolled one after another for what seemed like an eternity: Guilty of using weapons of mass destruction, guilty of bombing a place of public use, guilty of conspiracy and aiding and abetting. Guilty, guilty, guilty: The word was spoken 32 times.

Yes, the jury said, Tsarnaev caused the deaths of Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu and Sean Collier. Yes, it was murder. And so, the word “yes” was spoken 63 times, each time making Tsarnaev eligible for the death penalty.

From start to finish, it took 26 minutes for the jury to announce its verdict in the Boston Marathon bombing trial: Tsarnaev didn’t skate on a single charge. He now stands guilty of all 30 counts, 17 of which could send him to death row.

If hearing the verdicts seemed overwhelming, that paled in comparison to seeing and hearing evidence behind them: awful images and sounds. The jury saw bombs explode and tear people apart. They saw streets splashed crimson with blood and littered with severed limbs and body parts. They heard the cries of the injured, and witnesses told them how people tended to the dying and gravely injured, unaware of their own injuries as they tied belts around the mangled limbs of friends and strangers alike.

They heard a prosecutor explain why this was done: Tsarnaev was punishing Americans and sending a message to the holy warriors of radical Islam to rise up.

And they saw surveillance photos of Tsarnaev, who prosecutors described as a callous killer, strolling through the aisles of Whole Foods to buy milk and smiling as he stopped by his college gym shortly after the deadly bombing.

Wednesday’s verdict was a major step in the trial, but the toughest legal battles may be yet to come.

The trial will resume, possibly early next week, for a second phase to determine Tsarnaev’s punishment.

The jury’s next assignment: deciding whether the man responsible for the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001, should pay with his life.

It took the jury of seven women and five men 11½ hours of deliberations to reach their verdict. Tsarnaev, 21, didn’t look at jurors as their decisions were read.

Survivors of the bombing said they were gratified by Wednesday’s decision, but found no joy in it.

“Obviously we are grateful for the outcome today,” bombing survivor Karen Brassard said after the verdict was announced. “It’s not a happy occasion, but it’s something that we can put one more step behind us.”

Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs in the bombing, said he was relieved.

“Today’s verdict will never replace the lives that were lost and so dramatically changed,” he said, “but it is a relief, and one step closer to closure.”

Federal prosecutors are now focusing on the trial’s upcoming penalty phase, said Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. “We are gratified by the jury’s verdict and thank everyone who played a role in the trial for their hard work,” Oritz said, declining to comment further.

In the next phase of the trial, jurors will hear evidence of what makes Tsarnaev’s crimes so heinous he should be executed. The defense will try to soften his actions by painting him in a more sympathetic light.

Tsarnaev’s attorney, Judy Clarke, is one of the nation’s foremost experts on keeping clients off death row.

She has successfully fought for the lives of Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, and Jared Loughner, the gunman who killed a judge and wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

For weeks, Clarke has been laying the groundwork for her argument to persuade the jury to spare Tsarnaev’s life.

Although there had been doubts that Tsarnaev could receive a fair trial in Boston, the case moved quickly and smoothly once testimony began on March 5. Some 96 witnesses testified over 15 court days: 92 for the prosecution and four for the defense.

The defense all but conceded guilt during this part of the trial, choosing instead to focus its efforts on persuading the jury during the penalty phase to spare Tsarnaev’s life.

The low-key strategy played in stark contrast to the emotionally wrenching case put on by prosecutors, who displayed videos and photographs of the dead, the dying and the maimed along Boylston Street.

Jurors saw graphic scenes of a street awash in blood and severed limbs and the dazed, traumatized expressions on people’s faces. They heard screams and moans. It looked like a war zone, several witnesses said.

Other witnesses described how deafening and disorienting it was to have a bomb go off nearby. Some survivors said they could see people screaming but could not hear them. They felt like they were underwater as the surreal events unfolded around them. Several said they felt nauseated by the “vile” stench of gunpowder and burning hair and flesh.

The jury heard a young woman, now in college, describe how it felt to nearly die; Sydney Corcoran said she felt cold, but peaceful as the blood drained from her body.

As they viewed a video shot by spectator Colton Kilgore, jurors could hear the cries of a 5-year-old boy. They saw his mother’s bones protruding from her leg and shredded hand as she reached for him. Others in the background were scrambling to apply tourniquets.

“My bones were laying next to me on the sidewalk,” said Rebekah Gregory. “That’s the day I thought I was going to die.”

They heard the urgent voices of spectators suddenly turned into first responders. Tourniquets were quickly fashioned from belts and running clothes brought by the armload from Marathon Sports, a store near the first bomb site along Boylston Street.

Witnesses described the agonizing decisions they made about whom they could help and who was beyond saving. Shane O’Hara, the manager of Marathon Sports, said the day still haunts him.

“All you heard were sirens, cries and screams,” he said. “The thing that haunts me is making decisions — who needed help first, who needed more, who was more injured than the other one. I felt it wasn’t my role to make those decisions, but you have to do that.”

O’Toole told jurors he was sorry they had to view such gruesome images, but urged them to view them clinically, as evidence. He said they were necessary to show what happened.

Prosecutors said Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev steeped themselves in writings and lectures of top al Qaeda leaders who urged young men to avenge injustice to Muslims by waging holy war against the enemies of Islam, including the United States.

The militant literature promised paradise and other awards to any warrior who died as a martyr for jihad.

The plan to bomb the marathon was hatched a year earlier, prosecutors alleged. The brothers chose the event because “all eyes would be on Boston that day,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty said.

“He chose a day where there would be civilians on the sidewalks. And he and his brother targeted those civilians — men, women and children — because he wanted to make a point. He wanted to terrorize this country. He wanted to punish America for what it was doing to his people.”

The brothers took their war from an 800-square-foot apartment in Cambridge to Boston’s Boylston Street shortly before 3 p.m. on Monday, April 15, 2013.

“That day they felt like they were soldiers,” Chakravary said. “They were the mujahedeen.”

The videos showed the brothers carrying the bombs in backpacks and moving through the crowd near the marathon finish line. It was, the prosecutor said, “a coordinated attack.”

Tamerlan Tsarnaev set off the first bomb near Marathon Sports, according to testimony. The 6-quart pressure cooker contained gunpowder, nails and BBs and was sealed with duct tape.

It took the life of Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager, and the legs of several other people.

The second pressure cooker bomb, carried in by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, went off 12 seconds later in front of the Forum restaurant. That bomb killed two people — Martin Richard, 8, and Lingzi Lu, 23, a graduate student from China.

Surveillance video shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, wearing a turned-around white ball cap, lingering for four minutes by a tree. He slips his backpack off his shoulder. In front of him, a row of children, including Martin Richard, stands behind a metal barricade.

“These children weren’t innocent to him,” Chakravarty told jurors. “They were American. He knew what the bag was designed to do.”

Martin was torn apart by the blast, and his sister, Jane, lost a leg. Their father, Bill Richard, testified that he immediately knew his son would not survived his injuries, and focused on getting help for Jane.

“I saw a little boy who had his body severely damaged by an explosion,” Richard testified. He paused, adding, “This is difficult. I just knew from what I saw that there was no chance. The color of his skin, and so on. I knew in my head that I needed to act quickly or we might not only lose Martin, we might lose Jane, too.”

Lu flailed her arms and screamed before bleeding to death in the street. Her leg was shredded from her ankle to her hip.

Defense: He followed his brother’s lead
The defense disputes little about what happened and instead focused on why it happened. Lead defense attorney Judy Clarke all but conceded that Tsarnaev is guilty, and has focused instead on persuading jurors to spare him from the death penalty in the trial’s next phase.

Clarke disputed the prosecutors’ arguments that their client was bent on becoming a holy warrior, although she acknowledged the horror the bombs caused and said her client’s actions were “inexcusable.”

“For this destruction, suffering and profound loss, there is no excuse,” she said. “No one is trying to make one. Planting bombs at the Boston Marathon one year and 51 weeks ago was a senseless act.”

She asked jurors to keep their minds open to what is to come — a case based heavily on the Tsarnaev family’s troubled history and the control and influence Tamerlan Tsarnaev held over his younger brother. Tamerlan was the mastermind of the bomb plot, Clarke said. He bought the pressure cookers and built the bombs. He researched the marathon as a possible event to attack. He shot and killed Collier at MIT.

Jahar merely followed his lead, she said.

“It was Tamerlan,” Clarke said, over and over in her closing argument to the jury.

Tamerlan downloaded the jihadist material urging young men to wage holy war against the infidels while Jahar spent most of his time on Facebook, Clarke said.

“He was a kid doing kid things.”

But prosecutors insisted the brothers were “partners in crime,” working together to punish Americans for what they perceived as crimes against Muslims.

“He wanted to terrorize this country,” said Chakravartay. “He wanted to punish America for what it was doing to his people. And that’s what he did.”

“Tamerlan Tsarnaev didn’t turn his brother into a murderer,” said another prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb. “If you are capable of such hate, such callousness that you can murder and maim 20 people and then drive to Whole Foods and buy some milk, can you really blame it on your brother?”

Prosecutors used computer searches to show that both brothers were steeped in jihadist writings and lectures. They acted calmly and with purpose, believing they were right, Chakravarty said.

He also told jurors they had to look no futher than Tsarnaev’s manifesto, written with a pencil on the side of a boat where he hid during the manhunt. It showed, more than anything else, how he had adopted the beliefs of the jihadists as his own.

“In that boat, with helicopters overhead and sirens blaring, he chose to write something to the American people,” the prosecutor said, adding he probably believed he was spending his final moments on Earth.

“In that boat, when the helicopters were overhead, the sirens were blaring, there were police canvassing, looking for him, he was all alone, and in his voice he chose to write something to the American people,” Chakravarty said.

He wrote in the first person. He was an “I,” not a “we.”

The prosecutor displayed a photograph of the writing on the sides of a boat pocked by bullets and streaked with Tsarnaev’s blood, and read the manifesto in its entirety.

“I am jealous of my brother who has received the reward of (paradise.) … I do not mourn because his soul is very much alive. God has a plan for each person. Mine was to hide in this boat and shed some light on our actions.”

He asked God to make him a martyr so he could “be among all the righteous people in the highest levels of heaven.”

Then he lashed out against America:

“The U.S. government is killing our innocent civilians, but most of you already know that. As a Muslim, I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished. We Muslims are one body. You hurt one, you hurt us all.”

He wrote that the Muslim nation is beginning to rise, along with the soldiers of the holy war. “Know that you are fighting men who look into the barrel of your gun and see heaven. Now, how can you compete with that? We are promised victory and we will surely get it. Now I don’t like killing innocent people. It is forbidden in Islam. But due to (bullet hole), it is allowed.”

He was not yet finished. He carved another message into a wooden slat inside the boat: “Stop killing our people and we will stop.”

Chakravarty said Tsarnaev wanted to be “a terrorist hero.” He was making a statement. He was proud of the choices he made.

And, while he hid in that boat and the police closed in on him, the prosecutor said, Tsarnaev “was negotiating the terms of death with the people of America.”

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California drought: Santa Barbara looks to ocean desalination for new water; are other cities next?

A mothballed desalination plant sits like a time capsule near Santa Barbara’s main tourist beach, a relic of California’s last drought to end all droughts.

With its control room filled with dot-matrix printers, floppy disks and obsolete computers, the padlocked Charles E. Meyer Desalination Facility represents this quintessential California coastal city’s once-fleeting hope of quenching its thirst by tapping the ocean.

Now, 23 years after it closed, with the state entering the fourth year of its worst drought on record, Santa Barbara is preparing to reopen the plant, rekindling a debate that is spreading to communities up and down the coast: Is the state’s water shortage now so dire that Californians should embrace desalination — with its high economic costs and environmental risks — as a critical element of a pricier water future?

“Desal is the last resort — and we are at the last resort,” said Bob Roebuck, Santa Barbara’s project manager for the plan. “Our reservoirs are going dry. Our wells are dropping. This is it.”

By early June, the Santa Barbara City Council is expected to vote to spend roughly $40 million to modernize and restart the desalination facility, located in an industrial area between Highway 101 and Santa Barbara’s landmark Stearns Wharf.

The plant cost $34 million to build during California’s last major drought in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But shortly after it opened in 1992, drenching rains returned. And because the water was so expensive to produce, the city shut down the plant three months later and sold its filters to Saudi Arabia. It has sat, closed, ever since.

In recent months, environmental groups unsuccessfully tried to convince the California Coastal Commission and other agencies to force the city to bury the pipe that draws water from the ocean to the plant, to avoid sucking in fish larvae, plankton and other species at the base of the food chain.

“Good decisions are not made when people are in panic mode,” said Susan Jordan, executive director of the California Coastal Protection Network in Santa Barbara. “You don’t want to wake up in 30 years and realize you’ve devastated your ocean economy.

“But with the drought, it is a freight train. People aren’t always listening to logic.”

City leaders say the costs of burying the pipe are too high and that new screens with tiny mesh on the pipe will limit any environmental harm. The town is facing an emergency, they say: Even though residents last year cut their water use 22 percent, Santa Barbara’s two reservoirs are less than 30 percent full. And the area’s limited groundwater is dropping fast.

There has been some public debate in Santa Barbara over reopening the plant, but far from a raging controversy. City meetings on the topic have been modestly attended. Voters approved building the plant a generation ago, and many seem resigned during today’s historic drought to opening it again.

“I think it’s a good idea to have for backup purposes,” said Roger Nance, owner of the Beach House surf shop on State Street. “It’s going to cost us a lot of money. But I’ve lived here since 1969 — and I’ve never seen it this dry.”

Santa Barbara is not alone. After years of fits and starts, California is finally moving ahead with several major desalination projects during its historic drought — a sign that some coastal communities with few other options are willing to pay more for a reliable water supply.

A $1 billion plant in Carlsbad, north of San Diego, is set to open this fall. It will be the largest in North America and will supply 50 million gallons a day — 7 percent of San Diego County’s water supply.

The town of Cambria, 10 miles south of Hearst Castle on the San Luis Obispo County coast, began operating a small emergency $9.5 million desalination plant in November to keep it from running out of water. And officials in Monterey County this year drilled a 250-foot-deep test well at a remote beach in Marina as part of a plan to build a $320 million desalination plant to serve 100,000 residents of Monterey, Carmel and other surrounding towns by 2019.

The project still needs final approval from the state Coastal Commission and other agencies. It is proposed to replace water that state regulators ruled 20 years ago the Monterey Peninsula’s water supplier, California American Water Co., has been taking from the Carmel River without proper rights.

“The additional gains we can achieve from conservation are limited,” said Catherine Stedman, a Cal-Am spokeswoman. “It made sense to turn to desal after the other options had been exhausted.”

Several cities have studied desalination and rejected it. Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese this week again raised a long-considered $200 million plan to build a desal plant in San Francisco Bay near Pittsburg. The proposal was shelved last year when the region’s four largest water districts decided they could obtain water more cheaply through expanding water recycling, conservation programs and other means. Santa Cruz city officials in 2013 halted plans for a desal plant after environmental activists raised concerns and voters passed a measure requiring a vote of the people to approve any plant.

The Pacific Ocean is California’s safety net. Even if the current drought lasts 10, 20 or even 100 years — as some did centuries ago — the state’s major cities would never run out of water because fleets of desalination plants could be built along the coast. A majority of California residents live within an hour’s drive from the ocean.

Israel currently produces half its water from ocean desalination. And other arid nations, such as Saudi Arabia, also rely on the sea for billions of gallons a year.

But they have few other options. And the costs dwarf every other way to produce water.

Huge amounts of energy are required to pump seawater at high pressure night and day through extremely fine reverse osmosis filters and membranes. Typically, desalinated water costs at least $2,000 an acre foot — roughly the amount a California family of five uses in a year.

That cost is about double that of water obtained from building a new reservoir or recycling wastewater, according to a 2013 study from the state Department of Water Resources. And its price tag is at least four times the cost of obtaining “new water” from conservation methods such as paying farmers to install drip irrigation, or providing rebates for homeowners to rip out lawns or buy water-efficient toilets.

“If you have other options, why would you go buy the most expensive water first?” said Newsha Ajami, a civil engineer at Stanford University.

Ajami, director of urban water policy at Stanford’s Water in the West program, said communities should first max out conservation, then expand recycled water and stormwater capture, going only to desalination as a last resort.

Once the cost of modernizing the Santa Barbara plant is taken into account, the water will cost roughly $3,000 an acre foot, boosting the average homeowner’s water bill from $80 a month to about $108, said Joshua Haggmark, the city’s water director.

“It’s expensive, but it’s still less than a penny a gallon,” he said. “The cost to a single-family home will still be less than a cellphone bill. Without eliminating all outdoor water usage and killing all landscaping in town, desal has to have a role.”

By fall 2016, the plant will provide 3,125 acre feet a year, about a third of the city’s needs. And the plant can be expanded to 10,000 acre feet a year, meeting 90 percent of Santa Barbara’s water needs.

Environmentalists are hoping the State Water Resources Control Board will adopt new rules next month to require future ocean desalination plants to bury their intake lines where feasible.

Desalination will never be a viable option for farming or for major inland cities because the cost to produce the water and move it miles — including over mountain ranges — is simply higher than other ways to produce water, such as recycling wastewater or building new reservoirs, said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.

But in some coastal areas, particularly towns without significant groundwater or connections to other, larger water systems, it’s becoming more realistic.

“It’s a trend,” he said. “It probably will never rise to be a double-digit percentage of California’s water supply. It is controversial and expensive. But it will make sense in some coastal communities. If you’ve got nothing else, the economics are attractive.”

American-Airlines-US-Airways-get-FAA-approval-as-one-carrier

American Airlines, US Airways to get FAA approval to fly as one carrier

American Airlines, the second-largest carrier at O’Hare International Airport, expects to receive its single operating certificate Wednesday from the FAA, an important milestone in its integration with US Airways.

As of Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to officially recognize the two airlines as one during a planned ceremony at the corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.

To get the single operating certificate, the airline has spent 18 months and devoted 700 employees to aligning behind-the-scenes policies and procedures and training employees, according to an internal fact sheet.

Though American and US Airways merged as corporations in December 2013 and have merged some functions — such as combining gates at O’Hare, they can’t combine flight operations until the FAA says so. The carriers expect to get that approval in the form of a paper certificate Wednesday.

However, some of the biggest milestones that customers care about are yet to come, including a single website and a single reservation system, a harrowing project that proved rocky in some other airline mergers.

That included Chicago-based United Airlines in its 2012 reservation-system combination with Continental Airlines. Compounded by poor employee training, the switchover resulted in months of widespread flight delays and cancellations, even leading to defections of business customers, hurting the airline’s profits.

At American, the carrier is not yet close to mixing American and US Airways flight crews and aircraft, which mostly amounts to working out union labor issues.

However, for operational purposes, US Airways on Wednesday will cease to exist.

Man-kids-died-from-carbon-monoxide-poisoning

Relatives: Man, kids died from carbon monoxide poisoning

A man and his seven children found dead in their Maryland home Monday were poisoned by carbon monoxide from a generator they were using after the power company cut off their electricity, a couple who identified themselves as the man’s mother and stepfather said.

Police found the bodies at the home in Princess Anne after being contacted by a concerned co-worker of the father, who had not been seen for days, Princess Anne police said in a news release.

They identified the deceased only as an adult and seven young people ages 6 to the teens. They said the cause of the deaths was still under investigation.

Bonnie and Lloyd Edwards, encountered outside the home by a reporter from The Associated Press, identified themselves as the mother and stepfather of Rodney Todd, 36, whom they identified as the adult who died. They said Todd had seven children, including five girls and two boys. The Edwardses said police told them the family died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Bonnie Edwards identified the children as boys Cameron Todd, 13, and Zycheim Todd, 7; and girls Tynijuiza Todd, 15; Tykira Todd, 12; Tybree Todd, 10; Tyania Todd, 9; and Tybria Todd, 6.

Lloyd Edwards said when police told them Todd had died, “It was disbelief.”

“It’s so hard. How can you understand something like that?”

He said Delmarva Power had cut off the electricity to the house because of an outstanding bill.

“To keep his seven children warm, (Todd) bought a generator,” Lloyd Edwards said. “It went out and the carbon monoxide consumed them.”

Princess Anne Police Chief Scott Keller told the AP there was a generator in the kitchen that was out of gasoline.

Matt Likovich, a spokesman for Delmarva Power, would not say Monday night whether the power had been cut off. He said the matter was being investigated.

Bonnie Edwards described her son as a loving, caring young man who set an example for his children. “I don’t know anyone his age who would have done what he did” for his children, she said. “I was so proud to say he took care of seven kids.”

Todd was a utility worker at the nearby University of Maryland Eastern Shore, said his supervisor Stephanie Wells. Wells, who hadn’t seen Todd since March 28, said she went to the house Monday morning and knocked on the door, but no one answered. She then filed a missing-person report with police.

Princess Anne is located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.