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Fifth Circuit Decides Texas Water Agencies Can Leave Crystal Ball at Home: Aransas Project v. Shaw

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 12:52pm
Guest Commentary by John Eisler, a 2014 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at the Washington Legal Foundation and a student at Texas Tech University School of Law. “[B]ecause of convenience, of public policy, of a rough sense of justice, the law arbitrarily declines to trace a series of events beyond a certain point.”[1] That “certain point” is […]
Categories: Latest News

Yates Prosecution Throws Logic of Sarbanes-Oxley Act Overboard

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 9:50am
Guest Commentary by Nicholl B. Garza, a 2014 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at the Washington Legal Foundation and a student at Texas Tech University School of Law. Imagine if a commercial truck driver received a citation from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for failing to keep a record of his driving hours. Further suppose the […]
Categories: Latest News

GSA Takes New Approach to Helping Government Save on Office Supplies

GSA news releases - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 1:00am
95% of Third Generation FSSI Contracts Awarded to Small Businesses

Kline, Alexander Call for GAO Study on Education Department’s Waiver Requirements

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), senior Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, today requested a study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver policies.

In a letter to GAO, they wrote, “In 2011, the department began issuing waivers to states regarding specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, and to date, 42 states and the District of Columbia have received ESEA waivers. In order to receive waivers, these states were required to comply with a new set of requirements, not authorized by Congress, related to standards and assessments, school accountability, and teacher and principal evaluation systems.”

The lawmakers noted the supporting documentation required to obtain waivers in their home states, which ranged from more than 700 to more than one thousand pages. “However, Congress has little information about how the department utilizes the data required of these and other states to grant, deny, renew, or revoke a state waiver,” they wrote. “Additionally, Congress has little insight into how states are impacted by the time and cost associated with applying for and implementing these waiver requirements.”

“Finally, the department has recently altered various requirements for certain states regarding implementation timelines for teacher and principal evaluation systems. At the same time, other states have had their waivers put on ‘high risk’ status, and Washington recently had its waiver revoked, over issues related to teacher and principal evaluation systems. The department has provided no justifications for these seemingly contradictory decisions.”

To read the full letter, click here.

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Monday Morning Mojo: Amy’s Inspiration

InteroMojo - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 7:30am

This past Saturday, August 9th, it was 8 years since my cousin Amy passed away from breast cancer at the age of 41. In the final year of her life she received Monday Morning MOJO every week and loved it. We shared thoughts back and forth via e-mail many times after I would send it. This is the MOJO I wrote after she passed away on my flight back home from her memorial service. I have made a commitment to send this out as a Monday Morning MOJO every year at this time as a tribute to Amy and her life. I think there are great thoughts in this MOJO that one can never hear too often.

I walked into my home on Saturday night from one of the most emotionally draining experiences of my life.

Attending and presenting a reading at the funeral of my 41 year-old cousin, Amy.

Amy was beautiful, healthy and living the American dream. She had a storybook marriage and two beautiful daughters (12 and 14) when tragedy struck sixteen months ago.

In the words of her daughter, “It was a clear blue spring day – well, at least it was outside, because inside it was raining. We felt sadness and disbelief from the bad news. Not just regular bad news – but the kind where your life seems to fall apart in just two simple minutes. We listened closely to mother as she whispered, ‘It’s cancer,’ and immediately feelings of shock, anger, and fear rushed through us all.”

Under her tears her daughter said faintly “Just never lose faith. Nobody knows what it’s like until it happens to them. And when it’s YOUR Mom how you view the world begins to change. You look at the mountains and now see their magnificence, just as seeing my Mom smile became everything to me. I started to appreciate life so much more. During those final months we would spend time gazing at the night sky, and I treasure every day that she would say, ‘I love you more than all of the stars in the sky.’ Looking back at how it used to be, and how it would have been, and how it’s going to be without her by my side – truly it will never be the same.”

Her words I repeated over and over in my mind. It felt as though someone had shook me – forcing my eyes open to see the world for what it really it was. Forcing me to take a hard look at the ultimate truth, the truth that has the power to wake us up and make us live before it’s too late.

“Amy is gone,” the truth told me quietly, “and someday you will be, and so will all the people you love – it’s just a matter of time.”

So I ask you – are you doing what you want to do right now with your life, or are you putting off living your hopes and dreams because you think there will always be a tomorrow? If my cousin were here, she’d tell you differently, she’d say, “there will come a time when tomorrow doesn’t come, and you are wasting your time if you are not loving and laughing and enjoying your days now, while you can.”

This leaves us with a choice – we can delete this message because we find it too depressing, or we can let this message be a force that pushes us over the tipping point into the life we dream of. That is most often what it takes, something so strong it carries us past our fears and doubts and the terrors that come when we think about finally doing the things we’ve been dreaming about for so long.

Let Amy be your inspiration this morning. And realize she had a great life, doing the things she loved, with the people she loved – and she would want you to do the same.

I’ve heard it all; it’s just not possible, I’ve got obligations, responsibilities, and don’t forget the economy, and of course the – I can’t just DO what I want – I’ve got a job, bills, yada yada yada…

All those excuses mean nothing when your time comes, and who knows when that might be. All I know is the days are passing quickly and now is the time to do what YOU KNOW you need to do. Don’t put if off, or you may just be too late.

We will miss you Amy.

Categories: Latest News

Why isn't the Senate taking up innovation bill?

House Small Business Committee News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 12:00am

 

Why isn't the Senate taking up innovation bill?
By Chairman Sam Graves  

When folks hear the term "start-up," all sorts of images are easily conjured in one's mind. You think of energetic young people in Silicon Valley or maybe Boston or Austin creating new innovative businesses; like Facebook or Twitter — hip tech companies with new ideas that seemingly came out of nowhere and now are integral parts of our lives. The good news is this is only part of the story. As Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, I've learned that start-ups can be found across America, from Boulder, Colo. to my backyard in Kansas City, and the types of companies and problems these companies seek to solve extend far beyond just the high-tech industry.

We recently celebrated "Start-up Day Across America," a day to celebrate the importance of entrepreneurship and raise awareness about the job-creating potential of start-ups. We know that small businesses create the bulk of net new jobs in this country, but interestingly enough, research has shown that it is a particular subset of small firms — start-ups — that are actually leading the way in job creation. According to the Kauffman Foundation, a small 1 percent of start-up firms account for 10 percent of new jobs each year. Further, a report by the Pacific Research Institute estimates that in a given year, each net job created by start-up firms increases a state's gross product by almost $1.2 million; shedding light on the significant benefits growing start-ups can have on the local economy. With numbers like these, it is easy to see why Americans are beginning to focus on the importance of start-ups.

Start-ups are rapidly moving and as we all know, the government is not. So when the Small Business Committee holds hearings and listens to the real-life challenges of start-ups, we learn what we can do, or usually not do, to allow them to stimulate the economy, create jobs, and spur innovation. Frequently, the story goes that government intrusion into this space only slows down start-ups and makes things harder; even when the government's actions are best intentioned.

Take, for example, crowdfunding — it's been one step forward, with many steps back. Access to capital is an important issue, especially for companies just starting out, where a month or two of funding can change everything. While Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (JOBS Act) over two years ago, many of the relevant crowdfunding regulations are yet to be released, and the regulations that have been proposed seem to set up more roadblocks to obtaining capital than providing access to financing. The bill's supporters saw it as an opportunity to allow start-ups to thrive, not create even more onerous regulations. Unfortunately, some in Washington have mastered snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

That said, start-ups have mentioned a few things Congress can do to help — one is finding ways to combat patent trolls. Patent trolls are entities or people that attempt to bring frivolous patent claims against all types of businesses to challenge or try to take intellectual property. For start-ups, their intellectual property may be the most valuable asset they have. The cost of patent litigation is particularly harmful to entrepreneurs because they take limited resources away from building that next great product or service.

How can we expect to get the economy back on track and create meaningful employment when start-ups are afraid to innovate and create new products due to the potential threat of an all-too-often meritless demand letter from a patent troll that could shut the company down and turn away investors?

In December, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 3309, The Innovation Act, with strong bipartisan support to begin addressing patent trolls. While this legislation lacked a provision specifically addressing demand letters, it was a step in the right direction to prevent costly litigation and add much needed transparency. Yet, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has not brought the bill up for a vote in the Senate; refusing to truly create better conditions for these important companies. To me this is inexcusable. 

As we think about the economy, it is time to start thinking about start-ups as an integral piece of the puzzle. Start-ups are not just a hip new term or a group of companies isolated to one part of the country. They are in each and every one of our backyards actively working to revive America's economy and make a living for themselves.

Commentary by Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Small Business Committee and U.S. representative of the 6th congressional district of Missouri. Graves, who is a sixth generation family farmer, has served in Congress since 2001. Follow the committee on Twitter @SmallBizGOP.

Read the article online HERE.

Weekend Wellness: Functional Training

InteroMojo - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 9:00am

Functional training…what does that mean? In my career, I see that if someone doesn’t “function” well with their body’s actions and reactions, they are going to have a difficult time functioning in general; especially as they (we) age. I know personally, if I can do full body movements which mimic real life (lifting my ipad from behind my car seat when in a hurry, carrying groceries up stairs, hopping over sidewalk cracks, catching myself from tripping over my dog’s tennis balls, etc), I will save myself from “out of the blue” aches and pains. This is “function”. However, I thought it might be nice to recruit a few of the experts I work with and get their opinion of why functional training is not only necessary, but something everyone should seriously consider as a part of their daily training.

Here we go…

“Functional training is something that, in my opinion, as a Chiropractor of 15 years, everyone should be incorporating into their fitness routine. In essence, it is a very effective type of exercise that involves training the body to be capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions. You train several muscle groups at once, which can improve balance, core stabilization, strength, and flexibility. Functional training is a key part of the pyramid for optimal health which includes not only training, but entire body and mind care.”

Dr. Steve Nandkeshwar D.C.,C.P.T
Chiropractor/Personal Trainer
www.losgatosbackdoctor.com

 

“Functional Training allows us to perform life’s tasks more efficiently. This includes: balance, stability, core training, and dynamic training. The result is performing daily activities more easily without injury. Functional training makes every other activity in life that much easier.”

Saul Cervantes, CPT
Body Firm Personal Training

 

“As a sports therapist, people tell me daily about their “training.” Whether it be cycling, running, crossfit or any other athletic of choice, our options are limitless in our training. But what are we training for? Barring the small percentage of people training for a milestone or in a competitive capacity, the rest of us are always just “training.” I will briefly pick on cycling- I love cycling. It is an amazing display of athleticism, great for the cardiovascular system, generally easy on the joints, but for what part of our daily lifestyle does the movement itself create benefit? Discrimination aside, the answer I have received the most for my question “what are you training for?” is “Life, I guess.” Enter Functional Training. “Life” as a movement pattern is a complex, multi-planar, ever-changing demand from our body’s joint health, muscular strength and endurance, fascial integration and cardiovascular capacity. If we aren’t spending time each week to train with these purposes in mind, then we’re not only not training for life, but we’re missing out on a HUGE resource of physical capability within our bodies. To quote Gray Cook, the master of functional movement, “first move well, then move often.”

Cody Fowler D.C. CPT
Symmetry Sports Therapy and Performance Care
Body Firm Wellness Center
Los Gatos, CA

I hope this takes some of the mystery out of the word “function” and might help you train a little differently…or shall I say mindfully!

Categories: Latest News

Intero Cool Apps: Paying Friends Has Never Been Easier

InteroMojo - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 9:00am

You’re going out to the movies with a friend and are running late. You’re friend gets the tickets and when you arrive tells you the price was $11.50. You don’t have any cash on you, because, come on, who carries cash these days.

Never fear! Venmo is here! You pull out your phone, open the app, choose your friend, type in the amount and click Send Payment. Done, in the clear. $11.50 off you IOY list. Best part: you can enjoy the movie in peace knowing you and your good friend are square.

That’s really how simple Venmo, the peer-to-peer payment system, really is. I’m telling you, this little app is pretty ingenious and as long as you don’t use a credit card to make payments, it’s free. The free forms of payment include direct bank transfer and venmo account transfer. Don’t worry. Venmo uses bank-grade security systems and data encryption to protect you and prevent unauthorized transactions so it’s totally secure.

With your mind at easy about the security, just think of all the uses this little app can help with: dinners out with friends, pitching in for baseball tickets, paying rent, anything that you would have previously had to use cash or a check for, all free of fees. Oh and it’s simple to use. The app pulls your contact list from your phone or facebook so anyone with the app will automatically be added to your list of potential payees. Just select who you would like to pay, put in the amount and press send payment. The payment will go into the payees Venmo account until they decide to transfer it out or use it for their next Venmo purchase.

Try it out today! You will be amazed at how your payment life changes.

Categories: Latest News

Seventh Circuit Ruling Exposes Federal Regulators to Public Nuisance Claims

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 10:29am
Featured Expert Column – Environmental Law and Policy by Samuel B. Boxerman, Sidley Austin LLP with Katharine Falahee Newman, Sidley Austin LLP In recent years, plaintiffs have increasingly asserted public and private nuisance theories in cases seeking damages and remedies to address alleged environmental harms, despite the fact that the defendant was in compliance with […]
Categories: Latest News

Thursday’s Thoughts on Leadership: Eight Minutes to Sort your Day

InteroMojo - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 9:00am

How well do you master distraction? How efficient are you at focusing on top-priority tasks and ensuring that the most important work gets done in any given day?

The relationship between success and responsibility is almost always proportional. As you achieve more in business, you also become more in demand, held accountable for managing more projects and making the tough decisions. Suddenly, your schedule is booked before you even step into the office, consumed by unanswered emails, dangling meeting requests and missed calls.

So, how can you manage a business and yourself? Well, here’s my advice: Take a minute. Set your phone or your computer alarm to sound every hour during the day. Allow yourself eight of these one-minute check-ins to pause, reflect, recharge, recalibrate and refocus.

I was inspired to try this simple but effective idea after reading Peter Bregman’s book, 18 Minutes: Find your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done. Named business book of the year on NPR, 18 Minutes has enjoyed tremendous success because it distills the complex problem of time management into an easy-to-implement solution that really works. By taking just one minute out of each hour daily, you’ll be able to reprioritize your tasks and focus on what is truly important: running a successful business, as any great leader should.

Categories: Latest News

Strength of City Pair Program Saves Billions for Federal Agencies

GSA news releases - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 1:00am
Air travel program leverages government’s buying power to save over $2 billion annually

Monday Morning Mojo: Get Specific

InteroMojo - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 4:00pm

I teach a class at Intero called Jump Start that is designed to help new Realtors, struggling Realtors, or those who just want take it to the next level and get their business ‘jump started.’ It is a short 90 minute class that quite honestly is pretty simple and straight forward. The key is it’s simple and specific on exactly what someone needs to do to win in business and in life.

One of the most important things I talk about in the class is how to figure out exactly where you want to go. In business or your personal finances it’s really about figuring out how much money you need to have to be financially independent and then building a plan on exactly how you are going to get there.

I have talked about it before in Mojo, what I see so often is most people operate in a fog and really don’t know specifically what they want and never take the time to build a detailed and specific plan on exactly how they are going to get there. It is the same with any equity of your life. For example, if you want to lose weight, it’s not enough to say you just want to lose weight, but you have to figure out specifically how much weight you want to lose, why you want to lose it and by when do you want to have it lost. Then you can build a plan on what you need to do every month, week, day, hour, minute to make that happen. It is the same in business and finance or any equity of your life. Start with your destination and work backwards. How much money do you want or need to have, and by when, to be financially independent? Do you know? It has been my experience that most don’t know. They just want life to get better and have more money. One of the first things I challenge everyone in the class to do is to get very specific on that number and when they want or need to accomplish it by. Once you know that number it makes getting up in the morning and doing what you need to do every day a heck of a lot easier because you now are building towards something specific…something tangible. It is still hard, but it is a lot easier when you know specifically where you are going and not feeling like you are driving around in circles.

Not sure how to start? There is this really cool tool called Google. Simply type in “how much money do I need to retire?” There are all sorts of cool tools/apps available where you can put in all of your current financial information and it will spit out a number for you on how much you will need, and how much to save every year in order to get there. You can go through this same process with your health as well. Not sure how much you can eat and how much exercise you need to do on a monthly, weekly or daily basis to accomplish your goal? Or maybe you’re not even sure what someone of your size and stature should weigh to be considered healthy? Just go to Google and type in the question. It will spit back all sorts of calculators and sites with information that can easily help you figure it out.

Once you have worked backwards, and figured out specifically how much do you need to make annually, monthly, weekly and hourly to accomplish your goal you can really get down to figuring out specifically what you need to do every hour of the day to accomplish it. Sometimes getting ahead in life, finances, fitness or any area of our F5 (Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, Finance) can be overwhelming. The key is getting clarity and being very specific on exactly what you want or need and by when. The cool thing is most of the time it is not as big of a task and daunting as we imagine it is.

Get clear…get specific…get started NOW!!!!!!

Categories: Latest News

Weekend Wellness: Get Healthier from the Inside Out

InteroMojo - Sat, 08/02/2014 - 9:00am

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
? Hippocrates

Have you ever heard this before? There are many “known” foods/supplements/vitamins which we know to be helpful to our health, such as Calcium, Flaxseed, Fish oil, and Chia Seeds…but I thought I would share some lesser known goodies to put in your arsenal of healing foods/herbs: I know when I was first introduced to many of these herbs, etc; it changed my entire thinking about “food”!

Aloe: Aloe juice has a healing effect on the gastrointestinal tract and can ease heartburn and acid reflux

Bacopa: Studies show that bacopa reduces anxiety while helping the mind learn quickly and retain information. Some researchers believe it may also help prevent and treat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Black cohosh: It is rich in phytoestrogens that may ease both immediate and long-term effects of menopause. In one recent study, black cohosh was as effective as estrogen in decreasing hot flash symptoms

Garlic: Garlic helps fight infection; lowers cholesterol levels and triglycerides, reduces blood pressure and slows the progression of hardening of the arteries.

Green foods (my personal favorite) Studies have shown that the healing properties of green foods, such as spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass and chlorophyll, are astounding and have an impact on cholesterol, blood pressure, immune response, cancer and oxygen delivery. Green foods are also rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

Oregano: This herb is used to prevent (or treat) colds and flu, sore throats, sinus congestion, bacterial infection, bronchitis, rashes, aches, and fungal infections. It is rich in antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and has some healthy omega 3′s.

Milk Thistle: This herb is a premier liver health nutrient. Its active ingredient is silymarin, which is a concentrated source of antioxidants. Milk thistle has been used in Europe as a treatment for liver disease since the 16th century.

Maca: Maca is a plant from Peru that is thought to elevate mood and boost testosterone. In menopausal women, maca may help reduce anxiety and depression.

These are just a few herbs and foods known through many studies to help heal our bodies according to Better Nutrition’s 75th Anniversary Edition (as well as my own personal experience).

Of course, before you jump into taking these; if you are on any medications or have any known health issues; please check with an expert first!

Go for better health and feel free to ask me any questions! Enjoy – there’s always an abundance of interesting foods to help you get younger from the inside out!

Categories: Latest News

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