Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A 'Fat Cat Tax'?

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 4:47 PM

  • Courtesy of Bigstock Photos
A Fat Cat Tax. I like the sound of it. The imagery is so much better than saying, as I often do, that we should tax the rich, or, more gently, that the wealthy should pay its fair share. It's the same thing no matter how you say it, except for the visuals.

Fat cat tax. That's one of the ideas in the Britain Labour Party's election manifesto where it proposes a tax hike on the top 5 percent. The party's new platform is more radical than anything our Democratic Party has suggested or is likely to suggest, but Labour is trying to get back to its left-wing roots which it abandoned during the Tony Blair era. Based on its weak numbers lately, the move to the right hadn't done it any good. Getting a little radical and earning some extra media can't hurt. See for example: Bernie Sanders.

Here's the plan. The vast majority of Brits, 95 percent of them, would pay no more taxes than they do now. Taxes would rise for anyone making more than the equivalent of $103,000 American. The rate would go up still more for those making over $159,000. Now, here's where the "fat cat tax" part comes in. Companies would pay an extra 2.5 percent in taxes on every salary more than $425,000, and an extra 5 percent for anyone who makes over $645,000.

Why does the Labour Party want all that extra money? Because it wants to spend more, of course, on things like getting rid of university tuition, building homes and improving health and social care. Call them the "tax and spend" Labour Party if you want. I'm good with that, except I would rephrase it. "Tax and spend" is a phrase the right wing came up with to make it sound like the left wants to tax people for spite and spend money for the hell of it. A more accurate way to say it is, "Tax so you can spend on things the society needs."

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Cinema Clips: Norman

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 1:30 PM

Richard Gere delivers one of his very best performances as Norman, a New York “businessman” who doesn’t really have a business or a job.

A mysterious, earbud wearing, graying old man riding the trains and grabbing crackers for dinner at the local synagogue, Norman, nevertheless, has big aspirations. A self-professed “good swimmer” fighting to stay afloat, Norman finds himself in the company of an upcoming Israeli politician (an excellent Lior Ashkenazi), and in a moment of generosity/desperateness, buys the man a pair of shoes. That gesture earns him some good favor as the politician becomes the Israeli Prime Minister, and Norman’s act of kindness earns him the man’s friendship. With big friends, comes more notoriety, and Norman finds himself involved in political intrigue and rising responsibility in the NYC Jewish community.

Gere, who basically shrinks himself under a sun cap and trench coat, sparkles in the role, making Norman a memorable, likeable, and appropriately annoying character. Supporting performances from Dan Stevens, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Steve Buscemi round out an excellent cast. Director Joseph Cedar presents the story in surprisingly layered, often funny fashion, with a definite tragedy at its center. Gere’s work here is some of the year’s best so far.

Celebrating and Showing Off the Best of Tucson

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Perhaps Tucson doesn't exactly shine in May—or perhaps it shines too much. Either way, the question is: Where shall I take my summer visitors? - BIGSTOCK
  • BigStock
  • Perhaps Tucson doesn't exactly shine in May—or perhaps it shines too much. Either way, the question is: Where shall I take my summer visitors?

I've lived in Tucson my whole life—Well, I grew up in Oro Valley, but try not to hold that against me. I flirted with the idea of moving to a bigger city when I was in my late teens, but somehow I couldn't quite bring myself to leave. These days, I'm not even tempted. For better or worse, I've fallen for this place and I don't see myself packing up in the near future.

There are places in Tucson that I love and visit more than others and they, of course, usually get my vote when it comes to Best of Tucson. This year, I'm looking at my ballot under slightly different lighting: I've got some family coming to town and next week my full time job is entertaining them.

The visitors are my dad, and his wife and daughter. Dad lived in Tucson for years, but left almost 15 years ago. My stepmother is visiting the United States for the first time, and my sister hasn't been here since she was a toddler. This city is essentially new to them, which means it's up to me to make it look good.

Thoughts like that run through my head now, as I'm filling out my Best of Tucson ballot. Time is running out for me to decide what is going to make the cut on my little family tour of Tucson—they fly in on Friday. But you've got until May 31 to fill out your ballot and tell me all about what you consider the Best of the Best the Old Pueblo has to offer.

Get voting!

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Quick Bites: Summer Eating

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 11:30 AM

The Bisbee Breakfast Club's Broadway location teamed up with their neighbor Cashew Cow to offer the Cashew Cow Affogato: A scoop of Cashew Cow vanilla, doused with a double shot of espresso from Ombre Coffee, whipped cream and crumbled house biscott. Ice cream can count as breakfast during the hot summer months, right? - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • The Bisbee Breakfast Club's Broadway location teamed up with their neighbor Cashew Cow to offer the Cashew Cow Affogato: A scoop of Cashew Cow vanilla, doused with a double shot of espresso from Ombre Coffee, whipped cream and crumbled house biscott. Ice cream can count as breakfast during the hot summer months, right?

Tucson boasts three Sauce Pizza & Wine restaurants and this summer they will be introducing a sampler deal starting June 1 going until Aug. 31. For just $22, you and your friend can enjoy one of their inventive salads, delicious pizzas and two glasses of wine. Some of the new salads being introduced is a Watermelon & Arugula that features roasted pumpkin seeds, crunchy jicama, red onions and feta cheese then gently tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette and two new pizzas for under $11, a wild mushroom and spicy chicken sausage.

Dante’s Fire is hosting a service industry night, every night, starting at 10 p.m. So when you are done with your shift, head on over and receive 20 percent off all food items on their late night menu and imbibe in a well needed $4 cocktail. The only catch is, you are at the bartender’s whim, so be prepared to sip on something that you probably weren’t expecting.

All three Bisbee Breakfast Club locations are reintroducing their $5.99 early bird special, Monday - Friday from 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. This deal gets you two eggs any style, home fries or hash browns, toast or biscuit and coffee or tea. But it is the Broadway location that will help you beat the heat as they have teamed up with their neighbors Cashew Cow and have created something called the Affogato which comes equipped with a scoop of Cashew Cow vanilla, a double shot of Ombre Coffee espresso then topped with real whipped cream and crunchy biscotti bits. Yum!

Jonathan’s Cork is hosting something called the “Patio Pig,” which is a full pig roast every Thursday in June from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. This is a full on luau buffet style and if the Cork is doing it, you know it’ll be something special. They will also be doing bar specials Monday – Thursday beginning at 4pm. On Monday you can feast on homemade meatloaf, Tuesday is fish taco day, every Wednesday enjoy green pulled pork and Thursdays will get you a juicy cheeseburger served with house cut fries. There is also a late night menu Thursday – Saturday from 10 p.m. – close and be sure to see what they got for their happy hours Monday – Friday 3 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays 3 p.m. – close for deals on appetizers and drinks.

Laughing Stock: Improv 'Til You Drop and Smiles for Soldiers

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 10:15 AM

For $20, including $10 for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, Tucson comedy fans can watch 18 hours of improv, comedy and performance art May 26 and 27.

Tucson’s first Improvathon includes ambitious amateurs from the community, as well as players and established teams from improv companies Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed, Comedy Temple and the host company, Tucson Improv Movement. Stand-up comedians and performance artists, both accomplished and aspiring, also will perform.

TIM’s Daniel Kirby is the event’s wrangler, coordinating the schedules of nearly 100 performers. “There's a community aspect of it,” Kirby says. “We have several opportunities for community members to jam with improvisers, and a special block late on Friday night and early Saturday morning that we're saving for bit shows.

“The idea of a bit show is that you have one joke and you try to make that into a five- or ten-minute show. They can be very loosely improv-related. We only ask that they be comedy.” Kirby says he’s seen a bit show in which improv team members invented characters that all spoke like Saturday Night Live’s Don Pardo. In another, team members brought pizza to audience members at and had conversations with them.

Some weekly TIM shows are featured in their regular time slots. Immediately following an Improvathon kickoff at 8 p.m., TIM’s weekly Soapbox show features offbeat, nationally syndicated cartoonist Max Cannon. On Saturday, the kids’ show, FOMP, goes on at 1 p.m., and TIM’s popular game show, Throwdown starts at 9 p.m.

Marathons have been popular with improv companies nationwide since the Upright Citizens Brigade held the first Del Close Marathon 19 years ago. “Most people who do improv just wish they could do it all the time,” says Kirby. “This is an opportunity to test yourself to see if you can actually do too much improv!”

The Improvathon takes place at TIM Comedy Theatre, 329 E. 7th Street. Visit for details.

Smiles For Soldiers

L.A. Improv comedy duo Rollin’ in Riches brings their high energy and quick wits two three nights of benefit performances for Ayuda of Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that connects vets to free dental services. Funds raised go to dental hardware and other material costs. Each show is at a different site, May 18, 19 and 20. Dinner and a cocktail, or two cocktails, are included in the $20 ticket price. Visit for details and reservations.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Streets of This Town: Don't 'Toilet' in Front of Mailbox!

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM


"Streets of This Town" is a little photo series featuring random pics I take on long walks through Tucson.

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Song of the Day: Billy Sedlmayr on Paul Weller's 'She Moves With the Fayre'

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 4:30 PM

Not Sir Paul Weller. - TOM BEARD
  • Tom Beard
  • Not Sir Paul Weller.

A Kind Revolution
just dropped and it wasn’t Trump's latest riddle on Twitter referencing Comey's fast track to the wood chipper.

No, it’s Weller's umpteenth album release. One in which he may still be committing treason to the angry young idealist who in his late teens and 20s led the mighty Jam, running with peers The Clash, The Damned, and others, destined to the piper’s call of identity, purpose with guitars and drums.

Chasing his career, the new album has guest spots from Robert Wyatt, old-school soul-shouter P.P. Arnold, and Boy George, who’s back from the slums of newspaper gossip and curiosity. It’s an album that’s less cosmetic then the last one.

I swore off the Modfather for playing it safe, and for the death of his own urgency. I mean, this songwriter at one time captured British life, and like a soldier fighting for ground beneath his feet, he had a real sense of homeland, community, if nothing else. He was a contender, a thinker, with vanity, ego, sure, but that made This is a Modern World, All Mod Cons, Setting Sons and The Gift incredibly tough albums with respites of odd calm in songs like "Life From a Window," "Don't Tell Them You're Sane," "English Rose," "Butterfly Collector," and "Ghosts.”

The Jam had worn suits, neat and tailored, a mix of Northern Soul and the London scene of the late ’60s—Who, Kinks, Small Faces. They broke singles like beer bottles. Mod revivalists sure, but they hit those who became loyal to a fault.

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The New Teacher Certification Rules: Is Everyone Else Wrong, or Am I?

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 3:37 PM

I've read SB1042 over and over again, likewise the accompanying Fact Sheet, and I keep coming to the same conclusion. Every media report I've read about the teacher certification law is wrong except mine. That sounds like the ravings of an egomaniac, I know, but until someone shows me I'm wrong, I'm sticking to my reading of the new law.

Here's what the new certification rules say as I read them. If you have a baccalaureate degree and nothing more, you can teach at a public middle or high school in a subject relevant to your content area. Even if you don't have a baccalaureate degree, you can teach if you've previously taught three years in an accredited postsecondary institution or if you've worked in a relevant field for five years. If you meet any of the three criteria—any of them—you qualify for a Subject Matter Expert Standard Teaching Certificate and can jump right into the classroom. You'll never be required to take an education course, and you'll never have to take a professional knowledge proficiency exam, ever. The only other thing you'll need is a fingerprint clearance card.

That's it. That's all you need to start teaching. A bachelor's degree in a field taught in 6th through 12th grade. Or three years teaching in an accredited post-high school setting. Or five years working in a relevant field. Any of the three will do. The earlier version of the law, which applied only to teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, said you had to have both a bachelor's and three years of post-high school teaching experience to qualify for a specialized teaching certificate. The new version applies to all 6th through 12th grade subjects, and it says either of those will do, then it adds five years of work experience as a third option.

All other media reports I've read say you need a bachelor's degree plus teaching or work experience to qualify. Uh uh. It's not both/and. It's either/or. To me, the law is clear as day, and it sets the bar for teaching far lower than other media reports have stated. If I've got it wrong, I'm fine with that. But until someone can show me the error of my ways, I'm going to continue to believe I've read the bill more carefully, and more accurately, than other people who've written about it.

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Staff Pick

Frida: Portraits by Nickolas Muray

Tucson Botanical Gardens and Etherton Gallery are collaborating to bring the photography show Frida: Portraits by Nickolas… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Oct. 10-May 31, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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