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Not One Person With A Discrimination Case Was Referred To See A Legal Aid Lawyer In The Last Year

The government announced a review of the impact of its legal aid cuts earlier this month following revelations by BuzzFeed News about the rising number of people going into court alone.

Since 2013, anyone wanting free legal advice in a discrimination, education, or debt case has to call the Civil Legal Advice line first. The latest figures for the phone service show that just one person was referred for face-to-face legal help on an education case, and 55 saw a legal aid lawyer in person on a debt issue.

Experts say the phone service is not working and is not properly marketed, so many cases are not coming through. They also argue that discrimination cases require expert legal help face-to-face to tease out the details necessary for a case and that thousands of people may effectively be blocked from bringing important cases by this phone triage system.

The latest legal aid statistics suggest that 1,421 discrimination cases had legal representation claims submitted in the last year. However, experts say these figures are misleading because it is mandatory to have a phone consultation first for a case dealing with discrimination.

The figures captured in the 1,421 are only cases using other areas of the law to get legal aid (for example a housing or communities case), and the discrimination will be another element to that case. They do not capture, for example, employment or consumer discrimination cases that have to go via the phone line. The figure for those cases is zero.

Carol Storer, director of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, said she was concerned that telephone advice would result in legitimate cases being missed because lawyers would find it harder to tease out the necessary facts over the phone. “People don’t come with a story where they weight everything and start at the most important points. That’s why in particular discrimination cases can be difficult [to handle on the phone].”

Steve Hynes, director of the access-to-justice charity Legal Action Group, agreed. He said: “The telephone lines are not doing the numbers you’d expect. It’s a very limited service. It’s very difficult to find information on the phone line.”

Hynes also questioned whether the MoJ was properly marketing the service: “The legal aid agency don’t do the marketing of this they need to. You do question their marketing strategy when it just doesn’t pick up the numbers you’d expect.”

Hynes, who before moving to Legal Action Group was an employment lawyer, said the figures suggested people with legitimate cases weren’t getting help: “The system is completely failing and people entitled to legal aid for discrimination cases aren’t getting into the system because the mandatory gateway doesn’t work.”

Labour is pushing for proper early legal advice to be considered in the government’s review of LASPO.

Burgon said: “Early Legal Help should be a valued part of our legal aid system. It encourages mediation and can reduce pressure on public resources by preventing the need for more costly legal representation and the escalation of disputes into expensive court cases. Labour will ensure that it plays a key role in our vision of a fairer justice system.”

He added: “The government has belatedly announced that it will review its failed legal aid policies. It should use this to fundamentally repair a legal aid system that has been severely damaged by the government’s cuts agenda and boost genuine early legal help. But with another £800 million set to be slashed from the Justice Ministry’s budget over the next two years under the Conservatives’ plans, there is a real danger that many more people could be excluded from the right to basic legal help.”

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Listen to Teachers to Improve Schools


« Melting Pot and Inter-Group Understanding |

Despite the investment of countless millions of dollars over the past 17 years by philanthropists, top-down strategies have done very little to improve public schools. It’s to Bill Gates’s credit that he has admitted as much (“What drives K-12 school reform?The Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 27).  He joins Mark Zuckerberg in learning that lesson after a $100 million donation fell way short of expectations in reforming schools in Newark, N.J.

I’m not at all surprised by the disappointing outcomes.  Public education is the one area where the advice of practitioners is routinely ignored or downplayed.  I’ve seen this time and again, despite the lip service paid by reformers about the importance of teachers.  Teachers know what they need to do their job effectively.  But despite their pleas over the years, help doesn’t trickle down to the classroom.  The Teacher Union Reform Network in its first national report released in October urged revitalizing public education through “the collective wisdom of teachers.”

When the heads of teachers union speak up, they are accused of putting the interests of their members over those of students. Only those who have taught in public schools should be appointed secretary of Education.  Otherwise, how can they possibly understand the realities of the classroom?  This is why I remain extremely pessimistic about the future of public education in this country.  No amount of money will do much unless it is directed to areas that public school teachers urge.

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UK universities ‘face disaster within weeks’ without clear Brexit plan

British universities face “a moment of great trauma” in the next few weeks unless the government makes clear its post-Brexit plans for EU residents in the UK, a leading vice-chancellor has warned.

Prof Stuart Croft of Warwick University said in an interview with the Guardian that the possibility of no deal being struck to exit the EU was “utterly bizarre”, and that institutions needed certainty over residency rights by the end of the year to avoid seeing staff at all levels deciding to leave.

“A lot of organisations – not just universities – feel that there will be a moment when either some form of deal is likely or no deal is likely. And at the ‘no deal is likely’ moment – it could be in December, it could be four weeks away – then people will start to make some big decisions about their futures,” Croft said.

“For all of us in different organisations, that could be really, really uncomfortable. And four weeks is really not a very long time. We absolutely need a deal.

“I cannot imagine how it has happened that a vote to leave has been turned into a possibility of a vote to leave with no agreement, no plan for the future.”

Exiting the EU without a deal would be “a moment of really great trauma potentially for us as individuals and also for our institutions”, Croft said.

Warwick currently employs around 800 staff from the rest of the EU, out of 6,500 staff in total, and Croft said it was not just professors and senior researchers whose departure would harm the university.

“We have lots of people – we want them all to stay – people who work in all parts of the organisation. We have illustrious professors doing important things, and we have people who work in catering, and they are all really important.

“The whole idea that organisations like ours can be rent apart in this sort of way is utterly bizarre, and actually quite mendacious,” Croft said.

Croft’s blunt warning comes as universities across the UK are reluctantly drawing up plans to cope with the UK’s eventual exit from the EU, although many say they are unable to adequately look ahead because of the lack of detail coming from the government.

Warwick, along with many other British universities, is providing legal advice to EU staff who are able to apply for British citizenship in order to stay with their homes and families – but Croft said that route was itself fraught.

“This is one of the things I find the most painful of all. We have a number of staff who have a number of different nationalities. They are quite happy working here with those nationalities.

“And I’m really uncomfortable with being part of a project, saying to them: ‘You may be Italian but actually now you need to become British.’ That’s a very unhappy place to be,” he said.

Croft and his fellow vice-chancellors – along with other members of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities and the Universities UK lobbying group – have held a series of talks with ministers since the referendum last year, but say they have received little in response.

“There’s always politeness and engagement, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Nothing is done with it. In a sense there has been no fundamental progress in 18 months on these big questions. There have been lots of details, but the big core issues have yet to be resolved,” Croft said.

The Russell Group lists the issue of EU nationals as its number one priority for a post-Brexit deal, saying the 25,000 staff employed at its universities are “indispensable to our world-class institutions”.

“We value them highly and want them to stay, but they urgently need solid guarantees about their future,” the group said in a briefing last week.

The single point of progress since the Brexit vote has been a guarantee by the chancellor, Philip Hammond, that university research funding underpinned by the EU would be replaced by funding from the British government.

“That was a massive shot in the arm,” said Croft, who argues that a similar guarantee is required in other areas such as the funding of Erasmus, the European student exchange programme.

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The French-Pakistani Entrepreneur Training Companies For Business Expansion Abroad

Photo by Nina Roberts

Sophie Lechner is the CEO and founder of Global Commerce Education, Inc., which supports businesses expanding abroad.

To the delight of some and horror of others, the world continues to careen towards globalization. Technology has allowed businesses to have unprecedented access to markets, talent, information and modes of communication, which makes setting up shop abroad seem deceptively easy.

Some business owners and entrepreneurs can be cavalier when expanding abroad, relying on their education, professional experience, connections and street smarts. Others, however, are aware of potential blind spots, from legal to cultural, and seek professional advice from companies like Global Commerce Education, Inc. (GCE), operating out of the greater New York area. Founder and CEO Sophie Lechner launched GCE two years ago; it prepares U.S. and foreign companies for business expansion abroad, which includes cross-cultural training and capacity building.

“My role is really more of a conductor of an orchestra,” explains 53-year-old Lechner recently, at a crowded mid-town Manhattan café. “My business model is that I have this curated faculty,” says Lechner in a faint French accent; she calls upon select individuals from her global network located in the Americas, Europe and Asia, who can share knowledge with clients. “The right person to really connect with my audience,” explains Lechner, “and give them the advice that they need.” These expert professionals advise on legal, regulatory, financial, accounting and marketing matters.

“We don’t plan for them,” asserts Lechner, who was born in Pakistan, raised in France and arrived in the U.S. to attend Columbia Business School. Instead, she continues, GCE assesses the company’s plans, objectives, capabilities and intended market, and helps crystallize a strategic plan for optimal market entry.

Lechner claims that when companies fail abroad, 50 to 70% of the time it’s due to cultural differences that have not been addressed. “How do you pitch? How do you present your product?” asks Lechner rhetorically, as cultures vary on the spectrum of reserved to expressive, formal to informal. If a startup pitches their services to an audience that reacts with stone-face silence, it could mean interest in one culture, rejection in another.

“We’re outgoing and smiling and gesturing; enthusiastic and encouraging,” says Lechner of Americans, laughing as she hesitantly includes herself in “we” having lived in the U.S. for 25 years. “A lot of cultures,” she adds, “are not as smiley.”

GCE began germinating as a business four years ago when Lechner met Gene Detroyer, GCE’s Executive Director, at a networking event for Columbia Business School alumni. They partnered to pitch a global executive MBA program to a private French business school. The project evolved into GCE. They offer Market Validation, Market Entry and Ultimate Immersion programs, composed of two days in the home country and an intensive week immersion in the foreign country, four weeks later. GCE also designs individually tailored programs.

Lechner highlights some of the most common strategies she’s shared with clients. She stresses that businesses expanding abroad needn’t lose their identity and assimilate, but simply be aware of cultural nuances in order to conduct business effectively.

Strategies for businesses expanding to the U.S. market

Lechner “jumps out of her skin” when foreign clients, especially those from small countries, assume that the U.S.’s enormous population will organically provide sufficient customers. “Ah, it’s just not how it works,” states Lechner, shaking her head.

“You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to expand into the U.S. market,’” pauses Lechner, “Which one?” The geographic enormity of the U.S. allows for each city, state and region to have its own culture and market.

An entrepreneur who comes from a culture that values modesty and humility might talk about their startup in a low-key, even self-deprecating manner. “You can’t do that here!” exclaims Lechner, “People will think you don’t believe in yourself.”

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Flagstaff immigration panelists share experiences, advice

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NerdWallet: When good money advice is bad for you





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The 10 best blogs for ADHD

ADHD blogs are dedicated to supporting individuals with ADHD and their friends and family.

Blogs that specialize in ADHD can provide educational information, advice, and support for those with the disorder and their friends and family, and tips on day-to-day living with ADHD. We have selected the best blogs for the disorder.

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition that includes a combination of persistent behavioral symptoms, such as attention difficulties, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

ADHD affects around 11 percent of children aged between 4 and 17 years in the United States and often continues into adulthood.

Children with ADHD may struggle with poor performance at school, low self-esteem, and have trouble with relationships. Adults with ADHD may have problems with organization and prioritizing, time management, and multitasking. They may also experience difficulties with focusing, frustration, mood swings, and coping with stress.

Although there is no cure for ADHD, treatments can help to reduce symptoms and improve functioning. Treatments often include education, training, psychological counseling, and medications.

ADHD blogs can provide strategies, recommendations, and suggestions for coping with daily tasks from both experts and those with the disorder, wirth the aim of empowering their readers.

Here are Medical News Today’s top 10 blogs for ADHD.

ADHD Kids Rock

Jeff Rasmussen has just graduated from high school and is the creator of the website ADHD Kids Rock. Jeff was diagnosed with ADHD in Grade 7 and says that his biggest dream is to change the world for children, who, like him, “are punished daily for having ADHD.”

Jeff had many bad experiences at school as a result of his ADHD. Before he started taking medication, his teachers would take away his recess, gym classes, and suspend him from school. Through the ADHD Kids Rock blog, Jeff shares his experiences, strategies, and stories for kids, parents, teachers, and others about living with ADHD.

Recent posts on the blog include how summer camp is not all fun and games for kids with ADHD, how to avoid fights when faced with an angry bully who is out to prove a point, and why video games can be more helpful than you think for those with ADHD.

Visit the ADHD Kids Rock blog.

The ADHD Homestead

Jaclyn Paul is a stay-at-home mom and writer for the blog The ADHD Homestead. Jaclyn and her husband share a home, a preschooler, and a diagnosis of ADHD.

Jaclyn says, “It’s possible to calm the chaos!” Despite having ADHD, Jaclyn has created a satisfying life and a peaceful home for her and her family. Jaclyn achieved this by treating her ADHD, learning about her brain, and figuring out what works best to keep her home, relationships, and schedule under control.

Through her blog, The ADHD Homestead, Jaclyn shows others how to live happily with ADHD. Featured posts include how to handle kin-keeping when you are a woman with ADHD, how to make sure you catch all the important details when you read, and using music and songs to help with poor memory.

Visit The ADHD Homestead blog.

A Splintered Mind

Douglas Cootey is the man behind A Splintered Mind blog. He has been blogging about mental health on the site since 2005. Douglas began blogging to primarily overcome the stigma of his ADHD and depression and talk about his conditions more openly without feeling shame.

Douglas also aims to reach out to others who are experiencing similar issues, to not only share how ADHD and depression affect him but also to learn how it affects others by reading their comments and emails.

A Splintered Mind gives an honest and sometimes humorous account of life with ADHD. Posts include a trip to the doctor’s office on the wrong day and how to prevent that from happening next time, tips to slay ADHD tardiness, and how to overcome an overwhelming sense of underachievement.

Visit A Splintered Mind blog.

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Raised on Ritalin

Raised on Ritalin is the blog of Tyler Page. Tyler was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 8 years old and says that it was just before his 9th birthday that he started medication and “became a hard drug user.”

Now in his 40s, Tyler is an artist who is based in Minneapolis. With the use of written posts and cartoon drawings, the Raised on Ritalin blog explores ADHD, treatments for the condition, and details of how ADHD has affected his life and the lives of his family. He has even released a graphic novel on his personal ADHD story.

Comic book posts on the blog include how cycling has helped with ADHD, how making comics clicked with the way Tyler’s brain works, and how Tyler’s ADHD education and research has changed the way he approaches his life.

Visit Raised on Ritalin blog.

ADHD Roller Coaster

Gina Pera is an “accidental adult ADHD expert” and writer of the blog ADHD Roller Coaster. Gina entered into the field of ADHD by chance after reading a book about the brain at the library, which changed her life, her husband’s life, and the lives of others.

In the book, Gina read about a condition called adult ADHD, which struck a chord with her and suddenly gave her a clue as to why her and her then-fiancée, a molecular biologist, constantly drove each other crazy. Gina’s husband was diagnosed with ADHD many years into their relationship, and she began to think that perhaps other couples could be in the same boat.

Gina has spent 17 years on a mission to reduce suffering and elevate the conversation around adult ADHD. Her latest blog posts include six ADHD management tools and strategies, the high cost of using fear-based management for ADHD, and whether ADHD can affect sense of smell.

Visit ADHD Roller Coaster blog.

Totally ADD

Totally ADD is dedicated to supporting adults with ADHD and individuals affected by ADHD, such as family, employers, and healthcare professionals. Totally ADD’s mission is to liberate those with ADHD from fear, shame, and stigma so that they can create a life that they love.

The Totally ADD team is made up of individuals with ADD or people who are affected by it. They offer knowledge, social interaction, and a healthy dose of humor in their posts. The information on the site is reliable and presented in a way that is both memorable and fun.

Articles on the blog include strengths that are common to people with ADHD, whether ADD adults experience low self-esteem, and how to find out if you have ADHD.

Visit the Totally ADD blog.

An ADD Woman

Brenda Nicholson is the creator of An ADD Woman. Around 30 years ago, Brenda realized that her son had ADHD and has been passionate about helping others to figure out how to live their best life with ADHD ever since. Brenda was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 42, and her two daughters also have ADHD.

Brenda is an ADD coach and has been working with many women and young adults with ADHD since the year 2000. Brenda says that she is living proof that it is possible to live a full life with ADHD and that starts with understanding your ADHD and taking good care of yourself.

An ADD Woman includes ADHD-related posts such as whether women with ADHD are confident, how to be organized and get stuff done, and the things you can manage to get done around the house in 5 minutes or less.

Visit An ADD Woman blog.

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ImpactADHD is a space for parents of children with ADHD to receive vital support, coaching, and solutions. ImpactADHD point out that while many parents put everyone else before themselves, empowering yourself is the best possible way to empower your children.

ImpactADHD provide coaching to help parents remove obstacles and work toward success and satisfaction. They teach how to set realistic, attainable goals and how to communicate more effectively to reach a happier path of parenting.

The blog is categorized into overcoming school challenges, organizing life and family, maintaining healthy relationships, and managing emotions and impulses. Posts include how to help your child concentrate, some simple tricks to manage the morning madness, and how to create a relationship of trust with your child.

Visit the ImpactADHD blog.

ADD Consults

Terry Matlen is a psychotherapist, ADHD coach specializing in ADHD in women, and is the founder of ADD Consults. Terry has ADHD, as does one of her two children.

Terry is passionate about raising awareness of the unique challenges that women with ADHD face and the issues they experience when their children are also diagnosed with ADHD. She is a nationally recognized speaker on the topic of ADHD and a Senior Certified Coach.

Blog posts on ADD Consults cover a range of ADHD topics, such as steps to take to make your relationship less destructive, tips on how to stay connected and become a better listener, and strategies to help families affected by ADHD improve relationships, self-esteem, and life in general.

Visit the ADD Consults blog.

Untapped Brilliance

Jacqueline Sinfield is an ADHD coach for adults and educates adults with ADHD how to manage their ADHD naturally through her site Untapped Brilliance.

Jacqueline always dreamed of being a nurse and pursued a career path practicing nursing until she realized her real passion was in speaking with patients and their families. She proceeded to take a career shift in psychology and coaching.

The Untapped Brilliance blog covers subjects such as ideas of what to include on your ADHD “don’t do” list, ways to eliminate afternoon crashes for those with ADHD, and facts about ADHD and shame.

Visit the Untapped Brilliance blog.

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Private girls’ schools ‘should embrace apprenticeships’ | Tes

The president of the Girls’ Schools Association will lay down a challenge today for independent girls’ schools to embrace apprenticeships.

In a speech today, Charlotte Avery will also say there is a “leaky pipeline” of women moving into education leadership roles, which urgently needs to be addressed through better succession planning.

Speaking at the GSA’s annual conference for headteachers in Manchester, Ms Avery will ask: “[Is] our careers provision… as forward-thinking as it could be?

“What should HE [higher education] advice look like for our girls? How will the introduction of ‘high-level’ apprenticeships affect our students’ post-school choices?

“Ask yourselves how ’50 per cent of our students go on to apprenticeships’ might sound in your school’s marketing materials, after generations of saying, ‘100 per cent go on to university’.”

Ms Avery will also highlight that only 37 per cent of secondary school heads are female.

“This is an issue for all of us,” she will say. “GSA schools, as well as the sector more widely, need strong, committed and passionate women with vision in leadership roles, and we must start now in our succession planning for a future of inspirational women leaders.”

‘Gender bias in the workplace’

The GSA is working with Bright Field Consulting and the Association of State Girls’ Schools on a mentoring programme for female leaders, which aims to pair two high-performing mentors with two prospective senior leaders – one from a GSA school and one from an ASGS school.

Ms Avery will also say that the GSA should focus on “key areas of future life”, including “gender bias in the workplace”.

Many of its member schools have supported the Dads4Daughters campaign, which aims to encourage men to play their part as “Manbassadors” who advocate for gender equality at work.

“By engaging with fathers, we hope to encourage men to consider how they would like their daughters to be treated in the workplace, and reflect on their own workplace behaviour in terms of gender equality,” Ms Avery will say.

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook

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Liz Weston: When good money advice is bad for you

  • FILE - This April 2017 file photo provided by NerdWallet shows Liz Weston, a columnist for personal finance website (NerdWallet via AP, File) Photo: AP / NerdWallet



Discussing economic class is tricky in America, but the working and middle classes face vastly different financial challenges than upper-income families, and the gaps are growing wider. Good money advice for high earners could be lousy for low earners, and vice versa.

For example, certified financial planners recommend saving a three-month emergency fund before tackling other money goals.

That advice can make sense for affluent families — those who can afford a financial planner — since high earners often have enough discretionary income to create an emergency fund quickly. For families living paycheck to paycheck, the same advice could be an expensive mistake.

Here’s an example of the math for a middle-income family spending $4,000 a month. They might trim their spending to $3,600 and manage to save the extra $400. Three months’ worth of expenses would equal $10,800, which divided by $400 would take 27 months to accumulate — and that’s if they had no unexpected expenses in the meantime.

That’s at least two years where they might be passing up company matches in 401(k)s, losing tax breaks for retirement plan contributions and paying exorbitant interest rates on credit cards and other debt.

Everyone needs an emergency fund. But even a small one — $500 to $1,000 — will do for a start. Building up a three-month fund should come after retirement savings is on track and debt with high interest rates has been paid off.


Education debt is another example where the best advice depends on how well you’re fixed.

Families are more than twice as likely to have student loans now than they were a generation ago, Federal Reserve data show. Nearly 45 percent of families headed by people younger than 35, and 34 percent of those ages 35-44, have student loans, according to the Fed’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances.

But only those who got bachelor’s or graduate degrees in 2016 had higher incomes and net worths compared with their counterparts in 1989. Those who went to college but didn’t get at least a four-year degree had a median net worth that was 23 percent lower and real, inflation-adjusted income that was 16 percent lower than similarly educated families in 1989, the survey shows.

The lower your income and the less wealth you have, the less of a rush you should be in to pay off student loan debt. Extra money you might send to lenders likely would be better used to bolster your financial cushion. Yes, paying loans off early reduces how much interest you pay, but you can’t get that money back if you lose your job or face other financial setbacks.

Less affluent borrowers also shouldn’t refinance federal student loans, which have consumer protections and flexible repayment plans, into potentially lower-interest rate private loans that lack these options. Only those who are unlikely to need forbearance and deferral (high earners with plenty of savings) should consider refinancing or quickly paying off student loans.


Roth IRAs are another example of the best advice depending on your economic status.

The typical recommendation is that people should save in Roth IRAs only if they expect to be in the same or a higher tax bracket in the future, since these don’t offer a tax break up front, but promise tax-free withdrawals in retirement. That means most workers should stick to 401(k)s and regular IRAs that offer deductible contributions, since income typically drops in retirement.

But people who earn less are more likely to face income disruptions that could cause them to break into their retirement savings early.

Unemployment risk rises dramatically with lower education and income levels, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2015, the unemployment rate was 8 percent for those without a high school diploma and 5 percent for those without at least a four-year college degree. The unemployment rate for those with bachelor’s degrees was 2.8 percent and 1.5 percent for professional degrees.

If you have a 401(k) at work, it makes sense to contribute enough to get the full match. But if you can contribute more, the Roth might be the better option if your income is erratic. Roths allow you to withdraw the amount you’ve contributed at any time without triggering income taxes and penalties. Ideally, you would leave the money alone to grow, but you won’t be punished if you can’t.


This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet.

Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: Twitter: @lizweston.


NerdWallet: Everything you need to know about Roth IRAs

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Some thoughtful Thanksgiving advice

Dear neighbors,

Thanksgiving is very near. For many of us, we will welcome friends and family into our homes and around our dinner tables, along with their sometimes undesirable opinions and contrary beliefs. We can choose to feel anxious, or we can choose to feel blessed. 

I invite you to opt for the latter.

There are issues we feel passionately about: taxes, gun control, public education and our president that we simply are not going to agree on. Whether it be with in-laws, extended family, friends, adult children, or even your spouse, there’s just too much room for opposition. Does this mean that we are all supposed to plaster on a smile and only say things like “pass the cranberry sauce,” for the duration of the meal? Absolutely not!

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to be honest and to express your passion. But also be open to those who counter your beliefs with strong ones of their own. As your ovens and Thanksgiving dinners get heated, keep your heads cool. Remember that you’re sitting among those you love. Remind yourself that love is not rude, self-seeking or easily angered (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8).

Continue to express your passion, continue to love and continue to be thankful. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

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