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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: City of Angels
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 7,239

Journal Archives

Trump's 'big announcement' on tax to be broad principles: official

Source: Reuters

President Donald Trump's promised "big announcement" next week on overhauling the U.S. tax code, a top campaign pledge, will consist of "broad principles and priorities," an administration official said on Saturday.

The president unexpectedly said on Friday at a Treasury Department event that there would be "a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform."

In a Twitter message on Saturday, he wrote: "Big TAX REFORM AND TAX REDUCTION will be announced next Wednesday."

Asked for details, the administration official, who asked not to be identified, said, "We will outline our broad principles and priorities" on Wednesday.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-tax-trump-idUSKBN17O0KY

How Republicans and Democrats in Congress are joining forces to defeat Sessions war on weed

Rep. Carlos Curbelo is a two-term Republican from a South Florida district that was once the epicenter in the country’s war on drugs. But last month Curbelo, one of a new generation of Cuban-Americans in Congress, did something that, not too many years ago, would have been unthinkable. He co-sponsored a bill that is the top priority for the nation’s booming marijuana industry.

Dubbed the Small Business Tax Equity Act, Curbelo’s bill would let legal pot dealers take advantage of the same tax deductions and credits as any other business, a move that industry experts say would slash the effective tax rates for weed dispensaries in half.

“One of my goals in Congress is to ensure the law treats all enterprises with fairness and equity,” he said in a statement explaining his decision to join a liberal Oregon Democrat, Earl Blumenauer, in co-sponsoring the measure.

It didn’t hurt Curbelo that his move won instant plaudits from influential GOP tax reform guru Grover Norquist — a longtime champion of legalized pot — who decries the “arbitrary and punitive” treatment of legal marijuana dealers in the tax code. Nor is it likely to hurt Curbelo back home: Last November, 71 percent of Florida voters approved a medical marijuana measure on the ballot, making the Sunshine State one of the latest in a long line of states that have either legalized pot altogether or allow it to be sold for medicinal purposes.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/republicans-democrats-congress-joining-forces-defeat-sessions-war-weed-092026350.html

Hooters calendar girl and Playboy Miss Social were Artiles paid consultants

Just months before his resignation Friday, Sen. Frank Artiles scored a coup in November when he unseated Democrat Dwight Bullard with an aggressive $1 million campaign in a district that favored Democrats.

But the long list of expenditures filed with the Florida Division of Elections by Artiles’ political committee, Veterans for Conservative Principles, also raised some questions. Why did the committee hire a former Hooters “calendar girl” and a Playboy model with no political experience as “consultants?” Were the payments related to a trip to the Kentucky Derby or a fishing tournament in Key West? What was the more than $51,000 in reimbursements to Artiles for?

Heather Thomas, a former Hooters calendar girl and waitress at 101, a restaurant and bar in Tallahassee, was paid $2,000 between March and June of last year. The expense report lists the purpose as “consultant.” Her friend, Brittney Singletary, is a waitress at Stetsons on the Moon in Tallahassee. She was paid $1,500 with three checks covering three of the same dates and listing the same purpose. 

Artiles’ political consultant David Custin refused to comment on why they listed the expenditures as “consultants.”

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article146029094.html

At least they weren't described in the expense report as being on his staff.

Tesla's Musk Paid at Least $593 Million in Income Taxes in 2016

One of the best-kept secrets of America’s billionaires is the size of their tax bills.

Tesla Inc. has provided a rare glimpse into this world, disclosing Thursday that its billionaire Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk paid at least $593 million in income taxes last year. He got hit with the big tax bill after exercising stock options that were set to expire at the end of 2016, a filing shows.

He paid the taxes by selling some of the shares he got from the options, keeping the remaining ones. Don’t weep for Musk. He’s got a net worth of about $12.9 billion, the bulk of it tied up in the carmaker’s stock, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

While the tax payment seems like a staggering sum, it’s hard to know exactly how it compares to what other billionaires shell out. It’s exceedingly unusual for that to be disclosed. And it’s equally unusual for companies to disclose the tax bill of one of its top executives. In this case, Tesla wanted to show investors that Musk sold the shares to cover taxes on the options he exercised months before they would have otherwise expired.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-21/tesla-s-musk-paid-at-least-593-million-in-income-taxes-in-2016

Paul Tudor Jones Says U.S. Stocks Should Terrify Janet Yellen

Billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones has a message for Janet Yellen and investors: Be very afraid.

The legendary macro trader says that years of low interest rates have bloated stock valuations to a level not seen since 2000, right before the Nasdaq tumbled 75 percent over two-plus years. That measure -- the value of the stock market relative to the size of the economy -- should be “terrifying” to a central banker, Jones said earlier this month at a closed-door Goldman Sachs Asset Management conference, according to people who heard him.

Jones is voicing what many hedge fund and other money managers are privately warning investors: Stocks are trading at unsustainable levels. A few traders are more explicit, predicting a sizable market tumble by the end of the year.

Last week, Guggenheim Partner’s Scott Minerd said he expected a “significant correction” this summer or early fall. Philip Yang, a macro manager who has run Willowbridge Associates since 1988, sees a stock plunge of between 20 and 40 percent, according to people familiar with his thinking.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-20/paul-tudor-jones-says-u-s-stocks-should-terrify-janet-yellen

I'm getting a bit nervous myself.

Soaring number of computers being hijacked for ransom

Gene Pane’s computer abruptly stopped working, save for a jarring message that appeared on his screen.

“It was a warning that said I had downloaded a virus and had to pay $199 to get rid of it,” Pane, a retired business executive who lives in Carlsbad, said of the recent incident. “I needed the files on my computer, so I paid. The money won’t break me, but still ...”

Pane had accidentally downloaded ransomware, a rapidly growing form of extortion in which hackers slyly load malicious software onto people’s computers — via emails, decoy ads, bogus news stories and code embedded in all manner of websites.

“It’s entirely possible that we’ll have far in excess of $1 billion in losses” worldwide related to ransomware, said Special Agent Chris Christopherson, who investigates cyber crimes out of the FBI’s field office in San Diego.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/cyber-life/sd-me-connected-ransomware-20170421-story.html

Bill OReilly Tearfully Packs Up Framed Up-Skirt Photos From Desk



NEW YORK—Smiling wistfully as he gazed at the cherished mementos that had sat on his desk for much of the past 20 years, former Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly reportedly grew teary-eyed Thursday as he packed up the framed up-skirt photos from his work space following his termination by the cable channel.

“God, I have so many great memories from this place,” said the longtime host of The O’Reilly Factor as he stared down at the 8-by-10 glossy print showing a woman’s exposed underwear taken from underneath a news desk, before wrapping it in tissue paper and placing it gently in a cardboard box alongside a smaller three-panel frame containing photos of various women’s bare thighs.

“I worked with some truly amazing people who showed me some incredible things over the years. I’m really going to miss everything I got to do at this place—it was always such a good time. It’s hard to let go.”

At press time, O’Reilly was seen wiping away a tear from the corner of his eye and popping a small down-blouse photo of a woman’s cleavage out of its frame and placing it carefully in his wallet.

http://www.theonion.com/article/bill-oreilly-tearfully-packs-framed-skirt-photos-d-55818

Mummies discovered in ancient tomb near Egypt's Luxor



Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed several mummies, colourful wooden sarcophagi and more than 1,000 funerary statues in a 3,500-year-old tomb near the city of Luxor hailed as an "important discovery".

Antiquities officials had initially said six mummies along with partial remains were discovered near the southern city, but said they had later identified two more mummies.

"There are 10 coffins and eight mummies. The excavation is ongoing," Mostafa Waziri, the head of the archeological mission, told AFP.

The 18th Dynasty tomb, discovered in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis near the famed Valley of the Kings, belonged to a nobleman named Userhat who worked as the city judge, the ministry said in a Tuesday statement.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/mummies-discovered-ancient-tomb-near-egypts-luxor-143515615.html

After Their Break, Congress Will Have 4 Days to Avoid a Government Shutdown

When members of the House of Representatives return to Washington from a nearly three-week break at the end of the month, they will have left themselves just four legislative days to come to some sort of agreement that will allow the federal government to continue operating after its current spending authorization expires. For multiple reasons, many people in Washington doubt they’ll be able to do it.

The Republican leadership in this Congress has not, so far at least, been particularly adept at getting its troops all marching in the same direction. Hard right elements in the House Republican conference tend to use must-pass bills like this one to drag concessions out of the rest of the GOP. And House Democrats have shown little appetite for bailing the majority out without getting some concessions of their own.

In addition, Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, is reportedly pushing both sharp spending cuts and a rider to the spending bill that would cut off large amounts of federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities -- the latter is an absolute non-starter for House Democrats.

But in an interview Friday, Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said that he remains hopeful that Congress will find a way to keep the lights on at the end of the month, most likely by punting the hard decisions about the spending bill by passing a continuing resolution that would buy leaders another 15 or 30 days to work out a final spending deal for the remainder of fiscal 2017.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/break-congress-4-days-avoid-091500430.html

Think they can get it done?

Insurance CEOs haven't been speaking up for Obamacare except for one

President Trump and congressional Republicans finally goaded the health insurance industry into defending the Affordable Care Act this week — sort of. But the industry’s pusillanimous response to the GOP’s point-blank threat to Obamacare’s survival is a reminder that health insurance companies, which have made hundreds of millions of dollars from the law, have in many ways been its worst enemies.

The health insurers’ rare defense of the law came via separate letters from the industry’s lobbying arms, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Assn., to Trump and to congressional leaders. The letters warn that the Republican failure to bring “stability” to the individual insurance market threatens to drive more insurers away, push up premiums and other costs, and burden hospitals and other providers with more unpaid bills.

But the letters amounted to less than a full-throated defense. For one thing, they focused on the law’s so-called cost sharing reductions, or CSRs.

These are subsidies offered to households in the individual insurance market with incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level. The subsidies, which help cover out-of-pocket expenses such as copays and deductibles, are paid directly to the insurance carriers.

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-insurance-companies-20170413-story.html
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