• FBI Had Plenty of Clues on Pipe Bomb Suspect

    WASHINGTON (AP) — As Cesar Sayoc entertained patrons as a DJ at the Ultra Gentlemen's Club, he could not have known that lab technicians and federal agents had linked DNA on two pipe bomb packages he was accused of sending prominent Democrats to a sample on file with Florida state authorities. Or that a fingerprint match had turned up on a separate mailing.
    Investigators scouring his social media accounts had found the same spelling mistakes on his online posts — "Hilary" Clinton, Deborah Wasserman "Shultz" — as on the mailings he'd soon be charged with sending.
    In the end, prosecutors who charged Sayoc with five federal crimes Friday say the fervent President Donald Trump supporter unwittingly left behind a wealth of clues about the mailed pipe-bombs.
    Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • How immigrants are saving Detroit

    Two years ago, Hamissi Mamba was living in Burundi. He came to Detroit as a refugee and joined his wife and young twin daughters who were already living in the U.S. — moving to a new country, navigating a new culture, mastering a new language. "I think that was a big challenge for me because I didn't even take a class. I've been watching cartoons with my girls," Mamba says. Quickly, he's gone from cartoon watcher to English-proficient budding restaurant owner in Detroit. Nine years ago, Time magazine ran a cover with a picture of urban American decay. "The Tragedy of Detroit: How a great city fell — and how it can rise again," read the front cover. Today, there are many signs of a comeback in Detroit: new businesses, stores, less urban blight, and more entrepreneurs giving it a go. Many private and public organizations, along with banks, are investing in the area's recovery. And like many Rust Belt cities, Detroit is trying to attract immigrants to help fuel that. "This is a dream come true," Mamba says, walking around the guts of his new space, currently under renovation. "This is going to be Baobab Fare, African restaurant." The restaurant will serve traditional African juices, coffee, and food. "Baobab is a tree, we find it in West Africa," Mamba says. "So, why baobab? Because we came here, the tree grew in the desert, and then is healthy and is strong, so we say, 'We are growing in Detroit.'" But how does a refugee with no experience running a restaurant get started? It can be very difficult for newcomers in the U.S. to get access to traditional lines of credit. Mamba won a $50,000 competition sponsored by the group Hatch Detroit — a contest where residents vote for the type of retail they want in their community. Mamba and his wife organized a pop-up restaurant during the contest. "We sold out over 100 dishes in 30 minutes, and they said, 'We're going to support you,'" Mamba says. "'We're going to vote [for] you.'" From there, Mamba got another $50,000 grant from Motor City Match, a private-public venture between the federal government, the city of Detroit, and the nonprofit the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. "Right now, immigrants are the only growing source of population in the city of Detroit," says Steve Tobocman, the director of Global Detroit, a group partly funded by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and dedicated to helping revive derelict neighborhoods by making Detroit more attractive and welcoming for immigrants. "Michigan is the only state that lost population in the 2010 census." Michigan's population has since stabilized and has grown by roughly 80,000 since the 2010 census, with foreign-born residents making up 6.4 percent of the state. That's only about half the national average, but relatively high compared with other Midwestern states. "They are a source of life and vibrancy, and they are creating jobs that help everyone in the community," says Tobocman, speaking at an Indian restaurant in a neighborhood known as "Banglatown," a community straddling the cities of Detroit and Hamtramck with a lot of South Asian residents. "[Immigrants] are providing retail services that make this community thrive, and providing a tax base. And frankly, occupancy to the vacant structures that are critical to retaining the African-American residents in the region so that this neighborhood doesn't fall the way that some of the more disinvested ones have." Rezaul Karim, originally from Bangladesh, runs the small store Everyday Super Discounts in Banglatown. He crams a lot of stuff into a small space: household items, toys, food, watches. "Almost everything," Karim says. Karim initially moved to Queens, New York, but quickly relocated to Detroit after a friend suggested checking it out. "I could have a job and the living cost is less than New York, so we survived easily here," he says. Karim isn't just supplying items for the neighborhood; he's creating jobs, too. "Right now, three employees excluding me, all from Bangladesh," Karim says. The new immigrant entrepreneurs pay taxes, both personal and property. And these business owners, like Karim, generate other economic activity. "He needs somebody to wash his windows," Tobocman says. "He needs to hire the truck driver." The Detroit area has also attracted a lot of high-skilled immigrants. One quarter of southeast Michigan's practicing physicians and half of the area's engineering PhDs are immigrants, according to research from Global Detroit. Many are lured to the area by automotive engineering jobs, and eventually, many job seekers become job creators — including people like Tel Ganesan, who is originally from India. Ganesan is the founder of Kyyba, an information technology staffing firm with 600 employees in the U.S. and 100 in India. "I'm also a full feature movie producer," says Ganesan. "I'm into so many things, I'm a serial entrepreneur." When the topic arises about recent shifts in the national mood toward immigrants in the U.S., Ganesan gets serious. He says he hasn't experienced anything negative himself, but warns that we can't become short-sighted. "We have to first ask the question: 'What made America the greatest nation on planet Earth?'" Ganesan says. "Because we are a melting pot, because we brought the best of the best from all around the globe, and we put them all together. And that is our strength, that will always be America's strength. And if you try to take that recipe away, we will not be as innovative, we not be as disruptive. Look at all the major companies that are created by the immigrants."

    Tel Ganesan, right, a self-described "serial entrepreneur," and Steve Tobocman, the director of Global Detroit | (Jason Margolis/Courtesy PRI's The World)

    One of Ganesan's spinoffs looks for ways to connect entrepreneurs from around Michigan, and he says he doesn't care if the people he's helping are from India, the U.S., or anywhere else. "Entrepreneurship is agnostic to nationality. The only thing that it cares about is how good is the idea, and can we make this idea into a reality is the question we ask," Ganesan says. "When you connect them, your ecosystem is powerful. It is almost like mimicking the Silicon Valley." And remember, Detroit was the nation's Silicon Valley a century ago, the technology capital of the world, in part driven — even back then — by foreign-born workers. Detroit still has a long way to go in its comeback. But civic and business leaders have taken pains to get out the message: If people from across the globe can speed up the city's revival, they're most welcome.

  • Making Sense of the Selling in the Stock Market

    Get the DealBook newsletter to make sense of major business and policy headlines — and the power-brokers who shape them. __________

    Some stock declines are more foreboding than others.

    The selling that has driven down the markets continued on Friday. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is down 9 percent from its peak in September, and on pace for its worst month since the 2008 financial crisis. Swoons like this one can be unnerving, in part because they suggest all is not well with the broader economy.

    But some of the selling may not augur much.

    Take technology stocks, whose recent declines have played a big role in dragging down the overall market. Shares of big tech companies have soared this year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index was up more than 17 percent at its peak this year and 55 percent since Donald J. Trump was elected president.

    That left tech stocks vulnerable to a sharp sell-off.

    That’s why the declines in shares of companies like Netflix and Amazon this month say more about their stock market valuations than the state of the wider economy.

    Earlier this year, Netflix was trading at 110 times the earnings Wall Street analysts expected the company to make over the next 12 months, according to FactSet. That multiple is many times that of the wider market and suggests that investors were confident Netflix would deliver on its ambitious goals. But big questions, including its ability to finance its growth and rising competition, hang over the company. The drop in Netflix’s stock is thus evidence of healthy skepticism, rather than kneejerk bearishness about its future.

    But other selling cannot be so easily shrugged off.

    Bank stocks are down a lot this year. That’s despite a strong economy, which typically leads to increased lending activity; rising interest rates, which have bolstered the profitability of banks’ core lending business; the tax cuts enacted last year, which had an outsize effect on bank profits; and hopes for deregulation. Yet the shares of Citigroup, the nation’s third largest bank, are down nearly 20 percent from their high earlier this year. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo are all down about 15 percent this year.

    If bank stocks are a barometer for the economy, their poor performance points to some of the questions that keep investors up at night. Will President Trump’s trade war soon start to do real damage to corporate earnings and the global economy? Will the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases crimp economic activity by depriving companies and households of the loans they need to finance purchases?

    A rout helps investors decide what’s worth really worrying about. With the United States economy growing strongly, they may soon decide they’ve been freaking out too much. A sustained upturn in bank stocks may show that their optimism is returning. But if they remain in the doldrums, real trouble may lie ahead.

  • New York City has changed and small businesses have suffered

    Take a walk around the streets of Manhattan and you’ll notice something: there seems to be fewer small businesses around than ever before. Most of the storefronts that were for decades occupied by small-time merchants – assemblers, dressmakers and jewelers – are now taken up by nationally known brands such as Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Pret a Manger, Walgreens and other big companies. Where did all the small businesses go? And does it really matter? To some, it does. “Psychologists and neuroscientists who study the streets have shown that the monotony of chain stores makes people depressed,” said Jeremiah Moss a licensed clinical social worker psychoanalyst and small-business person. “Senior citizens age faster when they live on blocks with chains instead of small businesses. A diversity of stable mom and pops both improves and extends our lives. But that diversity is being destroyed by unregulated greed. The city’s small business crisis could also be considered a public health crisis.” Moss is also the author of Vanishing New York, a book about how New York is “losing its soul”. He shared his concerns in front of a New York City Council meeting this past week where a not-so-new bill, called the Small Business Jobs Survival Act was being debated. According to the Gothamist, the decades-old bill, which last had a hearing about nine years ago, was resurrected by Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) and 22 other councilmembers. It would require landlords to give their commercial tenants 180-day notice about their intentions to renew their lease and a “legally valid reason” if they couldn’t. If not provided, tenants would be allowed to renew their existing leases for another ten years or go to arbitration. It’s meant to protect the small business owner. Not surprisingly, landlords are not happy. “The market is working,” Steve Soutendijk, a retail broker with Cushman & Wakefield said in the Gothamist report. “It’s imperative we let the forces of supply and demand do their job.” “Big rents translate into tax dollars,” said Joanne Podell, the firm’s executive vice chair. “Self-regulation can be painful, but it really works.” Even supporters of the bill admit there are flaws. A city official thinks that relying on arbitration would put a strain on resources and give wealthier landlords the upper-hand. He also believes that the bill’s regulations would make landlords less likely to offer leases to new businesses. Others feel that the bill, as currently written, would apply to all commercial tenants – even large ones like McDonald’s and Goldman Sachs and therefore put landlords at a significant disadvantage. Both the mayor’s office and the New York City bar liken it to rent control. More importantly, no one really seems to know how many of New York’s estimated 230,000 small businesses would actually benefit. “We don’t have good information. And there is a proposal to legislate in a data vacuum,” said John H Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, in the hearing. He argued, according to Bedford+Bowery, that the decision should be made “based on fact and data, not anecdote”. People are upset because so many small businesses seem to be closing. Taxes, subsidies and other support programs were suggested at the hearing. But is this problem being blown out of proportion? I’m a small-business advocate. I get that there are a lot fewer independent shops, restaurants and owner-managed firms in New York City today than, say, 60 years ago. But I’m also realist. And the reality is: it’s not 1958. People are not complaining. In New York, there are thousands of restaurants and stores – both independently and corporate owned – providing better quality products, faster services and at a lower cost than ever before in American history. The smart shop owners have moved online and the best entrepreneurs are building things out of their homes, writing code, blogging, marketing, designing, analyzing, contracting, sharing workspaces, driving cars and opening up their townhouses and apartments to fee-paying visitors. Many more are freelancers, independents and franchisees who depend on those big chains for their livelihoods. Maybe leasing space is better left to those who really need to do it. In today’s economy, many startups have realized that having a landlord is more of a hindrance than a benefit. New York City has changed. America has changed. Some small businesses have suffered because of it. But many others have prospered. Maybe instead of governments dusting off old bills to prop up a dying breed of proprietors, more should be invested in infrastructure and services that will support our future generations of entrepreneurs.

  • Left warns Democrats in tax reform fight

    Liberal activists who hounded the GOP throughout its failed Obamacare repeal bid are gearing up to hit any Democrat who strays from the fold on tax cuts for the wealthy — including some of the party’s most politically vulnerable incumbents. Democrats were spared the sight of their progressive base battling centrists on Obamacare, which proved a uniquely unifying issue for both wings of the party. But there’s no guarantee that taxes will be another kumbaya moment for Democratic leaders, who have long struggled to contain tensions between red-state lawmakers facing tough reelections and a grass roots emboldened by resistance to President Donald Trump’s agenda. Read more...

  • Trump dumps CEOs before more could abandon him

    Some of America’s top CEOs were preparing to issue a statement criticizing the president — so he effectively fired them from a White House council first. President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he was ending two business advisory councils amid a stampede of defections and after one of the groups had decided to disband over the president's much-criticized response to the weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Va. A person close to Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum said the group had already told the White House it had resolved to disband and condemn the president's Tuesday claims that "both sides" were responsible for violence at a white supremacist and neo-Nazi gathering and that some "very fine people" were among the marchers defending a Confederate statue. Read more...

  • Investors cool on Canadian banks, turn to insurers, amid housing fears

    Investors are losing enthusiasm for Canada’s banking stocks as a slowdown in the country’s housing market dents banks’ growth prospects, and they see insurance companies as a better bet to benefit from higher interest rates. Home sales in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, plummeted more than 40 per cent in July from a year earlier and prices were down nearly 19 per cent from April following the introduction of a range of measures designed to cool a housing market amid fears of a bubble, including a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers. The slowdown in home sales has investors concerned about the impact on Canadian banks, which derive a big chunk of their earnings from residential mortgages. Read more...

  • Turkey Sees Foes at Work in Gold Mines, Cafes and ‘Smurf Village’

    LONDON — Akin Ipek, one of Turkey’s richest men, was staying in the Park Tower Hotel in London when the police raided his television network in Istanbul. The raid was national news, so Mr. Ipek opened his laptop and watched an unnerving spectacle: an attack on his multibillion-dollar empire, in real time.

    It was an oddly cinematic showdown. Through a combination of shouting and persuasion, the network’s news editor convinced the officers that they should leave, then locked himself in the basement control room with a film crew. For the next seven and a half hours, until the police returned, the news editor spoke into a camera and took calls on his iPhone. One was from Mr. Ipek, who denounced the government’s action as illegal.

    “I was shocked and angry,” Mr. Ipek said in a recent interview in London. “But I thought they would leave after a couple days. There was no reason to stay.”

    Actually, the government never left, and the events were the start of a personal cataclysm for Mr. Ipek. His station, Bugun TV, was taken off the air a few hours after that phone call, on Oct. 28, 2015. His entire conglomerate of 22 companies, Koza Ipek, is now owned and operated by the state.

    Read more...

  • ‘Canada is Hot Right Now’: Port Cities Expect Spike in Cruise Visitors this Summer

    MONTREAL—Canadian port cities expect to get an economic boost this summer from an influx of cruise visitors attracted by a low loonie and the country’s 150th birthday celebrations. Ports across Atlantic Canada, Quebec and British Columbia are anticipating a surge in cruise traffic. “Canada is hot right now,” Pierre Bellerose of Montreal’s tourism board said in an interview. With the opening in May of a $78-million refurbished passenger terminal, the Port of Montreal anticipates the number of cruise passengers and crew members will be up 28 per cent from last year to 110,000 as the city is celebrates its 375th birthday and Canada’s sesquicentennial. “The Port of Montreal is at the heart of those celebrations,” said port CEO Sylvie Vachon. “We know that maritime trade has played an important role in the development of the city and the entire country.”
    The extra passengers are expected to generate an additional $5.5 million in local spending, raising the total this year to about $30 million, says Tourisme Montreal. Ports in Atlantic Canada are also anticipating double-digit increases in 2017 above the nearly 600,000 passengers that landed last year, said Brian Webb, executive director of Cruise Atlantic Canada. “It’s looking great across the board, so every single port looks to be seeing increases,” he said from Nova Scotia.
    Newfoundland and Labrador is expecting a record cruise season with an expected 99,266 passenger and crew visits, up from 50,448 passenger and crew visits in 2016. “We’re definitely excited about the increases because it will mean increased economic activity,” Webb added. While in Canadian ports, cruise ship passengers spent almost $262 million or nearly $150 per person in 2012, according to the latest study conducted by the industry. Average spending was highest in B.C. ports, which accounted for 54 per cent of the more than two million passenger visits and 77 per cent of spending. A new study is slated to be released this spring. Webb attributed most of the growth in visitors to the low value of the Canadian dollar which encouraged cruise lines a couple of years ago to add routes this summer. Canada’s birthday celebrations, the Tall Ships gathering in Halifax from July 29 to Aug. 1 and increased tourism efforts across the region are also contributing factors, said Lane Farguson, spokesman for the Port of Halifax. The Port of Halifax, largest in Atlantic Canada, welcomed 238,000 cruise passengers in 2016, up seven per cent from the prior year. “And things are looking very, very strong for the year ahead,” he said, noting that the favourable currency makes cruising in Canada a cost-effective option for America visitors. Although the number of vessels calling at Halifax decreased last year, the port is seeing larger ships, with the Royal Caribbean’s 4,100-passenger Anthem-of-the-Seas setting a record for most passengers last fall. In Vancouver, Canada’s largest port anticipates a strong cruise season after seeing volumes grow three per cent in 2016 to 830,000 passengers, mainly on Alaskan cruise itineraries. Prince Rupert, B.C., foresees a doubling of the smaller cruise ships that will come ashore at the port on the cruising route near the Alaskan border. “For Prince Rupert, a community of 14,000 people, it’s a significant driver to the economy when a cruise ship sails into Prince Rupert it increases the population by about 13 per cent so it has a huge impact on the local economy,” said port CEO Don Krusel.
    Read More..

  • Canadian Firms Upbeat About post-election U.S. Growth: Survey

    After downgrading its forecast in October, the Bank of Canada offered a rosier outlook Monday for the Canadian economy in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, as businesses in this country anticipate gains from stronger growth stateside. In its winter 2016-17 business sentiment survey, Canada’s central bank says the new U.S. administration is expected to underpin commodity price gains, although concerns over rising consumer costs and trade protectionism in the U.S. cloud the horizon. Companies are generally more optimistic about future sales than at this time last year, and plan to boost investment and hiring as domestic and U.S. demand picks up, the bank said. In its survey last January —when West Texas crude traded below $32 (U.S.) per barrel — the bank forecast a downturn in business spending along with sluggish GDP growth. The bank in its summer 2015 survey of business sentiment found low oil prices undermining confidence and presaged another rate cut that occurred later that year.
    Last October, the central bank held its benchmark interest rate at 0.5 per cent, but cut its economic forecasts through 2018, citing a rebound in the export sector that had not materialized as anticipated. But the bank in its business outlook released Monday said “forward-looking measures of business activity have improved as domestic sales growth gains momentum.” The outlook is based on interviews conducted late last year with about 100 executives from representative firms across the economy. “The drag from the oil price shock and related spillovers is gradually dissipating, and demand growth remains steady in less-affected regions. Foreign demand continues to support export prospects.”
    Overall, the survey said companies expected faster sales growth over the next 12 months, with support anticipated from services, housing and tourism. Exporters cited the weaker Canadian dollar and stronger U.S. demand as the most important supporting factors for improving sales expectations. The survey also found stronger investment intentions among firms for the coming year, especially in Central and Eastern Canada, as well as more-widespread hiring expectations in most sectors and regions. Some respondents to the bank’s survey said suppliers are moving to stabilize or increase prices following cuts over the past two years, or to pass on anticipated increases in commodity costs. The bank said inflation expectations edged up in the survey period from a low level and remain concentrated in the lower half of the bank’s inflation-control range of 1 to 3 per cent. Most respondents pointed to hiring plans over the next 12 months, although the bank said “material excess slack remains” in staffing at resource-related businesses. And the bank said some companies were optimistic about potential moves by the incoming Trump administration. “Firms’ views . . . are divided: some are optimistic about the prospect of increased infrastructure and military spending as well as changes in energy policies, while others are more pessimistic, often because of the risk of increased protectionism,” the central bank said.
    Read More..

  • Trump Reverses: Transition is Going ‘Very, Very Smoothly’

    President-elect Donald Trump’s transition into the White House is going “very, very smoothly,” he said Wednesday afternoon, hours after complaining on Twitter that President Barack Obama’s “roadblocks” had made for a rough changeover of power. When asked by pool reporters whether he thought the transition was going smoothly, Trump replied: “Oh, I think very, very smoothly. Very good. You don't think so?” The reversal apparently comes after Trump and Obama spoke privately. “He phoned me,” Trump told reporters. “We had a very nice conversation.” Trump, however, would not say whether he broached his roadblock allegations in his conversation with the president. “We had a very general conversation,” he said. “Very, very nice. Appreciated that he called.” Later, he told reporters outside his Mar-a-Lago residence that he and Obama "had a good talk about things. He was in Hawaii. It was a very nice call and I actually thought we covered a lot of territory. "Our staffs are getting along very well. And I'm getting along very well with him, other than a couple of statements that I responded to and we talked about it and smiled about it. And nobody is ever going to know because we're never going to be going against each other in that way. It was a great conversation." After weeks of warm words and promises of a smooth transition in the wake of perhaps the most contentious presidential election in modern history, Trump accused Obama in a Wednesday morning tweet of throwing up “roadblocks.” “Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks,” he wrote, referring to the president by his initial. “Thought it was going to be a smooth transition - NOT!” The two men, who had little positive to say about each other on the campaign trail, seemingly buried the hatchet during an Oval Office meeting that took place just days after Trump’s surprising victory in last month’s election. Obama and Trump have spoken multiple times since then and both expressed interest in a seamless transition between administrations. Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday during the transition team's daily conference call for reporters that "as the inauguration gets closer, both the current president and his team have been very helpful and generous with their time as far as the actual transition, the mechanics of the transition have gone, and I expect them to continue to speak fairly regularly.” But Spicer also refused to tone down his boss' Twitter rhetoric, telling reporters that the president-elect's social media posts "speak for themselves, I think very clearly." The budding relationship between the president and president-elect has frayed in recent weeks, first over the assessment of the FBI and CIA that the Russian government launched cyberattacks targeting the U.S. electoral process with the intention of aiding Trump's candidacy. Trump has been unwilling to concede the validity of that assessment, or even that Russia was behind the cyberattacks at all, a stance that prompted critical remarks from White House press secretary Josh Earnest. The president-elect also lashed out this week at the Obama administration over its unwillingness to defend Israel at the United Nations against a resolution condemning it for new settlement activity. He told reporters that Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech Wednesday defending the U.S. abstention “really spoke for itself” and suggested the United Nations has failed to live up to its potential. “When do you see the United Nations solving problems? They don’t,” he said. “They cause problems. So if it lives up to the potential, it’s a great thing. And if it doesn't, it’s a waste of time and money.” In an earlier tweet Wednesday, he said that “we cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect” and urged Israel to “stay strong” because his inauguration on “January 20th is fast approaching!” Obama also has made veiled criticisms of Trump in various public remarks, indirectly attacking the president-elect multiple times during his end-of-year news conference and in his remarks Tuesday at Pearl Harbor, where he warned that “even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different.” And in an interview with CNN’s David Axelrod, his former senior adviser, Obama said he was confident that he could have won a third term in a race against Trump running on his “hope and change” message. The president-elect disagreed. “President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me,” Trump wrote on Twitter Monday afternoon. “He should say that but I say NO WAY! - jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.” Read More..

  • Economists Say Trump Delivered Hope

    Economists say Donald Trump is right to credit himself for sending consumer confidence to a 15-year high this month as Americans reported a rosy outlook for job creation, business growth and the stock market. The news broke Tuesday, when the Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index soared to 113.7 in December, the highest level since 2001. The jump surprised economists, who say the economy has been slowing down. But it didn’t surprise Trump. "Thanks Donald!” the president-elect said Wednesday morning on Twitter. Trump’s election put the country in a good mood, economists say. “There’s a lot of hope that things are going to change and get better,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo. “Let’s see what happens.” American’s weren’t particularly overjoyed about the economy. What made them cheerful was the hope for a new, better economy. The Conference Board’s measure of expectations, a measure of how consumers feel about the future, leapt to a 13-year high as Trump’s promise of more jobs, lower taxes and a better business climate made people upbeat. “Optimism did surge after the election. The question is can we maintain it,” said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s director of economic indicators. “That depends on what happens in terms of the economy and job growth.” It’s not unusual for consumers to feel better after an election, especially when a new party takes office. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and even Barack Obama, who won his first presidential campaign in the midst of the Great Recession, enjoyed a boost in consumer optimism the month they were elected. By contrast, optimism sank as the nation waited on hanging chads and Bush v. Gore at the end of 2000. “Elections always give confidence a boost. There’s a sense of relief that it’s behind us,” Vitner said. “There does seem to be something to the Trump bump.” This election year, the economy has been on a long road to recovery since the Great Recession ended in 2009. Consumer confidence has been on the upswing all year. Still, confidence doesn’t boost wages or create jobs, and nine of the past 10 recessions began under Republican presidents. “Trump will be breaking with tradition if we don’t see a recession in the next four years,” PIMCO’s Joachim Fels wrote in a recent blog post. Read More..

  • What Effects Will Donald Trump Have on the Online Gaming Market

    It is no longer news that Donald Trump is the latest United States’ president. From the perspective of those in the igaming world, his existence in the Oval Office may actually be something worth celebrating. The common perception goes like this: Trump operates casinos with his name on them. He likes gambling and might attempt to legalise it nationwide. At least one poker pro considers this to be right and the emotion echoed through the poker world. However, the only thing we have from Donald Trump on the record is that about five years ago, he tacitly supported online betting. For anyone who is familiar with Donald Trump and his presidential campaign, his statement in the past at times has little bearing on what he says or believes now. The Adelson-Trump connection To put more limitation on the idea that a Trump-led administration would never legalise US online betting or poker, consider the following: Sheldon Adelson, the Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp funded the efforts to stop online betting at the federal level. He also donated a huge sum of money towards the Trump campaign. This is a relationship that for some time now has been percolating with the possibility of having an effect on online betting legalisation. Perhaps you think Sheldon Adelson will not have Trump’s ear despite the money he donated, then you do not know much about politics. If Congress forwards a bill to Trump’s desk prohibiting online betting, the possibility of him approving it is hard to guess given his relationship with Adelson. Being a billionaire himself, Trump is perhaps the least likely president to succumb to monetary bribes. Going on record saying how he won’t accept a dollar during his presidency, it throws it up in the air whether Trump will help online casinos, such as royalvegas.com, or hinder them. RAWA efforts have failed to date In spite of having the majority in both chambers, the Republicans have failed to secure RAWA or any iteration of language criticising online betting, anywhere near passage. Hearings held by Chaffetz late last year were nothing but a disaster. However, that does not imply that the powers leading RAWA will surrender. They might be encouraged by the fact that Republicans have the majorities in the Senate and the House, plus having control of the presidency. Even with that, the Republicans have not been totally on board with RAWA and its implications. That is, it will reverse the online betting laws passed in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey and would ignore legalisation efforts in states like New York and Pennsylvania. RAWA takes over the Tenth Amendment, several lawmakers concur, by taking the ability to manage a form of betting from states’ hands. And that is not an awfully popular position to take for several Republicans. The impact of Trump presidency on online betting is definitely unknown, other than it is not expected to be a positive one. The most probable and most positive circumstances would be the status quo. That implies online betting can be legalised by the states as they wish, without any change at the federal level. But in the range of outcomes, is the not too unrealistic chance that online betting is banned in the US.

  • Achieve Financial Success And A Fulfilling Life – Unlock Your Repressed Destiny

    A desire to achieve financial success and a fulfilling life is a fairly ubiquitous goal that we share as humans, but achieving these two goals at the same time seems to elude most of us.  Fortunately for us, Iain Balmain has found his calling in life as both an esoteric healer and career consultant who seeks to impart his spiritual insights about the human soul to unlock a life path that often eludes our conscious state of mind. He has been practicing as an intuitive consultant in Britain and now seeks to bring his energy, experience and wisdom to America, in an effort to help spread more happiness and fulfillment. In the U.S. in particular, our struggles to achieve financial success and fulfilling lives at the same time seem to be often rooted in the confusion we feel, when we are trying to figure out which degree to pursue, in our efforts to obtain a university or college education.  If we do graduate, we often end up pursuing careers that seem to only existentially drag us down.  This feeling often occurs regardless of how much we earn. In our experiences, which have been documented in countless case studies, the efforts to elevate oneself from economic insecurity up the employment ladder to greater levels of financial security, does not lead us to a greater sense of fulfillment. Research on this issue has been the source of many studies by organizational psychologists who have sought to help businesses yield a more productive workforce, for corporate shareholders. While corporations have sought to shape the minds of their workforce, individual workers and managers have been without a champion who could help them individually achieve the happy, fulfilling and “productive” lives they have always wanted but felt they could never attain. Indeed, we may finally access relatively high paying jobs and finally get to enjoy the material comforts of life that we always thought we had wanted, but still not feel fulfilled as human beings.  We may have simply gone from stressful lives without economic security to the correspondingly negative stresses of higher paying jobs, that we dread going to everyday, in our surrender to the “matrix” of a global capitalist economy. In such a context, we may simply seek to pursue moments of “escapism” through vacations or, worse case scenarios, taking our frustrations out on others, in an effort to dump our negative energies, or through taking drugs and narcotics in an effort to “treat” and contain negative energy. However, we often get inspired when we do occasionally hear about some people, who left a job that they didn't care for, to find a career path in which they were able to feel both financially secure and fulfilled as human beings. Luckily, these people, men and women, were able to unlock their own hidden destiny and live their lives in ways that they were meant to live, by tapping into their souls mission.  It is our soul as human beings –the essence of who we really are - that gets hidden from us in the confusion and chaos of modern life. In this confusion, it is often impossible for most of us to pursue the fulfilling lives that we desire to have while also seeking financial security in order to have that which is imposed upon us as part of living up to this competitive environment, which America stands for: the land of tremendous opportunities. In the new era of Donald Trump as President, whether we voted for him or not, we might feel a renewed need to “find ourselves” onto a path of security and fulfillment in these uncertain but exhilarating times. Thankfully, Iain Balmain is now seeking to further share his spiritual insights in helping America unlock much of its untapped potential, one human being at a time; Americans who have not been luckily enough to stumble across and embrace their soul's destiny. By connecting with a person's soul, through his professional consultations, Iain wishes to awaken and clarify who we really are, that “who” repressed by artificial personae molded by society's chaos, which so often stunts the fruition of our identities. These artificial personas are essentially counterfeit or “fakes” that, if adopted, often mislead us into directions that create frustrations and negative stresses, eventually resulting in unfulfilled lives, the cause of bad health and many other problems. If you're feeling frustrated, lost, confused or uncertain about your career path and also seek a more fulfilled life, you may very well owe it to yourself to find a consultant like Iain Balmain who will inspire your divine potential.  A service like Iain's will save, not only precious time and money, but also promise to rejuvenate the course of personal health from the stresses that impact our daily lives. You contact Iain here - http://innerconsult.co.uk/

  • Samsung Electronics to invest more than $1 billion in US chip production

    Samsung Electronics said on Tuesday it planned to invest more than $1 billion by the end of June 2017 to boost production of system chips at its Austin, Texas, facilities in the United States to meet growing demand. The South Korean firm, the world's second-largest chipmaker behind Intel, said in a statement its investment would boost output of chips for mobile and other electronics devices from its existing facilities in the city. The investment comes after Samsung said last week its capital expenditure for 2016 would rise to a record 27 trillion won ($24 billion), with 13.2 trillion won earmarked for its semiconductor business. While most of Samsung's semiconductor profits come from memory chip sales, it has been trying to boost earnings from other products including its own Exynos mobile processors and contract manufacturing deals with clients such as Qualcomm and Nvidia Samsung did not give further details for its investment plans in Austin, such as how much production capacity would be added.
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Why These Federal Agencies Should Be Abolished

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The use of marijuana for medical purposes is now legal in 25 states and, as of this writing, two additional states (Arkansas and Florida) have pending legislation or ballot measures to legalize medical marijuana.1

Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and the District of Columbia have also legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults, while 16 states have decriminalized certain marijuana possession offenses.2

According to estimates, between 85 and 95 percent of Americans are in favor of medical cannabis, and nearly 60 percent support complete legalization of marijuana. And, contrary to what you might think, doctors overwhelmingly agree.

A 2013 survey found a majority of physicians — 76 percent — approve of the use of medical marijuana.3 CNN’s chief medical correspondent and neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta also made a highly publicized reversal on his marijuana stance after the production of his two-part series “Weed,” which aired in 2014.4

Despite this trend, many families are still unable, legally or otherwise, to obtain this herbal treatment. Families with a sick child are being forced to split up, just so that one parent can live in a place where medical cannabis can be legally obtained in order to help their child.

A major part of the problem lies at the federal level, where marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance5 — a category reserved for the most addictive and dangerous of drugs, including heroin and LSD.

Marijuana Does Not Meet Criteria for Schedule 1 Controlled Substances

According to the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, Schedule 1 drugs are defined as those having a “high potential for abuse” and “no acceptable medical use in treatment.” Research to date shows that marijuana meets neither of these criteria. For example, studies have shown medical cannabis:

  • Stimulates appetite in AIDS patients
  • Reduces neuropathic pain and spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Treats chronic pain
  • Reduces (and in some cases eliminates) epileptic seizures
  • In Israel, doctors use marijuana to treat cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome and many other conditions

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has spent the last five years deliberating whether it should reclassify marijuana to a Schedule 2 substance — a class that includes both cocaine and methamphetamines; dangerous drugs that nonetheless have some accepted medicinal use.

DEA Rejects Petition to Lower Classification of Marijuana

Earlier this month, the agency delivered its verdict: Marijuana will remain a Schedule 1 substance. As reported by Newsweek:6

“The decision is the DEA’s response to a 2011 petition by two former state governors who had urged federal agencies to reclassify marijuana as a drug with accepted medical uses.

In a letter to the petitioners, the DEA said it had asked the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] for a scientific and medical evaluation of the issue.

‘HHS concluded that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision,’ the letter said.”

This really challenges logic on many fronts. For starters, in October 2003, the HHS actually obtained a patent for marijuana as a “neural protectant,” claiming it can protect your brain against stroke and trauma.7

How can the HHS own a patent for the medical use of marijuana on the one hand, while concluding that “marijuana has no accepted medical use … and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision” on the other?

DEA and HHS Should Be Abolished

With this decision, the DEA and HHS have completely lost all credibility, proving they will act AGAINST the public good if it means protecting corporate interests. The hypocrisy is so blatant it’s infuriating.

Because who actually benefits from marijuana being a banned? Primarily drug companies, privatized prisons — which make millions of dollars from incarcerating non-violent marijuana users — and law enforcement, including police and prison guard unions.8,9

In 2011 alone, 850,000 people in the U.S. were arrested for marijuana-related crimes.10 As noted by Opensecrets.org:11

“The revenue from waging the war on drugs has become a significant source of financial support for local law enforcement.

Federal and state funding of the drug war — as well as the property police forces seize as a part of drug raids — have become significant financial supplements to local forces’ budgets …

One of the largest for-profit prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America, even stated in a regulatory filing that keeping the drug war alive is essential to its success as a business:

‘[A]ny changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances … could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.’”

Current Scheduling of Marijuana Ignores Scientific Evidence

As noted by Carl L. Hart, Ph.D.,12 a researcher of behavioral and neuropharmacological effects of psychoactive drugs and the department chair of the psychology department at Columbia University:13

“[T]herapeutic benefits … have compelled citizens to vote repeatedly over the past two decades to legalize medical marijuana at the state level … And yet Federal law still technically forbids the use of medical marijuana …  

As a scientist and educator, I am worried that we have lost credibility … with those seeking treatments for a variety of medical conditions because our current scheduling of marijuana ignores the scientific and medical evidence.

When we make decisions based on factors other than the available empirical evidence, we are less than objective, which means we are no longer acting as scientists.”

Hart also points out that the glaring inconsistencies between the Federal law and so many other state initiatives — not to mention mounting scientific evidence demonstrating the medical benefits of cannabis — really undermines peoples’ trust in federal agencies.

I strongly concur, especially as it relates to the DEA, which really seems more interested in protecting the profits of prisons and drug companies than anything else.

DEA Vows to Make Marijuana Research Easier

In response to rising demand from scientists, the DEA has agreed to loosen restrictions around the growing of marijuana for research purposes. In April 2014, 161 scientists were registered to study marijuana. As of March 2016, there were 244.

At present, the University of Mississippi is the only federally legal grower of cannabis, and researchers who want to study the herb must jump through a number of bureaucratic hoops in order to receive approval from the HHS, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the DEA.

The DEA has agreed to raise the amount of marijuana it will allow to be grown for research purposes. It will also allow other facilities to grow marijuana for research. Many other time-consuming and costly hurdles will remain, however.14,15

Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, has pushed for looser restrictions on marijuana research. He told STAT News:16

“The main holdup for researchers is the scheduling, not the ability to obtain the product, which is a secondary issue. This change is a positive one, but will do relatively little to advance our scientific understanding.”

Indeed, while all Schedule 1 drugs must gain FDA approval, researchers studying marijuana must undergo additional review processes by both the HHS and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) that no other drug must go through.17

Moreover, there’s no deadline for the HHS/NIDA review, and no formal appeals process should the study be rejected. As a result, marijuana research is easily stifled, delayed or prevented altogether.

Synthetic Pot Drugs Approved While Marijuana Remains Banned

Ironically, while acting DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg states that “no drug product made from marijuana has yet been shown to be safe and effective,” he admits that two synthetic tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) medicines — Marinol and Cesamer — have recently received FDA approval for sale as, you guessed it, patented drugs.

Rosenberg took over as acting director of the DEA in May 2015, taking over the role after scandals drove out Michele Leonhart.18 Leonhart was harshly criticized for opposing the legalization of marijuana, yet Rosenberg is following in the exact same footsteps.19

Earlier this year, Rosenberg even referred to the concept of medical marijuana as “a joke.” Somehow, I don’t think the manufacturers of these synthetic THC drugs would agree with him. In fact, the very approval of these drugs should be sufficient to prove marijuana has medical applications. Why else would they be approved for the treatment of nausea? These synthetic THC drugs are listed as Schedule 3 and 2 respectively, meaning they have acknowledged medicinal value.

THC is a subclass of cannabinoids, the general category of active chemical compounds found in marijuana. Cannabidiols (CBD) is another subclass.20 Cannabinoids produce biological effects because, just like opiates interacting with your opiate receptors, cannabinoids interact with specific receptors located in your cell membranes.

The therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when particular cannabinoids activate their associated receptors, and the effects depend on the areas of your body and brain in which they interact. Some cannabinoids are psychoactive, whereas others are not. THC is the most psychoactive, the one that produces the “high” associated with smoking pot.

Why Are DEA and HHS Ignoring Human Endocannabinoid System?

Cannabinoid receptors can be found on cell membranes throughout your body — in fact, scientists now believe they may represent the most widespread receptor system in the human body.21 Two receptor types have been identified:

  • CB1: Cannabinoid receptors that are extremely prolific in your brain (excluding your brain stem), but also present in your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and other parts of your body
  • CB2: Cannabinoid receptors primarily found in your immune system

Your endocannabinoid system is thought to help regulate nearly every physiological process and plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis, and yet this is not taught in medical school. We’ve shared this important system with all vertebrate species and even sea squirts for more than 600 million years. Science to date suggests that your endocannabinoid system is integral to the following biological processes, and chances are we’ve barely scratched the surface.22

Immune function Inflammation (especially tamping it down) Energy intake and storage
Appetite control and cravings Nutrient transport Cellular communication
Emotional balance Reproduction Pain sensation
Sleep Bone growth Memory

Why Big Pharma Hates Pot

Were marijuana decriminalized nationwide, the drug industry clearly would take a big hit. Not only would people have access to a far less expensive, more effective and natural version of the synthetic CBD and THC drugs currently selling at a premium, many would also turn to marijuana to relieve their aches, pains, nausea, sleep problems, anxiety, depression and more.

The sad fact is that drug companies are fighting to shut down the legalization of marijuana in order to maintain their drug monopoly. For starters, the opioid painkiller market would be severely threatened by marijuana legalization.

Narcotic painkillers have been identified as the new gateway drug to heroin, and even government officials have publicly acknowledged that these drugs have become the No. 1 drug problem in the U.S., addicting and killing people in record numbers. More than 28,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2014 — more deaths than any other year on record according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).23

The number includes deaths from both heroin and prescription opioid pain relievers, but the latter accounted for at least half. Yet little is being done to curb their use. Instead, agencies like the DEA, FDA and HHS are fighting against marijuana! It’s illogical at best. Then again, profit has nothing to do with logic, and this is how you know that many federal agencies have ceased working for the public good.

Why Won’t Senate Release Its Opioid Report?

In 2012, as opioid overdoses continued to rise, two senators — Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — began an investigation into financial ties between the drugs’ makers and the medical organizations setting guidelines on opioid use. The targets of the investigation were Purdue Pharma (maker of Oxycontin), Endo International plc (Percocet) and Johnson & Johnson (Duragesic) along with five organizations, including the Center for Practical Bioethics and the American Pain Foundation (APF).

Senate staffers spent a year working on the investigation and subsequent report, but its results have not been made public (the report is sealed in the Senate Committee on Finance’s office).24 Due to changes in position, it’s now Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), current chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who stand to get the opioid report released.

In 2015, public health advocates requested the release of the findings, noting that many of those targeted by the report continue to “promote aggressive opioid use and continue to block federal and state interventions that could reduce overprescribing.” Still, the report remains sealed. The question is why. What did they find that they don’t want anyone to know?

Drug Companies Downplay Addictive Nature of Opioids

The attorney general of New Hampshire, Joseph Foster, is trying to prove five drug companies — Actavis, Endo, Janssen, Teva and Purdue Pharma — broke the law when they marketed their opioid painkillers. He believes false marketing has contributed to rising abuse of illicit drugs like heroin. According to Foster, these companies are stifling his investigation and refusing to cooperate with the state’s attorneys. In a recent NPR program, Foster said:25

“If they are continuing to mislead the public, we’re going to continue to improperly create addicts in our state. Four out of 5 folks who turned to heroin were addicted to prescription opiates first.”

Chicago, two California counties and Mississippi have already filed lawsuits against one or more of the same companies currently under investigation in New Hampshire. James Boffetti, New Hampshire’s lead attorney on the case told NPR:

“We’re in a mess. You know, we have a country that’s addicted to opioids that move to heroin. So we need to solve this problem, and part of it is we need to figure out what the drug companies did, if anything, to create this problem … [But] I’ve yet to receive one piece of paper from any of these drug companies. And you’ve got to ask yourself, why? Why are they fighting so hard?”

DEA Has Impeded and Rejected Science for 40 Years

Like the drug industry, the DEA has spent decades fighting AGAINST that which is right. As noted by Drugpolicy.org:26 “The DEA has existed for more than 40 years but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities, the surveillance state and other drug war problems.” It goes into further detail in its report, “The DEA: Four Decades of Impeding and Rejecting Science.”27 The report highlights the following five case studies:

  • DEA Obstructs Marijuana Rescheduling, Part One 1973-1994
  • DEA Overrules Administrative Law Judge to Classify MDMA (synthetic cannabinoids) as Schedule I, 1985
  • DEA Obstructs Marijuana Rescheduling: Part Two, 1995-2001
  • DEA Overrules Administrative Law Judge to Protect Federal Monopoly on Marijuana for Research, 2001-2013
  • DEA Obstructs Marijuana Rescheduling: Part Three, 2002-2013

According to the report, “These case studies reveal a number of DEA practices that work to maintain the existing, scientifically unsupported drug scheduling system and to obstruct research that might alter current drug schedules.” Failing to act in a timely fashion, overruling DEA administrative law judges and creating regulatory Catch-22s are among the agency’s most common tactics.

Unfortunately, with its recent decision to reject the petition to reclassify marijuana, it’s apparent that the agency is still playing the same old game. Meanwhile, families and individual lives continue to be destroyed by a nonsensical drug policy that targets marijuana users — even when the herb is used to treat terminal illness for which there are few other safe options.

It’s hard to understand how federal policy makers can sacrifice the lives of so many, including children, to protect corporate profit centers. But that’s what they’re doing.

 

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