Trump targets Amazon in call for postal service to hike prices

2017 12 29T131847Z 1 LYNXMPEDBS0QA RTROPTP 0 USA TRUMP 1 150x150 - Trump targets Amazon in call for postal service to hike prices

Trump targets Amazon in call for postal service to hike prices
U.S. President Donald Trump departs the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump departs for holiday travel to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, from the White House in Washington, U.S. December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

December 29, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday targeted online retailer Amazon<AMZN.O> in a call for the country’s postal service to raise prices of shipments in order to recoup costs.

“Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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IRS cautions U.S. taxpayers on prepaying property taxes

2017 12 27T235010Z 1 LYNXMPEDBQ167 RTROPTP 0 USA HOUSING 1 150x150 - IRS cautions U.S. taxpayers on prepaying property taxes

IRS cautions U.S. taxpayers on prepaying property taxes
Officers' housing for sale are seen near a functioning FAA air traffic control radar dome in Seattle
Officers’ housing for sale in Discovery Park, formerly known as Fort Lawton, are seen near a functioning FAA air traffic control radar dome in Seattle, Washington, U.S. February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

December 29, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday advised homeowners who are rushing to prepay their 2018 property taxes before a law signed by President Donald Trump takes effect next year that the payment may not be tax-deductible.

The law signed by Trump last week imposes a $10,000 combined limit on the deduction of state and local income and property taxes. There is no limit on that deduction for 2017.

In a notice on its website, the IRS said that, in general, a full deduction for the prepayment of state or local property taxes depends on whether the taxpayer makes the payment this year and whether the property taxes are assessed prior to 2018.

“A prepayment of anticipated real property taxes that have not been assessed prior to 2018 are not deductible in 2017,” the IRS notice said.

“State or local law determines whether and when a property tax is assessed, which is generally when the taxpayer becomes liable for the property tax imposed,” it said.

The massive $1.5 trillion tax overhaul passed the Republican-controlled Congress with no Democratic support. It slashes the corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent and temporarily reduces the tax burden for most individuals as well.

Capping the deduction for state and local income and property taxes is seen as punitive to high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California.

On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an order allowing state residents to make either a partial or full pre-payment on their property tax bill prior to Jan. 1 in order to benefit from the federal tax deduction.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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U.S., Turkey mutually lift visa restrictions, ending months-long row

2017 12 28T142104Z 1 LYNXMPEDBR0RU RTROPTP 0 TURKEY USA SECURITY 1 150x150 - U.S., Turkey mutually lift visa restrictions, ending months-long row

U.S., Turkey mutually lift visa restrictions, ending months-long row
General view of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara
General view of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

December 28, 2017

By Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The United States and Turkey lifted all visa restrictions on Thursday after Washington said Ankara had kept to assurances no further U.S. mission staff would be targeted for performing official duties, following detention of two earlier this year.

But Turkey swiftly denied having granted such assurances in the affair that has tested relations since the two local employees of the U.S. consulate in Istanbul were held on suspicion of ties to last year’s failed coup against President Tayyip Erdogan.

The United States suspended visa services at its missions in Turkey in October and Turkey reciprocated. In November, Washington said it was resuming limited services upon getting assurances on the safety of its local staff.

“Based on adherence to these assurances, the Department of State is confident that the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the full resumption of visa services in Turkey,” the U.S. Embassy in Ankara said on Thursday.

It said the United States continued to have concerns about the two employees detained.

Turkey, while announcing the end of restrictions on the issue of visas to U.S. citizens, took issue with the U.S. declaration.

“We do not find it right for the United States to claim it had received assurances from Turkey and misinform the U.S. and Turkish publics,” the Turkish Embassy in Washington said in a statement.

Turkey’s lira firmed to 3.78 against the U.S. dollar after the statement, its highest level since Oct. 31, and the main share index BIST100 climbed 2.08 percent to reach its highest closing level ever.

Relations between the two NATO allies have become strained in the last year with Turkey angered by what it sees as the U.S. reluctance to hand over Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the coup attempt in July of 2016.

Turkey was further annoyed by U.S. military support for Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria, considered by Ankara to be an extension of the banned PKK which has waged an insurgency for three decades in southeast Turkey.

More recently, Turkey took a leading role in the United Nations to pass a resolution denouncing a U.S. move to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

(Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Trump Ridicules Vanity Fair Hillary

US President Donald Trump C addresses the National Assembly in Seoul on November 8 2017 e1514319382852 150x150 - Trump Ridicules Vanity Fair Hillary

Trump Ridicules Vanity Fair Hillary
Photo of Saagar Enjeti

12:51 PM 12/28/2017

President Donald Trump ridiculed Vanity Fair Thursday after both the magazine and its publisher apologized for a recently released video mocking Hillary Clinton.

The Vanity Fair video offered 6 tongue in cheek pieces of advice for Clinton including staying away from politics and perhaps taking up knitting.

The video sparked widespread backlash from Clinton supporters on social media including a campaign by some former operatives to get subscribers to cancel their Vanity Fair subscriptions. The magazine regretted the backlash in a Thursday statement saying “it was an attempt at humor and we regret that it missed the mark.”

The president also took aim at Conde Nast executive and Vanity Fair publisher Anna Wintour implying she would have been ambassador to the U.K. in a Clinton administration. Wintour was a prominent fundraiser and backer of Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.

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China to ‘standardize’ market access for foreign lenders: regulator

December 28, 2017

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s banking regulator has issued draft measures for amending its licensing and oversight of some foreign-funded bank activities, a move it says is aimed at promoting investment in the country’s fast-growing financial sector.

In a statement on Thursday, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said it is preparing to implement amended administrative measures to “standardize market access” for foreign lenders, and cut red tape to create a level playing field for such activities as branch openings, debt fundraising and examination of senior executives.

The CBRC said the amended measures will also put in place procedures “to provide a clear legal basis” for foreign-funded banks to make equity investments in Chinese financial institutions.

A notification system also will be installed for four types of activities, including securities fund custody business and the provision of wealth management services for foreign customers, the regulator said.

China has vowed to further open up its financial sector to outside investors and level the playing field.

In November, Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said China will raise foreign ownership limits in some joint-venture firms in the futures, securities and fund markets to 51 percent from the current 49 percent.

A month earlier, CBRC chairman Guo Shuqing said the country was preparing to further open up its banking system to foreign investors.

The market share of foreign banks in China has decreased to 1.2 percent from 2.4 percent 10 years ago, Guo said, which “is not beneficial for promoting competition”.

(Reporting by Matthew Miller; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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Dollar near 3-1/2 week lows; commodity currencies stand tall

2017 12 27T092938Z 1 LYNXMPEDBQ0ER RTROPTP 0 GLOBAL FOREX 1 150x150 - Dollar near 3-1/2 week lows; commodity currencies stand tall

Dollar near 3-1/2 week lows; commodity currencies stand tall
FILE PHOTO: A packet of Lincoln five dollar bills is inspected at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington
FILE PHOTO: A packet of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln five-dollar bill currency is inspected at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington March 26, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo

December 28, 2017

By Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The dollar was on the defensive on Thursday, facing headwinds from a dip in U.S. 10-year bond yields, while commodity-linked currencies were bolstered by this week’s rally in metal and oil prices.

The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies last stood at 92.980 <.DXY>, languishing near Wednesday’s trough of 92.956, its weakest level since Dec. 1.

“Bond yields have pulled back from their peaks and the dollar is trading with a soft tone,” said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore, referring to a pullback in U.S. 10-year Treasury yields.

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield stood near 2.42 percent <US10YT=RR>, having come off a nine-month high of 2.504 percent set last week. The U.S. 10-year yield had slipped on Wednesday as investors rebalanced portfolios before year-end.

The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.1902 <EUR=>, having set a 3-1/2 week high of $1.1911 on Wednesday.

Against the yen, the dollar eased 0.2 percent to 113.19 yen <JPY=>, staying below a four-week high of 113.75 yen touched on Dec. 12.

Currencies of commodities exporters remained firm, in the wake of this week’s rise in oil prices <LCOc1> to 2-1/2 year highs and a surge in copper prices <CMCU3> to four-year peaks.

The Australian dollar touched a fresh two-month high of $0.7780 <AUD=D3> on Thursday, having gained 0.8 percent so far this week.

The Canadian dollar <CAD=D3> last stood at C$1.2639. On Wednesday, the loonie had touched a three-week high of C$1.2627.

A rise to levels beyond its early December high of C$1.2624 would send the Canadian dollar to its highest since late October.

(Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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Creditors seek bankruptcy for U.S. media entrepreneur Sillerman

December 27, 2017

By Tom Hals

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – Creditors of American media entrepreneur Robert F.X. Sillerman are seeking to force the onetime billionaire into bankruptcy to try and collect on a $7.36 million judgment against him, according to court documents.

Two Chicago-based concert promoters on Wednesday filed an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition against Sillerman in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

They are seeking to collect a judgment they won last month against Sillerman over a promissory note he guaranteed on behalf of SFX Entertainment Inc.

Sillerman founded the company in 2012 to promote electronic dance music festivals, and in 2014 acquired React Presents Inc and Clubtix Inc from Jeffery Callahan and Lucas King. Part of the payment for the deal was in the form of a $10 million promissory note.

SFX Entertainment acquired festivals such as TomorrowWorld but had trouble bringing them together in one corporate family and filed for bankruptcy in February 2016. A month later, King and Callahan and the their two companies sued Sillerman in Chicago federal court to collect on the promissory note.

The creditors are represented by Michael Edelman of Vedder Price in New York, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sillerman could not be reached for comment.

Forbes Magazine in 2008 included Sillerman on its list of “poor billionaires,” or those who failed to crack the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans. He appeared on the list in 2005.

Sillerman built his fortune over decades of well-timed deals consolidating the entertainment industry, involving radio stations, concert promoters and even Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion.

Sillerman can respond to the creditors’ involuntary bankruptcy petition by seeking to have the case dismissed or converting the filing to a voluntary bankruptcy, which would give him greater control over the case.

The involuntary bankruptcy is the latest legal headache facing Sillerman.

In September, ESFX Holdings LLC asked a New York state judge to issue an order permitting the forced sale of a property owned by Sillerman and his wife on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to satisfy a $14.6 million judgment.

ESFX obtained the judgment after a default on a promissory note that had been guaranteed by Sillerman.

Sillerman has asked the court to dismiss the case and said the filing was an attempt to pressure him by threatening him and his wife with the loss of their home.

A hearing is scheduled for March in the case.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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NYT Columnist Warns Of Liberal Hysteria

GettyImages 112774802 e1506109292427 150x150 - NYT Columnist Warns Of Liberal Hysteria

NYT Columnist Warns Of Liberal Hysteria

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni seems to have gotten the message that the way for Democrats to win in 2018 isn’t by acting like the end is nigh, but instead through more measured critiques of the president.

When it comes to the tax bill, Americans might think House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s screams of “Armageddon,” particularly when “millions of voters…notice withholdings from their paychecks and more money in their pockets,” according to Bruni in his Tuesday column.

Indeed, with wages set to increase in 2018 thanks to the GOP tax bill, how will readers square Bruni’s pleads for calm with his colleague Paul Krugman’s predictions that Trump would bring a “global recession?”

After The Times’ columnist’s predictions end up looking silly, “Some…Americans,” according to Bruni, “may decide that the prophets aren’t to be trusted — and that the president isn’t quite the pestilence they make him out to be.”

To be clear, Bruni hasn’t seen the light and is engaging in some left-to-right conversion. He doesn’t want to minimize “Trump’s capriciousness or cupidity,” but he is certainly scoffing at his fellow liberal’s predictions of the end of times. Bruni writes:

But the end of the world? Come on. That’s not par-for-the-course hyperbole. It’s peculiar-to-Trump hyperventilation, an understandable response to such an indecent president but quite possibly a tactical mistake. It could weaken the odds of hobbling him next fall, in the midterm elections, and of putting him far behind us in November 2020. And that’s where I, for one, want him: in the rearview mirror, growing tinier and tinier as we zoom, pedal to the metal, toward a saner, more dignified horizon.

Shortly after Trump’s election, the left seemed certain that hollering about collusion was one of the sure ways to bring down his presidency. Fast-forward to the end of 2017, and liberals like Bruno are asking others not to obsess over “clear ‘collusion’ and insisting on invisible puppet strings by which Vladimir Putin controlled Trump.”

Such a demand for temperance in rhetoric also contrasts with Bruni’s own rhetoric. Back in August of 2017, the restaurant-critic-turned-columnist said Trump “needs a soul.”

Looks like Bruni finally took some of his own advice.

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