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Thursday 12.29.2016

Trump says Sprint will bring 5,000 jobs back to the US; OneWeb will create 3,000 jobs

President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday that Sprint will bring 5,000 jobs back to the United States from overseas, while another company OneWeb will add 3,000 jobs in the U.S.

Trump said the deal "was done through" SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, a Japanese billionaire and technology investor. Earlier this month, the pair announced in New York that SoftBank agreed to invest $50 billion in the U.S. and aimed to create 50,000 jobs.

It is unclear whether all of the positions announced Wednesday are part of the 50,000 jobs pledge detailed previously.

SoftBank owns about 80 percent of Sprint and earlier this month invested $1 billion in OneWeb, a U.S. satellite venture that aims to provide affordable internet. Son said at the time that the OneWeb investment was the "first step" in his commitment to Trump.

Confiscating Gold

The assault on gold is by no means casual. The hunt for money and the global effort to eliminate cash to be able to increase taxation is also targeting gold. All the sales pitches that gold will survive have ignored the fact that government is well aware of gold and people using it to store wealth. China has imposed gold import restrictions, and India’s demonetization and gold confiscations have provided a blueprint for other governments to follow, and the success to them is that there have not been riots and bloodshed in the streets of India like has unfolded in Venezuela.

Now the European Commission has also proposed tightening controls on cash and have included precious metals transfers from outside the EU. They are using terrorism as the excuse that they need to shut down that route of funding of militant attacks on the continent. It was Winston Churchill who said – “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Indeed, our politicians in Europe remember those words and they are not allowing any terrorist attack in Europe go to waste.

The USA followed this advice with 911, which they took part in, creating TSA, Homeland Security, and began seizing everyone’s phone calls as in the book 1984. The EU politicians are not letting any terrorist attack go to waste and see each event as an opportunity to do things they could not do before to expand their power. Gold is rapidly becoming the target of confiscation in Europe following the Berlin Christmas attack.

Reuters reported that after the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, where 12 people were killed as a truck plunged into a crowd, was such an opportunity that could not go to waste so the European Commission proposed to tighten capital controls – specifically cash and precious metals – into and out of Europe.

Holiday Inn Owner InterContinental Hotels Investigating Possible Credit Card Breach

The Intercontinental Hotels Group — parent company to a number of hotel chains, including Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express — is investigating a possible breach of customers’ payment card data.

In addition to the Holiday Inn brands, InterContinental owns a number of chains: Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, Hotel Indigo, Even Hotels, and Kimpton. Several Kimpton hotels fell victim to a payment card breach earlier this year, and some InterContinental-owned properties run by HEI Hotels & Resorts were part of a small breach earlier this year as well.

Sources in the financial industry have told information security reporter Brian Krebs that they’re seeing fraudulent transactions on cards that were used at InterContinental properties, especially Holiday Inn.

The company responded that it “takes the protection of payment card data very seriously” and is aware of the problem. “We were made aware of a report of unauthorized charges occurring on some payment cards that were recently used at a small number of U.S.-based hotel locations,” the company said in a statement. “We immediately launched an investigation, which includes retaining a leading computer security firm to provide us with additional support. We continue to work with the payment card networks.”

Sears and Kmart are closing more stores

Sears just announced a fresh round of store closures. The company told employees on Tuesday that it will close 30 Sears and Kmart stores in early 2017, half a dozen employees told Business Insider.

Most of the stores will start liquidation sales on January 6 and go out of business between late March and mid-April.

Sears announced the closures internally on Tuesday but did not publicly release a comprehensive list of the stores that would close.

Business Insider confirmed most of the closures with store employees at each location.

Pending home sales drop to 10-month low in November

Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes fell in November to their lowest level in nearly a year, a sign rising interest rates could be weighing on the housing market, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday.

The group said its pending home sales index, based on contracts signed in November, dropped 2.5 percent to 107.3.

"The brisk upswing in mortgage rates and not enough inventory dispirited some would-be buyers," the NAR said in a statement accompanying the figures.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a 0.5 percent increase last month. The November index was at its lowest level since January and 0.4 percent lower than in November 2015, the NAR said.

McEwen Gives His Gold Outlook In This No-holds-barred Interview With Daniela

Spare a dime? Cities install meters to combat panhandling

In cities across the country, parking-style meters collect loose change from donors in an attempt to cut down on panhandling — a strategy critics argue is wrongheaded and in vain. New Haven is among the latest to install the meters, which sit curbside and collect donations in the form of cash or credit cards for programs that benefit the homeless. The city has four brightly colored meters in areas where panhandling has been a problem and plans to install six more to support local, nonprofit organizations that help the homeless.

"It's meant to generate supplemental funds for homeless services and steer well-meaning, generously donated cash away from the business of panhandling," Mayor Toni Harp said. The first meters went up in 2007 in Denver, and other cities have followed suit. They were recently installed in Pasadena, California; Indianapolis; and Corpus Christi, Texas.

"We get at least one call a month from cities who are looking to replicate the program," said Julie Smith, a spokeswoman for Denver's Road Home, which runs the meter program in that city. But some advocates for the homeless say the meters do little to stop the needy from requesting handouts and question whether it's worth the cost to install and maintain them.

Panhandling is not illegal, and people who need money will still ask for it, meters or no, said Mark Horvath, a national advocate for the homeless and founder of the advocacy group Invisible People. The meters, he said, reinforce the stereotype that all panhandlers are bums who want money for drugs or booze.

Argentina rakes in cash from new tax law

About $90 billion of assets have been declared by Argentines as the result of a new tax amnesty law, Argentina's recently fired finance minister, Alfonso Prat-Gay, announced at his final press conference.

Even better: Argentina has already collected $5.2 billion in fees related to registering the previously undisclosed assets. "It's good news and a great step forward," Claudio Zuchovicki, an Argentine economist, told CNN Wednesday.

Argentina could really use that money. It's in a recession as President Mauricio Macri tries to turn around South America's second biggest economy after 12 years of populist rule left the nation's finances in bad shape.

Prat-Gay was brought in a year ago to clean up the mess. A former economist at JPMorgan and president of Argentina's central bank, Prat-Gay was fired Monday over management disagreements with Macri. Prat-Gay's team crafted the tax amnesty bill. He also lifted former government currency controls, ended a 15-year battle with U.S. hedge funds and brought Argentina back to international bond markets for the first time since 2001.

Obama Puts 1.6 Million Acres Under Stricter Federal Control Despite Intense Local Opposition

President Obama has created two new national monuments in southeastern Utah and southern Nevada totalling 1.64 million acres, despite intense opposition from American Indians living in the area.

Obama created the Bears Ears and Gold Butte national monuments using his powers under the Antiquities Act, adding to the 265 million acres of lands the president has already put under stricter federal regulation.

The White House set aside 1.47 million acres of land to create the controversial Bears Ears monument, which has been opposed by local Navajo tribal members despite being supported by tribal officials.

“Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes,” Obama said in a statement Wednesday.

Students Demand ‘Sanctuary Campus’ for All Migrants

Students at Southern Illinois University (SIU) are now demanding a “sanctuary campus” policy that will shield not only students from federal immigration laws, but also “their families, and related community members,” according to a letter sent to the university’s administration.

Students with the Graduate and Professional Student Council and the Undergraduate Student Government are demanding that university officials “begin immediately” crafting a campus policy that would offer comprehensive sanctuary to the illegal immigrant population from federal immigration laws, according to The Southern.

Students demanding the sanctuary policy cite President-Elect Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration, where he plans to deport criminal illegal immigrants and keep migrants from Islamic terrorism-compromised countries from entering the U.S.

“Given the amount of students that could very literally be in fear of their legal status vis-a-vis doctoral students or international students from the Middle East, which we have a fairly decent percentage of at SIU, we wanted to make sure they know we supported them and that they were aware we were advocating on their behalf,” President of the Graduate and Professional Student Council Brandon Woudenberg told The Southern. Additionally, there are at least 20 illegal immigrant students who are enrolled at SIU under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, according to university officials.

Uber Drivers Sue for Minimum Wage

Uber drivers in Pennsylvania are suing the ride-sharing service to collect wages while waiting for rides in the latest court battle over whether drivers should be classified as contractors or employees.

Judge Michael Baylson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied a motion by Uber in December to dismiss a civil suit brought by Uber drivers in Philadelphia. The drivers say they’re entitled to minimum wage and overtime while logged into the app and waiting for rides, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

“By misclassifying its limousine drivers as independent contractors, defendants unlawfully avoid paying hourly wages, overtime wages, business expenses, unemployment taxes, social security taxes, disability taxes, workers’ compensation premiums and other mandatory employment benefits,” lawyers representing the group wrote to the court.

Baylson has ordered both sides to submit evidence backing up their claims, including specific information from Uber on how much control it exerts over drivers while they wait for rides. According to the UberBlack drivers of the app’s higher-tier limousine service who filed the suit, Uber mandates a number of requirements from drivers while they’re logged in that entitle them to pay when not driving. Those include requirements for business attire, fines for refusing rides, and paying for mandatory classes provided by Uber if a driver’s rating falls below a certain threshold.

Could a stronger dollar hurt Trump’s manufacturing push?

Chinese Hackers Accused of Insider Trading

U.S. authorities have charged three Chinese traders with stealing nonpublic information about corporate mergers from the computer networks of two prominent New York law firms involved in the deals, racking up almost $3 million in illicit profits.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said the traders installed malware on the networks to gain access to the email accounts of law firm employees including the chairman of one firm’s mergers and acquisitions practice group.

They allegedly used the information they stole to purchase the shares of three companies ahead of public announcements that those companies had entered into agreements to merge. The deals included Intel’s $16.7 billion takeover of Altera last year.

The case is the first SEC enforcement action to allege hacking into a law firm’s computer network. The three defendants — Iat Hong, Bo Zheng, and Chin Hung — are also facing parallel criminal charges. “This case of cyber meets securities fraud should serve as a wake-up call for law firms around the world: you are and will be targets of cyber hacking, because you have information valuable to would-be criminals,” Preet Bharara, the U.S Attorney in Manhattan, said in a news release.

Michael Moore Calls for Civil Disobedience at Trump’s Inauguration

Outspoken left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore has issued a call to civil disobedience for Inauguration Day.

Moore posted on Facebook a list of “5 Things You Can Do Right Now About Donald J. Trump” on Tuesday, including disrupting – albeit, “non-violently” – President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20 and creating a “rapid response team” that will rally or protest Trump’s polices at the drop of a dime.

“MAKE PLANS NOW TO BE AT THE INAUGURATION WEEKEND PROTESTS!” wrote Moore. “We need millions in the streets in DC – and that's what it looks like it's shaping up to be.”

“On January 20th – Inauguration Day – a call has been gone out to non-violently disrupt the proceedings,” he goes on.

Report: 8 years of Obama vacations cost $85 million

As America’s first family enjoys its eighth and final vacation in Hawaii, new estimates put the price tag of the Obamas’ annual trip at $3.5 million or more. In total, the cost of the the first family’s personal or largely personal travel during the last eight years comes to $85 million – though that is likely to climb to $90 million after additional records are released, according to the conservative group Judicial Watch based on federal government records.

The cost of Air Force One and other government planes as well as helicopters, cargo planes, armored cars, Secret Service protection and advance, communications and medical staff has led Judicial Watch to push for less personal travel.

“The Secret Service and the Air Force are being abused by unnecessary travel,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said. “Unnecessary presidential travel for fundraising and luxury vacations on the taxpayers’ dime would be a good target for reform for the incoming Trump administration.”

President-elect Donald Trump prefers to vacation at his own properties. He is spending Christmas at Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he stayed for Thanksgiving. After the election, he spent a weekend at Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, which has fueled speculation that it could be Trump’s Camp David.

America's disappearing jobs

Deutsche Bank massive RMBS penalty gets cut in half

Deutsche Bank announced last week that it finally reached a settlement in principle with the Department of Justice in connection with the bank’s issuance and underwriting of residential mortgage-backed securities between 2005 and 2007.

Deutsche Bank initially fought the larger charge of $14 billion; the latest figure puts the penalty in the $7 billion range.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay a civil monetary penalty of $3.1billion and to provide $4.1 billion in relief to American homeowners.

“The consumer relief is expected to be primarily in the form of loan modifications and other assistance to homeowners and borrowers, and other similar initiatives to be determined, and delivered over a period of at least five years,” Deutsche Bank said in a statement.

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