Category Archives: News

Pot Industry Can Transform Depressed Towns

With only two dozen or so residents, Nipton, California, is not a well-known California destination. But that is exactly what makes it desirable to American Green, Inc., one of the country’s largest cannabis companies.

In early August American Green announced it is ready to purchase the entire 80 acres that make up Nipton. Included in the deal is the town’s Old West-style hotel, a few houses, a coffee shop and an RV park. The company says it plans to reformat the tiny Gold Rush town into “an energy-independent, cannabis-friendly hospitality destination.”

This suits the current owner, Roxanne Lang, just fine. She did not say what American Green paid for Nipton, but she did admit that her and her husband, Gerald Freeman, who is no longer alive, listed the property last year for $5 million.

Lang added that her husband would have been happy with the identity of the purchasing entity, saying,

“I think he would find a lot of humor in” the fact that the buyer wants to make Nipton into a pot-smoker’s paradise. She explained that Freeman was a libertarian and did not object at all to the use of marijuana. He was also a supporter of alternative, sustainable energy sources. He had even installed a solar farm which today powers much of the town.

American Green is hoping to bring jobs to the area. They are contacting marijuana edibles manufacturers and other weed-related industries in the hope that they will want to come to Nipton to ply their wares, bringing jobs along with them.

“We are excited to lead the charge for a true Green Rush,” David Gwyther, American Green’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The cannabis revolution that’s going on here in the US has the power to completely revitalize communities in the same way gold did during the 19th century.”

Favorite New York Hot Dog Recalled as “Health Hazard”

Over 7 million pounds of hot dogs and sausages are the subject of a recall by a New York meat processor. Most of those recalled were packaged under the well-known New York brand Sabrett.

The recall was spurred by complaints by consumers who encountered small pieces of bone within some of the products, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Only one case of a “minor oral injury” has been reported due to the extra, unwanted ingredient found in the meat. There were no other reports of injury or illness due to the products, which were produced by Marathon Enterprises Inc., a meat processing establishment located in the Bronx.

The hot dogs were sold across the country, most of them under the Sabrett brand, said the USDA.

“As a fourth-generation, family-owned company, Sabrett takes its responsibility to provide safe foods very seriously with a robust internal food safety program,” Marathon said in a statement posted on its website. “Sabrett deeply regrets any concern or inconvenience this has caused its loyal customers.”

Sabrett brand hot dogs are the very ones sold by vendors all over New York City from pushcarts covered by yellow and blue umbrellas.

The suspicious hot dogs were manufactured from March 17 until July 4, carrying a sell-by date ranging from June 19 to October 6, 2017.

The USDA made the meat subject to a Class 1 recall, meaning that the governmental agency believes the meat to be a health hazard that presents a “reasonable probability” of causing “serious, adverse health consequences or death,” if eaten. The Englewood, New Jersey-based company stated that it is recalling the produce out of “an abundance of caution.”

Tax Reform Plans: A Global Overview

Tax reform plans are often in the making in different parts of the world.  In this article we examine what is going on in the Philippines, the US and Great Britain.

First, the Duterte administration is moving toward more inclusive economic growth, with an assurance from the business community supporting tax reform plans. The  Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) is being put to the BusinessWorld Economic Forum.  Chairman of the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Manuel V. Pangilinan, said “CTRP is central to DuterteNomics; it is in fact the catalyst to the government’s 10-point economic program. That is why I believe the business sector should support it.”

Second, it’s quite interesting what is happening with tax reform in America, primarily because of how concise the plan is.  In just one page, Trump outlined possibly the largest tax cut individuals have received (since Reagan’s administration) in his tax code reformation proposal. Should it go ahead, a reduction from seven to three in the current tax brackets would be implemented with rates of 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent. a married couple would have nearly double in their deductions and would not even have to any amount of taxes on the first $24,000 income they earn, effectively creating a zero tax rate. Tax breaks for charitable giving, mortgage interest and retirement savings would remain in place.

Trump also is seeking to eradicate state and local tax deductions.  According to the Tax Policy Center, the SALT deduction is one of the largest federal tax expenditures, with an estimated revenue cost of $96 billion in 2017 and $1.3 trillion from 2017 to 2026, in an effort to put an end to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) which calls for over 5 million taxpayers to calculate their liability twice and then pay the higher amount.

Third, when looking at the situation in Great Britain, Theresa May is running on a platform of tax reduction for businesses and working families. She is promising no increase in value-added taxes and a maintenance of plans to cut corporation tax to 17 percent by 2020.

Surprising Facts About Refugees to the US

Immigrants on deck of steamer “Germanic.” Unknown photographer, 1887.

Immigration and how the US handles refugees seeking to live in the country of the free has been a hot subject in the news lately. Here are a few facts about refugees many people might not be aware of:

  • Refugees must repay the cost of the airfare to the United States. Although the government does pay for the flights of refugees to the US, that money is an interest-free loan which must be repaid as soon as the refugee begins to earn an income. That money is then funneled back into a fund that pays for additional refugees to be brought over.
  • Studies show that although there are costs involved in resettling refugees, the positive contribution they make to the economy balances out the expense. Money is spent mostly to provide social services like language and vocational training, healthcare and cash allowances. One study showed that in Cleveland, where 4,518 refugees were resettled between 2000 and 2012, 38 new businesses were started, yielding an additional 175 jobs and $12 million in spending in Cleveland in 2012.
  • Refugees must prove their status. International law states that a refugee is someone with a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” Being poor is not enough.
  • The process of resettlement is a long and arduous one. According to the World Bank Group, the average length of time a refugee waits in “limbo” until he is resettled is 10.3 years. The median is four years until a permanent home is found. Once the process of resettlement in the US begins, the minimum amount of time it takes is 18 months. Immigration lawyers say that it is not unusual for the process to take from four to eight years.

Intellectual Property Theft Costing US $600 Billion Each Year

NKIE & McDnoald’s [sic] sandals in China. Photo by Stephen Woolverton.
According to private watchdog group, the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, annual losses of intellectual property range from around $225 billion to as much as $600 billion. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Theft of Trade Secrets: between $180 billion and $540 billion.
  • Counterfeit Goods: between $29 billion and $41 billion.
  • Pirated Software: $18 billion.

China, including Hong Kong, is the biggest culprit, says the commission, accounting for about 87 percent of the counterfeit goods which are confiscated at the border. The report issued by the commission states that Chinese authorities actually encourage the theft of intellectual property.

The commission is headed by former governor of Utah and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who was also a US ambassador to China; and a former director of US national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair.

“The vast, illicit transfer of American innovation is one of the most significant economic issues impacting U.S. competitiveness that the nation has not fully addressed,” Huntsman said. “It looks to be, must be, a top priority of the new administration.”