Krebs Daily Briefing 28 March 2016

Thomas L. Krebs, Securities Litigation, Regulation and Compliance Attorney Lawyer (c)2014 Brandon L. Blankenship
Thomas L. Krebs
(205)401-2383

International

Suicide bomber targeting Christians kills 65, mostly women and children, in Pakistan park

A suicide bomber killed at least 65 people, mostly women and children, at a park in Lahore on Sunday in an attack claimed by a Pakistani Taliban faction which said it had targeted Christians. More than 300 other people were wounded, officials said. The explosion occurred in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park close to children’s swings. The park is a popular site for members of Lahore’s Christian community, many of whom had gone there to celebrate the Easter weekend holiday. Witnesses said they saw body parts strewn across the parking lot once the dust had settled after the blast. “When the blast occurred, the flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air,” said Hasan Imran, 30, a resident who had gone to Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park for a walk. Officials said 65 people were killed and about 300 wounded. Police Superintendant Mustansar Feroz said most of the casualities were women and children. The Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack. “The target was Christians,” a spokesman for the faction, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said. “We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore.” “He can do what he wants but he won’t be able to stop us. Our suicide bombers will continue these attacks.” Islamist militants in Pakistan have attacked Christians and other religious minorities often over the past decade. Many Christians accuse the government of doing little to protect them, saying politicians are quick to offer condolences after an attack but slow to take any concrete steps to improve security.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-blast-idUSKCN0WT0HR

Islamic State driven out of Syria’s ancient Palmyra city

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian government forces backed by heavy Russian air support drove Islamic State out of Palmyra on Sunday, inflicting what the army called a mortal blow to militants who seized the city last year and dynamited its ancient temples. The loss of Palmyra represents one of the biggest setbacks for the ultra-hardline Islamist group since it declared a caliphate in 2014 across large parts of Syria and Iraq. The army general command said that its forces took over the city with support from Russian and Syrian air strikes, opening up the huge expanse of desert leading east to the Islamic State strongholds of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor. Palmyra would become “a launchpad to expand military operations” against the group in those two provinces, it said, promising to “tighten the noose on the terrorist group and cut supply routes … ahead of their complete recapture”. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes continued on the eastern edge of Palmyra, around the prison and airport, but the bulk of the Islamic State force had withdrawn and retreated east, leaving the city under President Bashar al-Assad’s control. Later the Observatory said six powerful explosions were heard in the city triggered by triple car bombings inside the city and its edges by the militant group. Three militants with suicide belts also blew themselves up inside the captured city, inflicting unspecified casualties among army forces and allied troops. Syrian state-run television broadcast from inside the city, showing empty streets and badly damaged buildings.

It quoted a military source saying Syrian and Russian jets were targeting Islamic State fighters as they fled, hitting dozens of vehicles on the roads leading east from the city. Russia’s intervention in September turned the tide of Syria’s five-year conflict in Assad’s favour. Despite its declared withdrawal of most military forces two weeks ago, Russian jets and helicopters carried out dozens of strikes daily over Palmyra as the army pushed into the city. “This achievement represents a mortal blow to the terrorist organisation and lays the foundation for a great collapse in the morale of its mercenaries and the beginning of its defeat,” the army command statement said. In a pointed message to the United States, which has led a separate Western and Arab coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq since 2014, the military command said its gains showed that the army “and its friends” were the only force able to uproot terrorism. More”

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0WT04R

The most important foreign news story this week was about Russian tax policy

It’s been a busy week for foreign news editors: the ISIS attack in Brussels, President Obama’s trips to Cuba and Argentina, North Korea’s ballistic rocket test, Europe’s new refugee policy, presidential candidate speeches to AIPAC, and, now, an airstrike killing ISIS’s second-in-command. For all these important stories, though, the most consequential development in international affairs this week may have come, believe it or not, in a proposed change to Russian tax policy. Bear with me. According to the New York Times, Russian leaders, as they struggle to keep their country’s economy afloat, are considering something drastic: a major new tax on the oil industry. This has been debated for some time, but if it now goes through, it would be a major and long-term blow to Russia’s economy, one so severe that it would have potentially sweeping implications for the future of Russia itself, and thus the future of a world in which Russia has become increasingly active. To understand how an oil tax could be this consequential, and why Moscow is considering it anyway, it helps to look at the numbers. When oil was selling for $100 a barrel, about $74 of that went to the state in taxes, according to the Times’s analysis. Oil companies also spend about $15 a barrel on production and shipping, leaving oil companies with about $11 a barrel in profit. Now, oil is selling at $35 a barrel, and taxes only take $17 a barrel. Subtracting the cost of production and shipping, oil companies only take $3 a barrel in profit. Russia’s government relies overwhelmingly on oil and gas taxes, which fund about half of its national budget. Half! So with those oil taxes falling from $74 to $17 per barrel, that’s been catastrophic for the Russian economy, to the point that some analysts fear political instability. So you can see why many in the Russian government are pushing for higher taxes on oil revenue. But Russian oil firms also saw their profits drop from $11 to $3 per barrel. While we think of oil companies as taking profits just to shower on themselves — and indeed, there is some of that — they also spend heavily on finding and developing new oil sources. That means exploration as well as developing the technology for new extraction methods, such as shale or deep sea wells. All of that is expensive, and made in investments that take years or decades to pay dividends. Here’s where the possible new tax comes in: It would target Russian oil firm money used for developing new oil sources. In the short term, this would boost tax revenue. But it also would make it much harder for Russian oil firms to develop new oil sources. Over time, as current oil wells dry up, new ones would not come online to replace them.

http://www.vox.com/2016/3/25/11305676/russia-putin-oil-tax

The Trade Deficit Isn’t a Scorecard, and Cutting It Won’t Make America Great Again

Donald Trump believes that a half-trillion-dollar trade deficit with the rest of the world makes the United States a loser and countries with trade surpluses like China and Mexico winners. “They’re beating us so badly,” he has said. “Every country we lose money with.” The reality is different. Trade deficits are not inherently good or bad; they can be either, depending on circumstances. The trade deficit is not a scorecard. What’s more, eliminating the trade deficit would not, on its own, make America great again, as Mr. Trump promises. And in isolation, the fact that the United States has a trade deficit does not prove that trade agreements are bad for Americans, a staple of Bernie Sanders’s campaign in the Democratic presidential primary. In fact, trying to eliminate the trade deficit could mean giving up some of the key levers of power that allow the United States to get its way in international politics. Getting rid of the trade deficit could very well make America less great. The reasons have to do with the global reserve currency, economic diplomacy and something called the Triffin dilemma. What is the trade deficit? Imagine a world where there are only two countries, and only two products. One country makes cars; the other grows bananas. People in CarNation want bananas, so they buy $1 million worth from people in BananaLand. Residents of BananaLand want cars, so they buy $2 million of them from CarNation. That difference is the trade deficit: BananaLand has a $1 million trade deficit; CarNation has a $1 million trade surplus. But this does not mean that BananaLand is “losing” to CarNation. Cars are really useful, and BananaLandites got a lot of them in exchange for their money. Similarly, it’s true that the United States has a $58 billion trade deficit with Mexico, for example. But it’s not as if Americans were just flinging money across the Rio Grande out of charity. Americans get a lot of good stuff for that: avocados, for example, and Cancún vacations. If you want to think of it in terms of winners and losers, in fact, you could justifiably reverse Mr. Trump’s preferred framing: “Those losers in Mexico gave us $58 billion more stuff than we gave them last year. Ha, ha, ha. We’re winners.” More:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/28/upshot/the-trade-deficit-isnt-a-scorecard-and-cutting-it-wont-make-america-great-again.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Dating to Save Your Tiny Religion From Extinction

When Parsi Zoroastrians, having fled Persian persecution, arrived on Indian soil sometime between the 8th and 10th centuries, the story goes, an Indian ruler sent a cup full of milk. The intention, clearly, was to convey that India was filled to the brim. The Zoroastrian king inserted either sugar—or in some tellings, a ring—and sent the cup back to suggest that not only was there room for his people, but they would also enrich Indian society if permitted to settle. Certain restrictions curbed the private and communal lives of the Zoroastrian asylum seekers, but they were largely allowed to thrive in India. Roughly a dozen centuries later, many Parsis have settled in the diaspora, where they’re encountering a different challenge: assimilation and a not-too-distant scenario in which, some worry, there will be no Zoroastrians left in the world. Sugar has a tendency to dissolve in milk. This worry is often directed toward young Zoroastrians, whose minds—and perhaps more importantly, hearts—may determine the future of the religion. Decisions about dating and marriage can also be decisions about whether to stay within their community: Zoroastrianism is a patriarchal tradition, so the children of Zoroastrian women who marry outside the faith are not accepted, and even shunned, in many communities. Meanwhile, children of Zoroastrian men who intermarry are likelier to be accepted. Unlike, say, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Zoroastrianism calls for individual rather than communal worship services in its houses of worship, called fire temples, and it prescribes “good thoughts, good words, good deeds” rather than the plethora of positive and negative rules that govern other religious traditions. Zoroastrianism does have holidays and rituals, and adherents go through an initiation rite, which some people compare to a bar or bat mitzvah, called “navjote.” Although it might appear to outsiders as though fire is worshipped in the temples, Zoroastrians say that fire is a symbol of the divine, due to its warmth and light, rather than the divinity itself. Parsis, the descendants of the Zoroastrians who fled Iran for India, represent the largest portion of the Zoroastrian population globally; the other portion lives in Iran. More:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2016/03/marriage-and-zoroastrian/475467/

National

The Next Perfect Banking Storm

Those looking for when the next financial crisis might be should set a reminder for Jan. 1, 2018. That’s when a host of new rules are scheduled to come into force that are likely to further constrain lending ability and prompt banks to only advance money to the best borrowers, which could accelerate bankruptcies worldwide. As with any financial regulation, however, the effects will start to be felt sooner than the implementation date. Two key rules are slated for 2018: The leverage ratio set by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and International Financial Reporting Standard No. 9, defined by the International Accounting Standards Board. Other rules that require banks to stop using their own internal measures to assess risk start to be introduced from next year. Basel III has already been blamed for reduced liquidity in global markets and slower credit growth. What’s about to be rolled out will be a steroid shot to that. IFRS 9, for instance, will require earlier recognition of expected credit losses, a move that according to some credit analysts could increase nonperforming assets at some banks by as much as a third. As bad loans — or their recognition, for that matter — increase, so do capital requirements. In other words, it’ll be more expensive and difficult for banks to lend.

http://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-03-28/the-next-perfect-banking-storm

Ethereum, a Virtual Currency, Enables Transactions That Rival Bitcoin’s

A new virtual gold rush is underway.Even as Bitcoin, riven by internal divisions, has struggled, a rival virtual currency — known as Ethereum — has soared in value, climbing 1,000 percent over the last three months. Beyond the price spike, Ethereum is also attracting attention from giants in finance and technology, like JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft and IBM, which have described it as a sort of Bitcoin 2.0. The rise of the relatively new virtual currency has been helped by abattle within the Bitcoin community over how the basic Bitcoin software should develop. The fights have slowed down Bitcoin transactions and led some people to look for alternative virtual currencies to power their businesses. Enter Ethereum. Like Bitcoin, the Ethereum system is built on a blockchain in which every transaction is recorded publicly. The promise of such a system is that it allows the exchange of money and assets more quickly and more cheaply than relying on a long chain of middlemen. But Ethereum has also won fans with its promise to do much more than Bitcoin. In addition to the virtual currency, the software provides a way to create online markets and programmable transactions known as smart contracts. The system is complicated enough that even people who know it well have trouble describing it in plain English. But one application in development would let farmers put their produce up for sale directly to consumers and take payment directly from consumers. There are already dozens of functioning applications built on Ethereum, enabling new ways to manage and pay for electricity, sports bets and even Ponzi schemes. All of this work is still very early. The first full public version of the Ethereum software was recently released, and the system could face some of the same technical and legal problems that have tarnished Bitcoin. More:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/28/business/dealbook/ethereum-a-virtual-currency-enables-transactions-that-rival-bitcoins.html?emc=edit_th_20160328&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=53476364&_r=0

 

Why We Think We’re Better Investors Than We Are

From their earliest days, the loosely confederated research efforts that came to be known as behavioral economics spawned a large quantity of studies centered on securities investment. This was not because the field’s pioneers were especially interested in stocks and bonds, nor was the early research commonly underwritten by financial services firms. Rather, the hive of activity that evolved into its own field — behavioral finance — reflected that investment markets provide unusually robust data sets for analyzing “judgment under uncertainty” (the title of a seminal textbook co-edited by the winner of a Nobel in economic science, the behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman) and “decision under risk” (a phrase in the subtitle of his Nobel-winning “Prospect Theory”). Every day, global securities markets provide researchers with billions of data points for understanding how people make choices when resources are at stake and the outcome is unknown. Which, if you think about it, is a fair description of most decisions. Indeed, the majority of cognitive biases and shortcuts that influence everyday judgment and choice have analogues in investment behavior. Consider the “sunk cost fallacy,” a primary reason an unhappy lawyer might struggle to leave the law and an unsuccessful investor might balk at selling money-losing shares. Both people are highly likely to obsess over their sunk cost — law school tuition and time served for the lawyer, the original investment amount for the stock picker — in a nonconscious desire to justify their earlier decisions. Both are also very likely to fall prey to “loss aversion,” a key tenet of Prospect Theory, which tells us that humans typically respond to the loss of resources — be it time, effort, emotion, material goods or their proxy, i.e., money — more strongly than they react to a similar gain. What differentiates the typical lawyer and average investor, however, is their justification for engaging in their activity. Lawyers are trained to do what they do, while the majority of investors are not. Ask a random player in a law firm’s basketball league whether he or she could compete with LeBron James, and the most common response will be laughter. Yet many of those lawyers would willingly compete with the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett. Despite the spectacular growth of index funds — passive investment vehicles that track market averages and minimize transaction costs — millions of amateur investors continue to actively buy and sell securities regularly. This despite overwhelming evidence that even professional investors are no more likely to beat the market than monkeys throwing darts at securities listings. Money managers, at least, are paid to make investment bets. But why do amateurs believe they can outperform the professionals — or even identify those pros who will outperform? (Performance of individual mutual funds cannot be predicted with any greater degree of accuracy than individual stocks or bonds.) Many biases and cognitive errors contribute to this costly behavior, but a few deserve mention.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/27/your-money/why-we-think-were-better-investors-than-we-are.html?emc=edit_th_20160327&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=53476364&_r=0

 

Think Heidi Cruz Has It Bad? Just Ask Rachel Jackson, Lucy Hayes and Frances Cleveland

Ted Cruz is pretty angry that Donald Trump decided to go after his wife, Heidi, this week. He called the GOP front-runner “a sniveling coward” for threatening to “spill the beans” on his better half, demanding he “leave Heidi the hell alone.” If this is how worked up Cruz gets in response to a single nasty tweet, it’s a pretty good thing he’s not running for president in 1828. That year, Andrew Jackson’s opponents ruthlessly attacked his wife, Rachel, for being too fat as well as a bigamist (both true, though the latter only technically, since, unbeknownst to her, her divorce had never been properly completed). Her body and her past were ridiculed in cartoons and newspapers around the country. (One earlier account had described her as a “short, fat dumpling bobbing” next to her husband.) The Cincinnati Gazette asked, “Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband be placed in the highest office of this free and Christian land?” First ladies-to-be have been targets since the beginning of American politics. You could argue that this is with good reason: They are very public figures. They can act as confidantes and advisers to the president. They even sometimes run the country (see Edith Wilson, who, by the way, was ridiculously accused of having conspired with her husband, President Woodrow Wilson, to murder his first wife, Ellen). But, even given these high stakes, it’s been rare that the criticism of these women has veered into the substantive—mostly it’s been extremely salacious, slanderous and offensive. In other words, political wives in the United States have been suffering the same type of harsh invective as their husbands since the founding—and it’s clearly not going to stop in 2016. In 1800, Abigail Adams, President John Adams’ wife, was sarcastically called “Madame President” and “Her Majesty,” because of her outspokenness, unusual for her time. Democratic vice-presidential candidate Richard Johnson was hissed at when he appeared in public in 1836 because he lived openly with a black woman named Julia Chinn. (The way this election is going, we may see the return of hissing, a long neglected and artful form of expressing disapproval.) More:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/03/heidi-cruz-melania-trump-controversy-first-ladies-presidents-wives-213767#ixzz449XfJCHv

 

Open carry at the Republican National Convention?

A petition for the open carry of firearms at the Republican National Convention has amassed over 32,000 signatures as of Sunday morning. The convention is scheduled to take place in Cleveland from July 18 to 21 at the Quicken Loans Arena, which bans all weapons on property. While Ohio allows open-carry, the venue’s ban is permitted by state law. The petition’s author, known as N A, finds fault with the policy, calling it “a direct affront to the Second Amendment.” Pointing to an article that ranks Cleveland among the United States’ most dangerous cities and mentioning “the possibility of an ISIS terrorist attack,” the author said the Republican National Committee and the Quicken Loans Arena are putting people at risk.

“Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life,” the petition reads. “All three remaining Republican candidates have spoken out on the issue and are unified in their opposition to Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s “gun-free zones.’” The author then called on the Quicken Loans Arena, the National Rifle Association, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the Republican National Committee and the GOP presidential contenders to act. None of the individuals named in the petition immediately responded to a request for comment from NBC News. On the Sunday morning talk shows, Trump declined to discuss the petition at length. “I have not seen the petition,” Trump said on ABC. “I want to see what it says. I want to read the fine print. I have to see what it says. I’m a very, very strong person for Second Amendment. I think very few people are stronger. And I have to see the petition.” When host Jonathan Karl asked Trump to put the specific petition aside and delineate more broadly about the notion of delegates carrying firearms at the convention, Trump refused to consider the prospect. “I don’t want to forget the petition,” Trump told Karl. “It’s the first I hear about it — of it, and frankly, you know, nobody is stronger on the Second Amendment than me. But I would like to take a look at it.

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/open-carry-the-republican-national-convention

 

State/Local

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley Should Definitely Resign

MOBILE, Ala. — While the people and what passes for press now in my native state are all a Twitter over allegations that Governor Robert Bentley may have had sex with his chief advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, even though both of them deny it, there is a far more important story involving Bentley that is being totally ignored by everybody, including the Washington Post, which recently blogged about the sex scandal. According to conservative statistics and analysis readily available on the Web — although far more boring and less titillating than the possibility of a governor having to resign over sex — Bentley is responsible for the deaths of at least 3,669 people over the past three years, 1223 a year, by refusing billions of dollars in federal money to expand health care coverage in the state. According to Huntsville physician Pippa Abston, these deaths amout to “a completely unnecessary premature loss of life.” “These are people who may have gone to the ER (emergency room) once they got very sick, but not in time to keep them from dying,” she said after studying the numbers at my request. “Some may not have been able to afford critically necessary medication, such as for high blood pressure.” The numbers come from the Institute of Medicine, which estimates a low 25 percent of excess deaths for uninsured adults. The formula for estimating excess deaths is available on the Web here and here, with the percent uninsured here. There are some disputes about the numbers, she said. The non-profit research and education organization Physicians for a National Health Program conducted a study several years ago which estimated an excess death rate of 40 percent, which would mean a far higher number than the 3,669 extrapolated from the 25 percent rate. “I am excessively cautious with numbers,” Dr. Abston said, so there could be confounding factors not taken into account in the research, she said, although that is taken into account. “I like to be up front that there is a possibility of confounding factors,” she said in an interview conducted in Facebook messages. But, she indicated, “I don’t think that takes away from the point. If something else were killing over 1000 extra people and we could fix that with an administrative change, I think we’d do it. It’s not like we are asking for something difficult, like for them to stop smoking.” As for the allegations of the governor having sex with a member of his staff, she said she doesn’t even care if it is true, or not. “I don’t care what people do in their sex lives, for heavens sakes,” she said. “I agree that this is much more serious. I can’t believe they are threatening recall over sex but letting people die is OK.” Back in 2013, while running for reelection, Bentley kowtowed to the tea party and missed the deadline for accepting $1.5 billion in federal money for the state to expand and fund health care for about 300,000 residents who had no coverage under the monopoly private health insurance plans of Blue Cross Blue Sheild, or the state Medicaid system as it existed. At a rally we covered in Birmingham that was ignored by the mainstream media, Grayson Brown, representing the Birmingham Chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America, called on the governor to expand health care coverage to prevent people from dying. “Governor Bentley says we cannot afford it,” Brown said at the time. “He is dead wrong, and I don’t choose my words lightly. We are talking about health care coverage for 300,000 of the working poor and their families. People will die because of this decision.” Furthermore, in addition to saving lives, expanding Medicaid would have created thousands of jobs, maybe even getting the state’s unemployment rate down to the 5 percent threshold that would have allowed Bentley to collect his paycheck from the governor’s salary he made a show of refusing to get elected the first time in 2010. The Obama administration had pledged to send $11.4 billion a year to Alabama over the next few years to cover the cost. “That money would spread through the economy. It would be paid to doctors, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists. They would then go spend that money in restaurants, tip waitresses, buy cell phones and cars,” Brown said. “Like blood going through the body, it would grow into $28 billion.” That would have generated more than $900 million in tax revenue for the state, while the state’s 10 percent portion of the program would have only cost $771 million, according to studies conducted by the University of Alabama. “What the governor has not told people, what you do not hear on the six o’clock news, is that the taxes are greater than the cost,” Brown said. He cited the editorial position of David Bronner with the Retirement System of Alabama who has called on the governor to opt in to Obamacare and expand Medicaid in part because it would create 30,000 news jobs in the state.

http://www.newamericanjournal.net/2016/03/alabama-governor-robert-bentley-should-definitely-resign/

Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, dies on Easter Sunday

Mother Angelica has passed away today at the age of 92, according to the Eternal Word Television Network. EWTN, the world’s largest Catholic satellite network, was founded by Mother Angelica out of a garage next to the monastery she started in Irondale. Mother Angelica also hosted a long-running talk show. Her show is still seen on reruns internationally. She even received a video message from Pope Francis last month, when he asked the nun to pray for him. Her health has declined over the year, but she wanted to remain alive as long as possible, she said. She once told her fellow nuns, “We don’t understand the awesomeness of living even one more day… I told my sisters the other day, ‘When I get really bad give me all the medicine I can take, all the tubes you can stuff down me.’ ‘Why’d you want that?’ ‘I want to live.’ ‘Why?’ “Because I will have suffered one more day for the love of God… I will exercise you in virtue. But most of all I will know God better. You cannot measure the value of one new thought about God in your own life.'” Her greatest talent, a gift of gab that built an international media empire that broadcasts to 80 million homes, eluded her in the last few years. Mother Angelica has had health problems most of her life, from an accident that left her in leg braces to 2001 stroke that caused her to wear an eye patch. She suffered another stroke in 2001, which left her mostly unable to speak. She also had health problems like Bell’s palsy, heart disease, and asthma. On most days, pilgrims arrive from all over the world to visit the grounds of the shrine that Mother Angelica built at an estimated cost of more than $30 million, paid for by donations, on 300 acres outside Hanceville. It has a stone castle with 40-foot-tall turrets for a visitors’ center, with nine suits of armor, 600-year-old wood plank tables, medieval manuscripts, and a gift shop inside. She also built a worldwide shortwave radio station, WEWN, on top of a mountain in Shelby County in 1992. The nuns in Hanceville have provided Mother Angelica with constant care. Birmingham Bishop Robert Baker said about her passing: “Mother Angelica brought the truth and the love and the life of the Gospel of Jesus to so many people, not only to our Catholic household of faith, but to many thousands of people who are not Catholic, in that beautiful way she had of touching lives, bringing so many people into the Catholic Faith.” Michael Warsaw, EWTN Chairman and CEO, released a statement: “This is a sorrow-filled day for the entire EWTN Family. Mother has always, and will always, personify EWTN, the Network which she founded… Everything she did was an act of faith.” EWTN asked for prayers during this time.

http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/03/mother_angelica_founder_of_ewt.html#incart_river_home

Knee Surgery Delays Hubbard Trial

MONTGOMERY—The State has asked for a continuance in the Speaker Mike Hubbard felony trial, citing Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart’s unexpected knee surgery. Hubbard’s trial on 23 felony counts of public corruption was scheduled for April 11, almost a year and a half after his indictment. Hubbard has used a panoply of legal devises to delay his trial, but, and briefly, it appeared the trial would go forward, only now to be delayed by the prosecution because of Hart’s knee injury. The State has requested the pretrial conference be reset for the week of April 11, or soon thereafter. Judge Walker will preside over a capital murder case set for May 9, leaving the earliest date for Hubbard’s trial later in May. The State has asked Judge Walker to set Hubbard’s trial for the next available date: “The State requests that a new trial setting be ordered as soon as possible to allow the State to execute out of State witness subpoenas, which require a date certain to be executed in other jurisdictions.” The motion states Hart will undergo knee surgery the week of March 28, the day before the pretrial hearing is scheduled. He is expected to have limited mobility for ten to fourteen days. Few court watchers actually believed the April 11 date could be met, due to the countless array of motions filed by Hubbard to delay the case and confuse the issues that surround his indictments. Once again, Hubbard will continue to preside over the House, while his trial chews up more time and resources. Over the last few weeks, Gov. Robert Bentley, who is believed to be a witness for the prosecution, finds himself under a Federal investigation into his ordering then ALEA Chief Spencer Collier to lie to the Attorney General about an investigation related to the Hubbard case. Audio tapes have emerged of Bentley having sexually-laced phone conversations with his senior advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason. This has caused several lawmakers to call for Bentley’s resignation.

In what many consider a stunning show of hypocrisy, several of these lawmakers are the same men who stood with Hubbard at his pep rally the day after his indictment. Many are the same legislators, whom to this day remain silent, and even supportive of a man charged with 23 felonies while seeking the blood of a Governor, whose only proven offense is he likes to talk dirty to a younger woman who he says didn’t mind his simpering expressions of desire. An investigation into Bentley’s action at ALEA is ongoing, however, he unlike Hubbard, has not been charged with a crime. The State’s motion is unopposed, so it is likely that Judge Jacob Walker, III will grant it.

http://www.alreporter.com/knee-surgery-delays-hubbard-trial/

 

Spencer Collier: Gov. Robert Bentley hurt me in a ‘way that’s unimaginable’

Spencer Collier, fired Alabama Secretary of Law Enforcement and whistle-blower to an alleged gubernatorial love affair, says he is hurt. A hurt, he says, “that you can’t create.” Not just because Gov. Robert Bentley fired him, but at the way he claims Bentley – who he considered a close friend and father figure – has sought to discredit him. As the longtime friendship began to unravel in recent months amid a high-profile corruption case involving Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, investigation into misuse of funds within the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and allegations of Bentley’s affair with top aide Rebekah Mason, those close to the governor and close to some top officials at ALEA say Collier has been acting erratically, though there has been no public sign of such. There have been whispers of drug use and mental illness, and it’s that which has pained Collier to his core. Collier’s father struggled with paranoid schizophrenia most of Collier’s life, and later developed dementia as well. Collier never confided that to anyone in Alabama’s political circles, except Bentley. But when Bentley sought to protect his own relationship, Collier said, he turned on his friend. Following Collier’s press conference last week, held after he went public with details of the governor’s alleged affair, a reporter pulled Collier aside and asked him, basically, if he was mentally ill. “The only person I’ve ever told (about his father) was the governor,” Collier said in a lengthy interview with AL.com. “So that had to come from him.” “My dad was mentally ill and suffered from it since I was 2. He was institutionalized quite a bit, but he loved us,” Collier said, audibly upset. “I told the governor all of this, but no one else in politics knows. He knows it runs in my family, so for him to tell people that, it just hurts. You couldn’t make up a way to hurt somebody more.”

When Collier’s father died three years ago, he said, it was Bentley who was there to comfort him. “We prayed together over the phone,” Collier said. Those days are over, and Collier said if anyone had told him a year ago that the friendship would come to this, he wouldn’t have believed it. “Some of the things he had done and said, or allowed to be done and said, it’s just hurt in a way that’s unimaginable. My children worshipped him, and they’re all in shell shock. It’s almost like I keep waiting to wake up from an episode of House of Cards.”

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/03/spencer_collier_gov_robert_ben.html

Bentley Ordered Law Enforcement to Target Critics

MONTGOMERY—Gov. Robert Bentley pressured law enforcement officers to use federal and state resources to target those critical of his relationship with senior advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason, according to high ranking officers and staff. In an effort to find potentially damaging information on those who spoke out against the couple, Bentley instructed top law enforcement agents to investigate private citizens, in direct conflict with the law, said those close to the matter. (These individual spoke on background to alreporter.com because of a criminal investigation surrounding this and other matters).

Two individuals with detailed knowledge of the incidents say Bentley ordered the use of the National Crime Information Center, (NCIC) and the Law Enforcement Tactical System (LETS) to find any incriminating evidence that might be used against attorney Donald V. Watkins, and Legal Schnauzer blogger Roger Shuler. These powerful databases serve as a “Google-style” search engine for law enforcement, allowing agencies to search the most private aspects of a person’s life. A search on these sites can produce social security numbers, driver’s licenses numbers, property ownership, criminal history, and more. “If you really know now to use these resources you can turn a person life upside down,” said a former lawman. Former ALEA staff and attorneys refused to cooperate with Bentley. However, some of those same individuals are not certain that new ALEA Chief Stan Stabler would be as cautious saying, “Everyone is a potential target now that Stabler is part of the cover up.” Bentley ousted Trustees aligned Watkins from the Alabama State University (ASU) Board in in 2014. The two warred over the Governor’s authority to move these Trustees. In an interview with alreporter.com Watkins said, “I knew he was targeting me, I have known for years that Bentley was upset by my public criticism of his administration and his policies.” Watkins said Bentley first targeted him in 2013 using banking regulators: “We came under excessive regulatory review and are still under excessive regulatory review,” said Watkins. He said in 2014 Bentley asked the SEC to investigate his businesses, even through they are not under SEC regulation. “That investigation went nowhere,” said Watkins. But again, in 2015, Bentley sought a criminal investigation, according to Watkins, “I provided the investigators with all the documentation and that case was close within 30 days.” “Every case started with a hint or a suggestion of impropriety on my part by Bentley’s Office and each case went nowhere,” said Watkins. ALEA was twice asked to conduct a criminal investigation into Watkins, this has been confirmed by law enforcement officers. Watkins has announced he was sending a letter to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for an investigation into Bentley actions. Watkins began writing a regular column posting incriminating information about Bentley and his relationship with Mason on Facebook. In a four part series entitled, “Forbidden Love – Robert Bentley’s Secret Love Affair,” Watkins wrote in detail about events which have now been confirmed by former State Law Enforcement Chief Spencer Collier and tapes discovered by al.com’s John Archibald. In September 2015, Watkins reported, “The First Lady overheard the Governor’s steamy love talk during some of his private phone calls with Rebekah. She also read his text messages, which graphically depicted the nature and scope of the love affair between her husband and his paramour. No further proof of his infidelity was needed.” More:

http://www.alreporter.com/bentley-ordered-law-enforcement-to-target-critics/

 

Judge rules state abortion restriction unconstitutional

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – A federal judge has permanently struck down an Alabama law that required abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson entered the order Friday declaring the state abortion law, which had previously blocked the state from enforcing, as unconstitutional. Thompson says the law would make it impossible for a woman to obtain an abortion in much of the state. State abortion clinics had filed a lawsuit in 2013 challenging the requirement as unnecessary and an undue burden on women’s right to access abortion services.

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an American Civil Liberties Union, says the ruling protects women’s access to legal abortion. The decision comes as the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether a similar Texas law is constitutional.

http://www.wsfa.com/story/31568099/judge-rules-state-abortion-restriction-unconstitutional

 

Ethics Report Filed Against Alabama Governor Accused of Affair

“The Governor continues to disgrace the state of Alabama, and in my official capacity as State Auditor, I am required to report these suspected violations,” Zeigler, also a Republican, said in a statement.

“It is clear that he is misleading the people of the state about the nature of his relationship, but it is also clear that Ms. Mason is required to either be classified as a public official, or file as a lobbyist, in her capacity as an advisor who is paid by an outside source,” Zeigler said. The report also claims that the two “have been using state property and resources in furtherance of their personal relationship.”

Excerpts purported to be from a sexually-charged conversation between the two were published this week, and a fired top law enforcement official alleged the two had an affair and he was dismissed for refusing to lie about it. Bentley on Wednesday apologized for a “mistake” but denied that any physical relationship took place, and said he has not done anything illegal or asked anyone to lie. Mason has also denied having a physical affair with Bentley. Bentley and his wife divorced last year. More:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ethics-report-filed-against-alabama-governor-accused-affair-n545891

 

Blogs/Opinions

How the tribal warfare of our ancestors explains the Islamic State

From Brussels to Paris to San Bernardino to Syria, the world appears to be erupting in violence. In this war, the targets can be anyone and anywhere. While attackers take inspiration from Islamic State leadership, in many cases they seem to act on their own initiative. In Syria, the Islamic State carefully stages theatrical acts of barbarity to create terror and awe around the world. Is this a new kind of war? Only through the short view of modern history does this type of war look new. Public displays of brutality have long been used to terrorize and subdue populations around the globe. The theatrics of the Islamic State pale in comparison to those seen in Europe just a few centuries ago. Burning alive, drawing and quartering, drowning, garroting, disemboweling or breaking on the wheel were all common methods of dispatching criminals, enemies and those who ended up on the wrong side of a theological debate. Even in the United States, executions were historically public affairs. At one of the last public executions in the United States, in 1936, at least 20,000 people turned up to watch. The city of Owensboro, Ky., built a gallows 25 feet tall. Bars were packed while “merrymakers rollicked all night” and many homes had “hanging parties.” The New York Times reported that when the body fell, “souvenir hunters rushed forward . . . and tore the black hood . . . off his head before he had been pronounced dead.”  Where does this capacity for horrific violence come from? My colleagues and I have been studying the origins of war through systematic analysis of chimpanzees, hunter-gatherers and modern conflicts. We have learned that lethal violence against out-groups is found, in one form or another, at all scales of society, including among our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. In a pattern that disturbingly resembles human warfare, chimpanzees across East Africa regularly kill members of neighboring groups, including infants and females. Sometimes these attacks cause the extermination of entire communities, a phenomenon akin to genocide in human society. When this happens, the successful group takes over the territory of the defeated group, gaining access to valuable resources. More:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-the-tribal-warfare-of-our-ancestors-explains-the-islamic-state/2016/03/24/d36baee6-e581-11e5-b0fd-073d5930a7b7_story.html?tid=sm_fb

How Rebekah Caldwell Mason changed Gov. Robert Bentley

One phrase has been repeated over and over in recent months by those who worked for and alongside Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. This is not the man I used to know. Not in dress or demeanor, in policy or in perception. The man who in 2010 became governor as a trusted grandfather and aw shucks country doctor has lost the network of friends and backers that put him into office. He has lost his family and his hometown allies, his reputation, and the trust of his state. He left his home church, lost his moral authority and – many say – his way. Those closest to him say those losses started with one event: the rise of the influence of his senior political adviser and telephone paramour Rebekah Caldwell Mason. The governor has shuffled through advisers and staffers and bodyguards and friends since Mason began to assume more control in the middle of 2012, former colleagues say.  She took over and the group of supporters that helped make Bentley a viable candidate – they used to call it the Tuscaloosa brain trust – was cut off from influence. And in some cases contact. It all came to a head this week when Spencer Collier, a longtime friend of Bentley who served with him in the Legislature and was later appointed to lead the newly created Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, was fired. Collier had displeased the governor by signing an affidavit for the Alabama Attorney General’s office in their case against House Speaker Mike Hubbard. He was placed on medical leave and subsequently fired. But he did not go quietly. Citing dates and times and details, Collier confirmed long-whispered rumors that Bentley was in fact involved in a relationship with Mason. Collier said he had reviewed text messages and audio recordings of a sexual nature between the two, that he confronted Bentley, who owned up to the affair but did not break it off. Bentley was counting on one thing, Collier said. “He did not think I would say anything.” The governor then held a press conference, acknowledging he said things of a sexual nature to Mason, but denying there was a sexual relationship. By then the whole state was listening to portions of the recordings published by AL.com and other media. Bentley apologized for the things proven on the tapes, but denied those that could not be proven. So the governor of Alabama, who was elected with the largest percentage of the vote in recent memory, who received a mandate from the people of Alabama to lead, now must battle for his very job. He says he will not resign. He continues to work. He said he would veto the Legislature’s budget this week. Mason continues in her job, too. And those around them continue to say those words:  This is not the man I used to know. The governor’s angst over the discovery of those tapes had been visible for more than a year, those close to him said. Staff members were warned last year not to make recordings. And according to Collier, Bentley asked him to investigate and possibly prosecute those who made the recordings of Bentley talking to Mason. Collier said he determined the recordings were made by or at the direction of Bentley’s wife, and as such would in his opinion be a domestic issue that probably would not rise to the level of a crime. More:

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/03/how_rebekah_caldwell_mason_cha.html

 

Morning Money

WHY CLINTON WON’T TALK GSE REFORM — David Stevens of the Mortgage Bankers Assoc. emails: “It’s far too esoteric and complex to even consider. Both Gene and Jim are known to be key advisors on housing – this paper likely becomes a platform piece if she assumes office, but not anything that would be used now – it would make no sense. Her housing platform was written with the input of these guys, but it focused on first time homebuyers, affordable rental, things that are far more understandable and issues that can resonate with average voters.”

And a source close to the Clinton campaign emails: “Parrott and Sperling would be crazy to pitch a GSE reform plan to Hillary in the middle of a campaign against Donald J. Trump because it would be like ‘going into a knife fight with your calculator.’ It’s too serious and in the weeds — and if they can’t even get the White House to pay attention to housing reform, why would it get any traction in the campaign?”

GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY — Via HPS’s Matt McDonald on GDP: “It’s worth noting that real GDP for 2015 was +2.4 percent, which is actually above the range of Fed expectations for the year (2.0 to 2.2).” Cheat sheet: http://bit.ly/1Sfyjey

THE TRUMP CONVO CON — Mickey Edwards in POLITICO Magazine: “Donald Trump is likely on the verge of losing the Republican primary, falling short of the number of delegates required to win the presidential nomination. But, as bullies are wont to do, Trump is now trying desperately to change the rules — to argue that the nomination should go not to the candidate who wins 1,237 delegates but to whoever comes closest.

“What’s wrong with that argument? Electing a U.S. president is not a schoolyard game, where goalposts change when bullies whine. There’s a reason a candidate has to make it to 1,237 votes to win the nomination. Each party’s goal is to put forth a nominee whom the party’s members, represented by their elected delegates, believe will best reflect the party’s collective judgment … At the convention this summer … the delegates will vote on who they think best represents the Republican Party until a single candidate does receive the necessary votes. … That person could be Trump, but it probably won’t be.” http://politi.co/1Spjh8E

ASIA SLIPS — Reuters: “The dollar firmed on Monday and most Asian markets surrendered early gains as investors cautiously awaited U.S. economic data and speeches by Federal Reserve officials this week that could signal more interest rate increases than expected. European markets are closed for the Easter Monday holiday. U.S. PCE inflation data due at 1230 GMT could further fan expectations of an early rate move if it shows increasing inflationary pressure. …

“The data will be followed by a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and a few other Fed policymakers on Tuesday, making the Fed’s policy the biggest focus for now.” http://reut.rs/1pEV2tf

TAX CRACKDOWN TO HIT PROFITS — FT’s Vanessa Houlder in London: “A global crackdown on tax avoidance has forced a surge of warnings by multinational companies that higher payments are set to hit their earnings. A Financial Times analysis of company filings revealed that more than twice the number of US companies alerted investors to the risk of higher taxes in their 2015 accounts than a year earlier. … Nearly a fifth of the 136 US companies sounding an alert were technology companies such as LinkedIn and Yahoo.

“Tax structures that were once used to maximise returns to shareholders risk becoming a liability as governments close loopholes to raise revenues and respond to public anger over aggressive avoidance. The tech sector in particular has been the focus of public outrage, with Google and Facebook earlier this year sparking controversy in Europe over the low rates of tax they have been paying.” http://on.ft.com/1MLv24K

GOOD MONDAY MORNING — Hope everyone had a blessed and restful Easter! MM is on CNBC’s Squawk Box at 6:20 a.m. Email me on bwhite@politico.com and follow me on Twitter @morningmoneyben

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Andrew Holt and Rachel Eck welcomed their son Henry Walter into the world early Saturday morning.

DRIVING THE WEEK — Quiet week on the voting front with the next big showdown coming Tuesday April 5th in Wisconsin, a make or break moment for the stop Trump movement … President Obama hosts the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House today … In the evening, the President will deliver the keynote address at the awards dinner for Syracuse University’s Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting … Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. “will deliver a major address on the evolution of sanctions and lessons for the future at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace” … March jobs report on Friday

MORE ON RYAN FOR POTUS — Stan Collender in Forbes: “For all those who think Ryan’s use of the budget debate is irrelevant and refuse to see that he is visibly and unambiguously positioning himself to be the person a deadlocked Republican convention turns to as its nominee, consider the many very presidential candidate things he did just last week. … At the same time he was appealing to the uber conservatives through the budget debate, Ryan reached out to the GOP’s moderates and to independent voters who lean Republican by making a speech that belittled the current state of American politics.

“He denounced the type of campaigning Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) have been doing and made it clear that he preferred (i.e., would conduct) a campaign that is more substantive and issue oriented with none of the hatred and personal attacks the current candidates are using. It was a condemnation of Trump and Cruz without actually condemning Trump and Cruz. … Ryan used his speech to congressional interns to take back one of the most damaging messages from his failed 2012 vice presidential campaign, that people who received benefits from the federal government were ‘takers.’” http://onforb.es/1ZFvsBe

SANDERS SWEEPS SATURDAY — POLITICO’s Gabriel Debenedetti: “Bernie Sanders swept all three Democratic caucuses Saturday — scoring victories in Hawaii, Alaska and delegate-rich Washington state. While the underdog’s West Coast wins are not nearly enough to trip up former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s path to the nomination, his apparently wide margin of victory provides his campaign with a burst of momentum heading into a 10-day break before the next primary contest.

“The Vermont senator’s big victories are also typically followed by a considerable fundraising bump. Sanders was victorious in Washington state’s caucuses 72.7 percent to Clinton’s 27.1 percent and won Alaska’s caucuses by a landslide, defeating Clinton 81.6 percent to 18.4 percent. … Sanders’ win in Washington — the day’s big prize with its 101 delegates — comes after Clinton’s campaign worked to minimize his advantage there and tried to stop him from gaining too much ground in the delegate race. … Still, Sanders’ performance is unlikely to cut too far into Clinton’s overall delegate lead.” http://politi.co/1SohMYc

DEM SHOWDOWN IN NY? — WP’s Philip Rucker: “In a mathematical squeeze to make up ground in the Democratic presidential race, Bernie Sanders is preparing to ratchet up his attacks on Hillary Clinton ahead of a New York showdown that could establish how easily the party can pull itself back together for the general election.

“The Empire State’s April 19 primary looms as potentially determinative: A win by Clinton, who is favored, would further narrow Sanders’s path, while a loss in the state she represented as a senator would embarrass her and hand Sanders a rationale to continue campaigning until the final votes are cast in June.” http://wapo.st/1UVExVR

WHAT TRUMP MISSES ON TRADE — NYT’s Neil Irwin: “Donald Trump believes that a half-trillion-dollar trade deficit with the rest of the world makes the United States a loser and countries with trade surpluses like China, Japan and Mexico winners. … The reality is different. Trade deficits are not inherently good or bad, though they can be either depending on circumstances. The trade deficit is not a scorecard.

“What’s more, eliminating the trade deficit wouldn’t, on its own, make America great again, as Mr. Trump promises. In fact, trying to do so could mean giving up some of the key levers of power that allow the United States to get its way in international politics. In other words, getting rid of the trade deficit could very well make America less great.” http://nyti.ms/1RwSneU

TRUMP UP IN CALIFORNIA — POLITICO’s Kirsten East: “Donald Trump leads the Republican field in California more than two months before the state’s primary, according to a new statewide poll of Republicans. Trump leads with 37 percent among registered Republicans in California, according to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Sunday. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz follows with 30 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich trails with 12 percent. Trump leads his opponents in most areas of the state. Cruz tends to do well with conservatives voters in the Central Valley

“Cruz gains on Trump and makes it a closer race when looking at those who are most likely to vote in the state’s June 7 primary: Trump and Cruz then run neck-and-neck, earning 36 and 35 percent support, respectively. Were Trump to win the nomination outright after California’s primary, more than a quarter of registered Republicans in the state — 27 percent — say they would refuse to vote for him in the general election.” http://politi.co/1RxbZQa

BOMB ROCKS LAHORE — FT’s Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad and Amy Kazmin in New Delhi: “A large bomb exploded near the entrance to a children’s park in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Sunday, killing at least 65 people and injuring at least 300 others, in an attack that sent shockwaves across a country often seemingly inured to violence. … The terror attack, one of the biggest in Pakistan since Islamists slaughtered more than 100 children at a massacre in an army school in 2014, was timed to coincide with the evening holiday rush at the park, one of the largest family recreation areas in Lahore.

“The death toll was still rising on Sunday evening, with the city’s hospitals declaring a state of emergency. Many of the casualties were women and children. A senior police officer in Lahore who spoke to the Financial Times said the Taliban had claimed responsibility for the Lahore attack and had threatened to carry out more. ‘The risk of more Taliban attacks remains very high,’ he said. Pakistani authorities said the bomb at Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park appeared to have been triggered by a suicide bomber, though they said they were still investigating. Pakistani media have speculated that members of Pakistan’s tiny Christian minority, out celebrating the Easter holiday, may have been the target.” http://on.ft.com/1ZFLI5e

BETTING ON MARKET VOLATILITY — WSJ’s Ben Eisen and Saumya Vaishampayan: “Some investors are so worried stocks will tumble that they are willing to lose money to protect themselves. Investors poured a record sum over the past month into exchange-traded funds whose value increases along with Wall Street’s so-called fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility Index. Many of those wagers are being made via leveraged products that effectively double the stakes — a strategy that analysts say could protect against a large decline in U.S. stock indexes but is more likely a recipe for losing money.

“The demand for the products is one of the clearest signs yet that many investors are starting to position themselves for a reversal of a recent market rally that has pulled the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 index up by more than 11 percent since the middle of last month, leaving them essentially flat for the year and causing a sharp decline in the VIX.” http://on.wsj.com/1XWXbfk

JPM INVESTS IN DETROIT — AP’s Corey Williams: “As part of its $100 million investment in Detroit’s economic recovery, ‘JPMorgan Chase has chipped in a $6 million loan as an investment in a $65 million apartment and retail development in Brush Park, just north of downtown and near the city’s professional sports stadiums. ‘We want our investment in the city to be catalytic and encourage others to continue supporting the city’s comeback,’ said Peter Scher, chief of Corporate Responsibility for JPMorgan Chase” http://abcn.ws/1VPmoJZ

CHINA JOBS FADE IS REAL — Via Political Alpha: “Our friends at the China Beige Book have shared with us a handful of key highlights from their new Q1 2016 advance data, tidbits of which will be made public in the coming days. … This new trend of slowing jobs growth began just a quarter ago, but the weakness appears to be intensifying. This is no small deal. While investors may celebrate the fact that growth didn’t again tumble as many expected, this type of weakness may worry Beijing more than all the other previous signs of weakness combined.”

ICYMI: TRUMP’s DEAL-DRIVEN FOREIGN POLICY — NYT’s David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman: “Trump … said that if elected, he might halt purchases of oil from Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies unless they commit ground troops to the fight against the Islamic State or ‘substantially reimburse’ the United States for combating the militant group, which threatens their stability. … He also said he would be open to allowing Japan and South Korea to build their own nuclear arsenals rather than depend on the American nuclear umbrella for their protection against North Korea and China. …

“And he said he would be willing to withdraw United States forces from both Japan and South Korea if they did not substantially increase their contributions to the costs of housing and feeding those troops. … Mr. Trump also said he would seek to renegotiate many fundamental treaties with American allies, possibly including a 56-year-old security pact with Japan, which he described as one-sided. … ‘Not isolationist, but I am America First,’ he said. ‘I like the expression.’” http://nyti.ms/1pSADBP

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Can’t Pay Taxes On Time? Here Are Five Tips

The IRS urges you to file on time even if you can’t pay what you owe. This saves you from potentially paying a penalty for a late filed return.

Here is what to do if you can’t pay all your taxes by the due date.

  1. File on time and pay as much as you can. You can pay online, by phone, or by check or money order. Visit IRS.gov for electronic payment options.
  2. Get a loan or use a credit card to pay your tax. The interest and fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be less than IRS interest and penalties. For credit card options, see IRS.gov.
  3. Use the Online Payment Agreement tool.  You don’t need to wait for IRS to send you a bill before you ask for a payment plan. The best way is to use the Online Payment Agreement tool on IRS.gov. You can also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, with your tax return. You can even set up a direct debit agreement. With this type of payment plan, you won’t have to write a check and mail it on time each month.
  4. Don’t ignore a tax bill.  If you get a bill, don’t ignore it.  The IRS may take collection action if you ignore the bill. Contact the IRS right away to talk about your options. If you are suffering financial hardship, the IRS will work with you.
  5. File to reconcile Advance Payments of the Premium Tax Credit.  You must file a tax return and submit Form 8962 to reconcile advance payments of the premium tax credit with the actual premium tax credit to which you are entitled. You will need Form 1095-A from the Marketplace to complete Form 8962. Failure to reconcile your advance payments of the premium tax credit on Form 8962 may make you ineligible to receive future advance payments.

Remember to file on time. Pay as much as you can by the tax deadline and pay the rest as soon as you can. Find out more about the IRS collection process on IRS.gov. Also check out IRSVideos.gov/OweTaxes.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.