Uncategorized

Potential Changes in Tax Policies to Affect Wealthy Taxpayers

As in any country, the election of a new leader also means possible changes in tax policies, which is likely to happen under the new Biden administration. One of Pres. Biden’s key tax proposal is to revert the highest federal income tax rate for individuals back to 39.6%, which was the rate before the Trump administration had it reduced to 37%.

Still, any legislative proposals to change or modify the current tax laws have to be approved by Congress, before they can be enacted as laws. Since the ruling bloc in both the lower house (State Representatives) and upper house (State Senators) is the Democratic Party, to which President Biden belongs, the proposed reversal to the pre-Trump rate of 39.6% is likely to take effect starting tax year 2021.

Other Tax Policies that the Biden Administration will Propose to Congress

Inasmuch as taxpayers are now living in 2021, it’s important to know the likely changes that will impact the income that will be earned this year. Aside from the potential reversal of the top tax rate to 39.6%, other tax proposals that the Biden administration will submit to Congress, will include the following:

Corporate Tax Increase

The present Corporate Tax of 21% will increase to 28%. The Trump administration had slashed down a previous Corporate Tax of 35% down to 21% as legislated under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act passed by Congress. The new Biden administration will propose to add back half, or 7% of the 2017 tax cutback (35% – 21% = 14% cut back in 2017.)

Minimum 15% Corporate Tax on Corporate Book Income

Institution of a minimum corporate tax payment of 15% if the corporate book income is $100 million and above. Reference to “corporate book income” denotes the income reported by companies to the general public; particularly for shareholders who are interested in evaluating the financial health and performance of a corporation. The book income reported is likely higher as the income presented in the financial statements is not for taxation purposes.

Reduced Value of Estate Tax Exemption

BIden will seek to bring down Estate Tax Exemption by 50%, which under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of the Trump administration had increased to $11.18 million for single taxpayers and $22.36 million for married taxpayers. The amount of Estate Tax Exemption was set to increase yearly up to 2025 based on inflation rate, to which 2020 already exempts $11.58 million from estate taxes. This denotes that if Congress approves the reduction of Estate Tax Exemption, recipients of estates worth $5.80 million or higher, received as inheritance or bequeathed to a beneficiary for any reason, will have to pay Estate Taxes.

Additional Social Security payroll tax of 6.2% will be deducted from the salaries of individuals earning $400,000 or more.

An Unsolicited Advice for the Wealthy and High Income Earners

Apparently, the major tax changes proposed by the Biden administration will affect the wealthy and high income earners. That being the case, it’s all the more important for those who rely on the financial advice and services of wealth management companies, to keep abreast with the changes that will transpire under the new administration.

According to the financial advisors of pillarwm, one of the setbacks to hiring large firms that handle the wealth of the ultra rich is that the smaller accounts are often relegated to the lower-ranked wealth managers. The latter on the other hand, simply apply a cookie-cutter approach in carrying out accounting and tax services, estate planning, as well as in giving financial and investment advice. Knowing the changes that will transpire will give individuals the ability to assess if the wealth managers handling their tax plans have taken into account the actual changes. Tax plans after all can help minimize the potential losses that could affect their investment and asset portfolios.

Financial

Biden Plans to Push the $1.9 Trillion Aid Even Without Support from the Republicans

Pres. Biden is still struggling to get Congress to act urgently on his COVID relief package to address the worsening health crisis amidst a political divide. The president has not been receiving signs of support from the Republicans in relation to his $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan. Still, President Biden is not backing down on his plans, stating that even without the support of the Senate Republicans the COVID relief plan will be passed with no excuses, reservations, or restrictions.

The President’s struggle lies mainly on the fact that Congress has already approved a total of $4 trillion in financial aid beforehand, including the $900 billion fund for the $600 stimulus checks last month. A week has passed since President Biden was took office to which there has been no progress in reaching a deal with the Republican legislators. However, Senate Democrats on the other hand, are currently putting together the measure as soon as the following week.

According to the president, the new $1.9 trillion aid that is being pushed is better than the possible damage to the economy if the relief plan will not proceed. Not only will it help fund the vaccinations, it would also help put citizens back to work, improve their salaries, and allow their children to go back to schools.

The president is also trying to convince the public on how the different parts of his proposal will work together. Aside from the $1,400 differential in the promised $2K direct payments to citizens, the government will allott $400 billion to propel the nationwide vaccination program and school reopenings. Furthermore, the minimum wage of state and local governments will be increased to $15, However this last aspect is opposed by most Republicans.

What Republican Lawmakers are Saying

Legislators from the Republican partly agree with Biden’s plan of hastening the vaccinations. Yet a Senate aide of the party said that there are more clamors for resolving the second impeachment case faced by former president Trump. Other Republicans on the other hand, do not agree as they see the new relief package as a the current administration’s way of saving state and local governments from going bankrupt.

While some members of the Republican party agree with the President’s proposal, but subject to a different condition. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, mentioned that he agrees and supports the financing for giving benefits to jobless citizens and funding the distributions of vaccine. However, he demands a full accounting of the remaining funds from the last financial aid packages.

Investments

Mining as a Service : Game Changing Approach to Running a Crypto Mining Business

Many are considering running their own bitcoin mining business to increase their digital assets, and as an alternative to buying BTCs at current high prices. Today, mining bitcoins or BTCs as an investment option is more feasible than before, because there are now mining farms that offer bitcoin mining as a service.

For the benefit of those who are not too familiar on how one gets to acquire cryptocurrency, specifically bitcoin, be in the know that there are two ways you can acquire a digital asset. One is to buy a specific number of units of BTCs in exchange for real money at the prevailing exchange rate. The second is by earning a unit of bitcoin as a reward for solving the complex hash of data related to each bitcoin transaction. The reward is a form of fee as solving the hash is a way of verifying the validity of the bitcoin transfer occurring in the blockchain platform.

Why Many are Considering the Option to Run Their Own Mining Business

BTC investments have reached an all time high ever since trading growth spurred sometime in mid December in year 2020. The participation of traditional Wall Street investors has ignited the demand for bitcoins, which caused the supply to dwindle. A great number of bitcoins has yet to be mined in order to increase the number of BTCs in circulation.

However, as the number of BTC transactions increases the more difficult it becomes for miners to solve the crypto hash. Mainly because every hash data related to the bitcoin being transferred will form part of the entire crypto puzzle that needs to be solved.

In the bitcoin economy, the law of demand and supply greatly affects the price of bitcoin, which is one reason why high volatility is a trait of BTC prices. Now if you will engage in bitcoin mining instead, as a way to increase your BTC resources, it will take more than just knowing how to solve hash puzzles to make this option truly profitable.

Why? You need to invest a lot of money on costly hardware and software that will enable you to solve hash puzzles in the shortest time possible, usually 10 minutes. The cost of mining does not stop there, because running the equipment requires a great deal of electricity that equates to high costs.

Over time, once you account how much bitcoin you earned as rewards and pit the total value against the total cost you incurred to earn the related reward, you could end up feeling disappointed. In most cases, the profits earned are not enough to bring a reasonable amount of return on investment (ROI), let alone profit.

Now here’s the thing, the outlook over the prospects of running a mining business has changed. There are now bitcoin mining farms that offer mining as a service.

About Providers of Bitcoin Mining as a Service

Know that the latest development in the cryptocurrency industry is the availability of bitcoin mining farms that offer mining as a service. It’s a game changing approach to running a startup mining business.

A good example is elevategroup.io , which offers the use of their mining platform to mining enthusiasts looking to run a small scale mining business of their own. Now the option to increase one’s cryptocurrency portfolio by way of mining becomes better. When taking on elevate group’s offer of mining as a service, the need to invest on costly equipment and software, as well as put up with high energy costs, will be eliminated.

Find out more on how elevate group’s mining solution works by following the  link provided above.

Financial

Congress Passed a New Pandemic Relief Bill; But Will the Financial Aid Suffice?

Finally, Congress approved a $900 billion economic relief package as lifeline for millions of Americans suffering from financial despair caused by COVID-19. Although the bill will still need Trump’s signature for the new coronavirus bill’s enactment, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that qualified Americans can expect to receive the stimulus checks as early as next week.

New Pandemic Relief Bill to Dole Out Paychecks Under New Rules

A weekly $600 paycheck will be sent directly to Americans who received salaries of $75,000 and below in 2019, while those who have filed for unemployment will receive an additional $300 per week economic relief. This particular component of the bills denotes that millions of Americans will not receive $600 as economic relief due to the conditions set as new rules by the approved Pandemic Relief Bill.

Those who do not qualify to receive the $600 direct payment financial assistance include dependent adults or senior citizens who have either retired or were forced to retire earlier this year in light of their greater vulnerability to COVID-19 infection. Nonetheless, they will qualify to receive a $300 weekly paycheck as unemployed individuals.

Married couples who filed their tax returns jointly qualify to receive $1,200 economic relief as single recipient; but only if their joint income in 2019 did not exceed $150,000. Unmarried couples though will qualify only the head of the family if their 2019 earnings do not exceed $112,000.

It is quite obvious that the financial assistance that the new coronavirus relief bill is not enough to lift people out of the financial distress that’s been confronting them since the original CARES Act expired in July 31, 2020,

Still, Democratic lawmakers are hoping to pass another coronavirus financial assistance package once President-elect Biden officially takes his seat as new POTUS. The likelihood of an additional coronavirus bill is greater if the Democratic party succeeds in attaining majority control of the Senate house, which a Democratic win in Georgia’s run-off election could seal.

Millions of Americans Facing Unpaid Obligations Due to Lost Sources of Regular Income

Although those that have been rendered unemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic were able to provide for their basic needs and/or their families, most of them earned by taking on odd jobs or freelance work.

Many are anxious that their inability to pay off financial obligations, such as unpaid balances on credit cards, private student loans and/or home mortgage loans have now been categorized and reported by lenders as bad credit loans. That being the case, the unpaid debts are not only running hefty additional interest charges but are also affecting their mental health. Many are worried over the consequences of poor credit history as it will reflect poorly on their credit scores.

Not a few financial experts are giving advice to the millions of Americans who have found themselves in a financial rut not to stress themselves out over credit scores. After all credit scores can only do so much, such as increasing their ability to qualify for lower interest rates or eligibility for larger discounts. Instead, what they should do is to call their lenders and negotiate for new terms that would allow them to avoid penalties and reduce the monthly payments of their past due obligations.

Generally, lenders, especially during these dire times, would prefer to workout deals rather than make legal demands, as they’ll have greater chances of collecting payments at lower costs. The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) for one gives advice not to get stressed over credit scores. Distressed borrowers should instead take action by seeking credit counselors online who offer free advice and online tools that indebted people can harness in managing their mounting debts.

Politics

Despite an Imminent Biden Win, Trump Has No Plans of Conceding

Even as overall unofficial results are in favor of Joe Biden, Trump has no plans of conceding; still accusing election officials of manipulating the votes.

In his first public address since election day, Donald Trump didn’t provide any proof except for conspiracy theories of electoral manipulations. Since everything was highly speculative, media sites such as USA Today removed the live stream of the President’s public address, as USA Today’s editor-in-chief Nicole Caroll said, their job is to disseminate truth, not groundless conspiracies.

Trump’s public address occurred as the opposition, when Democratic candidate Biden started taking the lead in several states. Trump’s hopes of winning a second term is getting nowhere near reality as the voting results in the four key states of Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin did not deliver enough votes that would have made true his premature claim of winning the presidency.

Election officials are assuring voters that the election this year is hardly chaotic as anticipated. Regardless of longer polling-site hours, and usual technical problems, they have not encountered significant problems that interfered with the vote counting processes. Even if it’s taking longer when compared to previous years’ election, there is no basis that support allegations of fraud with the mail-in ballots.

Key Republican Figures Not Backing Trump’s Claims of Fraud

According to Senator Mitt Romney, the only Republican who voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment trial, the soon-to-be-former president’s calls to stop the counting is unconstitutional as each and every vote counts as part of the democratic process. Sen Romney said that if there are inconsistencies, there will be an investigation and the matter will be resolved in judicial court/s.

Even former Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a known close ally of the President, also expressed disapproval over Trump’s claims of electoral fraud. He told ABC News last Thursday that there were no justification for the argument and that all votes that are in should be counted.

Politics

Learning More about the Quack Doctor Endorsed by Trump

Earlier this month, Trump’s deployment of secret police in major cities was the hot issue. Today, it has been replaced by Trump’s endorsement of a quack doctor.

Actually, his son Donald Jr. initiated the endorsement by tweeting a video of a Texas based doctor that appeared in the right-wing Breitbart News website. Although Twitter immediately suspended Donald Jr.’s account to prevent the misinformation from spreading further, Trump was quick to the draw.

The latter immediately re-tweeted Donald Jr.’s post, and made it possible for the quack doctor’s video to go viral. Nonetheless major social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have since removed her video for the simple reason that her speech carried misleading information about hydroxychloroquine as a potent cure for COVID-91. Trump tweeted his own endorsement mainly because the video provided support to his own promotion of hydroxychloroquine as an effective cure for COVID-19. That is despite contradictions by the experts of the medical community and lack of FDA approval.

Later however, when Trump was pressed for answers by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on information about the Texas doctor, Trump said he doesn’t know anything about her, or from where she originally came from; whilst immediately ending the press conference to avoid answering any more questions about the quack medical practitioner.

About Stella Immanuel the Texas Doctor Endorsed by Trump

Stella Immanuel is actually a Texas-licensed pediatrician who has a medical clinic in Houston, where she claims she has helped numerous COVID-19 patients recover from the illness.

What Trump missed knowing about Immanuel is that she is currently facing a malpractice lawsuit after a patient who sought her medical attention died. Although the patient’s death is not COVID-19 related, Immanuel merely prescribed a medication without fully examining the patient’s source of pain.

As it turned out, the patient had broken a needle that she used in injecting herself with meth. Since the patient’s condition worsened she was brought to a hospital where she was examined, but apparently too late to save her because she died six days later.

The reason why Immanuel is being touted as a quack doctor is for her claims that most women are suffering from gynecological problems because they are suffering from astral sex. She explained astral sex as intercourse with a spirit man who is actually a tormenting spirit. Immanuel makes all such claims by delivering them as sermons in a religious organization she founded and named as the Fire Power Ministries.

Among Immanuel’s cult claims is that the vaccines currently being developed are using alien-DNA, as part of a conspiracy perpetuated by way of the COVID-19 pandemic. The video that the father and son Trumps tweeted shows Immanuel making claims that the real truth is that a COVID-19 treatment has been available all along. That the cure is hydroxychloroquine — claiming further that she has proven the drug effective in curing 350 patients who came to her for treatment

Immanuel is an immigrant from Nairobi, where she obtained her medical degree. She along with other Texas doctors, who lack medical experiences in handling serious health cases have formed a group known as “America’s Frontline Doctors.” in introducing their alliance to the public, they also made known their intentions of carrying out a medical mission to treat COVID-91 patients, even without approval from the FDA in using the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.

However, as the press people tried to get in touch with Immanuel and her group, none of them were available for interview.

Investments

Senators in STOCK Act Scandal

Three Republican senators and one Democratic senator are being investigated by the U.S. Justice Dept. after the nonpartisan Common Cause filed a complaint.

Common Cause, a grassroots watchdog, alleges that Senators Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California), have violated the STOCK Act. Reports have it that the four (4) U.S. senators had unloaded their shares of stocks upon receiving classified briefings; allowing them to avoid investment losses during the stock market downturn.

According to the Justice Department, investigations will look closely into the point in time when the senators unloaded substantial amounts of shares of stock (e.g. Burr’s 33 stock transactions in Feb. 13, 2020); and other related information (emails or phone calls to wealth managers and/or stock brokers), to determine if the senators, had indeed committed “insider trading” and violated the STOCK Act of 2012.

What is the STOCK Act 2012

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act or STOCK Act is a law that was passed in 2012, to prohibit stock trading among members of Congress, congressional staffers, and other government employees including members of the executive and judiciary branches. The prohibition applies to those who in relation to their government position or job receive classified information or information that has not been made available to the general public.

Senators Dumped Shares While President Trump was Still Downplaying the Coronavirus Outbreak as a Hoax

The senators in question argued that decisions to sell were made by their wealth managers based on public information on how the coronavirus outbreak appeared to be trending. Yet what made their respective wealth manager’s selling activities questionable is that they occurred right after the senators attended a classified briefing, which warned of how the outbreak has likely potential to wrought a catastrophic impact similar to the 1918 Spanish flu.

Considering also that at the time the lawmakers unloaded their investment portfolio, the public was still being convinced by U.S. president Trump that the outbreak was not as serious as what the CDC had warned. During campaign rallies, Trump asserted that the coronavirus was a hoax cooked up by Democrats. Later Trump tried to convince the public that the government had everything under control, and that a vaccine was already underway.

The four senators were able to avoid losses since they unloaded stock investments before their prices went down, as a result of the massive sell offs that transpired thereafter.

Senator Burr Also Warned Associates and Political Donors

Senator Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and at the same a time a member of the Senate Health Committee, has more explaining to do.
The National Public Radio (NPR) came out with a secret voice recording, showing the North Carolina Senator giving out the same warnings to his wealthy associates and political donors in February 27, 2020.

The NPR, which is a Washington-based, non-profit membership media organization that receives both public and private funding, was the first to break the news about Senator Burr’s stock market trading activities.

Politics

Impeachment Trial Puts a Dent to Trump’s Narcissistic Ego

Time and again, Trump’s overly pompous words and actions have been branded by many psychologists as the typical signs of a person with narcissistic personality disorder. Many agree that Trump is so full of narcissism that the impeachment resolution passed by Congress a few days ago, had dealt a great blow to Trump’s bloated ego.

Trump will go down in America’s history as the third U.S. president to be impeached, after Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton. Although Richard Nizon nearly made the claim to being the second U.S. president to be impeached, Nixon resigned from office before Congress reached a formal decision to impeach him.

It is expected that Trump’s Republican minions at the Senate will act quickly to save him from being removed from office. Yet it does not take away the damaging effect of impeachment on Trump’s self-absorbed world. After all, he views himself as the greatest person to have ever walked the Earth.

Impeachment Puts a Dent to Trump’s Pompous and Boastful Behavior

Now that the impeachment inquiry launched by the House of Representatives has advanced to become an impeachment trial, Trump’s narcissistic ego is finding it hard to process how he will be able to proclaim himself as the greatest U.S. leader. In fact he even implied in a statement to then visiting French president Emmanuel Macron that he (Trump), is smarter than George Washington.

It probably troubles his mind that he will find it more difficult to convince the world leaders and diplomats who attended the 2018 UN General Assembly that they had no reason to laugh at him for stating that his administration accomplished more than any of his predecessors ever had.

To Trump, impeachment is already an ugly word, even uglier now that he is branded as the 3rd U.S. president to have been impeached. Even if he continues to perform duties as the nation’s chief executive, he knows for sure that other world leaders will continue to regard him as a laughing stock, the way they did during the recent G7 Summit in England. .

Signs that Impeachment has Greatly Affected Trump’s State of Mind

As cognitive experts believe that Trump’s narcissism is bound to get worse during his presidency, the impact of the impeachment trial on Trump’s narcissism has begun to surface.

Only recently in a campaign rally held in Michigan, Trump made vicious remarks against Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and her demised husband House Representative John Dingell. Trump’s rhetoric implied that the deceased Michigan Congressman who passed away in February of this year, is not in heaven but in hell. That is notwithstanding the fact that the deceased Representative John Dingell is highly revered in the state for being the longest-serving Congressman in the history of U.S. politics.

Trump once again manifested a behavior, which in his narcissistic world does not recognize Constitutional laws or moral values. Even his close political ally Senator Lyndsey Graham found Trump’s remarks to put down a highly distinguished statesman, as irreverent and distasteful. Senator Graham wants Trump to publicly apologize to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, a demand directed toward a narcissistic person who hears only praises about himself.

Uncategorized

As House Committee Inquiries Intensify, Trump’s Disturbing Actions Continue

The number of House Representatives supporting the impeachment inquiry has reached a total that makes an impeachment trial imminent, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel admits that the Senate Chamber has no other option but to follow through.

A total of 225 House Democrats and one (1) independent Representative (Rep. Justin Amash), has surpassed the 218 majority number  required, in approving all charges for impeachment that Trump will face for willfully disregarding his duties and abusing his authority as duly elected president of the United States.

The contents of the whistleblower complaint as well as the transcript of the telephone conversation has provided details about Trump’s questionable act of seeking the Ukraine President’s assistance in besmirching leading election-opponent Joe Biden’s reputation.  Although Senator McConnell does not have the power to block the trial, he and other Republican Senators comprise the majority that will decide whether Trump should continue to stay in office, or be removed, and if necessary, be convicted for unlawful actions the latter committed.

However, there is still a possibility that the majority number represented by the Republican Senators to assure Trump of an acquittal, might not solidify. About 30 unnamed Republican Senators have already expressed acknowledgment that the initial evidence presented, show proof of unlawful actions that necessitate Trump’s removal from office. Still, they also indicated that they will support such judgment, only if the voting process will be carried out under the cloak of secrecy.

Trump Makes the Possibility of Impeachment Trial More Likely by Retweeting Threats of Civil War

While the ongoing impeachment inquiry continues to intensify, an evangelical pastor named Robert Jeffress appeared at Fox News to give warning that if ever the impeachment trial results to Trump’s removal, a civil war-like fracture will take place. Trump on the other hand gave encouragement to the pastor’s notion by retweeting the civil war warning.

This prompted Illinois Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger to openly rebuke Trump by calling the latter’s action of spreading civil war threats as repugnant, especially if coming from the president of the United States. The Republican Congressman, who has seen active military action as U.S. Air Force pilot in several battles, including the Iraq War said

I have visited nations ravaged by civil war. — I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President.

Politics

Trump Unleashes a New 10% Tariff Threat vs China after Latest Trade War Talks Ended Last July 30, 2019

Trump’s latest announcement of imposing a 10% tariff on the remaining $320 billion worth of Chinese goods entering the U.S., clearly denotes that the most recent U.S.-China did not end well. Although Trump had previously described the ongoing talks as “constructive”, his newest tariff announcement, is an indication that nothing constructive was agreed upon by both sides.

Effectivity date of the new tariff is on September 01, 2019, which means it could still be averted if China makes good on its previous commitment. According to a White House announcement, trade negotiations will resume in Washington by early September.

Trump Asserts China is to Blame Why Recent Negotiations Failed

According to Trump, China failed to honor its previous commitment of increasing its purchase of agricultural products as a show of goodwill. In return, the U.S. government eased sanctions imposed on controversial Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

Yet according to Chinese state media Xinhua, the government of China declared that millions of tons of soybean shipments from the U.S. arrived in China since July 19, 2019; whilst numerous Chinese companies have placed new orders for U.S. cotton, soybean, sorghum and pork.

Trump vows to increase the 10% tariff to 25% if after the September resumption, China will not budge from its present negotiation demands that include stripping of the existing duties that were imposed during the ongoing trade war.

To date, the U.S. imposes tariff rates of 25% exclusively on $250 billion worth of Chinese imported goods. On the other hand, China applies exclusive 25% tariffs on U.S. imported goods valued at $110 billion. If Trump will not find future negotiations favorable, the 10% tariff on the $320 billion worth of Chinese importation will be raised to 25%.

Prior to the closing of the 2-day trade talks in Shanghai, Hua Chunying, the spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that it was clear that the United States continued to “flip flop” on the negotiations, although she added that she was not aware of the latest developments that transpired during the ongoing talks.

Politics

U.S. Vice Pres. Pence Sees Mexico Tariff Kicking Off On June 10, 2019, Not Unless…

After meeting with the Mexican envoys to discuss solutions for averting the dreaded 5% – 25% tariffs that the U.S. will impose on goods imported from Mexico, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the tariffs are likely to kick off as announced on Monday, June 10, 2019. Not unless the delegation headed by Mexico Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard returns to the negotiation table with an acceptance of Trump’s demand for a “safe third country” agreement and of the “Migrant Protection Protocol.”

However, instead of accepting those conditions laid out to them last Wednesday, the Mexico envoys returned with a promise to deploy around 6,000 of the Mexico’s National Guards to the country’s southern border with Guatemala. The purpose of which is to cut off the flow of Central American migrants whose advancements to the US – Mexico south border has led to even sharper increases during the recent past months.

According to V.P. Pence, Mexico’s non-acceptance of the aforementioned conditions, is for the U.S. president to decide. Pence though, hinted that negotiation talks will continue.

Trump views the Thursday negotiations as having made “a lot of progress”, and is expressing determination to impose the initial 5% Mexico tariff on June 10, 2019 (Monday.) Yet, he is also dropping hints that are not short of dangling possibilities of foregoing the tariffs altogether. That is, if Mexico fully accepts the “safe third country” agreement and the “Migrant Protection Protocol.”

When asked by reporters about those specific demands, Mexico Foreign Secretary Ebrard avoided the question, but commented that the meeting on Friday could be one of the last sessions in the negotiation talks. Other Mexican officials said that they will agree to solutions in curbing the flow of asylum seekers, but only if such solutions are dignified, as well as effective.

What Exactly is the “Safe Third Country” Agreement?

Under a “Safe Third Country” covenant, a country agrees to grant asylum to refugees if that country has jurisdiction on the territory on which the refugees first set foot or landed. If this agreement is accepted by Mexico, the country automatically becomes responsible in granting the refugees asylum, as well as in preventing them from pushing forward should they prefer the U.S. as their place of asylum.

As it is, the government of Mexico is hardly in a position to take in hordes of refugees, in light of the country’s own economic conditions. In fact Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had slashed down the country’s immigration and refugee budget for 2019. According to reports, Mexico’s refugee agency is practically receiving less than $1 million for the year.

Canada, the only country with which the U.S. maintains a “Safe Third Country” agreement is currently seeking to end the pact, as Canadian official no longer regard the U.S. as a safe third country. .

Politics

Trump Vetoes Resolution to End U.S. Support of Arab Coalition Forces vs. Iran-Backed Houthi Movement in Yemen

U.S. President Donald Trump sent back to Congress without Executive Approval, the joint resolution passed by Senate last March 13, 2019 under S.J. 7. The joint resolution bars Trump as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces from approving further provision of military assistance, to the Saudi-backed Arab Coalition Forces waging war against the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen.

In a letter addressed to the United States Senate, Donald Trump asserts that the resolution is unnecessary, since there are no U.S. military personnel in-charge or participating in the ongoing hostilities in Yemen. Yet he also stated that the resolution presents a

”dangerous attempt to weaken his constitutional authorities.”

S.J. 7: An Unprecedented Bill in the History of U.S. Congress

S.J. 7 of the 116th Congress is a resolution that puts an end to U.S. military support for the Arab-backed coalition forces that intervened in Yemen’s affairs since 2015. The intervention aims to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government, taken over by the Iran-aligned Houthi. The resolution includes barring arms sales and sharing of intelligence.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, calls the joint resolution historic, because this is the first time in 45 years that Congress has taken measures to stop U.S. forces from participating in an unauthorized war. Senator Sanders, a long-serving independent from Vermont who later sided with the Democrats said,

”For many years, under Democratic presidents, under Republican presidents, Congress has abdicated its responsibility and allowed presidents to take our people into war without congressional authority,”

Although it is true that there are no U.S. military personnel actively taking part in the long running civil war in Yemen, the U.S. has been refuelling Arab Coalition aircrafts blamed for airstrikes that have killed thousands of Yemen civilians.

Last December 2018, Timothy Lenderking, Trump Administration’s Deputy Asst. Sec. for Arabian Gulf Affairs gave assurance to the United Arab Emirates in a security forum, by stating

“We (Trump Administration) believe that the support for the coalition is necessary. It sends a wrong message if we discontinue our support.”

Still, after Congress passed S.J.  7 last month, the U.S. military has ceased refueling Arab Coalition aircrafts.

Politics

Amazon HQ 2 Plans Move Forward: Arlington and Nashville In, New York City Out

Tech giant Amazon pursues expansion plans in Arlington, Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee, whilst scrapping New York City out of the picture.

Nashville was actually chosen in 2018 as a minor player, while New York City was scrapped after much hullabaloo was raised by local grassroots organizations, several New York state politicians and local NY City council members. The subject of protest  was the near $3 billion tax incentive offered to Amazon by the city government, as part of the Request for Proposal submitted to Amazon.

Amazon’s Original Choices

After more than a year of evaluating the proposals submitted by 238 cities, which included Toronto, Canada, the company chose the proposal submitted by the cities of New York and Arlington. The plan was to build 2 additional headquarters instead of building just one (1), whilst dividing the 50,000 new technology-related jobs between the 2 selected cities. The new employees can expect to receive salaries of more than $100K annually.

Actually, the benefits the cities will reap in having the tech giant as new addition to their landscape go beyond the creation of new jobs. According to the tech company, surveys showed that 70 percent (70%) of NYC residents supported Amazon’s decision to accept the NY proposal.

However, the company decided last February 2019 not to move forward with the NY HQ plans, as there are groups unwilling to work with them in connection with the project envisioned for the Long Island City.

Amazon’s new plan though will add only 5,000 new tech jobs to Nashville, the city being ranked Number 45 nationwide as a tech talent resource. Nonetheless, the tech giant plans to construct a 2-tower headquarter at the Nashville Yardsite. The additional office will be instrumental in growing Amazon’s technology hubs and corporate offices in in the U.S. and Canada, as means of easing the current load carried by the existing Seattle headquarter.

Plans for Amazon Expansion in Arlington, Virginia Still on the Table

On its part, the city of Arlington’s proposal includes an offer to give Amazon a $750 million in financial package, which the Virginia General Assembly had already approved with very few resistance. The package is actually more of a performance-based incentive, to which the local government will award financial grants.

That is if Amazon succeeds in meeting Arlington’s expectations once the tech giant builds its 2nd headquarter across the six (6) million sq.ft. space at the National Landing.

Politics

Democrats All Set to Stop Trump in His National Emergency Track, by Using All Possible Means

Many are looking to Congress for actions that would overturn Trump’s national emergency declaration last February 15, 2019. Finally, an announcement coming from the Lower House has been released, stating that House Democrats are set to file a resolution on Friday, aimed at overturning Trump’s national emergency declaration. NY Democrat and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer also said

Identical companion legislation to the House resolution will soon be introduced in the Senate”

How the Democrat Resolution will Run in Congress

If filing of the resolution pushes through on Friday, full house voting is likely to take place as early as next week or by the middle of March, 2019. If the bill passes muster at the lower house, it will then move up for deliberation and voting by the Senate. Since the measure will be introduced as a “privileged resolution,” the Senate will have to vote on the House-approved bill within eighteen (18) days.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is confident that the bill will move swiftly from the lower house to the Senate and finally to the Oval Office. Her confidence stems from the fact that some lower House and Senate Republicans will side with the Democrats. Republicans who won from perennial swing districts and states; namely Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin are in a precarious situation. Apparently, how those GOP Senators will vote on the proposed bill, can impact their chances of winning in the forthcoming 2020 elections.

In the event that Trump vetoes a Congressional resolution that will block the implementation of his national emergency declaration, which is likely to happen, Congress will again go into voting to nullify the presidential veto. This time, a bill overriding the veto must garner at least two-thirds vote in the lower house, and another two-thirds in the Senate upper chamber.

What Happens Next if the Democrat Resolution Fails?

House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer avow that they intend to pursue all possible means to overturn Trump’s declaration. That is assuming that Trump’s presidential veto prevails due to lack of Congressional support in overriding such veto.

The next step available is for the Democrats to a file lawsuit in the same way that 16 American states have already pursued as course of action. Their court petition is to prevent Trump from using military and homeland security funds allocated for their respective state. Many believe that the Democrats have better chances of stopping Trump from his track, by filing their own lawsuit.

Apparently, the Republicans had set a precedent in 2014, when their lawsuit versus the Obama administration, won the support of the district court judge. The matter brought to court pertained to an attempt by the Obama administration to use funds already allocated for other purposes, to subsidize health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. This previous ruling therefore, applies as helpful argument in contesting Trump in his use of his national emergency powers, as means of diverting military funds to his US border wall project.

Politics

What May Happen if Congress Maintains Its NO Border-Wall Appropriation

Trump’s agreement to bring the U.S. government in full operation is only temporary and conditional, giving Senate up to February 15, 2019 to decide on his request for a $5.7 billion border-wall funding. What will happen, if after February 15, 2019, Trump fails to get the funding?

Upon signing the short-term funding bill, Trump still made it clear that his border-wall funding request stays on the negotiations table. If not, he will be constrained to initiate another partial government shutdown or declare a State of National Emergency. This means that if another partial shutdown happens, around 800,000 government workers will once again be without paychecks, while several badly needed government services will be suspended anew.

Now what will happen if Trump decides to use his executive power to declare a State of National Emergency?

Trump’s State of National Emergency Alternative

A U.S. President is empowered to declare a State of National Emergency under the provisions of the National Emergencies Act (NEA 50 U.S.C 1601). According to CNN, the White House is currently updating the proclamation draft that was previously prepared. The draft presents courses of action, in case Trump decides to invoke the power vested by the NEA 50 U.S.C 1601, as alternative.

The proclamation draft will have Trump declaring that

a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States….. The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the United States each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency

CNN further reported that if the incumbent U.S. President uses his NEA power to obtain the border-wall funding, the related emergency actions that will be undertaken include extracting sums of budget appropriations, from the following:

National Treasury – $681 million in Forfeiture Funds
Military – $3.6 billion of construction budget
Pentagon – $3 billion in civil works funds
Department of Homeland Security $200 million in unspecified funds

Still, the NEA alternative is not a foolproof course of action, because the amended version of the Act has formally given Congress the power to exercise check-balance; along with the power to invalidate the national emergency proclamation, if found unwarranted.