Thus, the prestigious Travel Weekly magazine (as close to an “official” travel publication as they come) has set the decline in foreign tourism at 6.8%. And the fall-off is not limited to Muslim travelers, but also extends to all incoming foreign tourists. Apparently, an attack on one group of tourists is regarded as an assault on all.…A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States—and thus lost—would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.…According to the Global Business Travel Association, in only a single week following announcement of the ban against certain foreign tourists, the activity of business travel declined by nearly $185 million.
24 Feb 2017 Leave a comment
19 Feb 2017 Leave a comment
President Obama was big spending vacationer:
Presidential families have for decades been guaranteed round-the-clock protection, no matter the expense or destination. Every presidency has brought new operational challenges and lifestyle habits, from George W. Bush’s frequent stays at his remote ranch in Texas to Obama’s annual trips to Martha’s Vineyard and his native state of Hawaii. Judicial Watch estimated that Obama-related travel expenses totaled nearly $97 million over eight years.
unless you compare it to Trump:
On Friday, President Trump and his entourage will jet for the third straight weekend to a working getaway at his oceanfront Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla.
On Saturday, Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr., with their Secret Service details in tow, will be nearly 8,000 miles away in the United Arab Emirates, attending the grand opening of a Trump-brand golf resort in the “Beverly Hills of Dubai.”
Meanwhile, New York police will keep watch outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, the chosen home of first lady Melania Trump and son Barron. And the tiny township of Bedminster, N.J., is preparing for the daunting prospect that the local Trump golf course will serve as a sort of northern White House for as many as 10 weekends a year.
Trump’s three Mar-a-Lago trips since the inauguration have probably cost the federal treasury about $10 million, based on figures used in an October government report analyzing White House travel, including money for Coast Guard units to patrol the exposed shoreline and other military, security and staffing expenses associated with moving the apparatus of the presidency.Palm Beach County officials plan to ask Washington to reimburse tens of thousands of dollars a day in expenses for deputies handling added security and traffic issues around the cramped Florida island whenever Trump is in town.
In New York, the city is paying $500,000 a day to guard Trump Tower, according to police officials’ estimates, an amount that could reach $183 million a year.
This month, The Post reported that Secret Service and U.S. Embassy staffers paid nearly $100,000 in hotel-room bills to support Eric Trump’s trip to promote a Trump-brand condo tower in Uruguay.
But based on the first four weeks, Trump’s presidency appears on track to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more.
And some of this money goes back to Trump, not including the fact that Trump being President obviously helps his sons to sell stuff. Let’s leave the last word to Trump in 2015:
“I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done.”
14 Feb 2017 Leave a comment
It’s getting even more ridiculous with the Trump administration:
Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.
American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time that they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.
The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.
The intercepted calls are different from the wiretapped conversations last year between Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. During those calls, which led to Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night, the two men discussed sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia in December.
Gee, I wonder why Russia wanted Trump to win the election? Of course you have to trust the NSA and the anonymous officials to fully believe this, but the fact that this is believable tells us exactly what type of world we’re living in. Still, at least we didn’t elect someone who had a private email server.
11 Feb 2017 Leave a comment
It seems the Trump administration is contemplating a tax break so corporations will repatriate cash:
Drug makers are promising to create tens of thousands of American jobs if President Donald Trump follows through on his promise to give them a big tax break if they “repatriate” cash they’ve stashed overseas.
The article points to a Senate report: repatriatingoffshorefundsreportoct202011wexhibitsfinal. Here are the conclusions in the executive summary:
1. U.S. Jobs Lost Rather Than Gained. After repatriating over $150 billion under the 2004 American Jobs Creation Act (AJCA), the top 15 repatriating corporations reduced their overall U.S. workforce by 20,931 jobs, while broad-based studies of all 840 repatriating corporations found no evidence that repatriated funds increased overall U.S. employment.
2. Research and Development Expenditures Did Not Accelerate. After repatriating over $150 billion, the 15 top repatriating corporations showed slight decreases in the pace of their U.S. research and development expenditures, while broad-based studies of all 840 repatriating corporations found no evidence that repatriation funds increased overall U.S. research and development outlays.
3. Stock Repurchases Increased After Repatriation. Despite a prohibition on using repatriated funds for stock repurchases, the top 15 repatriating corporations accelerated their spending on stock buybacks after repatriation, increasing them 16% from 2004 to 2005, and 38% from 2005 to 2006, while a broad-based study of all 840 repatriating corporations estimated that each extra dollar of repatriated cash was associated with an increase of between 60 and 92 cents in payouts to shareholders.
4. Executive Compensation Increased After Repatriation. Despite a prohibition on using repatriated funds for executive compensation, after repatriating over $150 billion, annual compensation for the top five executives at the top 15 repatriating corporations jumped 27% from 2004 to 2005, and another 30%, from 2005 to 2006, with ten of the corporations issuing restricted stock awards of $1 million or more to senior executives.
5. Only a Narrow Sector of Multinationals Benefited. Repatriation primarily benefited a narrow slice of the American economy, returning about $140 billion in repatriated dollars to multinational corporations in the pharmaceutical and technology industries, while providing no benefit to domestic firms that chose not to engage in offshore operations or investments.
6. Most Repatriated Funds Flowed from Tax Havens. Funds were repatriated primarily from low tax or tax haven jurisdictions; seven of the surveyed corporations repatriated between 90% and 100% of their funds from tax havens.
7. Offshore Funds Increased After 2004 Repatriation. Since the 2004 AJCA repatriation, the corporations that repatriated substantial sums have built up their 5 offshore funds at a greater rate than before the AJCA, evidence that repatriation has encouraged the shifting of more corporate dollars and investments offshore.
8. More than $2 Trillion in Cash Assets Now Held by U.S. Corporations. In 2011, U.S. corporations have record domestic cash assets of around $2 trillion, indicating that that the availability of cash is not constraining hiring or domestic investment decisions and that allowing corporations to repatriate more cash would be an ineffective way to spur new jobs.
9. Repatriation is a Failed Tax Policy. The 2004 repatriation cost the U.S. Treasury an estimated net revenue loss of $3.3 billion over ten years, produced no appreciable increase in U.S. jobs or research investments, and led to U.S. corporations directing more funds offshore.
So it worked very well for the rich. I can see why the Trump administration would be for it.
07 Feb 2017 Leave a comment
Insurers would have more leeway to vary prices by age, so that premiums for the oldest customers could be 3.49 times as large as those for younger customers. Today, premiums for the old can be only three times as high as premiums for the young, which is what the Affordable Care Act stipulates. According to sources privy to HHS discussions with insurers, officials would argue that since 3.49 “rounds down” to three, the change would still comply with the statute.
At some level, this is politically stupid since it explicitly raises the rates of older people while reducing it for the young–the opposite of the voting pattern for Trump. For me, the problem is the math–at most 3 times as large means at most 3 times as large, even 3.01 is out, never mind 3.1 or 3.49.
This is the type of thing which shows why there needs to be a March for Science (it will be on April 22 with satellite marches all over the country).
03 Feb 2017 2 Comments
So, President Obama had set up a program to counter violent ideologies. I wonder what Trump will do with that? Shocking:
The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.
The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.
Wonderful, if we ignore right-wing terrorists I’m sure they’ll go away.
Over 100,000 visas have been revoked as a result of President Trump’s ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, an attorney for the government revealed in Alexandria federal court Friday.
The number came out during a hearing in a lawsuit filed by attorneys for two Yemeni brothers who arrived at Dulles International Airport last Saturday. They were coerced into giving up their immigrant visas, they argue, and quickly put on a return flight to Ethiopia.
That figure was immediately disputed by the State Department, which said the number of visas revoked was roughly 60,000. Virginia Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department, said the revocation has no impact on the legal status of people already in the United States. If those people were to leave U.S. soil and try to return, the visas would no longer be valid.
And this was done in secret so it would be harder for judges to help the people trying to get into the US. The article also talks about the possible contempt of court:
Brinkema declined to hold government officials in contempt for the way they handled travelers from the seven banned countries over the weekend, saying she did not know enough Friday to make that determination. Virginia had cited news reports and affidavits from lawmakers that, contrary to an order Brinkema issued last weekend, Customs and Border Protection officers denied immigrants access to lawyers.
“There were so many lawyers there willing to help, and not a single one got access,” Raphael said.
Reuveni said that security at Dulles bars lawyers from anything but telephone access to people in screening.
That sounds pretty cut and dried to me.
02 Feb 2017 Leave a comment
So, the US had a deal with Australia to take some refugees that were seeking to settle in Australia and Trump had a phone call with their Prime Minister. How did that go?
It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief – a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.
Instead, President Donald Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.
Wonderful, what was that main point of contention?
‘‘This is the worst deal ever,’’ Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.
Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily barring the admissions of refugees, complained that he was ‘‘going to get killed’’ politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the ‘‘next Boston bombers.’’
Trump returned to the topic late Wednesday night, writing in a message on Twitter, ‘‘Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!’’
The issue centers on a population of roughly 2,500 people who sought asylum in Australia but were diverted to facilities off that country’s coast at Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Deplorable conditions at those sites prompted intervention from the United Nations and a pledge from the United States to accept about half of those refugees, provided they passed U.S. security screening.
Trump was also skeptical because he did not see a specific advantage the United States would gain by honoring the deal, officials said.
Trump needs there to be an advantage to him to help refugees? Of course he does.
Now I’m scared to see what he said to the Mexican President:
President Donald Trump warned in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart that he was ready to send U.S. troops to stop ‘‘bad hombres down there’’ unless the Mexican military does more to control them, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.
Ah, a war with Mexico, that sounds like something Trump would think about.
U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.
As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.
Welcome to Trump World, I hope we survive the place.