Record Number of U.S. Citizens, Green-Card Holders Cut Ties With U.S. in 2015

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Increase attributed to recent enforcement campaign against U.S. taxpayers with undeclared offshore accounts.

Laura Saunders reports: A record 4,279 individuals renounced their U.S. citizenship or long-term residency in 2015, according to data released by the Treasury Department.

“An increasing number of Americans appear to believe that having a U.S. passport or long-term residency isn’t worth the hassle and cost of complying with U.S. tax laws.”

— Andrew Mitchel, an international lawyer in Centerbrook, Conn., who tallies and tracks renunciation data

Last year was the third year in a row for record renunciations, according to Andrew Mitchel, an international lawyer in Centerbrook, Conn., who tallies and tracks renunciation data. The Treasury Department renunciation list for the fourth quarter, which contained 1,058 names, was released on Friday.

“An increasing number of Americans appear to believe that having a U.S. passport or long-term residency isn’t worth the hassle and cost of complying with U.S. tax laws,” Mr. Mitchel said.

Experts say the growing number of renunciations by citizens and long-term holders of green cards is related to an enforcement campaign by U.S. officials against undeclared offshore accounts. It intensified in 2009, after Swiss banking giant UBS AG admitted that it encouraged U.S. taxpayers to hide money abroad.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Since then, the U.S. has collected more than $13.5 billion from individuals and foreign financial firms in taxes and penalties due on such accounts. This week, Swiss bank Julius Baer Group AG admitted it encouraged U.S. taxpayers to hide money abroad and agreed to pay $547 million to settle potential charges.

However, the campaign by U.S. officials also has complicated the financial lives of an estimated 7 million or more Americans living abroad, leading growing numbers to sever their U.S. ties.

Read the rest of this entry »


Google Expands Self-Driving Car Testing to Washington State

WASHINGTON (Reuters) David Shepardson reports: Alphabet Inc said Wednesday its self-driving car project will expand testing to Kirkland, Washington later this month, the third city where it is testing autonomous vehicles.

 “We’re looking forward to seeing the cars on the road and understanding more about how self-driving cars might someday improve safety and provide traffic relief.”

— Washington Governor Jay Inslee

The company’s Google unit has conducted autonomous vehicle testing for six years in Mountain View, California, where it is based, and it expanded testing to Austin, Texas last summer.

Google said in a statement that one reason for the new site in the northwest United States is to gain experience in “different driving environments, traffic patterns, and road conditions.”

Kirkland has significant seasonal rain that allows for wet weather testing, along with hills that will allow testing of sensors at different angles and elevations.

Google began a few weeks ago driving a single Lexus RX450h SUV around a few square miles in North Kirkland to create a detailed map of the streets. Read the rest of this entry »


Abe Vigoda, Dead at 94

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Character actor Abe Vigoda, whose leathery, sunken-eyed face made him ideal for playing the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series “Barney Miller” and the doomed Mafia soldier in “The Godfather,” died Tuesday at age 94.

Vigoda’s daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, told The Associated Press that Vigoda died Tuesday morning in his sleep at Fuchs’ home in Woodland Park, New Jersey. The cause of death was old age. “This man was never sick,” Fuchs said.

Vigoda worked in relative obscurity as a supporting actor in the New York theater and in television until Francis Ford Coppola cast him in the 1972 Oscar-winning “The Godfather.” Vigoda played Sal Tessio, an old friend of Vito Corleone‘s (Marlon Brando) who hopes to take over the family after Vito’s death by killing his son Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). But Michael anticipates that Sal’s suggestion for a “peace summit” among crime families is a setup and the escorts Sal thought were taking him to the meeting turn out to be his executioners.

“Tell Mike it was only business,” Sal mutters to consigliere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) as he’s led away.

The great success of the film and “The Godfather Part II” made his face and voice, if not his name, recognizable to the general public and led to numerous roles, often as hoodlums. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] John Fund: Donald Trump Knows Nothing about National Review


‘This Weekend Will Be Whiter Than the Oscars! Snowstorm to Hit NYC’ New York Post Front Page for Friday, January 21st, 2016

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This Day in History: Continental Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris – Jan 14, 1784

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On this day in 1784, the Continental Congress ratifies the Second Treaty of Paris, ending the War for Independence.

In the document, which was known as the Second Treaty of Paris because the Treaty of Paris was also the name of the agreement that had ended the Seven Years’ War in 1763, Britain officially agreed to recognize the independence of its 13 former colonies as the new United States of America.

In addition, the treaty settled the boundaries between the United States and what remained of British North America. U.S. fishermen won the right to fish in the Grand Banks, off the Newfoundland coast, and in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Both sides agreed to ensure payment to creditors in the other nation of debts incurred during the war and to release all prisoners of war. The United States promised to return land confiscated during the war to its British owners, to stop any further confiscation of British property and to honor the property left by the British army on U.S. shores, including Negroes or slaves. Both countries assumed perpetual rights to access the Mississippi River.

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Despite the agreement, many of these issues remained points of contention between the two nations in the post-war years. The British did not abandon their western forts as promised and attempts by British merchants to collect outstanding debts from Americans were unsuccessful as American merchants were unable to collect from their customers, many of whom were struggling farmers.

In Massachusetts, where by 1786 the courts were clogged with foreclosure proceedings, farmers rose in a violent protest known as Shay’s Rebellion, which tested the ability of the new United States to maintain law and order within its borders and instigated serious reconsideration of the Articles of Confederation.

Source: HISTORY.com


T-Mobile Store Employee with Conceal Carry License Shoots 2 Armed Robbery Suspects

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Two robbery suspects were shot by an employee at a cell phone store in the Jeffrey Manor neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

“I think concealed carry is a great opportunity for managers, workers, employees to protect themselves in these cases. And our employee did a great job to protect themselves and the other employee.”

— Neil Tadros, store manager

The T-Mobile store in the 2000-block of East 95th St. was left riddled with bullet holes. If not for the employee carrying a weapon with a concealed carry license, the manager of the store says he might be telling a different story.

“I think concealed carry is a great opportunity for managers, workers, employees to protect themselves in these cases. And our employee did a great job to protect themselves and the other employee,” said Neil Tadros, store manager.

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“One employee ran to the back to call for help while the other pulled out his own gun and fired at the two suspects. He hit one of them in the groin and the arm, and the other in the abdomen and the arm.”

He says two men entered the store and acted like they were shopping for phones for a few minutes, then pulled out guns.

One employee ran to the back to call for help while the other pulled out his own gun and fired at the two suspects. He hit one of them in the groin and the arm, and the other in the abdomen and the arm. Read the rest of this entry »


Jury Convicts Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow in Chinatown Racketeering, Murder Case

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Prosecutors said Chow ordered the slaying of the head of a Chinese fraternal organization with criminal ties that Chow then took over. They also charged him with conspiracy to murder another rival.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) —  Sudhin Thanawala reports: A jury convicted a key defendant Friday of racketeering, murder and scores of other counts after a years-long federal undercover investigation centered in the Chinatown district of San Francisco that also ensnared a California state senator.

“Investigators say Chow used the organization as a front for drug trafficking, money laundering and the sale of stolen cigarettes and alcohol. He was convicted of all 162 counts against him, most of which involved money laundering and theft.”

Defendant Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, in a black sports coat and tie, stared straight ahead and showed no reaction as the verdicts were announced. He could face life in prison during his March 23 sentencing.

Defense attorneys said they plan an appeal, claiming Senior District Judge Charles Breyer unfairly limited their case by refusing to let a number of witnesses testify and did not appear to be paying attention during the trial. Breyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Defense attorney J. Tony Serra said Chow was “noble in his acceptance of defeat” and told his attorneys they would prevail in the next round.

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“The agent, who testified under a false name, said he wined and dined Chow and his associates for years. Chow willingly accepted envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash for setting up various crimes, including illegal liquor and tobacco sales.”

Prosecutors said Chow ordered the slaying of the head of a Chinese fraternal organization with criminal ties that Chow then took over. They also charged him with conspiracy to murder another rival.

Investigators say Chow used the organization as a front for drug trafficking, money laundering and the sale of stolen cigarettes and alcohol. He was convicted of all 162 counts against him, most of which involved money laundering and theft.

[Read the full story here, at The Seattle Times]

The prosecution’s main witness against Chow was an undercover FBI agent who posed as a foul-mouthed East Coast businessman with mafia ties while infiltrating Chow’s organization.

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The agent, who testified under a false name, said he wined and dined Chow and his associates for years. Chow willingly accepted envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash for setting up various crimes, including illegal liquor and tobacco sales, the agent said. Read the rest of this entry »


Marine Corps Boot Camp: Job Titles to Be ‘Gender Neutral’ by April

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Gina Harkins reports: The Marine Corps has been ordered to come up with a plan to make its enlisted entry-level training coed, and to make its job titles more gender-neutral following the recent move to open all military combat roles to women.

“It requires a look at … how much personnel to bring, how many drill instructors to bring, the leadership and support cadre that comes along with that.”

In a Jan. 1 memo to Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus requested a “detailed plan” on how the service will fully integrate its boot camp and Officer Candidate School. The plan is due Jan. 15 and will be implemented by April 1, the memo states.

“The barracks in San Diego are H-shaped, for example, so you can see everything that’s going on. If women are living in them, do you black out the windows or make an entire building that’s theirs? Do you do a floor for men and a floor for women?”

“The Department of the Navy’s implementation plan must include gender integration of Marine Corps enlisted recruit training and officer candidate school,” Mabus wrote. “In this submission, identify where, if anywhere, this training is already integrated, where it is separate, and specific steps that you will take to fully integrate these trainings.”

In a second memo from Mabus to Neller on the same day, the SecNav directed the Marine Corps to conduct a full review of its military occupational specialty titles in an effort to ensure that they are gender neutral.

“Please review the position titles throughout the Marine Corps and ensure that they are gender-integrated as well, removing ‘man’ from the titles and provide a report to me as soon as is practicable and no later than April 1, 2016.”

A Navy official said that the service received a similar memo pertaining to its MOS titles and descriptions. Mabus doesn’t intend to require iconic titles like “infantryman,” “rifleman” or “midshipman” to be changed, however, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The 2015 Men of the Year 


U.S. Doesn’t Know How Many Foreign Visitors Overstay Visas 

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After two decades of failed attempts to track such visitors, some officials call the visa program a critical national security weakness.

WASHINGTON — Ron Nixon writes: The question from the congressman to the Obama administration official was straightforward enough: How many foreign visitors overstay their visas every year?

The reply was simple too, but not in a satisfying way. “We don’t know,” the official said.

The testy exchange during a recent congressional hearing between Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, and Alan Bersin, the assistant secretary for international affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, highlights what some law enforcement officials call a critical weakness in the United States foreign visa program.

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The issue has taken on added urgency as part of a broader examination of immigration policy following the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead and 22 wounded. Tashfeen Malik, one of the attackers, was granted entry to the United States under a K-1 visa, also known as a fiancé visa. Her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, was an American-born citizen. Both died in a shootout with the police. While Ms. Malik did not overstay her visa, the attack added to fears that a terrorist could exploit gaps in the system.

Nearly 20 years ago, Congress passed a law requiring the federal government to develop a system to track people who overstayed their visas. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an entry and exit tracking system was seen as a vital national security and counterterrorism tool, and the 9/11 Commission recommended that the Department of Homeland Security complete a system “as soon as possible.” Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Satam al-Suqami and Nawaf al-Hazmi, had overstayed their visas.

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Since then, the federal government has spent millions of dollars on the effort, yet officials can only roughly estimate the number of people in the United States illegally after overstaying visas.

Officials blame a lack of technology to conduct more advanced collection of data like iris scans, resistance from the airline and tourism industries because of cost, and questions about the usefulness of tracking people exiting the country as a counterterrorism measure.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

Some experts also note that a sizable number of those who overstayed their visas are highly skilled workers who come under the H-1B program or are foreign students.

One widely cited statistic, from a 1997 report by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, puts the number of people who overstay their visas at 40 percent — which now would mean about 4.4 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the United States. Numerous lawmakers, including the Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have used that figure when trying to describe the scope of the problem. But even that number has never been conclusively substantiated.

Federal agencies have not provided a new report to Congress on overstays since 1994, despite the congressional mandate. Read the rest of this entry »


Mugshot of the Day: Bill Cosby

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Bill Cosby Arraigned for Alleged Aggravated Indecent Assault

Michael Rothmans reports: Bill Cosby arrived in court today after he was charged with alleged aggravated indecent assault earlier this morning by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in Pennsylvania.

After court, Cosby headed to the Cheltenham Police Department, where his mugshot was taken and he was processed.

The comedian, 78, entered the courtroom in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, around 2:30 p.m., walking arm-in-arm with his legal team. He will next appear in court on Jan. 14 and his bail was set at $1 million for the second-degree felony counts against him.

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“We examined all the evidence and we made this determination because it was the right thing to do.”

— First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele

Cosby’s passport was also turned over to the court and he did not enter a plea.

The famed comedian has always maintained his innocence since being accused more than 10 years ago by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand of sexual assault. With that case about to reach the statute of limitations next month, First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele said his office had decided to proceed with the second-degree felony charge. Read the rest of this entry »


‘MICRO WAVE! New City Regs Pave Way for Teeny Apts’: New York Post Front Page for Tuesday, December 29, 1015

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Wall Street Journal Front Page for Wednesday, December 30, 1015

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Most Important Election 2016 Feature: Deep and Growing Ideological Divide

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Conservative and liberal extremes dominate primaries, but then Republicans and Democrats face a shrinking center.

Gerald F. Seib reports: As the nation heads into what figures to be a dramatic election year, its defining political liberal-huhcharacteristic isn’t love or hate for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Instead, the most important feature of America’s political landscape is a deep and growing ideological divide.

This divide will be especially apparent early in the new year, when the most divided groups in America, the Republican and Democratic voters who show up for primary elections and caucuses, hold the keys to the presidential selection process. These folks disagree, deeply, on an array of social issues, on the nation’s top priorities, and on what kind of leader they are seeking in the next president.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Collectively, these voters are driving Republican candidates to the right and Democratic candidates to the left—and ensuring that the challenge of bringing the country together will be tougher after the election, regardless of who wins.

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A clear picture of this divide emerges from the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, taken in mid-December. Consider:

— Almost 7 in 10 Republican primary voters describe themselves as strong supporters of the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Among Democratic primary voters, the figure is just 25%.

— Among Democratic primary voters, 62% say they strongly back immediate action to combat climate change. Just 13% of Republican primary voters share that view.

— A new issue splitting the parties at their bases is the Black Lives Matter Movement. Almost half of Democratic primary voters call themselves strong supporters of the movement. Only 6% of Republican primary voters do so.

— The National Rifle Association drives one of the biggest wedges of all. Among Republican primary voters, 59% strongly support the NRA, while just 11% of Democratic primary voters are strong backers.

Republican primary voters put national security and terrorism at the top of their list of priorities for the government. Democratic primary voters put job creation and economic growth at the top of the priority list. About a third of Democrats say health care is a high priority; among Republicans, a comparable share worry about deficits and government spending.

Republicans are more likely to say they worry that the U.S. isn’t projecting a sufficiently tough image abroad; Democrats are more likely to say they think the U.S. should be focused on concerns at home.

Among Democratic primary voters, 62% say they strongly back immediate action to combat climate change. Just 13% of Republican primary voters share that view. Here, a November rally outside the White House in support of the Paris climate talks.

Among Democratic primary voters, 62% say they strongly back immediate action to combat climate change. Just 13% of Republican primary voters share that view. Here, a November rally outside the White House in support of the Paris climate talks. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

When pollsters asked what voters are looking for in the next president, Republicans used terms like bold and a strong leader who could restore American strength abroad. Democrats were more likely to say they want a leader who is diplomatic and inclusive and who will preserve recent progressive gains. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] CNN Anchor Poppy Harlow: ‘I Got a Little Hot and I Passed Out for a Moment’


Gun Owners Stop Four Life-Threatening Incidents In Five Days 

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The Christmas season was a bad time to be a criminal near a person with a weapon.

David Hookstead writes: There were a total of four incidents involving a person using a gun to stop a crime or other life-threatening incident between December 22 and December 26, according to a list compiled by the Crime Prevention Research Center.

December 22:

Brandon Johnson was shot and killed after attempting to rob two men looking to buy a vehicle in Gary, Indiana during a Craigslist scam. Johnson’s girlfriend was also shot in the thigh but is expected to survive, according to the Washington Times. The shooter, who is from Illinois, told police that when he arrived to make the Craigslist purchase Johnson instead pulled a gun resulting in the shooter pulling out his own weapon to defend his life.

December 23:

A criminal attempted to hold up Captain Max Seafood in Miramar, Florida. Except the robber didn’t get very far into his plan because an employee pulled out a gun and killed the suspect, according to NBC Miami. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] JOURNALISM: Don Lemon Ends CNN Interview After Guest Kurt Schlichter Calls Bill Clinton a ‘Serial Sexual Abuser’

 writes: Facts are stubborn things. Hillary Clinton and the liberal media just can’t handle those facts.

Let’s recap: Hillary Clinton has intimidated sexual abuse victims, expressing contempt for ‘whiney women’ accusing a Senator of sexual harassment and constantly belittling and discrediting the women who accused her husband of sexual abuse. Then, she had the gall to make a campaign ad telling every sexual abuse victim that they “deserve to be believed.”

[Read the full story here, at patheos.com]

Even a few prominent liberal feminists have called her out, with Melissa Harris-Perry saying she “made an appalling choice as a feminist—not that she stayed with her husband, but that she did not speak out in defense of a barely-older-than-teenage girl who was harassed by her husband … And then she used that experience to create sympathy for herself.”

And now, as discussions surround the 2016 campaign dealing with misogyny and a possible female President, CNN’s Don Lemon decides there’s no room to discuss Hillary’s hypocrisy.

When outspoken conservative Kurt Schlichter called Hillary herself an enabler of sexual harassment, pointing out her denial of allegations against her husband, Don Lemon cut him off(read more)

Source: patheos.com


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