WALMART Closes 260 Sam’s Club Stores


Wal-Mart was quick to make a media splash with the news that it was raising the starting hourly wages to $11/hour, expanding employee benefits and offering worker bonuses of up to $1000 in response to the Trump tax cuts; it was far more covert, however, with the news that on the very same day it was also closing hundreds of Sam’s Club stores nationwide and laying off thousands of workers according to numerous media reports. Jessica Buckner, an audit team lead at a Sam’s Club location in Anchorage, told local TV station KTVA that all Alaska stores are closing as part of a larger downsizing across the U.S. “From what I heard, there’s over 260 stores that have been closed down,” she said according to CBS News. The wholesale clubs’ official closure date is Jan. 26, Buckner said. The closures also affect stores in New Jersey, upstate New York, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. In some locations, per social media, people showed up to work only to be told that their location was closing, with nearly no advance notice. The chain, which competes with Costco , has more than 650 locations employing more than 100,000 people, with an average of 175 employees per store, according to the company. No formal announcement was posted Thursday morning by Sam’s Club, but the company acknowledged the closures on Twitter with a general statement. After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy. Closing clubs is never easy and we’re committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition.


Ganja generate more than $132 billion in Federal tax revenue

Study: Legal marijuana could generate more than $132 billion in federal tax revenue and 1 million jobs (Source Washington Post) Legalizing marijuana nationwide would create at least $132 billion in tax revenue and more than a million new jobs across the United States in the next decade, according to a new study. New Frontier Data, a data analytics firm focused on the cannabis industry, forecasts that if legalized on the federal level, the marijuana industry could create an entirely new tax revenue stream for the government, generating millions of dollars in sales tax and payroll deductions.

“When there are budget deficits and the like, everybody wants to know where is there an additional revenue stream, and one of the most logical places is to go after cannabis and cannabis taxes,” said Beau Whitney, a senior economist at New Frontier Data. The analysis shows that if marijuana were fully legal in all 50 states, it would create at least a combined $131.8 billion in in federal tax revenue between 2017 and 2025. That is based on an estimated 15 percent retail sales tax, payroll tax deductions and business tax revenue. The business tax rate for the study was calculated at 35 percent. The corporate tax rate was lowered to 21 percent in a sweeping tax bill President Trump signed last month. “If cannabis businesses were legalized tomorrow and taxed as normal businesses with a standard 35 percent tax rate, cannabis businesses would infuse the U.S. economy with an additional $12.6 billion this year,” said Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, the CEO of New Frontier.

The study also calculates that there would be 782,000 additional jobs nationwide if cannabis were legalized today, a number that would increase to 1.1 million by 2025. That includes workers at all ends of the marijuana supply chain, from farmers to transporters to sellers.

The study estimates that about 25 percent of the marijuana market will continue to be illicit, and will shrink if the legal marketplace is not overly taxed or expensive.

Marijuana is legal for adult recreational use in eight states. California, the world’s largest market, started its recreational sales on Jan. 1. Twenty-nine states allow the use of medical marijuana. In the three states where adult use has been legal for the longest period of time – Colorado, Washington and Oregon – there had been a combined total of $1.3 billion in tax receipts, according to the study.

Monster 7.6 magnitude EARTHQUAKE threatens Carribbean

Monster 7.6 magnitude EARTHQUAKE threatens Caribbean with TSUNAMI (Source

Multiple tsunami warnings were issued for the hurricane devastated islands of Puerto Rico, the British and US Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba and Nicaragua.

Warnings of a “potential threat” were also issued for Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Belize after the earthquake, initially recorded by the USGS as a 7.8 magnitude, struck 44km east of Great Swan Island, Honduras. The advisories came as the region is still recovering from the devastation left by several deadly hurricanes last year – including Hurricane IrmaHurricane Nate and Hurricane Maria. The NWS Pacific Warning Center in a statement said: “Based on all available data… hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts.

“Persons located in the threatened coastal areas should stay alert for information and follow instructions from national and local authorities.”


Trump to attend World Economic Forum In Switzerland

Trump to attend World Economic Forum in Switzerland, a gathering synonymous with wealth and power (Source Washington Post) President Trump will address the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this month, the White House said Tuesday, a startling decision that will bring the unorthodox U.S. leader face to face with global elites who have been Trump’s fierce critics and frequent foils.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump will use the forum to talk about his “America First” worldview. Trump has described the approach as the sensible prioritizing of American interests over those of other nations. His critics inside the United States and abroad call it a retreat from an American global leadership based on democratic principles. “He welcomes the opportunity to go there and advance his America First agenda with world leaders,” Sanders told reporters. She said details of the president’s attendance at the Jan. 23-to-26 gathering are being worked out, and it is not yet clear whether he will hold separate meetings with world leaders there. He does not expect to visit any other countries apart from Switzerland, Sanders said. The surprise engagement, first reported by the New York Times, will place Trump among many of the world’s richest and most influential leaders in government, business and foreign policy. The Davos announcement comes as Trump faces crucial decisions about where to take his economic agenda in the second year of his presidency. The $1.5 trillion tax overhaul package Congress passed last month has just gone into effect, something that he has promised will lead to an expansion of the U.S. economy and higher wages. But he is also mulling a number of controversial trade decisions, including whether to rework or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, a potential move that has many world leaders on edge.



Tillerson and Mattis are reportedly trying to hold Trump back from N.Korea

Tillerson and Mattis are reportedly trying to hold Trump back from striking North Korea (Source

President Donald Trump’s secretaries of state and defense are trying to persuade him not to strike North Korea, while his national security adviser is pushing for a “bloody nose” attack. Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, has reportedly been key in pushing for peace, but he may be on his way out. A US strike would mean it implicitly trusts that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, wouldn’t escalate it into an all-out war that could kill millions. The Trump administration is debating a “bloody nose” attack on North Korea, recent reports say, with the president’s inner circle split and apparently teetering between endorsing a strike and holding out hope for diplomacy. Both The Telegraph and The Wall Street Journal have portrayed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis as trying to caution President Donald Trump against a strike, and the national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, as advocating it.

The reports come after months of mixed messages and dozens of shifts in the US’s stance on North Korea.

The bloody-nose strategy, which calls for a sharp, violent response to some North Korean provocation, puts a lot of weight on the US’s properly calibrating an attack on North Korea and Pyongyang’s reading the limited strike as anything other than the opening salvo of an all-out war.


U.S. Military sends Warplanes to Guam U.S. Territory North Korea

U.S. Military Sends Warplanes to Guam, U.S. Territory North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Threatened to Blow Up (Source Newsweek) The U.S. military has deployed three B-2 nuclear-capable stealth bombers to Andersen Air Force Base in the U.S. territory of Guam, a move that comes as North and South Korea have cautiously re-established dialogue.

“During this short-term deployment, the B-2s will conduct local and regional training sorties and will integrate capabilities with key regional partners, ensuring bomber crews maintain a high state of readiness and crew proficiency,” the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said on its website. North Korea could potentially be antagonized by the deployment of these bombers to Guam, which the rogue state has repeatedly threatened.

In August, not long after President Trump’s infamous “fire and fury” remarks directed at Kim Jong Un’s regime, North Korea said it was considering Guam as a target for a nuclear strike. Pyongyang reiterated this threat in October: “We have already warned several times that we will take counteractions for self-defense, including a salvo of missiles into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam, an advance base for invading the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea],” an article published by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, warned at the time. That same month, the U.S. flew a B-2 bomber over the Pacific, which was viewed as a warning to North Korea.



The fault will have its revenge’: Bay Area quake reminder of East Bay fault

‘The fault will have its revenge’: Bay Area quake reminder of East Bay fault dangers (Source

The earthquake that rattled the Bay Area on Thursday is another reminder of the power and danger of the Hayward Fault, which runs below the populous East Bay.

The Hayward fault, along with the San Andreas fault on the San Francisco peninsula, have long posed a twin seismic peril to the region. The San Andreas produced the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta quake and 1906 San Francisco quake. The Hayward fault could produce a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake and is directly underneath heavily populated areas. The Hayward fault courses underneath Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward and Fremont and produces a large earthquake, on average, every 160 years, with a margin of error of about 80 years. It has been 150 years since the Hayward fault last ruptured, unleashing a huge earthquake.

The Hayward fault is considered one of the nation’s most dangerous faults because it is directly under the urban centers of the East Bay, including Memorial Stadium at UC Berkeley and a now-shuttered building that formerly housed Hayward City Hall, which is slowly being torn up by fault movement. A U.S. Geological Survey scenario for a 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward fault envisions it rupturing for 52 miles from San Pablo Bay to Fremont. It would cause one side of the fault to move four feet from the other. Many buildings, including apartments, still sit directly on top of the fault line, and were built before a state law passed in 1972 prohibiting new construction or substantial renovation on top of earthquake faults. On its website, the USGS calls the Hayward fault the region’s “tectonic time bomb,” which could “cause hundreds of deaths, leave thousands homeless and devastate the region’s economy.”


Mike Tyson breaks ground on 40 acre marijuana ranch in Cali

Mike Tyson breaks ground on 40-acre marijuana ranch in California (Source Washington Post)

The Blast reported Monday that the 51-year-old former heavyweight champion broke ground last month on a “cannabis resort” to be located in California City, a town in the Mojave Desert about a 110-mile drive north from Los Angeles. The location is also a much shorter drive north from Edwards Air Force Base, and according to The Blast, “taking care of men and women who have served in the armed forces is a top priority” for Tyson Holistic, the company that will operate the resort, to be called Tyson Ranch. The Blast noted that cannabidiol (CBD), a marijuana extract that does not provide the “high” famously associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been used by some veterans to treat cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, and it is touted by advocates as having other therapeutic properties, as well. Tyson Ranch will reportedly set aside 20 acres for the cultivation of marijuana by “master growers,” while the property will also feature facilities to help the growers and those interested in becoming one. In addition, the ranch will offer an “edibles factory,” an amphitheater and areas for “glamping.” Glamping is a combination of glamour and camping and describes a style of camping with amenities and, in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping.

What could go wrong in 2018

What could go wrong in 2018 (Source Yahoo)

A Trumplosion. Will President Trump be intact at the White House a year from now? Maybe he will be, with competent leaders such as Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis continuing to manage his more disruptive impulses. Yet Trump is a kind of perpetual-chaos machine who routinely tests his own staying power. His new war with former campaign manager Steve Bannon could split Trump’s alt-right base, at the same time special prosecutor Robert Mueller may be zeroing in on Trump’s inner circle, and perhaps Trump himself. None of this means the House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, would necessarily vote to impeach Trump. But Trump could be far more embattled in 2018 than he was in 2017, and no president is impervious to political pressure.

Interest-rate shocks. Investors expect the Fed to hike rates three times in 2018, for a total increase of less than 1 percentage point. So even though the Fed is tightening, it’s pulling back on the reins gently. If fresh signs of inflation forced the Fed to act more aggressively, that would be a negative surprise. And rising rates are one factor that can hasten the end of a business-cycle expansion.

A bitcoin collapse. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies still probably represent too small a market to harm the broader financial system if there’s a wipeout, as some analysts think is inevitable. But economist Bernard Baumohl of the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, N.J., believes there’s a 30% chance bitcoin crashes in 2018, with a selloff spreading to other risky assets such as stocks. The higher the value of bitcoin and its ilk go—and the more people who buy in—the greater the risk of fallout if there’s a correction or a crash.

A China slowdown. This has become something of a perennial concern, with China always finding a way to manage excessive debt and prevent the kind of overleveraged blowout that kicked off the US financial crisis in 2008. But one of these years, China might miscalculate, or simply run out of controls. It almost happened in late 2015 and early 2016. War in Korea. This would be a catastrophe, with hundreds of thousands dead and potential consequences that include the first use of nuclear weapons since World War II. Maybe that grim outlook helps explain why this hasn’t happened yet.

This is probably the biggest risk for 2018—a confluence of problems occurring in a way nobody really foresaw. This is usually how crises develop, since the things that are easiest to predict are usually the easiest to prevent. It’s the unexpected mingling of forces that tends to produce turmoil undetected by regulators, computer models or investors—until it’s too late. It’s possible, for instance, that bitcoin collapses at the same time inflationary forces intensify and the Fed amps up its rate increases, producing a triple jolt of anxiety. Or Trump could miscalculate the negative impact of new protectionist measures and impose new tariffs on Chinese and Mexican imports, just as the the Chinese economy catches cold and something not on this list amplifies the illness.






UN Secretary-General Puts World On ‘Red Alert’

UN Secretary-General Puts World On ‘Red Alert’ In Somber New Year’s Eve Address (Source Huffington Post)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issued a grim warning as 2017 drew to a close. In a somber video address posted to Twitter on New Year’s Eve, he cautioned that the globe was on “red alert” following a year marked by deepening conflicts and “new dangers.”

“When I took office a year ago, I appealed for 2017 to be a year for peace,” Guterres said in the clip. “Unfortunately, in fundamental ways, the world has gone in reverse. … Global anxieties over nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War, and climate change is moving faster than we are. Inequalities are growing, and we see horrific violations of human rights. Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise.”

Facing such challenges, Guterres said he was “not issuing an appeal” but a “red alert for our world.” Only international unity and cooperation, he stressed, could now help solve these many crises. I truly believe we can make our world more safe and secure. We can settle conflicts, overcome hatred and defend shared values but we can only do that together,” the U.N. chief said. “I urge leaders everywhere to make this New Year’s resolution: Narrow the gaps. Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals. Unity is the path. Our future depends on it.”

Hours after Guterres’ message, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a New Year’s Day speech, in which he spoke of a “nuclear button” on his desk, ready for use if the hermit kingdom is threatened.  “The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” he said, adding that he was “open to dialogue” with South Korea and emphasizing that “these weapons will be used only if our security is threatened.” Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that the U.S. is “closer to a nuclear war with North Korea” than ever before.