September 23, 2017

Russia launches ‘world’s biggest & most powerful’ nuclear icebreaker

Arktika icebreaker © Ramil SitdykovRussia floats out Arktika icebreaker, set to be world’s largest (VIDEO)

It is one of the three vessels part of Project 22220 which are to become the world’s largest and most powerful nuclear icebreakers.

The lead ship of the project, the Arktika, was commissioned last year.

Designed for transporting cargo via the Northern Sea Route, the Sibir was ordered in May 2015 and is due to be delivered in 2020. The third icebreaker, the Ural, is planned to be delivered in 2021.

Sibir has a displacement of 33,500 tons and is 173.3 meters long with a beam of 34 meters, and has a crew of 75.

The double-draft design allows for operations in both deep Arctic waters and estuaries of polar rivers. The vessel is powered by two nuclear reactors with an output of 175 MW.

The nuclear-powered Sibir will be capable of breaking ice fields up to three meters thick, making way for LNG carriers delivering Russian gas to Asian customers. It will also carry out rescue work in ice conditions and ice-free waters.

“Sibir has its predecessor – the icebreaker [50 Let Pobedy – Ed.] which was commissioned in 1977 and has already seen long service. Its absolute record was set in May when it reached the North Pole. I wish today’s Sibir to also break the record,” said Rosatom’s Director General Alexei Likhachev.

All three ships will be commissioned by Rosatomflot, a subsidiary of Russia’s state atomic energy corporation Rosatom.

With its 30 diesel and four nuclear icebreakers, Russia has become the primary operator in the Arctic. It plans to build another nuclear icebreaker, the Leader, designed to keep the Northern Sea Route, along with the country’s Arctic coast, open all year round.

The craft will have a working capacity of 110 MW and will be capable of cutting through ice up to 4.5 meters deep.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Leader will be by delivered by 2025.

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/404227-russia-worlds-biggest-icebreaker/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Jamie Dimon accused of market manipulation over ‘false, misleading’ bitcoin comments

© Shen Hong / Global Look PressJPMorgan involved in bitcoin-related trading while boss calls it good for drug dealers murderers

“Jamie Dimon’s public assertions did not only affect the reputation of bitcoin, they harmed the interests of some of his own clients and many young businesses that are working hard to create a better financial system,” said Florian Schweitzer, managing partner at Blockswater.

Blockswater said that JPMorgan traded bitcoin derivatives for its clients on the Stockholm-based Nasdaq Nordic exchange before and after Dimon’s statements about it being a “fraud, which is good only for murderers and drug dealers.”

“That’s a clear case of double standards, and it smells like market manipulation,” Schweitzer said.

“Nasdaq Nordic, where exchange-traded notes on bitcoin are listed, defines the term ‘market manipulation’ in accordance with the EU’s definition as “dissemination of information through the media, including the internet, or by any other means that gives, or is likely to give, false or misleading signals as to Listed Products, including the dissemination of rumors and false or misleading news, where the person who made the dissemination knew, or ought to have known, that the information was false or misleading,” the company noted.

On Friday, Dimon took another swipe at bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by saying “It’s creating something out of nothing that to me is worth nothing and it will end badly.”

He also warned that governments will crack down on cryptocurrencies and force it into becoming a black market.

“Comments like Jamie’s show a failure to grasp the significance of the blockchain and the power of brand in a fundamental sea of change,” Scott Nelson, CEO and chairman of blockchain firm Sweetbridge told CNBC.

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/404216-jamie-dimon-bitcoin-market-manipulation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Theresa May Seeks to Unlock Brexit Talks in Florence Speech

That alone is unlikely to be enough to satisfy the 27 other member nations, but Mrs. May will no doubt hope that the opening bid is good enough to revive talks, particularly if her rhetoric is as constructive as the government has hinted it will be.

According to excerpts from the speech released by her office, Mrs. May will say that while Britain’s departure “is inevitably a difficult process, it is in all of our interests for our negotiations to succeed.”

“If we can do that,” she is expected to say, “then when this chapter of our European history is written, it will be remembered not for the differences we faced, but for the vision we showed.”

European Union negotiators have refused to talk about post-Brexit ties until they judge that there is “sufficient progress” on the issues they consider a priority: the status of European Union citizens in Britain after it leaves, the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland (which is a part of the United Kingdom) and Britain’s financial commitments to the bloc.

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Protesters in Florence, Italy, on Friday before Mrs. May’s speech. Credit Max Rossi/Reuters

“From the European Union’s point of view, it probably takes us 50 percent of the way there,” said Mats Persson, who was a special adviser to former Prime Minister David Cameron and is now head of international trade at the advisory firm EY. “It’s moving us forward, but whether it constitutes ‘significant progress’ for the E.U., I am just not sure.”

Mrs. May briefed her cabinet about plans for the speech on Thursday, after a tense week in which divisions were paraded in public, with Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary and a hard-line proponent of a withdrawal, publishing a 4,000 word essay outlining his vision of the future.

The episode illustrated how the referendum last year on withdrawal, intended to end the Conservative Party’s divisions over Europe, only sharpened them. To make matters worse, senior ministers are jockeying to succeed Mrs. May, who made a huge tactical mistake by calling a general election in June, in which her party lost its parliamentary majority.

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Mr. Johnson attended the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, after dismissing reports that he might resign. In a public show of unity, he emerged after the meeting alongside the chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, who has led calls for a “softer” departure from the bloc that could afford greater protections for the economy.

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Only hours earlier, Mrs. May’s former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, who supports leaving the bloc, published an article in The Daily Telegraph asserting that Mr. Hammond’s department was reluctant even to “mention the positives” of leaving the European Union, and accusing the chancellor of being on “maneuvers” to replace Mrs. May.

Mrs. May was expected to use her transition statement to calm anxieties in the business world while also reassuring withdrawal hard-liners that, when the initial phase is over, Britain would not be bound by the bloc’s economic, migration and legal rules.

In March, Mrs. May formally began the withdrawal process, invoking a treaty article that lays down a two-year deadline for the completion of talks — unless all member countries agree to extend it.

The European Union’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Thursday that there was still significant “uncertainty” over Britain’s position, and that time was of the essence if a deal is to be reaching.

Noting that six months had passed since Mrs. May set withdrawal negotiations in motion, and arguing that six months would be needed to allow for ratification of any agreement, Mr. Barnier said, “There is therefore only one year left.”

Mrs. May’s speech was being criticized in Britain even before she spoke. Peter Bone, a Conservative lawmaker and supporter of leaving the bloc, said that the reported terms of her financial offer were unacceptable.

The money that “Theresa May is reportedly about to offer as the biggest divorce settlement in history would simply be the down payment,” said Vince Cable, leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats, which opposes a withdrawal. “Brexit will cost a lot, lot more than this.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/world/europe/florence-theresa-may-speech-brexit.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Contenders: Who Will Be Trump’s Pick to Lead the Fed? We Asked Experts to Rate the Odds

But those two top contenders combine for lower than 50 percent odds in our expert survey — meaning that our panelists thought there was a better-than-even chance that the appointment will be one of many contenders with individually modest but collectively high chances of rising to the top of the president’s list.

Compared with PredictIt, an online marketplace based on news events, our experts saw slightly lower odds for either of them. On Thursday afternoon, trading on PredictIt implied 30 percent odds for Ms. Yellen and 28 percent for Mr. Warsh.

Using our expert survey — and comments from some of the participants in it — here’s a guide to President Trump’s options as he makes perhaps the single most consequential economic decision of his first year in office.

Yellen reappointment: continuity and bipartisanship

There’s a tradition of reappointing Fed chairmen who were originally appointed by a member of the opposite party. President Obama did so with Ben Bernanke; Bill Clinton with Alan Greenspan; and Ronald Reagan with Paul Volcker.

That tradition has helped keep the Fed, with its vast power over the economy and financial system, insulated a bit from politics, but President Trump has no obligation to follow it.

The case for renominating Ms. Yellen is straightforward.

She has presided over four years of steady economic expansion and rising financial markets. She moved cautiously toward raising interest rates even though the economy seemed to be approaching full employment. By contrast, some more conservative contenders for the job have indicated they want to raise rates more quickly, which could endanger the economy as President Trump approaches midterm elections in 2018 and a potential re-election battle in 2020.

After criticizing her during his campaign, President Trump has had some kind words for her, saying in July that he liked her and that “she’s done a good job.”

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Moreover, as President Trump dabbles in making deals with Democrats, reappointing Ms. Yellen could serve as an expression of good faith to Democratic senators. As administration officials focus on tax legislation and other priorities on Capitol Hill, it might be helpful to them to nominate someone who might sail through confirmation, rather than demand a bruising, time-consuming battle.

“She’s a known quantity, and there is less risk of disrupting the financial markets if the president renominates Dr. Yellen,” said Brian Gardner, managing director of Washington Research at Keefe, Bruyette Woods, and one of the panelists. “Although President Trump is unorthodox in many ways, every president wants calm financial markets.”

The case against Ms. Yellen is similarly straightforward: She is a liberal economist in a government dominated by conservatives. She is a cerebral academic serving during the presidency of a bombastic businessman. And she is a staunch defender of the work the Fed and other bank regulators have done to try to limit risk in the financial system — including in a high-profile speech last month — amid an administration focused on deregulation.

Kevin Warsh: well connected, but with baggage

Our experts’ consensus was that Mr. Warsh has slightly better odds than Ms. Yellen. He was a Fed governor from 2006 to 2011, and was a member of Mr. Bernanke’s inner circle in shaping the Fed’s extraordinary (and often extraordinarily unpopular) actions to battle the global financial crisis.

He is well connected in conservative political circles and is now a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Before joining the Fed, where he was the youngest governor in the institution’s history, he worked in the George W. Bush White House and at Morgan Stanley. He has a law degree, but no advanced degree in economics.

Mr. Warsh has been a skeptic of the Fed’s efforts to boost the economy through quantitative easing and has advocated raising interest rates more quickly. He also has a regulatory philosophy more in line with the administration’s.

The Race to Be the Next Fed Chairman Appears to Be Wide Open

Experts surveyed by The Times believe that Kevin Warsh and Janet Yellen stand the best shot at being appointed to lead the central bank, but combine for less than a 50 percent chance.

Another factor that might weigh in Mr. Warsh’s favor with the president? Mr. Warsh’s father-in-law is Ronald Lauder, of the Estée Lauder cosmetics fortune, a major Republican donor with longstanding ties to Mr. Trump.

If Mr. Warsh is nominated, expect significant blowback during the confirmation process from Democrats, who are likely to accuse the 47-year-old Mr. Warsh of being underqualified, of being responsible for the 2008 bank bailouts and inclined to regulate banks too lightly now, and of being too overtly political for the traditionally nonpartisan Fed chairmanship.

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Whatever happened to Gary Cohn?

Not long ago, Gary Cohn, the head of the White House National Economic Council, looked like the leading candidate to be the next Fed chairman. In late July, his odds were 46 percent on PredictIt. But now our panel puts those odds at 12 percent, and PredictIt’s odds were about the same.

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A former No. 2 at Goldman Sachs, Mr. Cohn has been reported to have swung out of favor with Mr. Trump after criticizing his response to racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, Va. But there were some reasons to be skeptical of Mr. Cohn’s appointment to the Fed chairmanship even before that.

Mr. Cohn has a hard-charging style that would be an unusual fit for an agency that is run more like an academic department. The last businessman to become Fed chairman, G. William Miller, was appointed by President Jimmy Carter and lasted only 18 months in the job.

And given his résumé, Mr. Cohn’s nomination would surely set off a heated confirmation battle. Democrats would be eager to criticize the administration for naming a recent top executive at Goldman Sachs to be the nation’s most powerful financial regulator. Some populist Republicans might join them.

Still, given the way people move in and out of Mr. Trump’s favor, and his preference for appointees with business experience, a Cohn appointment can’t be ruled out.

The other contenders

The expert consensus is that there is about a one-in-three chance collectively for the other possible nominees, even as each of them individually is viewed as having single-digit odds. Foremost among them are several of the names we would probably be hearing about if a conventional Republican president were in the White House.

John B. Taylor is a respected economist at Stanford who worked in the George W. Bush administration and has been an influential voice among congressional Republicans who want to see the Fed bound by stricter rules governing its actions.

Glenn Hubbard was a top economic adviser to Mr. Bush who is dean of Columbia Business School.

Larry Lindsey was another top adviser to Mr. Bush and a former Fed governor with an economics doctorate from Harvard.

Our panel’s consensus odds for the three were 8, 7 and 6 percent, respectively. Their doctorates and affiliations with top universities may actually be downsides in an administration that has shown disdain for academic expertise.

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Another intriguing possibility is Jerome Powell, known as Jay, a current Fed governor who served in the George H.W. Bush Treasury Department and was a partner at the Carlyle Group, the private equity firm. If Mr. Trump wanted a nominee who would probably maintain continuity with current Fed policy but was more conservative and business-minded than Ms. Yellen, Mr. Powell would be a below-the-radar option. The panel rates his odds of ending up in the job at 5 percent.

A range of other names has emerged in various reports, including the F.D.I.C. vice chairman Thomas Hoenig and John Allison, the former chief executive of BBT bank, but our panel assigns them only long-shot odds.

The surprise factor

Mr. Trump loves a surprise. In his search for a secretary of state, for example, he considered numerous prominent options before going with Exxon’s chief executive, Rex Tillerson, a bit of an out-of-left-field choice.

As he focuses on the choice for Fed chief, a similar pattern could reappear, and a less conventional choice could emerge. That’s why the consensus of our panel is that there’s a 10 percent chance the nominee is not on this list at all.

Then again, in another appointment that has some similarities to the Fed chairmanship, the selection of a Supreme Court nominee, Mr. Trump went with a respected conservative jurist in Neil Gorsuch.

As Mr. Trump starts focusing on the Fed chief decision in the months ahead, that may be the biggest decision of them all: whether to look at conventional qualifications, or go with a surprise. Either way, with Ms. Yellen’s term coming to a close and a crowded calendar of Senate business that could stand in the way of a confirmation vote, the clock is ticking.

ABOUT OUR PANEL: The odds listed here are based on a survey of 11 savvy observers of the Fed and economic policy making who were asked to offer a probability on each of the potential nominees listed. Their probabilities were to add to 100 percent, including the odds on “rest of field,” or another nominee emerging. Those odds were then averaged to create a consensus probability of each selection.

The participants were: Shehriyar Antia of Macro Insight Group; Tony Fratto of Hamilton Place Strategies; Brian Gardner of Keefe, Bruyette Woods; Krishna Guha of Evercore I.S.I.; Roberto Perli of Cornerstone Macro; Douglas Rediker of International Capital Strategies; Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute; Phillip Swagel of the University of Maryland; Diane Swonk of DS Economics; Eric Winograd of AllianceBernstein; and Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/upshot/who-will-be-trumps-pick-to-lead-the-fed-we-asked-experts-to-rate-the-odds.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Leading the Legal War Against Fox

“If Doug thinks he’s at war,” the statement said, “why does he contact us every two weeks asking for millions (40 percent for him) in exchange for peace?”

Television viewers have long been familiar with Fox’s public product, but for more than a decade, there have also been persistent glimpses of its private culture as numerous women have come forward accusing men like Mr. Ailes — or the host Eric Bolling, who was ousted this month after sending lewd text messages to female colleagues — of predatory sexual misconduct. As Mr. Ailes did before he died in May, Mr. Bolling has denied the allegations.

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The accusations by Mr. Wigdor’s clients — former news anchors, former news analysts, former accounting department employees — have only deepened the portrait of a toxic culture. One of the people he represents, a regular guest political commentator, says the network retaliated against her after she lodged a rape claim against a Fox Business host. Another, a Bangladeshi payroll worker, says a colleague once referred to him as a “terrorist.” In lawsuits that run to nearly 300 pages, there are charges that the network fired a freelance reporter at Fox 5 News, its New York affiliate, after she became pregnant; that Fox’s former comptroller repeatedly ridiculed black and Hispanic colleagues; and that some Fox journalists conspired with the White House to produce fake news.

The network has denied these charges and in each of the cases has promised to “vigorously defend” itself. On Monday night, it filed a motion to dismiss the fake news suit, calling it “without merit and legally insufficient.” Two days later, one of the defendants in the suit asked a court to professionally sanction Mr. Wigdor for having whipped up a media frenzy over what he claimed was a “false narrative.” Using the media is one of his favorite tactics, and he has on occasion included details in his complaints — about his defendants’ sex lives, for example — that are sensational and embarrassing but not necessarily legally relevant.

At 48, Mr. Wigdor has found himself as the courtroom general leading an army of Fox complainants largely because of his reputation as one of New York City’s most aggressive employment lawyers. During his career, he has filed gender discrimination suits against Deutsche Bank and Citigroup (both of which, like many of his lawsuits, were settled without a claim of liability), and an age and racial bias suit against The New York Times. In June, he sued Uber, alleging that officials at the company illegally sought the medical records of a woman who claimed she was raped by an Uber driver in India. (An Uber spokesman has apologized that the plaintiff had to “relive” the experience.) And in 2013, after he sued SoulCycle, charging that the indoor cycling studio had cheated an instructor out of his wages, the company banned him from all of its locations. So he sued over that, too, and lost.

But despite the fact that he has repeatedly taken on corporate giants, Fox may be his toughest target yet. In February, the network fired Judith Slater, the former comptroller, who is accused of racial animus by many of his clients. The network since maintained that Mr. Wigdor’s lawsuit naming Ms. Slater was “needless” and that his follow-up amended suits were “copycat complaints.” In April, days before one of those amended suits was filed, Mr. Wigdor said that Fox’s lawyers threatened to “seek sanctions” against him if his new plaintiffs went public with their claims. (A lawyer for Ms. Slater said that Mr. Wigdor’s claims against her “rely on false allegations” and were nothing more than a “money grab.”)

The threats have not just come from Fox itself. This spring, Mr. Wigdor held a televised news conference in which he announced additional plaintiffs in an expanding racial bias suit against Fox. Minutes after the event was aired, the police said a man called his office threatening to blow it up. When the man called back, Mr. Wigdor got on the phone with him. Mr. Wigdor said the man called him a “nigger lover,” adding he was going to kill him and his family. Mr. Wigdor called the police, who eventually identified the caller as Joseph Amico, a computer repairman from Las Vegas.

Within three weeks, two New York detectives had traveled to Las Vegas to arrest Mr. Amico, but a standoff ensued when he refused to leave his home. After several hours, a local SWAT team broke into the house and found Mr. Amico in the attic.

Mr. Amico’s lawyer, Todd Spodek, said his client would fight the charges. “In this political climate,” Mr. Spodek said, “people are so worked up about the issues that it’s very easy for words to be misunderstood and hysteria to take place.”

Slim and sinewy, with a disarmingly focused gaze, Mr. Wigdor says he has always had a passion for competition. He is a regular tennis player (and claims that while in law school he gave lessons to Alan Greenspan, a future chairman of the Federal Reserve). He bikes each day from his home in Forest Hills, Queens, to his law firm on lower Fifth Avenue. While working on a master’s degree at Oxford University, where he met his wife Catherine, he played starting point guard on its 1995 national champion basketball team.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/nyregion/douglas-wigdor-fox-news.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

In Germany, Blue-Collar Jobs Provide Bulwark to Populism

Things could easily have turned out differently for Dortmund. It lies in the Ruhr Valley, which played a central role in Germany’s emergence as an industrial power in the 1800s because of its abundant coal and iron ore.

But the region began a steep decline in the 1970s. Dortmund’s last coal mine closed in 1987, and the last blast furnace used in steel making shut down in 1998. In some cases, the plants were dismantled and shipped to China for use by the same companies that put the Dortmund mills out of business. Even the city’s breweries, once among Europe’s largest, fell on hard times.

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Local political leaders took action well before the mines closed. The government built a technology park, which offered office space to fledgling companies, and provided entrepreneurs with start-up capital.

An early tenant of the tech park was Elmos, a maker of specialized semiconductors for the car industry that was founded in 1984. Back then, surrounding fields were still used to graze sheep. Elmos, now the world leader in chips used in parking-assistance devices for automobiles, employs 750 people in Dortmund.

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Elmos, the world leader in chips used in parking-assistance devices for automobiles, employs 750 people in Dortmund. Credit Kien Hoang Le for The New York Times

“There was early investment in the right industries,” said Anton Mindl, the company’s chief executive.

To ensure a supply of highly skilled workers, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia expanded the Technical University of Dortmund, which is now among Germany’s largest universities, with 34,000 students.

It has spawned start-ups like RapidMiner, a maker of so-called machine learning software — software capable of teaching itself to do things. Founded in 2007 by alumni of the university, RapidMiner employs 30 people in a local office, where the conference rooms are named after closed coal mines.

“There is a good start-up culture,” Ralf Klinkenberg, one of the company’s co-founders, said of Dortmund.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/21/business/german-election-jobs.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Megyn Kelly Is Ready for Her Morning Closeup

“I don’t feel this is a risky proposition, because I know myself and know what I can do,” she said. “And I know that I’m about to launch the show that I was born to do. This is what I was meant to do.”

Ms. Kelly, 46, did provide some details about the show. She said she did not plan to talk all that much about politics. Her show will have a mix of celebrity guests — Robert Redford, Jane Fonda and the casts of “This Is Us” and “Will Grace” will be on during her first week — along with segments dedicated to what she described as “regular people.” There will be a studio audience of about 150 people.

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Ms. Kelly said she opened a rehearsal show on Wednesday by touching on the earthquake in Mexico City and the hurricane in Puerto Rico before quickly moving on to discuss the open letter that Serena Williams wrote to her mother, which has gone viral.

In a recent promo for the show, Ms. Kelly said she hoped NBC’s new 9 a.m. hour would be “fun and uplifting and empowering — that makes people feel fists in the air at the end of it.”

Her show on Fox News often felt more like a fist to the face.

Ms. Kelly rose to fame — in conservative and liberal circles alike — for her withering cross-examinations of her guests. Her 9 p.m. show was No. 1 in the time slot.

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Ms. Kelly’s competitors at 9 a.m. will include Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, right, on their “Live” show in June with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. Credit Aaron Lynett/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

But she suggested that the job, toward the end, wasn’t bringing her “joy” anymore. (Over the course of a 40-minute interview, she said “joy,” “joyful” or “joyous” nine times.) Still, Fox News was prepared to pay her more than $20 million a year for the job she wasn’t born to do. NBC also made an impressive offer, somewhere north of $15 million.

“If I had sat there saying, ‘I have job security here at Fox News, they’re not going to fire me, they’re going to pay me very well,’ that would have been a decision based on fear,” she said. “Fear of the unknown, fear of failure. And that’s an unhealthy place from which to make any decision.”

Though she had a Sunday newsmagazine show in the summer (and that will return next spring, she said), the centerpiece of her NBC deal is the morning show. Her pivot to the daytime format feels like a reboot after years in the political maelstrom, though she will not call it that.

“I think it’s the presentation of the whole me,” Ms. Kelly said. “It’s not like I am changing. I’m just sharing more of who I am. My friends and my family would say, ‘You’re going to see the Megyn we know.’ For me, it truly is all about pursuing more joy. That’s the reason we are here.”

On a recent appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” she got a crash course on what her new life will look like: dancing in the stands, donning a sumo wrestler fat suit, cooking.

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Ms. Kelly on the set of her new show. “If a news show and a talk show had a baby, that’s us,” she said. Credit Chad Batka for The New York Times

Ms. DeGeneres is good at producing laughs from her audience. “Megyn Kelly Today” has pledged to do the same.

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“Our viewers at 9 want to be informed, they want to be inspired, they want to laugh,” said Jackie Levin, the executive producer of the show and a “Today” veteran. “I think most importantly people want to laugh a little bit more. That’s what we hope to do.”

The competition will be stiff. In the most recent weekly ratings, “Live With Kelly and Ryan” averaged three million viewers, its best viewership in months. And that celebrity-driven morning show has no shortage of stars in the coming weeks, including Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Kate Winslet.

Ms. Kelly acknowledged that ratings were significant (“I understand that this is still a business and the show doesn’t get to stay on the air if it doesn’t rate”) but said she wouldn’t be paying attention to them the way she did with her top-rated Fox News show.

After all, she has her dream job now. And why exactly is this her dream job?

“It’s because I am a person who is searching,” she said. “And always has been. I am searching for my joy and more love and more wellness. Always have been. Finally my job is going to align with my soul, with my heart, with my reason for being. It’s not going to just be a paycheck because it happens to be something I do well.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/21/business/media/megyn-kelly-today.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Katherine M. Bonniwell, Life Magazine Publisher, Dies at 70

Mr. Leibovitz recalled that once, seeing that Time Inc.’s Money magazine was performing poorly, Ms. Bonniwell proposed a new content strategy. Instead of publishing a mix of miscellaneous articles, she suggested that each issue of the magazine focus on a different theme. Her suggestion was adopted, and readership soared.

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Ms. Bonniwell’s efforts to put Life back on a weekly publication schedule for the first time in a decade were driven by “amazing intellectual and political brilliance on her part,” said Jim Gaines, who was managing editor of the magazine at the time and later succeeded Ms. Bonniwell as publisher.

She made a compelling business case for producing more issues and very likely would have succeeded, Mr. Gaines said, if not for external market pressures and concerns that a weekly Life could cannibalize readership from other Time publications.

Katherine Marbury Bonniwell was born in Manhattan on May 29, 1947, to Lucy and John Bonniwell. Her family was descended from British colonists who arrived in North America in 1670. Her middle name was a tribute to her ancestor William Marbury, of the landmark Marbury v. Madison Supreme Court decision, which helped establish the doctrine of judicial review.

Ms. Bonniwell earned a bachelor’s degree in 1969 from Vassar College, where she studied art. She briefly worked at the Sotheby’s auction house before returning to school for a master’s from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1976.

Besides her husband, she is survived by her son, Alexander; a sister, Anne Gale; a brother, Charles Bonniwell; and a stepdaughter, Lynn Leibovitz.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/21/business/media/katherine-m-bonniwell-life-magazine-publisher-dies-at-70.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Common Sense: Tax Reform for the Rich: Reduce the Rates but Lose the Breaks

The top 1 percent paid a total of $542.6 billion in federal tax, or an astounding 39.5 percent of the total income tax. If you want to take a more expansive view of rich, the top 10 percent (who earn upward of $133,000) pay 71 percent of the total tax.

Do they pay the top rate? Not by a long shot. The average rate for the top 1 percent is 27 percent of their adjusted gross income. (It’s even lower — 24 percent — for the superrich in the 0.001 percent bracket.) The top 10 percent pay an average of 21 percent.

That’s why tax reform is all about them. They take most of the itemized deductions and have a disproportionate share of capital gains and dividends, which are taxed at a much lower rate than salaries and wages.

Reform means ending those tax breaks, a move that always draws protests and intense lobbying from those who have benefited from them.

Getting rid of them all would enable a huge reduction in overall rates and would have the advantage of penalizing just about everyone in the upper income brackets (not to mention radically simplifying the tax code). The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 10 largest tax expenditures (its term for what most people consider tax breaks) would amount to $12 trillion, or 5.4 percent of gross domestic product, over the decade from 2014 to 2023.

While such breaks may yield benefits, the budget office warned that they also “may lead to an inefficient allocation of economic resources by encouraging more consumption of goods and services receiving preferential treatment” and “may subsidize activity that would have taken place without the tax incentives.”

The report specifically cited the home-mortgage deduction as encouraging taxpayers to “purchase more expensive homes, investing too much in housing and too little elsewhere relative to what they would do if all investments were treated equally.”

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But it’s mostly hard-core libertarians and free market purists who want to get rid of all tax breaks for the rich. The political reality is that some of these “expenditures” are off the table. The charitable deduction has proved untouchable for decades. The top 1 percent gave $77 billion in 2014, 37 percent of total charitable contribution deductions. Perhaps it’s not so bad for the rich to pay a lower marginal rate, if it’s because they give away so much.

So what’s left?

LONG-TERM CAPITAL GAINS The biggest revenue target is the preferential rate for long-term capital gains, which raises a perennial question: Why should capital income be taxed at a much lower rate than ordinary income? Capital assets are owned overwhelmingly by the rich. The top 1 percent reported $561 billion in capital gains taxed at the preferential rate, or 68 percent of the total. As a simple matter of math, the rich will never pay anything close to the top statutory rate as long so much of their income is taxed at a much lower rate (currently 20 percent for the top bracket, not counting the Affordable Care Act surcharge of 3.8 percent).

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the preferential capital-gains rate will cost the Treasury $1.34 trillion from 2014 to 2023.

“We’re taxing the rich much too lightly because we tax capital so much less than labor,” said Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

Mr. Rosenthal favors taxing capital gains at the same rate as regular income — the approach adopted in the Tax Reform Act of 1986 during the Reagan administration and one supported by many economists. That would eliminate a host of tax shelters that capitalize on the differential, including special treatment for carried interest, a form of income for many wealthy hedge fund and private equity managers.

This path would require Republicans to set aside a long-held belief that lower capital-gains rates promote more economic growth and investment. But that doesn’t mean capital-gains rates have to be lower than rates for ordinary income. “There’s no support for the idea that not taxing capital unleashes economic growth,” Mr. Rosenthal said. He noted that after the 1986 tax reforms, “the economy did great.”

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If Republicans are correct that lower rates spur economic growth, then lower rates on all income — made possible in part by raising capital-gains rates — should bolster economic growth across the economy.

CAPITAL GAINS AT DEATH Another big break for the rich is that capital gains go untaxed at death. Why should that be the case? Republicans could probably exempt family farms and family-owned businesses from the estate tax — or even eliminate it — if the government simply taxed other capital gains (like appreciated stock) transferred at death. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the exclusion will cost the Treasury $644 billion from 2014 to 2023.

That would also address the probability that raising rates on long-term capital gains would encourage investors to defer selling assets, thus postponing or escaping the tax. While higher capital-gains rates might encourage holding assets longer (which some economists consider a good thing), eliminating the special treatment at the investor’s death would ensure that the gains were eventually taxed.

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And given that the Trump administration’s proposed 15 percent corporate tax rate is in many ways a windfall to shareholders, it seems only fair to tax their capital gains at higher rates.

“You can’t really broaden the base without addressing capital gains,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of the liberal-leaning Americans for Tax Fairness He, too, favors taxing capital gains at death.

STATE AND LOCAL TAXES Next largest of the major tax breaks is the deduction for state and local taxes, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost the government nearly $1.1 trillion over 10 years. The deduction is on the chopping block under virtually all Republican proposals. It obviously hits high-tax states the hardest, which tend to be Democratic strongholds like New York and California.

Many economists agree, including N. Gregory Mankiw of Harvard, who told me this week that he favored eliminating the deduction.

That deduction, too, overwhelmingly benefits the rich. Most middle-class and low-income taxpayers don’t itemize deductions, even in high-tax states, so they get no benefit. The top 1 percent accounts for 27 percent of the total taxes-paid deduction.

Democrats, many representing high-tax states, have said eliminating the deduction is out of the question in any tax negotiations. One compromise that might attract at least some Democratic support would be to retain the deduction, but only for taxpayers with incomes below a certain level.

MORTGAGE INTEREST Like the charitable deduction, the mortgage-interest deduction has long survived reform attempts. But unlike breaks that encourage giving, it’s hard to defend tax incentives that enable the rich to buy ever-more-expensive houses and apartments (with sale prices now pushing above $100 million in a few markets) when middle- and lower-income taxpayers are being priced out of many cities.

As with state and local taxes, most middle- and lower-income taxpayers don’t itemize, so they don’t benefit from the mortgage deduction. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the mortgage deduction will cost the Treasury about $1 trillion, slightly less than the state and local tax deduction, over a decade. But it’s not as skewed as heavily toward the top 1 percent — they account for under 10 percent of the total interest-paid deduction. That may be because many of the rich don’t need to borrow to buy a house (or houses).

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As with state and local taxes, one approach would be to eliminate the deduction only for high-income taxpayers. The Tax Foundation has offered a proposal to lower the cap on mortgage deductions to $500,000 from $1 million, which it says would raise about $300 billion over the next decade, primarily from high-income taxpayers.

A study by the foundation also found that the mortgage deduction had disproportionately favored taxpayers in states with high real-estate costs, which also tend to be blue states like New York and California.

“The mortgage deduction is supposed to make homes more affordable, but do people with mortgages over $500,000 really need that?” asked Kyle Pomerleau, director of federal projects at the Tax Foundation and the author of the study.

There are plenty of egregious smaller loopholes that should be eliminated, like the provision that lets real-estate developers (but not the rest of us) deduct passive losses against ordinary income. But these are the big four, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates. In total, they will cost the government $4.1 trillion over 10 years.

(This doesn’t guarantee that the government would actually raise that much if the tax breaks were eliminated, because the estimates don’t account for the way taxpayers would change their behavior, such as by deferring capital gains.)

Conversely, if proposed reforms don’t address the biggest tax breaks, there will be little room to reduce rates over all — which is the carrot to make reform more palatable. “If all you do is eliminate the state and local tax deduction, there’s not much room to maneuver,” Mr. Pomerleau said.

Fourth in a series of Common Sense columns about the shape a responsible tax reform plan might take.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/21/business/tax-breaks.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Preet Bharara, Ousted Federal Prosecutor, Will Join CNN

Mr. Bharara is no stranger to television, and his appearances in recent months seemed intended to showcase his versatility on the air. In June, he sat with George Stephanopoulos to offer a sober assessment of the Trump administration for ABC’s Sunday morning show “This Week.” Later in the month, he appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” for an extended segment with the show’s wisecracking correspondent Hasan Minhaj.

His new role at CNN adds to Mr. Bharara’s growing and diverse portfolio of postprosecutorial responsibilities. He is a distinguished scholar in residence at the New York University School of Law and an executive vice president at Some Spider Studios, a media company run by his brother that publishes Cafe, a news and entertainment website.

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His podcast, “Stay Tuned,” debuted on Wednesday afternoon, and its first episode had Mr. Bharara detailing his firing by Mr. Trump. Mr. Bharara said he had been unnerved by Mr. Trump’s request, during their initial meeting in December, that he write down his telephone numbers, given that, “as a general matter, presidents don’t speak to U.S. attorneys.”

Mr. Trump did indeed call Mr. Bharara on multiple occasions — the last time leaving a voice mail message that was never returned because of Mr. Bharara’s concerns about the appearance of impropriety. He was fired shortly thereafter, one of dozens of United States attorneys let go by the Trump administration.

On the podcast, Mr. Bharara said that given what he now knew about Mr. Trump, he would not have been long for his job even if he had not been fired.

“It’s my strong belief that at some point, given the history, the president of the United States would have asked me to do something inappropriate,” Mr. Bharara said. “And I would have resigned then.”

Mr. Bharara appeared excited about his new pursuits. On Wednesday night, he wrote on Twitter that he was “glad for the thoughtful roomy platform of a podcast.”

“Can’t live by 140-character quips alone,” he added.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/business/media/preet-bharara-cnn.html?partner=rss&emc=rss