T-Mobile CEO: Happy #SlowCookerSunday! Hmm… What shall I make while I binge Netflix all day?

T-Mobile CEO: Happy #SlowCookerSunday! Hmm… What shall I make while I binge Netflix all day?

Posted by John Legere on Sunday, September 10, 2017

On Basketball: Kyrie gets a new address, but Cavs win trade

FILE – In this June 7, 2017, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) is guarded by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland. Irving gets his new address and Isaiah Thomas gets to play with LeBron. They both can say they won in this Celtics-Cavs blockbuster deal. But the sum of the parts says Cleveland got the better of Boston in this swap of All-Star point guards. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

MIAMI (AP) — It’s not the principals that will define the blockbuster trade between Cleveland and Boston. Great point guard leaves one city for another. That seems fair.

All the other parts, they will tell the story.

There are many ways to claim victory in the deal made Tuesday night . Kyrie Irving wanted his own team and got it, so he wins. Isaiah Thomas gets to play with LeBron James, so he wins. The Cavaliers got rid of a supposedly disgruntled star, so they won. The Celtics now won’t have to decide if Thomas is worth something like a $180 million deal next summer, so they won. It’s all semantics.

But look past all that.

In the end, Cleveland won. James won, too.

Here’s a few reasons why James will be celebrating this deal: He’ll still have a high-octane point guard; he’s getting an absurdly good defender in Jae Crowder (he could have helped the Cavs’ cause against Golden State in The Finals); he won’t be going into the season dealing with drama about Irving’s Cleveland future; this trade might even reap the Cavaliers the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

All good things, all edge to Cleveland.

Give the Celtics credit for being bold. Danny Ainge knew winning the Eastern Conference’s regular-season crown last season was meaningless, so he completely blew up a team that was a No. 1 seed and got hammered by the Cavaliers in the East finals. Sure, the Celtics played most of that series without Thomas, but that wasn’t going to matter. The Cavs weren’t losing that series.

So Ainge goes out and gets an All-Star point guard in Irving, after he hauls in Gordon Hayward during free agency and adds probable rookie of the year front-runner Jayson Tatum to the mix in the draft — plus gets another draft pick in either 2018 or 2019 for his trouble.

It’s not a bad deal for the Celtics. They get Irving. It’s his team. A storied franchise is in his hands and he will savor that.

It’s just a better deal for Cleveland, at least right now.

Minnesota never offered Andrew Wiggins. Miami never offered half its roster. Portland wasn’t giving up Damian Lillard. In the end the Cavs still got a star for a star, and since Thomas is only making about $6.3 million next season they got plenty of bonus parts as well to make the trade work.

It also solved one big Cleveland problem.

James’ only motivation is rings, and this move gives him just that.

He will be looking to go to the Finals for the eighth consecutive year. Only three teams in NBA history have been to four straight finals — the Lakers, the Celtics, and the Miami Heat when James was with them. Golden State will be heavy favorites to join that club next June. The Cavaliers won’t surprise many if they join them.

James will show up at camp in a couple of months and begin plotting ways to get his team back to the Finals. Had Irving still been there, James surely would have been wondering if they could make it work again. With Thomas, there won’t be a question. James and Thomas already have great respect for one another, and Thomas runs on the same prove-people-wrong gasoline that James uses.

Cleveland has been through the free-agency-is-looming dance with James before, of course. If the Cavs want to keep him next summer, they simply have to go all-in to make him as happy as possible. This trade probably wasn’t a bad start on that front.

In Boston, the Celtics will look very different this season.

Irving and Hayward are in; Thomas, Crowder, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and Amir Johnson are out — meaning five of Boston’s seven top scorers from a No. 1 seed now play elsewhere.

The Cavs weren’t overhauled; Irving is gone, Thomas, Derrick Rose and Jeff Green arrived.

From a continuity standpoint, obvious edge to Cleveland as well.

Regardless of all these Celtics-Cavaliers fireworks, it’s still Golden State’s world and probably will be for a long time. This deal didn’t change that.

The Warriors will still be the favorites to win the last game of next season.

The first game of next season, as luck would have it, just happens to be Boston at Cleveland.

And just like that, the NBA has drama again.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Are ETFs Dangerous?

By ANTHONY DAVIDOW

AUGUST 23, 2017

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are undoubtedly popular. Are they also dangerous?

These diversified baskets of stocks, bonds and other assets have been around for less than 25 years, but in that relatively short run they’ve managed to amass some $3 trillion of assets in the U.S. alone, according to the Investment Company Institute.1 In the last 10 years alone, the value of assets held by ETFs has nearly quintupled. ETFs accounted for nearly a third of the trades conducted on U.S. exchanges in 2016.2

Investors like them because they’re easy to trade—like stocks, you can buy and sell them on exchanges—and can provide broad or niche market exposure at a relatively low cost. As a result, investors use them in a lot of different ways—from trading individual ETFs on the market, to holding them in their 401(k)s and building portfolios with the cutting-edge automated services known as robo-advisors.

But ETFs’ seeming ubiquity is also making some market-watchers nervous. Some have said ETFs make markets less efficient and boost the valuations of otherwise unremarkable stocks. Some say ETFs have depressed volatility, while others see the opposite problem and suggest ETFs could cause extreme volatility during crises.

Are these concerns justified? In general, we don’t think so. Here we’ll address some of those concerns and offer some tips investors can use to trade ETFs.

Concern #1: ETFs make markets less efficient.

Many ETFs are designed to track particular indexes, typically by holding the same assets as an index (or at least a representative sample). For example, an ETF tracking the S&P 500® Index might hold a proportional amount of all 500 of the index’s constituent stocks. As a result, most ETFs are considered “passive” investments because decisions about whether to include a particular security in the basket come down to whether it is part of the target index. That structure is part of the appeal because it makes ETFs cheaper to operate than funds actively managed by an investment professional.

But some observers fear that because such ETFs passively buy assets without regard to prices, they don’t distinguish between good assets and bad. The concern is that such ETFs could lift all boats, whereas markets are normally supposed to elevate only worthy investments and shun the rest. A related concern is that because ETFs buy whole indexes, they could end up making all the assets on those indexes move in lockstep, thereby making markets less diverse.

Response #1

This might make sense if all ETFs followed the same strategy, but they don’t. Where a broad-market ETF might hold shares in proportion to their weightings on a market capitalization-weighted index such as the S&P 500, a “smart beta” ETF might focus on a particular slice of the market by tracking indexes that screen and weight stocks according to their dividend payments, volatility or recent stock-price momentum. (Note that smart beta strategies may be less diversified than a market cap strategy. You can read more about smart beta strategies here, here and here.)

Second, it’s worth noting that even with ETFs’ impressive growth, they still hold just shy of 6% of the U.S. stock market.3 In comparison, mutual funds hold around 23%. Households, pension funds, international investors, hedge funds, and other investors also own stocks. In other words, there are still plenty of parties in the market buying and selling shares for a variety of reasons.

In addition, the way ETFs are created and redeemed actually tends to make markets deeper and more efficient. Basically, the process involves ETF companies and entities called “authorized participants” (often broker-dealers) working together to buy and sell the assets needed to create new ETF units in response to changes in supply and demand. If there is sufficient demand for an ETF, an authorized participant can buy the underlying assets on the market and create a new ETF unit. Conversely, if investors selling ETFs start to put downward pressure on the ETF valuations, an authorized participant can reverse the process by redeeming shares. The creation and redemption process creates liquidity and is designed to help keep ETF valuations from straying too far from the value of their underlying assets.

Concern #2: Automated trading systems can cause ETFs to stray far from the value of their underlying holdings, causing markets to break down.

This is based on ETFs’ performance during the “flash crashes” that hit stock markets in May 2010 and August 2015. In both cases, irregularities in the market triggered orders by automated trading systems that caused ETFs to become disconnected from the value of their underlying holdings. Normally, authorized participants can step in and help bring prices back into alignment. In a flash crash, trading halts and the triggering of automated stop-loss orders can combine to make it extremely difficult to accurately price assets—thereby causing trading to break down altogether.

Response #2

Here, the first thing to note is that outside of a few extreme cases, ETFs trading has been very orderly and allowed investors to move in and out of markets with ease. As noted above, ETFs account for decent chunk of the trades conducted on U.S. exchanges. Investors who don’t trade during a flash crash aren’t affected by it.

And the authorities have taken steps to respond to the threat of flash crashes. Regulators, ETF sponsors and exchanges have been working together to make sure markets continue to function in moments of stress. The Securities and Exchange Commission has taken all this under consideration and introduced a system of trading halts to help rein in abnormally erratic markets.

Concern #3: ETFs may be easy to trade, but sometimes the underlying investments aren’t.

The idea is that ETFs’ stock-like liquidity could give investors the false impression that they can “safely” invest in otherwise illiquid or exotic parts of the market. However, price changes in narrow or thin parts of the market can cause ETF prices to swing sharply.

Response #3

ETF liquidity is dependent upon the liquidity of the underlying investment. For example, ETFs focused on large-cap stocks will likely be very liquid because the underlying stocks generally are. Conversely, ETFs focused on niche segments of the markets may not be liquid in periods of stress or extreme supply or demand imbalances.

While it’s true that such ETFs come with specific risks, they might also offer higher returns or exposure to otherwise desirable assets. But it’s worth handling them with care. They can make sense as part of a long-term strategy, but they’re probably not a good choice for short-term investing as it could be hard to sell at a desirable price during a downturn. (You can read more about portfolio liquidity here.)

Best practices

ETFs offer diversification at low cost, which helps explain their growing appeal. We don’t think they’re inherently dangerous. Nevertheless, it can make sense to follow a few rules of thumb when trading them.

  • Avoid trying to sell during a market crisis. Extreme volatility tends to be short-lived, and selling during a panic can lead to losses.
  • Use limit orders. These are orders to buy or sell at a set price (the limit) or better. Specifying the price at which you are willing to buy or sell an ETF does not guarantee execution, but it does protect you from executing a trade at a disagreeable price.
  • Avoid trading when markets open or just before they close. They tend to be more volatile then.

Finally, you can find more ETF-related content here and read more about our thoughts on indexing in our white paper, The Elegance of Indexing.

1Data as of 7/26/2017.

2Fourth Quarter 2016 NYSE ARCA ETF Report.

3Federal Reserve and World Bank data for 2016.

Important Disclosures

Investors should consider carefully information contained in the prospectus, including investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. You can request a prospectus by calling Schwab at 800-435-4000. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Investment returns will fluctuate and are subject to market volatility, so that an investor’s shares, when redeemed or sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Shares are bought and sold at market price, which may be higher or lower than the net asset value (NAV).

Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Examples provided are for illustrative purposes only and not intended to be reflective of results you can expect to achieve.

Fixed income securities are subject to increased loss of principal during periods of rising interest rates. Fixed income investments are subject to various other risks including changes in credit quality, market valuations, liquidity, prepayments, early redemption, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors.

The S&P 500® Index is a market-capitalization weighted index that consists of 500 widely traded stocks chosen for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation.

Smart-beta strategies may be less diversified than other investment strategies. For instance, a smart-beta ETF might be more heavily weighted in a particular sector or geographical region, which would amplify an investor’s losses in the event of trouble in that sector or region.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios® is made available through Charles Schwab and Co., Inc. (“Schwab”) a dually registered investment adviser and broker dealer. Portfolio management services are provided by Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, Inc. (“CSIA”). Schwab and CSIA are affiliates and subsidiaries of The Charles Schwab Corporation.

Please read the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios disclosure brochure for important information.

(0817-7944)

Amazon to cut prices on Whole Foods staples like eggs, beef

FILE – In this May 3, 2017, file photo, customers shop at a Whole Foods Market in Upper Saint Clair, Pa. Amazon is moving swiftly to make big changes at Whole Foods, saying it plans to cut prices on bananas, eggs, salmon, beef and more as soon as it completes its $13.7 billion takeover. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

 

Aug 24, 2017 3:43PM (GMT-07:00)

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon plans to use its deep pockets to make big changes at Whole Foods, saying it will cut prices on bananas, eggs, salmon, beef and more when it completes its $13.7 billion takeover next week.

Helping Whole Foods win back customers who found “good enough” organic and natural products elsewhere — possibly at a lower cost — fits Amazon’s track record of keeping prices low to lock in customer loyalty. Looking ahead, Amazon hopes to give members of its Prime program special savings and other in-store benefits.

It’s an “opening salvo” in the grocery wars, said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, and shares of other supermarkets fell sharply on the news.

“Rivals should be under no illusion that they are now dealing with a competitor that is not afraid to damage profits and margins if it creates long-term gains,” Saunders said in an analyst note.

Among other Whole Foods items getting discounts Monday: avocados, tilapia, baby kale, apples and rotisserie chicken — all organic, Amazon said. The company also said certain Whole Foods products will be available through Amazon.com, AmazonFresh, Prime Pantry and Prime Now.

Amazon’s announcement comes a day after Whole Foods shareholders gave their approval and the Federal Trade Commission said it would not block the purchase. Amazon will pay $42 per Whole Foods share, an 18 percent premium from its price the day before the tie-up was announced June 16. The stock edged up to $41.98 on Thursday.

By buying Whole Foods, Amazon is taking a bold step into brick-and-mortar, with its more than 460 stores and potentially very lucrative data about how shoppers behave offline. The grocery chain, which has fought the “Whole Paycheck” reputation, had been under shareholder pressure to improve results as customers moved on and discount chains like Lidl and Aldi expanded in the U.S.

Whether Amazon will succeed in the fiercely competitive grocery segment is unclear, but customers are going to benefit from the attempt, said Charlie O’Shea, lead retail analyst at Moody’s Investors Service.

“Amazon can come in and price items very low,” he said. “Its shareholders are agnostic about profit, and seem more interested revenue and market share. That’s a competitive advantage.”

Rivals have been scrambling to catch up with the e-commerce giant. Walmart, which has the largest share of the U.S. grocery market, is expanding its grocery delivery service with ride-hailing service Uber and announced Wednesday that it will join forces with Google to let shoppers order goods by voice on Google devices.

But Walmart’s shares were off 2 percent, and shares of other big grocery businesses fell more. The Kroger Co. dropped nearly 8 percent, and Supervalu Inc. fell more than 6 percent. Costco lost 5 percent and Target fell 4 percent.

While Whole Foods accounts for less than 3 percent of U.S. grocery and supermarket sales, the purchase gives Amazon a foothold in a fragile industry that can ill-afford more price cutting.

“Lower prices could be catastrophic for some operators,” said Madeline Hurley, a senior analyst at market research firm IBISWorld. “It could drive them out of the industry.”

On average, she said, supermarkets only squeeze about $1 of profit out of every $100 in revenue.

Hurley said she is not sure how big competitors like Walmart will fare, but that Amazon is showing a determination to shake things up, and fast.

“There was a lot of speculation that Whole Foods might be left as more of an independent entity, at least in the beginning phases of the acquisition,” she said. “This shows that Amazon is taking a very hands-on approach.”

Financial analysts say one challenge for Amazon is how to cut prices and broaden Whole Foods’ appeal without hurting the chain’s image for quality food. It’s a tricky balance that Amazon itself seemed to acknowledge in its statement.

“Everybody should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality — we will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market’s long-held commitment to the highest standards,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of AmazonWorldwide Consumer.

Earlier this month, Amazon sold $16 billion of bonds in order to pay for the purchase. Its shares were down 0.6 percent to $952.45 on Thursday.

Sautéed Wild Alaskan Pollock with Parmesan Crumbs

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Serves 4

All you need is one pan for this easy dinner solution! If you don’t have time to season the bread crumbs yourself, sub in Italian style panko crumbs and omit the parsley. Serve the dish with a green salad or some steamed green beans.

INGREDIENTS

2/3  Cup Panko Bread Crumbs

1/3  Cup Parmesan Cheese (Grated)

3  TBSP Fresh Parsley (Chopped)

Salt & Ground Black Pepper (to taste)

Pinch Cayenne Pepper

3  TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lemon Wedges

4  Fillets Trident Seafoods® Wild Caught Alaskan Pollock Fish Fillets 2.1 lb

DIRECTIONS

(For best results prepare using frozen fillets)

Heat a dry nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add panko bread crumbs; toast, stirring until crumbs are lightly browned.

Transfer toasted bread crumbs to a medium size bowl. Add parmesan, parsley, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.

Wipe out skillet.

Heat skillet to medium high heat and add remaining olive oil. Add Alaskan Pollock fillets and cook 5 minutes. Turn over fillets and heap with crumb mixture. Cover and cook another 3-5 minutes.

Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

 

TRIDENT SEAFOODS® WILD CAUGHT ALASKAN POLLOCK SKILLET CUTS

Wild-caught in the icy waters of Alaska, Alaskan Pollock is one of the most abundant and sustainable seafood species in the world. A cousin to cod and similar in flavor, texture, and appearance, Alaskan Pollock’s lean, snowy-white meat, delicate texture, and mild flavor make it an extremely versatile and healthy seafood choice.

SERVING SUGGESTION

• Stir fried with vegetables and your favorite seasonings
• In pasta with pesto, garlic and basil
• Add to your favorite soup recipe
• As a fish taco or tortilla wrapFast and Easy Tacos
Heat a large skillet to medium high and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add Skillet Cuts to pan and sauté. Stir occasionally for about 2 minutes. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning and ½ cup of water. Mix gently to distribute seasoning evenly. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until fish is opaque and flaky.

PREPARATION AND COOKING

*COOK FROM FROZEN- Thawing is not recommended*

PAN-FRY: Preheat a non-stick pan to medium-high and add oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry for about 5 minutes on each side.

Microwave cooking is not recommended.

Cooking times and temperatures may vary substantially. Internal temperature should be at least 165°F.

FOOD SAFETY

KEEP FROZEN 0°F OR BELOW UNTIL READY TO USE. THAWING IS NOT RECOMMENDED.

Assembly GOP leader steps down amid pressure on climate vote

Republican Assemblymen Chad Mayes, of Yucca Valley, left, and Tom Lackey, of Palmdale, leave an Assembly GOP caucus meeting after Mayes resigned as Assembly Republican Leader, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Mayes is leaving his post after weeks of pressure from his party over his support for major climate change legislation, was replaced by Assemblyman Brian Dahle, of Bieber. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Assembly’s top Republican said Thursday he’ll resign his leadership post, following weeks of party pressure for him to step aside over his vote for major climate change legislation.

Assemblyman Brian Dahle will take over Sept. 15 as the Assembly GOP leader, replacing Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley.

Dahle, a farmer, is a third-term lawmaker from the tiny town of Bieber in one of California’s most northern, rural counties. He voted against the climate bill but did not join in the harsh criticism of Mayes.

Mayes, who at first resisted calls to step down, praised Dahle as a successor who shares his vision for governing.

“His heart and his character and the vision that he has is symbiotic with what I believe as well and so he’ll do a fantastic job,” Mayes said.

Mayes had vowed to withstand pressure to resign after he led a group of seven Assembly Republicans in backing an extension of California’s cap and trade program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by charging polluters.

The California Republican Party’s board took the rare step of calling last week for him to step down.

Critics argued that he delivered Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown a win on the cap and trade legislation while abandoning Republican Party principles. Mayes stood side-by-side with Brown and Democratic leaders at a news conference celebrating the program’s extension.

“The cap and trade vote was not bipartisan, it was capitulation,” said Harmeet Dhillon, a member of the Republican National Committee who circulated a petition calling on Mayes to resign.

Mayes argued it was a good deal for business and would help the Republican Party appeal to a wide swath of California voters. Some Democrats praised him.

“Some of the more extreme elements of the Republican caucus didn’t treat Chad very well,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Los Angeles-area Democrat. “He was always trying to move the state forward. I think that was his first concern whereas I think others were more concerned about their own personal politics.”

Dahle voted against cap and trade and a measure to improve air monitoring. He emerged late Wednesday as a consensus pick that would please Republicans who wanted Mayes gone and would satisfy those who believe Republicans need to have a seat at the table in Sacramento, where they hold a super-minority in both chambers.

Dahle said he will pursue policies that “move California in a direction and make it a place where people want to buy a home and have a career, send their kids to a good school and live the California dream.”

Dahle’s district is one of the most conservative in California. He won the district by roughly 75 percent in the 2016 election.

Dahle said he will aim for Republicans to have a seat at the negotiating table with the Democrats.

He was one of two Republicans to back a bill that spent some cap and trade money on biomass plants, which he said would save jobs. And he co-authored a bill with several Democrats this year to expand broadband internet access in rural areas.

Republicans “hardly ever have an opportunity to be at the table with any type of relevance,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant and aide to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “I think Dahle will be a leader to look for an opportunity to influence policy if he gets that rare chance.”

Still, Stutzman said the drama around Mayes reveals deeper issues for California Republicans. The state party should be spending more time recruiting candidates for statewide office than wading in on legislative leadership battles, he said.

“If this is about winning elections it appears to be a lot of misplaced time and energy,” he said.

__

Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne contributed reporting.

Grilled Wild Alaskan Pollock with BBQ Sauce and Pickled Slaw

Prep Time: 25 Minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

4  Cups Coleslaw Mix (pre-packaged)

1  Cup Onion (Thinly sliced)

3/4  Cup Bread and Butter Pickles (chopped)

1/4  Cup Bread and Butter Pickles Juice

Cooking Spray

Salt & Ground Black Pepper (to taste)

1  TSP Cumin (Ground)

1/4  Cup Mayonnaise

BBQ Sauce

Crispy Fried Onions

Jalapeno Peppers (Chopped)

4  Fillets Trident Seafoods® Wild Caught Alaskan Pollock Fish Fillets 2.1 lb

Directions

(For best results prepare using frozen fillets)

In a large bowl, toss together coleslaw mix, sliced onion, pickles and pickle juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill to medium-high and oil the cooking grates.

Spray fillets with cooking spray and season with salt, pepper and cumin.

Grill Alaskan Pollock Fillets for 5 minutes. Turn and brush with BBQ sauce; cook 2 minutes. Turn and brush again, cook another minute.

Serve with slaw mixture, sprinkled with crispy fried onions and jalapenos.

Fit couples share tips on working out with your swolemate

This undated photo provide by Jamie Hess shows Jamie and George Hess working out together in New York City. It’s tempting to blow off a workout, but getting sweaty with your significant other makes a workout more fun and ups the intensity ante.(Jamie Hess via AP)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — It’s hot and sticky outside, all your friends are at the beach or at brunch. It’s tempting to blow off a workout, but getting sweaty with your significant other definitely ups the fun factor and makes it easier to stick to. We asked some of our favorite swolemates (that’s internet speak for soul mates who like to get swole, as in muscular or swollen, together) about the creative ways they sneak in a workout and how it has improved their relationships.

GIUILIANA AND BILL RANCIC-MAKE IT FUN

The Rancics started working out together 11 years ago when they started dating and have been sweating together ever since. Their Instagram feed is full of cute photos of them water skiing, boating, golfing and carb loading at their restaurants RPM Italian in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Giuliana: “Bill and I recently started playing Pickleball regularly and (we) love it. It’s like tennis meets pingpong and is a great workout and can get very competitive as well. We play it on outdoor courts, which is perfect for us since we both love being out in the sun. We also love to hike together or go to the gym together when the weather isn’t great outside. He’s the best workout partner I could ask for.”

Bill: “Working out as a couple is another way to be together while doing something that is good for you. Even if your workweek is too busy, plan to set aside an hour each weekend to either go to the gym, play a sport or take a hike. At the very least, a walk around the neighborhood is a great way to get some exercise and reconnect.”

CELEB TRAINER ANNA KAISER AND HUSBAND CALL A BABY SITTER, SCHEDULE A WORKOUT DATE

She’s a fitness trainer to stars like Ryan Seacrest, Kelly Ripa and Shakira. Kaiser and her husband, Dr. Carlos Wesley, who are new parents, love to stay active, especially when they travel. They’ve been spelunking in Riviera Maya, hiking through the Amazon rainforest; have paired up for a relay mini-triathlon in Montauk, New York, and created their own running tour of Paris and London.

Carlos: “Last Sunday, my mom came over to watch the baby and we headed into Central Park together for 45 minutes. We created an interval workout that alternated between short runs and a series of four exercises. (Run for seven minutes, then pushups, burpees, side planks, teasers, each exercise performed for one minute, then run for six minutes and perform each exercise for 45 seconds and so on.) I monitored the time and Anna led the workout sections. We had the best time and came back to the apartment better parents than when we left.”

Anna: “We are new parents and we don’t have much time outside of work and baby duties. So it can get frustrating not to get time to focus on ourselves, or one another. Working out not only gets us out of the house, but it helps us get physical together, push ourselves harder than we would if we were solo, and achieve a short-term goal that we have to work toward together. Plus, I think it’s sexy to see him work out and push himself.”

GEORGE AND JAMIE HESS FIND NEW FRIENDS THROUGH FITNESS

Fitness has always been the foundation of the Hess’ relationship. He even proposed on the treadmill at Barry’s Bootcamp class. The couple, who are public relation execs, chronicles their fitness journey to 25,000 Instagram followers through @NYCfitfam as a side gig. They say working out has helped them both lose weight and discover new things. They ran their first 5K three years ago and fell in love. Last year, they ran the NYC Marathon together.

George: “Our date nights are now date days. While most people hire a baby sitter in the evenings, we hire ours on weekend mornings so we can head outdoors and share some fitness time and then grab a quick healthy bite on the way home. It’s so much more gratifying for us than having a “date night” dinner where we eat indulgent food and then regret it when our pants don’t fit the next morning.”

Jamie: “I would recommend finding something you love to do together, like a boot camp or spin class, and then sign up for that a few days a week. Not only does the routine help with consistency, but another cool by-product is making friends as a couple. Now that we have to juggle childcare (meaning they have to trade off mornings at the gym), we set aside time on Sunday nights to go over our schedule for the week to make sure we both get in all the workouts we need. The most important thing is scheduling the workouts and then making them non-negotiable.”

MIKE AIDALA AND CHELSEY KORUS SAY WORKING OUT TOGETHER IMPROVES TRUST AND IMTIMACY

Don’t be intimidated by their crazy impressive moves like one-armed handstands. These stunt masters met on the set of a photo shoot in New York’s Central Park and say they are each other’s toughest trainers and biggest cheerleaders.

Chelsey: “Mike and I love to keep it playful and completely immerse ourselves in the environments we are in. If we happen to be strolling through the woods, we turn it into a free-running obstacle course. A quick dip in the reservoir turns into a long distance swim to the other side. An afternoon in the city turns into a game of ‘can you handstand here?’ Living this way together keeps the moment alive with possibilities, not to mention a great workout.”

Mike: “When we work out together, especially doing high-risk acrobatic trust moves, it requires us to lean on each other’s strength, awareness and flexibility which naturally fosters a closer relationship. She’s my teammate. … The biggest benefits of training with your partner are the mental and emotional gains not the physical ones.”

Fried Garlic Soy Wild Alaskan Pollock

Prep Time: 25 Minutes

Serves 4

Here’s a great excuse to get out the deep fryer: crispy, battered and fried Alaskan Pollock tossed in a two-ingredient sauce. Make sure to use chili garlic sauce, not Sriracha in the dish…. it’s much thicker than sriracha…perfect for coating the fish. Serve the crispy battered Alaskan Pollock fillets with steamed rice and a simple cucumber salad.

1/3  Cup Chili Garlic Sauce

1  TBSP Soy Sauce

3/4  Cup All-Purpose Flour

1/4  Cup Cornstarch

1/4  TSP Baking Powder

1/4  TSP Baking Soda

1/2  TSP Salt

3/4  Cup Seltzer Water

Frying Oil

Sesame Seeds

Scallions (thinly sliced)

4   Fillets Trident Seafoods® Wild Caught Alaskan Pollock Fish Fillets 2.1 lb

Directions

(For best results prepare using frozen fillets)

Cut Pollock Fillets in half.

In a small bowl, combine chili garlic sauce and soy sauce. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, soda powder and salt. Whisk in seltzer water. Set aside.

Heat oil in fryer or large deep pot to 375°F.

Dip Alaskan Pollock fillet halves into batter, letting excess batter drip off. Fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.

Toss fillets in chili sauce mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions; serve.

Walmart joins forces with Google on voice-activated shopping

FILE- In this combo of file photos shows, a Google sign at a store on Aug. 7, 2017, in Hialeah, Fla., bottom, and a Walmart sign on June 1, 2017, in Hialeah Gardens, Fla. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said Wednesday, Aug. 23, that it’s working with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items from laundry detergent to Legos for voice shopping through Google Assistant. The capability will be available in late September. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is diving into voice-activated shopping. But unlike online leader Amazon, it’s not doing it alone.

The world’s largest retailer said Wednesday it’s working with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items from laundry detergent to Legos for voice shopping through Google Assistant. The capability will be available in late September.

It’s Google’s biggest retail partnership — and the most personalized shopping experience it offers — as it tries to broaden the reach of its voice-activated assistant Home speaker. And it underscores Walmart’s drive to compete in an area dominated by Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo device.

“Voice shopping is becoming a more important part of everyday shopping behavior,” said Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce business.

The voice-activated devices are becoming more mainstream as they become more accessible. Even Apple has one coming out this year. Walmart has said Google’s investment in natural language processing and artificial intelligence will help make voice-activated shopping more popular.

And Lore said the personalization of the partnership means people can shout out generic items like milk, bread and cheese, and Google Assistant will know exactly the brands and the size that the user wants.

Google introduced shopping to Home in February, letting people use voice to order essentials from more than 40 retailers like Target and Costco under its Google Express program. But that was far behind the Echo, available since late 2014.

Walmart, which has more stores than any other retailer and the largest share of the U.S. grocery market, is also working hard to close the gulf online between itself and Amazon.

It has overhauled its shipping strategy and is expanding store-curb pickup for groceries ordered online. But it’s also had to look beyond itself and form partnerships. Walmart announced Monday that it’s expanding its grocery delivery service with ride-hailing service Uber, and it’s been testing same-day delivery service with Deliv at Sam’s Club in Miami.

Amazon generally has been building its network of services on its own, using its $99-a-year Prime membership with same-day and even one-hour shipping options to develop loyalty.

It’s also been drawing in customers with its Alexa devices. Amazon doesn’t give sales figures for Echo, but Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated that it’s sold more than 10 million Echo devices in the U.S. since late 2014. That includes the core $179 Echo as well as the less expensive and smaller Echo Dot and the portable Amazon Tap.

To be more competitive with Amazon, Google Express is scrapping the $95-a-year membership starting Wednesday, allowing shoppers to get free delivery within one to three days on orders as long as the purchase is above each store’s minimum.

Walmart is integrating its Easy Reorder feature — which has data on both store and online purchases — into Google Express. Shoppers who want to reorder their favorites have to link their Walmart account to Google Express.

With other Google Express retailers, personalization takes time as the assistant learns shoppers’ preferences, says Brian Elliott, general manager of Google Express. So the quick personalization with Walmart should make voice-activated shopping more attractive, he says.

While one of Walmart’s biggest advantages over Amazon is its massive number of stores, Amazon’s nearly $14 billion offer for Whole Foods could shake up the landscape. Whole Foods shareholders voted Wednesday to approve the Amazon bid.

Walmart says it will be tapping its 4,700 U.S. stores and its fulfillment network next year to offer more kinds of customer experiences using voice shopping. For example, shoppers can tell Google Assistant they want to pick up an order in a store. Lore said the company wants to make voice shopping as easy as possible, and “that’s why it makes sense for us to team up with Google.”

Internet analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali praised the partnership, but believes voice-ordering is still in its nascent stages and not likely to drive a lot of business in the short term.

“I like that Walmart and Google are partnering,” she said. “That is the sort of complementary relationship that Walmart needs to have any hope in winning in online retail.” She believes relatively few people have even tried voice ordering for e-commerce, though, and beyond being early it’s “quite an imperfect experience at that.”

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Follow Anne D’Innocenzio: —http://twitter.com/ADInnocenzio

Financial Planning for the Self-Employed

AUGUST 18, 2017

Entrepreneurs and independent contractors tend to be proactive. However, they can sometimes neglect seemingly mundane administrative tasks—setting up a retirement plan, for example, or getting the right kinds of insurance coverage. Those items may not be passion points, but they’re vital to long-term security.

Being he steward of your own financial fate isn’t easy, but neither is it rocket science. In fact, it boils down to a few basics:

Retirement

Robert G. Aruldoss, a senior research analyst at the Schwab Center for Financial Research, says the self-employed should do the same thing all workers should: Start saving for retirement today. “If you can’t save a lot, save a little,” Robert says. “The most important thing is to save regularly.” (See “Four plans for the self-employed,” below.)

This can be especially challenging if you’re self-employed and have a highly variable income. One solution is to put any windfall you receive—for example, a bonus on a consulting contract or an unexpected tax refund—straight toward retirement. Another approach is to treat your retirement like any other recurring expense: Cut a check for a set amount on the same date each month.

“Employers spend considerable effort helping their employees make forward-thinking financial decisions, like automatically enrolling them in the company 401(k) plan,” Robert says. “When you’re self-employed, it helps to create those kinds of behavioral reinforcements for yourself.”

Independence day

The rate of self-employment rises precipitously with age.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 03/2016.

Insurance

Chris Miller, a financial planner with Schwab’s Wealth Strategies Group, notes that self-employed workers typically buy health insurance because the consequences of not doing so can be so catastrophic. However, they’re less likely to look down the road and consider disability or long-term-care coverage. “The cost of disability insurance varies greatly, depending on your chosen profession,” Chris says. “But while the expense can be quite high for, say, a surgeon, less-lofty policies can be had for far more reasonable rates.”

Depending on your type of work, you may also want to consider general-liability insurance, which protects your business from claims, including personal injury, bodily injury, property damage and other liabilities.

All of this coverage can add up. However, it helps that out-of-pocket health care expenses and premiums—for disability, health, liability, long-term care, and even Medicare and Medigap insurance for self-employed workers 65 and older—are tax-deductible.

Professional support

“I’ve found that those just starting out, in particular, are hesitant about hiring other professionals to help with insurance, retirement and even taxes,” Chris says. “But it’s usually better to put your time into what you know—building your business. Just because you’ve finally hung out your own shingle, doesn’t mean you need to do all the legwork yourself.”

Four plans for the self-employed

Retirement-saving options abound. Which one’s right for you?

Each of the four main possibilities comes with pros and cons regarding contribution limits, tax considerations and employing others. Discuss the finer points with a tax professional before deciding what’s best for your situation.

Individual 401(k)

As the name implies, Individual 401(k)s work much like the 401(k) plans employers offer. The difference, says Robert Aruldoss, a senior research analyst at the Schwab Center for Financial Research, is that the individual is considered both the employer and employee—and can contribute more as a result.. As an employer, you can contribute as much as 25% of your salary. As an employee, you can also put away up to $18,000 a year—plus an additional $6,000 if you’re over age 50 (a so-called catch-up contribution)—for a total tax-advantaged contribution of up to $54,000 a year.

Another benefit is that you can make employee contributions post-tax—as with a Roth 401(k)—so that withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.

Individual 401(k)s are generally best if you’re self-employed and working alone. If you have employees, your own retirement contributions are limited by how much you set aside for your workers.

SIMPLE IRA

The setup and administration of a SIMPLE IRA lives up to its acronym (if not its official name, Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees Individual Retirement Account). This is an easy way for a small-business owner to set up a retirement plan that can be used to match employee contributions dollar for dollar up to 3%. Alternatively, you could make a 2% minimum contribution to each employee earning at least $5,000 a year. A SIMPLE IRA is most appropriate for small businesses with up to 100 employees. That said, employee contribution limits are relatively low ($12,500 a year, plus another $3,000 in catch-up contributions for those age 50 and over); you’re required to make contributions every year; and penalties may be more severe for withdrawals from SIMPLE IRAs before age 59½ than those for 401(k)s or SEP IRAs (see below).1

SEP IRA

A Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Arrangement (SEP IRA) is easy to set up, and the tax-advantaged contribution limit is the lesser of 25% of your earnings or $54,000 a year. You’re not required to contribute to a SEP IRA every year, which can be helpful if you happen to hit a dry patch. However, if you’re using a SEP IRA to provide employees with retirement benefits, only the employer can contribute; there’s no provision for employee contributions.

Personal Defined Benefit Plan

Although somewhat anachronistic, it’s possible to set up a defined benefit pension plan. This option entails higher administrative costs and greater responsibilities, but it can be a boon to older, self-employed workers with a stable cash flow who want to contribute considerable sums toward retirement. You set the benefit you want in retirement—up to $215,000 a year—and then hire an actuary to determine your annual contributions based on age and expected investment returns. Unlike Individual 401(k)s, however, which give the self-employed the flexibility to contribute more in a good year and less in a bad year, a Personal Defined Benefit Plan establishes a set schedule of predetermined contributions, from which you cannot vary.

1Early withdrawals from 401(k)s and SEP IRAs are subject to income tax and a 10% penalty. Early withdrawals from SIMPLE IRAs are also subject to income tax and a 10% penalty—unless the withdrawal is made within the first two years of participation in the plan, in which case the penalty is 25%.

Important Disclosures

This information does not constitute and is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal or investment-planning advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, Schwab recommends consultation with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, financial planner or investment manager.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers are obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, their accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Schwab wealth strategists and financial planners are employees of Schwab Private Client Investment Advisory, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor and an affiliate of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

The Schwab Center for Financial Research is a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

(0817-7JJV)

Lost Your Old 401(k)? Here’s How to Find It

AUGUST 18, 2017

Impossible as it may seem, Americans misplaced $7.76 billion in 2015.1 How? By switching jobs or financial institutions and unwittingly leaving assets behind.

The majority of unclaimed money comes from brokerage, checking and savings accounts, along with annuities, 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts.

Companies are required by law to mail abandoned funds to the owner’s last known address. If they’re returned or the owner can’t be reached, the assets must be relinquished to the state.

The good news is that it’s relatively painless to locate lost funds. Online resources such as missingmoney.com and unclaimed.org allow you to search for assets in any states in which you’ve lived or worked. And if you do find money that’s owed to you, it’s often as easy as filling out a simple online form to get it back.

Darin Bostic and James Koller, two Orlando, Florida-based Schwab financial planners, point out that the best way to keep track of your funds is not to lose them in the first place. “Consolidating similar accounts, such as old and new 401(k)s, can help you keep track of your savings,” says Darin.

“What’s more, consolidation helps ensure your assets are working in harmony toward your long-term goals,” says James. “It’s difficult to follow a comprehensive investment strategy when your money is spread out all over the place.”

The bottom line: Consolidating your accounts can help ensure none of your hard-earned money goes missing.

1National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

Important Disclosures

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers are obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, their accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

This information does not constitute and is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal or investment planning advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, Schwab recommends consultation with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, financial planner or investment manager.

(0817-XGKH)

Grilled Sweet and Spicy Wild Alaskan Pollock

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Serves 4

Here’s a simple topping for tender, grilled Wild Alaskan Pollock…you can use just about any type of jam mixed with mustard and a pinch of dried oregano. Grill the Alaskan Pollock fillets (make sure the grill grates are clean and well oiled) and top with the jam mixture. Done!

Ingredients

1/4  Cup Blackberry Jam

4  TSP Dijon Mustard

1  TSP Oregano (Dried)

1/8  TSP Cayenne Pepper

Cooking Spray

Fresh Cilantro (Chopped)

4  Fillets Trident Seafoods® Wild Caught Alaskan Pollock Fish Fillets 2.1 lb

Directions

(For best results prepare using frozen fillets)

In small bowl, combine jam, mustard, oregano and cayenne. Set aside.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Spray fillet on both sides with cooking spray.

Grill Fillets for 5 minutes. Turn over fillets and brush with jam mixture; cook 2 minutes. Turn fillets and brush again, cook another minute.

Sprinkle fillets with cilantro and serve.

Your personal travel coach: Meet travel blogger Nomadic Matt

This undated photo shows Matt Kepnes on a hike in Iceland. Kepnes is a travel expert known to his fans as the blogger Nomadic Matt. (Matt Kepnes via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Kepnes had a desk job in health care with two weeks’ vacation a year when he took a solo trip to Costa Rica and “fell in love with travel.” The next year he went to Thailand and “met five backpackers who were living my dream.”

“I grew up in an environment where travel wasn’t a thing for my family, it wasn’t a thing for my friends,” he said in an interview for the AP Travel podcast “Get Outta Here .” ”I had always assumed … that travel was expensive. Here were five people proving me wrong.”

He quit his job to travel in 2006 and created the popular Nomadic Matt blog , offering tips on budget travel and what to do in destinations as well as the motivation some of us need to get out there and see the world.

Kepnes spoke frankly about a point in his career when he was “having terrible anxiety and panic attacks.” It came to a head in Argentina. “The guys in the hostel saw me working and said, ‘You want to come get some wine with us?’ I said, ‘No, I gotta work.’ They looked at me and they said, ‘Did you come to Argentina to work or did you come to drink wine?'”

That led him to take a “mental health month” where he realized “the world did not end because I didn’t tweet or update my blog for a couple weeks. Most people were very supportive. They were like, ‘Go! This is why we read your website so we can get travel tips.'”

Here’s more from his interview.

YOUR PERSONAL COACH

“For many people, travel is easy. You just got to go. If you’re like me, you decide on a beach, quit your job to travel. Other people, they need a shove. … They need to know everything is going to work out, it’s going to be OK. For a lot of people even taking a two-week vacation with your family seems like a pipe dream. I want to get people in the right frame of mind and have them say, ‘What can I do today to be one step closer’ (to financing a trip) whether that’s walking rather than Uber, one less Starbucks. Anything you can do today to build that positive momentum, every step you take after that becomes a lot easier. A lot of people need that push. That’s a very big component of what I do. I’m not Lonely Planet that publishes straight-up guides. I’m your personal coach.”

TO TRAVEL CHEAPLY, TRAVEL LIKE YOU LIVE

“We imagine travel to be expensive because we imagine it to be hotels, fancy meals, expensive tours, resorts, cruises, expensive flights. Now is the golden age of flight, so many amazing flight deals going around now. You can fly pretty cheaply. You can get tons of credit-card bonuses, miles and there’s just a lot there.”

“When you’re in a destination, travel like you live. Stay in an Airbnb. Hostels have private rooms. Check for budget hotels. Go to the market for food. Take local transportation. Google free things to do. There’s so much information available on the internet now. It’s really easy to find deals and everything. If you just go travel and do what you do back home, you get into the local rhythm a lot easier.”

HOW HE MAKES A LIVING

“Most of my income comes from writing books. I don’t do sponsored content. I don’t do ads. I started this to become a travel writer. That has always been my goal. I wanted to write guidebooks so I wrote my own guidebooks. I have eight destination guides, a couple of longer-format books on specific subjects and my New York Times best-selling book, ‘How to Travel the World on $50 a Day.’ Besides book writing, the other way I earn a living is people booking their travel through my website. People come to my website to book a flight, book insurance, book a hostel.”

PICKING A DESTINATION

“I go online and look for the latest flight deal and I just kind of go. I travel offseason. … Where haven’t I gone and out of all those destinations, what’s cheapest. That’s where I’m going next.”

___

Listen to the interview with Nomadic Matt in this week’s AP Travel podcast “Get Outta Here!” http://bit.ly/2vfc3hn

Brexodus: UK immigration falls as EU citizens leave Britain

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May tours the bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis in Guildford, England, Wednesday Aug. 23, 2017. The Dennis company has announced 44 million pounds (48 million euro) backing from the UK government to secure overseas orders, including an order for a fleet of buses bound for Mexico. (Jack Taylor / Pool via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Net migration to Britain has fallen to a three-year low as a growing number of European Union citizens have left the country following last year’s Brexit referendum.

Data released Thursday by the Office for National Statistics provides evidence that the uncertainty and economic jitters caused by Britain’s vote to quit the EU are deterring immigrants and sparking a “Brexodus.”

The statistics office said net migration — the difference between arrivals and departures — was 246,000 in the year to March 31, a fall of 81,000 on a year earlier. More than half the change was due to a decline of 51,000 people in net migration from the EU.

A total of 122,000 EU citizens left Britain in the year to March, up 31,000 from the year before and the highest outflow in nearly a decade.

There was a particularly sharp rise in departures from citizens of the “EU 8” — the eastern European nations that joined the bloc in 2004. Hundreds of thousands of Poles, Lithuanians and other eastern Europeans moved to Britain to work after 2004.

EU citizens have the right to live and work in any member state, and more than 3 million nationals of other EU countries reside in Britain.

When Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, it will have the power to set restrictions on the movement of people from the EU, leaving many EU citizens uncertain about their future rights in Britain.

Nicola White, head of international migration figures at the U.K. statistics office, said the figures “indicate that the EU referendum result may be influencing people’s decision to migrate into and out of the U.K., particularly EU and EU8 citizens.”

“It is too early to tell if this is an indication of a long-term trend,” she said.

A fall in the value of the pound since last year’s referendum and a slowdown in the British economy may also be making the country less attractive to migrants. The statistics agency confirmed Thursday that the economy grew by a modest 0.3 percent in the second quarter of 2017 from the previous three months, slower than any other Group of Seven economy.

Pro-EU opposition politicians and business leaders said the decline in migration was an early-warning sign, and Britain would face a shortage of workers if it severely restricted immigration after Brexit.

Matthew Percival, head of employment at the Confederation of British Industry said the loss of “vital skills” should concern everyone in Britain.

But Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government, which has a longstanding and unmet pledge to cut net immigration below 100,000 a year, said the figures were “encouraging.”

“People who come to our country to work bring significant benefits to the U.K., but there is no consent for uncontrolled immigration,” said immigration minister Brandon Lewis.

Eclipse science: From galloping giraffes to solar wisps

Mike Newchurch, left, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and graduate student Paula Tucker prepare a weather balloon before releasing it to perform research during the solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, on the Orchard Dale historical farm near Hopkinsville, Ky. The location, which is in the path of totality, is also at the point of greatest intensity. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — The giraffes ran in circles. The flamingos huddled together. And the rhinos just looked confused.

At the Nashville Zoo, visitors watched and recorded how the animals behaved when the sky turned dark during Monday’s total solar eclipse. And there was plenty to see when the moon slipped in front of the sun.

The only trouble was with 7,000 visitors and lots of noise — drowning out the zoo animals, crickets and cicadas — zookeepers still have to figure whether the strange behavior was from the eclipse or the people there to watch the show.

The zoo project was one of many science experiments planned for the eclipse. Citizen-scientists and their more professional counterparts loaded up on pictures, video, data and just weird experiences as the eclipse’s shadow crossed the United States, especially paying attention to the edges flaring out of the darkened sun.

Telescopes on the ground, a fleet of satellites and astronauts in space watched the eclipse unfold. High-altitude balloons were released across the country, carrying experiments and providing live video.

Now scientists have to figure out what it all means.

“The balloon footage live was fantastic,” said Angela Des Jardins of Montana State University, who headed the balloon project. “You could really see the sunset effect, the shadow come across.”

For the National Solar Observatory’s Citizen CATE project, everyday people were given telescopes and camera equipment and trained to record the eclipse as it moved from Oregon to South Carolina.

“It was really successful,” said Matt Penn, an astronomer who ran the project.

Skies were clear in at least 50 of the 70 sites, including the first and last locations on the coasts, he said. By the end of Monday night, Penn hoped to have a 70-minute movie stitched together.

“We captured the right images of the science that we wanted,” he said.

Astronomers concentrated on the plumes from the sun’s polar region to help understand why the solar wind speeds up so much, Penn said. The sun’s upper atmosphere, called the corona, or crown, was the focus of astronomers’ attention. It’s easier to study when the sun is blocked.

Honor S. Hare, a freshman at the University of Kentucky, was at an elementary school in Adairville, Kentucky, overseeing the observations there.

“It has been a great opportunity and I have learned so much,” she said.

At the Nashville Zoo, the giraffes were the stars. Especially 6-month-old Mazi and 3-year-old Nasha.

“They’re crazy running around,” said Nate Zatezalo, who came from Cleveland, where he volunteers at the zoo there.

During the full eclipse, all four giraffes ran. That’s not unusual for the two juveniles who scamper at twilight after the crowds leave. But the father giraffe, Congo, “usually doesn’t do anything other than being the dad” and is regal and above it all, said zoo volunteer Stephan Foust. But even the above-it-all dad got in on the running during darkness.

Zookeepers reported that before totality the orangutans climbed to the highest heights they’ve ever gone.

Teresa Morehead of Indianapolis came to the zoo to help track the animals on an app called iNaturalist.

She staked out the giraffes and rhinos. The rhinos wandered a bit, seeming to head to bed.

“I was surprised to the see they were running,'” she said, although noting that they seemed more confused than anything.

___

AP video journalist Kristin Hall contributed from Nashville.

US interior chief recommends changes on some protected lands

FILE – In this May 28, 2013, file photo, a hiker walks on a rock formation known as The Wave in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he’s recommending that none of 27 national monuments carved from wilderness and ocean and under review by the Trump administration be eliminated, including the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. (AP Photo/Brian Witte, File)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Thursday he won’t seek to rescind any national monuments carved from the wilderness and oceans by past presidents. But he said he will press for some boundary changes and left open the possibility of allowing drilling, mining or other industries on the sites.

Twenty-seven monuments were put under review in April by President Donald Trump, who has charged that the millions of acres designated for protection by President Barack Obama were part of a “massive federal land grab.”

If Trump adopts Zinke’s recommendations, it could ease some of the worst fears of the president’s opponents, who warned that vast public lands and marine areas could be stripped of federal protection.

But significant reductions in the size of the monuments or changes in what activities are allowed on them could trigger fierce resistance, too, including lawsuits.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Zinke said he is recommending changes to a “handful” of sites, including unspecified boundary adjustments, and suggested some monuments are too large. He would not reveal his recommendations for specific sites but previously said Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument needs to be reduced in size.

The White House said only that it received Zinke’s recommendations and is reviewing them.

Conservationists and tribal leaders responded with alarm and distrust, demanding the full release of Zinke’s recommendations and vowing to challenge attempts to shrink any monuments.

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, called Zinke’s review a pretext for “selling out our public lands and waters” to the oil industry and others.

Jacqueline Savitz, senior vice president of Oceana, which has been pushing for preservation of five marine monuments included in the review, said that simply saying “changes” are coming doesn’t reveal any real information.

“A change can be a small tweak or near annihilation,” Savitz said. “The public has a right to know.”

A tribal coalition that pushed for the creation of the 2,100-square-mile (5,400-sqaure kilometer) Bears Ears monument on sacred tribal land said it is prepared to launch a legal fight against even a slight reduction in its size.

Republican Utah state Rep. Mike Noel, who has pushed to rescind the designation of Bears Ears as a monument, said he could live with a rollback of its boundaries.

He called that a good compromise that would enable continued tourism while still allowing activities that locals have pursued for generations — logging, livestock grazing and oil and gas drilling.

“The eco-tourists basically say, ‘Throw out all the rubes and the locals and get rid of that mentality of grazing and utilizing these public lands for any kind of renewable resource such as timber harvesting and even some mineral production,'” Noel said. “That’s a very selfish attitude.”

Other sites that might see changes include the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument in the Utah desert, consisting of cliffs, canyons, natural arches and archaeological sites, including rock paintings; Katahdin Woods and Waters, 136 square miles (352 square kilometers) of forest of northern Maine; and Cascade Siskiyou, a 156-square-mile (404-square kilometer) region where three mountain ranges converge in Oregon.

The marine monuments encompass more than 340,000 square miles (880,000 square kilometers) and include four sites in the Pacific Ocean and an array of underwater canyons and mountains off New England.

Zinke did not directly answer whether any monuments would be newly opened to energy development, mining and other industries Trump has championed.

But the former Montana congressman said public access for uses such as hunting, fishing or grazing would be maintained or restored. He also spoke of protecting tribal interests.

“There’s an expectation we need to look out 100 years from now to keep the public land experience alive in this country,” Zinke said. “You can protect the monument by keeping public access to traditional uses.”

The recommendations cap an unprecedented four-month review based on a belief that the 1906 Antiquities Act had been misused by presidents to create oversized monuments that hinder energy development, grazing and other uses. The review looked at whether the protected areas should be eliminated, downsized or otherwise altered.

The review raised alarm among conservationists who said protections could be lost for ancient cliff dwellings, towering sequoia trees, deep canyons and ocean habitats.

Zinke previously announced that no changes would be made at six of the 27 monuments under review — in Montana, Colorado, Idaho, California, Arizona and Washington.

In the interview, Zinke struck back against conservationists who had warned of impending mass sell-offs of public lands by the Trump administration.

“I’ve heard this narrative that somehow the land is going to be sold or transferred,” he said. “That narrative is patently false and shameful. The land was public before and it will be public after.”

National monument designations are used to protect land revered for its natural beauty and historical significance. The restrictions aren’t as stringent as those at national parks but can include limits on mining, timber-cutting and recreational activities such as riding off-road vehicles.

The monuments under review were designated by four presidents over the past two decades.

Zinke suggested that the same presidential proclamation process used to create the monuments could be used to enact changes.

Environmental groups contend the Antiquities Act allows presidents to create national monuments but gives only Congress the power to modify them. Mark Squillace, a law professor at the University of Colorado, said he agrees with that view but noted the dispute has never gone before the courts.

Conservative legal scholars have come down on the side of the administration.

No president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have reduced or redrawn the boundaries on 18 occasions, according to the National Park Service.

___

McCombs reported from Salt Lake City. Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker contributed from Washington.

Governor signs law limiting Illinois police on immigration

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner smiles while surrounded by law enforcement officials and immigrant rights activists in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, after signing legislation that will limit how local and state police can cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The narrow measure prohibits police from searching, arresting or detaining someone solely because of immigration status, or because of so-called federal immigration detainers. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois will limit how local and state police can cooperate with federal immigration authorities under a plan signed into law Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a move that puts the first-term Republican at odds with his party on immigration issues.

The narrow measure prohibits police from searching, arresting or detaining someone solely because of immigration status, or because of so-called federal immigration detainers. But local authorities will be able to communicate with immigration agents and hold someone for immigration authorities if there’s a valid criminal warrant, according to the new law.

Rauner acknowledged at the signing — a heavily-attended, festive event in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood — that it was a tough proposal many didn’t want him to support, but he said he was convinced after talking with law enforcement and immigrant leaders.

“This took months and months of difficult negotiations,” Rauner said after a mariachi band performed and top Democrats gave supportive speeches. He said it helps Illinois take another step toward “continuing to be a welcome state.”

Proponents insist the measure falls short of a “sanctuary” law because it leaves the door open to communication and ensures the state complies with federal law. But Republican opponents have tried to characterize it that way, something that comes as President Donald Trump has threatened to crack down on sanctuary cities, which have laws friendly to immigrants living in U.S. without legal permission.

The move places Rauner in a tricky spot as Democrat-heavy Illinois’ first GOP governor in over a decade. He faces re-election next year and will need to shore up support from Republican strongholds outside Chicago.

Rauner said he believed the measure would increase safety and “improve connectivity” between immigrants and law enforcement to make the state safer.

Detainers are requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to law enforcement agencies to hold a suspected deportable immigrant long enough for immigration authorities to pick them up. But federal courts have found the requests aren’t sufficient for local jails to hold someone after bail has been posted or beyond their sentence, with critics raising constitutional and liability questions for jails. California and Connecticut don’t honor them, a practice many counties nationwide already follow.

Trump has called for more links between federal and local authorities to fix a broken immigration system and deport criminals. He’s threatened to withhold public safety funds from sanctuary cities such as Chicago, which has filed a lawsuit in response. In light of his crackdown, Miami-Dade County has reversed a sanctuary policy and Texas beefed up laws to allow police to ask about immigration status on traffic stops and requiring law enforcement to honor detainers or face punishment. However, the Texas law faces a court challenge.

In Illinois the measure was only approved after it was scaled back from an initial proposal that included the creation of “safe zones,” like schools and hospitals where immigration agents wouldn’t be allowed to make arrests.

Law enforcement agents, who attended Monday’s event, said the plan would allow them to focus energy on safety, encourage immigrant victims of crime to come forward and build trust. Tension between the groups was on display briefly during the event as Illinois Sheriff’s Association executive director Greg Sullivan used criminal justice terminology to discuss the “removal of illegal criminal aliens” to the crowd of immigrants and activists. Several interrupted, yelling their preferred term of “undocumented.”

Rauner’s hesitance to back the bill has been obvious. The former businessman has avoided talking about national issues such as immigration, particularly when it comes to Trump. He’s said he favors comprehensive immigration reform, but has not detailed what that means.

This month during his first national television interview on FOX News, he repeatedly declined to discuss Chicago’s lawsuit or sanctuary laws. He pivoted to his ongoing fight over state funding issues with majority Democrats. In response, conservative media outlets such as Breitbart News, blasted Rauner for not denouncing the measure. A Chicago Tribune columnist said Rauner signing the bill “opens a breach on his right political flank.”

Ahead of the signing, Rauner would only say the measure was “reasonable,” prompting groups in support such as the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, which includes high-profile Republicans and CEOs, to boost advocacy.

Backers say the law, reviewed by State Police and the Illinois Attorney’s General office, will help protect immigrants from federal harassment.

“It’s obviously a benefit to an undocumented person to know the police are not going to be putting them under suspicion everywhere they go,” Senate President John Cullerton, a Democratic sponsor of the bill said at the signing. “There are also benefits to law enforcement.”

The law takes effect immediately.

The legislation is SB31

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Antonoff staying mum about Taylor Swift’s target in new song

In this combination photo, music producer Jack Antonoff appears at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 27, 2017, left, and Taylor Swift attends the Vanity Fair Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Feb. 28, 2016. Antonoff is keeping quiet about who Swift is singing about in her new song, “Look What You Made Me Do.” Antonoff co-wrote and co-produced the song that is rumored to be about Kanye West. (Photos by Jordan Strauss, left, and Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Aug 28, 2017 2:17PM (GMT-07:00)

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Look at what you won’t make him do: Producer Jack Antonoff is keeping quiet about who Taylor Swift is singing about in her new song.
Antonoff co-wrote and co-produced “Look What You Made Me Do,” Swift’s upbeat new song that is rumored to be about Kanye West. Some even felt the song’s lyrics referenced former friend Katy Perry.

When asked who Swift is referring to, Antonoff told The Associated Press: “That’s for her to tell you.”

“Look What You Made Me Do” quickly set three records. The song has the most streams in a single day on Spotify with 10,129,087 plays; its official video — which debuted Sunday at the MTV Video Music Awards — broke Adele’s record for highest number of views within 24 hours on Vevo (30 million and counting); and its lyric video was viewed more than 19 million times on its first day.

Antonoff, who is the guitarist in the band fun. and has a one-man band called Bleachers, has worked with Swift numerous times. He produced three songs on her “1989” album, which earned him a Grammy; he co-wrote Swift and Zayn’s hit song, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”; and he shared a Golden Globe nomination with Swift for her 2013 track, “Sweeter than Fiction.”

“I love working with her,” 33-year-old Antonoff said of Swift. “It’s funny, I grew up just only writing my own songs and having bands … (but) between Taylor and Lorde and Carly Rae (Jepsen), I’ve gotten to work with so many brilliant artists lately, and it means a lot.”

Hit songs Antonoff has worked on include Sara Bareilles’ “Brave,” Lorde’s “Green Light” and Rachel Platten’s “Stand By You.”

“You learn a lot from the people you work with,” he said.

With the band fun., Antonoff won the song of the year and best new artist Grammys. In June, he released Bleachers’ sophomore album, “Gone Now.”

Swift’s new album, “reputation,” will drop on Nov. 10.

Bengals LB Burfict suspended 5 games for egregious hit

Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict, top, celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass by Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and scoring a touchdown in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
 
CINCINNATI (AP) — Linebacker Vontaze Burfict missed the first three games last season because of his hit to Antonio Brown’s head in the playoffs. He’ll miss the first five this season thanks to another rattling hit, this time during a preseason game.The NFL has suspended the Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive leader for leveling a Chiefs running back in violation of its player safety rules, the latest in Burfict’s history of egregious hits that have drawn fines and suspensions.

Burfict hit running back Anthony Sherman in the chest this month during a pass play in which he was not the intended receiver, knocking him to the ground. The NFL has been cracking down on such hits as part of its emphasis on player safety.

Burfict was suspended for his hit to Antonio Brown’s head on an incomplete pass during a first-round playoff game in the 2015 season. The resulting personal foul moved the Steelers into field goal range in the closing seconds for an 18-16 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Bengals were off on Monday after returning from a preseason game in Washington. They released a statement defending Burfict in the face of his latest punishment.

“The film shows that the hit was legal, that Vontaze engaged his opponent from the front, and that contact was shoulder-to-chest,” the statement said.

A player doesn’t have to draw a penalty to be fined or suspended by the league, which has cracked down on dangerous hits as part of its effort to protect defenseless players. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy pointed out in an email to The Associated Press that the league’s rulebook bans “unnecessary contact” against players who aren’t in position to defend themselves.

Also, the rules prohibit “unnecessary roughness” against a player who isn’t involved in a play. Sherman was coming out of the backfield but had his back to the quarterback and wasn’t the intended receiver when Burfict leveled him — the pass went down the field.

Burfict could have easily avoided the hit, which knocked Sherman to the ground. The running back was slow to get up but stayed in the game.

The Bengals will open the season with Burfict and cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones suspended. The league suspended Jones one game for his latest arrest and misdemeanor conviction in the offseason.

Burfict and Jones were behind one of the greatest meltdowns in playoff history. Burfict’s hit on Brown moved the Steelers into field goal range, and Jones bumped an official during the ensuing on-field disagreement, drawing another penalty that turned it into a 26-yard kick with 14 seconds left.

The meltdown made it five straight seasons that the Bengals reached the playoffs and lost in the opening round, an NFL record. They’re without a playoff win since 1990, the sixth longest streak of postseason futility in league history. They went 6-9-1 last season and failed to reach the playoffs.

Bengals owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis have staunchly defending Burfict during his six seasons in Cincinnati, even as his fines and suspensions piled up. The team said in its statement that it will support Burfict through his appeals process for the latest penalty.

During the team’s annual preseason media luncheon last month, Brown expressed admiration for not only Jones but Burfict as well.

“He’s had these things that got him suspended on-field,” Brown said of the linebacker. “He has suffered from that. We have, too. We don’t want it. He knows that. He’s grown up, too. He’s a heck of a player, but he has to toe the line and he’s been asked to do that.”

Burfict had an interception return for a touchdown during Cincinnati’s 23-17 preseason loss at Washington on Sunday. He picked off Kirk Cousins’ pass and stiff-armed the quarterback to get into the end zone, then jumped into the stands.

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For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

NYC hikes price of pack of cigarettes to $13, highest in US

Cigarettes are displayed on a shelf, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in New York. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign legislation raising the legal minimum price for a pack of cigarettes to $13. The hike from $10.50 further cements the city’s claim on having among the most expensive cigarettes in the country. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Aug 28, 2017 2:33PM (GMT-07:00)

 
NEW YORK (AP) — The price of a pack of cigarettes in New York City is going up — to at least $13 — and the number of places you can buy them is going down under legislation signed Monday by the mayor.
The new minimum price law, which takes effect on June 1, will make New York the most expensive place in the U.S. to buy cigarettes, Health Department officials said.

“We are sending a loud and clear message that we will not let their greed kill any more New Yorkers without a fight,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a bill signing ceremony at a Brooklyn hospital. “These new laws will not only help reduce the number of smokers in our city, but also save lives.”

Currently, the minimum allowed price per pack is $10.50.

The planned price hike is one of seven bills the Democratic mayor signed Monday aimed at pressuring the city’s 900,000 estimated smokers to quit.

Another new rule will reduce by half the number of retailers licensed to sell tobacco products. About 8,300 businesses now have a license. The numbers will be reduced through attrition, officials said. Philadelphia and San Francisco have similar licensing restrictions.

Other laws will ban the sale of all tobacco products in pharmacies, require licensing of e-cigarette retailers and require all residential buildings to have smoking policies that are given to all current and prospective tenants. Some residential buildings will be required to ban smoking in common areas like hallways.

New York began a regulatory war on smoking under the previous mayor, Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent. The city has long subscribed to a theory that driving up prices, either through high taxes or by setting price minimums, causes people to either give up smoking or not start.

Smoking rates in the city have declined from 21.5 percent in 2002 to about 14.3 in 2015. City health officials said they believed the new restrictions could decrease the rate to 12 percent by 2020.

Opponents of the price increase say it may push many smokers into buying untaxed, unregulated cigarettes on the black market.

So-called butt-leggers already evade taxes and price minimums on a widespread scale by hauling in cases from low-cost states like Virginia and North Carolina, or even from elsewhere in New York.

“These measures will destroy the business investment of retailers who have been leading the effort to prevent youth access to tobacco products, and the result will be lost revenue, lost jobs and an increasing number of sales in unregulated and illegal settings,” Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, said after the legislation passed earlier this month.

He said no decision has been made by his organization, which is part of a national trade group representing convenience stores, on whether to challenge the legislation in the courts.

A spokeswoman for RAI Services Company, a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., said the company agrees with the mayor’s desire to curb youth tobacco usage.

“However, there should be concern that this ordinance will most likely only further exacerbate the illicit trade of cigarettes in New York City, which already has the highest percentage of contraband cigarettes in the country,” said Brittany Adams.

Ann Boonn, director of research at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, noted that New York City’s current $10.50 minimum price doesn’t prevent some retailers from selling packs at more than that. She noted a Chicago ordinance setting an $11.50 per pack minimum on cigarettes is on hold pending litigation.

Also, she said some states require a minimum markup on cigarettes based on a percentage of the base price set by manufacturers and wholesalers, which in some cases already puts those prices at more than $11.50 a pack.

Lawyer says Trump Tower in Russia considered during campaign

FILE – In this Dec. 16, 2016 file photo, Michael Cohen, an attorney for Donald Trump, arrives in Trump Tower in New York. Cohen acknowledged Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, that the president’s company considered building a Trump Tower in Moscow during the Republican primary, but that the plan was abandoned “for a variety of business reasons.” He said that at one point he reached out to the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin about approvals from the Russian government. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Aug 28, 2017 3:31PM (GMT-07:00)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s personal lawyer confirmed Monday that the president’s company pursued a project in Moscow during the Republican primary, but said that the plan was abandoned “for a variety of business reasons.” The attorney, Michael Cohen, also said he sent an email to the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of the potential deal.
The confirmation that the Trump Organization was actively considering doing business in Russia during the presidential election could provide special counsel Robert Mueller fodder for probing Trump’s personal and business finances, a line Trump has warned him not to cross.Cohen disclosed details of the deal in a statement to the House intelligence committee, which like Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Associated Press obtained the statement Monday.

In the statement, Cohen said that he worked on the real estate proposal with Felix Sater, a Russia-born associate who he said claimed to have deep connections in Moscow.

The discussions about the potential development occurred in the fall of 2015, months after Trump had declared his candidacy, and ended early last year when Cohen determined that the project was not feasible, according to a copy of Cohen’s statement obtained by The Associated Press. Cohen also disclosed that Trump was personally aware of the deal, signing a letter of intent and discussing it with Cohen on two other occasions.

In a statement, the Trump Organization emphasized that the licensing deal “was not significantly advanced,” noting that no site or financing materialized during the negotiations. The company also said it was never paid any fees as part of the deal, and the signed letter of intent was nonbinding.

“To be clear, the Trump Organization has never had any real estate holdings or interests in Russia,” the company said.

The negotiations of the possible Trump Tower Moscow deal were first reported Sunday night by The Washington Post. On Monday, The New York Times reported on an email in which Sater appeared to boast that the real estate deal could help Trump get elected. Sater did not respond to a request for comment from the AP on Monday.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in an email, according to the Times. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”

He also said in another email about a possible ribbon-cutting: “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.”

In the two-page statement obtained by the AP, Cohen said he emailed Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, after Sater suggested that “the proposal would require approvals within the Russian government that had not been issued.” Cohen said he did not recall any response to his email, or any other contacts with Peskov or other Russian government officials about the project.

Cohen portrayed the proposal as one of “countless” that the Trump Organization has received for developments around the world, noting that Trump had properties and developments in about a dozen different countries.

The project, Cohen said, first came to his attention in September 2015 when he received a proposal for a “Trump Tower Moscow” that would house a luxury hotel, office spaces and condominiums.

Cohen said he “performed some initial due diligence” to determine whether it was a good fit for the Trump Organization, and Trump ultimately signed a nonbinding letter of intent with a Moscow-based developer, I.C. Expert Investment Co., on Oct. 28, 2015.

After the signing of the letter, Cohen said the Trump Organization sought building designs from architects and held “preliminary discussions regarding potential financing” for the building.

Cohen said he also communicated extensively with Sater, who was brokering the deal and stood to receive payment from the Russian developer if it came to fruition.

Sater was a former real estate executive at Bayrock Group LLC, a development company that leased space in Trump Tower and also partnered with him on various deals. Sater was previously convicted of assault in 1993 for stabbing a man in the face with a broken margarita glass. He later became a government informant upon his conviction years later in a $40 million Mafia stock fraud scheme.

A judge is reviewing requests by news organizations and others to unseal court records detailing his cooperation on behalf of the government in what prosecutors have described as national security matters. Federal prosecutors have opposed disclosing such information, arguing doing so could jeopardize investigations and put lives at risk.

In his statement, Cohen downplayed the comments Sater made in email correspondence about the Trump Tower Moscow deal.

“Over the course of my business dealings with Mr. Sater, he has sometimes used colorful language and has been prone to ‘salesmanship’,” Cohen said. “As a result, I did not feel that it was necessary to routinely apprise others within the Trump Organization of communications that Mr. Sater sent only to me.”

Cohen said that Sater “constantly” invited him to travel to Moscow and encouraged him to bring Trump. But Cohen said he rebuffed the overtures. He said he has never traveled to Russia, and never considered asking Trump to go to Russia, which he said he only would have encouraged if there was a “definitive agreement in place.”

Cohen said the proposal, which was contingent upon the developer finding an appropriate property and getting necessary permits, was under consideration until the end of January 2016. At that point, he said that he determined the “proposal was not feasible for a variety of business reasons and should not be pursued further.”

He said neither the decision to pursue the development nor the decision to abandon it were related to Trump’s presidential campaign.

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Associated Press writers Stephen Braun and Jake Pearson in New York contributed to this report.

Gov’t probe: Abuse in nursing homes unreported despite law

NURSING HOME ABUSE 082817: Map shows nursing home abuse cases by state; 2c x 3 inches; with BC-US–Nursing Home Abuse; JEM; ETA 7 a.m. Editor’s Note: It is mandatory to include all sources that accompany this graphic when repurposing or editing it for publication SOURCE: Department of Health and Human Services

Aug 28, 2017 11:10AM (GMT-07:00)

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 1 in 4 cases of possible sexual and physical abuse against nursing home patients apparently went unreported to police, says a government audit that faults Medicare for failing to enforce a federal law requiring immediate notification.

The Health and Human Services inspector general’s office issued an “early alert” Monday on preliminary findings from a large sampling of cases in 33 states. The results were sufficiently alarming that investigators say corrective action is needed now.

“We hope that we can stop this from happening to anybody else,” said Curtis Roy, an audit manager with the inspector general’s office, which investigates fraud, waste and abuse in the health care system. The audit is part of a larger ongoing probe, and additional findings are expected.

With some 1.4 million people living in U.S. nursing homes, quality is an ongoing concern. Despite greater awareness, egregious incidents still occur.

In a statement, Medicare emphasized that nursing home safety is a high priority, but said it will await a complete report before announcing a response. That didn’t impress Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who said he will push for Medicare to take immediate action.

“A crime is a crime wherever it takes place,” Grassley said in a statement. “It’s unacceptable for more than one-fourth of potential crimes in nursing homes to apparently go unreported.”

Of the unreported cases, about 4 out of 5 involved alleged or suspected rape or sexual abuse.

The inspector general urged Medicare to systematically scour computerized billing records for tell-tale signs of possible abuse of nursing home residents. Investigators used that approach to find the cases, matching hospital emergency room and nursing home records.

Auditors identified 134 cases in which emergency room records indicated possible sexual or physical abuse, or neglect. The incidents spanned a two-year period from 2015-2016.

Illinois had the largest number of incidents overall, with 17. It was followed by Michigan (13), Texas (9), and California (8).

In 38 of the total cases (28 percent), investigators could find no evidence in hospital records that the incident had been reported to local law enforcement, despite a federal law requiring prompt reporting by nursing homes, as well as similar state and local requirements.

The federal statute has been on the books more than five years, but investigators found that Medicare has not enforced its requirement to report incidents to police and other agencies, or risk fines of up to $300,000.

Nursing home personnel must immediately report incidents that involve a suspected crime, within a two-hour window if there’s serious bodily injury. Otherwise, authorities must be notified within 24 hours.

Medicare “has inadequate procedures to ensure that incidents of potential abuse or neglect of Medicare beneficiaries residing in (nursing homes) are identified and reported,” the inspector general’s report said. Medicare responded it has long required immediate reporting, but to state inspectors.

Even among the 96 cases that were ultimately reported to police departments, investigators were unable to tell if the federal requirement for “immediate” notification was followed.

In one case classified as “reported to law enforcement,” an elderly woman with verbal and mobility limitations was taken to the emergency room after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a male resident of the same nursing home. The report said two silver-dollar-sized bruises were noted on her right breast.

Nursing home staff had helped the woman bathe and change clothes after the incident. “These actions could have destroyed any evidence that may have been detected using the rape kit,” said the report.

Nursing home employees did not immediately report the incident to police, although the federal reporting requirement was in effect. The nursing home “should have reported the incident to law enforcement within two hours of witnessing the incident,” the report said.

Instead, the following day the nursing home contacted the woman’s family, who called the police, triggering an investigation.

Citing a separate probe by state officials, the inspector general’s report said the nursing home “contacted local law enforcement in an attempt to keep law enforcement from investigating the incident.”

The state’s own report found that the nursing home told police “we were required to report it but that we were doing our own internal investigation and did not need (police) to make a site visit…no one was interested in pressing charges.” The police continued their investigation.

The state later cited the nursing home for failing to immediately notify the patient’s doctor and family, as well as other violations of federal regulations. But state inspectors classified the incident as resulting in “minimum harm or potential for actual harm.”

No other details were provided in the federal report. The inspector general’s office reported all 134 cases to local police.

The number of nursing home residents is expected to grow in coming years as more people live into their 80s and 90s. Medicaid is the main payer for long-term care, while Medicare covers doctors’ services and hospital care for elderly people and the disabled.

In a statement, the nursing home industry trade group said its members know they must immediately report alleged abuse. The American Health Care Association said it will work with the government to ensure safety.

California seeks to boost electric-car rebate program

This April 25, 2016, photo shows an electric Fiat plugged into a charging station in a parking lot in Los Angeles. California could spend up to $3 billion under a bill that would widely expand its consumer rebate program for zero-emission vehicles. The Legislature is pushing forward a bill that could lift rebates from $2,500 to $10,000 or more for a compact electric car. Current rebates have done little to boost sales. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Aug 28, 2017 1:23PM (GMT-07:00)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California would spend up to $3 billion under a bill to widely expand its fledgling consumer rebate program for zero-emission vehicles.

The state has already spent nearly $450 million in subsidies, but the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/2xC52Ij ) that so far, the rebates haven’t boosted sales much. In 2016, of the just over 2 million cars sold in the state, only 75,000 were pure-electric and plug-in hybrid cars. To date, out of 26 million cars and light trucks registered in California, just 315,000 are electric or plug-in hybrids.

Now the Legislature is pushing forward a bill that would lift rebates from $2,500 to $10,000 or more for a compact electric car. That could, for example, make a Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car cost the same as a gasoline-driven Honda Civic.

Already approved by several Senate and Assembly committees, the bill will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for his approval or veto if the full Legislature approves it by the end of its current session on Sept. 15.

California aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to a level 40 percent below what they were in 1990.

“If we want to hit our goals, we’re going to have to do something about transportation,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, sponsor of Assembly Bill 1184.

Without a dramatic boost in subsidies, Ting said, the state risks falling short of Brown’s goal of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California highways by 2025, and the California Air Resources Board’s goal of 4 million by 2030.

The bill is opposed by Republicans averse to taxpayer subsidies, the Times reported Saturday.

Outside observers and analysts raise eyebrows at the $3 billion budget line. Supporters say the money will come mainly from the state’s cap-and-trade auction revenue, although they are vague on details. Other legislators, including Senate leader Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, are putting in their own bids for cap-and-trade revenue that overlap with Ting’s.

“There are a lot of claims on that money,” said Severin Borenstein, an energy markets expert at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Also left vague is the rebate amount to be applied to each vehicle, the newspaper said. The bill passes that decision to the air resources board. It directs the board to use state rebate money so the consumer needn’t pay more for an electric compact car than a similar gasoline-powered compact car.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/