South Dakota v Wayfair Has Far Reaching Implications For Online Retailers

The South Dakota v Wayfair decision will have a major impact on small online retailers. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with South Dakota, which sued Internet retailer Wayfair, along with six other online retailers, for not collecting a 4.5 percent sales tax. While Wayfair didn’t have a presence in the state, it made at least 200 sales to residents. South Dakota also wants out-of-state online retailers to collect sales tax if they make at least $100,000 in sales, regardless of the number of orders.

Previous Supreme Court decisions, such as Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, said states couldn’t collect sales tax if the online retailer didn’t have a physical presenter in the state. Quill Corp. v. North Dakota was decided in the early 1990s; Internet sales have skyrocket since then. Brick and mortar retailer have to collect sales tax so many people are turning to online retailers to avoid paying sales tax on big-ticket items.

According to, smaller online retailers now have to understand and comply with each state’s laws about collecting sales tax, besides keeping up with any rapid changes in the laws. Large retailers typically already have the resources to do this, but the compliance burden on small online companies is enormous. Unless the federal government creates a uniform law for all fifty states, it will force small online retailers to spend more on compliance, which will decrease their ability to compete with major brands online.

An e-commerce seller could end up with a large tax bill if they don’t keep track of sales tax laws across the country. For unprepared website owners, this could be a disaster. States can go back years to collect from website owners who should have been collecting sales tax from residents, but didn’t do so. Tack on interest and penalties, the website owner could face a hefty bill.

TSA Is Now Allowing All CBD Products That Are In Farm Bill Compliance On Airplanes

In 2014, the United States Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill. Among other things, the 2014 Farm Bill made it legal to sell hemp, or cannabis that contains less than 0.3 percent THC in terms of dry weight, inside the states that were a part of the Hemp Pilot Program.

Four years later, in 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which contained – in part – clauses that made it legal for businesses and individuals to engage in the sale or distribution of products derived from hemp in an interstate commercial fashion. Now, across much of the United States, stores selling hemp have popped up out of seemingly nowhere.

Before the 2018 Farm Bill, over half of the states in the nation had already legalized cannabis for either medical or recreational use. Having access to cannabis, even though it’s not the same as traditional pot – the kind that gets you high – in states that do not recognize cannabis as being legal is certainly better than nothing and gives people the hope that cannabis legalization may soon come to their states.

For the past few months, people flying within the United States have been confused about whether they can carry cannabis if it’s legal in their state of departure, if they have a prescription for medical-use cannabis, and tons of other situations.

Fortunately, the United States Transportation Security Administration, also known as the TSA, released a few new guidelines regarding flying with cannabis in one’s possession.

According to NBC News, the guidelines effectively make CBD, or cannabidiol, that is derived from hemp legal to fly with, at least in general. People will be able to fly with medicines that contain CBD, though they have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. People can also fly with CBD-heavy cannabis products that are derived from hemp.

The reason why the Transportation Security Administration decided to change its guidelines regarding cannabis is because of widespread confusion about whether the drug Epidiolex, a drug that is often used to treat epilepsy in children that have been approved by the FDA, is legal to fly with or not.

To put it simply, everybody in the United States who wants to fly within the nation are allowed to bring hemp products that are compliant with the 2018 Farm Bill with them on flights. Cannabis that has more than 0.3 percent THC by dried weight is not legal to fly with – the TSA will bust you if they find it.

Nestle is Facing a Lawsuit for Supplying Counterfeit Water

Judge Jeffrey Alker recently rejected Nestle Water North America’s proposition to dismiss a lawsuit that has been revised. The judge claimed that Nestle Waters had defrauded its loyal client base. Allegedly, the company filled bottles of Poland Spring water which is its main brand, with groundwater. The federal judge reiterated that clients might pursue claims regarding Nestle Waters North America’s deception into overpaying for a substandard brand.

The experienced judge allowed consumers from New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts to present their claims. He added that federal law stalled claims from consumers in Vermont. Nestle Waters has since insisted that there wasn’t fraud. The water it produced met the state federal requirements. The earlier of the lawsuit was dismissed in May.

Regarding its consumer’s claims, Nestle Waters’ spokesperson insisted that they would remain confident about their legal position. The company holds that it will defend Poland Spring brand against the meritless lawsuit adding that the water is harvested from a natural spring valley making it 100 percent spring water.

Different attorneys representing the plaintiffs didn’t comment about the issue. According to the consumer’s complaint, the water supplier sells about 1 billion gallons of Poland Spring annually. Research indicates that not a drop of this water comes from its advertised source. The actual water source is neither genuine nor legal. It’s also not from natural spring.

The authentic Poland Spring is situated in Maine. It ran dry about 40 years ago. According to the complaint, Nestle Water is claiming this non-operational water source to be the primary source of its brand. Earlier on, Meyer dismissed the case while stating that the consumers were attempting to enforce policies for spring water. The move pre-empted their claims.

In his final decision, Meyer concluded that the plaintiffs would try to prove that Poland Spring water didn’t meet the state’s requirements for consumption standards but that it met specific spring water standards. This would imply that the brand mirrored the federal requirements.

Fox Ordered to Pay $178 Million to ‘Bones’ Creative Team

The history of show business is filled with stories of large companies ripping off performers and not paying them their fair share of the proceeds. Fox was accused of doing that by the stars and producers of the crime drama ‘Bones’ that ran on Fox for 12 years. The show was a monster hit and is now syndicated around the world. The people who made the show a success felt that they were not seeing their fair share of the literally millions of dollars that the show generated and continues to generate.

The dispute was brought before an arbitrator. This is not a court setting. Therefore, arbitration cases are kept private and away from the scrutiny of the public and the media. However, the outcome of this particular arbitration case has surprised everyone. It has sent shock waves through the show business community. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered Fox to pay a total of $178 million. There was a $50 million ruling of damages. This is not being disputed. However, there was also a massive $128 million ruling for punitive damages. This amount was so big that Fox has decided to fight it in court. The decision to go to court has made the case a matter of public record. This has allowed the media to get their hands on all of the details of the arbitration case.

The arbitrator said that he believed a pair of Fox executives had lied when they were under oath when they were being questioned for the case. He also said that Fox had kept tens of millions of dollars that should have been divided among the producers and stars of the show. The ruling might encourage the creative teams of other hit shows to file legal action against the networks that aired their shows. Old shows can be worth a lot of money. Netflix famously paid $100 million to keep the rights for ‘Friends’ for just one more year. Therefore, it makes sense that producers and stars of hit shows would want to get the cash they are owed.

Fox has vowed to fight the $128 million punitive damages ruling vigorously when the case goes to court. It is scheduled to begin in late April. However, it is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. The wheels of justice turn very slowly. Fox has the money to keep this case going a long time.


Protecting Your Rights Through the SEC Whistleblower Program

If you know of a company or corporation that is in violation of federal security laws, you have a chance to collect between 10 and 30 percent of the total fines if you give information to the government that leads to legal action. Many people are interested in collecting the reward but have a range of questions they would like for someone to answer.

Moving forward and reporting a company for violating these laws can feel intimidating, especially if you fear retaliation. Learning as much as you can about the SEC whistleblower system and how it can protect you is smart. It lets you move forward with confidence and know what to expect along the way.

SEC Whistleblower Explained

Learning about the SEC whistleblower program is a good place to start when your goal is to decide what path makes sense for you. The information in this section paints a clear picture, and you will have no trouble deciding what to do. Implemented by Congress, the whistleblower system exists to reward those who report violations of federal security laws.

The system also defines who is eligible to collect compensation and what the information must contain before the whistleblower can receive payment. Under the SEC whistleblower program, regulations list the legal penalties an employer can face for trying to discourage someone from reporting violations. The system has stipulations in place that highlight the penalties an employer can face for retaliating against an employee for giving information to the government.

Whistleblower Eligibility

At this point, you are likely wondering who qualifies as a whistleblower under the SEC. Reviewing this guide helps you understand when you qualify and when you can expect compensation for your report. What you are about to learn also helps you decide what you should do to increase your odds of filing a successful report. As long as you supply the SEC with relevant information about a violation, you are a whistleblower.

Before you can get paid, the information you provide must lead to legal action against the company that committed the violation. Some people think any relevant tip about a violation can earn them a part of the reward, but that is not the case. The information you offer must be new, meaning you have to tell the SEC something they did not already know. If you work for a company and know about security violations, taking action could be the best choice you ever make.

Reportable Actions

If you are like other people, you are curious about the types of violations that qualify under the SEC whistleblower program. Reviewing the types of fraud covered by the system is a great way to learn what path you should take, preventing you from wasting time on issues that are unlikely to generate attention. Also, you could discover that actions you would have otherwise overlooked fall within the definition.

The SEC welcomes reports about Ponzi and pyramid schemes, and you are free to report the theft of securities. If a company manipulates the price of a security or engages in insider trading, the people in charge of the SEC would like to know about it. Companies that release misleading information about their securities are also a target of the SEC. You can report anyone who tries bribing foreign officials in an attempt to alter the value of securities.

Rewards and Compensation

If you have submitted information that led to action by the SEC, you need to know how to collect your reward. You would otherwise lose your shot at collecting the money to which you are entitled, and you don’t want to face that problem. You must fill out the application form and mail it to the office of the whistleblower to get your money. Some people try rushing through the process to finish it as quickly as possible.

If you don’t want to lose your opportunity to collect a reward, don’t make that mistake. Take your time and ensure you complete each part of the form the right way. As long as you take your time and review the report before submitting it, you will have nothing about which to worry.

Protection From Retaliation

Employees will often want to report a violation but refuse because they fear retaliation. They are worried that the company for which they work will fire, demote or harass them for coming forward, which is a valid concern. But you should know that the SEC whistleblower system has put protective measures in place to safeguard you from that issue.

You can take legal action and seek damages if your employer retaliates against you for reporting information to the SEC. In addition to preventing retaliation, the SEC also stops employers from discouraging staff members from filing complaints. If you believe the company for which you work is trying to stop you from reporting a violation, you can contact the Department of Labor for more information.

Collecting Evidence of Retaliation

You need to know what steps you should take after filing a report if you would like to avoid retaliation. Proving retaliation is not always easy, but you can do it if you use a proven process and maintain your composure. Check the laws in your state to see if you are allowed to record audio at work or over the phone without informing the other person.

If you are, you can use audio recordings as evidence of retaliation. Make a note of the dates and times of any retaliation as well as any witnesses who were present at the time. You can even hire a private investigator to review your case and help you collect the evidence you need to protect your rights. A skilled investigator will gather information from out of sight and do what it takes to reveal the truth, and you will increase your chance of success.

Why the Government Started the Whistleblower System

You are probably asking why the government implemented the SEC whistleblower system in the first place. The aim is to ensure fair trading practices and to let investors know what they are buying before they move forward. Fraud related to securities can devastate corporations and impact the economy in ways most people don’t suspect.

As a result of the possible fallout, preventing security fraud benefits the public and maintains a balanced economy, creating a win-win situation. The SEC whistleblower program protects those who report fraud from retaliation, allowing them to come forward with peace of mind.

The Benefits of Remaining Anonymous

Remaining anonymous gives those who report fraud a range of fantastic benefits. Even though the law prohibits employers from retaliating against those who report crimes to the SEC, avoiding negative fallout is often the most desirable path.

Remaining anonymous gives you the chance to do the right thing and collect your reward without anyone knowing what you did. If you would like to file an anonymous report, you must do so with the help of an attorney. Your attorney will submit the report and pass your reward on to you, and the SEC won’t even know who you are.

Confidentiality Agreement Exceptions

If you report fraud or a related offense to your company’s human resource department, they might ask you to sign a confidentiality agreement. Some companies even require employees to sign such agreements at the start of their employment, and management will claim the agreement stops employees from reporting SEC violations.

Luckily, confidentiality agreements that try stopping employees from contacting the SEC are not valid, and those who have signed them can still come forward with information. You can call the SEC for more details if you have signed such an agreement and want more information on how to proceed.

No legal contract can stop you from bringing fraud to the attention of the government, so you can still follow steps to claim your reward as long as you have relevant details. This exception exists to prevent companies from taking advantage of confidentiality agreements as a way to hide illegal actions from the government.

The Importance of Working with an Experienced Lawyer

You might think moving forward on your own is enough to get the outcome you want, but that is not always the wise choice. Having an attorney on your side is the best bet when you want to improve your odds of success and protect yourself from retaliation.

Your advocate can give you SEC tips and show you what steps are right for your goals and current situation. The legal expert you hire will protect your rights and keep your interests in mind from start to finish, and you will be pleased with your decision. You and your legal advisor can work together to find the best way to reach your desired outcome.

Final Thoughts

The government implemented the SEC whistleblower program to give employees the chance to report fraud and other financial crimes without fear of retaliation. Those who provide accurate information that leads to action by the SEC can get up to 30 percent of the damages recovered.

Although the government provides information and offers protection, those who want to enjoy the best results must speak with a qualified legal representative before moving forward. If you have facts about a crime you would like to report, reach out to a caring legal expert the first chance you get, and you will be happy with the outcome.

Trump And China Agree To A Trade Ceasefire

Trump didn’t hold a press conference at the G20 Summit on Saturday out of respect for the passing of George H. W. Bush. But the news that Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping decided to give each other a little trade slack did hit the press on Sunday morning. Mr. Trump said he wouldn’t impose a 25 percent tariff on the remaining $200 billion in Chinese exports that currently have a 10 percent tariff status. And the Chinese president said China would buy more from the United States to reduce the gap in trade.

The trade ceasefire will help shaky financial markets be a little less shaky, according to the New York Times. But even though Trump calls the truce a win, it’s more like a pause in the battle. Trump didn’t hold a press conference at the G20 Summit on Saturday out of respect for the passing of George H. W. Bush. But the news that Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping decided to give each other a little trade slack did hit the press on Sunday morning. Mr. Trump said he wouldn’t impose a 25 percent tariff on the remaining $200 billion in Chinese exports that currently have a 10 percent tariff status. And the Chinese president said China would buy more from the United States to reduce the gap in trade.

Both sides agreed to finalize their differences in 90 days. If China doesn’t give in to Trump’s request to change their trade policy, Trump will change the duty rate on all Chinese good to 25 percent. The Chinese products that already have a 25 percent duty rate are products found in other consumer products so middlemen and wholesalers took the tariff punch for that merchandise. They absorbed the cost of the additional duty. But if Trump doesn’t get his way, the other $200 billion in Chinese merchandise like clothing, toys, and shoes will directly impact American consumers.

Wang Yi, China’s Foreign Trade Minister said China would expand U.S. imports, but only if those imports met the demand of Chinese consumers. In other words, China might import more goods from the United States if Chinese consumers want them.

Some news reports say the trade ceasefire reminds them of the deal Trump has with North Korea. Trump called his meeting with Kim Jon Un, North Korea’s leader, a win for the American people by averting a nuclear showdown with Kim. But North Korea hasn’t stopped working on their nuclear program. The only thing North Korea did was try to mend fences with South Korea. And Trump didn’t play a role in that reunion.

The G20 Summit did help Trump get away from the alligators swimming in the Washington swamp. And it helped the other 19 G20 members do what they had to do to reinforce their commitment to the Paris Climate Accord and other joint projects. Trump wasn’t his normal destructive self at the meeting. He didn’t intentionally try to irritate German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But he did have a short meeting with Russian President Putin. The topic of that meeting is still a mystery.

cean Spray Involved in Class Action Lawsuit

OOcean Spray’s Class-Act Lawsuit

Ocean Spray is facing a class action lawsuit on misleading advertising. The popular drink has claimed that their substance does not contain any flavors; yet they do.

proposed class action lawsuit was filed this week against Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. over the juice maker’s allegedly false labeling of its beverages. The popular beverage states that it does not have any high fructose corn syrup in its product, however there is now evidence that is false.

What is the claim against the beverage company?

* The claim against the beverage company is that there has been high fructose corn syrup used in packaging. It also states that additional flavors and artificial colors were used.

* The claim states that they were not honest or authentic about what they put in the beverages.

* They also mislead the public in thinking that they were being honest and ethical about the beverage.

What was the motive?

There are speculations about why this was done. Many people are having a hard time believing that a company whose product is based on wholesome, pure liquid would participate in such a lie.

The believed motives are that the company wanted to take advantage of the public’s perception of health drinks. The company freely admits they wanted to take advantage of a mindset that natural was healthier, and market their product as such.

Drinks involved in the dispute

There were eleven drinks in the dispute in total, including highly popular beverages.

Why Was There A Class Action Lawsuit?

The class action lawsuit hopes to prove that the company defrauded the public, and that the public is entitled to know the truth of what happens. The class action has currently decided to not participate with California in the class action lawsuit, however every other case has been part of this.

Only time will tell whether the drink will be able to continue to stay in business.

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Sears Files Bankruptcy Petition

Sears has finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It might be the beginning of the end for the company that dominated the American retail industry for over a century. For the time being though, Sears will keep hundreds of its stores open pursuant to an agreement that it entered into with its creditors

Sears merged with Kmart in 2005. At this point in time, it still has about 700 Sears and Kmart stores up and running. Many of those stores have never been visited by millennials. The retailer intends to close 142 of those stores by the end of 2018. They’re simply not making any money. On top of those, there are another 46 stores that it intends on closing by the end of November, 2018. In all, Sears employs about 70,000 people. Sears had about $134 million of loans that were due on October 15, 2018. It filed the Chapter 11 proceedings that morning.

Sears sold everything from clothes to it’s famous Craftsman tools to Kenmore appliances. At one time it even sold prefabricated homes. According to CNBC, Richard Sears began the Sears Watch company in 1886. He sold watches by mail. He partnered with Alvah Roebuck, and the two began offering consumer products in a catalogue with delivery by mail. Sears Roebuck opened its first store in Chicago in 1925, and by the end of the year, it opened seven other stores. In 2006, only a year after the Kmart acquisition, Sears was worth more than $20 billion. Walmart, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot kept opening stores though, with a wider variety of home improvement materials and tools. Then, the Great Recession came, and with the rise of Amazon, buyers started buying products online.

Now, Sears hasn’t shown a profit since 2010. A drastically reduced cash flow doesn’t allow Sears to invest very much in itself anymore. The company’s ratio of expenditures to sales is less than one percent. Even its famous Craftsman Tool brand has been sold to Stanley Black & Decker, and 250 of its top properties have been sold. In addition to it’s present woes, Sears has 100,000 retirees, and it’s pension fund is underfunded by $1.5 billion. What comes to issue now is whether Sears will come out of bankruptcy. Few retailers have successfully done so.

Washington’s dilemma on taming the tech giants.

According to Forbes magazine report of June 2017, Washington DC was ranked third among the US tech cities, and a leading knowledge hub and innovation hotspot. Due to its skilled workforce, according to the US Bureau of labor and statistics, the metro DC area is ranked number one in high tech, with employment in the sector being 2.5 times more concentrated there than in the rest of the united states.

A controversial debate has been initiated in Washington as calls have been made to the federal government to regulate the giants in the technology industry, citing misinformation and political bias. The giant tech companies namely Google and Facebook have been on the spot for quite some time now, with several accusations being made against them. Google, for instance, has allegedly been promoting information that is either untrue, or distorted with utmost right-wing bias on subjects like spreading fake news to build support for conservative political leaders. Facebook on the other hand has received its fair share of accusations, one of them being that they sell users personal information to political consulting firms and suppress conservative news stories from trending news.

Among these reasons, the legislative and administrative organs in Washington feels that these giants have had a lot of power and influence in the industry and on people’s online activities. Capitol Hill says that big tech is to an extent of sabotaging other online advertising companies that have been struggling to establish themselves on the digital platform as they experience slowing revenue. According to LUMA partners, a leading investment bank that does analysis on digital media and marketing, there has been a fall in the number of independent ad tech companies since 2013 by 21 per cent to 185 in the second quarter of 2018. A wide spread of online advertising continues to rise to more than $88 million in 2017. However, more than 90 percent of that growth went to Google and Facebook as reported by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group in New York.

In the broader picture, we cannot deny that the giant tech companies have become increasingly attractive as more users come on board. As a result, it is going to be almost impossible for other companies to compete and for any government to challenge them. Washington is only the latest state to show its frustrations on these internet firms. France and Germany are already implementing fines on them for not following the rules governing the industry.

Encounter the Most Crowded Airlines: Load Factor Reaches a Record High

Summer has finally arrived. That means even more stacked planes and close airports. If one thinks that airline trips are much crowded than how they were before, then they are absolutely right. The passenger load factor otherwise known as (PLF) of commercial airways has risen tremendously over the past decade. In 2005, airlines had a mean load factor of 75.2%. Therefore on average, only three seats for every four seats were traded.

The recession of 2007-2010 halted the load factor growth. However, by 2018, the average load factor reached 81.7% globally. In the United States, the load factor has risen on domestic flights. It has inflated from 67.88% in 2002 to 86.08% by 2018. During that time, the number of domestic trips has had an almost stationary status. This is from 8,085,083 in 2002 to 8,176,610 in 2017. The US airline sector has gotten even better in documenting seats as revenue passenger miles rose. It has seen a significant increase from 471,652,206 in 2002 to 684,221,393 in 2017.

The era of having an entire row to space up in coach is a thing of the past. It is also inclusive of having an empty middle seat disjointing one from his or her neighbor. The airlines rarely mourn over it. On the contrary, these airlines of global repute are busy shrinking seats and cramming additional seats. As one might anticipate, the reduced cost carriers typically have the highest load factor. However, the load factor can at times fluctuate. An example is the Frontier Airlines. Its load factor grew from 73.5% in 2004 to an incredible 91.28% in 2013. From that moment, however, the load factor no matter how robust, has dropped significantly. It was noted in 2017 when it turned back to 86.36%. It may due to heightening competition from major airlines. They offer the dread “basic economy” fare. It starts with Delta’s “experiment” in 2014.

According to Forbes, as of July 2017, Ireland’s Ryanair was the most packed airline. Its load factor was 93.1% in 2016. Furthermore, the airline propelled the figure further to 94.7% in 2017. The airline is somehow involved in a “cattle car” reputation. Regardless, Ryanair successfully stacked in 130 million Millennials in the 2017-2018 fiscal years. However, other carriers challenged it for its passenger packing size. Four other different carriers boasted of 90% or even enhanced load factor in 2017. It was headed by India’s very own Spicejet. It flew an average of 92.8% full.

How US Politics, though Illegal, are affecting the US Market

Trade tensions have been rising every passing day which is affecting the forex trading platform. The effect has been felt everywhere in the market since the threats turned to reality. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump’s administration announced imposing tariffs on aluminum and steel. Target countries included the European Union (EU) markets and China that are prominent producers of steel worldwide. The notice came by surprise to many of the United States trade allies as well as some politicians in America.

Investors have been shunning away from risk in the forex trade as currencies continue to lose value in the market. Forecasters warn of greater impacts and effects should this continue, risking business and the economy. Recently, German received an increased levy on their cars just when the Merkel government is struggling with immigration issues. However, the tensions are favorable to some currencies such as the Japanese Yen that continues to rise against the greenback significantly.

Today, the forex platform was all about trade tensions with the increasing threats and protective measures from Washington. These continue to intensify weighing on the upper betas generally while a slowdown of the increased trade plays out. The US trade allies in response to the tariffs by Trump warned of raising taxes on specific US commodities. The EU announced targeting particular products such as motorbikes among others in retaliation. Trump, having imposed the levies, forced his allies to pose trade barriers in retaliation to the tariffs. In retaliation, President Donald Trump has again threatened China and the EU to withdraw these barriers, failure to which there will be severe consequences.

Among the new threats, the administration will add tariffs to Chinese tech firms. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration plans to stop Chinese tech industries from investing in American tech corporations. Additionally, Beijing’s tech exports will be blocked. Currencies continue to deteriorate in value against the USD in the Forex space recording a significant fall with the Euro in New York closing at 1.1703. Ahead of the EU Summit, GBP/USD was stable then uneven to the top closing at 1.3280. On the NY session at +0.13% within the N. American range of 1.3289 to 1.3251.

Oil was lower besides copper that in the June rout was nose-diving. For the first time since late last year, gold recorded a close beneath the 200-D SMA. The Aussie nosedived to 0.7397 from 0.7440 ranking it as one of the most underperforming commodities. However, Kiwi hiked from 0.6901 to 0.6890 in the equity market.

Upward Trend in Associate Salaries Shows No Sign of Abating

The news earlier this month of increased associate salaries at multiple top-tier law firms has sparked curiosity among observers as to whether this trend is likely to spread to other players in the industry. As reported in the New York Law Journal, it appears that boutique firms are among those making the leap, something which comes as a bit of a surprise.

Several boutiques in the litigation realm have announced that they plan to match the $190,000 starting salary salvo launched by Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy. Among them are Chicago’s Barack Ferrazzano, Kirschbaum & Nagelberg and Hueston Hennigan of Southern California. Rumors of Susman Godfrey moving associate pay beyond the already eye-watering $190,000 level have also begun to take root.

The smaller firms in question tend to hire a comparatively limited group of associates every year, with those candidates possessing stellar qualifications from elite schools. However, it is the simplified leadership hierarchies of these firms that enable them to meet market trends swiftly, absorb expenses more effectively and remain competitive when it comes to attracting top talent.

Smaller, boutique firms are well aware of the massive amounts of student loan debt so many new recruits have at the start of their careers. As such, managing partners are seeking to ensure that pay is not among the primary reasons a prized candidate decides to go elsewhere.

Many boutique enterprises have been able to raise associate pay levels without instituting a concomitant, and likely unpopular increase in client rates. Several such firms have explained that associate raises were essentially baked into their overall financial strategy, something which incorporates a fair amount of budgetary flexibility and far fewer bureaucratic hoops than larger firm structures.

In the end, because of the need to attract the best and brightest young legal minds and to foster an atmosphere in which long-term employee retention is assumed, it appears likely that firms in this category will do whatever it takes to keep pace with the giants.


Dodd-Frank Rollback

The Dodd-Frank rollback is now law (S.2155). As the Jurist reports, Trump signed the law on May 25, 2018. Now, banks without $250 billion in assets are not subject to some of the more limiting Dodd-Frank regulations. Previously, banks were subject to the restrictions if they had just $50 billion in assets. The Jurist highlights the new law, citing the Washington Post’s article for much of the detail changes, including repeal of the Volcker Rule for smaller banks holding over $10 billion in assets. This article will highlight some of the changes, including what those changes might mean to the larger public.

Overall, regulations add costs for businesses. Just generally speaking, when a business must comply with a new law from Congress or rule from an administrative agency, that compliance will cost money. Even if there is an elimination of any particular regulation because the business will need to adjust some aspect of business in order to either take advantage of the lower regulatory bar or adjust to add process and/or procedure to comply with the new regulation or law.

Yet another aspect of the regulatory environment is that some regulations protect business from legal liability. For example, if a drug maker follows all of the FDA’s rules relating to testing and efficacy, that compliance may be cited by the business in any allegation regarding the corporation’s lack of negligence.

But, back to the new Dodd-Frank rules, first is the new Volcker asset floor. The Volcker rule prevents banks from using their deposit accounts (checking and savings deposits) for investment banking activities. Investment banking is far more risky than other investment vehicles. Now, banks with less than $10 billion in assets are allowed to use their depository accounts for investment banking into stocks, bonds and other securities. These investment banking securities, while being more risky, offer potentially greater returns on investments.

Another change involves the annual stress test that banks were required to perform. These tests were used to see if a bank could survive another meltdown like that from the Great Recession. These tests cost lost of money to perform. Now, if the bank has less than $250 billion, it is not required to perform the annual test.

Finally, the Dodd-Frank rollback eliminates the requirement that banks provide detailed information on their borrowers. Now, and again with that same threshold of $250 billion, banks are not required to report on its borrowers.

Overall, only the largest of banks will now be subject to the regulations put in place under Dodd-Frank. One estimate is that the number of banks subject to the rule has now gone from 38 to now only 12. Of note, some well known banks (American Express and Ally Financial) are now outside of the law’s $250 billion threshold.

Rachael Dolzeal – Another Fraud?

Rachael Dolezal is a former NAACP chapter leader who resigned from her post in 2015 after it was discovered that in reality, she was born of white parentage. Now, after going through a name change, Dolezal is Nkechi Diallo, and she stands accused of another kind of fraud. According to the Time Magazine, she has apparently been charged with theft, welfare fraud, perjury and use of false verification for purposes of obtaining public assistance in connection with about $8,847 of food and child welfare assistance from 2015 to 2017.

An investigation into Diallo began after she published a book. An investigator suspected that she had received an advance against royalties on the book of between $10,000 and $20,000. She later deposited about $84,000 into her bank account from proceeds of the sale of the book, gifts, sales of her art and other endeavors which she failed to report. That income would have made her ineligible for the benefits that she received. She reported that she was only earning about $500 per month from child support and some help from some friends. She claims to have fully cooperated with investigators, but she reportedly terminated an interview with them because she had not been given any Miranda warnings. Along with the criminal charges that carry up to 15 years in prison, the State of Washington is also seeking restitution.

Nkechi Diallo is originally from Troy, Montana. Her parents were devout Christians who adopted four black children. After becoming divorced, she began identifying herself as black. The racial claim worked for her up until about three years ago when her parents declared that she had been born white. She had been presenting herself as a black activist in and around Spokane. She subsequently resigned as the leader of the Spokane area NAACP, booted from a public ombudsman position and terminated from teaching African studies at Eastern Washington University. The case against Nkechi Diallo is set for arraignment on June 6, 2018.

Sesame Street’s Parent Company Sues Over Melissa McCarthy’s New Film

The creators of Sesame Street have filed a lawsuit against STX Productions, the production company behind the upcoming movie The Happytime Murders. The Happytime Murders is a comedy that stars Melissa McCarthy and a puppet cast.

Sesame Street’s parent company is claiming that the marketing strategy for the film is damaging Sesame Street’s wholesome brand. The company believes that the film is depicting Sesame-Street style themes and objects to the marketing tagline: “No Sesame, All Street”.

In a report by Vanity Fair, the plaintiff’s lawsuit states that Sesame Street was spent nearly 50 years to build and maintain a level of trust with its audience of parents and young children on its reputation of providing wholesome educational programming. The lawsuit goes further to state that The defendant, STX Productions, seeks to inflict irreparable damage to Sesame’s Street trademark and brand by connecting an adult movie to the Sesame Street brand. The plaintiffs believe that the defendant was aware of what they were doing when they chose the tagline “No Sesame, All Street”. The tagline intentionally appropriated the Sesame Street’s goodwill and implies and association that does not exist to the film.

Sesame Street’s parent company is seeking unspecified damages.

STX confirmed that lawsuit after the company released the first trailer for The Happytime Murders. The production company has issued a statement that was attributed to its puppet representative Fred, Esq.

In the statement, STX expressed its joy of working with the Brian Henson and the Jim Henson Company to tell the story of the lives of Henson puppets when they aren’t performing. The film is result of that collaboration and the company expressed its happiness that the film is being received well by its intended audience. The company is disappointed that Sesame Street is not sharing in the fun, but they are confident about their legal position. STX looks forward to adult moviegoers enjoying their unapologetic and adorable characters when the movie gets released this summer.

The Happytime Murders is about a serial killer who is targeting the puppet cast from a 1980’s kid’s television show. Melissa McCarthy plays Connie Edwards, a detective who is hunting down the killer. The movie also stars Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale, and Maya Rudolph. Brian Henson, the son of Jim Henson, directed this film. The film scheduled for release on August 17th.