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michigan treasurer differs with economist’s take on tax law


lansing, mich. (ap) — michigan’s treasurer differs with a prominent economist’s characterization of the new u.s. tax law’s effect on state income taxes.treasurer nick khouri said wednesday he has a “technical disagreement” with economist patrick anderson, a former state deputy budget director. khouri says the legislature must act to prevent an “unintentional” state tax increase spurred by the federal overhaul, while anderson contends the new law won’t lead to a hike.anderson says the federal law doesn’t eliminate a $4,050 personal exemption, but sets it to zero for several years. the law is explicit, he says, in saying the reduction shouldn’t be taken into account for other purposes.khouri says state law stipulates taxpayers get the number of exemptions on their federal forms. he adds deal






gcc nations look to adopt vat 'within a year'


fast factsuae will minimise exemptions, some sectors may get reliefexpects around $3.3 bn revenues in first yearto register all companies with revenues above $100,000federal bonds to be sold for liquidity, not deficitpolicymakers in the six-nation gulf cooperation council are aiming to introduce a five percent value-added tax at the start of next year, despite administrative and technical obstacles, a senior united arab emirates finance official said on sunday.the gcc, its finances strained by low oil prices, has long planned to adopt the tax in 2018 as a way to increase non-oil revenues, but economists and officials in some countries have said privately that simultaneous introduction in all countries may not be feasible.that is because of the complexity of creating the administrative infr






saudi arabia, iran, yemen, lebanon: what's next? | saudi arabia


it's been called saudi arabia's game of thrones.under the leadership of crown prince mohammed bin salman, the kingdom of saudi arabia has arrested dozens of top officials in what the crown prince is calling a crackdown on corruption. his government has allegedly held both the president of yemen, abd-rabbu mansour hadi, and lebanese prime minister saad hariri.so, what's behind mohammed bin salman's latest power plays in the region and the domestic shakeup? rami khouri, a political columnist and author, believes the crown prince's actions are dangerous."the real problem in saudi arabia right now that i see … is that mohammed bin salman now is bringing in the third wave of arab autocratic authoritarian rule," says khouri, who is also a senior fellow at the american university of beirut. "what






gcc nations look to adopt vat 'within a year'


fast factsuae will minimise exemptions, some sectors may get reliefexpects around $3.3 bn revenues in first yearto register all companies with revenues above $100,000federal bonds to be sold for liquidity, not deficitpolicy makers in the six-nation gulf cooperation council are aiming to introduce a five percent value-added tax at the start of next year, despite administrative and technical obstacles, a senior united arab emirates finance official said on sunday.the gcc, its finances strained by low oil prices, has long planned to adopt the tax in 2018 as a way to increase non-oil revenues, but economists and officials in some countries have said privately that simultaneous introduction in all countries may not be feasible.that is because of the complexity of creating the administrative inf






as isil's 'caliphate' crumbles, its ideology remains | isis


three years ago on wednesday, isil leader abu bakr al-baghdadi stood at the pulpit of mosul's grand al nuri mosque, which was destroyed last week amid fighting between the armed group's fighters and us-backed iraqi forces, and announced the creation of a sunni caliphate. while isil proceeded to balloon in size - at its peak it covered territory across iraq and syria that is roughly equivalent to the size of the united kingdom - it has lost close to 47 percent of its territory since january, according to conflict monitor by ihs markit, a security and defence observer.   experts say that despite being seemingly on the brink of military defeat, the group's widespread ideology will be much harder to erase and may re-emerge in other manifestations. syrians' suffering persists after returning to






as isil's 'caliphate' crumbles, its ideology remains | isis


three years ago on wednesday, isil leader abu bakr al-baghdadi stood at the pulpit of mosul's grand al nuri mosque, which was destroyed last week amid fighting between the armed group's fighters and us-backed iraqi forces, and announced the creation of a sunni caliphate. while isil proceeded to balloon in size - at its peak it covered territory across iraq and syria roughly equivalent to the size of the united kingdom - it has lost nearly 47 percent of its territory since january, according to conflict monitor by ihs markit, a security and defence observer.   experts say that despite being seemingly on the brink of military defeat, the group's widespread ideology will be much harder to erase and may re-emerge in other manifestations. syrians' suffering persists after returning to former is






leaving coastal california is a 'no brainer' for some as housing costs rise


for former irvine residents christie serrao and her husband, their goal was to give their two young children their own rooms and a large backyard.the stay-at-home mom and account executive — who described themselves as comfortably middle-class — said they were priced out in orange county.so last fall, they purchased a five bedroom, $434,000 home in a new subdivision near temecula built by irvine-based calatlantic homes.serrao, 41, said her husband’s commute has stretched from five minutes to nearly two hours. but serrao said the move has been worth it.her husband works remotely three days a week and her children, ages 4 and 6, have a lifestyle that would’ve been difficult to afford in orange county.“the kids can ride bikes in the backyard and i can cook dinner and not have to worry about t






can diplomacy solve the crisis in the gulf? | qatar


it has been a week since one of the worst diplomatic disputes in the gulf region began and there have been developments almost every hour.qatar's foreign minister sheikh mohammed bin abdulrahman al thani was on a diplomatic tour in london and paris on monday.us president donald trump initially took to twitter to support the embargo, but then called the emir of qatar days later offering to mediate, only to criticise the gulf nation at a news conference on friday.but that same day, us secretary of state rex tillerson, was urging the gulf cooperation council countries to find a diplomatic solution.what will it take to end the crisis?presenter: richelle careyguests:shafeeq ghabra - professor of political science at kuwait universitymohammed cherkaoui - professor of conflict resolution at georg






what is behind the campaign against al jazeera? | qatar


qatar has called "unreasonable", "unbalanced" and "not actionable" the 13 demands issued by saudi arabia, the uae and their allies, in exchange for the lifting of a regional blockade. the list of demands includes the closing down of al jazeera english network.it is often said that journalists should avoid becoming part of the story. but the story of this regional crisis is now putting journalism at the centre of it.al jazeera says the ultimatum - which must be met within 10 days - would not affect daily business.fellow journalists and industry representatives are voicing their angry reactions. they see it as an attempt to silence freedom of expression and using the news organisation as a bargaining chip in political differences.presenter: hazem sikaguests:marwan kabalan - associate analyst






can the gcc still be relevant? | qatar


the gulf cooperation council is in its worst crisis ever after three of its six members cut ties with qatar.the emir of kuwait was in saudi arabia on tuesday and in the united arab emirates on wednesday.he is plane-hopping around the arabian peninsula, hoping to mediate in what's being called the qatar crisis.saudi arabia, bahrain and the uae, as well as egypt, have severed ties with qatar, closing land and sea borders and airspace.they say qatar is supporting "extremist groups" in iraq and syria, which qatar strongly denies.they have also had disagreements over its alleged ties with the muslim brotherhood and hamas.the gcc has been an alliance since may 1981 and is made up of saudi arabia, uae, bahrain, qatar, kuwait, and oman.the ongoing crisis is not the first to hit the bloc, but what






why you can't afford a house (hint: it's not the avocado toast)


southern california home prices jumped in february, posting the largest increase in more than a year, as buyers rushed to outbid one another for a meager selection of homes for sale.the six-county region’s median price for new and resale homes hit $460,000 last month, up $5,000 from january, real...southern california home prices jumped in february, posting the largest increase in more than a year, as buyers rushed to outbid one another for a meager selection of homes for sale.the six-county region’s median price for new and resale homes hit $460,000 last month, up $5,000 from january, real... (andrew khouri)






u.s. home sales jump to a 10-year high


along many los angeles thoroughfares, large apartment complexes are replacing parking lots, strip malls and warehouses, as builders provide new homes in a city grappling with a persistent housing shortage.in downtown, dozens of mixed-use condo and apartment towers are rising in the largest development...along many los angeles thoroughfares, large apartment complexes are replacing parking lots, strip malls and warehouses, as builders provide new homes in a city grappling with a persistent housing shortage.in downtown, dozens of mixed-use condo and apartment towers are rising in the largest development... (andrew khouri)






connie britton shares what made her laugh during her emotional farewell to 'nash


connie britton’s heart-wrenching goodbye to “nashville” came with a lot of laughter and a lot of tears.the star of the country music soap, which was picked up by cmt when abc dropped it after season 4, survived a stalker only to die after a car accident in the show’s fifth season this year. as britton put it when she recently stopped by the times’ video studio, rayna really “bit it.”as the actress bid adieu to the country singer character, the emmy-nominated star shot long, emotional scenes in a hospital bed. it took a while to shoot those final episodes, so there was a lot of laughter on set, she said.“particularly when rayna is wheeled in after she just had the accident. then our [director of photography] michael lohmann — a jack of all trades— in order to shoot it, he ends up sitting on






connie britton shares what made her laugh during her emotional farewell to 'nash


connie britton’s heart-wrenching goodbye to “nashville” came with a lot of laughter and a lot of tears.the star of the country music soap, which was picked up by cmt when abc dropped it after season 4, survived a stalker only to die after a car accident in the show’s fifth season this year. as britton put it when she recently stopped by the times’ video studio, rayna really “bit it.”as the actress bid adieu to the country singer character, the emmy-nominated star shot long, emotional scenes in a hospital bed. it took a while to shoot those final episodes, so there was a lot of laughter on set, she said.“particularly when rayna is wheeled in after she just had the accident. then our [director of photography] michael lohmann — a jack of all trades— in order to shoot it, he ends up sitting on






is political transition a reality in syria? | syria


us president donald trump has been both congratulated and condemned for ordering missile strikes on a syrian air base suspected of using chemical weapons.the attack was seen by some as a warning to the regime of syria's president bashar al-assad that the period of impunity is over and he will be punished.but the past six years have shown that military action has failed to stop the mass killings and end the war.france and germany have renewed calls for a political solution. but what kind of roadmap will be accepted by the main players in the conflict?last year the opposition rejected a united nations proposal that had assad remaining in the political system.last month negotiators at a fifth-round of peace talks brokered by the un in geneva called for a political transition, a new constituti






is political transition a reality in syria? | syria


us president donald trump has been both congratulated and condemned for ordering missile strikes on a syrian airbase suspected of using chemical weapons.the attack was seen by some as a warning to the regime of syria's president bashar al-assad that the period of impunity is over and he will be punished.but the past six years have shown that military action has failed to stop the mass killings and end the war.france and germany have renewed calls for a political solution. but what kind of roadmap will be accepted by the main players in the conflict?last year the opposition rejected a united nations proposal that had assad remaining in the political system.last month negotiators at a fifth round of peace talks brokered by the un in geneva called for a political transition, a new constitutio






stars, fans say goodbye to "nashville" in final season


nashville, tenn. — "nashville" survived one previous cancellation, but the final curtain call is coming for the tv melodrama about the trials and tribulations of country music stars.lionsgate announced in november that after 120 episodes, the time had come for the series to end. the sixth and final season premieres jan. 4 on cmt. it will air in two parts, with the finale coming this summer.although it was always soft on ratings, the fans — who called themselves nashies — were loyal to the series starring connie britton and hayden panettiere, who both earned golden globe nominations for their roles. "nashville" spawned more than a dozen soundtracks featuring songs from the series, concert tours with the actors and singers, and a tourism boom in the southern city where it was filmed.abc canc






covering yemen: saleh, saudi and the media | yemen


last week, yemen's former president ali abdullah saleh was killed, but media coverage has not been straightforward. tune in to the saudi arabian version and saleh's killing this past week by houthi rebels is used as justification for continuing a war in yemen that has already claimed as many as 10,000 lives and left millions suffering, in the world's worst current humanitarian disaster.pro-houthi media saw saleh's savage end as a blow to saudi efforts to overthrow them.foreign audiences may be forgiven their confusion of the causes of this conflict, given that much of the coverage of the war's main architect, crown prince mohammad bin salman of saudi arabia, has been enthusiastic, even effusive.there's little reporting of the behind-the-scenes roles britain and the united states are playin






is lebanon on the brink of turmoil? | middle east


hariri's resignation came as a surprise. the fact that he did it from riyadh, accusing iran and its lebanese ally hezbollah of sowing strife in the arab world, sent shockwaves through the region. his resignation shatters a delicate deal that put him in a coalition government after a two-year political vacuum.it is not the first time a lebanese government has collapsed - it happened in 2005, 2011 and 2013.the country's political structure requires that the president must be a maronite christian, the prime minister a sunni muslim, and the speaker of parliament a shia muslim.last year lebanon's parliament swore in a new cabinet dominated by hezbollah and its allies - in a major victory for the shia, iran-backed group. add to that, hezbolllah's military wing has been racking up victories in sy






as isil's 'caliphate' crumbles, its ideology remains | isis


three years ago today, abu bakr al-baghdadi stood at the pulpit of mosul's grand al nuri mosque, which was destroyed last week in fighting between the islamic state of iraq and the levant (isil, also known as isis), and announced the creation of a sunni caliphate. while the group proceeded to balloon in size - at its peak it covered territory across iraq and syria that is roughly equivalent to the size of the united kingdom - it has, since january, lost close to 47 percent of its territory, according to conflict monitor by ihs markit, a security and defense observer.   experts say that despite being seemingly on the brink of military defeat, the group's widespread ideology will be much harder to erase and may reemerge in other manifestations. syrians' suffering persists after returning to






gulf crisis: al jazeera in the crosshairs | al jazeera


on the listening post this week: what does the al jazeera media network symbolise in the gcc political crisis? plus, a politically engineered war of buzzwords in south africa's media.gulf crisis: al jazeera in the crosshairsa coalition of countries led by saudi arabia is demanding that, along with making significant changes to its regional and international policies, the government of qatar must shut the al jazeera media network, which it funds. qatar refuses and says the future of al jazeera is non-negotiable.contributors:marwan kraidy, media scholar, annenberg schoolgregg carlstrom, former al jazeera english journalistjoseph kechichian, middle east analyst, gulf newsrami khouri, professor of journalism, american university of beiruton our radar•a vietnamese blogger has been stripped of h






yemen: media battles, narrative divides | yemen


on the listening post this week: the killing of former yemeni president ali abdullah saleh puts the media spotlight on yemen. plus, the spanish talk shows that generate more heat than light.covering yemen and saleh's deaththe assassination of former president of yemen, ali abdullah saleh was never going to be a straight-forward story to cover.on saudi arabian news outlets, saleh's killing by houthi rebels has been used as a justification to continuing the bombing campaign that has been ongoing since 2015.meanwhile, pro-houthi media have represented saleh's savage end as a blow to saudi efforts to overthrow them.we look at the shifts in regional coverage of saleh's death and analyse how western media have covered the war and the powers behind it.contributors:afrah nasser, editor in chief, s






yemen: media battles, narrative divides | yemen


on the listening post this week: the killing of former yemeni president ali abdullah saleh puts the media spotlight on yemen. plus, the spanish talk shows that generate more heat than light.covering yemen and saleh's deaththe assassination of former president of yemen, ali abdullah saleh was never going to be a straight-forward story to cover.on saudi arabian news outlets, saleh's killing by houthi rebels has been used as a justification to continuing the bombing campaign that has been ongoing since 2015.meanwhile, pro-houthi media have represented saleh's savage end as a blow to saudi efforts to overthrow them.we look at the shifts in regional coverage of saleh's death and analyse how western media have covered the war and the powers behind it.contributors:afrah nasser, editor in chief, s






fha home loans were getting cheaper until trump suspended a rate cut. now, what


an hour after donald trump took the oath of office last month, his administration caught the attention of the real estate industry when it abruptly suspended a planned cut in federal housing administration mortgage-insurance premiums. the department of housing and urban development cited the need for further analysis to protect taxpayers in halting the policy that would have saved fha-borrowers as much as $1,000 or more a year.but the move by the fha’s parent agency, which overturned a decision the obama administration had made on its way out the door, could signal something else: a new conservative bent to the nation’s housing policy.guy cecala, publisher of inside mortgage finance, which tracks the residential mortgage market, noted that past administrations have tweaked the premium rate






labor leaders argue measure s could block affordable housing just approved by vo


labor leaders and housing advocates cheered in november as los angeles voters approved a ballot measure that imposes new affordable housing requirements on many big developments.if real estate developers wanted to get city permission to erect taller or denser buildings than city rules allowed, they would have to help provide affordable housing, backers of the measure said. builders would also have to meet hiring and wage requirements favored by unions. housing and labor activists argued that measure jjj would bring good jobs and affordable homes.now they fear that angelenos could torpedo their plans. just months after the november election, voters are headed back to the ballot box to decide the fate of another controversial initiative — measure s — that would restrict real estate developme






singapore firm acquires l.a. pioneer of extended-stay corporate housing


oakwood worldwide, a los angeles real estate firm known for pioneering extended-stay housing, has been acquired by a singapore development company.mapletree investments paid an undisclosed sum for the los angeles firm that has properties locally, across the united states and overseas. it bills itself as the largest provider of corporate housing in the world with more than 50 oaktree-branded locations globally.mapletree’s chief executive, hiew yoon khong, said the company will retain and grow the oakwood brand through the acquisition and development of additional properties.“oakwood is a reputable global brand and we intend to continue strengthening its presence,” he said in a news release thursday.founder howard ruby, an apartment developer who launched oakwood in 1969 and created an inter






why are islamist armed groups clashing in syria? | syria


the fresh clashes in syria's idlib region between a dozen important islamist and extremist rebel movements are battles for turf and authority on the ground - but they also mirror northern syria's ever-changing complexities, as local, regional and international actors change policies and tactics.these actors and their aims fluctuate almost on a monthly basis, which helps explain last week's face-off between former al-qaeda affiliate jabhat fateh al-sham (jfs), on one side, and the independent islamist movement ahrar al-sham and half a dozen smaller allies, on the other.the core battle between jfs and ahrar al-sham (as) flared last week after jfs attacked some smaller islamist groups that were close to as, notably jaish el-mujahideen. jfs accused them of selling out the revolution against th






valley mortgage lender prospect mortgage to pay $3.5 million to settle kickback


sherman oaks lender prospect mortgage will pay the federal government $3.5 million to settle charges it operated illegal kickback schemes with real estate brokers to gain business. the federal consumer financial protection bureau alleged that prospect, which has nearly 100 branches nationwide, entered into varying types of sham agreements from 2011 to 2016 in order to hide payments to brokers for referrals.kickbacks are barred under federal law because they limit options and raise costs for consumers, who often rely on recommendations from their real estate agent when choosing a lender, inspector or title insurance company. specifically, the government charged that prospect, in marketing agreements, kept track of referrals brokers made and then doled out payments to them based on those ref






from the leaders of muslim nations not affected by trump’s travel ban conspicuou


cairo — the germans criticized it. the british voiced their discomfort. the french, the canadians and even some republican senators in washington stood in open opposition.but in cairo and riyadh, in the heart of the muslim world, president donald trump’s decision to bar millions of refugees and citizens of seven muslim-majority countries from the united states was met with a conspicuous silence.king salman of saudi arabia, home of islam’s holiest sites, spoke to trump by telephone sunday but made no public comment. president abdel-fattah el-sissi of egypt, whose capital, cairo, is a traditional seat of islamic scholarship, said nothing.even the organization of islamic cooperation, a group of 57 nations that considers itself the collective voice of the muslim world, kept quiet.leaders in ir






valley mortgage lender prospect mortgage to pay $3.5 million to settle kickback


sherman oaks lender prospect mortgage will pay the federal government $3.5 million to settle charges that it operated illegal kickback schemes with real estate brokers to gain business. the federal consumer financial protection bureau alleged that prospect, which has nearly 100 branches nationwide, entered into varying types of sham agreements from 2011 to 2016 in order to hide payments to brokers for referrals.kickbacks are barred under federal law because they limit options and raise costs for consumers, who often rely on recommendations from their real estate agent when choosing a lender, inspector or title insurance company. specifically, the government charged that prospect, in marketing agreements, kept track of referrals brokers made and then doled out payments to them based on thos






former rent-controlled apartments in hollywood are razed amid protests and burea


last year, andre dubois and his friend were evicted, along with neighbors, from their rent-controlled apartments in hollywood.the property owner, belmond homes lp, wielded the power of the ellis act, a state law that allows such evictions to occur on the condition that the apartment units be taken off the market.but months after moving out, dubois and his friend, who is battling cancer, said they were surprised to learn the units were being rented out on airbnb. the los angeles housing and community investment department opened up an investigation on the allegations of re-rentals and prepared to turn the case over to the city attorney. but then, last month, the same agency cleared the property owner to demolish the hollywood apartments — even as its investigation continued.the demolition u






hot property: to everything there is a season


turn! turn! turn! wannabe home buyers are out there kicking tires — or, more accurately, turning on faucets, lights and garbage disposals as they size up houses for sale. and sellers are ready for them.this week’s lineup of notables includes longtime hollywood stars, captains of industry and sports figures.once you’re done checking out these latest star-studded home deals, visit and like our facebook page, where you can find hot property stories and updates throughout the week.– neal j. leitereg and lauren bealethey went overboardactors kurt russell and goldie hawn have parted with their pacific palisades home of more than a decade for $6.9 million.the georgian traditional-style home, built in 1951 and since updated, retains its classic curb appeal with slender columns, ivy-covered siding






l.a. planning commissions approve 90% of requests for changes in land use rules,


the parcel at jefferson and la cienega boulevards might not seem like an obvious place to put an upscale 30-story residential tower. zoned for industrial use, the west adams intersection near the new expo line is surrounded by low-rise warehouses and businesses.but when a developer proposed a high-rise tower and a shopping center at the site last year, los angeles planning commissioners — appointees of mayor eric garcetti — approved the project even though it was 10 times taller than existing building rules allowed.such exceptions to zoning laws have become commonplace across l.a., a times analysis of nearly 1,000 cases found. about 90% of requests for general plan amendments, zoning or height district changes heard before the city’s planning commission and local planning commissions have