Monthly Archives: November 2014

Obama Easing Requirements for Talented Foreigners to Stay in USA

Students, aspiring businessmen and professionals can look forward to more lenient visa requirements from the US State Department as a

Barak Obama photo by Pete Souza

Barak Obama photo by Pete Souza

result of immigration reform introduced by President Obama. Behind the reform: the desire to stem the brain drain of talented, productive individuals who are getting their educations in the US and returning to their home countries, taking their much-needed skills with them.

When the reforms go into effect it is estimated that as many as 400,000 highly-skilled individuals will be eligible for visas to stay in the US.

“Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us, or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America? That’s what this debate is all about,” Obama said.

Under the current policy students in highly technical fields like science technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in US institutions of higher learning will be able to apply for prolonged stays. Today, under the optional practical training program (OPT) these type of students can only stay legally for 29 months. The OPT program will also be expanded to include more kinds of course work.

Economy Unsure of Where Its Heading

September inventory and sales figures are helping renew optimism in the economic recovery after August figures fed fears that the economy was entering another slump. August’s bad news was found in the miniscule 0.1 percent rise in business inventories. August’s tiny rise was the smallest in over a year. August sales also fueled skepticism with a drop of 0.5 percent. September’s numbers could bode well for the economy, showing an increase in business inventories of 0.3 percent, and no-change up or down in September sales.

Slow sales can make businesses more cautious about adding merchandise to their shelves, causing them to wait until sales pick up before re-stocking. Usually increased inventories are a reflection of optimism in the upward progress of the economy. Lowered inventories are a sign of worry about future sales. When lowered sales accompany increased inventories, it is a sign of involuntary inventory building: getting stuck with extra goods that will be hard to sell in the near future.

The government’s announcement of the August 0.3 percent increase in retail sales is a modest, but hopeful sign for the future. This and other signs, such as the sustained gains the country has seen in increased hiring and decreased unemployment, have fueled the present optimism about the economy and its future. The jobless rate hit its lowest value in over six years, down to a respectable 5.8 percent.

Business About to Boom in Cannabis Industry

Legalization leading to big pot business

Legalization leading to big pot business

Last week’s midterm elections not only favored Republicans in overwhelming numbers, but also said yes to the continuing trend to liberalize marijuana laws. Two additional states joined Colorado and Washington in permitting recreational use of cannabis, along with an overwhelming vote in favor in Washington DC.

As more states come aboard the weed wagon, it appears that is only a matter of time before the Feds will be forced to follow the people. Today, the largest obstacle to a national cannabis industry is federal law banning marijuana sales. Because of that law a large number of banks will not deal with pot retailers. Without banks behind them cannabis businessmen in Colorado and Washington are now running cash-only operations, a risky business, according to the entrepreneurs.

“But the direction voters are moving in is obvious, and with additional states it’s now harder to call Colorado and Washington ‘experiments,’” said Derek Peterson, founder and CEO of Terra Tech Corp. Terra Tech, based in Irvine, California, focuses on local farming and medical marijuana and is most likely the first publicly traded company to hold a medical marijuana license.

“These are the same voters who elect our federal lawmakers, which I think is the major reason you’re seeing such a quick and dramatic turnaround on these policies in Congress,” Peterson said.

An example of this trend is a bill that passed through the House which makes it easier for banks to do business with legal retailers of recreational and medical marijuana. The bill is still in the queue in the Senate.

World Trade Center Re-Opens in Lower Manhattan

World Trade Center

New World Trade Center Tower dominates NYC skyline

Just a tad more than 14 years after the horrifying events of September 11, 2001, a new building has re-opened on the site of the destroyed Twin Towers. Also called the World Trade Center, the country’s tallest building stands at 104 stories and cost $4.22 billion to construct.

The new tower is the centerpiece of the 16-acre site, and joins its surrounding skyscrapers to help fill the void in the New York City skyline left by the 2001 terror attacks. About 2,700 people died there some in the fireball created when two airplanes collided directly with the towers, and many under the smoking concrete and steel of the collapsing behemoths.

“The New York City skyline is whole again, as One World Trade Center takes its place in Lower Manhattan,” said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that owns both the building and the World Trade Center site.

He added that the tower “sets new standards of design, construction, prestige and sustainability; the opening of this iconic building is a major milestone in the transformation of Lower Manhattan into a thriving 24/7 neighborhood.”

Giant of the publishing world Conde Nast will begin moving into their new digs on Monday. Of the company’s 3,400 employees, only about 170 will be moving in immediately, taking their places on five floors of office space. About 3,000 more workers should be moving in by early 2015.