Current Affairs Feed

Fifteen years ago today, terrorists hijacked four planes and killed 2,977 people in New York City, the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. and in a field near rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The view across the south pool of the National September 11 Memorial in New York City, former site of the Twin Towers, looking toward the National September 11 Memorial Museum. (Photo by NormanB via Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons) As has been tradition on each Sept. 11 since 2001, commemorative events will be held today across the country. The recognition became official on Dec. 18, 2001 when Public Law 107-89 took effect designating... Read more →


Americans, and particularly the families who suffered incomprehensible loss in the horrific mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, are still trying to cope with the tragedy. Forty-nine families are struggling emotionally with the loss of their loved ones at the hand of a crazed and heavily (and legally) armed gunman. Families of 53 more people who were wounded, some gravely, also are trying to cope with the effects of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Help for affected families: Not only must these people work through the personal loss and pain, many also will face practical challenges.... Read more →


The estate planning world is stunned by the news that Prince passed away without a will. Prince performing at Coachella in 2008. Photo by Scott Penner CC BY-SA 3.0 via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons While lots of folks delay officially putting their final wishes on paper, the wealthiest among us, which definitely included The Purple One, tend to have a phalanx of advisers to take care of their money, including how it will be dealt with once they're gone. Such professional financial and tax advice is critical, especially if you have a lot of money and/or live in a state... Read more →


The biggest hit on Broadway right now is an inventive musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary. "Hamilton" actors, left to right, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, and the musical's writer and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular Alexander Hamilton. (Photo via BroadwayBox.com) And on Friday, the tax extenders bill became law, including a new provision that gives a tax break to shows on the Great White Way. Coincidence? I think not. Tax help from "Hamilton?" Maybe: OK, I don't really think that Lin-Manuel Miranda's record-setting "Hamilton" is... Read more →


It's always been a challenge to teach kids history. They truly live in the moment. History is what happened to old people. But on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015, tens of thousands of young people have an opportunity to see and hear some remarkable representations of history. "Selma," the acclaimed new movie of the Dr. King led historic march for civil rights, is screening nationwide. In an effort to get kids into movie theaters to see the film, groups in around two dozen cities are offering free tickets to middle and high school students. Click the image to... Read more →


What the most important policy issue to you this year? According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, it's defense against terrorism. Seventy-six percent of those who responded to Pew's annual policy priorities poll named terrorism as their top concern. It is the first time in five years that Americans have focused so much on terror, probably in large part because in recent months violent attacks have been in the news. The poll was conducted between Jan. 7 and Jan. 11. The move to the top spot, however, is not totally unexpected. Pew notes that there has been little change... Read more →


About a month ago, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen met with the media and warned that the coming tax-filing season was going to be a pretty miserable few months for both his agency and taxpayers. That same day, Dec. 18, the commissioner sent the same gloomy message to his staff. Now, in what could be one of the worst employee pep talks ever delivered, Koskinen has reiterated to IRS employees the dire outlook for the 2014 filing season. In his latest email to IRS works, sent yesterday (Jan. 13), Koskinen offered "some important new details about what the 2015... Read more →


Just when we think we've got a handle on Ebola, the disease wins a round. Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon who contracted the deadly virus while performing his duties as chief medical officer at United Methodist Kissy Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, has died in a Nebraska hospital. Salia, a Sierra Leone native who was a permanent U.S. resident, was transferred Nov. 14 to the Nebraska Medical Center's biocontainment unit where two other Ebola patients were successfully treated. Unfortunately, Salia's symptoms were far more advanced and the hospital announced his death today. However, sometimes there is good in times of... Read more →


I was a novice reporter back in February 1979 when thousands of American farmers converged on Washington, D.C. That 18-day tractorcade through messy winter weather produced not only global recognition of U.S. farming issues, but also an office for the organizing American Agriculture Movement in the nation's capital. We also ultimately got Willie Nelson's Farm Aid concerts. Since that angry grassroots beginning, AAM has played a part in shaping federal ag legislation. Viva la ag protests: Recently, farmers in France decided they, too, needed to protest. In addition to general tax policy complaints, they are concerned about falling prices, brought... Read more →


And so it begins. After a relatively quiet spring, more than two dozen tornadoes and other severe storms walloped primarily the center of the United States over the weekend. Damage from deadly tornado in the Mayflower, Arkansas, area on Sunday, April 27. Photo by James Bryant via @nlrweatherman on Twitter. The worst, and deadliest, storms stuck Sunday, April 27, which also was the third anniversary of a 122-tornado outbreak. On that late April day in 2011, twisters hit parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia and killed 316 people. Not to start off the week on a down note,... Read more →


Read the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation's lips. You, George H. W. Bush, are a recipient of the 2014 Profiles in Courage Award. Each year, the Foundation recognizes public servants who have made courageous decisions without regard for personal or professional consequences. The Foundation said the Bush patriarch earned this year's honor for the political courage he demonstrated as 41st President when he agreed to a 1990 budget compromise that reversed his 1988 campaign pledge not to raise taxes. That move, following his famous "Read my lips: no new taxes" declaration when he accepted the Republican presidential nomination in 1988,... Read more →


The hubbub over the Internal Revenue Service's inept and ill-advised vetting process for groups seeking nonprofit status no longer dominates the news cycle. But make no mistake, the issue has not disappeared. TaxProf blogger Paul Caron has been keeping a daily tally of coverage. We're now up to Day 256 in the so-called IRS scandal. Fiscal costs to IRS: And there are more direct implications for the IRS other than just a public relations nightmare. The recently enacted $1.1 trillion spending bill that keeps the federal government running through Sept. 30 includes provisions directly related to the IRS 501(c)(4) nonprofit... Read more →


The tax world has just been turned on its head. A recent survey of New Jersey residents reveals that high property taxes are NOT their biggest concern. The results are a first for the Monmouth University-Asbury Park Press poll. In other recent polls, real estate bills at least tied for the number-one worry of New Jerseyans. The latest poll, released on Dec. 10, asked New Jerseyans to identify in their own words what they see as the state's most pressing issues. Job creation came in first at 35 percent. Taxes lower on the list: The state's property tax system came... Read more →


Despite the dysfunction on Capitol Hill some things never change. Today hundreds of lobbyists are hitting Representatives' and Senators' offices. This group, however, isn't of the typical Gucci Gulch variety. The folks looking for favorable legislation are from nonprofits and charitable organizations. Today has been deemed "Protect Giving Day" by the philanthropic sector. More than 200 folks from that arena are in Washington, D.C., alerting members of Congress of what they say are the "cascading consequences that could be set off by harmful limitations to the charitable tax deduction." Donation deductions on chopping block? The possibility of cutting or capping... Read more →


12 charitable groups that would love to take your
tax-deductible Typhoon Haiyan relief donations

Super Typhoon Haiyan has done its worst, literally, to the Philippines. The archipelago nation took a direct hit from what many meteorologists are characterizing as the most powerful typhoon ever. Towns have been destroyed and it's feared that 10,000 or more could be dead. "It is too early to tell what exactly we will need, but definitely after the relief operations there is going to be a lot of work in terms of reconstruction and rehabilitation, particularly for people who have lost their homes," Jose Cuisia, Jr., the Philippines ambassador to the United States, told Voice of America. United States... Read more →


Are you still finding timepieces that are wrong this morning? I always miss a clock or two every time we switch, as we did earlier today, from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time and vice versa. Like most folks, I prefer the return to Standard Time when we, as the mnemonic phrase reminds us, fall back and get (presumably) an extra hour of sleep. And like most folks, I credit (or blame, depending on how tired I am) Benjamin Franklin for coming up with the clock adjusting idea. The primary purpose of Daylight Saving Time (DST), or "Summer Time" in... Read more →


King to Obama, America's journey from 1963 to 2013

I was seven in 1963. But even though my younger brother and I were just small children, my parents made sure we were aware of current events. Before 1963 was over, Mom and Dad would try to explain the unexplainable, the assassination of a president. They also made sure we understood, as much as grade-schoolers could, the more positive, but challenging, things that were happening in America 50 years ago. So we discussed the Civil Rights movement. We were lucky in that in my small West Texas hometown, there was no formal segregation. All of us kids went to the... Read more →


Welcome to 12-12-12, the last repeating-number date of the century. The repetition of 1s and 2s has prompted a lot of interest, intrigue and for some, celebration. "Iconic dates have become a wedding trend in the United States, reaching new heights when over 65,000 couples tied the knot on 7-7-'07," Brian Beitler, chief marketing officer for David's Bridal, told USA Today. So couples are queuing up worldwide to say "I do" today. The Concert for Sandy Relief tonight will feature some of the biggest names in the music industry. Thanks to online live streams and social media integrations, the charity... Read more →


Mother Nature has been seriously ticked off recently and the folks in the Northeast have sure been on the receiving end of her temper. On the heels of Superstorm nee Hurricane Sandy, a nor'easter blasted, well, the northeast. And some of the areas that were declared major disasters because of Sandy also were hit by Winter Storm Athena. Winter storm names: What? You didn't know the northeaster had a name? Don't worry; you're not too far behind the curve. The naming of winter storms just began this week. The names are not official christenings from the National Weather Service (NWS).... Read more →


Not only are Barack Obama and Mitt Romney glad that Nov. 6 has finally arrived, so are all of us voters. Folks in the swing states are finally done with incessant television commercials for the presidential candidates. The rest of us are done with the overload from more local candidates and ballot issues. All of us will be glad to see and hear more nonpolitical stories in our newspapers, online and on our TVs and our radios. And we definitely will be thrilled to see all the negativity start to fade as we get back to our normal lives. True,... Read more →