Pop Culture Feed

Is the fifth time the charm? The owners of cannabis businesses legal in their states certainly hope that modified multiple maxim is true. The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act would allow cannabis businesses in the 36 states with retail dispensaries (that are taxed) to operate the same way their non-marijuana related colleagues do. They could pay their federal taxes with a check, secure loans to expand their operations, and accept bank debit card transactions by customers. Right now, that's all problematic at best. Businesses that sell marijuana are limited in their banking options since the plant still is... Read more →


Sports betting has expanded beyond casino sportsbooks like this one in Las Vegas. And this NFL season, the league has made deals with seven sports betting companies. (Photo by Kay Bell) The National Football League's 2021 season kicks off tonight with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Are you ready for some sports betting, this time OK'ed by the NFL? The NFL reached deals last month with FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet, and WynnBET to be the league's Approved Sportsbook Operators. This means that, among other things, the four legal betting operations can purchase televised... Read more →


Of course there's a tax crime connection. A defunct Connecticut minor league hockey club is the focus of a new Netflix documentary. The film's tales of the brawling Danbury Trashers offer this weekend's diversion, along with a bit of a tax connection. I fell in love with hockey when I went to my first game, a Washington Capitals match back in 1981 shortly after we moved to the National Capital area. Those early Capitals' teams sucked majorly. But they had some good individual players. The skills and heart of Rick Green, Mike Gartner, and young American phenom Bobby Carpenter made... Read more →


Last November, Louisiana voters in 55 of the state's 64 parishes approved sports betting. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the necessary enacting bills into law in June. And this month, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board passed emergency sports betting rules, effective Aug. 23, to start the licensing process and finalize permanent rules. The process probably isn't streamlined enough to allow bettors to put down cash on the Thursday, Sept. 9, meeting of my frustratingly underachieving Cowboys and the current Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers, which kicks off the 2021 National Football League (NFL) season. But the hope of sports betting supporters... Read more →


UPDATE, Oct. 18, 2021: The Capone auction slipped by me, as I focused on the impending Oct. 15 filing extension deadline. But it went off as planned earlier this month, with the convicted tax felon's heirs getting more than $3 million for many of his personal items. The Chicago Tribune has the sale's details, and notes the capital gains taxes they will pay. This U.S. Department of Justice mug shot of Al Capone was taken four months before his tax eviction conviction on Oct. 17, 1931. It is not one of the Capone items that will be auctioned by his... Read more →


The newly built Japan National Stadium in Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies on July 23, 2021, as well as some of the COVID-delayed games' events. (Photo by Arne Müseler via Wikipedia Commons) The 2020 Olympics from Tokyo officially start on Friday, July 23. No, the opening ceremonies arriving after some events' preliminary matches have already been played doesn't mean we get do-overs. Sorry, women's U.S. soccer team. Yes, the global sporting event is keeping last year's designation for continuity's sake, as well as not having to go to the expense of reproducing material created before the... Read more →


Kickback apparently has discontinued its bottled cold coffee with CBD, but still offers the cannabis chemical in ready-to-drink teas and ground coffee. (Photo by Deceptitom via Wikipedia) It's been one of those weeks. That's why when I woke up late this morning – OK, early afternoon — I thought (was hoping) it was Saturday. Once the caffeine kicked in, I discovered that maybe I should be using another energy booster. Cannabidiol, or CBD as it's commonly called. CBD is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients in the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana or hemp. As recreational... Read more →


New York last week became the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana. New Yorkers now can possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis for recreational use. But don't expect to pick up some of that legal weed any time soon. While using marijuana is legal for adults age 21 or older, the process of approving dispensaries and establishing precise regulations and tax rules for cannabis distribution will take a while. 17 cannabis OK locales: Still, the Empire State's move is a big one. New York is the 17th jurisdiction to join the legal cannabis club. The toking fraternity includes 16... Read more →


A scene from "Judas and the Black Messiah," which today received six Oscar nominations. The filmmakers also took advantage of state tax breaks to make the movie. (Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures) The 2021 Oscar nominees were announced today. Let the arguing begin. I'm generally happy with the nominations, especially since two of my favorite and (I believe) overlooked performers were nominated in the Best Actor in a Leading Role. Oh, you want names? Sure: Riz Ahmed for "Sound of Metal" and Steven Yeun for "Minari." However, disagreements about the nominees and the ultimate winners in all Academy of Motion... Read more →


The debate continues about whether gambling really provides states with substantial revenue. But one thing is settled. Regardless of how much, or little, money wagering brings into state coffers, it's here to stay. And Super Bowl Sunday is one reason more states are allowing sports betting within their borders, an option hey were given thank to the 2018 Supreme Court decision. Since last year's National Football League championship game, 36 million more American adults have gained the opportunity to bet legally in seven more jurisdictions: Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C. As today's Super Bowl LV gets... Read more →


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers literally will be the home team in Jan. 7's Super Bowl LV. The NFL championship game is being played at their stadium. The Kansas City Chiefs, however, are still favored by bettors to win the title. We're not back to normal, but the National Football League is doing all it can to keep its traditions, and team bank accounts, on track. Despite some issues in 2020, the NFL played out the season last year. On Sunday, Feb. 7, it will crown its champion in the annual Super Bowl. This 55th big game has a lot, in... Read more →


Add "The 12 Days of Christmas" to the list of things that were affected by the coronavirus pandemic this year. No, not the iconic holiday song. That's still around. But some of the lyrics took a hit when they were evaluated in 2020 for the annual PNC Christmas Price Index (PNC CPI). For this 37th look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Consumer Price Index and how it applies to procuring the song's 12 gifts from a True Love, The PNC Financial Services Group had to make some hard choices. Notably, the 2020 PNC CPI had to adjust for... Read more →


We don't have an image of D.B. Cooper parachuting from a hijacked jetliner Thanksgiving week 1971, but he did jump out over some dense Oregon woods that likely looked a lot like these. (Photo by ankiyay via Pexels) Last week was the weirdest Thanksgiving holiday ever for many of us. In addition to dealing with possible family confrontations in the wake of the most contentious post-election period in modern memory, we had to adjust to pandemic complicated get-togethers. That's why an anniversary probably slipped by you. During Thanksgiving week 49 years ago, a tall thin man, dressed in a business... Read more →


For those of us of a certain age, and with a skewed sense of humor, one of the best Thanksgiving-themed programs ever was the 1978 "Turkeys Away" episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. The sitcom that brought us memorable characters like radio DJs Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap, good-intentioned but inept newsman Les Nessman and 1970s fashion plate sales manager Herb Tarlek, also gave us, in the episode's words, the greatest turkey event in Thanksgiving history. No turkeys were harmed in the making of the show. In fact, we never see what happened outside the Ohio shopping center. Instead, in... Read more →


Image by Bessi via Pixabay Happy Halloween! It's a special one, as it comes — despite the pumpkin-hued image above — on a Blue Moon, the second full moon in a month. Celebrations this year also will be different for most of us. The COVID-19 pandemic means that Oct. 31 festivities will be really, truly scary during a time when mingling with strangers is traditional. We're likely to see more face masks than Michael Myers or Scream masks. But regardless of how or where you'll celebrate All Hallows' Eve, one thing likely will remain the same. There will be candy.... Read more →


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). She was, however, a feminist and pop culture icon, and her death at age 87 is being mourned nationwide. She passed away last night, Sept. 18, at her home in Washington due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Legal and popular recognition: Ginsburg in recent years was referred to by her fans as the Notorious R.B.G., a play on the name of the rapper Notorious B.I.G. who shared her Brooklyn birthplace. Her recognition beyond the bench also came from the Oscar-nominated... Read more →


Labor Day is the time to recognize the contributions of workers. It's one of the United States' oldest official commemorations, with Uncle Sam in 1894 making the first Monday of September a legal federal holiday. In this age of consumerism, however, the meaning of Labor Day and other holidays, official or not, often takes a back seat to associated retail sales. The bargains this year, though, are a bit different. Pandemic precautions have pushed even more shoppers online. COVID-19 closures for good: The country's shift to digital transactions already was well underway before COVID-19 appeared in the United States. But... Read more →


Rapper Cardi B quizzes Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on taxes (and more) in Elle magazine video chat. The 2020 Democratic Convention kicks off today, but former Vice President Joe Biden, who later this week will be formally nominated by his party to take on Donald J. Trump, got a media head start. Biden's recorded video chat with music superstar Cardi B was posted this morning. No, the nearly 17-minute video wasn't put out by the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris campaign. The conversation was sponsored by Elle, where Cardi's visage graces the fashion/lifestyle magazine's September cover. And no, Cardi's not coming... Read more →


The coronavirus pandemic has not only affected sports leagues, athletes and fans, but also gamblers and the state tax collectors that have come to rely on that related tax revenue. Shortened seasons, revised playoff rounds, cardboard fans in stands. Still, Americans' love of sports and boredom with COVID-19 self-isolation, along with the events being televised, has helped the seasons continue. But the actual reduction in the games mean fewer events on which to place bets. Unless bettors make that up by betting more on the remaining games, associated revenue, tax and otherwise, is likely to fall. And now a new... Read more →


The annual Army-Navy game is the only college football matchup I make a point to watch. Go Navy! This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has put such gridiron rivalries in jeopardy. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Johnny Bivera via Wikipedia Commons) The Mid-American Conference (MAC) today became the first Division 1 college football governing body to cancel its fall season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "There are simply too many unknowns to put our student athletes in these situations. This is simply a miserable decision," MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. Yes, for the sports fans, schools, players and coaches,... Read more →