Tax Law Limit on Deductions Looms Large in Some House Races

Democrats in three key states are focusing on the new tax law passed by Republicans and its potential to hurt certain voters as they attempt to regain the majority in the U.S. House.

California, New Jersey and New York combined have about a dozen competitive House seats. That’s roughly half the number Democrats need in November to retake the chamber and are in places where voters are upset about the law’s new limits on state and local tax deductions.

Taxpayers with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000 and high local deductions are among the most likely to have their tax obligations rise under the GOP law. Nearly two-thirds of the ZIP codes where they were concentrated are in the three high-tax states.

US Housing Construction up 9.2 Percent in August

U.S. home construction rebounded in August at the fastest pace in seven months, a hopeful sign for a housing industry that has been struggling with rising lumber costs.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts increased 9.2 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.28 million units. Housing starts had declined 0.3 percent in July and 11.4 percent in June. The increase was the biggest since a 10.2 percent advance in January.

Builders have struggled this year to deal with rising costs for lumber, land and labor. The National Association of Home Builders estimates that lumber prices have shot up by about $7,000 per home since the start of 2017, largely due to tariffs the Trump administration has imposed on imports of Canadian softwood lumber.

Monsanto Asks Judge to Throw Out $289M Award in Cancer Suit

Agribusiness company Monsanto has asked a San Francisco judge to throw out a jury’s $289 million award to a former school groundskeeper who said the company’s Roundup weed killer left him dying of cancer.

Attorneys for Monsanto said in court documents filed late Tuesday that DeWayne Johnson failed to prove that Roundup or similar herbicides caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

They said there was no evidence that Monsanto executives were malicious in marketing Roundup.

A jury last month determined that Roundup contributed to Johnson’s cancer, and Monsanto should have provided a label warning of a potential health hazard.

It awarded Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.

Johnson’s lawsuit is among hundreds alleging Roundup caused cancer.

His case was the first one to go to trial.

CEO of AutoNation, Biggest US Dealership, is Stepping Down

Mike Jackson is stepping down after almost two decades leading AutoNation, the nation’s largest dealership chain.

Jackson, 69, steered AutoNation through the economic crisis and shares have increased fourfold since he took over in 1999, though he will relinquish his role as CEO next year with auto sales waning across the industry.

Jackson has become an outspoken personality in regular appearances on the business channel, CNBC.

He earned a reputation as an innovator and last year, entered a multi-year partnership with Google to provide maintenance for its self-driving auto division, Waymo.

Jackson will continue as CEO while AutoNation seeks a successor, and will be the executive chairman of the company.

AutoNation Inc., based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said Wednesday that it is considering internal and external candidates.

NJ Probes FanDuel Refusal to Pay $82K on Wrong Football Odds

New Jersey gambling regulators are investigating whether FanDuel’s sports book at the Meadowlands Racetrack should pay out more than $82,000 to a man who was given exorbitant odds for the Denver Broncos to win Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

Anthony Prince of Newark made his bet and was handed a ticket at incredible 750-1 odds with about a minute left in the game. Denver kicked a field goal with 6 seconds left to win 20-19, capping a second half comeback that started with the Broncos down 12-0.

FanDuel says its system malfunctioned and it is not obligated to pay out on an obvious error.

Prince told News12 New Jersey that FanDuel offered him $500 and some tickets to future New York Giants games, adding he should take the offer because they’re not obligated to give him anything.

David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, wants to know how it happened.

Biopharmaceutical Company Fined for Misleading Investors

A Colorado-based biopharmaceutical company has been penalized more than $20 million for misleading investors about the efficacy of a lung cancer drug under development before raising $300 million in a public stock offering.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought the complaint against Clovis Oncology Inc., of Boulder, and two company executives — CEO Patrick Mahaffy and former chief financial officer Erle Mast, the Daily Camera newspaper reports.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, federal regulators said Clovis Oncology reported in May 2015 that its lung cancer drug was effective in reducing the size of tumors 60 percent of the time. They did not disclose updated data that showed the efficacy was actually 42 percent before its July 2015 stock offering that raised $300 million, the SEC alleged.

Clovis Oncology stock traded as high as $116 in mid-September 2015 and collapsed to $26 a share in mid-November 2015 after Clovis disclosed the drug’s actual efficacy rate was 28 percent. The company stopped developing the drug in May 2016, with the stock trading in the $12 range.

Clovis shares were trading at $32.50 on Wednesday.

Port Wine? Feta? Brexit May Spell Trouble for Famed EU Names

Britain’s impending exit from the European Union is throwing up a host of difficulties. One relates to what happens with the EU’s name-protection laws in Britain. These have helped to ensure the livelihood of many workers across Europe by shielding them from industrial-scale, lower-cost copycats. Portugal’s port wine producers are one group that’s concerned as Brexit threatens their 50 million-euro ($58 million) annual business into Britain.

Report: One-Third of Households Struggle to Pay Energy Bills

One in five U.S. households went without food, medicine or other necessities to pay their electricity or gas bills. The Energy Information Administration says nearly a third of households had trouble paying their energy bills in 2015. The group says the problem is mainly impacting racial minorities and low-income households with children. At the same time that people were reporting these problems, overall energy-related spending was at its lowest point in more than a decade.

Danish Bank CEO Quits Amid Money Laundering Scandal

The chief executive of Denmark’s largest bank resigned Wednesday after an internal report into allegations of massive money laundering via an Estonian subsidiary showed that “the vast majority” of transactions were deemed to be “suspicious.” Danske Bank commissioned the probe last year following reports that dirty money was flowing through the Baltic subsidiary including from family members of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Former Exec Sues Spotify Over Boys-Only Events and Pay

A former sales executive is suing Spotify for gender discrimination and equal pay violations, saying executives organized “boys’ trips” that excluded women and that the company paid men more for the same work.

The executive, Hong Perez, sued the music streaming company and its head of U.S. sales, Brian Berner, in New York State Court on Tuesday. But her lawsuit states Berner was not the only executive who was dismissive of women, and cites men-only strip club visits as an example.

Spotify Inc. says in a prepared statement that it does not tolerate harassment or discrimination, but it would not comment on pending litigation.

Perez claims that after Berner was reprimanded by Spotify for accepting free concert tickets, he blamed her and she was then fired for violating company policy.

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