A Warning on Bay Area REITs

Technology analysts at Mizuho Securities USA took a look at venture capital funded tech startups and found them grossly overvalued in a Thursday report titled, “Bubble Jeopardy 2.0.” So why should income investors be concerned? In part of the report, they took the novel approach of  collaborating with their real estate counterparts. The result is a warning for investors in real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the Bay area. Read More»  

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Supreme Court sets election-year clash on immigration

Immigrants and community leaders rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to mark the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration in Washington, Nov. 20, 2015. The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to review Obama's plan that protect up to 5 million immigrants from deportation and allows them to work legally in the United States. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Immigrants and community leaders rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to mark the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration in Washington, Nov. 20, 2015. The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to review Obama’s plan that protect up to 5 million immigrants from deportation and allows them to work legally in the United States. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court stepped into a boiling political dispute over immigration Tuesday, setting up a likely decision in the middle of a presidential campaign marked by harsh rhetoric about immigrants.

The justices agreed to review whether President Barack Obama, acting without congressional approval, has the power to shield from deportation up to 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and make them eligible to work without fear of being rounded up.

Underscoring the political dimension, the case will be argued in April and decided by late June, about a month before both political parties gather for their nominating conventions.

If Obama prevails against opponents led by Republican governors, there would be roughly seven months left in his presidency to implement plans that would affect the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as some people who arrived in the United States before they turned 16.

“We are confident that the policies will be upheld as lawful,” White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said after the court’s announcement Tuesday.

At issue is the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, which Obama said in late 2014 would allow people who have been in the United States more than five years and who have children who are in the country legally to “come out of the shadows and get right with the law.” He also announced the expansion of a program that affects people who came here illegally as children.

That earlier program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is not being challenged and has resulted in more than 720,000 young immigrants being granted permission to live and work in the United States.

When he announced the measures 14 months ago, Obama said he was acting under his own authority because Congress had failed to overhaul the immigration system. The Senate did pass legislation on a bipartisan vote, but House Republicans refused to put the matter to a vote.

Texas quickly led a legal challenge to Obama’s program on behalf of 26 states and has won every round in court so far. Most recently, in November, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the states, prompting the appeal to the Supreme Court.

Texas actually asked the Supreme Court not to hear the case challenging those rulings, but state Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was pleased the justices will examine the president’s constitutional power to intercede without congressional approval. “In deciding to hear this case, the Supreme Court recognizes the importance of the separation of powers,” Paxton said.

The U.S. solicitor general, Donald Verrilli Jr., said in his Supreme Court filing that allowing the lower court rulings to stand would force millions of people “to continue to work off the books, without the option of lawful employment to provide for their families.”

The administration said Texas and the other states don’t even have the right to challenge the plan in federal court. The lower courts decided that Texas does have the right, or standing, to sue because at least 500,000 people living in Texas would qualify for work permits and thus become eligible for driver’s licenses, the costs of which are subsidized by the state. “Texas would incur millions of dollars in costs,” the state said in its brief.

The justices also said they would consider whether, if the states can pursue their lawsuit, Obama exceeded his authority under federal laws and the Constitution.

Some court observers saw in the court’s decision to look at Obama’s power under the Constitution a potentially ominous sign. “It suggests that the court is willing to engage President Obama’s entire use of executive orders,” said Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the nonpartisan National Constitution Center.

Still, Democratic officials and immigrants’ advocates praised the court’s action. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said that “law-abiding men and women continue to live in constant fear of being separated from their children. These families must be allowed to step out of the shadows and fully contribute to the country that they love and call home.”

The future of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally has been much discussed by Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has pledged to go further than Obama to protect large groups of immigrants from deportation.

Republican Donald Trump has proposed deporting all people who are living in the U.S. illegally, an idea embraced by some other GOP candidates and dismissed by others.

While immigration activists generally have been supportive of Obama, they have criticized his administration for raids this month that resulted in the arrests of more than 120 immigrants from Central America who came to the country illegally since 2014. Those recent arrivals are not among immigrants who would benefit from Obama’s plan.

The raids are part of a shift in the administration’s enforcement actions to focus on criminals, those who pose a threat to national security or public safety, and recent border-crossers.

The change means that people who are here illegally but who are not otherwise violating the law are less likely to face deportation.

About 235,000 people were deported in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

That was the smallest number since 2006 and a 42 percent drop since a record high of more than 409,000 in 2012.

Associated Press reporter Mark Sherman wrote this report.

Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

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The post Supreme Court sets election-year clash on immigration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

GOP candidates laud prisoner release, but criticize Obama on Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (front L-R) arrive at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria, Jan. 16, 2016. Republicans mostly criticized President Obama for his willingness to conducts talk with the longtime U.S. foe, but praised the release of five American prisoners. Photos By Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (front L-R) arrive at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria, Jan. 16, 2016 to announce the end of western sanctions against Iran. Photo By Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

The release of four Americans detained by Iran won praise on Saturday from several Republicans running for president, along with condemnation of the Obama administration for its dealings with the Islamic Republic.

There were exceptions, with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul saying he was pleased “our government did not sit idly by” as Iran held pastor Saeed Abedini, who was among those freed.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, warned the deal created an incentive for other governments around the world to take Americans hostage, even though just a few months ago he had urged Secretary of State John Kerry to “use every tool at your disposal” to free Americans held in Iran.

In return, the U.S. agreed to pardon or drop charges against seven Iranians – six of whom are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens – accused or convicted of violating U.S. sanctions.

Along with Abedini, those released include Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, whose name had not been previously made public. Student Matthew Trevithick was also released in a move unrelated to the swap, U.S. officials said.

Here’s a deeper look at what the candidates had to say on Saturday about the prisoner exchange.

DONALD TRUMP

The Republican front-runner said while he’s happy the prisoners are coming back, “it’s a disgrace they’ve been there for so long.”

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire January 16, 2016. Photo By Brian Snyder/Reuters

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire January 16, 2016. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

“This should have been done three or four years ago,” Trump told a crowd gathered at a car dealership on a snowy Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Trump said he would need to look into the details of the deal to free the prisoners, but he said his initial assessment was that it “doesn’t sound too good.”

“They get $150 billion, plus seven and we get four,” said Trump, referring to the approximately $100 billion in Iranian assets that will be unfrozen as part of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other world powers.

MARCO RUBIO

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said that while he is happy for the freed Americans and their families, the U.S. “shouldn’t be involved in swaps. This never should have happened.”

“Governments are taking Americans hostage, because they believe they can gain concessions from this government under Barack Obama,” Rubio said while campaigning in Iowa. “It’s created an incentive for more people to do this in the future.”

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks at a campaign event in Johnston, Iowa, Jan. 16, 2016. Photo By Jim Young/Reuters

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks at a campaign event in Johnston, Iowa, Jan. 16, 2016. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

That’s not the message Rubio was sending earlier this year, after the nuclear deal with Iran was announced.

In July, he wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry that it is “unacceptable that the United States has reached a final agreement with Iran while innocent Americans languish in the most brutal conditions of Iranian jail cells.”

He went on to add, “These American citizens deserve to be released unconditionally, and I urge you to use every tool at your disposal to secure their freedom.”

JEB BUSH

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the release “good news,” but suggested the U.S. decision to release Iranian prisoners in exchange amounted to the latest example of “weakness” in the Obama administration’s dealings with Iran.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks after being endorsed by Senator Lindsey Graham in North Charleston, South Carolina Jan. 15, 2016. Photo By Chris Keane/Reuters

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks after being endorsed by Senator Lindsey Graham in North Charleston, South Carolina Jan. 15, 2016. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

“Let’s take a step back here. The bigger issue is that we’ve legitimized a regime who shows no interest in actually moving toward the so-called community of nations,” Bush told voters at a town hall in Amherst, New Hampshire.

RAND PAUL

In a statement, the Kentucky senator praised Abedini as “an incredibly brave man for risking his life for his Christian beliefs.”

Taking a different tack than several others in the Republican presidential race, Paul didn’t use the release to condemn the Obama administration for its actions in brokering the nuclear deal with Iran.

Instead, he said, “I am pleased that our government did not sit idly by while an American citizen was persecuted abroad due to religious intolerance.

“The United States stands as a beacon of freedom and hope for those across the globe, and as such, we must continue to fight for the safe return of those wrongfully imprisoned abroad based on their religious beliefs.”

TED CRUZ

Speaking at a tea party convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called the prisoner swap another sign of Obama’s weakness on the world stage.

Sen. Ted Cruz called the prisoner swap another sign of Obama’s weakness on the world stage. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Sen. Ted Cruz called the prisoner swap another sign of Obama’s weakness on the world stage. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

“I want to start by giving thanks … but at the same time we’ve got to shake our heads at how it happened,” Cruz said.

Cruz told the crowd that while Iran released a pastor and journalist, among others, the U.S. freed Iranians accused of violating sanctions and assisting the Tehran regime’s nuclear ambitions.

“You’ll notice the Obama administration announces the good news and then hides the bad news,” Cruz said. “While we celebrate their return, this deal serves as piece of propaganda for both Iran and the Obama administration.”

The post GOP candidates laud prisoner release, but criticize Obama on Iran appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Top Surrogate For Hillary Clinton To Demand Medical Records From Bernie Sanders

A top surrogate for Hillary Clinton is prepping a new attack in an intensifying and increasingly personal war against rival Bernie Sanders — calling on the 74-year-old to release his medical records before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

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Northeast Ohio to State DOT: Road Expansions Getting Out of Hand

If you could point to one aspect of American transportation policy that’s more disastrous than all the others, expanding highways and roads to the point of absurdity is probably it.

I-90 in northeast Ohio. Photo: GreenCityBlueLake

In northeast Ohio, cities like Cleveland and Akron were hollowed out by highway building, but the state DOT still privileges road expansion instead of maintenance or investment in transit, biking, and walking. At a recent event, regional transportation leaders asked the state to shift its priorities, reports Marc Lefkowitz at GreenCityBlueLake:

Even though Northeast Ohio’s transportation agency, NOACA spends only 7% of its budget building new roads, Executive Director, Grace Gallucci says, make no mistake; the region is still expanding its roads and highways.

“There’s two billion dollars of transportation funding in Ohio,” Gallucci offered at the City Club last week. “We’re kidding ourselves if we think capacity isn’t being increased.”

It is unsustainable, says Gallucci, to maintain the current road system while expanding it further. Slow population growth and lower density development has contributed to an estimated $1.8 billion backlog of road work in the five-county area that NOACA serves.

“There has to be a way that older, slow-growth regions like ours fund road maintenance,” Gallucci said. “If I want to go ask for an Opportunity Corridor or $300 million for new capacity, I can. But, if I want $300 million to maintain what we have, there is nowhere I can go.”

Gallucci has joined with other heads of metropolitan planning organizations, which are local intermediaries that help direct federal transportation funding, in asking state lawmakers and the Ohio Department of Transportation to carve out a portion of the biggest source of federal funds, the Surface Transportation Program (STP), for maintenance purposes.

Elsewhere on the Streetsblog Network today: The Dallas Morning News Transportation Blog reports that a downtown highway segment might get widened. And Greater Greater Washington plugs the new transit project tracker developed by Yonah Freemark and Steven Vance.

Introducing Uber Trip Experiences

We opened our API to developers globally over a year ago. Since then we’ve seen the creative ways that other apps have used Uber’s API to help get riders from A to B.  Buy baseball tickets on StubHub and you’ll get a reminder to book your ride when it’s time to head for the game.  It’s the same with United Airlines for flights and OpenTable for restaurant reservations.  And Facebook’s Messenger lets you and your friends request a ride right when you are chatting.  These integrations help make life simpler and easier for people to get around.  

During the holidays, we completed our billionth trip.  Added together that’s a lot of time riders spend in an Uber.  Which got us thinking … what if developers could also offer users of their apps new ways to enjoy themselves — or get stuff done — while they’re on the road?  

So today we’re excited to announce the launch a new developer feature called Uber Trip Experiences which connects riders with their favorite apps at the start of a trip when they may have some time to spare.  

Here are some of the ideas we are excited about.

Entertainment:  10 minute playlists for a 10 minute trip

Entertainment

News:  A five minute news update for a five minute trip

News

Local Guides:  Insights and offers at your destination

Local Guides

Your home:  Turn on the heating when you’re headed home

Smart Home

That said, we know that people’s time is precious and sometimes passengers just want to sit back and relax in peace.  So users will be in complete control.  They will need to give permission before any app can connect to Uber and access their trip details.  And if they find it’s not useful, users will be able to turn off the feature on an app by app basis.


GET STARTED NOW


This is the biggest update to the Uber API since the release of our Ride Request API in March 2015.  More than ever, Uber now makes it possible for developers to build moving experiences.  We can’t wait to see what developers come up with next!

Get started today by following the instructions in our getting started guide!