Team executives and agents wandered into the Agave Sunset lounge at the resort where the general managers’ meetings were held in Indian Wells, Calif. Four of the six flat-screen televisions were showing election coverage, with the other two turned to sports.

President Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney was of as much interest to baseball’s money men as the game scores, given the millions of dollars routinely guaranteed in player contracts these days.

As free agents negotiate deals this offseason, tax policy is an area that comes up along with the usual issues. Some players are wrangling for as much money as they can get before the end of the year to avoid a take hike in 2013.

“Front-loading would make sense if at all possible as tax rates will definitely go up on January 1st on all high-income taxpayers,” agent Greg Genske said in an email. “The only question is HOW MUCH will the rates increase????”

This much is known for now: Starting Jan. 1, there is an additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on wages above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly under the federal Affordable Care Act, a rise to 2.35 percent.

In addition, the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, which could raise the highest marginal federal tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent — although a deal between Obama and Congress could change that.

Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane figures agents will be on top of the changes — but the results of negotiations about the so-called fiscal cliff are unpredictable.

“I think if you’re hopping around the potential of tax reform, you’re probably chasing your tail,” Beane said. “If they can predict when something’s going to happen, then they’re much further ahead than the lawmakers.”

With baseball contracts worth as much as $275 million (Alex Rodriguez) and the major league minimum $480,000, tax policy affects every player who spends most of the season in the big leagues.

All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, who has a $10 million salary next year, was traded from the Miami Marlins to the Toronto Blue Jays. While Florida has no state income tax, Reyes remains a New York resident from his days with the Mets and had high taxes to begin with. Ontario’s provincial tax rises to 11.16 percent — on top of a Canadian federal level as high as 29 percent.

Among states with big league teams, income tax rates go as high as 10.3 percent in California and 8.82 percent in New York. At the other end, Florida, Texas and Washington have no state income tax. The top rate in the District of Columbia is 8.95 percent.

“I like ours; we’re a no-tax state,” Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zdurienck said. “When we sit down with players, that’s a huge benefit. I think any player out there that has an opportunity to play in a no-tax state gets benefits, enormous benefits. We hope that weighs in our favor.”

According to an analysis done by a tax lawyer on the staff of agent Scott Boras, a player with a $10 million salary and average deductions who plays in Florida and is a resident of that state will see his taxes rise from $3.45 million this year to $4.09 million next year under current law. If traded to the Blue Jays, that player’s 2013 tax would rise to $4.27 million. And if dealt to a California team, the tax would go up to $4.4 million.

By moving money from salary into signing bonuses, players can sometimes lower their state tax bills. Shifting money into December this year could reduce federal taxes.

“Tax measures are going to be discussed, but change most likely carries compromise on both sides,” Boras said. “One thing is clear based on the nation’s ballot totals: Many Americans are split on this subject.”

In the end, most free agents choose teams based on where they want to play, not on lowering the tax cut on their income.

“It’s a factor, maybe even a small factor,” agent Craig Landis said. “If there’s 50 variables, you can now make it a 51st. It’s not usually going to be the drive, but it’s something to consider.”

And for teams, only the big spenders need worry.

Beane’s Athletics, for instance, had the lowest payroll in the majors last season.

“It’s probably not a situation I’ll have to face in Oakland too much,” he said.

 


Today’s bad hot of the day is fast rising mega- actress of the Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence. She is a great actress who also happens to be very nice looking.

Jennifer Lawrence

Be sure to click on the thumbnails below if you want to view the pictures in their larger original sizes.

 


Food stamp welfare individuals must soon be chipped

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17)

In a little while, the above scene in Revelation 13 will become a global reality. People can no longer buy or sell without the mark of the beast. And sometimes that would mean no longer being able to eat!

The USDA is now considering biometric identification for all individuals who will want to benefit from their Food and Nutrition Services. The RFID chip may just soon be a must for everyone who does not want to starve!

The following is an excerpt of the executive summary of the FINAL REPORT of the Use of Biometric Identification Technology to Reduce Fraud in the Food Stamp Program:

Biometric identification technology provides automated methods to identify a person based on physical characteristics—such as fingerprints, hand shape, and characteristics of the eyes and face—as well as behavioral characteristics—including signatures and voice patterns.

Biometric identification systems are currently operational at some level in Arizona, California (under county initiative, first by Los Angeles County), Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. Finger imaging is the principal form of technology used in all eight States, though alternative technologies have simultaneously undergone trials in Massachusetts (facial recognition) and Illinois (retinal scanning). By the end of 2000, new systems are expected to be in place in California (statewide unified system), Delaware, and North Carolina. Other States are currently in the initial planning stages, including Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. However, there is little information available at this point regarding the specific course and trajectory these States will follow in terms of system types, implementation schedules, and the benefit programs in which they will implement the new requirement.

The States planned for implementation of their biometric identification systems in response to a wide variety of factors and considerations idiosyncratic to each State environment. Some States reported that their respective legislative mandates, which prescribed specific dates by which biometric systems were required to be in place, allowed insufficient time for development and planning. The States developed and followed implementation schedules in accordance with internal priorities and considerations. The States uniformly described their implementation processes as largely uneventful, though they encountered a variety of minor implementation issues, most of which were associated with the logistical difficulties of mobilizing and managing such a complex initiative.

Preparing staff for the implementation of the biometric systems, both philosophically and operationally, took different forms, priorities, and levels of effort in the States. At implementation, advance notification to clients and/or the general public about new biometric client identification procedures was considered important by all State representatives. The objective of providing advance notification was to inform and prepare clients for the additional application or recertification step (i.e., to explain the requirement and who is required to submit, and to address client concerns), as well as to accelerate enrollment of the existing caseload. All States prepared informational mailings to clients advising them of the new requirement. Some States reported developing additional outreach media including multilingual (English and Spanish) videos, posters, and brochures for viewing and distribution in the local office. Most of the States also identified various outlets in the community through which they informed the general public in advance about the implementation of biometric client identification procedures.

Program outcomes

The evaluations of finger imaging systems conducted by six States have produced the following findings. A small number of duplicate applications (approximately 1 duplicate for every 5,000 cases) have been detected by finger imaging systems. Finger-imaging systems appear to detect more fraud in statewide implementations than in regional pilot systems. Additional matches have been found by interstate comparisons of finger-image data.

Institution of a finger-imaging requirement can produce a significant, short-term reduction in caseload, because some existing clients refuse to comply with the requirement. The number of refusals depends on the implementation procedures and appears to be lower when finger imaging is incorporated into the recertification process.

The most carefully controlled estimate of non-compliance among existing clients suggests that introduction of a finger-imaging requirement reduces participation by approximately 1.3%. However, this estimate reflects both reduced fraud and deterrence of eligible individuals and households.

 


A 62-year-old Cushing man will spend five days in jail after pleading guilty Wednesday to assaulting his estranged wife.

Fred E. Thomas pleaded guilty to 180 days in jail with all but five days suspended and was placed on probation for a year for domestic violence assault and indecent conduct. A third charge of unlawful sexual contact was dismissed.

The incident occurred in July in Warren when his wife of 39 years, who was estranged from him, stayed at his place. He offered her $20 for sex, and when she refused he took out his penis and struck her with it, according to the prosecution’s version of events to which he pleaded guilty.

Defense Attorney Justin Andrus said Thomas was tremendously upset that his marriage of 39 years was ending. He said his estranged wife was planning to go to Pakistan to meet a man she met online.

“This was not his normal conduct,” Andrus told Justice Jeffrey Hjelm during the sentencing hearing in Knox County Superior Court.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald asked for Thomas to serve seven days in jail while Andrus asked for just probation and no jail time.

Hjelm said a jail term was appropriate in this case.

“This was sexually aggressive conduct. This couldn’t be much more offensive,” Hjelm said.

The wife did not seek jail time for Thomas but did ask that he undergo counseling for anger management, which was ordered.

 


Today’s bad hot of the day is current Mississippi State University cheerleader Taylor Corley. It has surfaced that the stunningly beautiful blonde posed for Playboy under the name of Taylor Stone. Enjoy fellas!!!

Taylor Corley

Be sure to click on her thumbnails below for your viewing pleasure in full size. I wonder if her new found fame has increased attendance to the MSU football games this year?

 


Scientists have discovered a gene variation that affects the human body clock so profoundly that it even predicts the time of day when an individual is most likely to die.

Researchers hope the findings could eventually be used to determine when heart or stroke patients should take medication to make it most effective, or when hospital patients should be monitored most closely.

The US team discovered the gene variation by accident when they were investigating the development of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. They looked at the sleeping patterns of 1,200 healthy 65-year-olds who were also given annual neurological and psychiatric assessments.

Differences: Those with the AA or AG genotype died just before 11am on average, but those with the GG genotype tended to die at just before 6pm. They found a single molecule near a gene called ‘Period 1’ that had as its base either adenine (A) or guanine (G).

Type A is more common by a ratio of six to four, so because people have two sets of chromosomes, an individual has a 36 per cent chance of having two As, a 16 per cent chance of having two Gs, and a 48 per cent chance of an A and a G.

The findings, published in the Annals of Neurology, showed that those with a AA genotype tend naturally to wake up about an hour earlier than those with GG, and the AGs wake up almost exactly in the middle. They also showed that those with the AA or AG genotype died just before 11am on average, but those with the GG genotype tended to die at just before 6pm.

The study’s lead author Andrew Lim, from the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, said: ‘The internal “biological clock” regulates many aspects of human biology and behaviour. It also influences the timing of acute medical events like stroke and heart attack.’

Clifford Saper, chief of neurology at BIDMC, said: ‘So there is really a gene that predicts the time of day that you’ll die. Not the date, fortunately, but the time of day.’

 


The entire Christian calendar is based on a miscalculation, the Pope has declared, as he claims in a new book that Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly believed.

The ‘mistake’ was made by a sixth century monk known as Dionysius Exiguus or in English Dennis the Small, the 85-year-old pontiff claims in the book ‘Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives’, published on Wednesday.

“The calculation of the beginning of our calendar – based on the birth of Jesus – was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years,” the Pope writes in the book, which went on sale around the world with an initial print run of a million copies.

“The actual date of Jesus’s birth was several years before.”

The assertion that the Christian calendar is based on a false premise is not new – many historians believe that Christ was born sometime between 7BC and 2BC.

But the fact that doubts over one of the keystones of Christian tradition have been raised by the leader of the world’s one billion Catholics is striking.

Dennis the Small, who was born in Eastern Europe, is credited with being the “inventor” of the modern calendar and the concept of the Anno Domini era.

He drew up the new system in part to distance it from the calendar in use at the time, which was based on the years since the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian.

The emperor had persecuted Christians, so there was good reason to expunge him from the new dating system in favour of one inspired by the birth of Christ.

The monk’s calendar became widely accepted in Europe after it was adopted by the Venerable Bede, the historian-monk, to date the events that he recounted in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which he completed in AD 731.

But exactly how Dennis calculated the year of Christ’s birth is not clear and the Pope’s claim that he made a mistake is a view shared by many scholars.

The Bible does not specify a date for the birth of Christ. The monk instead appears to have based his calculations on vague references to Jesus’s age at the start of his ministry and the fact that he was baptised in the reign of the emperor Tiberius.

Christ’s birth date is not the only controversy raised by the Pope in his new book – he also said that contrary to the traditional Nativity scene, there were no oxen, donkeys or other animals at Jesus’s birth.

He also weighs in on the debate over Christ’s birthplace, rejecting arguments by some scholars that he was born in Nazareth rather than Bethlehem.

John Barton, Professor of the Interpretation of the Holy Scripture at Oriel College, Oxford University, said most academics agreed with the Pope that the Christian calendar was wrong and that Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly thought, probably between 6BC and 4BC.

“There is no reference to when he was born in the Bible – all we know is that he was born in the reign of Herod the Great, who died before 1AD,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “It’s been surmised for a very long time that Jesus was born before 1AD – no one knows for sure.”

The idea that Christ was born on Dec 25 also has no basis in historical fact. “We don’t even know which season he was born in. The whole idea of celebrating his birth during the darkest part of the year is probably linked to pagan traditions and the winter solstice.”

 

Was a Big Foot Spotted in Tunbridge Wells


It is an historic and quaint ‘middle England’ town which doesn’t really like creating a scene. But if the reports of one terrified walker are to be believed, the residents of Royal Tunbridge Wells could have a giant Bigfoot-like creature in their midst.

A man walking in the woods beside the town’s common claims to have spotted an 8ft tall beast with demonic red eyes and long arms. According to The Sun, the ape-like creature, which looked like America’s legendary Bigfoot, roared at the walker, who immediately ran off in fear. Over the past six months there have been a number of sightings of a mysterious beast.

Locals in the Kent town have mixed opinions about the claims – with some believing it could be a joker wearing a fancy dress costume. Sightings in the town go back decades. The Kentish Apeman was first spotted on the town’s common during World War Two 70 years ago. A man called ‘Graham S’ told a story of how an elderly couple saw it in 1942. Writing for the community website Tunbridge Wells People, he said: ‘They were siting on a bench when they became aware of a shuffling noise behind them. ‘Upon turning around they saw a tall, ape-like creature with eyes that were burning red moving slowly towards them. They both fled – terrified.’

Bigfoot was the name given to an ape-like creature which many people believed inhabited forests in the northwest region of the U.S. The man was walking in the woods beside the town’s common (highlighted) claims to have spotted an 8ft tall beast with demonic red eyes and long arms. Scientists however do not believe it is a real animal and say rumours of its existence have come from folklore and hoax. Royal Tunbridge Wells is located in west Kent about 40 miles from London. It has a population of about 56,500 and is popular with tourists.

 


Store mannequins are meant to catch your eye. Soon you may catch theirs.

Fashion brands are deploying mannequins equipped with technology used to identify criminals at airports to watch over shoppers in their stores. Retailers are introducing the EyeSee, sold by Italian mannequin maker Almax SpA, to glean data on customers much as online merchants are able to do.

Five companies are using a total of “a few dozen” of the mannequins with orders for at least that many more, Almax Chief Executive Officer Max Catanese said. The 4,000-euro ($5,130) device has spurred shops to adjust window displays, store layouts and promotions to keep consumers walking in the door and spending.

“It’s spooky,” said Luca Solca, head of luxury goods research at Exane BNP Paribas in London. “You wouldn’t expect a mannequin to be observing you.”

The EyeSee looks ordinary enough on the outside, with its slender polystyrene frame, blank face and improbable pose. Inside, it’s no dummy. A camera embedded in one eye feeds data into facial-recognition software like that used by police. It logs the age, gender, and race of passers-by.

Eye-Level

Demand for the device shows how retailers are turning to technology to help personalize their offers as growth slows in the $245 billion luxury goods industry. Bain & Co. predicts the luxury market will expand 5 percent in 2012, less than half last year’s rate.

“Any software that can help profile people while keeping their identities anonymous is fantastic,” said Uché Okonkwo, executive director of consultant Luxe Corp. It “could really enhance the shopping experience, the product assortment, and help brands better understand their customers.”

While some stores deploy similar technology to watch shoppers from overhead security cameras, the EyeSee provides better data because it stands at eye level and invites customer attention, Almax contends.

The mannequin, which went on sale last December and is now being used in three European countries and the U.S., has led one outlet to adjust its window displays after revealing that men who shopped in the first two days of a sale spent more than women, according to Almax.

A clothier introduced a children’s line after the dummy showed that kids made up more than half its mid-afternoon traffic, the company says. Another store found that a third of visitors using one of its doors after 4 p.m. were Asian, prompting it to place Chinese-speaking staff by that entrance.

‘Changing Landscape’

Catanese declined to name clients, citing confidentiality agreements at the 40-year-old mannequin maker.

Benetton Group SpA said it’s not using EyeSee or comparable technology. They buy some mannequins without technology from Almax, a spokesman said.

Burberry Group Plc (BRBY) and Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) are also among retailers that say they aren’t on the list. Even so, they are helping blur the line between the physical shopping experience and Web retailing by setting up WiFi, iPads and video screens at their outlets to better engage shoppers.

Nordstrom, a U.S. chain of more than 100 department stores, says facial-recognition software may go a step too far.

“It’s a changing landscape but we’re always going to be sensitive about respecting the customer’s boundaries,” said spokesman Colin Johnson.

No Choice

Others say profiling customers raises legal and ethical issues. U.S. and European Union regulations permit the use of cameras for security purposes, though retailers need to put up signs in their stores warning customers they may be filmed. Watching people solely for commercial gain may break the rules and could be viewed as gathering personal data without consent, says Christopher Mesnooh, a partner at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse in Paris.

“If you go on Facebook, before you start the registration process, you can see exactly what information they are going to collect and what they’re going to do with it,” said Mesnooh. “If you’re walking into a store, where’s the choice?”

So far Almax hasn’t faced obstacles to selling the dummy, CEO Catanese said. Since the EyeSee doesn’t store any images, retailers can use it as long as they have a closed-circuit television license, he said.

Some clients have asked for the Eyesee to be rigged to recognize employees so they don’t muddy the picture of customer behavior. In those cases, workers have to agree to be filmed, says Catanese. That option may be extended to shoppers, where loyal spenders would be invited to opt-in in return for rewards, he said.

Not Deaf

“The retail community is starting to get wise to the opportunity around personalization,” said Lorna Hall, retail editor at fashion forecaster WGSN. “The golden ticket is getting to the point where they’ve got my details, they know what I bought last time I came in.”

To give the EyeSee ears as well as eyes, Almax is testing technology that recognizes words to allow retailers to eavesdrop on what shoppers say about the mannequin’s attire. Catanese says the company also plans to add screens next to the dummies to prompt customers about products relevant to their profile, much like cookies and pop-up ads on a website.

Too much sophistication could backfire, says Hall, because it’s a fine line between technology that helps and technology that irks.

A promotional prompt or a reminder about where to find women’s shoes “could become a digital version of a very pushy sales assistant,” she said. “And we all know how we feel about those.”

 


We may finally have proof that there are aliens among us.

Using a complicated system unknown to us humans, aliens appear to have managed to beam their image onto the spectacular Northern Lights sky.

The photographer was shocked on his return home to see the image of the green faced alien in his pictures of the aurora Northern Lights.

Landscape photographer Iurie Belegurschi captured the image by accident in the Reykjanes peninsula of Iceland.

On a clear night on September 8, Belegurschi stayed up all night and waited to watch the aurora Northern Lights dance in the sky.

He said: “I didn’t see the alien face during shooting, but when I came home I checked my photographs on the computer and I saw it! It’s unbelievable, I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

“I can’t describe with words what I feel when I see the Northern lights, but in my opinion it is the most amazing phenomenon we can witness.

“I wish everybody could see it at least once in their life.”

But don’t expect to see aliens if you do venture out to the remote area.

Self-taught Iurie moved to Iceland in 2006 to follow his biggest passion, the Northern Lights.

He is now waiting for the solar max in 2013-2014 to capture more aurora activity – with or without aliens.

 




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