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98.3 TRY Social Dilemma: If You Cook Dinner, Should Your Spouse Have To Do Clean Up?

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98.3 TRY Social Dilemma: If You Cook Dinner, Should Your Spouse Have To Do Clean Up?

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Monday, September 20, GasBuddy reported a weekly update on Albany gas prices. All Albany-based data is from GasBuddy’s daily survey of 546 stations in Albany.

Albany gas prices have not changed in the past week, averaging $3.24/g Monday, September 20. Gas prices in Albany are 8.5 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and 95.7 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

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Let computers do it: Film set tragedy spurs call to ban guns

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Let computers do it: Film set tragedy spurs call to ban guns

NEW YORK (AP) — With computer-generated imagery, it seems the sky’s the limit in the magic Hollywood can produce: elaborate dystopian universes. Trips to outer space, for those neither astronauts nor billionaires. Immersive journeys to the future, or back to bygone eras.

But as a shocked and saddened industry was reminded this week, many productions still use guns — real guns — when filming. And despite rules and regulations, people can get killed, as happened last week when Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after he was handed a weapon and told it was safe.

The tragedy has led some in Hollywood, along with incredulous observers, to ask: Why are real guns ever used on set, when computers can create gunshots in post-production? Isn’t even the smallest risk unacceptable?

For Alexi Hawley, it is. “Any risk is too much risk,” the executive producer of ABC’s police drama “The Rookie” announced in a staff memo Friday, saying the events in New Mexico had “shaken us all.”

There “will be no more ‘live’ weapons on the show,” he wrote in a note, first reported by The Hollywood Reporter and confirmed by The Associated Press.

Instead, he said, the policy would be to use replica guns, which use pellets and not bullets, with muzzle flashes added in post-production.

The director of the popular Kate Winslet drama “Mare of Easttown,” Craig Zobel, called for the entire industry to follow suit and said gunshots on that show were added after filming, even though on previous productions he has used live rounds.

“There’s no reason to have guns loaded with blanks or anything on set anymore,” Zobel wrote on Twitter. “Should just be fully outlawed. There’s computers now. The gunshots on ‘Mare of Easttown’ are all digital. You can probably tell, but who cares? It’s an unnecessary risk.”

Bill Dill — a cinematographer who taught Hutchins, a rising star in her field, at the American Film Institute — expressed disgust in an interview over the “archaic practice of using real guns with blanks in them, when we have readily available and inexpensive computer graphics.”

Dill, whose credits include “The Five Heartbeats” and “Dancing in September,” said there was added danger from real guns because “people are working long hours” on films and “are exhausted.”

“There’s no excuse for using live weapons,” he said.

A petition was launched over the weekend on change.org for real guns to be banned from production sets.

“There is no excuse for something like this to happen in the 21st century,” it said of the tragedy. “This isn’t the early 90′s, when Brandon Lee was killed in the same manner. Change needs to happen before additional talented lives are lost.” Lee, the actor son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, was killed in 1993 by a makeshift bullet left in a prop gun after a previous scene.

The petition appealed to Baldwin directly “to use his power and influence” in the industry and promote “Halyna’s Law,” which would ban the use of real firearms on set. As it stands, the U.S. federal workplace safety agency is silent on the issue and most of the preferred states for productions take a largely hands-off approach.

Hutchins, 42, died and director Joel Souza was wounded Thursday on the set of the Western “Rust” when Baldwin fired a prop gun that a crew member unwittingly told him was “cold” or not loaded with live rounds, according to court documents made public Friday.

Souza was later released from the hospital.

The tragedy came after some workers had walked off the job to protest safety conditions and other production issues on the film, of which Baldwin is the star and a producer.

In an interview, British cinematographer Steven Hall noted that he worked on a production this year in Madrid that involved “lots of firearms.”

“We were encouraged not to use blanks, but to rely on visual effects in post (production) to create whatever effect we wanted from a particular firearm, with the actor miming the recoil from the gun, and it works very well,” he said.

He noted, though, that special effects add costs to a production’s budget. “So it’s easier and perhaps more economic to actually discharge your weapon on set using a blank,” said Hall, a veteran cinematographer who has worked on films like “Fury” and “Thor: The Dark World.” But, he said, “the problem with blanks is, of course … something is emitted from the gun.”

Besides financial concerns, why else would real guns be seen as preferable? “There are advantages to using blanks on set that some people want to get,” said Sam Dormer, a British “armorer,” or firearms specialist. “For instance, you get a (better) reaction from the actor.”

Still, Dormer said, the movie industry is likely moving away from real guns, albeit slowly.

The term “prop gun” can apply to anything from a rubber toy to a real firearm that can fire a projectile. If it’s used for firing, even blanks, it’s considered a real gun. A blank is a cartridge that contains gunpowder but no bullet. Still, it can hurt or even kill someone who is close by, according to the Actors’ Equity Association.

That’s why many are calling to ban blanks as well, and use disabled or replica guns.

“Really there is no good reason in this day to have blanks on set,” director Liz Garbus wrote on Twitter. “CGI can make the gun seem ‘real,’ and if you don’t have the budget for the CGI, then don’t shoot the scene.”

Megan Griffiths, a Seattle-based filmmaker, wrote that she often gets pushback when demanding disabled, non-firing weapons on set.

“But this is why,” she said on Twitter. “Mistakes happen, and when they involve guns, mistakes kill. … Muzzle flashes are the easiest & cheapest visual effect.”

“Why are we still doing this?”

___

Associated Press writers Lindsey Bahr, Lynn Elber in Los Angeles, Hillel Italie in New York and Lizzie Knight in London contributed to this report.

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Massachusetts hiker collapses and dies in New Hampshire

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Massachusetts hiker collapses and dies in New Hampshire

FRANCONIA, N.H. (AP) — A hiker collapsed on the Lonesome Lake Trail in Franconia and died Saturday, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said.

The department was notified Saturday morning that a hiker was receiving CPR on the trail. The 53-year-old man from Beverly, Massachusetts was hiking with a partner when he suddenly collapsed one mile from the trailhead.

Two emergency medical technicians were hiking the same trail and immediately started performing CPR, but they could not revive the hiker.

Conservation officers and rescue volunteers from the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue team brought the hiker back to the trailhead. The man’s name was not released publicly because his family was still being notified.

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Real World Economics: Global corporate taxes are a good step

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Real World Economics: When good intentions go bad

Usually, international finagling among rich people and corporations to minimize paying taxes, legally or illegally, is not visible to the eye.

Edward Lotterman

Occasionally it is. On a trip to Switzerland, my wife and I went for lunch in the neighboring country of Liechtenstein. We started in Chur, a pleasant regional Swiss city in the Rhine Valley. An impulsive query of a hotel clerk told us that all we needed to do to visit another country was to drive 20 miles on the freeway, turn right at the big McDonald’s sign, cross the bridge, one left, one right and we would be in the business heart of Vaduz, tiny Liechtenstein’s capital.

A neat town the size of Redwood Falls, its only notable difference from a Swiss burg was a zone of six or eight blocks on two streets jammed with small, neat office buildings closely adjoining others. Each had small brass plaques next to the doorbell, 20 in one case. Such are the Liechtenstein “headquarters” of hundreds of international businesses.

I had seen similar plaque-bedecked buildings in Barbados on a much smaller scale. Yet I don’t think I’ll see any in Sioux Falls, although the South Dakota Legislature is drumming up analogous businesses.

All this relates to a positive recent development: the agreement among 130 countries to coordinate taxation of corporations, including a minimum global tax of 15 percent. This may reduce the legal contortions so benefitting brass plaque engravers.

Let’s step back a bit: The general problem is the world has some 200 countries, each sovereign over laws seen as best benefiting the country’s and its citizens’ and residents’ needs. This can include earning a few million dollars or euros by writing laws that allow businesses in other countries to in turn save billions in taxes. This is little different from Liberia and Panama offering near-regulation-free registration of commercial ships for a modest price.

There are thousands of businesses, mostly incorporated, that do legitimate business in multiple countries. There are thousands of rich people too. Naturally they try to minimize taxes owed. This can include juggling funds between countries to lower total taxes owed or paid.

This can be, and usually is, legal — at least within the letter of the law. This is “tax avoidance,” and is little different from what accountants might tell any of us.

There also is “tax evasion,” or fraud, in which laws are broken. Sometimes this is from otherwise legitimate businesses. Other times it’s hiding dirty money garnered from government corruption, criminal activity or simple personal crime.

The global agreement just reached aims to reduce avoidance strategies by legal companies, not crime, but the incentives and mechanisms for legal avoidance overlap those for illegal acts.

For example, Minnesota’s own Medtronic has its “legal headquarters” in Dublin, Ireland, even though its “operational headquarters” remains in Fridley. Johnson Controls is another major U.S. business nominally headquartered in Ireland. And hundreds of other corporations still legally based from this country have subsidiaries in Ireland. This has been part of the Celtic boom that propelled Ireland from poverty to prosperity.

Many also may have wholly-owned subsidiaries in Liechtenstein, Panama, Bermuda the Bahamas or similar havens. Frequently these have some innocuous name that gives no indication of the true owner. Transfers between subsidiaries of one corporation across several countries can move money so that low or even zero income taxes are paid.

In 2017, Google reportedly moved $22 billion in income to a Dutch company that transferred it to an Irish company, but one with a subsidiary in Bermuda. Bermuda has no tax on income. The Bermuda entity can “loan” funds back to Google’s home office in California, funds on which no U.S. corporate income tax was ever paid. All of the entities involved were owned 100 percent by Google and under their exclusive control.

So how does one transfer money in this way? Usually, it is through an old dodge known as “transfer pricing” already common and legal when much multinational business was in manufacturing.

For years, my favorite surplus machinery outlet in south Minneapolis had dozens of metal skids marked “Return to Ford, Taubate BR.” The St. Paul Highland Park Ford plant used four-cylinder engines produced in one of Ford’s Brazilian factories. Ford do Brasil is a separately-chartered Brazilian corporation owned entirely by the Michigan-based parent.

So when Ford-Brasil sells to U.S. Ford, money must change hands, but at what price per engine? There is no market price for these as there is for the soybeans Cargill trades, for example.

Set this transfer price high and it increases Ford profits in Brazil but reduces them in the U.S. Ford as a whole has more income here and less in Brazil. Price the engines low and Ford’s Brazil profits drop but those of U.S. Ford rise.

There are limits to this with physical products. One engine is not worth $1 million nor is it worth $100. But with software or intellectual property or pure service-based businesses, the sky’s the limit. What does one subsidiary charge another for design of an implanted medical device, but not the actual device? Writing advertising and designing logos for hamburger wrappers? Writing code for a search engine or social media? Accounting and legal services?

For years, McDonald’s, using the “double-Irish with a Dutch sandwich” ploy so beneficial to Google, moved franchise-fee income versus corporate overhead to lower taxes. It’s all legal, and corporate transfers between subsidiaries based in myriad locations will remain legal. Countries will retain control over their own tax laws, subject to the new provision that a multinational business will have to pay a 15 percent tax on corporate profits to some country. There inevitably will be hitches, but “progress, not perfection” applies here.

The recent ”Pandora papers” leak revealed how South Dakota changed its laws governing trusts at the dictation of law firms specializing in such work, so as to make it a favorable location for them to be established in that state. As for Liechtenstein or Bermuda, there is nothing illegal about this. But in both cases, such favorable rules can attract illegal money as well as legal. A U.S. state or a sovereign nation may gain economic activity and employment, but society on a global whole loses.

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