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November 2017

Keyword Clustering: Best Resources, Techniques and Tools

What exactly is keyword clustering?

To cluster keywords means to group your long overwhelming keyword lists by relevancy.

I have done an article explaining keyword clustering in a most easy-to-understand way.

At the heart of it, keyword clustering is what it sounds like: you take relevant keywords and arrange them together into groups.

Use these keyword clusters to:

  • Better understand your topic
  • Optimize your content for several keyword phrases instead of one
  • Discover more concepts and subtopics inside your niche
  • Broaden your content to include more related terms and phrases
  • Structure your content by turning related terms into subheadings

Before clustering:


After clustering:

Serpstat clustering

Here’s how it helps:

Keyword clustering helps

Most importantly, keyword clustering helps to see concepts behind keyword strings.

Useful Resources

Goodbye Keyword Optimization: Welcome To The Age of Topical Optimization by Stoney deGeyter

Instead of optimizing your site for keywords and hoping to rank here and there, focus on building the site out to dominate a topic with multiple pages and blog posts.

Each page or post will target a tightly correlated group of keywords, but all built around a slightly broader topic. That gives you a chance to dominate a topic through multiple related pages, each focused on a specific visitor intent. That’s tough to beat.

Can SEOs Stop Worrying About Keywords and Just Focus on Topics? – Whiteboard Friday
by rand Fishkin

We’re going to take all the keyword phrases that we discovered… We’re going to group them by concept intents. Like “best days of the week” could include the keywords “best days of the week to fly,” “optimal day of week to fly,” “weekday versus weekend best for flights,” “cheapest day of the week to fly…”

Then, we can group these together and decide, “Hey, you know what? The volume for all of these is higher. But these ones are more important to us. They have lower difficulty. Maybe they have higher click-through rate opportunity. So we’re going to target ‘best times of the year.’ That’s going to be the content we create. Now, I’m going to wrap my keywords together into ‘the best weeks and months to book flights in 2016.’”

This kind of model, where we combine the best of these two worlds, I think is the way of the future. I don’t think it pays to stick to your old-school keyword targeting methodology, nor do I think it pays to ignore keyword targeting and keyword research entirely. I think we’ve got to merge these practices and come up with something smart.

How to Cluster Keywords: Tools and Techniques

So how to cluster those keywords?

The simplest and most obvious way to group keywords is to identify a frequently used common word in those strings and find all the phrases that include that word. Looking back at the initial “healthy diet” example, a separate group to look into would be all the phrases that contain a modifier “men”. That group would include strings like this:

  • healthy diet plan for men
  • healthy 7 day diet plan for men
  • healthy liquid diet plan for men
  • And many more.

All of the above topics fit nicely into one article on all kinds of diets for men.

You can identify those groups playing with your keyword lists in Excel. Here are a couple of tutorials (both of them is a living proof that the technique is nothing new):

Tools that can help you with modifier-based keyword grouping:

While a very useful exercise, this keyword grouping technique is a bit outdated and limited. Search engines have gone far beyond simple keyword matching. We need to look at closely related concepts and they don’t necessarily have exactly the same terms to describe them.

Thus, this group has no keyword modifiers in common, yet it would totally make a great article:


Serpstat is a great tool that takes a different approach to keyword clustering that goes beyond word matching.

They analyze Google search engine result pages, find similar (or same) URLs ranking for different queries and based on how many results overlap for two SERPs they make important conclusions as to how related those queries are.

This way they are able to create keyword groups like this:

Serpstat group

Of course, I would still play with Excel when analyzing keyword modifiers and groups but I would definitely use tools like this on top of that to discover more connections and related concepts, simply because a new approach lets you look at your lists slightly differently and discover new previously undiscovered content opportunities.

The Buzz Terms

What I really like about our young quickly-evolving industry is how fast we come up with new “cool” terms to describe any technique (even the one that has been around for ages, like keyword grouping).

Keyword clustering is already a more complicated term that it should be. Keyword grouping would make as much sense and it would be much easier to understand.

Yet, we call it keyword clustering (which probably help us appear much smarter when we talk to clients).

Another buzz term that has come out of this is “pillar pages” which simply means that for any keyword group you need to create an indepth resource that would link to more specific articles going more indepth on each mentioned concept within this group.

If you try to dig deeper into the topic, you’ll probably find a lot more buzz terms that have simple commonsense and most often traditional technique behind them (like pillar page = creating indepth resource on a topic).

The bottom line is that keyword grouping is a smart thing to do. There are different approaches to it, and you need to try both of them. Creating content targeting a broader concept (group) rather than a single keyword string will help you diversify your rankings and create a solid resource. Skip the buzz terms if they confuse you and get to the point, that is creating solid content rocks and keyword grouping / clustering helps do that right.

The post Keyword Clustering: Best Resources, Techniques and Tools appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.


📸 A cosmic photobomb! See how a tightly coupled pair of supermassive black holes — 200 million times the mass of our Sun — recently stole the spotlight from the Andromeda galaxy:

Trump Likely Benefits from Tax Bills

President Donald Trump claimed that the Republican tax plans in Congress would “cost me a fortune.” He has offered no proof of that, and it’s highly doubtful. Several provisions of the tax bills would benefit wealthy individuals like Trump.

This isn’t the first time that the president has claimed that a tax overhaul wouldn’t be good for him, or the wealthy, despite analyses of the tax plans that show most of the benefits accruing to the top income earners. But we can’t say exactly how the plans would impact Trump, since he has broken decades of political precedent by refusing to release his tax returns. A Democratic effort in the House to force the release of Trump’s tax returns failed this week.

Trump made his latest unsubstantiated claim about the impact on the tax plans in a speech in Missouri on Nov. 29.

Trump, Nov. 29: This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing, believe me. Believe — this is not good for me. Me, it’s not so — I have some very wealthy friends. Not so happy with me, but that’s OK. You know, I keep hearing Schumer: “This is for the wealthy.” Well, if it is, my friends don’t know about it.

The statistical odds alone are that Trump or his “very wealthy friends” will come out ahead. According to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of the House bill, 76.5 percent of those earning more than $1 million would get a tax cut in 2018 and 70.6 percent of them get a cut in 2027, compared with current law. Under the Senate bill, more than 80 percent of millionaires get a tax cut in both 2019 and 2027, with the average cut at more than $46,000 in the latter year.

The Joint Committee on Taxation’s analyses found that more than 50 percent of the tax relief goes to those earning at least $200,000 in 2027 under the House bill, or 2025 under the Senate bill.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged that the wealthy would have to benefit from these tax overhauls, since they pay most of the federal income taxes. Mnuchin told Politico in October: “So when you’re cutting taxes across the board, it’s very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy with tax cuts to the middle class. The math, given how much you are collecting, is just hard to do.”

Here’s how Trump may be affected by some of the major tax provisions:

Estate tax. The clearest benefit for the Trump family would be the tax bills’ changes to the estate tax, which falls on estates worth more than $5.49 million (nearly $11 million for a couple). The House bill would repeal the estate tax entirely in 2024. As we’ve written before, that would save Trump’s estate $564 million, according to a Bloomberg estimate, based on a net worth of $3 billion. Trump has said his net worth is $10 billion, and if so, the savings to his estate from a repeal of the tax would be $1.9 billion.

The Senate bill would also lead to substantial savings for Trump’s estate, but less than the House bill. The Senate legislation wouldn’t eliminate the tax but would double the exemption thresholds, making the tax liable for estates worth more than $11.2 million, or $22.4 million for a couple. (Like many individual income tax provisions in the Senate bill, this is set to expire in 2025. But Republicans say they will extend the tax provisions at some point.)

See this chart from the Tax Policy Center on the major provisions of the two bills.

Pass-through taxes. The tax bills aim to lower the tax rate on some pass-through business income — these are taxes paid by sole proprietorships, LLCs, partnerships and S corporations. Such entities don’t pay corporate taxes; instead the owners or investors pay taxes on the business earnings through their individual income tax returns. On a 2005 tax return, which was obtained by in March, Trump reported more than $100 million in such pass-through income (reported as business income, or rental real estate, partnership and S corporation income on form 1040).

Right now, the top rate on pass-through income is the top individual income tax rate of 39.6 percent, which falls on income above $470,700 for a married couple. The House bill cuts the top rate to 25 percent for “passive” income, such as rental income and businesses in which the taxpayer isn’t materially involved, and 35.22 percent for “active” income, such as income from businesses where the taxpayer regularly works. The Senate bill is more complicated, with a 38.5 percent top rate after a 17.4 percent deduction. That deduction is limited to 50 percent of paid wages for the business entity.

Alternative minimum tax. Both bills repeal the AMT, which was designed to ensure that wealthy taxpayers pay a minimum tax. On that 2005 return, Trump paid $31 million in taxes due to the AMT.

Steven Wamhoff, senior fellow for federal tax policy at the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, told the New York Times that those last two items — lower pass-through tax rates and an AMT repeal — “are so hugely beneficial to Trump that I have trouble imagining any way that he wouldn’t come out ahead.”

The Times noted that Trump paid 24 percent of his income in 2005 because of the AMT, but would have paid just 4 percent without it.

SALT deductions. Trump, like some other high-income taxpayers from high-tax states, could see a drop in the amount he could claim as itemized deductions, because the bills would eliminate a deduction for state and local income or sales taxes. However, those state taxes aren’t deductible under the AMT. So it’s unclear how much Trump benefits from the deduction now.

Bottom line: The president needs to release his tax returns to support his claim.

Editor’s Note: For more about Trump’s tax speech, see our item, “Trump’s Claims Don’t Add Up.”

The post Trump Likely Benefits from Tax Bills appeared first on Source:

Trump’s Claims Don’t Add Up


In touting Republican tax bills, President Donald Trump made several claims that don’t add up.

  • The nation’s real gross domestic product grew 4.6 percent and 5.2 percent in the third and fourth quarters of 2014, respectively. But Trump falsely said that the 3.3 percent growth in the third quarter this year was “the largest increase in many years.”
  • Trump again wrongly claimed that the tax bills would be the “biggest tax cut in the history of our country.” There have been larger cuts, both as a percentage of gross domestic product and in inflation-adjusted dollars.
  • The president repeated a dubious claim that “middle-class families” would see their wages go up “around $4,000.” His economic advisers say that could happen after eight years if the economy grows at high annual rates. But congressional economic experts don’t expect that to happen.
  • Trump misleadingly said that U.S. corporate taxes “are 60 percent higher” than the average in the developed world. The statutory rate is that much higher than the OECD average, but the effective rate that corporations actually pay is in line with the world average.
  • The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have cost $1.52 trillion, says the Defense Department. But Trump inflated the figure to “almost $7 trillion.”
  • The president’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget cuts domestic spending, and yet he claimed, “We’re going to start spending here.”
  • The nation’s job growth of 2 million between October 2016 and October 2017 was less than the growth in each of the previous five years. Yet Trump claimed that the gain since his election was “a lot better … than anybody ever even thought possible.”
  • Trump said that farmers could have gone to jail under the Obama administration if they “touch” a “little puddle” on their land. He was referring to a 2015 environmental rule, but that rule explicitly excludes puddles from regulation.


In a speech in St. Charles, Missouri, on Nov. 29, Trump praised congressional GOP efforts to overhaul the nation’s individual and corporate income taxes. As the president said, the House has passed its tax bill, and the president is hoping for a “successful vote in the Senate this week.”

But there were some factual inaccuracies in the president’s remarks, including several false talking points we’ve debunked before.

Real GDP Growth

Trump once again distorted the recent history of U.S. economic growth.

Trump: But by the way the Commerce Department announced this morning that our GDP — that’s the big one — in the third quarter grew even faster than they reported previously. They made a mistake. They were too low. They had it at 3 percent. By the way, 3 percent — did you ever think you would hear that in less than a year? And now it comes in at 3.3 percent which is the largest increase in many years.

He’s right that the real gross domestic product was revised upward to 3.3 percent for the third quarter of 2017. (It wasn’t “a mistake.” It merely reflects more and better data.)

But it isn’t “the largest increase in many years.” It was larger than that in the third and fourth quarters of 2014, when real GDP increased 4.6 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively. It’s also not unheard of for the U.S. economy to grow quarterly at 3 percent or more, as Trump said. It happened eight times under President Obama, as we wrote when Trump made a similar claim in August.

Still Not the Largest Tax Cut

The estimated cost of the Republican tax plans would not be the “biggest tax cut in the history of our country — bigger than Reagan,” as Trump claimed once again. There have been larger cuts as a percentage of gross domestic product and in inflation-adjusted dollars.

When we previously wrote about this on Nov. 3, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the House version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would cost $1.49 trillion over 10 years. Over the first four years, the average annual cost would be $185 billion. That’s about 0.9 percent or 1 percent of gross domestic product, depending on what that ends up being in 2018.

That would make the House bill the eighth largest cut since 1918, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s analysis of Treasury Department data. The 1981 tax cut enacted at the beginning of the Reagan administration cost 2.9 percent of GDP over four years. That makes it the largest, CRFB says.

In inflation-adjusted dollars, the House GOP plan is also less than three other tax plans. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 cost an average of $320.6 billion over four years, and tax reductions in 2010 ($210 billion) and 1981 ($208 billion) were also more expensive.

That’s why Trump was also wrong when he said “for years they have not been able to get tax cuts, many, many years since Reagan.” Since 1997, there have been several major bills cutting taxes that have been signed into law, according a 2013 Treasury Department report. Two of them, as we just said, produced larger cuts than those proposed by Trump and congressional Republicans.

More recently, the JCT estimated that an amended version of the House bill would cost $1.44 trillion, and the Senate version, at $1.41 trillion, would cost even less. That means those bills wouldn’t qualify as the biggest tax cut, either.

Tax Cut Impact on Wages

Trump once again claimed that “middle-class families … will see their incomes go up by an average of around $4,000.” The $4,000 figure comes from two reports by the White House Council of Economic Advisers. But, as we have written twice before, don’t take the money to the bank.

In the first report, the CEA cited a number of economic research papers that “suggest” the proposed rate cut would increase average household income from $4,000 to $9,000. But Mihir A. Desai, a professor of finance at Harvard, the author of one of the economic research papers cited in that report, told the New York Times that the actual income gain would be $800.

In its second report, the CEA said the $4,000 pay raise would happen after eight years — if corporations increase capital investment and the nation’s real gross domestic product grows at a robust rate of between 3 percent and 5 percent annually. Real GDP hasn’t increased annually by 3 percent since 2005 and by 5 percent since 1984, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and nonpartisan congressional economic experts say such high rates of growth aren’t likely over the next 10 years.

In January, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that “real output will expand at an average rate of 1.9 percent per year” from 2017 to 2027. Using that as a baseline, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated in a Nov. 30 report that the Senate tax plan would increase real GDP by only 0.8 percent on average from 2017 to 2027 — meaning the annual rate of growth would remain below 3 percent.

Misleading on Corporate Taxes

Trump demonstrated exactly why we have been warning that his regular talking point that the U.S. has one of the highest statutory corporate tax rates in the world — 60 percent higher than other developed countries — can be misleading. It’s because it might leave the mistaken impression that U.S. companies pay 60 percent higher taxes than businesses in other countries. They don’t.

“Today, America has one of the least competitive [corporate] tax rates on planet Earth — 60 percent, think of that, 60 percent higher than the average in the developed world,” Trump said. “So our taxes are 60 percent higher.”

The first part of that claim is accurate, so long as it is placed in context. The U.S. has the highest top statutory corporate tax rate — 35 percent, and 39 percent when state taxes are included — among developed countries. That’s 60 percent higher than the average statutory rate among 35 countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

But as we have explained before, that doesn’t mean U.S. companies pay more in taxes than in other countries. The average effective tax rate — what corporations actually pay when tax credits and exemptions are factored in — is more in line with the world average. The average effective corporate tax rate in 2008 was 27.1 percent, close to the GDP weighted average among other OECD countries, 27.7 percent, according to a 2014 Congressional Research Service report.

Congressional Budget Office report in March found that the U.S. ranked third among G20 countries when using an “average corporate tax rate” measure, which is “the total amount of corporate taxes that a company pays as a share of its income.” And under an “effective marginal corporate tax rate,” defined as “a measure of a corporation’s tax burden on returns from a marginal investment,” the U.S. was fourth.

According to the OECD, the revenue from taxes from income, profit and capital gains of U.S. corporations in 2016 was 2.2. percent of GDP. That’s lower than the average among OECD countries.

And that’s why it’s wrong to make the leap, as Trump did, that because the U.S. statutory rate is 60 percent higher than our competitors, “our taxes are 60 percent higher.”

Cost of Wars

Trump overstated the amount the U.S. has already spent on the Middle East wars and how much money he will spend on domestic issues.

The president said the U.S. has spent “almost $7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 16 years,” claiming with that money “we could have rebuilt our country four times over.” But the Department of Defense says the cost “for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria” through fiscal year 2018 was an estimated $1.52 trillion.

During the campaign, Trump used a $6 trillion estimate, citing a Reuters article about a report on war costs written by Boston University Political Science Professor Neta C. Crawford for the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. But that estimate included money spent in the United States in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, not just money spent on the military in the Middle East, and it included future costs, not money that already had been spent.

In an update published earlier this month, Crawford said U.S. military spending in the Middle East “and the additional spending on Homeland Security, and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs since the 9/11 attacks,” has cost $4.3 trillion in current dollars through fiscal year 2017, which ended Sept. 30, and will cost more than $5.6 trillion through the year 2056.

In lamenting the cost of the Middle East wars, Trump added, “We’re going to start spending here.”

Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget includes $64.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, which is the category for continued military operations in the Middle East. That’s $18.2 billion, or 22 percent, less than fiscal 2017. His budget includes deeper cuts in domestic spending — including cutting nearly a third of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget and eliminating entire programs, such as the Community Development Block Grant program in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which received $3 billion last fiscal year.

Empty Job Boast

Trump again took credit for rising employment, noting that 2 million jobs have been added to the economy since his election. “Nobody expected that,” Trump said. That number, he said, is “a lot better, at this point, than anybody ever even thought possible.” Later, he added, “We used to lose millions. Now we’ve created 2 million jobs since I won the election.”

As we have written, Trump inherited an economy that was experiencing steady job growth. It’s true that the economy lost millions of jobs during the Great Recession. But when Trump took office, the economy had gained jobs for 75 straight months – the longest streak on record. That streak has continued under Trump.

We typically measure employment from the president’s inauguration, rather than from the election. Trump chooses to start the clock from his election, arguing that job growth is due in part to consumer confidence buoyed by his victory.

But even using this measuring stick, there’s nothing unusual about the job growth. It’s true that the number of jobs in the U.S. has grown by 2 million in the 12 months since October 2016, the month before Trump was elected. But it grew by 2.4 million in the 12 months prior to that, by 2.8 million the year before that, and by 2.7 million, 2.4 million and 2.1 million in the years before that. In other words, the job growth of 2 million between October 2016 and October 2017 was less than the growth in each of the previous five years.

Prison for Puddles?

Trump took a break from discussing the GOP tax plan to repeat a false conservative talking point about the Clean Water Act. He said that, because of a 2015 redefinition of what waters are regulated under the act, people would go to jail if they “touch” a puddle on their land. But the 2015 rule explicitly excludes puddles from the regulation.

Trump: You know what I’ve done for farmers. Where if you had a little puddle in the middle of your field, you go to jail if you touch it, right? You know what I’m talking about. Not anymore. Not anymore. Not anymore.

Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has made it “unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained.” The EPA defines point source pollution as coming from a specific source, such as a pipe, ditch or river tributary. This is opposed to nonpoint pollution, such as runoff.

In 2015, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers redefined which waters can be regulated under the act to reflect new science and court decisions, among other factors. According to the 2015 rule itself, “Fewer waters will be defined as ‘waters of the United States’ under the rule than under the existing regulations.”

The 2015 rule explicitly excluded puddles from regulation under the Clean Water Act.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA, June 25, 2015: The final rule adds an exclusion for puddles. The proposed rule did not explicitly exclude puddles because the agencies have never considered puddles to meet the minimum standard for being a “water of the United States,” and it is an inexact term. A puddle is commonly considered a very small, shallow, and highly transitory pool of water that forms on pavement or uplands during or immediately after a rainstorm or similar precipitation event. However, numerous commenters asked that the agencies expressly exclude them in a rule. The final rule does so.

When Sen. Ted Cruz made a similar claim in March 2016, William Rodger, a spokesman for the American Farm Bureau Federation, told PolitiFact that the broad language of the 2015 rule would allow puddles to be classified as vernal pools or wetlands and, thus, still be regulated.

But this rationale wasn’t convincing to the seven environmental experts PolitiFact interviewed in October 2015, when Sen. Marco Rubio made a similar claim. For example, William L. Andreen, an environmental law professor at the University of Alabama said, “There are no cases on point because the agencies have never asserted jurisdiction in such fantastical situations,” adding, “It is an absurd assertion.”

In June, the EPA and the Army Corps proposed to rescind the 2015 rule. This followed a February executive order calling for the EPA and the Army Corps to reevaluate whether the rule keeps the country “free from pollution,” while also “promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of the Congress and the States under the Constitution.”

According to a Nov. 16 EPA press release, the agencies are still reviewing public comments about the proposal to rescind the rule. They’re also “holding listening sessions with stakeholders” with the aim of developing another rule to again redefine “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.


Gross Domestic Product: Third Quarter 2017 (Second Estimate).” Press release. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 29 Nov 2017.

Bureau of Economic Analysis. “Table 1.1.1. Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product.” Bureau of Economic Analysis. Accessed 29 Nov 2017.

Lori Robertson et al. “FactChecking Trump’s Tax Speech.” 31 Aug 2017.

Council of Economic Advisers. “Corporate Tax Reform and Wages: Theory and Evidence.” Oct 2017.

Council of Economic Advisers. “The Growth Effects of Corporate Tax Reform and Implications for Wage.” Oct 2017.

Jackson, Brooks. “Trump’s Dubious $4,000 Claim.” 23 Oct 2017.

Lori Robertson et al. “GOP, Democrats Spin Tax Plan.” 3 Nov 2017.

Tankersley, Jim. “White House Push to Help Workers Through Corporate Tax Cut Draws Skepticism.” New York Times. 17 Oct 2017.

U.S. Department of Defense. “Estimated Cost to Each U.S. Taxpayer of Each of the Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.” Jul 2017.

Press release. “50 Top Facts About Hillary Clinton’s Economic And Political Corruption.” Donald J. Trump for President. Undated, accessed 30 Nov 2017.

Trotta, Daniel. “Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study.” Reuters. 14 Mar 2013.

Crawford, Neta C. “United States Budgetary Costs of Post-9/11 Wars Through FY2018.” Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Nov 2017.

U.S. Department of Defense. “Defense Budget Overview: United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request.” 12 May 2017.

Congressional Research Service. “FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act.” 8 Nov 2017.

Soffen, Kim and Denise Lu. “What Trump cut in his agency budgets.” Washington Post. 23 May 2017.

DelReal, Jose A. “Trump budget asks for $6 billion in HUD cuts, drops development grants.” Washington Post. 16 March 2017.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “Statutory corporate income tax rate.” Accessed 30 Nov 2017.

Robertson, Lori. “FactChecking Trump’s Tax Speech.” 31 Aug 2017.

Gravelle, Jane G. “International Corporate Tax Rate Comparisons and Policy Implications.” Congressional Research Service. 6 Jan 2014.

Congressional Budget Office. “International Comparisons of Corporate Income Tax Rates.” 8 March 2017.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “Revenue Statistics – OECD countries: Comparative tables.” Accessed 30 Nov 2017.

Kiely, Eugene. “FactChecking Trump’s West Virginia Rally.” 4 Aug 2017.

Van Dam, Andrew. “This Is the Largest Job-Growth Streak Ever—Kind Of.” Wall Street Journal. 4 May 2016.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National).” Accessed 30 Nov 2017.

Robertson, Lori, et al. “GOP, Democrats Spin Tax Plan.” 3 Nov 2017.

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “Is President Trump’s Tax Cut the Largest in History Yet?” 25 Oct 2017.

Tempalski, Jerry. “Revenue Effects of Major Tax Bill, Updated Tables for all 2012 Bills.” Office of Tax Analysis, Department of the Treasury. Feb 2013.

Joint Committee on Taxation. “Estimated Revenue Effects Of H.R. 1, The ‘Tax Cuts And Jobs Act,’ Scheduled For Markup By The Committee On Ways And Means On November 6, 2017.” 2 Nov 2017.

Joint Committee on Taxation. “Estimated Revenue Effects Of H.R. 1, The ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,’ As Ordered Reported By The Committee On Ways And Means On November 9, 2017.” 11 Nov 2017.

Joint Committee on Taxation. “Estimated Revenue Effects Of The ‘Tax Cuts And Jobs Act,’ As Ordered Reported By The Committee On Finance On November 16, 2017.” 17 Nov 2017.

EPA. History of the Clean Water Act. Accessed 30 Nov 2017.

80 FR 37053. Clean Water Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States.” 29 Jun 2015.

Sherman, Amy. “Ted Cruz says EPA tried to regulate puddles and drainage ditches.” Politifact Florida. 31 Mar 2016.

Sherman, Amy. “Marco Rubio says EPA rule covers ‘water barely bigger than a puddle.‘” Politifact Florida. 22 Oct 2015.

EPA. “EPA, U.S. Army Move to Rescind 2015 ‘Waters of the U.S.’” Press release. 27 Jun 2017.

White House. Presidential Executive Order on Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule. 28 Feb 2017.

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Shaquille O’Neal once spent $1,000,000 in a single day

Shaquille O’Neal once spent $1,000,000 in a single day

Think you’ve made some poor financial decisions before? Have you ever spent one million dollars in a single day? That’s what former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal did — before becoming a pro basketball player.

I go buy a $150,000 car. No negotiations. I don’t know nothing about negotiations. The guy could have told me $200,000 and I would have bought it. I go and get a black Mercedes because that’s what I always wanted: a black Mercedes and some nice wheels.

When he took the car home to show his father, his father said, “Where’s mine?” So, Shaq took his dad to the dealership and bought him a black Mercedes too. Then he bought a car for his mother. Then he bought clothes and jewelry so he could look good for the draft.

Many professional athletes stay on this wayward path which is why so many of them go bankrupt. To his credit, O’Neal came to his senses. He realized he needed to make smarter choices. He started looking for a financial advisor.

Most of the people he interviewed made extravagant promises that seemed too good to be true, so he steered clear. Instead, he hired “one little small beautiful Jewish man” who recommended a more conservative approach. O’Neal has been with him ever since: “He’s been good to me.”

It’s always nice to hear about a pro athlete who has not squandered his wealth. Source:

2 national monuments in Utah are about to lose most of their land

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

President Donald Trump is planning to drastically shrink two national monuments in Utah. According to documents obtained by the Washington Post, Bears Ears, which is currently 1.35 million acres, could be shrunk by 85 percent, and the 1.9 million acres of Grand Staircase-Escalante will be reduced by 85 percent. Trump will be announcing the proposal when he visits Salt Lake City on Monday.

The move comes after Trump asked Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in April to review any national monument larger than 100,000 acres. Three months later, Zinke submitted a report with recommendations for reducing or eliminating 27 monuments, including Gold Butte in Nevada and Vermillion Cliffs in Arizona.

The push to shrink national monuments comes from the Trump administration’s intent to open up federally protected land to oil, gas, and mining activities, as Mother Jones reported in August:

Conservationists predict Trump intends to shrink some existing monuments to open up lands for new mining and drilling operations, a potential move that Friends of the Earth’s Ben Schreiber described as a “blatant handouts to the oil and gas industry.” Any such land would still be federally managed, but losing monument status would strip it of national park-like protections, which forbid new leases for grazing, oil, gas, and mining.

The plans that will likely be announced on Monday will deal a blow to environmentalists who want to protect national parks, but Bears Ears National Monument is also home to thousands of Native American cultural, archaeological, and sacred sites. On Tuesday, representatives of the five Native tribes in the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition announced their intention to sue the Trump administration once Monday’s announcement is made. “The tribes view this as an affront to themselves and their own self-determination,” Natalie Landreth, senior staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Conservationists have also thrown their weight behind Native tribes. “This illegal action will cement Trump’s legacy as one of the worst presidents in modern history,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity told the Salt Lake Tribune. “Trump has no clue how much people love these sacred and irreplaceable landscapes, but he’s about to find out.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline 2 national monuments in Utah are about to lose most of their land on Nov 30, 2017. Source:

Qualcomm Seeks Import Ban on AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 8 and iPhone X Models Qualcomm today announced that it has filed three new patent infringement claims against Apple, accusing the Cupertino company of violating a total of 16 Qualcomm patents with its most recent iPhones, including the iPhone X.

Most of the patents in question cover technologies like carrier aggregation, memory designs, and power management features that are designed help to reduce battery usage, but in one claim, Qualcomm says Apple is using a depth-based image enhancement technique for Portrait mode that violates a Qualcomm patent.

Qualcomm is also filing a new complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) concerning five of the patents, and it is asking the ITC to ban imports of iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models that use chips from Intel, aka AT&T and T-Mobile devices in the United States.

The complaint with the ITC follows a previous filing in July that saw Qualcomm ask for an import ban on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models equipped with Intel modem chips, along with some iPad models. Qualcomm has not asked for a ban on iPhones that use Qualcomm LTE chips, with the reasoning that a more limited exclusion order is more likely to be granted.

In the lawsuit, Qualcomm once again says its inventions form the "very core" of "modern mobile communication," and that without Qualcomm technology, Apple products "would lose much of their consumer appeal."

Qualcomm is seeking damages in an amount to be proven at trial, a permanent injunction against Apple, and attorneys fees.

Qualcomm’s latest filing follows a countersuit from Apple that was filed earlier this week. Apple claims that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips infringe on "at least" eight battery life patents owned by Apple.

The legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm kicked off in January of this year, and it has escalated rapidly over the course of the last several months. It is not clear if the ITC will agree to investigate the claims Qualcomm has made against Apple, but this will be a legal battle that spans several years, so Apple devices are in no danger of being banned anytime soon.

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Kyrgyzstan Supreme Court Upholds Rulings that Muzzle Free Speech

Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev addresses a news conference in Berlin, April 1, 2015. 

© 2015 Reuters

Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court dealt a heavy blow to freedom of speech today by upholding three defamation rulings punishing critics for apparently insulting the “honor and dignity” of the now former president, Almazbek Atambaev.

Ironically, President Atambaev just made a name for himself by being the first elected president in Central Asia to voluntarily step down from office last week at the end of his term. That comes following elections in October dubbed by international monitors as having “contributed to the strengthening of democratic institutions.”

Maybe so, but these defamation lawsuits have exposed the weakness of Kyrgyzstan’s judiciary – a key democratic institution. The rulings also undermine a free press and freedom of speech – another important component of a functioning democracy. They will leave a stain on Atambaev’s record in office.

Kyrgyzstan’s international partners should take note – today’s Supreme Court rulings don’t bode well for democracy building either.

To recap, earlier this year Kyrgyzstan’s Prosecutor General’s office pursued defamation lawsuits against a media outlet, journalists, and a human rights defender, who have been critical of the government. The suits alleged that the defendants had discredited the honor and dignity of the president and spread false information. Courts ruled in favor of the former president, awarding damages worth US$430,000, and the decisions were upheld on appeal. (The media outlet and its founder Narynbek Idinov are still facing two lawsuits that have not yet been reviewed by the Supreme Court.)

These rulings go against international standards that public figures such as presidents don’t get special legal protections against speech considered “insulting.”

Today’s Supreme Court rulings are final and cannot be appealed. The defendants must pay damages or risk criminal prosecution.

These rulings have real consequences for the individuals and media outlets in question, and a broader chilling effect on freedom of expression in Kyrgyzstan.

But it’s not too late for Kyrgyzstan’s new president to turn a new page.

President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, whose campaign platform noted “the President should act as the guarantor of freedom of speech, media, and internet,” should indeed uphold the right to freedom of speech, and ensure that on his watch, no journalist, media outlet, or human rights defender is unjustly prosecuted for defamation on his behalf. Source:

EU Needs to Press for Kazakhstan Reforms Now

The European Parliament stands poised to ratify the first Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with a Central Asian country. This deal showcases the deepened relationship between Kazakhstan and the European Union, and provides for greater trade and business relations between them.

Significantly, the agreement specifies that in their cooperation, Kazakhstan and the EU will “attach particular importance” to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Kazakhstan has freely violated rights, however, since the agreement was signed. In mid-November, the European Parliament delayed consideration of the agreement, which the EP needs to ratify before it can fully go into effect. This offers the European Commission an 11th hour opportunity to send its Kazakh counterparts the unequivocal message that meaningful reforms will help seal the deal.

Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the European Commission, and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (left) with Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 

© 2016 European Union External Action

In its draft resolution accompanying the agreement, the text of which has been agreed upon by all political parties and is now public, the European Parliament gives meaning to the broad human rights language in the agreement itself, rightly calling for the “release of all activists and political prisoners currently in jail,” and denouncing routine restrictions to free speech and media freedom. The Parliament’s resolution points at Kazakhstan’s use of excessively broad Criminal Code article on inciting social discord against activists and journalists. It urges Kazakhstan to revise its 2014 trade union law, which restricts labor rights, and denounces the attacks on the country’s labor movement and their leaders.

These are critical and specific human rights concerns that should guide the European Commission’s dealings with Kazakhstan’s leaders.

In the years the EU spent negotiating the content of the enhanced PCA with the Kazakh government, it forfeited an important opportunity to condition progress in negotiations with meaningful human rights reforms in Kazakhstan. Meaningful improvements weren’t forthcoming then and they haven’t been forthcoming in the last two years either.

Since the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, formally signed the agreement with her Kazakh counterpart Erlan Idrissov on 21 December 2015, Kazakh authorities have renewed efforts to silence their critics. In May 2016, Kazakh authorities arrested the activists Max Bokaev and Talgat Ayan for their role in organising peaceful protests against an unpopular proposed amendment to Kazakhstan’s land law. In November 2016, Bokaev and Ayan were sentenced to five years in jail and banned from engaging in civic activities following a trial that fell short of international fair trial standards.

Authorities have continued to restrict media freedom and target critical journalists, and have harrassed human rights organizations with unjustified tax inspections. Most recently, in September, an Almaty court convicted Zhanbolat Mamay, editor of the independent Sayasy Kalam: Tribuna newspaper, on politically motivated money laundering charges and banned him from journalism for three years.

Beginning in last December, Kazakh authorities began a concerted large-scale crackdown on the independent trade union movement, forcibly shutting down the country’s main independent nation-wide trade union, bringing its leader, Larisa Kharkova, to court in apparent retaliation for her trade union activism and banning her from leadership positions in trade unions for five years. Her freedom of movement is also restricted. Two other union leaders, Nurbek Kushakbaev and Amin Yeleusinov, were imprisoned earlier this year after they organized a peaceful protest deemed illegal by the authorities.

As the EU’s new agreement with Kazakhstan is expected to boost trade and business, Brussels should be seriously concerned about dealing with a partner that prevents independent trade unions from operating and attacks their leaders.

On November 29, the EU holds its annual human rights dialogue with Kazakhstan. The first week of December, the EU will host the five Central Asian Justice Ministers in Brussels. Other high-level meetings are in the pipeline for early 2018. These meetings give EU officials a final chance to relay to Kazakhstan that a deeper partnership cannot go ahead as long as critics are jailed and a free media suppressed.

Doing so is in the EU’s own interest, to ensure that its political and economic relations with Kazakhstan are not undermined by the absence of independent counterpowers in Kazakhstan’s business and industrial sectors.

Perhaps then, there will be no further delay green-lighting enhanced EU-Kazakhstan relations. Source:

Stirring up the Adriatic Sea: @NASAEarth satellites see discolored water along the coast of Italy and the Balkans. Is it a massive bloom of phytoplankton or caused by recent heavy rainfall in the region? Take a look: