• Politics

    Trump Says U.S. Will Review Universities’ Tax-Exempt Status

    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump ordered the Treasury Department on Friday to review the tax-exempt status of colleges and universities, following his threats to cut federal funding to schools that do not reopen due to the coronavirus pandemic.The president’s attack on institutions of higher education comes as they’re struggling with how to handle the upcoming fall semester due to the virus, which has dealt a financial blow to many.In a pair of tweets, Trump accused institutions of higher education of focusing on “Radical Left Indoctrination” rather than educating their students.“I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!” Trump said in a pair of tweets made while traveling to Florida. Some schools, including Stanford University and Dartmouth College, have announced they’re cutting varsity sports programs and staff positions to address budget crunches made worse by Covid-19.Johns Hopkins University disclosed in April that it will suspend contributions to employee retirement accounts, cut the salaries of its highest-ranking officers, and prepare for furloughs and layoffs, according to the Washington Post.Limited PowerTrump’s power to drastically alter universities’ tax exemption is limited, but he could make policy changes that could hurt their bottom lines. For example, the Treasury Department could make changes through regulations, such as the Unrelated Business Income Tax, which pertains to profits earned through a part of the school that is not substantially related to the non-profit or educational part of the university.”Any drastic or dramatic change would require Congress to act,” said James Lucier, an analyst at Capital Alpha Partners LLC in Washington.Universities are also heavily reliant on the federal government for research contracts, which Lucier said the Trump administration could curtail.Bringing Students Back Poses Ultimate Test for Many CollegesTrump this week has intensified pressure on schools to reopen, threatening to cut off federal education funding to those that do not fully welcome back students and criticizing U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidance as too burdensome.A full-fledged opening of K-12 schools could boost economic growth by allowing parents to return to the office, rather than stay home to care for their children.But it could also risk exacerbating the spread of the virus, which has already seen a resurgence in several states. The U.S. set another record on Thursday, with more than 63,000 new cases reported. Sunbelt states that were quick to lift stay-at-home orders, such as Florida, Arizona and Texas, have been hit particularly hard.Some universities have pushed back against other pandemic-related moves from Trump. Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have sued to block the administration’s new visa guidelines that could eject international students from the country if schools only offer online courses.Large EndowmentsBut critics have argued that the nation’s top colleges should not be viewed as charity cases.Some of the richest universities, such as Harvard and Yale, have sizable endowments already being taxed after the 2017 tax overhaul signed by Trump. Their investments are as sophisticated as those on Wall Street.Harvard and several of its wealthy peers in April announced they would decline to accept stimulus funds even though they were entitled to the money based on a formula contained in the federal coronavirus rescue package. The schools never received any money.U.S. colleges and universities have long found themselves a target of Trump’s ire as the president, a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, campaigned as a leader who would take on the nation’s elite.Trump signed an executive order in March 2019 that would require universities seeking federal grants to uphold First Amendment rights, an effort to address long-running complaints from conservative students that they’re persecuted on liberal-leaning campuses.Speaking to a group of young supporters in Phoenix last month, Trump said that the “radical left” was “working to eliminate free speech on our college campuses.”“Under my order, any college that refuses to let you speak stands to lose billions of dollars in terms of the overall system,” the president said.(Updates with college sports cutbacks, reaction from fifth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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  • U.S.
    The Telegraph

    Robert De Niro cuts estranged wife's card expenses as actor claims fortune hit by coronavirus

    Actor Robert De Niro has claimed the coronavirus has decimated his finances and he “may only make” $7.5 million (£6m) this year, as he fought in court to limit his estranged wife’s expenses. The Irishman star’s former partner, Grace Hightower, has claimed in divorce proceedings taking place in Manhattan, New York, that De Niro “unfairly” cut her monthly credit card allowance from $100,000 to $50,000. Lawyers for De Niro, 76, say he reduced Ms Hightower’s American Express card limit because he has taken a huge financial hit as Nobu and Greenwich Hotel, two restaurant chains he has stakes in, were forced to close or partially close during the Covid-19 lockdown. He also says he has been limited in his acting work by the virus. Caroline Krauss, his attorney, said a film project that he was scheduled to begin filming this summer in Oklahoma has been put on hold. Ms Hightower, 64, a singer and actress, also alleged that she and their children had been banned from an upstate New York estate where De Niro is staying during the pandemic.

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  • U.S.
    ABC News

    Georgia activists seek to remove 'Stone Mountain', the 'granddaddy of Confederate monuments'

    Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial, often called “the granddaddy of all Confederate monuments,” is once again at the center of an ongoing debate over a symbol that some see as a shrine of southern American heritage, and others see as a depiction of white supremacy etched into stone. The fight over the monument, which is located in Dekalb County, Georgia, is unfolding as the U.S. grapples with civil unrest following the recent Black Lives Matter protests. Cities are being forced to reckon with a dark history, facing growing pressure to confront the racist past of confederate leaders honored in monuments across the country.

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  • World
    Good Morning America

    Texas sets new single-day record for coronavirus deaths

    A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 552,000 people worldwide. Over 12.1 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

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