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New threat targets business owners' tax returns

Swindlers who for years have duped the federal government into paying them tax refunds based on fraudulent returns filed using individuals’ stolen identities are finding that harder to pull off because Uncle Sam has caught on to their tricks. So they now are targeting businesses and others, filing phony returns in their names! 

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3 Must-Dos to Prepare for When Cannabis Is Federally Legal

On August 1, 2017, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced The Marijuana Justice Act, an unprecedented bill that, if passed, would legalize marijuana nationwide. Although most regard the bill as “unpassable”, current cannabis industry entrepreneurs should have at least been prompted to consider the possibility of operating a cannabusiness within a more mainstream ecosystem. Or, perhaps the recent surge of mainstream media buzz around the business of marijuana has piqued an interest in the industry.

Whatever the motivation, smart entrepreneurs should consider these three must-dos to prepare a cannabis business venture for federal legalization:

Related: Federal Legalization of Marijuana Not Likely Soon but Proponents Are Trying

1. Think like a brand.

As the industry grows in credibility and legitimacy, a number of recent lawsuits by larger corporations over the issue of trademark infringement have surfaced. If you have already selected a business name that is a spin-off of a mainstream brand, rebrand with a new name as soon as possible to avoid the hassle and legal fees.

2. Plan the future of your business.

As an entrepreneur, it is often difficult to allocate the time, resources and discipline required to finalize a business plan, particularly if the business has picked up revenue and day-to-day operations quickly. However, in order for small businesses to survive the mainstream transition of cannabis, it is imperative to think bigger.

Scaling your business strategically will require a legitimate business plan. Fortunately, there are many resources to help in the early stages, including searchable how-to articles with references and digital tool recommendations that make the process bearable and shareable. While these resources serve as a guide for the foundation of the plan, owners must use their best judgment to tweak the details supporting the nuances of their respective cannabis businesses. From all-cash accounting to cadences for harvest, cannapreneurs should account for as many of the unique market pressures as they can in their business plans.

3. Reassess the market, your alliances and your financing.

Though it is expanding rapidly, the marijuana market is still relatively small. Most credible projections forecast the potential of the entire industry to be nearly $20 billion by 2021. By comparison, Target Corporation had over $70 billion in revenue in 2016.

With the possibility of federal legalization, wanna-be marijuana moguls will need to re-evaluate the market to include much larger mainstream brands as competitive benchmarks. So, the owner of a personal care brand developing infused cannabis products will want to analyze brands under mainstream, personal care purchase consideration like Burt’s Bees or Dove. From packaging to pricing, it’s important to review full brand offerings to determine if any adjustments to your strategy are necessary to achieve expected points of parity from the target consumer’s perspective.

Whether federal legalization happens in twelve months or a few years, it is clear that early entrants to the cannabis market have a rare window of opportunity to establish themselves as global leaders in the market. Cannabis entrepreneurs should use this head start to strengthen digital brand awareness, create an informed plan of action and establish industry benchmarks that align with mainstream branded experiences.

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Rise of the Robolawyers

Near the end of Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2, Dick the Butcher offers a simple plan to create chaos and help his band of outsiders ascend to the throne: “Let’s kill all the lawyers.” Though far from the Bard’s most beautiful turn of phrase, it is nonetheless one of his most enduring. All these years later, the law is still America’s most hated profession and one of the least trusted, whether you go by scientific studies or informal opinion polls.  

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Her Code Got Humans on the Moon—And Invented Software Itself

Margaret Hamilton wasn’t supposed to invent the modern concept of software and land men on the moon. It was 1960, not a time when women were encouraged to seek out high-powered technical work. Hamilton, a 24-year-old with an undergrad degree in mathematics, had gotten a job as a programmer at MIT, and the plan was for her to support her husband through his three-year stint at Harvard Law. After that, it would be her turn—she wanted a graduate degree in math.

But the Apollo space program came along. And Hamilton stayed in the lab to lead an epic feat of engineering that would help change the future of what was humanly—and digitally—possible.

As a working mother in the 1960s, Hamilton was unusual; but as a spaceship programmer, Hamilton was positively radical. Hamilton would bring her daughter Lauren by the lab on weekends and evenings. While 4-year-old Lauren slept on the floor of the office overlooking the Charles River, her mother programmed away, creating routines that would ultimately be added to the Apollo’s command module computer.

“People used to say to me, ‘How can you leave your daughter? How can you do this?’” Hamilton remembers. But she loved the arcane novelty of her job. She liked the camaraderie—the after-work drinks at the MIT faculty club; the geek jokes, like saying she was “going to branch left minus” around the hallway. Outsiders didn’t have a clue. But at the lab, she says, “I was one of the guys.”

Then, as now, “the guys” dominated tech and engineering. Like female coders in today’s diversity-challenged tech industry, Hamilton was an outlier. It might surprise today’s software makers that one of the founding fathers of their boys’ club was, in fact, a mother—and that should give them pause as they consider why the gender inequality of the Mad Men era persists to this day.

‘When I first got into it, nobody knew what it was that we were doing. It was like the Wild West.’ — Margaret Hamilton

As Hamilton’s career got under way, the software world was on the verge of a giant leap, thanks to the Apollo program launched by John F. Kennedy in 1961. At the MIT Instrumentation Lab where Hamilton worked, she and her colleagues were inventing core ideas in computer programming as they wrote the code for the world’s first portable computer. She became an expert in systems programming and won important technical arguments. “When I first got into it, nobody knew what it was that we were doing. It was like the Wild West. There was no course in it. They didn’t teach it,” Hamilton says.

This was a decade before Microsoft and nearly 50 years before Marc Andreessen would observe that software is, in fact, “eating the world.” The world didn’t think much at all about software back in the early Apollo days. The original document laying out the engineering requirements of the Apollo mission didn’t even mention the word software, MIT aeronautics professor David Mindell writes in his book Digital Apollo. “Software was not included in the schedule, and it was not included in the budget.” Not at first, anyhow.

Read more at Wired