Archive for June, 2017

29
Jun

U.S. House rejects Senate version of payroll tax cut

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yesterday, the United States House of Representatives voted to effectively reject the Senate version of a bill, passed with bipartisan support, to extend a payroll tax cut two months past its year-end expiration date. The House voted instead to create a conference committee to settle differences between members of both bodies.

Although the tax cut extension itself has support among Republicans and Democrats, lawmakers disagree on how Congress should go about compensating for the cost of extending the cut and the policy changes it would entail.

During an appearance yesterday, President Obama condemned opposition to the Senate-passed version of the bill, accusing Republicans in the House of trying to negotiate on matters unrelated to the bill. Republicans, in response, say there is still time to negotiate the bill, insisting that lawmakers ought to concentrate on a year-long plan rather than a two-month extension. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, however, says he will not agree to negotiate the tax cut extension until the Senate-approved bill is passed by the House.

If the tax cut is not extended and instead expires on December 31, approximately 160 million Americans will be affected by the tax increase; President Obama insists the only way to prevent the tax hike beginning January 1 is for the House to pass the Senate bill. In response, House Speaker and Republican John Boehner wants Obama to “call on the Senate to return” to negotiate. The Senate, shortly after passing the bill, adjourned for the Holiday break.

Also included in the bill is a provision that would require President Obama to make a decision regarding the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a pipeline that would transport oil from Canada to Texas.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi blamed the congressional year-end impasse on “Tea Party Republicans.” In a letter to President Obama, Speaker Boehner requested he galvanize the Senate to negotiate on the bill’s provisions, writing “The differences between the two different bills can be quickly reconciled to provide the American people the certainty of a full-year bill. There are still 11 days before the end of the year, and with so many Americans struggling, there is no reason they should be wasted. You have said many times that Congress must do its work before taking vacation”.

 This story has updates See U.S. Congress reaches deal on payroll tax cut extension, December 23, 2011 
29
Jun

EPA block massive West Australian energy project

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Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The Western Australian (WA) Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has advised against the massive Greater Gorgon liquefied natural gas project off WA’s Pilbara coast. Proponents of the projects say Gorgon is one of Australia’s biggest export ventures, scheduled to provide up to 6,000 jobs and exports of up to $1.2 billion.

EPA chairman Dr Wally Cox said the Gorgon project operators (Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell), had made an effort on flora and fauna issues but in its present state, the Gorgon proposal was “unacceptable.” Gorgon LNG general manager Colin Beckett said that Gorgon was a world-class gas field and that the joint venture partners were confident that the decision would be reversed.

Environment Minister Mark McGowan said there was a definite process to be followed. The Minister says he will make a final decision on the Gorgon proposal after considering the EPA report – and any subsequent report from the Appeals Convenor. The EPA recommendations on the Gorgon proposal are subject to a two-week appeals period.

The EPA’s Dr Cox said that joint venture had “not been able to demonstrate that impacts from dredging, the introduction of non-indigenous species and the potential loss of fauna could be reduced to acceptable levels.”

In September 2003 the WA government provided “in-principle agreement” to the Gorgon joint venturers subject to a number of conditions. Dr Cox said that the Environmental Review and Management Programme had further highlighted the terrestrial and marine conservation values of Barrow Island and the adjacent waters.

Flatback turtles in particular would be put at risk from the proposal with two of the most important nesting beaches located adjacent to the proposed LNG processing plant site and the materials off-loading facility,” Dr Cox said. “There is very little science available on the life-cycle, behaviour and feeding habits of Flatback turtles and as a consequence it is not possible at this time to identify management measures that would ensure ongoing survival of this Pilbara Flatback turtle population.”

Dr Cox also said that the Proponent had not been able to demonstrate that risk could be reduced to satisfactory levels in the areas of: Impacts on the marine ecosystem from dredging; The introduction of non-indigenous species; Potential loss of subterranean and short range endemic invertebrate fauna species. “As a result, the proposal in its present form cannot meet the EPA’s environmental objectives and is considered environmentally unacceptable,” Dr Cox said.

29
Jun

Calls for corporate tax reform in Australia goes unheeded

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Peter Costello’s budget announcement has led to rejoicing for small businesses, but the lack of joy for those pushing for radical corporate taxation reform has led to many businesses asking “what about us?”

Personal taxation and small business have been the big winners after this year’s federal budget. Although dampened by the twin economic threats of rising interest rates and petrol prices, there should be a reasonable amount of real income savings for both low and high income earners, with those receiving Medicare, or a superannuation benefit, privy to an even lower level of taxation (0% for those on super benefits).

Small business also has benefited from the Howard government’s 11th annual budget, with them receiving a higher level of reducing depreciation, leading to a higher level of deductions in the years following the uptake of new technology or other capital. They are also privy to a AU$435 million dollar tax cut to compensate for their changing accounting requirements under the government’s new AIFRS reporting standards, as well as increasing the uptake of both the small business tax relief scheme and CGT (Capital Gains tax) Concessions.

The budget was not a complete loss for big business however, as superannuation laws have been tweaked to streamline contribution and payment rules previously impeding those with multitudes of staff.

But this is not enough, says Big 4 accounting firm Ernst & Young. In their newly published paper “Taxation of Investment in Australia: the need for ongoing reform”. In it they lead the charge for a greater streamlining and organization of the corporate tax system in Australia, submitting that it will lead to reductions in “disincentives to work save and invest in Australia [as well as improving] the international competitiveness of Australian businesses.” This follows from a recent report brought out by Mr. Costello himself about the need for tax reform in Australia.

A budget night Mr. Costello was notably coy about any future reform of corporate tax in Australia. He alluded to the report by his ministers but kept from outlining the government’s plan precisely.

29
Jun

No prosecution for UK minor who called Scientology a ‘cult’

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of the government of the United Kingdom told the City of London Police on Friday that there will be no prosecution for a 15-year-old boy who called Scientology a “cult” at a May 10 peaceful protest. The City of London Police had previously confiscated the boy’s protest placard and gave him a court summons at the demonstration, which took place near St Paul’s Cathedral at the Church of Scientology‘s London headquarters on Queen Victoria Street. The boy’s poster read: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult”. The human rights organization Liberty has come out strongly against the City of London Police for their actions at the protest, and said they are pursuing an inquiry into the police force for what they say is a troubling freedom of speech issue.

Individuals from the group Anonymous have held monthly international protests against the Church of Scientology since February, as part of the anti-Scientology movement Project Chanology. The Project Chanology movement began when the Church of Scientology attempted to get a leaked Scientology promotional video featuring Tom Cruise removed from websites YouTube and Gawker.com.

Members of Anonymous were motivated by the actions of the Church of Scientology, and bombarded Scientology websites and were successful in taking some of them down. Anonymous later changed tactics towards legal measures, and held international protests against Scientology on February 10, March 15, April 12, and most recently May 10.

I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech.

City of London Police approached the 15-year-old boy at the May 10 protest and cited section five of the Public Order Act 1986, which deals with “harassment, alarm or distress“. In response, the boy cited a 1984 judgment given by Mr. Justice Latey in the Family Division of the High Court of Justice of Her Majesty’s Courts of Justice of England and Wales, in which Latey called Scientology a “cult” and said it was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”. In the actual 1984 judgment made by Judge Latey, he stated: “Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious. […] In my judgement it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. […] It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.” The boy told fellow protesters he was not going to take the sign down, saying: “If I don’t take the word ‘cult’ down, here [holding up his sign], I will be either, I think, most likely arrested or [given] a summons. I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech, besides which I’m only fifteen.”

… it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual.

When the boy refused to take his sign down, City of London Police removed it, cited him with a court summons and informed him that the matter would be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The boy was the only protester who did not comply with the police requests to remove signs which referred to Scientology as a “cult”. According to The Guardian, a CPS spokesman stated Friday that: “In consultation with the City of London police, we were asked whether the sign, which read ‘Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult’, was abusive or insulting. Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual.”

“The CPS review of the case includes advice on what action or behaviour at a demonstration might be considered to be threatening, abusive or insulting. The force’s policing of future demonstrations will reflect this advice,” said a spokeswoman for the City of London Police in a statement in The Guardian.

The 15-year-old boy’s mother called the CPS decision a “victory for free speech”, saying: “We’re all incredibly proud of him. We advised him to take the placard down when we realised what was happening but he said ‘No, it’s my opinion and I have a right to express it’.”

The incident has generated significant interest on the Internet, from civil rights groups and anti-cult groups, and in the press. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, and Ian Haworth of the United Kingdom-based Cult Information Centre were highly critical of the actions of the City of London Police. George Pitcher of The Daily Telegraph called the actions of the City of London Police “a mockery of the law”. Other publications also criticized the actions of the police, compared the boy to past civil rights protesters, and analyzed how the characterization of “cult” applied to Scientology. The Guardian reported that human rights activists “were outraged” when reports of the actions of the City of London Police at the protest surfaced this week. Marina Hyde wrote in a comment piece in The Guardian that the City of London Police should spend a little less time “reaching for the collar of free-speaking children”. An article in The Guardian about the boy’s court summons hit the front page of the website Slashdot on Wednesday, and an article about the statement by CPS hit the site’s front page on Friday. The anti-Scientology website Enturbulation.org devoted its front page to the incident on Saturday.

The police may have ended their inquiries into this tawdry incident but rest assured that Liberty’s inquiry will continue.

BBC News reported that attorneys for Liberty represented the 15-year-old boy to the CPS. In media statements Friday, Liberty said it would continue its inquiry into the actions of the City of London Police. “The police may have ended their inquiries into this tawdry incident but rest assured that Liberty’s inquiry will continue. Democracy is all about clashing ideas and the police should protect peaceful protest, not stifle it,” said James Welch, legal director at Liberty. “Reason has prevailed in the case of the anti-Scientology protester”, wrote Welch in a comment piece in The Observer. According to The Press Association, Liberty’s inquiry may result in actions taken against the City of London Police.

The City of London Police has faced controversy in the past for its close association with the Church of Scientology. When the City of London Scientology building opened in 2006, City of London Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley praised Scientology in an appearance as guest speaker at the building’s opening ceremony. Ken Stewart, another of the City of London’s chief superintendents, has also appeared in a video praising Scientology. According to The Guardian over 20 officers for the City of London Police have accepted gifts from the Church of Scientology including tickets to film premieres, lunches and concerts at police premises.

Unlike the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police Service (the territorial police force responsible for Greater London excluding the City of London) has not raised an issue with protesters using placards with similar wording at protests against Scientology, according to The Guardian and Londonist.

Each of the Project Chanology international protests against Scientology has had a theme: the February protest called attention to the birthday of Lisa McPherson, who died under controversial circumstances while under the care of Scientology, the March protest was arranged to take place two days after Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard‘s birthday, the April protest highlighted the Church of Scientology’s disconnection policy, and the May protest highlighted the Scientology practice of “Fair Game” and took place one day after the anniversary of the publication of Hubbard’s book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Another international protest is planned for June 14, and will highlight the Church of Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” or “Sea Org”.

 This story has updates See UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology ‘cult’ signs 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Former U.S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue Mark Everson took some time to talk with Wikinews about his campaign for the U.S. Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

Everson served as Commissioner of Internal Revenue, the administrative head of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from 2003 to 2007, during the George W. Bush administration. After his departure, he briefly served as CEO of the American Red Cross, worked in the cabinet of Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, and worked for the tax consulting firm alliantgroup. He announced his candidacy this past March with a sixteen-page open letter in which he outlined the six pillars of his campaign: amnesty for illegal immigrants, reinstatement of the military draft, a promise to serve only a single presidential term, and calls for tax reform, deficit reduction, and corporate responsibility.

He was excluded from the August 6 Fox News Republican presidential debate and has been excluded from most presidential polls. However, he is listed on the Republican Party’s website as one of 18 candidates and filed a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint against Fox News for his exclusion from the August 6 debate.

With Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn?, Everson discusses his 2016 campaign, the media blackout of his campaign, and his views on the presidency and the possible Everson administration.

Contents

  • 1 Interview
    • 1.1 2016 campaign and qualifications
    • 1.2 Media blackout
    • 1.3 The presidency and administration
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources
29
Jun

Canada’s Toronto—Danforth (Ward 30) city council candidates speak

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Saturday, November 4, 2006

On November 13, Toronto residents will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Toronto Centre (Ward 28). One candidate responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Edward Chin, Paula Fletcher (incumbent), Patrick Kraemer, Suzanne McCormick, Daniel Nicastro, and Michael Zubiak.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

29
Jun

U.S. Congress reaches deal on payroll tax cut extension

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Speaker of the U.S. House John Boehner announced yesterday that he would agree to a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. In an effort to end the impasse between the House and Senate, Boehner told Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid that he would schedule a House vote on the Senate version of the bill that would extend the tax cut, which was due to expire at the end of the year.

Speaker Boehner announced the agreement in a brief statement: “Senator Reid and I have reached an agreement that will ensure taxes do not increase for working families on January 1”. Boehner informed other congressmen of the deal in a conference call yesterday evening.

The House may pass the bill via unanimous consent today, which would not require the presence of all members. Boehner and Reid also agreed to a bipartisan negotiation committee to sort out differences and extend the tax cut for an entire year, a goal recently sought by Republicans in the House.

The extension of the payroll tax cut, which would prevent approximately 160 million Americans from seeing a tax increase in 2012, had already been passed by the Senate last weekend. Earlier yesterday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell joined several other Republican Senators in encouraging the House to pass the extension.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said that once the House acts, he “will be happy to restart the negotiating process to forge a yearlong extension.” At a news conference, Speaker Boehner issued a statement: “We have fought the good fight. Why not do the right thing for the American people even though it’s not exactly what we want.” President Obama also responded to the development in a statement: “This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The tax cut extension impasse began when the House effectively rejected the Senate-approved version of the bill on Tuesday after being faced with opposition from House Republicans, specifically those associated with the Tea Party movement, who advocated for spending cuts and the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Friday, December 2, 2005 The Australian Federal Opposition has hounded the Treasurer, Peter Costello, over the appointment of Robert Gerard to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) board. Mr Gerard announced on Friday 2nd that he will resign from the Board, citing the events of this week as the reason.

On Tuesday, November 29, Wayne Swan, the Shadow Treasurer asked of Costello in the first question of Question Time about an apparent statement that Costello made to Gerard, namely, “I know there’s an issue with the Tax Office but I don’t have a problem with you on the board”. Costello responded that he had no problem with Gerard, noting that “he brings a great understanding of Australian manufacturing industry to the board”, and that the obligatory declaration of interest was “indeed was signed by Mr Gerard”.

Later it was said by Swan in the House of Representatives that Gerard’s company was using “tax havens as tax avoidance schemes to the value of $150 million” and that the declaration of interest mentioned was only in regard to his personal affairs and on asking the Treasurer when he knew this, claimed that him actually knowing the information “would breach the secrecy act”. Later Swan revealed that Gerard “and his corporate vehicles” have been “susbtantial donors” to the Liberal Party. Costello maintained that the Government “[does] not think that supporting the Liberal Party is a disqualification from holding ministerial office, prime ministerial office, Treasury office or other offices in Australia”

Swan moved a censure motion to “provide this House with a full and proper explanation of…his communications with Mr Robert Gerard…and his knowledge of Mr Robert Gerard’s dispute with the Australian Taxation Office…”, which failed in the Government’s favour with votes 83 to 59 in division.

On Wednesday, November 30, Swan opened the House in a movement to suspend standing orders again to get information from the Treasurer, stating that “The Treasurer is in real strife” before the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer moved the gag. In Question Time, the Opposition continued to ask every question in regard to the appointment of Gerard. The Leader of the Opposition Kim Beazley revealed in his question to the Treasurer that “some of his cabinet colleagues have privately said that they did not consider Mr Gerard was ‘a good choice’ in the first place for the Reserve Bank board”. The Treasurer responded that Gerard’s “appointment was supported by all members of the cabinet”

In the subsequent Matters of Public Importance debate, the matter selected was that proposed by Wayne Swan, namely, “The need for the Treasurer to uphold the highest standards of probity in the selection of candidates for the Reserve Bank Board.”

On Thursday, December 1, the Opposition again reserved a number of its questions for inquiring about Gerard’s appointment. Swan revealed in a question to the Treasurer that Gerard Corporation had “acquired an investment company in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands eight months after the Treasurer recommended his appointment to the Reserve Bank board”. Costello responded to Swan referring him to “a statement about that allegation in the Australian Financial Review today…in which he makes it clear that no income has been derived.”

Later, the Leader of the Opposition tried to move a censure motion on the treasurer, but leave of the House was not granted, so he had to resort to moving a motion to suspend standing orders to move the same motion, to censure the Treasurer for his appointment. The motion failed due to Government numbers, but the Matters for Public Importance (which follows Question Time) which was selected as “The need for the Government to govern for all Australians not just a privileged few.” in order to draw a comparison with the unequal treatment of the Treasurer in supporting Gerard and the new industrial relations legislation, dubbed WorkChoices, and said how the Treasurer and the Prime Minister were “laughing up their sleeves”, that the Treasurer was “not fit to lead”, and Gerard “is the worst attendee on the Reserve Bank board.”

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, however focused elsewhere on the MPI, and drew the attention of the Australian Labor Party‘s ties to the unions, had described the Opposition as a “policy free zone”, said that “there is one group that represents privilege in this place and that is the Australian Labor Party”, and stressed the benefits of WorkChoices.

Craig Emerson noted that the Queensland branch of the Liberal Party participated in “deliberate tax evasion”, and that Mr Gerard “paid penalty tax in circumstances of deliberate tax evasion”. Emerson later said that the Liberal Party was “soft on tax cheats”, “soft on tax cheating Liberal Party donors…and members”.

The adjournment debate also brought up criticism of Gerard’s appointment in the adjournment debate. Christopher Bowen noted the “disquiet” in the media, and noted the previous Board member Bernie Fraser also calling for his dismissal. Bernard Ripoll called for a “full inquiry” into the Government’s “self serving public policy”.

Swan has said that Gerard had done the “honourable thing”, but that he will not let up on pressing the Treasurer for a full disclosal of the facts.

The House of Representatives as of this date sits next on December 5, 2005.

28
Jun

New Zealand National party pays back owed GST

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The New Zealand National party has announced that it will pay back the GST (Goods and Services Tax) it owes to five different advertisers, all television stations, by buying advertising time for the several different charities. The advertisements will appear on the owed media outlets. They have decided with the current path is it would “unlawful” to pay back the GST normally.

The GST amounted to NZ$112,000.

National’s original plan of getting a one time bill passed that it would allow them to pack the owed GST to the media outlets was ditched in favour of this new one. “With the prospect of legislation diminishing, it’s time to accept that National cannot go down that path,” Judy Kirk, president of the National party, said.

If National was to pay back the GST, they would be breaking the law by going over the electioneering cap set by the Broadcasting Act.

The owed media companies are TVNZ, TV3 and Sky Television. It also includes Sky’s free-to-air channel, Prime.

Ms Kirk said: “We want to get some closure on the matter and have taken extensive legal advice on our options… We have secured clear advice that it would be unlawful to pay the five outstanding media creditors, and that it would be unlawful for them to accept payment. We do not wish to break the law, and nor do we wish to place our creditors in the position of breaking the law.”

“…we will purchase the media advertising time directly from broadcasters and ask that they allocate it amongst the range of charities currently supported by each,” Ms Kirk said.

National said that their error on not paying for the GST did not effect the outcome of the election, unlike the Labour party’s overspending.

28
Jun

US lawmakers approve bill taxing executive bonuses

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Friday, March 20, 2009

The United States House of Representatives approved a measure on Thursday to impose a heavy tax on bonuses to executives from companies that have been bailed out by the government. The bill was passed by a margin of 328-93.

Under the bill, executives making over US$250,000 a year would be charged a 90% tax on bonuses. The tax would apply to firms that have been given at least $5 billion in aid from the government.

The move comes after recent outrage at American International Group (AIG), which gave out $165 million in bonuses to its top executives after receiving no more than $180 billion in government bailouts. AIG has said that the bonuses had to be given out, as the company was legally required by contract to do so.

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Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, said that the bill was necessary because of the bad judgment shown by firms who received bailouts from the government.

“We must stabilize the financial system in order to strengthen our economy and create jobs. We must also protect the American taxpayer from executives who would use their companies’ second chances as opportunities for private gain. Because they could not use sound judgment in the use of taxpayer funds, these AIG executives will pay the Treasury in the form of this tax,” said Pelosi to reporters following the House vote.

The Senate is expected to vote upon a similar version of the bill. If approved, the differences between the two versions would have to be bridged before it could be signed into law.