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That's the prime guiding principle of the budget Republicans are trying to push through the Senate. Republicans claim to be concerned with reducing the federal deficit, which their Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) described as a "dangerous financial crisis." But are they willing to sacrifice a single tax loophole to solve the problem? No. And that's telling about their real priorities.
The Republican roadmap for the coming decade would cut government operations by $5 trillion, taking mostly from programs that help working families. And it assumes a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which has helped more than 16 million Americans find affordable health insurance for themselves and their families. It's harsh stuff.
But for all its smashing and slashing of programs low- and middle-income families depend on, it would keep in place each and every tax deduction, exclusion, and credit that benefits wealthy individuals and big corporations. This Republican budget is a clear confession that the so-called "dangerous financial crisis" is actually less important to them than protecting special tax treatment for the rich and powerful.
And it's big bucks: Some $1.5 trillion will go out the back door of the tax code in tax expenditures in 2016 alone, more than we actually spend in appropriations. Of that, billions of dollars is indefensible special interest lucre. And that doesn't even count the revenue lost from money sheltered in overseas tax havens like the Cayman Islands.
Today’s “non-doms” are not citizens of the empire; they are citizens of the world. The Edwardian tax break has become a magnet for the ultra-rich, from east Asia to the former Soviet republics. There are now estimated to be about 120,000 non-doms. The largest contingent are employed in the City, with others sprinkled through industry, football and the entertainment businesses. This gilded status is often acquired in the most unreconstructed ways. It is commonly claimed on the grounds of inheritance from one’s father; this is one trait your mother cannot pass on. However it is effected, ascension to this elevated order has a particular appeal to hedge fund and private equity managers, whose clever financial tricks mean they can receive what is in effect labour income as a share in an investment fund — which can be held offshore, and safely out of the tax net. Between them they pay almost £7bn in income tax and national insurance — most of which appears to come from City employees — and are certainly a boon for the restaurant and estate agency trades.
See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil! Despite the growing level of funds channelled through NGOs (or maybe because of it), fraud and corruption continue to be a highly sensitive topic, with most NGOs reluctant to openly discuss it. This was highlighted a few years ago, when Médecins du Monde initiated a study in an attempt to open up discussion on corruption within the humanitarian aid sector (one of the most corruption prone areas of development). Of the 17 largest French NGOs contacted for a confidential interview, accounting for more than 80% of all French humanitarian aid, 11 refused to participate. Attitudes such as this, a general lack of transparency within the sector, and a scarcity of empirical evidence available on fraud and corruption, has resulted in the topic avoiding appropriate scrutiny. Following on from my article on NGO accountability, this is the second in a series of three blogs examining NGO accountability and corruption. Its focus will be on what we know about actual corruption within the NGOs. ‘Rose-tinted’ glasses': Corruption only happens in NGOs working in the developing world … or does it! When the topic of corruption is raised, the natural inclination is to point the finger elsewhere. In the case of Northern NGOs, this tends to be at their counter-parts operating in the developing environments of the South. This was brought home to me in a discussion with a CEO & President of a North American based INGO last week, who stated with absolute conviction, that the ‘real’ need for anti-corruption measures was in Southern NGOs, as those in the North (like his) could safely “rely” on their external auditors and internal risk management systems to prevent it from happening. When I pointed out that the latest ACFE fraud survey showed that he had twice the chance of uncovering a fraud within his INGO by accident (at 6%) then it being uncovered by his external auditors (at 3%), he was a little taken aback. That aside, just how accurate was his assertion that the problem of fraud and corruption within the NGO / non-profit sector is limited to certain parts of the world? While research available on NGO corruption is predominantly drawn from newspaper articles of fraud reported in national NGOs in the North, it represents the tip of the iceberg, as a KPMG survey has found that 77% of all fraud investigations never reach the public domain, and 54% are not even communicated internally. In a 2014 survey into fraud in the Australian NGO sector, 54% of respondents advised that they did not report fraud to the Police because of “concerns relating to the impact of future funding opportunities, and potential damage to the organisation’s reputation”. While over 90% of respondent’s viewed it as a problem for the non-profit sector as a whole (in another show of ‘finger pointing’), only 1 in 4 saw it as a problem for their own organisation! Those in Glass Houses Shouldn’t throw stones: Fraud and corruption is in our own backyard Despite the ‘cone of silence’ built up around the topic, fraud and corruption within the NGO / non-profit sector is not limited to certain parts of the world only. Supporting this are the following: 1) A Working Paper by The Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University, found that a significant problem existed within the NGO sector, and that fraud amongst non-profit entities in the North was on the rise. Action to counter it was not always taken, due to a growing lack of regulatory resources. 2) The UK’s National Fraud Authority found that in 2012, fraud was estimated to have cost the charity sector in England, Scotland and Wales £1.1 billion annually, with serious incidents reported to the UK Charity Commission almost doubling in the previous year 3) In October 2013, The Washington Post published an article highlighting the potential extent of fraud and corruption within the US non-profit sector. Analysing the annual returns filed between 2008 and 2012, they found that over 1,000 NGOs had checked the box indicating that the organisation had ‘become aware of a significant diversion of assets during the year’; attributable to theft, investment fraud, embezzlement and other unauthorised uses of funds. Most of these were of a serious nature and not publicly reported. Important details were routinely omitted from the filings, with around half of the organisations not even disclosing the total amount lost. 4) According to the Economist (February 2014), a 20-month police investigation, uncovered evidence of widespread misuse of funds provided to around 600 Greek NGOs working overseas between 2000 and 2008; and, last month, the head the country’s public administration watchdog advised that 9 out of 10 NGOs subjected to checks by the national tax office officials appeared “problematical”. 5) While the list continues, one thing is clear, Northern NGOs are not immune to fraud and corruption, and cannot rely on their “external auditors and risk management systems” to deal properly with the issue.
The global epidemic of violence against women and their systematic exclusion from the power structures that rule us are integral to man's violent exploitation of Earth and her resources, writes Nafeez Ahmed. The fight to save the Earth must begin with the empowerment of women - and that means ending our complicity in their oppression, and servitude.
This story was reported and written with Sasha Chavkin and Mike Hudson from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The World Bank, created to fight poverty, has admitted that it’s failed to follow its own rules for protecting the poor people swept aside by dams, roads and other big projects it bankrolls.
This conclusion, announced by the bank on Wednesday, amounts to a reversal of its previous efforts to downplay concerns raised by human rights activists and others working on behalf of the dispossessed -- people evicted from their land, sometimes in violent ways, to make way for World Bank-financed initiatives.
It comes days after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and The Huffington Post informed bank officials that the news outlets had found “systemic gaps” in the bank's protections for people who lose homes or jobs because of development projects.
To hear the far-right ideologues of Fox News and AM talk radio tell it, life in Europe is hell on Earth. Taxes are high, sexual promiscuity prevails, universal healthcare doesn’t work, and millions of people don’t even speak English as their primary language! Those who run around screaming about “American exceptionalism” often condemn countries like France, Norway and Switzerland to justify their jingoism. Sadly, the U.S.’ economic deterioration means that many Americans simply cannot afford a trip abroad to see how those countries function for themselves. And often, lack of foreign travel means accepting clichés about the rest of the world over the reality. And that lack of worldliness clouds many Americans' views on everything from economics to sex to religion.
Big Wall Street banks are so upset with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said.
Handheld instrument does real-time nucleic acid testing to check if you're getting the fish you paid for.
Appreciate a well-cooked tuna steak or salmon wrapped in a sushi roll? There’s a good chance the fish sitting on your plate or in your grocery store’s seafood case is not what its label says it is, according to the ocean conservancy group Oceana. So you could be paying a premium for red snapper that’s really just plain old tilapia.
University of South Florida scientists have now made a handheld device that could help fight such seafood fraud. The instrument genetically verifies whether fish being called grouper is really grouper or less expensive, potentially harmful substitutes like catfish or mackerel. A quarter of grouper in the United States is mislabeled, according to Oceana, making it the fourth most commonly mislabeled fish in the country. Snapper was the most commonly mislabeled.
The Oceana study found that 33 percent of the 1200-plus seafood samples taken nationwide were mislabeled. This seafood fraud costs fishermen, the U.S. seafood industry, and consumers $20–25 billion annually, it calculates. In addition, fraud allows illegally caught fish to slip into the legal seafood trade and prevents consumers from making ecologically-friendly choices.
Today’s DNA barcoding methods for seafood identification analyze a sample’s DNA. While the price of gene sequencing has dropped in recent years, it still takes days and expensive lab equipment for accurate genetic identitification. The new device, on the other hand, purifies and amplifies a seafood sample’s RNA, or ribonucleic acid. The assay is simpler and works within 90 minutes. USF marine science professor John Paul and his colleagues have developed such assays to identify several microorganisms, and have now applied the technology to seafood identification.
The researchers described the technology and its application in the journal Food Control. They are now developing assays for other commercially relevant species, and they’re also commercializing it through Tampa-based spinoff PureMolecular LLC. That company plans to start selling the machines for US $2000 by this summer, Reuters reports.
Many ALEC-drafted bills pursue standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.
What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.
“Today’s non-doms are not citizens of the empire; they are citizens of the world,” Richard Brooks, a former British tax inspector and author of “The Great Tax Robbery,” wrote in a recent op-ed article in The Financial Times. “The Edwardian tax break has become a magnet for the ultrarich, from East Asia to the former Soviet republics.”
Tom Burgis’s account of the plundering of Africa’s natural resources by huge companies and corrupt regimes is enlighteningAugustin Katumba Mwanke was a young banker in South Africa when persuaded to return home to help rebuild the Democratic...
In 1994, the CEOs of America’s seven largest tobacco companies sat before Congress and testified, in contradiction to the overwhelming scientific evidence, that cigarettes aren’t addictive and that evidence linking them to cancer is inconclusive. The footage is shocking enough by today’s standards (and by the standards of the time), and is all the more so when juxtaposed with an industry memo from 30 years earlier that states the exact opposite: “We are … in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug.”
If the climate fight has an iconic image of its own, director Robbie Kenner told Salon, it might be Republican Sen. James Inhofe brandishing a snowball on the Senate floor, his “proof” that climate change isn’t happening, overwhelming scientific evidence be damned.
(Scientists, in fact, are as certain that global warming is a “real, man-made threat” as they are that smoking kills.)
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