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Micronation | Fifth World Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia

Posted: December 9, 2016 at 6:05 am

According to pedestrian wisdom, a micronation sometimes referred to as a model country or new country project is an entity that apparently intends to replace, resemble, mock, or exist on equal footing with a recognised and/or sovereign state. Some micronations are created with serious intent, while others exist as a hobby or stunt. Scholarly research shows, however, that a real micronation must be at least an empirical tribe or community, or it simply isn’t a micronation. Actually, most so-called micronations are more of a mocking of real nations than real states it is intellectually dishonest to classify something, as the Wikipedia does in its article about micronations, based not on what it actually is, but rather on what it isn’t, and a micronation is, first and foremost, a very small nation by size and/or population.

The term micronation, which literally means small nation, is a neologism. The first reference in English to the word micronation in a popular book appears in the 1978 edition of The People’s Almanac #2, where David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace write:

The term has since come to be used also retrospectively to refer to earlier unrecognised entities, some of which date to as far back as the 17th century.

According to micronational scholars, the term micronation is synonymous with the term Fifth and Sixth World nation. The more mature micronations (Fifth World nations) can also be social identity or irredentist groups.

Supporters of micronations often use the term macronation to describe any real sovereign nation-state. However, macronations are more appropriately medium- to large-sized nations that do not enjoy significant recognition, and according to micronational scholars they are Fourth World nations. The term macronation is also synonymous with the term self-determination or secessionist group.

Micronations should not be confused with legitimately recognised, but geographically tiny nations such as Fiji, Monaco, and San Marino, for which the term microstate is more accurate and descriptive.

Micronations generally have a number of common features:

A criterion which distinguishes micronations from imaginary countries, eco-villages, campuses, tribes, clans, sects, and residential community associations, is that these latter entities do not usually seek to be recognised as sovereign.

The Montevideo Convention was one attempt to create a legal definition distinguishing between states and non-states. A few micronations meet this definition, while most do not. Some micronational scholars find the Montevideo Convention unenlightened, or at the very least deceptive, with its emphasis on a state possessing a defined territory, since it has been discovered that states do not necessarily have to possess a territory to exist and be functional.

The academic study of micronations and microstates is termed micropatrology, and the hobby or activity of establishing and operating micronations is known as micronationalism.

The world’s oldest and longest living micronation was probably the Indian princely state of Pudukkottai. From the 6th to the 14th century AD, Pudukkottai was successively ruled by the Pallavas, the Cholas, and the Pandyas. Then Pudukkottai came under the rule of Muslim sultans, who held power for about 50 years before being vanquished by the Vijayanagar kings. When the Vijayanagar kingdom disintegrated, Raghunatha Kilavan wrested the country from them in 1680, and appointed Raghunatha Tondaiman, his brother-in-law, as viceroy. The kingdom eventually acceded to the independent Dominion of India in August 1947, and merged with the Madras state in the following year.

The 19th century saw the rise to prominence of the nation-state concept, and the earliest recognisable micronations can be dated to that period. Most were founded by eccentric adventurers or business speculators, and several were remarkably successful.

The oldest extant micronation to arise in modern times is the Kingdom of Redonda, founded in 1865 in the Caribbean. It failed to establish itself as a real country, but has nonetheless managed to survive into the present day as a unique literary foundation with its own king and aristocracy although it is not without its controversies; there are presently at least four competing claimants to the Redondan throne.

Another very old extant micronation is relatively obscure to Anglophiles: Parva Domus. Parva Domus today is a cultural and recreational civil association based in Montevideo, Uruguay. It was founded on 25 August 1878, when Jos Achinelli raised the new nation’s flag on a mast in front of a farmhouse. The Republic is reminiscent of a secret society, and its membership is restricted to men. Females are actually allowed entrance twice a year, for a special dinner. [1]

The 1960s and 1970s saw a micronational renaissance, with the foundation of a number of territorial micronations. The first of these, the Principality of Sealand, was founded in 1967 on an abandoned World War II gun platform in the North Sea, and has survived into the present day. Others were based on schemes requiring the construction of artificial islands, but only two are known to have risen above sea level.

The Republic of Rose Island was a 400 square metre platform built in international waters off the Italian town of Rimini, in the Adriatic Sea in 1968. It is reported to have issued stamps, minted currency, and declared Esperanto to be its official language. Shortly after completion, however, it was destroyed by the Italian Navy.

The Republic of Minerva was set up in 1972 as a libertarian new country project by Nevada businessman Michael Oliver. Oliver’s group conducted dredging operations at the Minerva Reefs, a shoal located in the Pacific Ocean south of Fiji. They succeeded in creating a small artificial island, but their efforts at securing international recognition met with little success, and near-neighbour Tonga sent a military force to the area and annexed it.

On April Fools’ Day in 1973, John Lennon and Yoko Ono announced the birth of Nutopia, the world’s first country where all people are ambassadors. Nutopia was described as “a conceptual country” with no boundaries and “no laws other than cosmic.” At the time, Mr. Lennon was being threatened with deportation because of a 1968 marijuana conviction in Britain. As Nutopian ambassadors, Mr. and Ms. Lennon asked for diplomatic immunity and United Nations recognition, and they gave “One White Street” as the embassy address. Neither of them ever lived at that address.

On 1 April 1977, bibliophile Richard Booth, declared the UK town of Hay-on-Wye an “independent republic” with himself as its king. The town has subsequently developed a healthy tourism industry based literary interests, and “King Richard” (whose sceptre consists of a recycled toilet plunger) continues to dole out Hay-on-Wye peerages and honours to anyone prepared to pay for them. The official website for Hay-on-Wye, however, admits that the declaration of independence, along with the later claim to have annexed the United States and renamed it the “US of Hay” were publicity stunts.[2]

Micronational activities were disproportionately common throughout Australia in the final three decades of the 20th century. The Hutt River Province Principality started the ball rolling in 1970, when Prince Leonard (born Leonard George Casley) declared his farming property independent after a dispute over wheat quotas. The year 1976 witnessed the creation of the Province of Bumbunga on a rural property near Snowtown, South Australia, by an eccentric British monarchist named Alex Brackstone, and a dispute over flood damage to farm properties led to the creation of the Independent State of Rainbow Creek in northeastern Victoria (Australia) by Tom Barnes in 1979. In New South Wales, a political protest by a group of Sydney teenagers led to the 1981 creation of the Empire of Atlantium, and a mortgage foreclosure dispute led George and Stephanie Muirhead of Rockhampton, Queensland to secede as the Principality of Marlborough in 1993.

Yet another Australian secessionist state came into existence on 1 May 2003, when Peter Gillies declared the independence of his 66 hectare northern New South Wales farm as the Principality of United Oceania after an unresolved year-long dispute with Port Stephens Council over Gillies’ plans to construct a private residence on the property.

Micronational hobbyists received a significant boost in the mid-1990s when popularisation of the Internet gave them the ability to promote their activities to a global audience. As a result, the number of online and fantasy micronations expanded dramatically. The majority were based in English-speaking countries, however a significant minority arose elsewhere in Portuguese-speaking countries as well.

In the 21st century micronationalism has taken on a less quixotic character, especially through the more mature micronations (Fifth World nations).

There are now micronationists who have been elected to an Official World parliament; micronationists who have been honoured with a MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire); micronationists who have developed new languages in working use; authentic micronational navigators/explorers; and there are even micronational athletes who have appeared on a world championship podiums.

There are also micronations that run alternative Internets with great sophistication; micronations which have issued gold coins; micronations which have co-sponsored a major cultural events; micronations which have been recognised by international organisations; micronations which have launched significant political petitions; and there are even micronations which have sent their flag into the vacuum of space.

But the list of real achievements doesn’t end with specific micronationalists or micronations since there are, or have been, academic conferences on micronations; micronational travel guides; micronational bishops; micronational saints; micronational educational systems; micronational sports; micronational astrologies; micronational races; micronational meridians; micronational legal systems; micronational intellectual property; micronational archaeological findings; micronational virtual invasions with non-virtual consequences; micronational religions; micronational health discoveries; micronational environmental philosophies; and even micronationalism itself has developed into a real protoscience.

In the present day, eight main types of micronations are prevalent:

Micronations of the first type tend to be fairly serious in outlook, involve sometimes significant numbers of relatively mature participants, and often engage in highly sophisticated, structured activities that emulate the operations of real-world nations. A few good examples of these includes:

These micronations also tend to be fairly serious, and involve significant numbers of people interested in recreating the past, especially the Roman or Mediaeval past, and living it in a vicarious way. Examples of these include:

With literally thousands in existence, micronations of this type are by far the most common. They are ephemeral, and tend to be Internet-based, rarely surviving more than a few months, although there are notable exceptions. They generally involve a handful of people, and are concerned primarily with arrogating to their founders the outward symbols of statehood. The use of grand-sounding titles, awards, honours, and heraldic symbols derived from European feudal traditions, and the conduct of “wars” with other micronations, are common manifestations of their activities. Examples include:

Micronations of this type include stand-alone artistic projects, deliberate exercises in creative online and offline fiction, artistamp creations, and even popular films. Examples include:

These types of micronations are typically associated with a political or social reform agenda. Some are maintained as media and public relations exercises, and examples of this type include:

A number of micronations have been established for fraudulent purposes, by seeking to link questionable or illegal financial actions with seemingly legitimate nations. The best known of these are:

A small number of micronations are founded with genuine aspirations to be sovereign states. Many are based on historical anomalies or eccentric interpretations of law, and tend to be easily confused with established states. This category includes:

New-country projects are attempts to found completely new nation-states. They typically involve plans to construct artificial islands (few of which are ever realised), and a large percentage have embraced or purported to embrace libertarian or democratic principles. Examples include:

Seasteading is a lifestyle of making the oceans, or at least water-borne craft, one’s home. Most seasteads historically have been sailing craft, whether perhaps demonstrated by the the Chinese Junk, modified canoes of Oceania, or even the famous Pirates of Libertaria. In modern times in the west the cruising sailboat has begun to be used in the same manner. The term seasteading is of uncertain origin, used at least as early as the turn of the century by Uffa Fox, and others; many feel that catamaran designer and historian James Wharram and his designs represent ideal seasteads. More recently, American sailor and ecological philosopher Jerome FitzGerald has been a leading and effective proponent of seasteading, mostly teaching the concept through the environmental/sailing organization “The Oar Club”. The Seasteader’s Institute in Hilo, Hawaii offers classes, boat-building opportunities, education in forage foods, diving, and other aspects of a Seasteading lifestyle.

Some theoretical seasteads are floating platforms which could be used to create sovereign micronations, or otherwise serve the ends of ocean colonization. The concept is introduced in a paper by Wayne Gramlich, and later in a book by Gramlich, Patri Friedman and Andy House, which is available for free online. Their research aims at a more practical approach to developing micronations, based on currently available technology and a pragmatic approach to financial aspects.

The authors argue that seasteading has the potential to drastically lower the barrier to entry to the governing industry. This allows for more experimentation and innovation with varying social, political, and economic systems. Potential business opportunities include data havens, offshore aquaculture, and casinos, as well as the gamut of typical business endeavors.

There has been a small but growing amount of attention paid to the micronation phenomenon in recent years. Most interest in academic circles has been concerned with studying the apparently anomalous legal situations affecting such entities as Sealand and the Hutt River Province, in exploring how some micronations represent grassroots political ideas, and in the creation of role-playing entities for instructional purposes.

In 2000, Professor Fabrice O’Driscoll, of the Aix-Marseille University, published a book about micronations: Ils ne sigent pas l’ONU (“They are not in the United Nations”), with more than 300 pages dedicated to the subject.

In May 2000, an article in the New York Times entitled “Utopian Rulers, and Spoofs, Stake Out Territory Online” brought the phenomenon to a wider audience for the first time. Similar articles were published by newspapers such as the French Liberation, the Italian La Repubblica, the Greek “Ta Nea”, by O Estado de So Paulo in Brazil, and Portugal’s Viso at around the same time.

Several recent publications have dealt with the subject of particular historic micronations, including Republic of Indian Stream (University Press), by Dartmouth College geographer Daniel Doan, The Land that Never Was, about Gregor MacGregor, and the Principality of Poyais, by David Sinclair (ISBN 0-7553-1080-2).

In August 2003 a Summit of Micronations took place in Helsinki at Finlandia Hall, the site of the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). The summit was attended by delegations such as the Principality of Sealand, NSK, Ladonia, the Transnational Republic, and by scholars from various academic institutions.

From 7 November through 17 December 2004, the Reg Vardy Gallery at the University of Sunderland (UK) hosted an exhibition on the subject of micronational group identity and symbolism. The exhibition focused on numismatic, philatelic and vexillological artifacts, as well as other symbols and instruments created and used by a number of micronations from the 1950s through to the present day. A summit of micronations conducted as part of this exhibition was attended by representatives of Sealand, Elgaland-Vargaland, New Utopia, Atlantium, Frestonia and Fusa. The exhibition was reprised at the Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York City from 24 June29 July of the following year. Another exhibition about micronations opened at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo in early 2007.

The Sunderland summit was later featured in a 5-part BBC light entertainment television series called “How to Start Your Own Country” presented by Danny Wallace. The series told the story of Wallace’s experience of founding a micronation, Lovely, located in his London flat. It screened in the UK in August 2005.

Similar programs have also aired on television networks in other parts of Europe.

On 9 September 2006, The Guardian newspaper reported that the travel guide company Lonely Planet had published the world’s first travel guide devoted to micronations, the Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations (ISBN 1741047307).

The Democratic Empire of Sunda, which claims to be the Government of the Kingdom of Sunda (an ancient kingdom, in present-day Indonesia) in exile in Switzerland, made media headlines when two so-called princesses, Lamia Roro Wiranatadikusumah Siliwangi Al Misri, 21, and Fathia Reza Wiranatadikusumah Siliwangi Al Misiri, 23, were detained by Malaysian authorities at the border with Brunei, on 13 July 2007, and are charged for entering the country without a valid pass.

In 2010, a documentary film by Jody Shapiro entitled “How to Start your Own Country” was screened as part of the Toronto International Film Festival. The documentary explored various micronations around the world, and included an analysis of the concept of statehood and citizenship. Erwin Strauss, author of the eponymous book, was interviewed as part of the film.

Adapted from the Wikipedia article, “Micronation” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micronation, used under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Let’s Turn Nauru Into Transtopia – blogspot.com

Posted: December 2, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Here’s an off-the-wall idea that has some appeal to me … as a long-time Transtopian fantasist and world traveler….

The desert island nation of Nauru needs money badly, and has a population of less than 15,000

There are problems with water supply, but they could surely be solved with some technical ingenuity.

The land area is about 8 square miles. But it could be expanded! Surely it’s easier to extend an island with concrete platforms or anchored floating platforms of some other kind, than to seastead in the open ocean.

The country is a democracy. Currently it may not be possible to immigrate there except as a temporary tourist or business visitor. But I’d bet this could be made negotiable.

Suppose 15,000 adult transhumanists (along with some kids, one would assume) decided to emigrate to Nauru en masse over a 5-year period, on condition they could obtain full citizenship. Perhaps this could be negotiated with the Nauruan government.

Then after 5 years we would have a democracy in which transhumanists were the majority.

Isn’t this the easiest way to create a transhumanist nation? With all the amazing future possibilities that that implies?

This would genuinely be of benefit to the residents of Nauru, which now has 90% unemployment. Unemployment would be reduced close to zero, and the economy would be tremendously enlarged. A win-win situation. Transhumanists would get freedom, and Nauruans would get a first-world economy.

Considerable infrastructure would need to be built. A deal would need to be struck with the government, in which, roughly,

To ensure employment of the relocated transhumanists, we would need to get a number of companies to agree to open Nauru offices. But this would likely be tractable, given the preference of firms to have offices in major tech centers. Living expenses in Nauru would be much lower than in, say, Silicon Valley, so expenses would be lower.

Tourism could become a major income stream, given the high density of interesting people which would make Nauru into a cultural mecca. Currently there is only one small beach on Nauru (which is said to be somewhat dirty), but creation of a beautiful artificial beach on the real ocean is not a huge technological feat.

It would also be a great place to experiment with aquaculture and vertical farming.

What say you? Let’s do it!

P.S.

Other candidates for the tropical island Transtopia besides Nauru would be Tuvalu and Kiribati; but Kiribati’s population is much larger, and Tuvalu is spread among many islands, and is also about to become underwater due to global warming. So Nauru would seem the number one option. Though, Tuvalu could be an interesting possibility also, especially if we offered to keep the island above water by building concrete platforms or some such (a big undertaking, but much easier than seasteading). This would obviously be a major selling point to the government.

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Prison abolition movement – Wikipedia

Posted: at 12:27 pm

The prison abolition movement is a movement that seeks to reduce or eliminate prisons and the prison system, and replace them with more humane and effective systems.

It is distinct from prison reform, which is the attempt to improve conditions inside prisons; however, relying on prisons less could improve their conditions by reducing overcrowding.[1]:3

Some organizations such as the Anarchist Black Cross seek total abolishment of the prison system, not intending to replace it with other government-controlled systems. Many anarchist organizations believe that the best form of justice arises naturally out of social contracts. However, many supporters for prison abolition intend to replace it with other systems, reducing prisons to a smaller role in society.

Prominent social activist Angela Davis, outspoken critic of the prison-industrial complex, openly supports prison abolition.[2] “Mass incarceration is not a solution to unemployment, nor is it a solution to the vast array of social problems that are hidden away in a rapidly growing network of prisons and jails. However, the great majority of people have been tricked into believing in the efficacy of imprisonment, even though the historical record clearly demonstrates that prisons do not work.”[3] Her relevancy in this movement is attested by her close involvement with groups moving to abolish the PIC.[4]

Critical Resistance, co-founded by Angela Davis and Ruth Wilson Gilmore, is an American organization working towards an “international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe.”[5] Other similarly motivated groups such as the Prison Activist Resource Center (PARC), a group “committed to exposing and challenging all forms of institutionalized racism, sexism, able-ism, heterosexism, and classism, specifically within the Prison Industrial Complex,” [6] and Black & Pink, an abolitionist organization that focuses around LGBTQ rights, all broadly advocate for prison abolition.[7] Furthermore, names such as the Human Rights Coalition, a 2001 group that aims to abolish prisons,[8][9] and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, a grassroots organization dedicated to dismantling the PIC,[10] can all be added to the long list of organizations that desire a different justice system for our world.[11]

Every other year after Ruth Morris organized the first one in Toronto in 1983,[12] The International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA) gathers activists, academics, journalists, and “others from across the world who are working towards the abolition of imprisonment, the penal system, carceral controls and and the prison industrial complex (PIC),”[13] to discuss three important questions surrounding the reality of prison abolition ICOPA was one of the first penal abolitionist conference movements, similar to Critical Resistance in America, but “with an explicitly international scope and agenda-setting ambition.”[14]

Anarchists wish to eliminate all forms of state control, of which imprisonment is seen as one of the more obvious examples. Anarchists also oppose prisons because the vast majority of inmates are non-violent offenders. Numbers show incarceration rates affect mainly poor people and ethnic minorities, and do not generally rehabilitate criminals, in many cases making them worse.[15] As a result, the prison abolition movement often is associated with humanistic socialism, anarchism and anti-authoritarianism.

In October 2015, members at a plenary session of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) released and adopted a resolution in favor of prison abolition.[16][17]

Proposals for prison reform and proposed alternatives to prisons differ significantly depending on the political beliefs behind them. Proposals and tactics often include:

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime published a series of handbooks on criminal justice. Among them is Alternatives to Imprisonment which identifies how the overuse of imprisonment impacts fundamental human rights, especially those convicted for lesser crimes.

Social justice and advocacy organizations such as Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI) at the University of California, San Diego often look to Scandinavian countries Sweden and Norway for guidance in regards to successful prison reform because both countries have an emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment.[18] According to Sweden’s Prison and Probation Service Director-General, Nils berg, this emphasis is made popular among the Swedish because the act of imprisonment is considered punishment enough.[19] This focus on rehabilitation includes an emphasis on promoting normalcy for inmates, a charge lead by experienced criminologists and psychologists.[20] In Norway a focus on preparation for societal re-entry has yielded “one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world at 20%, [while] the US has one of the highest: 76.6% of [Americans] prisoners are re-arrested within five years”.[21] The Scandinavian method of incarceration seems to be successful: the Swedish incarceration rate decreased by 6% between 2011 and 2012.[22]

In place of prisons, some abolitionists propose community-controlled courts, councils, or assemblies to control the problem of social crime.[23] They argue that with the destruction of capitalism, and the self-management of production by workers and communities, property crimes would largely vanish. A large part of the problem, according to some, is the way the judicial system deals with prisoners, people, and capital. They argue that there would be fewer prisoners if society treated people more fairly, regardless of gender, color, ethnic background, sexual orientation, education, etc. This is proven with the creation of private prisons in America and corporations like Correction Corporation of America (CCA). Its shareholders benefit from the expansion of prisons and tougher laws on crime. More prisoners is seen as beneficial for business.[24]

Opponents of the abolition argue that none of the arguments above address the protection of non-criminal population from the effects of crime, and from particularly violent criminals.

Prison abolitionists such as Amanda Pustlinik take issue with the fact that prisons are used as a “default asylum” for many individuals with mental illness.[40] One question that is often asked by some prison abolitionists is:

“why do governmental units choose to spend billions of dollars a year to concentrate people with serious illnesses in a system designed to punish intentional lawbreaking, when doing so matches neither the putative purposes of that system nor most effectively addresses the issues posed by that population?” [40]

This question is often one of the major pieces of evidence that prison abolitionist claim highlights the depravity of the penal system. Many of these prison abolitionists often state that mentally ill offenders, violent and non-violent, should be treated in mental hospitals not prisons.[41] There are more people with mental illness in prisons that in psychiatric hospitals.[42] By keeping the mentally ill in prisons they claim that rehabilitation cannot occur because prisons are not the correct environment to deal with deep seated psychological problems and facilitate rehabilitative practices.[41] Individuals with mental illnesses that have led them to commit any crime have a much higher chance of committing suicide while in prison because of the lack of proper medical attention.[43] The increased risk of suicide is said to be because there is much stigma around mental illness and lack of adequate treatments within hospitals.[43] The whole point of the penal system is to rehabilitate and reform individuals who have willingly transgressed on the law. According to many prison abolitionists however, when mentally ill persons, often for reasons outside of their cognitive control, commit illegal acts prisons are not the best place for them to receive the help necessary for their rehabilitation.[41] For many prison abolitionists, if for no other reason than the fact that mentally ill individuals will not be receiving the same potential for rehabilitation as the non-mentally ill prison population, prisons are considered to be unjust and therefore violate their Sixth Amendment and Fifth Amendment Rights, in the U.S., and their chance to rehabilitate and function outside of the prison.[40][40][41][44] In America, by violating an individual’s rights as a citizen, prison abolitionists see no reason for prisons to exist, and again, offer another reason people within the movement demand for the abolition of prisons.[40][41][44]

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Abolition of the ESA Work-Related Activity Component …

Posted: at 12:27 pm

The Welfare Reform and Act 2016 legislated for the abolition of the Work-Related Activity Component (WRAC)of ESA for new claimants from April 2017. Based on 2016-17 rates, this equates to a reduction of 29.05 a week for claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG). Alongside this, the Government announced “new funding for additional support to help claimants return to work”

ESA is an “income replacement” benefitfor people who have a health condition or disability which limits their ability to work. As of February 2016 there were around 2.4 million ESA claimants in Great Britain, including450,000 in the Work-Related Activity Group.

There are two forms of ESA:

Income-related ESA will be replaced by Universal Credit; contributory ESA will remain as a separate benefit. The Government currently expects the introduction of Universal Credit to be fully complete by 2022.

A person must undergo a Work Capability Assessment to be eligible for ESA. There are three possible outcomes of a Work Capability Assessment;

Following the assessment, successful ESA claimants receive a standard rate plus an additional amount.

The standard rate of ESA is currently 73.10 a week, plus either:

These additions are known as the Support Component and the Work-Related Activity Component, respectively.

In the Summer Budget 2015, it was announced that the Work-Related Activity Component paid to those in the WRAG would be abolished for new claims from April 2017. The equivalent element in Universal Credit will also be abolished. This will be a reduction of 29.05 a week (based on 2016-17 rates) and aligns the rate of payment with those claiming Jobseekers Allowance (2016-17 rate: 73.10 a week). Existing claimants will not be affected, while there will be protections for those who may move into the WRAG or Universal Credit equivalent from the Support Group.

The changes were introduced to remove the financial incentives that could otherwise discourage claimants from taking steps back to work. 640 million a year of savings were initially forecast by 2020-21; this was later revised to 450 million a year.

The changes were widely criticised by disabled charities. The idea that the WRAC incentivises claimants to not look for work has been particularly disputed.

The proposals were opposed by opposition parties. Amendments to retain the component (and equivalent in Universal Credit) were tabled and agreed at the Lords Report Stage of the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. The Lords vote followed the publication ofa review initiated by Members of the House of Lords and supported by disability charities; the “Halving the Gap?” review. The review recommended that theGovernment should not proceed with the removal of the Work-Related ActivityComponent.

These amendmentswere overturned by the Commons. A further amendment requiring the Government to provide analysis of the impact of the changes before introducing them was also proposed by the Lords, and subsequently overturned by the Commons.

Alongside the changes to the WRAC was an announcement to provide new funding for additional support to help claimants return to work. The Government has since announced a series of measures and funding to deliver this, including;

60 million per year rising to 100 million per year for practical employment support, including an additional 15 million in 2017-18 directed at the local Jobcentre PlusFlexible Support Fund, to be set asidespecifically forthose with limited capability to work

Further detail of the additional employment support has been set out in the Government’s October 2016 Green Paper, Improving Lives. This was published instead of a previously announced White Paper.

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Abolition of the ESA Work-Related Activity Component …

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Word Games: What the NSA Means by Targeted Surveillance …

Posted: November 29, 2016 at 1:22 am

We all know that the NSA uses word games to hide and downplay its activities. Words like “collect,” “conversations,” “communications,” and even “surveillance” have suffered tortured definitions that create confusion rather than clarity.

Theres another one to watch: “targeted” v. “mass” surveillance.

Since 2008, the NSA has seized tens of billions of Internet communications. It uses the Upstream and PRISM programswhich the government claims are authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Actto collect hundreds of millions of those communications each year. The scope is breathtaking, including the ongoing seizure and searching of communications flowing through key Internet backbone junctures,[1]the searching of communications held by service providers like Google and Facebook, and, according to the government’s own investigators, the retention of significantly more than 250 million Internet communications per year.[2]

Yet somehow, the NSA and its defenders still try to pass 702 surveillance off as “targeted surveillance,” asserting that it is incorrect when EFF and many others call it “mass surveillance.”

Our answer: if “mass surveillance” includes the collection of the content of hundreds of millions of communications annually and the real-time search of billions more, then the PRISM and Upstream programs under Section 702 fully satisfy that definition.

This word game is important because Section 702 is set to expire in December 2017. EFF and our colleagues who banded together to stop the Section 215 telephone records surveillance are gathering our strength for this next step in reining in the NSA. At the same time, the government spin doctors are trying to avoid careful examination by convincing Congress and the American people that this is just “targeted” surveillance and doesnt impact innocent people.

PRISM and Upstream surveillance are two types of surveillance that the government admits that it conducts under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, passed in 2008. Each kind of surveillance gives the U.S. government access to vast quantities of Internet communications.[3]

Upstream gives the NSA access to communications flowing through the fiber-optic Internet backbone cables within the United States.[4] This happens because the NSA, with the help of telecommunications companies like AT&T, makes wholesale copies of the communications streams passing through certain fiber-optic backbone cables. Upstream is at issue in EFFs Jewel v. NSA case.

PRISM gives the government access to communications in the possession of third-party Internet service providers, such as Google, Yahoo, or Facebook. Less is known about how PRISM actually works, something Congress should shine some light on between now and December 2017.[5]

Note that those two programs existed prior to 2008they were just done under a shifting set of legal theories and authorities.[6] EFF has had evidence of the Upstream program from whistleblower Mark Klein since 2006, and we have been suing to stop it ever since.

Despite government claims to the contrary, heres why PRISM and Upstream are “mass surveillance”:

(1) Breadth of acquisition: First, the scope of collection under both PRISM and Upstream surveillance is exceedingly broad. The NSA acquires hundreds of millions, if not billions, of communications under these programs annually.[7] Although, in the U.S. governments view, the programs are nominally “targeted,” that targeting sweeps so broadly that the communications of innocent third parties are inevitably and intentionally vacuumed up in the process. For example, a review of a “large cache of intercepted conversations” provided by Edward Snowden and analyzed by the Washington Post revealed that 9 out of 10 account holders “were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.”[8] The material reviewed by the Post consisted of 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant message conversations, 7,900 documents (including “medical records sent from one family member to another, resumes from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren”), and more than 5,000 private photos.[9] In all, the cache revealed the “daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted [but were] catalogued and recorded nevertheless.”[10] The Post estimated that, at the U.S. governments annual rate of “targeting,” collection under Section 702 would encompass more than 900,000 user accounts annually. By any definition, this is “mass surveillance.”

(2) Indiscriminate full-content searching. Second, in the course of accomplishing its so-called “targeted” Upstream surveillance, the U.S. government, in part through its agent AT&T, indiscriminately searches the contents of billions of Internet communications as they flow through the nations domestic, fiber-optic Internet backbone. This type of surveillance, known as “about surveillance,” involves the NSA’s retention of communications that are neither to nor from a target of surveillance; rather, it authorizes the NSA to obtain any communications “about” the target.[11] Even if the acquisition of communications containing information “about” a surveillance target could, somehow, still be considered “targeted,” the method for accomplishing that surveillance cannot be: “about” surveillance entails a content search of all, or substantially all, international Internet communications transiting the United States.[12] Again, by any definition, Upstream surveillance is “mass surveillance.” For PRISM, while less is known, it seems the government is able to search throughor require the companies like Google and Facebook to search throughall the customer data stored by the corporations for communications to or from its targets.

To accomplish Upstream surveillance, the NSA copies (or has its agents like AT&T copy) Internet traffic as it flows through the fiber-optic backbone. This copying, even if the messages are only retained briefly, matters under the law. Under U.S. constitutional law, when the federal government “meaningfully interferes”with an individuals protected communications, those communications have been “seized” for purposes of the U.S. Constitutions Fourth Amendment. Thus, when the U.S. government copies (or has copied) communications wholesale and diverts them for searching, it has “seized” those communications under the Fourth Amendment.

Similarly, U.S. wiretapping law triggers a wiretap at the point of “interception by a device,” which occurs when the Upstream mechanisms gain access to our communications.[13]

Why does the government insist that its targeted? For Upstream, it may be because the initial collection and searching of the communicationsdone by service providers like AT&T on the governments behalfis really, really fast and much of the information initially collected is then quickly disposed of. In this way the Upstream collection is unlike the telephone records collection where the NSA kept all of the records it seized for years. Yet this difference should not change the conclusion that the surveillance is “mass surveillance.” First, all communications flowing through the collection points upstream are seized and searched, including content and metadata. Second, as noted above, the amount of information retainedover 250 million Internet communications per yearis astonishing.

Thus, regardless of the time spent, the seizure and search are comprehensive and invasive. Using advanced computers, the NSA and its agents can do a full-text, content search within a blink of an eye through billions, if not trillions of your communications, including emails, social media, and web searches. Second, as demonstrated above, the government retains a huge amount of the communicationsfar more about innocent people than about its targetsso even based on what is retained the surveillance is better described as “mass” rather than “targeted.”

So it is completely correct to characterize Section 702 as mass surveillance. It stems from the confluence of: (1) the method NSA employs to accomplish its surveillance, particularly Upstream, and (2) the breadth of that surveillance.

Next time you see the government or its supporters claim that PRISM and Upstream are “targeted” surveillance programs, youll know better.

[1] See, e.g., Charlie Savage, NSA Said to Search Content of Messages to and From U.S., N.Y. Times (Aug 8, 2013) (The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans e-mail and text communications into and out of the country[.]). This article describes an NSA practice known as about surveillancea practice that involves searching the contents of communications as they flow through the nations fiber-optic Internet backbone.

[2] FISA Court Opinion by Judge Bates entitled [Caption Redacted], at 29 (NSA acquires more than two hundred fifty million Internet communications each year pursuant to Section 702), https://www.eff.org/document/october-3-2011-fisc-opinion-holding-nsa-surveillance-unconstitutional (Hereinafter, Bates Opinion). According to the PCLOB report, the current number is significantly higher than 250 million communications. PCLOB Report on 702 at 116.

[3] Bates Opinion at 29; PCLOB at 116.

[6] First, the Bush Administration relied solely on broad claims of Executive power, grounded in secret legal interpretations written by the Department of Justice. Many of those interpretations were subsequently abandoned by later Bush Administration officials. Beginning in 2006, DOJ was able to turn to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to sign off on its surveillance programs. In 2007, Congress finally stepped into the game, passing the Protect America Act; which, a year later, was substantially overhauled and passed again as the FISA Amendments Act. While neither of those statutes mention the breadth of the surveillance and it was not discussed publicly during the Congressional processes, both have been cited by the government as authorizing it.

[11] Bates Opinion at 15.

[12] PCLOB report at 119-120.

[13] See 18 U.S.C 2511(1)(a); U.S. v. Councilman, 418 F.3d 67, 70-71, 79 (1st Cir. 2005) (en banc).

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Word Games: What the NSA Means by Targeted Surveillance …

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Paul Krugman – The Conscience of a Liberal

Posted: November 27, 2016 at 9:53 am

Infrastructure Build or Privatization Scam?

Trumpists are touting the idea of a big infrastructure build, and some Democrats are making conciliatory noises about working with the new regime on that front. But remember who youre dealing with: if you invest anything with this guy, be it money or reputation, you are at great risk of being scammed. So, what do we know about the Trump infrastructure plan, such as it is?

Crucially, its not a plan to borrow $1 trillion and spend it on much-needed projects which would be the straightforward, obvious thing to do. It is, instead, supposed to involve having private investors do the work both of raising money and building the projects with the aid of a huge tax credit that gives them back 82 percent of the equity they put in. To compensate for the small sliver of additional equity and the interest on their borrowing, the private investors then have to somehow make profits on the assets they end up owning.

You should immediately ask three questions about all of this.

First, why involve private investors at all? Its not as if the federal government is having any trouble raising money in fact, a large part of the justification for infrastructure investment is precisely that the government can borrow so cheaply. Why do we need private equity at all?

One answer might be that this way you avoid incurring additional public debt. But thats just accounting confusion. Imagine that youre building a toll road. If the government builds it, it ends up paying interest but gets the future revenue from the tolls. If it turns the project over to private investors, it avoids the interest cost but also loses the future toll revenue. The governments future cash flow is no better than it would have been if it borrowed directly, and worse if it strikes a bad deal, say because the investors have political connections.

Second, how is this kind of scheme supposed to finance investment that doesnt produce a revenue stream? Toll roads are not the main thing we need right now; what about sewage systems, making up for deferred maintenance, and so on? You could bring in private investors by guaranteeing them future government money say, paying rent in perpetuity for the use of a water system built by a private consortium. But this, even more than having someone else collect tolls, would simply be government borrowing through the back door with much less transparency, and hence greater opportunities for giveaways to favored interests.

A lot of people in politics and the media are scrambling to normalize what just happened to us, saying that it will all be OK and we can work with Trump. No, it wont, and no, we cant. The next occupant of the White House will be a pathological liar with a loose grip on reality; he is already surrounding himself with racists, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists; his administration will be the most corrupt in America history.

How did this happen? There were multiple causes, but you just cant ignore the reality that key institutions and their leaders utterly failed. Every news organization that decided, for the sake of ratings, to ignore policy and barely cover Trump scandals while obsessing over Clinton emails, every reporter who, for whatever reason often sheer pettiness played up Wikileaks nonsense and talked about how various Clinton stuff raised questions and cast shadows is complicit in this disaster. And then theres the FBI: its quite reasonable to argue that James Comey, whether it was careerism, cowardice, or something worse, tipped the scales and may have doomed the world.

No, Im not giving up hope. Maybe, just maybe, the sheer awfulness of whats happening will sink in. Maybe the backlash will be big enough to constrain Trump from destroying democracy in the next few months, and/or sweep his gang from power in the next few years. But if thats going to happen, enough people will have to be true patriots, which means taking a stand.

And anyone who doesnt who plays along and plays it safe is betraying America, and mankind.

As I said in todays column, nobody who thought Trump would be a disaster should change his or her mind because he won the election. He will, in fact, be a disaster on every front. And I think he will eventually drag the Republican Party into the abyss along with his own reputation; the question is whether he drags the rest of the country, and the world, down with him.

But its important not to expect this to happen right away. Theres a temptation to predict immediate economic or foreign-policy collapse; I gave in to that temptation Tuesday night, but quickly realized that I was making the same mistake as the opponents of Brexit (which I got right). So I am retracting that call, right now. Its at least possible that bigger budget deficits will, if anything, strengthen the economy briefly. More detail in Mondays column, I suspect.

On other fronts, too, dont expect immediate vindication. America has a vast stock of reputational capital, built up over generations; even Trump will take some time to squander it.

The true awfulness of Trump will become apparent over time. Bad things will happen, and he will be clueless about how to respond; if you want a parallel, think about how Katrina revealed the hollowness of the Bush administration, and multiply by a hundred. And his promises to bring back the good old days will eventually be revealed as the lies they are.

But it probably wont happen in a year. So the effort to reclaim American decency is going to have to have staying power; we need to build the case, organize, create the framework. And, of course, never forget who is right.

Its going to be a long time in the wilderness, and its going to be awful. If I sound calm and philosophical, Im not like everyone who cares, Im frazzled, sleepless, depressed. But we need to be stalwart.

Anyone who claims to be philosophical and detached after yesterday is either lying or has something very wrong with him (or her, but I doubt many women are in that camp.) Its a disaster on multiple levels, and the damage will echo down the decades if not the generations. And like anyone on my side of this debate, I keep feeling waves of grief.

Its natural, only human, to engage in recriminations, some of which are surely deserved. But while a post-mortem is going to be necessary, lashing out doesnt seem helpful or good for the lashers-out themselves.

Eventually those of us on the center-left will have to talk about political strategy. For now, however, I want to share some thoughts on how we should deal with this personally.

First of all, its always important to remember that elections determine who has the power, not who has the truth. The stunning upset doesnt mean that the alt-right is correct to view nonwhites as inferior, that voodoo economics works, whatever. And you have to hold to the truth as best you see it, even if it suffers political defeat.

That said, does it make sense on a personal level to keep struggling after this kind of blow? Why not give up on trying to save the world, and just look out for yourself and those close to you? Quietism does have its appeal. Admission: I spent a lot of today listening to music, working out, reading a novel, basically taking a vacation in my head. You cant help feeling tired and frustrated after this kind of setback.

But eventually one has to go back to standing for what you believe in. Its going to be a much harder, longer road than I imagined, and maybe it ends in irreversible defeat, if nothing else from runaway climate change. But I couldnt live with myself if I just gave up. And I hope others will feel the same.

I tweeted this out earlier, but for blog readers here it is in this form.

Some morning-after thoughts: what hits me and other so hard isnt just the immense damage Trump will surely do, to climate above all. Theres also a vast disillusionment that as of now I think of as the end of the romantic vision of America (which I still love).

What I mean is the notion of US history as a sort of novel in which there may be great tragedy, but theres always a happy ending. That is, we tell a story in which at times of crisis we always find the leader Lincoln, FDR and the moral courage we need.

Its a particular kind of American exceptionalism; other countries dont tell that kind of story about themselves. But I, like others, believed it.

Now it doesnt look very good, does it? But giving up is not an option. The world needs a decent, democratic America, or were all lost. And theres still a lot of decency in the nation its just not as dominant as I imagined. Time to rethink, for sure. But not to surrender.

Binyamin Appelbaum has a nice piece about the stall in world trade growth, which I (and many others) have been tracking for a while. And I thought Id write a bit more about this, if only to serve as a much-needed distraction from the election.

If theres a problem with the Appelbaum piece, it is that on casual reading it might seem to suggest that slowing trade growth is (a) necessarily the result of protectionism and (b) necessarily a bad thing. Neither of these is right.

I found myself thinking about this some years ago, when teaching trade policy at the Woodrow Wilson School. I was very struck by a paper by Taylor et al on the interwar decline in trade, which argued that much of this decline reflected rising transport costs, not protectionism. But how could transport costs have gone up? Was there technological regress?

The answer, as the paper correctly pointed out, is that real transport costs will rise even if there is continuing technological progress, as long as that progress is slower than in the rest of the economy.

To clear that story up in my own mind, I wrote up a little toy model, contained in these class notes from sometime last decade (?). Pretty sure I wrote them before the global trade stagnation happened, but theyre a useful guide all the same.

As I see it, we had some big technological advances in transportation containerization, probably better communication making it easier to break up the value chain; plus the great move of developing countries away from import substitution toward export orientation. (Thats a decline in tau and t in my toy model.) But this was a one-time event. Now that its behind us, no presumption that trade will grow faster than GDP. This need not represent a problem; its just the end of one technological era.

It is kind of ironic that globalization seems to be plateauing just as the political backlash mounts. But were not going to talk about the election.

Both Ross Douthat and David Brooks have now weighed in on the state of conservative intellectuals; both deserve credit for taking a critical look at their team.

But of course theres a but Id argue that they and others on the right still have huge blind spots. In fact, these blind spots are so huge as to make the critiques all but useless as a basis for reform. For if you ignore the true, deep roots of the conservative intellectual implosion, youre never going to make a real start on reconstruction.

What are these blind spots? First, belief in a golden age that never existed. Second, a simply weird refusal to acknowledge the huge role played by money and monetary incentives promoting bad ideas.

On the first point: Were supposed to think back nostalgically to the era when serious conservative intellectuals like Irving Kristol tried to understand the world, rather than treating everything as a political exercise in which ideas were just there to help their team win.

But it was never like that. Dont take my word for it; take the word of Irving Kristol himself, in his book Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea. Kristol explained his embrace of supply-side economics in the 1970s: I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities. This justified a cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or financial problems, because political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.

In short, never mind whether its right, as long as its politically useful. When David complains that conservative opinion-meisters began to value politics over everything else, hes describing something that happened well before Reagan.

But shouldnt there have been some reality checks along the way, with politically convenient ideas falling out of favor because they didnt work in practice? No because being wrong in the right way has always been a financially secure activity. I see this very clearly in economics, where there are three kinds of economists: liberal professional economists, conservative professional economists, and professional conservative economist the fourth box is more or less empty, because billionaires dont lavishly support hacks on the left.

There was a time, not long ago, when deficit scolds were actively dangerous when their huffing and puffing came quite close to stampeding Washington into really bad policies like raising the Medicare age (which wouldnt even have saved money) and short-term fiscal austerity. At this point their influence doesnt reach nearly that far. But they continue to play a malign role in our national discourse because they divert and distract attention from much more deserving problems, depriving crucial issues of political oxygen.

You saw that in the debates: four, count them, four questions about debt from the CRFB, not one about climate change. And you see it again in todays Times, with Pete Peterson (of course) and Paul Volcker (sigh) lecturing us about the usual stuff.

Whats so bad about this kind of deficit scolding? Its deeply misleading on two levels: the problem it purports to lay out is far less clearly a major issue than the scolds claim, and the insistence that we need immediate action is just incoherent.

So, about that supposed debt crisis: right now we have a more or less stable ratio of debt to GDP, and no hint of a financing problem. So claims that we are facing something terrible rest on the presumption that the budget situation will worsen dramatically over time. How sure are we about that? Less than you may imagine.

Yes, the population is getting older, which means more spending on Medicare and Social Security. But its already 2016, which means that quite a few baby boomers are already drawing on those programs; by 2020 well be about halfway through the demographic transition, and current estimates dont suggest a big budget problem.

Why, then, do you see projections of a large debt increase? The answer lies not in a known factor an aging population but in assumed growth in health care costs and rising interest rates. And the truth is that we dont know that these are going to happen. In fact, health costs have grown much more slowly since 2010 than previously projected, and interest rates have been much lower. As the chart above shows, taking these favorable surprises into account has already drastically reduced long-run debt projections. These days the long-run outlook looks vastly less scary than people used to imagine.

Like Claudia Sahm, I was struck by polling results indicating that around half of Trump supporters completely distrust official data although maybe a bit less surprised, since Ive been living in that world for years. In particular, the failure of high inflation to materialize led quite a few people on the right side of the political spectrum including the likes of Niall Ferguson to insist that the numbers were being cooked, so this is neither a new phenomenon nor one restricted to Trump types.

As it happened, there was a very easy answer to the inflation truthers: quite aside from the absurdity of claiming a conspiracy at the BLS, we had independent estimates such as the Billion Prices Index that closely matched official data. And theres similar independent evidence for a lot of the things where people now claim that official numbers are skewed. For example, the Gallup Healthways index provides independent confirmation of the huge gains in insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

But aside from validity, what explains this distrust of statistics? Is it because peoples own experience clashes with what theyre being told? I dont think so. In fact, when people are asked about personal outcomes, not about the economy, the story they tell is a lot like the official numbers. From that poll about Trumpian distrust of the data:

So people are feeling better, in line with what the data say, but claim that the economy is getting worse. Hard to believe that this isnt political, a case of going with the party line in the teeth of personal experience.

Ive posted other performances of this song by this band, but this is a good one and topical this week!

The much-hyped severe Brexit recession does not, so far, seem to be materializing which really shouldnt be that much of a surprise, because as I warned, the actual economic case for such a recession was surprisingly weak. (Ouch! I just pulled a muscle while patting myself on the back!) But we are seeing a large drop in the pound, which has steepened as it becomes likely that this will indeed be a very hard Brexit. How should we think about this?

Originally, stories about a pound plunge were tied to that recession prediction: domestic investment demand would collapse, leading to sustained very low interest rates, hence capital flight. But the demand collapse doesnt seem to be happening. So what is the story?

For now, at least, Im coming at it from the trade side especially trade in financial services. It seems to me that one way to think about this is in terms of the home market effect, an old story in trade but one that only got formalized in 1980.

Heres an informal version: imagine a good or service subject to large economies of scale in production, sufficient that if its consumed in two countries, you want to produce it in only one, and export to the other, even if there are costs of shipping it. Where will this production be located? Other things equal, you would choose the larger market, so as to minimize total shipping costs. Other things may not, of course, be equal, but this market-size effect will always be a factor, depending on how high those shipping costs are.

In one of the models I laid out in that old paper, the way this worked out was not that all production left the smaller economy, but rather that the smaller economy paid lower wages and therefore made up in competitiveness what it lacked in market access. In effect, it used a weaker currency to make up for its smaller market.

In Britains case, Id suggest that we think of financial services as the industry in question. Such services are subject to both internal and external economies of scale, which tends to concentrate them in a handful of huge financial centers around the world, one of which is, of course, the City of London. But now we face the prospect of seriously increased transaction costs between Britain and the rest of Europe, which creates an incentive to move those services away from the smaller economy (Britain) and into the larger (Europe). Britain therefore needs a weaker currency to offset this adverse impact.

So, now were supposed to feel sorry for Paul Ryan?

For years, Ryan has cultivated a reputation on both sides of the aisle as a paragon of decency, earnestness, and principle; that rare creature of D.C. who seems genuinely guided by good faith. To many in Washington including no small number of reporters Ryans support for Trump is not merely a political miscalculation, but a craven betrayal.

Ugh. Ryan is not, repeat not, a serious, honest man of principle who has tainted his brand by supporting Donald Trump. He has been an obvious fraud all along, at least to anyone who can do budget arithmetic. His budget proposals invariably contain three elements:

1. Huge tax cuts for the wealthy. 2. Savage cuts in aid to the poor. 3. Mystery meat claims that he will raise trillions by closing unspecified tax loopholes and save trillions cutting unspecified discretionary spending.

Taking (1) and (2) together that is, looking at the policies he actually specifies his proposals have always increased the deficit, while transferring income from the have-nots to the haves. Only by invoking (3), which involves nothing but unsupported and implausible assertion, does he get to claim to reduce the deficit.

Yet he poses as an icon of fiscal probity. That is, he is, in his own way, every bit as much a fraud as The Donald.

So how has he been able to get away with this? The main answer is that he has been a huge beneficiary of false balance. The media narrative requires that there be serious, principled policy wonks on both sides of the aisle; Ryan has become the designated symbol of that supposed equivalence, even though actual budget experts have torn his proposals to shreds on repeated occasions.

And my guess is that the media will quickly forgive him for the Trump episode too. They need him for their bothsidesism. After all, its not as if there are any genuine honest policy wonks left in the party that nominated Donald Trump.

Simon Wren-Lewis has an excellent new paper trying to explain the widespread resort to austerity in the face of a liquidity trap, which is exactly the moment when such policies do the most harm. His bottom line is that

austerity was the result of right-wing opportunism, exploiting instinctive popular concern about rising government debt in order to reduce the size of the state.

I think this is right; but I would emphasize more than he does the extent to which both the general public and Very Serious People always assume that reducing deficits is the responsible thing to do. We have some polling from the 1930s, showing a strong balanced-budget bias even then:

I think Simon would say that this is consistent with his view that large deficits grease the rails for deficit phobia, since FDRs administration did run up deficits and debt that were unprecedented for peacetime. But has there ever been a time when the public favored bigger deficits?

Meanwhile, as someone who was in the trenches during the US austerity fights, I was struck by how readily mainstream figures who werent especially right-wing in general got sucked into the notion that debt reduction was THE central issue. Ezra Klein documented this phenomenon with respect to Bowles-Simpson:

For reasons Ive never quite understood, the rules of reportorial neutrality dont apply when it comes to the deficit. On this one issue, reporters are permitted to openly cheer a particular set of highly controversial policy solutions. At Tuesdays Playbook breakfast, for instance, Mike Allen, as a straightforward and fair a reporter as youll find, asked Simpson and Bowles whether they believed Obama would do the right thing on entitlements with the right thing clearly meaning cut entitlements.

Meanwhile, as Brad Setser points out, the IMF whose research department has done heroic work puncturing austerity theories and supporting a broadly Keynesian view of macroeconomics is, in practice, pushing for fiscal contraction almost everywhere.

Again, this doesnt exactly contradict Simons argument, but maybe suggests that there is a bit more to it.

Ive been writing about Donald Trumps claim that Mexicos value-added tax is an unfair trade policy, which is just really bad economics. Heres Joel Slemrod explaining that a VAT has the same effects as a sales tax. Now, nobody thinks that sales taxes are an unfair trade practice. New York has fairly high sales taxes; Delaware has no such tax. Does anyone think that this gives New York an unfair advantage in interstate competition?

But it turns out that Trump wasnt saying ignorant things off the top of his head: he was saying ignorant things fed to him by his incompetent economic advisers. Heres the campaign white paper on economics. The VAT discussion is on pages 12-13 and its utterly uninformed.

And its not the worst thing: theres lots of terrible stuff in the white paper, at every level.

Should we be reassured that Trump wasnt actually winging it here, just taking really bad advice? Not at all. This says that if he somehow becomes president, and decides to take the job seriously, it wont help because his judgment in advisers, his notion of who constitutes an expert, is as bad as his judgment on the fly.

Last nights debate was an incredible blowout yet both candidates were pretty much who we already knew they were. This was the Hillary Clinton of the Benghazi hearing confronting the Donald Trump weve seen at every stage of the campaign.

But this then raises a question: how did the race get so close? Why, on the eve of the debate, did polls show at best a narrow Clinton lead? What happened to the commanding lead Clinton held after the conventions?

You might say that Clinton ran a terrible campaign but what, exactly, did she do? Trump may have learned to read from a TelePrompter, but was that such a big deal?

Well, my guess is that it was the Goring of Hillary: beginning in late August, with the AP report on the Clinton Foundation, the mainstream media went all in on abnormalizing Mrs. Clinton, a process that culminated with Matt Lauer, who fixated on emails while letting grotesque, known, Trump lies slide. Heres a graphic, using the Upshots estimate of election probabilities (which is a useful summary of what the polls say):

The thing is, it was all scurrilous. The AP, if it had been honest, had found no evidence of wrongdoing or undue influence; if meeting a Nobel Peace Prize winner who happened to be a personal friend was their prime example But dinging the Clintons was what the cool kids were supposed to do, with normal rules not applying.

And this media onslaught pushed the race quite close on the eve of the first debate. It was feeling like 2000 all over again; and I think Jamelle Bouie got this exactly right:

But it all went off script last night, partly because HRC did so well and DJT so badly but also, I think, because pressure from progressives ensured that there was a lot of real-time fact-checking.

Whether it turns out to have been enough to turn the tide remains to be seen. But anyone in the media who participated in the razzing of Hillary Clinton should think about what we saw on that stage, and ask himself what the hell he thought he was doing.

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Paul Krugman – The Conscience of a Liberal

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Government news, articles and information:

Posted: November 23, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Why governments aren’t all that different from street gangs 3/12/2016 – At some point, you may have heard someone call the government a “gang of thieves writ large,” which is a generalization of a quote attributed to libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard. However, if you’re not familiar with the philosophy behind that quote, you might mistakenly believe that it is nothing… Have you ever felt like the government doesn’t really care what you think? 3/2/2016 – Professors Martin Gilens (Princeton University) and Benjamin I. Page (Northwestern University) looked at more than 20 years worth of data to answer a simple question: Does the government represent the people? (Article republished from Represent.Us.) Their study took data from nearly 2000 public opinion… A message to Libertarians about the FDA 2/6/2016 – “When I ran for a seat in the US Congress in 1994, I was very aggressive in demanding that we go after the FDA as a rogue criminal agency. Others, at the time, who were in favor of Health Freedom, said I should dial back my rhetoric; all we needed was a good law that would protect our right to take… The emergence of Orwellian newspeak and the death of free speech 1/23/2016 – “If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it……. UK government caught running ISIS Twitter accounts 1/7/2016 – Americans are rightfully concerned that jihadis from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are already on U.S. soil, but apparently we’re not the only Western nation with an ISIS problem. Britain, it seems, has one as well. As reported by the UK’s Mirror, hackers have made the claim that several… DHS gives TSA authority to forcibly irradiate Americans against their will 1/3/2016 – Americans who understand the health risks of full-body TSA X-ray scanners will choose to opt out of the invasive scan. The TSA requires those who opt out of the full-body scan to undergo a physically invasive full-body pat down. Now, a new rule created by the Department of Homeland Security will… Propaganda at your expense: U.S. govt. is second largest P.R. firm in the world 12/23/2015 – It’s no secret that many people feel that the U.S. Government is synonymous with all things shady, filled with half-truths, loopholes and lingo that sounds fancy, but is really a self-serving set of words designed to offer minimal benefits to the rest of society. Supporting these opinions is a finding… The dire state of our nation (what you won’t hear from the politicians) 12/10/2015 – “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air — however slight — lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.” –… Vaccine vs. Virus: Which is the bigger threat? 12/3/2015 – Mainstream media clamor for mandatory vaccines, ignoring official statistics that show the drug is more dangerous than the disease. Should government force parents to vaccinate their children? The deaths of more than 100 children have been officially linked to receiving a measles vaccine during the… Evidence of vaccine injuries memory-holed from U.S. government website 11/9/2015 – The federal government, perhaps at the behest of the Obama administration, has been quietly removing vaccine injury court data from a publicly reported chart that at one time was updated monthly, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson reported recently on her web site. “In March, the federal government… U.S. government STEALS American family’s land near Area 51 Air Force base 10/31/2015 – For decades, the U.S. government has maintained that “there’s nothing to see” at its secretive Air Force base designated as “Area 51.” Certainly not Martians or other creatures from outer space, as many have theorized. And yet, for some reason, Uncle Sam seems to have something to hide out there… DARPA creates search engine to expose the dark web to government surveillance 10/21/2015 – The Defense Department’s most secretive research division has created a new computer program giving America’s spies a powerful tool to search the so-called “dark web,” where some of the most sophisticated terrorist organizations operate. DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – recently… The Gestapo is alive and well in Obama’s America 10/18/2015 – Hi. I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. Barack Obama is going rogue. By every metric,[1] the Obama economy is melting down. We are seeing the beginning stages of another recession, at best, or a total economic meltdown, at worst. (Story by Wayne Allyn Root, republished from PersonalLiberty.com) At… Russian government to outlaw all GMO food products to protect citizens’ health 10/3/2015 – As the American people are being force-fed GMOs and petitioning their government for honest food labels, other countries around the world are already removing the transgenic ingredients from their food supply. As Americans beg to know what kind of agro-chemicals and GMOs are in their food, the Russian… UK government to require registration of all religious leaders 9/16/2015 10:29:24 AM – In September 1620, pilgrims from England set sail for the “new world,” hoping to find new opportunities and escape religious persecution. Today, hundreds of years later, its possible British subjects might once again be forced to flee religious oppression. Canada’s National Post reports that religious… Government water police state almost here 7/30/2015 – Anyone who says that liberty, freedom and individualism has thrived under the Obama administration has either been living in a cave or is far too partisan to acknowledge what’s really been going on. The Obamaites have long used the power of the federal bureaucracy that the president controls to limit,… New Zealand government takes further steps to ease raw milk prohibition 7/17/2015 – It’s not exactly a complete scrapping of the country’s antiquated prohibition laws governing the production and sale of raw milk, but the government of New Zealand has responded to consumer demand and made it at least somewhat easier for individuals and families to access this highly sought-after food… Supreme Court rules against federal seizure of farmer’s crop production 7/15/2015 – The U.S. Supreme Court has either been a bane on the Constitution or a champion of civil rights with rulings handed down in recent days, but one issue in particular that appears to win approval of a large majority of Americans garnered far fewer headlines and attention. On June 22, in one effort,… See all 2206 government feature articles. Robots: Japan: Robot: WHO: Future: World: Sales: Canada: Pharmaceutical industry: The FDA: Drug company profits: Drugs from Canada: Drug monopoly: FDA: SAMe: Consumers: Today’s Top Stories on NaturalNews

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CounterThink Cartoons are free to view and download. They cover topics like health, environment and freedom.

The Consumer Wellness Center is a non-profit organization offering nutrition education grants to programs that help children and expectant mothers around the world.

Food Investigations is a series of mini-documentaries exposing the truth about dangerous ingredients in the food supply.

Webseed.com offers alternative health programs, documentaries and more.

The Honest Food Guide is a free, downloadable public health and nutrition chart that dares to tell the truth about what foods we should really be eating.

HealingFoodReference.com offers a free online reference database of healing foods, phytonutrients and plant-based medicines that prevent or treat diseases and health conditions.

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Fiscal year – Wikipedia

Posted: at 10:04 pm

A fiscal year (or financial year, or sometimes budget year) is a period used for calculating annual (“yearly”) financial statements in businesses and other organizations all over the world. In many jurisdictions, regulatory laws regarding accounting and taxation require such reports once per twelve months, but do not require that the period reported on constitutes a calendar year (that is, 1 January to 31 December). Fiscal years vary between businesses and countries. The “fiscal year” may also refer to the year used for income tax reporting.

The ‘fiscal year end’ (FYE) is the date that marks the end of the fiscal year. Some companies choose to end their fiscal year such that it ends on the same day of the week each year, e.g. the day that is closest to a particular date (for example, the Friday closest to 31 December). Under such a system, some fiscal years will have 52 weeks and others 53 weeks. A major corporation that has adopted this approach is Cisco Systems.[1]

Nevertheless, the fiscal year is identical to the calendar year for about 65% of publicly traded companies in the United States and for a majority of large corporations in the UK[2] and elsewhere (with notable exceptions Australia, New Zealand and Japan).[3]

Many universities have a fiscal year which ends during the summer, both to align the fiscal year with the academic year (and, in some cases involving public universities, with the state government’s fiscal year), and because the school is normally less busy during the summer months. In the northern hemisphere this is July in one year to June in the next year. In the southern hemisphere this is January to December of a single calendar year.

Some media/communication based organizations use a broadcast calendar as the basis for their fiscal year.

The fiscal year is usually denoted by the year in which it ends, so United States of America federal government spending incurred on 14 November 2016 would belong to fiscal year 2017, operating on a fiscal calendar of OctoberSeptember.[4]

The NFL uses the term “league year,” which in effect forms the league’s fiscal year. By rule, the fiscal year begins at 4 PM EDT on 10 March of each calendar year. All financial reports are based on each fiscal year. However, the fiscal year is denoted in the NFL by the year where it starts, not where it ends, unlike most designations.

In some jurisdictions, particularly those that permit tax consolidation, companies that are part of a group of businesses must use nearly the same fiscal year (differences of up to three months are permitted in some jurisdictions, such as the U.S. and Japan), with consolidating entries to adjust for transactions between units with different fiscal years, so the same resources will not be counted more than once or not at all.[citation needed]

In Afghanistan, the fiscal year was recently changed from 1 Hamal – 29 Hoot (21 March – 20 March) to 1 Jadi – 30 Qaus (21 December – 20 December). The fiscal year runs with the Afghan calendar, thus resulting in difference of the Gregorian dates once in a four-year span.[citation needed]

In Australia, the fiscal year or, more commonly, “financial year”, starts on 1 July and ends on 30 June. For personal income tax after the financial year ends, individuals have until 31 October to lodge their return (unless they use a tax agent).[5] This fiscal year definition is used both for official purposes and by the overwhelming majority of private enterprises, but this is not legally mandated.[6] A company may, for example, opt for a financial year that always ends at the end of a week (and therefore is not exactly one calendar year in length), or opt for each financial year to end on a different date to match the reporting cycles of its foreign parent.

In Austria the fiscal year is the calendar year, January 1st – December 31st.

In Bangladesh, the fiscal year starts on 1 July and ends on 30 June.

In Belarus, the fiscal year starts on 1 January and ends on 31 December.

In Brazil, the fiscal year starts on 1 January and ends on 31 December. Citizens pay income tax (when needed) starting in May, but the form filling goes from March to April. All tax declarations must be done on-line using government written free software.[citation needed]

In Bulgaria, the fiscal year matches the calendar year both for personal income tax [7] and for corporate taxes.[8]

In Canada,[9] the government’s financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March (Example 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 for the current financial year).

For individuals in Canada, the fiscal year runs from 1 January to 31 December.

The fiscal year for all entities starts on 1 January and ends 31 December, consistent with the calendar year, to match the tax year, statutory year, and planning year.[citation needed]

In Colombia, the fiscal year starts 1 January ending on 31 December. Yearly taxes are due in the middle of March/April for corporations while citizens pay income tax (when needed) starting in August, ending in September, according to the last 2 digits of the national ID.[citation needed]

The fiscal year in Costa Rica spans from 1 October until 30 September. Taxpayers are required to pay the tributes before 15 December of each year.[citation needed]

In the Arab Republic of Egypt, the fiscal year starts on 1 July and concludes on 30 June.[citation needed]

The fiscal year matches the calendar year, and has since at least 1911.[10]

In the Hellenic Republic, the fiscal year starts on 1 January and concludes on 31 December.

In Hong Kong,[11] the government’s financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March (Example 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 for the current financial year).

In India, the government’s financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March midnight. Example: 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 for the financial year 20162017. It is also abbreviated as FY17.[12][13]

Companies following the Indian Depositary Receipt (IDR) are given freedom to choose their financial year. For example, Standard Chartered’s IDR follows the UK calendar despite being listed in India. Companies following Indian fiscal year get to know their economical health on 31 March of every Indian financial or fiscal year.

There was discussions by the newly formed NITI Aayog, in the month of July 2016,in a meeting organised by the PM Modi, that the next fiscal year may start from 1 January to 31 December after the end of the current five-year plan.[14]

In Iran, the fiscal year starts usually on March 21 (1st of Farvardin) and concludes on next year’s March 20 (29th of Esfand) in Solar Hijri calendar [15]

Ireland used the year ending 5 April until 2001 when it was changed, at the request of Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy, to match the calendar year (the 2001 tax year was nine months, from April to December)[citation needed]

Since 2002, it is aligned with the calendar year: 1 January to 31 December.[16]

In Israel the fiscal year is from 1 January until 31 December.[17]

In Italy the fiscal year was from 1 July to 30 June until 1965; now it is from 1 January until 31 December.[citation needed]

In Japan,[18] the government’s financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March. The fiscal year is represented by the calendar year in which the period begins, followed by the word nendo (); for example the fiscal year from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 is called 2016nendo.

Japan’s income tax year runs from 1 January to 31 December, but corporate tax is charged according to the corporation’s own annual period.[citation needed]

In Macau, the government’s financial year runs from 1 January to 31 December (Example 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2016 for the current financial year).

In Mexico the fiscal year starts on January 1 and ends on December 31.

In Myanmar,[19] the fiscal year goes from 1 April to 31 March.

The fiscal year in Nepal starts from Shrawan 1 (4th month of Bikram calendar) and ends on Ashad 31 (3rd month of Bikram calendar). Shrawan 1 roughly falls on mid July.[20]

The New Zealand Government’s fiscal[21] and financial reporting[22] year begins on 1 July and concludes on 30 June[23] of the following year and applies to the budget. The company and personal financial year[24] begins on 1 April and finishes on 31 March and applies to company and personal income tax.

The Pakistan Government’s fiscal year starts on 1 July of the previous calendar year and concludes on 30 June. Private companies are free to observe their own accounting year, which may not be the same as Government of Pakistan’s fiscal year.[citation needed]

In Portugal the fiscal year starts on January 1 and ends on December 31.

The fiscal year matches the calendar year, and has since at least 1911.[10]

The fiscal year for the calculation of personal income taxes runs from 1 January to 31 December.[citation needed]

The fiscal year for the Government of Singapore and many government-linked corporations runs from 1 April to 31 March.[citation needed]

Corporations and organisations are permitted to select any date to mark the end of each fiscal year, as long as this date remains constant.[citation needed]

In South Africa the fiscal year for the Government of South Africa starts on 1 April and ends 31 March.[citation needed]

The year of assessment for individuals covers twelve months, beginning on 1 March and ending on the final day of February the following year. The Act also provides for certain classes of taxpayers to have a year of assessment ending on a day other than the last day of February. Companies are permitted to have a tax year ending on a date that coincides with their financial year. Many older companies still use a tax year that runs from 1 July to 30 June, inherited from the British system. A common practice for newer companies is to run their tax year from 1 March to the final day of February following, to synchronize with the tax year for individuals.[citation needed]

In South Korea(Republic of Korea) the fiscal year starts on 1 January and ends 31 December.[citation needed]

In Spain the fiscal year starts on 1 January and ends 31 December.[25]

The fiscal year for individuals runs from 1 January to 31 December.[26]

The fiscal year for an organisation is typically one of the following (cf. Swedish Wikipedia):

However, all calendar months are allowed. If an organisation wishes to change into a non-calendar year, permission from the Tax Authority is required.[27][28]

Under the Income Tax Act of Taiwan, the fiscal year commences on 1 January and ends on 31 December of each calendar year. However, an enterprise may elect to adopt a special fiscal year at the time it is established and can request approval from the tax authorities to change its fiscal year.[29]

The Thai government’s fiscal year (FY) begins on 1 October and ends on 30 September of the following year.[30] FY2015 dates from 1 October 2014 30 September 2015. The Thai government’s year for individual income tax is the calendar year (1 January 31 December)

In Ukraine, the fiscal year matches with the calendar year which starts on 1 January and ends 31 December.

In the United Arab Emirates, the fiscal year starts on 1 January and ends 31 December.[citation needed]

In the United Kingdom,[31] the financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March for the purposes of corporation tax[32] and government financial statements.[33] For the self-employed and others who pay personal tax the fiscal year starts on 6 April and ends on 5 April of the next calendar year.[34]

Although United Kingdom corporation tax is charged by reference to the government’s financial year, companies can adopt any year as their accounting year: if there is a change in tax rate, the taxable profit is apportioned to financial years on a time basis.[citation needed]

A number of major corporations that were once government-owned, such as BT Group and the National Grid, continue to use the government’s financial year, which ends on the last day of March, as they have found no reason to change since privatisation.[citation needed]

The 5 April year end for personal tax and benefits reflects the old ecclesiastical calendar, with New Year falling on 25 March (Lady Day), the difference being accounted for by the eleven days “missed out” when Great Britain converted from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752 (the British tax authorities, and landlords were unwilling to lose 11 days of tax and rent revenue, so under provision 6 (Times of Payment of Rents, Annuities, &c.) of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750, the 17523 tax year was extended by 11 days). From 1753 until 1799, the tax year in Great Britain began on 5 April, which was the “old style” new year of 25 March. A 12th skipped Gregorian leap day in 1800 changed its start to 6 April. It was not changed when a 13th Julian leap day was skipped in 1900, so the start of the personal tax year in the United Kingdom is still 6 April.[35][36][37]

The United States federal government’s fiscal year is the 12-month period ending on 30 September of that year, having begun on 1 October of the previous calendar year. In particular, the identification of a fiscal year is the calendar year in which it ends; thus, the current fiscal year is 2017, often written as “FY2017” or “FY17”, which began on 1 October 2016 and which will end on 30 September 2017.

Prior to 1976, the fiscal year began on 1 July and ended on 30 June. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 made the change to allow Congress more time to arrive at a budget each year, and provided for what is known as the “transitional quarter” from 1 July 1976 to 30 September 1976. An earlier shift in the federal government’s fiscal year was made in 1843, shifting the fiscal year from a calendar year to one starting on 1 July.[38]

For example, the United States government fiscal year for 2017 is:

State governments set their own fiscal year. It may or may not align with the federal calendar. For example, in California, the state’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30 each year.[39]

The tax year for a business is governed by the fiscal year it chooses. A business may choose any consistent fiscal year that it wants; however, for seasonal businesses such as farming and retail, a good account practice is to end the fiscal year shortly after the highest revenue time of year. Consequently, most large agriculture companies end their fiscal years after the harvest season, and most retailers end their fiscal years shortly after the Christmas shopping season.

The fiscal year for individuals and entities to report and pay income taxes is often known as the taxpayer’s tax year or taxable year. Taxpayers in many jurisdictions may choose their tax year.[40] In federal countries (e.g., United States, Canada, Switzerland), state/provincial/cantonal tax years must be the same as the federal year. Nearly all jurisdictions require that the tax year be 12 months or 52/53 weeks.[41] However, short years are permitted as the first year or when changing tax years.[42]

Most countries require all individuals to pay income tax based on the calendar year. Significant exceptions include:

Many jurisdictions require that the tax year conform to the taxpayer’s fiscal year for financial reporting. The United States is a notable exception: taxpayers may choose any tax year, but must keep books and records for such year.[41]

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State crime – Wikipedia

Posted: November 21, 2016 at 11:15 am

In criminology, state crime is activity or failures to act that break the state’s own criminal law or public international law. For these purposes, Ross (2000b) defines a “state” as the elected and appointed officials, the bureaucracy, and the institutions, bodies and organisations comprising the apparatus of the government. Initially, the state was the agency of deterrence, using the threat of punishment as a utilitarian tool to shape the behaviour of its citizens. Then, it became the mediator, interpreting society’s wishes for conflict resolution. Theorists then identified the state as the “victim” in victimless crimes. Now, theorists are examining the role of the state as one of the possible perpetrators of crime (Ross, 2000b) whether directly or in the context of state-corporate crime.

Green & Ward (2004) adopt Max Weber’s thesis of a sovereign state as claiming a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Thus, the criteria for determining whether a state is “deviant” will draw on international norms and standards of behaviour for achieving the states usual operating goals. One of those standards will be whether the state respects human rights in the exercise of its powers. But, one of the definitional difficulties is that the states themselves define what is criminal within their own territories, and as sovereign powers, they are not accountable to the international community unless they submit to international jurisdiction generally, or criminal jurisdiction in particular.

As international crimes, a state may engage in state terror and terrorism, torture, war crimes, and genocide. Both internationally and nationally, there may be corruption, state-corporate crime, and organized crime. Within its territorial borders, some crimes are either the result of situations where the state is not the direct criminal actor, e.g. arising from natural disasters or through the agency of bodies such as the police. More usually, the state is directly involved in excessive secrecy and cover-ups, disinformation, and unaccountability (including tax evasion by officials) which often reflect upper-class and nonpluralistic interests, and infringe human rights (Ross, 2000a). One of the key issues is the extent to which, if at all, state crime can be controlled. Often state crimes are revealed by an investigative news agency resulting in scandals but, even among first world democratic states, it is difficult to maintain genuinely independent control over the criminal enforcement mechanisms and few senior officers of the state are held personally accountable. When the citizens of second and third world countries which may be of a more authoritarian nature, seek to hold their leaders accountable, the problems become more acute. Public opinion, media attention, and public protests, whether violent or nonviolent, may all be criminalised as political crimes and suppressed, while critical international comments are of little real value.

Barak (1991) examines recent history through Reaganism and Thatcherism which led to a decline in the provision of social services and an increase in public security functions. In turn, this created the opportunity for injustices and state crimes involving the suppression of democratic functions within the state. As Johns and Johnson (1994) note, “The concern of the U.S. policy elites is not, therefore, with the establishment or protection of democracy; it is with the establishment of capitalism world-wide and with the unimpeded control of resources and markets” (p7) “Panama is an especially good example of how the rollback strategy involves subverting or overthrowing not only governments that are socialist or left-wing but the governments of countries that seek full independence from the economic, political, or military influence of the United States” (pp9/10) But, in terms of accountability, they argue that the coverage of the invasion demonstrated “just how subservient the corporate media had become to the political elite in the United States” (p63) Hence, even in democratic countries, it can be difficult to hold political leaders accountable, whether politically or legally, because access to reliable factual information can be limited.

Within the context of state-corporate crime, Green and Ward (2004) examine how the debt repayment schemes in developing countries place such a financial burden on states that they often collude with corporations offering prospects of capital growth. Such collusion frequently entails the softening of environmental and other regulations. The debt service obligation can also exacerbate political instability in countries where the legitimacy of state power is questioned. Such political volatility leads states to adopt clientelistic or patrimonialist patterns of governance, fostering organized crime, corruption, and authoritarianism. In some third world countries, this political atmosphere has encouraged repression and the use of torture. Exceptionally, genocide has occurred.

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State crime – Wikipedia

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UN News Centre – United Nations

Posted: at 10:58 am

21 November

Afghanistan: UN mission condemns killing of civilians in Kabul mosque attack

20 November

UN, international partners underline need to ensure legitimacy and credibility of elections in Somalia

UN chief denounces attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Syria’s Aleppo

On Universal Children’s Day, UNICEF calls for protecting the rights of every child

On Africa Industrialization Day, Ban urges financing ‘engines of development’ to realize continent’s potential

UN chief urges rapid scale-up in action to prevent vehicle-related deaths and injuries

19 November

Zika no longer an international public health emergency, but sustained response needed &#8211 UN health agency

Noting upcoming elections in Mali, Ban urges Government to engage with all actors to diffuse tensions

Security Council ‘deeply alarmed’ over escalation of ethnic violence in South Sudan

Yemen: UN envoy announces resumption of cessation of hostilities

18 November

In Paris, Ban hails support of France during his tenure as UN chief

Reflecting on his five-year term, UN deputy chief pins hopes on multilateralism

MARRAKECH: Countries at UN conference pledge to press ahead with implementation of Paris Agreement

With continuous support, storm-hit Haiti can make real and tangible progress UNICEF

UN expert warns on Turkish governments draconian measures on freedoms of expression

Chad: UN agencies and EU join forces to tackle malnutrition

UN agencies call for immediate support amid deepening food crisis in southern Madagascar

Australias human rights record tainted by regressive migration policies UN expert

Iraq: Sustained funding crucial as Mosul displacement grows, says UN refugee agency

Myanmar: UN urges aid access, warns of rights violations after ‘lockdown’ in northern Rakhine state

MARRAKECH: We strive to lead, climate-vulnerable countries declare, pledging robust action on Paris accord

On World Toilet Day, UN spotlights impact of sanitation on peoples livelihoods

Security Council extends the mandate of joint UN-OPCW body on chemical weapons in Syria

17 November

UN and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation must cooperate on resolving conflicts, Security Council told

South Sudan continues to face persistent challenges to peace and stability, Security Council told

Colombia: UN-led mechanism investigating alleged ceasefire violation

At governing body, UN atomic agency chief highlights agencys priorities for 2017

Worlds first malaria vaccine set for 2018 rollout in Africa after UN health agency secures funding

New UN initiative aims to save lives and cut climate change by protecting peatlands

UN deputy chief urges donors to support peace consolidation in Central African Republic

Great Green Wall initiative offers unique opportunity to combat climate change in Africa UN agency

MARRAKECH: We need everyone, Ban says, urging society-wide engagement in implementation of Paris climate accord

Nigeria: UN expert seeks urgent answers on brutal eviction of 30,000 people in Lagos

UN health agency denounces attacks on health facilities in Syria

One month into Mosul battle, UN and partners profoundly concerned for civilian safety

DR Congo: Ban takes note of appointment of new Prime Minister

‘Philosophy is an art of living together,’ says UNESCO on World Philosophy Day

16 November

Kosovo situation yielding fewer results than hoped in 2016, UN envoy tells Security Council

Ban welcomes Canadas announcement of donation to UN Palestine refugee agency

Global humanitarian response affected by lack of funding senior UN relief official

Welcoming Kenyas decision on Dadaab camp, UN urges flexibility on time frames for Somali refugees

Top UN peacekeeping officials hail success of community violence reduction programmes

MARRAKECH: UN chief urges rapid scale-up in funding to address climate change

Do not betray the victims; stand by the Rome Statute and the ICC UN human rights chief

Central African Republic: Justice and reconciliation key to lasting peace, UN expert says

MARRAKECH: Middle East and North Africa region taking action to combat climate change

Brussels conference to play significant role in supporting Central African Republics recovery Security Council

Tolerance is a commitment ‘to seek in our diversity the bonds that unite humanity’ &#8211 UN

15 November

UN relief agencies deploy emergency humanitarian aid and resources to conflict-torn Mosul

MARRAKECH: UN seeks to build climate resilience through new initiative

INTERVIEW: What extreme weather and global temperature rise mean for humanity – WMO chief

Ban welcomes resolution of border dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon

Afghanistan: UN launches nine-month operation to assist returnees with emergency food and cash

Central African Republic: Nearly one in five children is a refugee or internally displaced, warns UNICEF

UN experts back call to halt pipeline construction in North Dakota, citing rights abuses of protestors

UN agriculture agency calls for giant research leap to rein in farm-driven antimicrobial resistance

Poor rains, supply bottlenecks exacerbate food security woes in war-torn Syria, UN warns

With Silicon Valley model, UNICEF invests in tech start-ups working to improve childrens lives

MARRAKECH: Ban hails ‘new dawn of cooperation on climate change,’ urges action on Paris accord

14 November

UN labour agency advocates policy changes to address rise in non-standard forms of employment

UN provides food assistance to 100,000 Iraqis as conflict in Mosul intensifies

Without urgent action, world heading towards post-antibiotic era UN health agency

2016 slated to be hottest year ever, with record-breaking emissions and melting Arctic ice

MARRAKECH: Deepening South-South cooperation driving climate action among developing countries

On World Day, UN chief urges prevention to reduce diabetes and associated blindness

13 November

Ban commends Colombian Government and FARC-EP for concluding modified peace agreement

In DR Congo, UN Security Council delegation calls for consensual, inclusive electoral calendar

UN chief condemns terrorist attack against Sufi shrine in Pakistan

MARRAKECH: Dozens of heads of State and Government to attend UN climate conference

12 November

In phone conversation, Ban welcomes US President-elect Trump’s calls for unity

UN-brokered Cyprus talks to reconvene on 20 November; ‘significant progress’ achieved

MARRAKECH: Efforts to revolutionize transport gaining momentum, UN climate conference told

11 November

INTERVIEW: Policing is about the passion to serve people- UNAMID Police Commissioner Priscilla Makotose

In new report, UN-backed sustainable development fund highlights importance of broad partnerships

Myanmar: UN envoy urges investigation into alleged sexual assaults after violence flares in Rakhine state

Displacement continues amid recurrent clashes in north-central Somalia UN

Risk of outright ethnic war and genocide in South Sudan, UN envoy warns

UN development agency working with Cuban government in areas hard-hit by Hurricane Matthew

Mosul offensive against ISIL pushing Iraqs civilians into war-ravaged Syria UN rights wing

Rehabilitating drylands key to global food security, according to new UN report

MARRAKECH: Private sector commits to actions on sustainable energy for a just climate future for all

Tough action on pneumonia and diarrhoea can save more than one million lives annually UNICEF

UN mission in Afghanistan condemns deadly attack near German consulate in Mazar

Iraq: Citing ‘numbing’ extent of suffering caused by ISIL, UN rights chief urges focus on victims’ rights

10 November

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson praises strength of Syrian refugee children in Jordan

New Lebanese government brings mood of optimism needed to address ongoing challenges UN envoy

Senior UN police officers brief Security Council on their work and challenges they face

Syria: UN envoy urges action to avert mass hunger in eastern Aleppo ahead of killer winter

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