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Miranda Devine on the importance of free speech – Video

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Miranda Devine on the importance of free speech – Video
Dec 212013

Miranda Devine on the importance of free speech
Columnist for The Daily Telegraph, Miranda Devine, talks about why freedom of speech is important to Institute of Public Affairs members in Melbourne on Thur…

By: Institute of Public Affairs

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Miranda Devine on the importance of free speech – Video

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Freedom of the press attacked

 Freedom  Comments Off on Freedom of the press attacked
Mar 132013

Media companies have condemned the government’s proposed reforms on the sector as an attack on free speech.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Source: The Daily Telegraph

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy channels Joseph Stalin. Source: The Daily Telegraph

A GOVERNMENT-appointed enforcer would oversee press standards and have the power to apply sanctions, which critics said would stifle news reporting, under proposed draconian media changes.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday announced a new proposed statutory position of Public Interest Media Advocate, among a raft of changes the government will attempt to ram through parliament by the end of next week.

The advocate would oversee the Press Council, the main vehicle for complaints about the print media, and could take back exemptions from privacy laws afforded to journalists to report valid news stories if the advocate deemed a breach of standards.

Power to determine if media mergers could proceed would be given to the government-appointed advocate, while the proposed scrapping of a key regional reach rule, which would assist Channel 9 in a proposed $4 billion merger with Southern Cross, was also announced yesterday.

Critics lined up to attack the proposed changes, which hang on whether the government can secure the Greens and the votes of four independents.

Former press council head David Flint compared the government’s appointed advocate to Soviet regimes which he said “chose names which were completely contrary to what was the truth”.

“It is dangerous … it will give the government a power it should never have, the power to determine the content of the press. The press is there as a check and balance against the government,” he said.

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Freedom of the press attacked

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'As Parliamentarians, We Believe In Free Speech'

 Free Speech  Comments Off on 'As Parliamentarians, We Believe In Free Speech'
Nov 282012

David Cameron is facing fresh demands to reject statutory regulation of newspapers as he prepares to take delivery of the Leveson report.

More than 80 politicians from all three main parties have signed a letter warning the prime minister that accepting such a recommendation would undermine free speech.

The intervention on Tuesday evening highlights the deep divisions on the key issue, after a group of 42 Tory MPs urged tough new laws to keep newspapers in check.

Mr Cameron will receive his copy of Lord Justice Leveson’s conclusions at Wednesday lunchtime, a day ahead of the official publication, the Press Association reported.

The premier, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister Nick Clegg have all indicated they will support the judge’s recommendations as long as they are “proportionate”.

But, with his own MPs and Cabinet badly split, there is speculation that Mr Cameron could offer Parliament a free vote.

Transparency? What Transparency? Murky Meetings And Questions Ahead Of Leveson

The letter to the Daily Telegraph and Guardian was organised by Labour former home secretary David Blunkett and Tory backbencher Conor Burns.

Conservatives make up the overwhelming majority of the signatories, including ‘big beasts’ Liam Fox and David Davis, as well as media select committee chairman John Whittingdale and 1922 committee chairman Graham Brady.

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'As Parliamentarians, We Believe In Free Speech'

Is Europe…boring? – Video

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Is Europe…boring? – Video
Nov 072012

Is Europe…boring?
Dr Albena Azmanova, social philosopher, political commentator and activist; author, The Scandal of Reason: a critical theory of political judgement Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies, University of Oxford; commentator; director, Free Speech Debate Dr Ivan Krastev, chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, Bulgaria; founding member, European Council on Foreign Relations Bruno Waterfield, Brussels correspondent, Daily Telegraph; co-author, No Means No Chair: Angus Kennedy, head of external relations, Institute of Ideas; chair, IoI Economy Forum; convenor, The Academy The anthem of the European Union, Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy', captures an historic European ideal that is hard to associate with the grey-suited bureaucrats of the contemporary EU. 'Ode to Joy' speaks of the excitement and sense of change — sometimes experienced with optimism, sometimes foreboding — that swept Europe after the French Revolution. Through the long nineteenth century until 1914, new nations like Germany, Italy and Greece came into existence, empires spread, Freud, Marx, Darwin and Nietzsche thought, Romantic poets dreamed. The masses entered history, fought for a better world, died in the trenches of the Great War. New waves of revolution swept crumbling empires aside, Bauhaus blossomed, Sartre and Arendt grappled with Heidegger, Einstein lectured in working men's clubs, Joyce was in Paris, Orwell and Hemingway in Spain. Ideas mattered and history was upon us as the hammer and …From:battleofideasViews:3 0ratingsTime:15:01More inNews Politics

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Barclays has previous when it comes to tax avoidance

 Tax Havens  Comments Off on Barclays has previous when it comes to tax avoidance
Feb 292012

News that Barclays (LSE: BARC.L – news) has fallen foul of the authorities for highly abusive tax avoidance schemes will not come as a surprise to those who follow Britains banks.

Barclays has long been perceived as the most aggressive player in the tax structuring business, devising products that arbitraged the rules to reduce clients bills. At its peak, Barclays even turned a part of its operation structured capital markets (SCM) over to tax avoidance.

SCM, under Roger Jenkins, became a huge profit engine. In one year, it was reported to have made 1bn for the bank and, shortly afterwards, Jenkins shot to notoriety as Barclays best-paid employee pocketing a reputed 40m a year. As SCM sat within the investment bank, Barclays Capital, the details were never properly disclosed, but never officially rebutted either.

Though legal, the behaviour raised ethical questions that came into particular focus after the financial crisis as, although Barclays never received direct taxpayer support, it relied at times on state funding schemes to keep afloat.

The backlash began in 2009, when Barclays hit the headlines after a whistleblower leaked documents to the Liberal Democrats which purported to show that it was using a network of subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg to minimise clients taxes.

Barclays had the story injuncted on the grounds that the material was commercially sensitive, but its reputation took a hit and questions began to be asked about how much tax the bank itself was avoiding.

Early last year, it was forced into an embarrassing admission. In front of the Treasury Select Committee, chief executive Bob Diamond, who had nurtured SCM when he was head of BarCap, was forced to reveal that the bank operated nearly 300 subsidiaries in tax havens and had paid just 113m of corporation tax in the UK in 2009 a year in which it handed out 3.4bn in bonuses.

Since then, the questions have not gone away. Politicians have queried whether a bizarre deal struck in 2009 to move billions of toxic assets off its balance sheet was not just a tax ruse. The Protium arrangement raised such serious concerns in the US that the authorities would not let it drop until the deal was unwound at great expense to shareholders last year.

Analysis of Barclays accounts by The Daily Telegraph has raised further questions. According to the 2010 results, the bank generated 591m in tax losses carried forward despite making 6bn of profits before tax. The tax gain suggested the bank crystallised 2bn of losses that year, which the annual report said mainly relates to entities in the USA, the UK and Spain.

However, Barclays would not disclose where the 2bn of losses were incurred once again muddying the waters. The bank now has assets that it can offset against future tax payments that are almost as large as Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L – news) . While both the state-backed banks made huge visible losses, Barclays has reported profits every year for more than a decade.

Barclays has previous when it comes to tax avoidance

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution