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Twitter has filed a lawsuit againt the US Department of Justice yesterday, alleging that the restrictions on what the company can report publicly about the governments national security requests for user data violate the firms First Amendment rights.

In the suit filed in the US District Court Twitter argued that the current rules prevent it from even stating that it has not received any national security requests for user information.

Twitter said the restrictions violate the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

Tech companies have sought to clarify their relationships with law enforcement and spying agencies in the wake of revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that outlined the depth of US spying activities.

Twitter’s lawsuit follows an agreement between companies like Google and Microsoft with the government about court orders they receive related to surveillance.

The agreement freed the companies to disclose the number of orders they received, but only in broad ranges. A company that offers email services, for example, would be able to say it received between zero and 999 orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court during a six-month period for email content belonging to someone outside the United States.

“The US government has taken the position that service providers like Twitter are even prohibited from saying that they have received zero national security requests, or zero of a particular type of national security request,” Twitter said in its complaint.

The Justice Department responded to the lawsuit with a statement on how it has worked with other companies.

Earlier this year, the government addressed similar concerns raised in a lawsuit brought by several major tech companies,” Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said. “There, the parties worked collaboratively to allow tech companies to provide broad information on government requests while also protecting national security.”

The American Civil Liberties Union praised Twitter’s action, saying in a statement that the company was doing the right thing by “challenging this tangled web of secrecy rules and gag orders.”

Read more here:
Twitter sues US Justice for right to disclose surveillance requests

By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Twitter Inc sued the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday, intensifying its battle with federal agencies as the Internet industry's self-described champion of free speech seeks the right to reveal the extent of U.S. government surveillance. The lawsuit, which Twitter said follows months of fruitless negotiations with the government, marks an …

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Twitter sues U.S. Justice Department for right to reveal surveillance requests

Twitter Inc (TWTR) sued the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday, intensifying its battle with federal agencies as the Internet industry’s self-described champion of free speech seeks the right to reveal the extent of U.S. government surveillance.

The lawsuit, which Twitter said follows months of fruitless negotiations with the government, marks an escalation in the Internet industry’s battle over government gag orders on the nature and number of requests for private user information.

In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for Northern California, Twitter said that current rules prevent it from even stating that it has not received any national security requests for user information.

The messaging service said such restrictions violate the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

“This is an important issue for anyone who believes in a strong First Amendment, and we hope to be able to share our complete transparency report,” Twitter said in a blogpost.

Tech companies have sought to clarify their relationships with U.S. law enforcement and spying agencies in the wake of revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that outlined the depth of U.S. spying capabilities.

Twitter’s lawsuit follows an agreement between Internet companies like Google Inc (GOOGL) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT) with the government about court orders they receive related to surveillance.

The agreement freed the companies to disclose the number of orders they received, but only in broad ranges. A company that offers email services, for example, would be able to say it received between zero and 999 orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court during a six-month period for email content belonging to someone outside the United States.

In a separate case, a federal appeals court in San Francisco on Wednesday will hear arguments on whether the FBI can gag recipients of national security letters. A lower court judge had ruled those secrecy guidelines unconstitutional.

CAN’T EVEN DISCLOSE ZERO REQUESTS

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FOX BUSINESS: Twitter sues DOJ for right to reveal surveillance requests

Revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden of large-scale surveillance by the NSA showed that we were living in a golden age of surveillance,Bruce Schneier said. Photograph: Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras/Courtesy of The Guardian/Handout via Reuters

The US National Security Agency (NSA) has turned the internet into a giant surveillance platform, a leading security specialist has said.

Bruce Schneier, who has written extensively on digital security and privacy, told an audience in Dublin tonight that the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden of large-scale surveillance by the NSA showed that we were living in a golden age of surveillance.

In a lecture for the human rights group Front Line Defenders, Mr Schneier said the NSAs role changed completely after the 9/11 attacks, when US intelligence agencies were given an impossible mission: never again. The only way to ensure something doesnt happen is to know everything that is happening, he said.

This desire to collect everything coincided with changes in technology, notably the spread of smartphones, the rise of cloud storage and the fact that it became cheaper for individuals to store data and thereby leave deeper digital footprints for the state to pursue. The NSA has turned the internet into a giant surveillance platform, he said.

It did this largely by piggybacking on corporate capabilities, and in an environment where the public largely acquiesced. If the government said you have to carry a tracking device with you 24/7, we would never agree to that. Every morning we put a cellphone in our pocket, which tracks us 24/7. If you were told, every time you make a new friend, you have to inform the police, you would laugh. But you do that on Facebook.

Mr Schneier warned that by making the internet less secure, states were making it easier for criminals and hackers to compromise systems using similar methods. And while the US was in a privileged position, as a hub for internet communications and home to a large number of technology firms, similar things were being done in countries such as China and Russia. We have to make a choice here. We have built an insecure internet. We have enabled everyone to spy… We have broken the fabric of trust on the net.

Human rights organisations feared that nothing could be done to counteract state surveillance, but this wasnt true, Mr Schneier said. There is a lot that can be done, technically, to make ourselves safer from all attackers, all eavesdroppers. But this is a political problem, because we are building an infrastructure where surveillance is possible. We need everyone to realise that a secure internet is in everyones interest.

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Internet turned into giant surveillance platform by NSA

The Second Amendment, known as the right to bear arms, has been in the news thanks to a handful of shooting spree massacres. The Inquisitr has covered stories that tackle both sides of the argument. On the side that wants to change the amendment, there was an argument which states tanks and rocket launchers are not included, followed by a debate if the government should subsidize guns for everyone. In retaliation, the side supporting the amendment rallied for their rights or to go topless. Even some restaurants are showing their support, including one that welcomed guns and another which gave a discount for patrons bringing their guns in.

One of the benefits of the Second Amendment was shown in a report about a man who was able to fend off a robbery involving four armed suspects with his own firearm. Two of the suspects escaped, while two others were killed.

According to KHOU, four suspects barged into a bar known as EJs Place, located on the 16500 block of Kuykendahl Road in Harris County, just after closing at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Upon entry, the armed suspects demanded money. However, they did not expect another bar patron to pull out his gun and exchange fire with the suspects. During the firefight, two of the suspects were killed and the other two ran from the scene. Shortly after, the patron left too. The Harris County Police Department is trying to identify the man, as confirmed by Sgt. Robert Spurgeon.

Were still trying to determine who he is, and why he left the scene, He has his right to protect himself and his family and his friends. Its just unfortunate something like that happened.

Harris County Sheriffs deputies are investigating if the four suspects are associated with a robbery at a gas station on Cypresswood earlier that night. As for the patron who fended off the robbery, people believe he was in the right.

The Blaze followed up on the report, and were able to attain more insight from others who heard about what happened at EJs Place. Danielle Russell was one of the first to make her opinions known.

Being a mom, yeah. I would feel safe knowing that he has a gun and hes going to protect me in a robbery.

Another person, who is a customer at EJs Place, reportedly stated that the man who stopped the robbery typically stays until the bar closes, and then walks female bartenders to their vehicles. The person added that the customer wouldnt start violence but would protect his friends.

Now that youve read the news about the man who seems to be a hero in his community by stopping a robbery, what are your opinions? Please let everyone know in the comments below.

[Image via KHOU]

The rest is here:
Thanks To The Right To Bear Arms, Man Was Able To Halt Robbery By Four Suspects



Ap Government Fourth Amendment Project
My fourth amendment project for Mrs. King's Ap gov class I do not own, and do not claim to own, the rights of any of the images in this video.

By: RJ Wynn

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Ap Government Fourth Amendment Project – Video



How Government Will Gut Your Free Speech
Always watch the UK to see where the storm clouds are heading. In his horrifying speech speech to the globalist coven, aka U.N General Assembly, David Camero…

By: LionelY2K

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How Government Will Gut Your Free Speech – Video



NSA Spy Program Could Face Supreme Court Scrutin
The legal battle escalates over the government's ability to spy on internet and phone traffic.

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NSA Spy Program Could Face Supreme Court Scrutin – Video

maynard writes: Investigative Journalist James Bamford knows a thing or two more than most about the National Security Agency. Across his more than three-decade long career digging muck out of exactly those places U.S. government intelligence agencies preferred he wouldn’t tread, he’s published five books and over eighty press reports. At times, this made for some tense confrontations with intelligence officials from an organization once so secret even few members of Congress knew of its existence.

For the last several years public focus on the NSA has been on Bush and Obama era reports of illicit domestic spying. From allegations of warrantless wiretapping reported by James Risen in 2005 to secret documents released to journalists at The Guardian by Edward Snowden a year ago. And smack in the middle, Bamford’s 2012 revelation of the existence of a huge, exabyte-capable data storage facility then under construction in Bluffdale, Utah.

Given all this attention on recent events, it might come as a surprise to some that almost forty years ago Senator Frank Church convened a congressional committee to investigate reports of unlawful activities by U.S. intelligence agencies, including illegal domestic wiretapping by the NSA. At the time, Church brought an oversight magnifying glass over what was then half-jokingly referred to as “No Such Agency.” And then, like today, James Bamford was in the thick of it, with a Snowden-like cloak-and-dagger game of spy-vs-journalist. It all began by giving testimony before the Church Committee. Writing yesterday in The Intercept, Bamford tells his firsthand historical account of what led him to testify as a direct witness to NSA’s wiretapping of domestic communications decades ago and then details the events that led to the publication of his first book The Puzzle Palace back in 1982. Read on for more.Bamford writes:

…during the summer of 1975, as reports began leaking out from the Church Committee, I was surprised to learn that the NSA was claiming that it had shut down all of its questionable operations a year and a half earlier. Surprised because I knew the eavesdropping on Americans had continued at least into the prior fall, and may have still been going on. After thinking for a day or so about the potential consequences of blowing the whistle on the NSAI was still in the Naval Reserve, still attending drills one weekend a month, and still sworn to secrecy with an active NSA clearanceI nevertheless decided to call the Church Committee.

But he didn’t stop at the witness stand. Afterward, he continued researching the matter for a book. And the further he dug, the more waves he made. Until someone slipped him a then recently declassified copy of a 1976 Justice Department memo [PDF] detailing a criminal investigation into illicit domestic spying by the NSA. But when agency officials discovered he had that document they took extraordinary measures attempting to get it back. They threatened to prosecute under the 1917 Espionage Act and retroactively reclassified the memo to squelch its contents.

Fearing someone might break into his home and steal the manuscript, Bamford arranged to transport and secure a copy outside of U.S. jurisdiction with a colleague at the Sunday Times of London. It was only upon the 1982 publication of Puzzle Palace that the agency dropped their pursuit of Bamford and his document as a lost cause. That’s at least one stark difference between then and today when it comes to whistleblowers back then, they merely threatened espionage charges.

Yogi Berra famously once said, “It’s like Deja Vu all over again.” And though the Yankees’ star wasn’t speaking of illicit domestic wiretaps by the national security state, given a comparison of recent revelations to those detailed by Bamford decades earlier the quote certainly fits. In telling his story of how he published details about the last NSA Merry-Go-Round with warrantless wiretapping, Bamford shows us that our recent troubles of lawless surveillance aren’t so unique. It’s deja-vu all over again. But if deja vu is like a waking dream, this seems more a recurring nightmare for a body-politic lured to snoring slumber by a siren-song of political passivity.

That old Justice Department memo isn’t likely to wake the public from their slumber. But within its pages is a stark warning we all should have heeded. As Bamford notes in that Intercept story, the report’s conclusion that NSA lawlessness stems straight from the birth of the agency suggests a constitutional conflict systemic and intentional.

…the NSA’s top-secret “charter” issued by the Executive Branch, exempts the agency from legal restraints placed on the rest of the government. “Orders, directives, policies, or recommendations of any authority of the Executive branch relating to the collection … of intelligence,” the charter reads, “shall not be applicable to Communications Intelligence activities, unless specifically so stated.” This so-called “birth certificate,” the Justice Department report concluded, meant the NSA did not have to follow any restrictions placed on electronic surveillance “unless it was expressly directed to do so.” In short, the report asked, how can you prosecute an agency that is above the law?

Here’s the “Prosecutive Summary” (PDF).

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James Bamford Releases DOJ Report On NSA Warrantless Wiretapping From 1976

Oct. 3, 2014, 12:15 a.m.

The announcement of a Senate inquiry into corporate tax evasion was barely minutes old yesterday when this sponsored message appeared on Twitter:

The announcement of a Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance was barely minutes old on Thursdaywhen this sponsored message appeared on Twitter:

“Access the latest corporate, indirect and individual tax rates from 137+ countries. Download the KPMG Global Tax App. Promoted by KPMG.”

According to KPMG, the corporate tax rate in Bermuda is zero. Same deal for the Cayman Islands and Guernsey. In Australia, the corporate tax rate is 30 per cent, so if KPMG can assist you to transfer profits to one of these islands you may pay zero instead of 30 per cent. In return you will pay KPMG a handsome fee.

The big blue-chip accounting and law firms collectively rake in billions of dollars in fees annually by advising companies around the world how to shift their profits to tax havens and structure their affairs to reduce “leakage” as tax is dubbed in the trade wherever possible.

In light of the sheer dollars at stake, there will be much antagonism from the business lobby and its proxies in politics and the media in coming days and weeks.

Already, the response to a report by the Tax Justice Network revealed in Fairfax Media on Monday has been venomous. The report found use of tax havens was on the rise and that almost one third of the Top 200 companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange paid less than 10 per cent income tax. It named the likes of Rupert Murdoch’s 21stCentury Fox (1 per cent effective tax rate) and the Westfield Group as being particularly aggressive.

When it comes to aggressive tax schemes, however, the top companies on the sharemarket pale in comparison with multinationals tech giants such as Apple and Google and Australia’s biggest coal company Glencore.

Political donations are a big issue, too. It was no coincidence that the government opposed the Greens’ motion yesterday to hold the inquiry. Many of the biggest Coalition donors are also the biggest tax avoiders. Labor, too, gets its fair share.

Link:
The government needs to back tax inquiry

If Americans want to understand how their government justifies sweeping intelligence-gathering measures, they need to familiarize themselves with a little-known executive order from the Reagan era: E.O. 12333.

See more here:
Digging Deeper Into NSA Spying Uncovers Unexpected Link to Reagan Administration



second amendment project minecraft
This is for a project in Government class 5th period.

By: zach begley

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second amendment project minecraft – Video

Randy Brubaker(Photo: Register photo)Buy Photo

Randy Brubaker, a longtime editor of The Des Moines Register who died in May, will be remembered tonight as a “Friend of the First Amendment.”

The posthumous honor awarded by the Iowa Freedom of Information Council will be formally announced during the “Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government Banquet” in the Hall of Cities at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown. The event is a fundraiser for the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, best known as IowaWatch.

Brubaker was a Register journalist for about three decades. In his last role, he oversaw the Register’s investigative team and led the information council’s initiative to educate the public on open meetings and records law through a series of statewide workshops.

He died of heart failure at the age of 55, two days before he had planned to return to work following recovery from a heart attack.

“He was an invaluable leader, partner and mentor to so many former and current staffers, including myself,” Register President and Publisher Rick Green said in announcing Brubaker’s death to the Register staff in May. “Obviously, for so many reasons, this is a painful, painful loss.”

Brubaker’s death came on the heels of the sudden death of his wife, Jan, on Jan. 8. She had been a longtime guidance counselor at Dowling Catholic High School.

Brubaker is survived by his two sons, Christopher and Patrick, along with his parents and other relatives.

“Randy was a fierce advocate for openness in government and spent many hours working with reporters and appearing before the Iowa Public Information Board to further that cause,” Register Executive Editor Amalie Nash said. “It’s certainly fitting that he is being recognized as a “Friend of the First Amendment,” and it’s a legacy we are continuing at the Register.”

DESMOINESREGISTER

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Register editor posthumously given First Amendment honor

In this excerpt from testimony before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, former NSA general counsel and former Homeland Security assistant secretary Stewart Baker explains why the government's bulk collection of phone records is legal and necessary.

Go here to see the original:
Why ending metadata collection is privacy theater

Oct 012014

The West Australian

The Federal Government is under pressure to target Australian companies that are using a who’s who of international tax havens to avoid paying their share of tax.

Despite the Government focusing on multinational firms and their tax minimisation strategies, a report suggests Australia has its own problems, with some of the nation’s biggest firms paying less than 10 in the dollar in tax.

Last week, the G20, which is chaired by Australia this year, vowed to tackle tax evasion and avoidance by multinationals, revealing a series of plans including a requirement that companies reveal exactly where they make profits and how much tax they pay in individual nations.

Much of the focus was on multinational firms, especially IT giants such as Google and Apple.

But a report by the Tax Justice Network and the United Voice union shows companies on the ASX200 have created thousands of subsidiary firms that are based in known tax havens.

According to the network, 72 of the top 200 listed firms are using 269 subsidiaries in Singapore and 55 are using subsidiaries based in Hong Kong.

Other well known tax havens used by big firms include the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Switzerland.

The network estimated at least $80 billion in tax revenue between 2004 and last year had been lost because of the use of the tax havens.

Twenty-First Century Fox, which for the period covered by the report includes News Corporation, has 117 subsidiaries, including 25 in the Virgin Islands and 19 in Mauritius.

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Firms accused of tax dodges

LOS ANGELES Four years ago Chris Cheng came out of nowhere to beat seasoned marksmen, police officers and veterans to win History Channels reality shooting competition show Top Shot.

When I auditioned, I was openly gay. But I was surprised as nobody cared. They only cared how well I could shoot and represent our season, said Cheng, who quit his job at Google after the show and is now an NRA news commentator and is releasing his first book Shoot to Win. There is this stereotypical view of the gun community as anti-gay rednecks, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was interesting as the History Channel never outed me on the show even though they had hours of footage. I asked why and they said simply that it just wasnt relevant.

Indeed gay rights and gun rights often go hand in hand says Gwen Patton, the rep for gay gun rights organizationPink Pistols National.

We dont want people to hurt us, we want people to run away from us, and the best way we have found to do that is to be armed, Patton said. Now if someone tries to attack us, we can defend ourselves. Ideally we dont want any altercation at all, but if there is a perception that the gay person on the street could have a concealed gun, it might make the perpetrator think twice.

According to FBI Hate Crime Statistics, sexual orientation is the second largest motivator for bias crimes in the United States, second to racial bias, and far exceeding the number of religious or ethnically-spurred hate crimes.

Patton said while she has never had to use her firearm in defense, another gay member of a local Philadelphia chapter recently did.

All he had to do was display it, no bullets were fired, she said. Guns can be a very useful tool, but society has turned them into something they are not. They arent the boogeyman.

There are now more than 45 Pink Pistols chapters nationwide. With its slogan pick on someone your own caliber, members get together at least once a month at local ranges to practice their shooting skills, share self-defense tips and talk about gun safety. According to Chen, bringing gays and guns together serves as an important conversation starter.

Many in the LGBT community simply have never seriously entertained the notion of owning a firearm, or thought whether they want to be a victim or if they want to survive an attack, he said, while Patton says its false that right is all about keeping firearms, while the left pushes gay rights.

So some think of us as traitors, she explained. But at the end of the day, its about recognizing that the government shouldnt be taking our rights away our rights to be armed, and our rights to be happy and with the person we love.

Read the original:
Gay gun activists: Growing LGBT push to support the Second Amendment

Further Reading A set of newly declassified documents shows definitively and explicitly that the United States intelligence community relies heavily on what is effectively unchecked presidential authority to conduct surveillance operations, as manifested through the Reagan-era Executive Order (EO) 12333.

And at a more basic level, the new documentsillustrate that the government is adept at creating obscure legalistic definitions of plain language words, like “collection of information,” which help obfuscate the publics understanding of the scope and scale of such a dragnet.

The documents were first published on Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after the groupfiled aFreedom of Information Act lawsuit with the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School.

As Arsreported previously, “twelve triple three” is a presidential order that spells out the National Security Agencys authority to conduct signals intelligence, among other things. EO 12333 was amended three times under President George W.Bush. Famously, the NSAexpanded its domestic surveillance operation after the September 11 attacks without a direct order from the president, who later provided cover under EO 12333.

“These documents are a good first step to understanding how EO 12333 is being used,” Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars. “We already know that it’s used in a very similar manner to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is being used as part of collection techniques that collect wholly domestic (American) e-mail. We also know [EO 12333 is] used for the NSAs interception of Internet traffic between Google’s and Yahoo!’s data centers abroad, the collection of millions of e-mail and instant message address books, the recording of the contents of every phone call made in at least two countries, and the mass cell phone location-tracking program. The NSAand the White Housemust release more material on EO 12333. The President has encouraged a public discussion on the NSA’s signals intelligence activities. He must follow through with ensuring an open, and honest, debate on EO 12333 activities.”

In a rare instance of clarity and precision, a “legal fact sheet” authored by the NSA and dated June 19, 2013 explains various elements of EO 12333.

FISA only regulates a subset of NSA’s signals intelligence activities.

NSA conducts the majority of its SIGINT activities solely pursuant to the authority provided by Executive Order (EO) 12333.

Since 1981, EO 12333 has provided the President’s authoritative written instruction for the organization and operation of the United States Intelligence Community (IC).

An internal training document for a course taught with the NSA entitled “Overview of Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Authorities” notes that:

More here:
New docs show how Reagan-era executive order unbounded NSA

Sep 302014

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Bill Shorten accuses the government during Tuesday’s question time of going soft on corporate tax avoidance; Tony Abbott says Labor did nothing in government.

The Abbott government was warned that the Australian Tax Office was ill-equipped to tackle a potential multibillion-dollar international tax dodge as it prepared to cut 3000 ATO staff.

At a time when Treasurer Joe Hockey is touting Australia’s efforts in conjunction with the G20 to close international tax loopholes, the Tax Office no longer has a dedicated team to fighting the problem.

Understaffed: An independent report has raised serious concerns about an exodus of experienced staff from the ATO, creating difficulties in dealing with corporate tax avoidance. Photo: Andrew Quilty

A report by the independent Inspector-General of Taxation has raised serious concerns about an exodus of experienced staff from the ATO at a time when money flowing between Australian companies and their foreign subsidiaries has topped $270 billion a sum that equates to more than half of the Commonwealth Budget.

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Sources close to the ATO told Fairfax Media many of the ATO’s most experienced staff in tracking international profits have moved to the big four accounting firms, where they now advise the nation’s biggest companies on how to minimise their tax.

Inspector-General Ali Noroozi warned government the loss of key ATO experts in so-called “transfer pricing” posed risks to Commonwealth revenue.

The issue of transfer pricing and the use of tax havens was raised in a report, revealed by Fairfax Media on Monday, which became a focus of debate during question time on Tuesday, with the government and opposition accusing each other of failing to close corporate tax loopholes.

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Tax office 'not up to job'

Sep 302014

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Bill Shorten accuses the government during Tuesday’s question time of going soft on corporate tax avoidance; Tony Abbott says Labor did nothing in government.

The Abbott government was warned that the Australian Tax Office was ill-equipped to tackle a potential multibillion-dollar international tax dodge as it prepared to cut 3000 ATO staff.

At a time when Treasurer Joe Hockey is touting Australia’s efforts in conjunction with the G20 to close international tax loopholes, the Tax Office no longer has a dedicated team to fighting the problem.

Understaffed: An independent report has raised serious concerns about an exodus of experienced staff from the ATO, creating difficulties in dealing with corporate tax avoidance. Photo: Andrew Quilty

A report by the independent Inspector-General of Taxation has raised serious concerns about an exodus of experienced staff from the ATO at a time when money flowing between Australian companies and their foreign subsidiaries has topped $270 billion a sum that equates to more than half of the Commonwealth Budget.

Advertisement

Sources close to the ATO told Fairfax Media many of the ATO’s most experienced staff in tracking international profits have moved to the big four accounting firms, where they now advise the nation’s biggest companies on how to minimise their tax.

Inspector-General Ali Noroozi warned government the loss of key ATO experts in so-called “transfer pricing” posed risks to Commonwealth revenue.

The issue of transfer pricing and the use of tax havens was raised in a report, revealed by Fairfax Media on Monday, which became a focus of debate during question time on Tuesday, with the government and opposition accusing each other of failing to close corporate tax loopholes.

See the original post here:
Tax Office 'not up to the job'

A new case will test whether the justices’ defense of conscience in Hobby Lobby applies to minority religions like Muslims, or just to Christians.

Sebastian Derungs/Reuters

Religious freedom in the United States has ebbed and flowed between two competing concepts: the principled view that religion is a matter of individual conscience that cannot be invaded by the government, and the practical concern once expressed by Justice Antonin Scalia that accommodating all religious practices in our diverse society would be courting anarchy. In June, the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that closely held corporations, whose owners objected to contraception on account of sincere Christian beliefs, could not be forced by the Affordable Care Act to include certain contraceptives in their employee insurance plans. In supporting the religious rights of business owners over a national health-care policy predicated on broad participation, the Roberts Court seemed to stake its place on the more protective end of the religious-freedom spectrum.

But the idea that Hobby Lobby creates robust protections will be credible only if the justices are willing to recognize the religious freedom of marginalized religious minoritiesnot just the Judeo-Christian tradition. The next religious-freedom case to come before the Court, Holt v. Hobbs, will test whether the Roberts Courts stance on religious freedom includes a minority faith, Islam, practiced by a disfavored member of our society: a prisoner. At stake are both the state of religious freedom in the country and the Courts reputation.

Hobby Lobby Is Already Creating New Religious Demands on Obama

Holt involves Gregory Holt, an inmate in Arkansas also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad. A dispute arose between Holt and the states Department of Correction when he sought to grow a one-half-inch beard in observance of his faith. According to the departments grooming policies, inmates may only grow a neatly trimmed mustache. In 2011, Holt filed a lawsuit against the director of the department, Ray Hobbs, and other state employees, saying that the prison had violated his religious rights. After decisions by federal trial and appeals courts in favor of the department, Holt filed a hand-written petition to the Supreme Court, which agreed to review the case. The justices are scheduled to hear arguments in Holt on October 7.

If Hobby Lobby and federal law are faithfully applied, Holt should prevail. Prisoners surrender many of their rights at the prison gates. Lawful incarceration brings about the necessary withdrawal or limitation of many privileges and rights, the Supreme Court wrote in Price v. Johnston more than 60 years ago. In 2000, however, Congress enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to help safeguard inmates religious freedom. The law states that the government may not place a substantial burden on a prisoners ability to practice his or her religion unless that burden is the least-restrictive means to achieve a compelling goal.

This standard may sound familiarRLUIPA is the sister statute to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, the federal law which was at issue in Hobby Lobby. These laws apply to different laws implicating religious freedomRFRA only to federal laws and RLUIPA to the land use and prison contextsbut both ask whether a religious burden is the least-restrictive means of accomplishing the governments compelling goals.

In this case, there is no dispute that the prison regulations substantially burden Holts religious freedom. His Hobsons choiceeither obey the prison grooming policies and violate his religious beliefs, or adhere to his conscience and face disciplinary measuresis a quintessential substantial burden.

But the prison authorities have a compelling reason to restrict Holts ability to practice his religion. In Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court simply assumed the federal government had sufficient reasons for requiring contraceptive coverage. In Holt, it will likely agree with the departments position that the no-beard policy enhances prison safety and security by removing an important hiding place for contraband and by facilitating the identification of inmates who wish to engage in violence or escape. On their own, however, these reasons dont seem to be enough to satisfy RLUIPA. The regulations will also have to pass the statutes least restrictive means test: The government must meet its goals in the way that best preserves religious liberty. This was also the sticking point in Hobby Lobby. In that case, the government had already made exemptions for religious nonprofit organizations, which undermined its argument that religious exemptions could not be made for certain for-profit corporations. Holt involves a similar situation: Arkansass prisons already offer medical exemptions to their grooming policies, which makes it difficult to argue that religious exemptions are not possible. As a federal appeals court wrote in Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark, which concerned Newarks police-department grooming policies, We are at a loss to understand why religious exemptions threaten important city interests but medical exemptions do not. The decision was written by then-Judge Samuel Alito, author of the Hobby Lobby opinion.

See the article here:
How Serious Is the Supreme Court About Religious Freedom?



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