Tag: JoAnna Mitchell

Paradise Lost: the House tax plan in the shadow of the Paradise Papers

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The International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released information that accused several high-profile politicians and celebrities of  avoiding taxes (photo by Rocco Fazzari/ICIJ)

JoAnna Mitchell, Staff Writer

Recently, a cooperative effort involving over 380 investigative journalists worldwide uncovered an expansive trove of documents exposing how the wealthiest people in the world, alongside large multi-national corporations, manage to avoid paying taxes on their vast collections of wealth. The papers, dubbed the Paradise Papers, show how the elite maneuver their finances and store obscene amounts of money in offshore accounts in order to dance around paying taxes that should be going back to benefit the communities they profit from.

Many large international companies such as Nike and Apple, have been exposed as tax dodgers, as well as members of President Donald J. Trump’s administration. The administration has been pushing Trump’s new tax plan, claiming that it will help working class citizens and “make America great again.” This new tax plan will, in fact, cut taxes to the wealthiest, including many members of the Trump administration, and potentially Trump himself.

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Over a dozen of President Trump’s advisers, Cabinet members and major donors were, like Secretary of Commerce Wibur Ross, were accused in the Paradise Papers (photo via Fox News).

According to the New York Times, the plan “will deliver a significant tax cut for corporations.” The bill favors businesses over the citizens of the United States, with $1 trillion in cuts going to corporations, over two-thirds of the total. The plan also proposes a permanent 15% tax cut for businesses, bringing them from 35% to 20%. This change is estimated to reduce federal revenue by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

To make up for the loss of revenue from the business cuts and those to the wealthier citizens, lawmakers want to repeal tax breaks for things like medical expenses, moving expenses, student loan interest and adoption. The bill also proposes to cut Medicaid and Social Security to help recover lost revenue from corporate tax cuts.

According to the Washington Post, “Mr. Trump, in particular, might benefit from the elimination of the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which prevents taxpayers from using deductions and loopholes to avoid paying at least a minimum amount to the federal government.”

According to CNBC, a recently amended version of the plan would “effectively repeal the Obamacare individual mandate, which requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty. Senators say doing so will save more than $300 billion to give Republicans more budget flexibility. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that it will lead to 13 million more people uninsured by 2027 and increase average Obamacare premiums.”

The New York Times states that the bill “repeals certain tax credits, including a 15 percent credit for individuals aged 65 or over or who are retired on disability. Right now, those individuals can claim up to $7,500 for a joint return, $5,000 for a single individual, or $3,750 for a married individual filing a joint return.”

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Among the high-profile people mentioned in the Paradise papers were Queen Elizabeth II (above) and pop stars Madonna and Bono (Alastair /AP)

This would see a tax decrease for 76% of American families, but it would increase taxes on a large portion of middle class Americans. While some within the socio-economic class will see some modest cuts, many will see an increase, while they lose tax breaks that cushion some larger expenditures.

In a nation with a shrinking middle-class and growing income inequality, ultra-rich individuals and corporations are receiving cuts that will allow them to gain more wealth while the meat of the American populace will shoulder the burden.

 

Doug Jones packs out Anniston meet and greet

JoAnna MitchellStaff Reporter

“All across the state, excitement is building for this race. There is just an excitement brewing for change,” said Democrat Doug Jones, opening his speech to a cheering crowd at Classic Too on Noble Street in downtown Anniston this Tuesday, November 7. “It’s not about me. It’s not about Roy Moore,” said Jones, referring to his controversial Republican opponent. “It’s about you. It’s about every man, woman and child in Alabama who wants to see this state go forward, not backward.”

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Doug Jones

 

With the whole nation turning its eye to the upcoming December 12 election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vacant senate seat, Doug Jones has been putting in a good deal of footwork. Travelling across the state to meet citizens,  Jones has learned a lot about what issues are important to the every-day Alabamian. He has gained valuable insight into what the citizens of Alabama are hoping to get out of our next representative.

“My experience with the people in this state is that we have so much more in common than we do that divides us,” Jones said. Jones believes that the most important issue to most Alabamians is healthcare.

“People want good healthcare,” Jones said, eliciting a round of applause.  “The Affordable Care Act was never meant to be the end of the discussion. It was supposed to be a work in progress, but we have to find ways to make it better.”

Jones acknowledged that work needs to be done to help bring down insurance premiums while continuing to provide healthcare to Alabama’s struggling citizens: “We’ve got to continue to make sure that people talk about healthcare, that we quit playing political football with your health.”

Jones believes that another issue important to Alabama is building up the state’s manufacturing job opportunities.

“We have an opportunity to help put this state’s best foot forward,” said Jones. “To bring in jobs, to expand jobs, and to do it in a way that saves the planet and is environmentally friendly, but also lifts the wages of the people in this state, and while we lift those wages, to make sure that women get the same pay.”

Jones wants to help the state’s middle class by bringing back these manufacturing jobs, along with other business. He believes we can do so through education and with good workforce development. He believes that “putting the best foot forward” will attract businesses and other people to the great state of Alabama.

“The people of this state are saying ‘no more’ to the divisiveness, ‘no more’ to treating people like second class citizens. The bottom line is the people of this state are saying No Moore!”

After his speech, Jones personally met with nearly everyone at the rally and ended the event with a brief meeting with the press.

“I think to just throw cold water on it. Just tamp everything down with the rhetoric and make sure people start talking to one another and reach across the aisle and reach within my own party to find the things working with healthcare and examine those things that are not working so that we can find the common ground and ways to fix a broken healthcare system. I think we can do that with honor and civility. I think that is the only way we can fix this broken healthcare system,” Jones said in response to being asked what he felt he could do in the senate to put an end to the multiple failed attempts at repealing the ACA.

After being asked what he would say to millennials, a voting age group with notoriously low voter turnout, to get them to the polls, Jones said, “You’re not always going to be young. Sooner or later you will be my age and you will need to worry about Medicare. You’re going to need to worry about social security. You’re going to need to make sure that your children are educated and that there are hospitals in the community. I would also tell them to look at the elections that we’ve had the last two or three cycles. Elections have consequences. They have short term consequences, and they have long term consequences. I would tell them to examine the issues, really study. Millennials do that every day. They look at the issues that affect them every day and they make decisions, whether its their jobs, family, or education. They need to look at the electoral process in the same way. A vote is an investment in the future. As much as they need to save money for retirement now, they need to be investing by voting.”

For more information on Doug Jones and his platform visit dougjonesforsenate.com.

Charges filed in Mueller investigation

JoAnna Mitchell, Staff Reporter

An investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has produced its first charges against several individuals connected with the Trump campaign on Monday, October 30. This is the first official confirmation that someone involved with President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign turned to Russia to obtain damaging information on his opponent Hillary Clinton.

George Papadopoulos, foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his meetings with an individual believed to have “had substantial connections to Russian government officials.” The investigation unearthed that this individual, a professor, offered him thousands of emails by and about Clinton.

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George Papadopoulos (left) (photo via ABC News)

Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, and his associate Rick Gates were also indicted on charges of money laundering and illegally working with pro-Russian factions in the Ukraine. Both supplied a not guilty plea and were placed under house arrest. The bond for Manafort was set at $10 million and $5 million for Gates.

Manafort has been charged with 9 counts of conspiracy, money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, making false statements and failing to disclose foreign banking activity. Gates received 8 counts on the same charges. They could spend up to 40 years in prison and face millions of dollars in fines.

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Paul Manafort (photo via The New York Times)

Both individuals were revealed to have used their illegally earned income to live lavishly, without paying taxes. One report from the New York Times estimates that Manafort spent over $800,000 on luxury clothing over a 6-year period, while Gates is alleged to have spent a good portion of his money on redecorating his home and paying for his children’s tuition.

Mueller has notified the White House that six more aides close to the president will be sought for questioning including former press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus.

President Trump tweeted about the indictments, in an apparent attempt to shift focus to his former opponent: “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t crooked Hillary and the Dems the focus?????”

In another tweet, Trump reiterated his denial of any connections between him and Moscow: “Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”

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The tweets issued by President Donald Trump in response to Mueller’s indictments on Monday, October 30 (photo via Twitter)

 

 

 

Two U.S. citizens dead in Somalia terror attack

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Survivors of the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia observe the wreckage (photo via NBC News)

JoAnna Mitchell, Staff Reporter

Two U.S. citizens are among the 276 dead following a devastating terror attack on the Somalian capitol city of Mogadishu last Saturday, October 14

Three hundred more bystanders were left injured after a member of the militant group al-Shabab drove a truck filled with explosives into the city which was crowded with civilians. This is the deadliest attack the region has experienced in many years.

“This is the Somali 9/11,” one official said. “The man we arrested has confessed. He is proud of what he has done. He says it was for jihad.”

A second truck was in route to the detonation site but was stopped, and the driver was apprehended by Somali security forces. The suspect told interrogators the attack was planned by the region’s al-Quaida linked extremist group, though al-Shabab has not formally claimed the attack as of Tuesday.

Xarakada Mujaahidiinta Alshabaab, or “Movement of Striving Youth”, has been operating in East Africa since 2006 and pledged their allegiance to al-Quaida in 2011. The group aims to wage jihad, or “holy war”, against the enemies of Islam and recently vowed to increase their attacks after the Trump administration and the newly elected Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed issued a renewal of military endeavors against the group.

Doctor Aden Nur of the Madina hospital said, “One hundred and sixty of the bodies could not be recognized and so they were buried by the government.”

The extent of the damage is still unfolding, with rescue workers combing debris and leveled city streets and pulling more victims from the ruins of what was once a highly populated downtown.

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An aerial view of Mogadishu after terrorists armed with explosives drove a truck through the crowded downtown area (photo via The Guardian)

President Mohamed declared a three-day period of national mourning after he personally donated blood and encouraged his citizens to do the same.

“Today’s horrific attack proves our enemy would stop nothing to cause our people pain and suffering. Let’s unite against terror,” the president said on Twitter.

Turkey, Djibouti and neighboring country Kenya have all sent humanitarian aid workers as well as airlifted survivors to their respective countries for medical treatment.

A U.S. military aircraft has brought supplies to be distributed to hospitals and trauma centers, and the State Department has arranged for medical teams and more emergency medical supplies to be delivered to the city following the attack.

A U.S. official has condemned the attack, staying that “Such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.”

 

Las Vegas shooting now deadliest in modern U.S. history

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Survivors of the Las Vegas shooting gather amidst the chaos in search of loved ones and medical attention (photo via ABC News)

JoAnna Mitchell, Staff Reporter

Late on the night of Sunday, October 1, on the last day of the Route 91 Harvest Festival, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on throngs of unsuspecting concertgoers from his 32nd floor hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, 500 yards away from the concert venue.

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Stephen Paddock, 64, shot and killed 59 people and injured over 500 others in Las Vegas before taking his own life (photo via Fox News)

The three-day country music festival came to a screeching halt as bullets from what appeared to be an automatic rifle rained down and sent those in attendance scrambling for safety. According to NPR,  the death toll has reached 59 as of Tuesday with the number of those injured at a staggering 527, making this the deadliest mass-shooting in modern U.S. history.

Las Vegas police quickly made contact with Paddock but came under fire, backed off and called for SWAT. The hotel room was breached using explosives, and police entered to find Paddock dead from an apparent suicide along with “more than 10” weapons and “hundreds” of rounds of ammunition.

Although the international terrorist organization known as ISIS, or Da’esh, claimed to have inspired the attack, there is no evidence that the gunman was influenced by any group, and it is believed that Paddock acted alone. Police are searching a residence belonging to Paddock in Reno, Nev., but his motives are still unknown at this time.

“We are completely dumbfounded,” aid Erick Paddock, Stephen’s younger brother. “We can’t understand what happened.” According to the LA Times, neighbors and other people familiar with Paddock viewed him as “completely normal”.

The victims identified so far include Sonny Melton, a 29-year-old nurse from Nashville, TN who died while shielding his wife, Heather, from the barrage; 33-year-old Rachael Parker, a records technician for the Manhattan Beach police department; Sandra Casey, a special education teacher in Manhattan Beach, Cal.; a California kindergarten teacher, Jenny Parks; mother of three, Neysa Tonks; a 53-year-old elementary school employee, Susan Smith and many more whose identities have yet to be announced. You can see the victims’ profiles on CNN, here.

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Sandra Casey, another victim, was a special education teacher in Manhattan Beach, Cal. (photo via the LA Times)
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Sonny Melton (right) was on of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. He died shielding his wife, Heather (left) (photo via CBS News)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Donald Trump issued a statement following the shooting.

“Last night a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada,” Trump said. “He brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil. I want to thank the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police department and all of the first responders for their courageous efforts and for helping to save the lives of so many. The speed with which they acted is miraculous and prevented further loss of life.”

The Chanticleer will follow the case and provide updates as they are available.