Maine Fishermen to be Relieved of Onerous Tax Burden.

Commercial Fishermen Rejoice!
Commercial Fishermen Rejoice!

It has been a week of good news for Maine’s ground fishermen.

Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will award $32.8 million in federal funding for the mitigation of the 2013 New England Multispecies Groundfish Fishery disaster that was declared by the Secretary of Commerce. This funding will help aid struggling ground fishermen in the Northeast, including Maine. In addition, the Secretary of Commerce will waive the 25-percent non-federal match requirement as requested by Senator Collins and Senator Angus King in a letter sent earlier this month.

“Fishing is a way of life in Maine and New England and, for too long, our fishermen, their families, and their communities, have struggled with onerous federal regulations and other burdensome costs,” said Senator Collins, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I was pleased to have secured Fisheries Disaster Assistance in the federal funding bill approved by Congress in January, which can be used to provide both immediate economic relief to our region’s struggling groundfishing industry, and to make targeted investments that will allow the fleet to survive and become more sustainable in the years ahead. I also applaud the decision to waive the non-federal matching requirement, which would have placed an unnecessary burden on our state and local economies.”

In addition, Senator Collins announced that NOAA expects to fully cover observer and at-sea monitoring costs for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic ground fishermen during Fishing Year 2014.

Maggie Raymond, Executive Director of Associated Fisheries of Maine, responded to that good news: “Senator Collins understands that Maine’s groundfish industry cannot absorb these costs, and we are grateful that she took the lead on assuring that the funds were included in the National Marine Fisheries Service budget.”

The federal funding bill included an appropriation of $43 million to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for Observers and Training operations, and it also included legislative report language authored by Senator Collins that directed the National Marine Fisheries Service to cover these at-sea and dockside monitoring costs.

 

Fischer Introduces Legislation to Protect Taxpayers from IRS Overreach

 

Sen. Fischer wants to rein in the IRS.
Sen. Fischer wants to rein in the IRS.

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) has introduced a pair of bills to protect taxpayers from overreach by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which systematically targeted and delayed the applications of conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status beginning in 2010.

 

“As the federal agency tasked with administering the U.S. tax code, the IRS has extraordinary influence on the lives of Americans from all walks of life and all points of view,” Senator Fischer said. “Nebraskans and all Americans have the absolute right to expect the IRS to be free from political influence, with taxpayers treated fairly and enforcement carried out in an unbiased manner. These two bills protect the constitutional rights of taxpayers, increase transparency, and promote accountability of the IRS, which has a long way to go to regain credibility and restore public trust.”

 


 

The Stop IRS Overreach Act (S.2043) would prohibit the IRS from asking any taxpayer questions regarding their religious, political, or social beliefs. It also expresses the sense of Congress that:

 

  • Any exceptions later enacted by Congress should clearly identify the content of questions, the class of taxpayers to be questioned, and circumstances under which questions will be asked; and
     
  • If the IRS Commissioner determines that asking such questions would aid in the administration of tax laws, then he/she should submit a report to Congress detailing the content of the questions, the class of taxpayers to be questioned, and circumstances under which questions will be asked.
     

Text of the legislation is available online by clicking HERE.

 

The Taxpayer Accountability Act (S.2044) would require the IRS to:

  • Provide a written response to any taxpayer correspondence within 30 days;
     
  • Notify a taxpayer within 30 days after disclosing their taxpayer information to another government entity; and
     
  • Conclude any audit of an individual taxpayer (and the related taxes of such audit) within one year of initiating the audit.

United States Olympic Winners Gouged by the IRS!

The IRS Shakes Down Olympic Winners.
The IRS Shakes Down Olympic Winners.
Every two years, our nation supports athletes from throughout our country as they compete in the Summer or Winter Olympics. These athletes spend years training to compete and represent the United States of America to the best of their abilities. Unfortunately, should an athlete medal in an Olympic event, they are subjected to a tax by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on the medals and cash prizes awarded through the United States Olympic Committee. This means our current tax code punishes the success of our nation’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
In order to ensure that our nation’s tax code no longer unfairly penalizes athletes for their outstanding performances during the Olympics and Paralympics, Senator John Thune of South Dakota introduced bipartisan legislation (S. 2026) that would exempt Olympic and Paralympic medalists from being taxed by the IRS on the medals and cash prizes they win. If enacted, the bill would have a negligible effect on revenue and would not affect taxes on endorsement and sponsorship income earned by a minority of successful Olympians. Senator Thune’s legislation would ensure that the federal government celebrates the achievement of these athletes rather than tax their success.

 

 

 

 

Federal Government Cover up: Whistleblowers Still Punished and Persecuted.

 

"I know nothing!"
“I know nothing!”

WASHINGTON –  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, released a joint report on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s highly-invasive surveillance program that monitored employees who contacted Congress and the media with concerns about FDA’s medical device approval process.

In April 2010, the FDA initiated a surveillance program of unprecedented scope to monitor employees in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health.  The program allowed FDA managers to read communications between FDA employees and Congress, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), and their personal attorneys.  The Joint Committee report, entitled “Limitless Surveillance at the FDA: Protecting the Rights of Federal Whistleblowers,” found the FDA acted without regard for employees’ whistleblower rights, which protect their communications to Congress and OSC.  The joint report also found that FDA conducted the program without adequate guidelines in place and made no effort to limit the scope of the program to exclude protected communications.

The Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on the FDA’s surveillance today at 10:00 a.m. in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

Key Findings:

•   Insufficient authorization and guidelines. The monitoring was implemented with insufficient written authorization, no policy in place and no legal guidance given to the contractors conducting the monitoring. As a result, FDA captured communications that are protected by law, including communications with Congress, the media, and watchdog groups like Project on Government Oversight.

•    Unlawful capturing of protected communications. Because no formal monitoring policy was in place, FDA managers did not understand the legal limits of employee monitoring. The FDA’s surveillance was not lawful, to the extent that it monitored communications with Congress and the Office of Special Counsel. Federal law protects disclosures to OSC and Congress.

•    Lack of explanation for capture of future communications. Instead of looking back at previous communications using available tools, the FDA captured real-time communications of current and future communications. When interviewed, FDA managers and IT professionals failed to explain clearly how the rationale offered to justify the monitoring (investigating a past leak) was consistent with the method used (monitoring current activity).

•    New policies do not offer sufficient whistleblower protections. In September 2013, the FDA issued interim policies that require written authorization prior to initiating employee monitoring. However, the policies do not offer sufficient protection for whistleblowers concerned about retaliation from agency officials.

 

Remembering American Excess: A Personal Memoir of the 1950’s.

He presided over a patriotic gluttony unknown since Ancient Rome.
He presided over a patriotic gluttony unknown since Ancient Rome.

I had a near-death experience as a teenager, when my mother put a plate of tuna casserole in front of me one evening, which I refused to touch.  She berated me:  “Don’t you know there are thousands of children starving right now in China?”

“Name two” I promptly replied.

Had she caught me, she might have faced a murder charge.  As it was, I’m sure I set a world track record as I sped around the block, just inches ahead of her broom. 

As a child of the Fifties and early Sixties I was not only encouraged to lick the platter clean I was made to feel like a traitor to Eisenhower and Kefauver if I didn’t ask for seconds, and thirds.  America was a land of immense bounty.  The wheat fields of Kansas stretched forever to a horizon filled with turbo-charged cars from Detroit and skyscrapers that scoffed at the Tower of Babel; pilsner and lager spilled from Midwest breweries in such quantities that it was no idle boast when my dad said he would drink enough to float a battleship (and sink his liver); ten million embers licked hungrily at ten million steaks as they dripped fat, on ten million barbeque grills on ten million thoroughly fertilized and lush backyard lawns;  Wisconsin milk flowed like water, and water was fluoridated and chlorinated and filled immense latex rings where I and a million other children frolicked all summer, in between gulps of treacly Kool-Aid and bites of Wonder Bread smothered with butter and Welch’s Grape Jelly.  Shoes were leather, TV was in color and cigarettes were king-sized.

We lived like pigs at a never-ending trough.  If Krushchev were going to bury us, he’d need a mighty big pine box!

So it came to pass that we grew up drowning in salt, fat, and sugar, not to mention alcohol and tobacco.  Moderation in all things?  What are you, a pinko?  Conspicuous Consumption was the name of the American game.

Now my generation reaps the whirlwind of Slim Fast diets and preventive colonoscopies.  We try to make amends by treating our grandkids to Perrier instead of lemonade.  Cotton candy is considered child abuse.  And finally, thank the good Lord and General Mills, it seems like kids are once again slowing down their consumption, heeding that jeremiad memorably rasped by W.C. Fields:  “According to you, everything I like is  illegal, immoral, or fattening.” 

Our double chins quivering with emotion, we glimpse a better, healthier life for our descendants, if they will but heed Malthusian common sense.

And what would we change, if we could but go back in time to those years of our own indulgence and excess?

Not a damn thing, pal.  It was more fun than a barrel of Smokehouse almonds!  

"According to you, everything I like is illegal, immoral, or fattening!"
“According to you, everything I like is illegal, immoral, or fattening!”

 

America’s Infrastructure Being Ignored by Grabby Bureaucrats in Washington! Sen. Lee Says Our Transportation System is a Mess.

The TEA Act offers a fresh approach to transportation funding with better results

 

Travel Becoming Harder in America; whose fault is it?
Travel Becoming Harder in America; whose fault is it?

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee released the following statement on the president’s transportation proposal:

“Today, the president has offered the country the same old idea: send more money to Washington where the special interests get their cut, the politicians get the credit, and future generations get the bill. Unfortunately, his proposal is more about preserving a dysfunctional system than improving our roads. It’s a top-down, DC-knows-best approach to do to our transportation infrastructure what Obamacare has done to our health care.

“Conservatives have a fresh approach that will save money, reduce commuting times, grow the economy and create jobs, and allow state and local officials, who are ultimately responsible for infrastructure projects, to respond more quickly to the transportation needs of each state.

“The Transportation Empowerment Act creates a new system where Americans would no longer have to send significant gas-tax revenue to Washington, where politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists siphon off precious resources before sending it back to the states with strings attached. Instead, under this proposal, states and cities could plan, finance, and build better-designed and more affordable projects.

“Some communities could choose to build more roads, while others might prefer to repair old ones. Some might build highways, others light-rail. And all would be free to experiment with innovative green technologies, and new ways to finance their projects, like congestion pricing and smart tolls.

“All states and localities should finally have the flexibility to develop the kind of transportation system they want, for less money, without politicians and special interests from other parts of the country telling them how, when, what, and where they should build.”

YOU Can Teach English in Thailand This Year!

English teachers make exceptional money in Thailand.
English teachers make exceptional money in Thailand.

Are you tired of the ice and snow and cold?  Is your current job a dead end buzz kill?  Maybe you’ve been laid off, or just graduated and can’t seem to find a job anywhere.  Does the thought of another helping of ramen noodles or burger and fries leave you slightly bored and nauseous, but you can’t afford anything else?

Take heart, mon frère!  You can be strolling on a tropical beach in Thailand, working as a respected and well-paid English teacher, gorging on fresh fruits and veggies and seafood year round, in a matter of months! 

It doesn’t matter if you have a teaching degree or not; in fact, it really doesn’t matter if you have a college degree at all!

The gateway to a teaching career in Thailand, and many other countries in Asia, is to obtain a TESOL certificate.  TESOL stands for “Teaching English to Students of Other Languages”.  It is also sometimes called TEFL for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language”.  Or ESL, which stands for “English as a Second Language”.  The acronym is unimportant; if you have the certificate, and are a native English speaker, schools in Thailand are going to be interested in hiring you to teach their students.

You can take a month-long TESOL course on-site in Thailand, as a ‘working vacation’.  The cost is approximately $1200, including room and board.  We recommend this website to get started:

TEFL International.

If money is tight, you can obtain your TESOL certificate online here:  http://www.teflinternational.com/tefl-online/

Classes are geared for the non-professional person who may never have taught before.  You’ll learn how to manage a classroom, how to teach basic English language skills, and how to engage students in the learning process.  Whether you’re just out of college or a senior citizen, a former truck driver or homemaker, you can learn these rudimentary skills in a matter of weeks.

Once you’ve got your TESOL certificate, you will canvass schools in whatever area of Thailand you like, and, under normal circumstances, you will have a paid teaching position within a month.  The average salary for an ESL teacher in Thailand is 30-thousand baht per month, plus either a free apartment or a housing allowance.  This salary allows you to eat out as often as you want and to tour the country on weekends and holidays.  Thailand is one of the most beautiful and interesting countries in the world, and the people are justly famous for their friendliness, hospitality, and graciousness. 

For an excellent idea of what kind of work is available, please check out the Ajarn website at:  http://ajarn.com/ 

 

Nathan and Tim heartily endorse ESL teaching in Thailand as a legitimate and fun way to work in an exotic yet welcoming culture that just may entrance you so much you’ll never leave.  No matter what, it will be a life-changing experience for you!

Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries on earth!
Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries on earth!