Australian government announces study of tax system

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Australian federal treasurer, Peter Costello, has announced a study to compare the Australian taxation system with those of other countries. It will include overall tax levels, as well as indirect tax, income tax and company tax systems. Mr Costello says that the results are intended to inform discussion of the future of the tax system.

“The aim of the study is to provide a public document that compares Australian taxes to those in other countries. This will identify those areas where Australia leads comparable countries and those areas where it lags. It will enable a focus on the most important areas,” Mr Costello said in a media release.

The study will be lead by Mr Richard (Dick) Warburton and Mr Peter Hendy. Mr Warburton is Chairman of Caltex Australia Ltd, and has been Chairman of the Board of Taxation since its inception in September 2000. According to its website, the Board of Taxation is “a non-statutory advisory body charged with contributing a business and broader community perspective to improving the design of taxation laws and their operation.”

The Australian Democrats welcomed the study but warned that nothing would be achieved without serious reform of the tax system.

“The Inquiry announced yesterday by the Treasurer may turn out to be a step in the right direction but will be a pointless exercise if it ends up being simply a ‘desktop’ report,” said Senator Murray, Democrats Tax Spokesperson.

“The problem with Mr Costello’s approach is that in contrast to the approach taken on the GST, the New Tax System, and the Business Tax System, he has seen income tax change to be solely part of the budget process. Across the whole of the political and public policy spectrum, there is strong agreement that reform is needed, not just tax cuts, and that the income tax system needs redesigning, not just fine tuning.”

 

Ford’s US auto sales spike, surpassing GM

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ford Motor Company said on Tuesday that its sales in the United States rose 43% in February compared to the same period last year, as the automaker outsold rivals Toyota and General Motors.

The strength of our new products … are resonating with customers

Ford said that total sales improved to 142,285 units, compared to 141,951 units sold by GM. Additionally, Ford said that its share of the total US car market rose to 17%, up from 14% a year ago. The increase was better than analysts had predicted, and Ford’s stock rose to a five-year high in morning trading, before declining later in the day. Ford’s sales were significantly influenced by a 74% increase in fleet sales to businesses. Rental car agencies alone accounted for around 30,000 units sold. Sales to retail consumers increased only 28%.

The increases were led by sales of two sedans, the Fusion and Taurus, which rose 166.5 and 93.3% respectively, although sales of other models such as SUVs and pickup trucks also increased. Both models were significantly redesigned last year, and analysts said that improved quality from such cars were driving the increases.

Other companies also reported February sales today, nearly all reporting sales gains as well, although none as large as those of Ford. Toyota was the sole exception to the sales gains, as their sales declined 8.7%, as the company was faced with a global recall during the month that led to a temporary stoppage of production for some models.

“The strength of our new products … are resonating with customers,” said Ken Czubay, Ford’s vice president of sales and marketing. However, he believed that traditional Toyota customers were not buying rival autos, but rather awaiting the results from the recalls.

 

An account of the Esperanza Fire from an animal rescuer

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

As families fled their homes in the early morning hours on Thursday October 26, there was no warning. The Esperanza Fire southeast of Los Angeles and West of Palm Springs, California, had ballooned under the influence of Santa Ana winds to more than 19,000 acres as of the morning of October 27. No time to get the animals, no time for crates or even a leash. Sadly, owners left behind not only their horses, lamas, donkeys, chickens, rabbits, but also their dogs and cats.

Many of the families who did manage to evacuate their pets found themselves in the parking lot at the Fellowship in the Pass Church Red Cross Shelter where a MuttShack Animal Rescue team caught up with them.

Pam Anderson, Director of the emergency Red Cross shelter said that many people with animals had come and left.

The air was thick with smoke, and ash was raining down on the parking lot where dog owners, not able to take their dogs into the shelter were camping out in pup tents andin their cars.

Those who could afford it checked themselves into pet friendly hotels in nearby towns.

Some were prepared. Jane Garner, a small dog breeder was able to get all her animals out, and had set up her puppy runs alongside her RV in the parking lot. Others were not doing too well, having left home without as much as a leash.

The same scenario played out at the Red Cross shelter at Hemet High School. Animals were being boarded in vans, trailers and cars and small travel crates.

When MuttShack Animal Rescue arrived, a small fracas had sent several dogs off in different directions, running out of the school parking lot down busy streets necessitating an instant rescue response.

The Incident Command for the Esperanza Animals, Ramona Humane Society in San Jacinto welcomed MuttShack‘s offer to help at the shelters.

Ramona Humane Society had recently published a notice in their Newsletter about the newly passed “PETS Act”and warned owners not wait until a major disaster such as an earthquake or fireto prepare. “Be proactive to ensure that your pet will be taken care of.”

MuttShack and PetSmart Charities set up ad hoc facilities for the animals at both shelters.

The Red Cross shelter, run by Madison Burtchaell of the Orange County Red Cross was very accommodating about allowing a small emergency pet shelter adjacent to the School.

Barbara A. Fought of PetSmart Charities, an organization that works with animal welfare organizations and provide assistance in disasters, provided crates and emergency supplies.

MuttShack and Red Cross volunteers, Martin St. John, Tom Hamilton, and Steve Meissner helped assemble the crates to secure a safe environment for evacuated pets.

It was a great relief for evacuees who had camped out in the parking lot to finally leave their vehicles and relax at the shelter, setting up their cots to grab some sorely needed rest.

Firefighters and residents reported loss of wildlife and animals. The Esperanza fire burned 34 homes, consumed 40,000 acres and cost five Firefighters their lives before it was contained four days later on October 30. Firefighting operations cost nearly $10 million.

MuttShack Animal Rescue is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization active in disasters and dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and care of lost or discarded dogs, cats and other animals.

 

Wikimedia chair Jimmy Wales steps down

Monday, October 30, 2006

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Following the Wikimedia Foundation’s retreat in Frankfurt am Main, Germany the Foundation made changes to the organization of the Board of Trustees. The board, which consisted of Jimmy Wales, Tim Shell, Michael Davis, Florence Nibart-Devouard and Erik Möller voted unanimously to elect board member Nibart-Devouard as the new Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Founder Jimmy Wales said, “I nominated Florence to be the Chair of the Foundation in recognition of her outstanding service for the past few years and her unsurpassed passion for our goals. Having such a trusted community representative elected as our new chair demonstrates the growth and strength of our organization.”

Nibart-Devouard, 38 and currently living in Clermont-Ferrand, will still be working with Wales.

 

Countries around the world send aid, help to Haiti

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Countries and organizations from around the world are sending aid and help to victims of the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday, damaging many buildings. The death toll is currently unknown, but estimated to run into the tens of thousands of people.

US president Barack Obama said in a press conference that “I’ve directed my administration to launch a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives and support the recovery in Haiti.”

Obama announced that aid from the US armed forces was coming to Haiti, noting, “Several Coast Guard cutters are already there providing everything from basic services like water, to vital technical support for this massive logistical operation.”

Obama continued: “[…] today, I’m also announcing an immediate investment of $100 million to support our relief efforts. This will mean more of the life-saving equipment, food, water and medicine that will be needed. This investment will grow over the coming year as we embark on the long-term recovery from this unimaginable tragedy.”

Obama said that the US would forge partnerships with Haitian people and Haitian-Americans, along with United Nations peacekeepers. He closed by saying, “To the people of Haiti, we say clearly, and with conviction, you will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you. The world stands with you.”

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said that $10 million is being released from the international organization’s central emergency response fund.

Meanwhile, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), which already has an existing operation in the country, is beginning to distribute high energy biscuits which require no preparation before eating. On top of that, the WFP is airlifting 86 metric tons of food from their emergency hub in El Salvador.

A spokesperson for the WFP said, “In a normal day the World Food Programme will be feeding one or two million people in Haiti — and now we need to do even more, because the people have lost everything.”

China is also pledging aid to the country, despite the lack of official diplomatic ties between the two countries. Haiti recognizes the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan. Nevertheless, China has sent a 60 member search and rescue team to Haiti and the Chinese Red Cross is donating one million dollars in emergency aid.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said her country expresses sympathy to the Haitian government and people. Jiang says the Chinese foreign minister has sent a telegram of condolence to his Haitian counterparts.

An 80 member team from the United Kingdom of search and rescue specialists has arrived in Haiti to help in efforts there. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a joint press conference with Toaiseach of Ireland Brian Cowen that the team has arrived in the country. He also announced that the government is pledging to match the UN’s US$10 million (£6.1 million).

Brown said, “It is a tragedy beyond imagination and there is a deep sense of loss felt by the whole of the British and Irish people about the tragedy that individual families in Haiti are experiencing at the moment. We send our message of sympathy and support to the people of Haiti at this most difficult of times.”

He added, “Where men, women and children are suffering under the heaviest of burdens, that place must, for that moment, become the centre of our world’s attention, the world’s compassion and the world’s humanitarian help.”

France is also sending aid to the French-speaking country, which at one time was a colony of France known as Saint-Domingue. France is sending two planes with rescuers and aid. Civil safety authorities in France are sending a team of 130 members consisting of rescuers, trained rescue dogs, doctors and nurses along with 12,000 tons of aid and rescue supplies.

Israel is sending rescue forces in two El Al planes carrying a 121-member delegation that includes 40 doctors, five search-and-rescue teams, and an army rescue squad. The IDF medical teams are preparing to spend two weeks in Haiti.

Spain has pledged $4.3 million (3 million) in aid money and has 150 tons of aid ready to be delivered.

South Africa is sending a team of search and rescue specialists to Haiti in response to the devastating earthquake on Tuesday. It is the first of several teams being sent by a local civic group.

The head of South Africa’s Gift of the Givers Foundation, Emtiaz Sooliman, says his group is sending up to three teams of search and rescue specialists to Haiti to help victims of the earthquake and hopefully save some lives.

“These are people who have worked with building collapses, urban search and rescue and some of them have been involved in responding to previous earthquakes so they are highly skilled,” he said.

Sooliman says a second team is to depart as soon as he can book a flight for it.

 This story has updates See Haiti relief efforts: in depth 

 

11-year-old boy dies after being shot in Liverpool

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An 11-year-old boy has died after being shot in the car park of the Fir Tree pub in the Croxteth area of Liverpool, shortly after 1930 BST. An eyewitness, who had been drinking outside the pub at the time, said the boy was one of three playing football in the car park when a teenager, believed to be male, on a BMX bicycle fired three shots at the group from approximately 30 metres away, one hitting the victim in the neck. The other shots missed the boys, one hitting a car. The boy’s mother was called to the scene as people came out of the pub to help him. Other witnesses have suggested the incident may be gang-related.

A spokesman for North West Ambulance Service said: “We treated an 11-year-old with serious gunshot wounds.” He added the boy was taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, but police later confirmed he had died. Officers have sealed off the scene, including a neighbouring street of shops. There have currently been no arrests in connection with the shooting.

In an appeal to the local community to help catch the killer, Merseyside Police Assistant Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: “Someone out there knows who put the gun in his hand and I want your help to get the community to turn that gunman in tonight. This is quite an awful crime, quite senseless, and the community holds the clue to solving this crime quickly. You can only imagine the heartache of the family that’s been ripped apart.”

Local councillor Rose Bailey, who lives nearby, also appealed for people with information to come forward, saying: “It sends shockwaves through the community of Croxteth and really it must be devastating. To think your young son is out playing football and then to get a call to say he’s been shot, I really don’t know as a parent how you would handle that.”

The area around the pub was made a “designated area” by police last year, meaning officers could disperse groups and move people away from the area.

The incident is another in a growing list of shootings of minors, many gang-related, in the UK’s major cities in 2007.

 

Chinese chef Peng Chang-kuei’s death announced

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Peng Chang-kuei, a Chinese-born chef credited with creating the internationally popular dish General Tso’s chicken, was yesterday announced to have died by his son.

Chuck Peng told The Associated Press his father died of pneumonia in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday. The chef fled China to Taiwan in 1949 and invented the dish shortly thereafter. In the 1970s Peng opened a New York restaurant, which he claimed was a regular haunt of Henry Kissinger. Peng credited Kissinger with the dish’s popularity.

Peng conceived the famed dish, which is unknown in China, as unfried. Garlic and soy sauce provided flavour, as did chillies. Today the chicken is served across the US as fried chicken in a sweet, sticky sauce. The chillies remain, with broccoli also appearing. Peng named it after Zuo Zongtang from his native Hunan Province; Zongtang assisted in suppressing the 19th-century Taiping Rebellion.

Peng said the meal was invented for a US admiral visiting Taiwan. Over three days, Peng was contracted to produce several banquets, with not one repeated dish. After exhausting traditional chicken dishes Peng said he created what became General Tso’s chicken as an experiment.

In later years he ran Peng’s, a chain of Taiwanese restaurants. General Tso’s chicken also remained popular across the US. His son claimed he remained working in the kitchen until a few months before his death, at 97. In a documentary two years ago, shown photos of General Tso’s chicken served in the US in modern times, he remarked “This is all crazy nonsense.”

Running away from his farming family in Changsha, Peng trained under Cao Jingchen. He fled communist rule that followed the 1930s Japanese invasion. He fathered seven children, six of whom remain alive, from three marriages. Chuck Peng described his father as “very good to other people, [but] very hard on his family.” Peng Jr. spoke of a “very demanding” man who “thought other people’s cooking was no good.”

Two years ago the Taipei City Government awarded Peng an Outstanding Citizen award. Peng, then 95 and unstable, collected the award in person and delivered a speech in Mandarin Chinese.

 

Permanent Labels With A Metal Engraving Machine

byAlma Abell

It is getting easier to make sure items have labels on them. When you look around, you can often find tiny engraved letters on even the smallest metal pieces that usually have some sort of engraving that states their origin or metal type. Think about when you purchase hardware, such as nails or screws, they usually have tiny engravings on them. Many items depend on this type of marking for identification of consumer products. There are a few uses that you may be more familiar with than others. If you have metal that needs to be permanently marked, even for commercial reasons, this is the item you are looking for.

Common Uses

A quick look around your home or business can help you better understand what a metal engraving machineis used for. Most people have a piece of jewelry sitting around that is either gold or silver. When you need to know what grade of metal you are dealing with, this is helpful if you wish to sell it or get an idea of the value. A metal engraving machine is available on a smaller scale in many pet shops, where you can have your own dog tags engraved in front of your eyes. While this may not be industrial size, it gives you an idea of how this mechanism works. If you own a business and have metal products in your merchandise, a metal engraving machine may be helpful.

Purchase

As with any business equipment, you may not need to purchase a metal engraving machine for your own business. It often depends on the number of items you may be printing on. The cost of the machinery needs to be offset by sales of the merchandise it is used on.

Metal engraving machines are in wider use than you may realize. They serve a necessary, yet detailed purpose when it comes to consumer items. The need to purchase one needs to be weighed against the money that may be brought in from its use.

 

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

 

NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars

Monday, May 7, 2018

On Saturday, United Launch Alliance launched a Atlas V 401 rocket carrying NASA’s InSight Mars lander and two Mars Cube One (MarCO) miniature spacecraft known as cubesats. The pre-dawn launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 3E in Lompoc, California was declared a success. This was the very first deep space launch from the west coast of the United States, and aimed to send a lander to the surface of the planet Mars to study its interior.

Launched alongside InSight were two MarCO cubesats, the first to be sent beyond Earth, nicknamed ‘WALL-E’ and ‘Eve’ after the protagonists of the 2008 animated science fiction film WALL-E. They were designed as a dual telecommunications relay for InSight during the spacecraft’s descent through the Martian atmosphere.

Traditionally, NASA launched interplanetary spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on the United States’ east coast. There, rockets were sent eastward over the Atlantic Ocean, borrowing the Earth’s rotational velocity to shoot their payloads out into the solar system. Due to congestion on the launch calendar at Canaveral, NASA chose to launch the spacecraft from from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the country’s west coast instead. A launch eastward from Vandenberg would have been dangerous due to densely populated areas being located downrange. Instead, rockets launched from Vandenberg were sent in a south-southeast trajectory. For Insight and MarCO, the spacecraft was placed in a temporary polar orbit after the launch, with the pair being shot towards Mars during a escape burn performed over the North Pole.

Despite a heavy fog settling in at the rocket’s launch pad in Lompoc, the United Launch Alliance declared a “100% chance of favorable weather for liftoff”. Spectators in Lompoc were treated to a mostly obscured view of the launch, though they were witness nonetheless to the sound and shock waves of the Atlas V’s Common Core first stage as it lifted the spacecraft off the ground on-schedule at 4:05 PDT (1105 UTC). People along the coast of southern California and northern Baja California, however, were in clear view of the Atlas V’s main engine burn and the first burn of the rocket’s Centaur upper stage. People in Orange County, California were treated to the sight of InSight and the Centaur almost eclipsing the planet Jupiter in the night sky.

The recently-inaugurated Administrator of NASA, Jim Bridenstine, congratulated the InSight team in an address televised live on NASA TV after the launch, along with the United Launch Alliance on what was their 128th successful launch in a row. The InSight mission part of NASA’s Discovery program, a class of low-cost solar system exploration missions. It was selected to launch in the program after beating the Comet Hopper and Titan Mare Explorer proposals amongst responses to a 2010 request.

Both InSight and the MarCO cubesats are en route to Mars. InSight carries eight scientific instruments, including a seismometer known as Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS). The SEIS instrument will be recording the very first seismic measurements of Mars, which scientists hope will shed light on the structure of Mars beneath its surface. The lander was equipped with two cameras, based on the architecture of the Mars Exploration Rover’s navigation camera and hazard avoidance camera, to allow mission scientists to monitor the activity of the instruments. NASA scheduled a November 26 landing for InSight on a broad plain in the planet’s northern hemisphere, known as Elysium Planitia.