David Koch Stepping Down From Business and Political Activities

Billionaire David Koch is stepping down from the family’s business and conservative political empire because of health issues, according to a letter his older brother sent to company employees Tuesday.

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David Koch, Billionaire Political Donor, Announces Retirement

Billionaire donor David Koch has said he is stepping down from his business and political roles over health concerns. Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP hide caption David Koch, one half of the billionaire duo that built one of the nation’s largest privately owned companies and one of its most controversial political networks, has announced his retirement from politics and business.

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NHS staff clog quiet road with cars to avoid parking fees at hospital turning neighbourhood into warzone with dog mess smeared on vehicles and abusive notes left on windscreens

Residents in streets surrounding a busy NHS hospital have been leaving abusive notes on cars parked by staff outside their homes who are avoiding charges in official car parks. The tensions have escalated at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater …

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‘If You Don’t Know, It’s Your Job To Know’:…

The fallout continued over the weekend after Friday’s announcement that University of Southern California President C.L. Max Nikias was stepping down amid a scandal involving a health center gynecologist accused of sexual assault. The school said Nikias, along with school’s executive committee on its board of trustees, had decided he would resign from his post for his handling of sexual assault accusations against George Tyndall, a former gynecologist that had worked in the school’s health center for nearly 30 years.

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Baptist News Global editor leaving to become Episcopal priest

Robert Dilday, editor-in-chief for Baptist News Global and a Baptist journalist for 35 years, is stepping down to become an Episcopal priest. His last official day on the job will be June 5.

The post Baptist News Global editor leaving to become Episcopal priest appeared first on Baptist News Global.

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GOP plots to kick failed Speaker Paul Ryan out of his job

Was Paul Ryan being delusional when he announced that he wouldn’t be stepping down as Speaker of the House immediately, even though he planned on quitting Congress in January? Ryan claimed he’d have no problem hanging onto the reins of power, even with his …

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California’s ‘Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act’ Resulted in Less Transparency, Fairness for Taxpayers

It’s a rule of thumb. One should always expect the opposite result of whatever any government agency promises. The War on Poverty created a permanent underclass that perpetuated poverty throughout generations. The War on Drugs did much to erode our civil liberties, but mainly has emboldened the drug cartel. The examples go on and on.

That brings us to California’s taxing authorities. After scandals at the Board of Equalization—the Orwellian-named agency that had collected sales, use and special taxes—the Legislature gutted it and largely replaced its functions with two new bureaucracies. The 2017 legislation was called the Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act. As you might have guessed, since its implementation a few months ago, the state’s tax proceedings have become less transparent and less fair to taxpayers.

The BOE, which dates back to the second California Constitution in 1879, is the only tax-collection agency in the nation that’s administered by elected officials. It is run by four elected board members plus the state controller. After last year’s law, the four elected officials no longer have much to do even though the board still has a few functions.

As with any elected body, it has for decades been plagued by scandals ranging from allegations of nepotism to accusations of misspending. Governors from both parties have for years tried to gut the agency. Expressing a common sentiment, columnist Dan Walters complained that the “agency has become steadily more politicized, with the board’s four directly elected seats treated as either well-paid sinecures or stepping stones to higher office.” Controversies including elected officials “interfering with pending tax cases” have been going on for decades, he wrote.

Those criticisms have some validity. But isn’t it a good thing that politicians get involved given that they typically intervene to help the taxpayer? There’s no reason that the state couldn’t have audited the agency and implemented reforms. Every agency (even the Legislature itself) has controversies. Instead, the Legislature gutted the board and the results are discouraging.

Let’s look at taxpayer “fairness.” Since the new process has gone into effect, not one of the more than 20 income-tax-appeal cases has gotten a single vote in the taxpayers’ favor. The BOE used to hear 10 to 20 sales- and use- and special-tax appeals at each board meeting, but the new Office of Tax Appeals has yet to hear any of those tax cases. The Legislature hammered the BOE for its backlog, but now it’s worse. The BOE would make a decision the same day by vote. Now it can take up to 100 days while interest and penalties add up.

How about transparency? The old Board of Equalization would televise its hearings and archive them so anyone can view the proceedings. That way everyone, including reporters, can see whether a business is being treated fairly or getting the bureaucratic back of the hand. Those proceedings can also be used if the case ends up in court. The new tax-appeal agency posts transcripts, but has yet to televise or archive the hearings, so it’s no longer fully transparent.

There are many stories of business owners who felt like they were getting a raw deal or being treated in a heavy-handed manner by the board, yet who were able to get help from their elected representative on the BOE. That was a reasonable way to level the playing field.

The Board of Equalization also had the incentive to solve vexing tax-policy problems. For instance, legal marijuana dispensaries are required to pay taxes, but because of federal laws they are not allowed to have bank accounts. But they weren’t typically allowed to haul sacks of cash into BOE offices, either. BOE’s officials worked with the dispensaries to help them safely pay their bills in cash. These practical solutions are more likely to be driven by an elected board with constituents than a bureaucracy with subjects.

The main reason the BOE had been a target is obvious. State officials are tasked with maximizing revenue to assure that tax collections match state spending. Anything that reduces that tax flow is a bad thing, from their perspective. Because elected officials need votes and often have their eyes on higher office, they have an incentive to help taxpayers, which means that sometimes the board would reduce the size of the tax payments.

By the way, the new tax authorities have significantly increased their own administrative budgets from the old BOE days. The Department of Finance gives reasonable explanations for some of the growth (standard increases in pay and benefits, new IT and other start-up costs, artificially deflated final year spending for the BOE as its powers were reduced), but we see the spending trajectory. It’s going up, now that the administrators are in charge.

Bottom line: A reform designed to boost transparency and taxpayer fairness has reduced both of those things. No one should be surprised.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. He was a Register editorial writer from 1998-2009. Write to him at [email protected]. This column was first published in the Orange County Register.

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David Attenborough’s VR project ‘Hold the World’ is absolutely astonishing

You don’t get many people who’ve been at the forefront of innovation in media like Sir David Attenborough. Having brought Britain colour television, as well as his wealth of natural history programmes like Blue Planet and Planet Earth, David Attenborough will be stepping into VR at the start of June with Sky in his VR project Hold the World .

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When I Saw These Animals In My Yard In The Middle Of The Night, I Knew I Had To Get A Photo

Animals bring joy to people’s lives. While some people don’t understand why people would ever want a pet, those that love animals just “get it.” Dogs and cats and other animals bring so much joy to our daily lives. When you had a tough day at work or just need a break, a “smiling” dog or a cuddly cat can be just the fix for life’s annoyances and disappointments. But instead of the standard animals that people keep as pets, Callie Schenker’s love for animals was much too big for that. She had a farm.

But after stepping away from the farm for a short sojourn, Callie came back to find something bizarre occurring right on her property. She owned a miniature pony named Cricket. But Cricket was not doing his usual thing. He made a new friend. And Callie was stunned.

There was a strange Corgi standing on Cricket’s back. The dog was going for a pony ride!

Good thing Callie was quick enough to remove her camera from her pocket and snap a few photos before the dog jumped off. Because after the dog left the pony’s back, it ran off and went back home, wherever that was. Callie had never seen the dog before that strange act.

“I was astounded,” she said. “I had no idea that, on the one hand, the dog could ride. And two, that Cricket was letting him do it.”

But the photographic evidence is undeniable. That Corgi is riding on the back of that miniature pony.

Doubters questioned whether Callie had staged the whole thing to get attention online. She denies that and promises this was not something she ever practiced and just happened to come home and see it.

The dog was riding the pony like that when she got back to her farm. But the dog was good at it, and he knew what he was doing. The dog rode the pony as Cricket walked along the enclosure and gave him a ride.

“People said I must have put the Corgi up there. Tied him on there. People were like, ‘That’s a Corgi. He can’t just get up on that pony.’ I’m like, ‘He just did.’”

Because corgis have short legs, it seems unlikely that one could jump all the way onto the back of a pony. But it is a miniature pony. And perhaps the dog has a special way of getting onto Cricket’s back. Since this is a trick he’s done before when Callie wasn’t looking, perhaps he has a ramp somewhere he can use to get on his ride.

Despite all the haters, Callie loved witnessing the strange sight.

“The corgi is like a captain,” she said.

After some waiting, Callie figured out the corgi’s trick. She watched him approach Cricket for another ride. He jumped up and down several times until he got enough clearance to get onto the pony’s back.

“I kinda had a hunch that’s how he did it. But it was cool to see really. And to see Cricket actually play around with him was cool.”

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