A federal appeals court in New York ruled Wednesday President Donald Trump cannot block enforcement of a subpoena for his tax returns issued by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said President Trump’s arguments “amount to generic objections” and not the kind of “well-pled facts” necessary to sustain his allegations the subpoena is overbroad and issued in bad faith.
The appellate panel said the subpoena sought “run-of-the-mill” documents that would be typical for any investigation into possible financial or corporate misconduct.
The president’s legal team has already signaled its intention to bring the case back to the Supreme Court, according to a letter filed with the court. The Manhattan DA’s office agreed to delay enforcement of the subpoena until the Supreme Court decides whether to issue a stay.
The appellate court rejected the president’s interpretation of the investigation’s scope.
“The President, in his briefs, asks us to infer that, because the Cohen payments were a focus of the investigation, they must have been the only focus. We decline to take such a leap,” the judges said.
The court also rejected the president’s claim the subpoena, issued to the president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, amounted to a “fishing expedition” because it sought the same materials as prior Congressional subpoenas.
“There is no logic to the proposition that the documents sought in the Mazars subpoena are irrelevant to legitimate state law enforcement purposes simply because a Congressional committee considered the same documents relevant to its own investigative purposes,” the judges wrote.
The president’s attempt to argue the subpoena was issued in bad faith met the same fate.
“We hold that none of the President’s allegations, taken together or separately, are sufficient to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued ‘out of malice or an intent to harass,'” the decision said.
The stickers show the federal carbon tax adding 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gas now, rising to 11 cents a litre in 2022. They do not include information about rebates available to residents.
Morgan said in the decision that the message was “blatantly advantage-seeking by a political party and a misuse of a governing party’s legislative power.”
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He pointed to a statement Energy Minister Greg Rickford made in April 2019 in which he said the province would “stick it to the Liberals and remind the people of Ontario how much this job-killing, regressive carbon tax costs.” That, said Morgan, shows the true purpose of the sticker was partisan.
Rickford said he respects the court decision, “but our government will always stand up for the people of Ontario when it comes to matters that make everyday life more expensive for hardworking families.”
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which brought the challenge, is thrilled, according to the director of its fundamental freedoms program.
“CCLA is very pleased that the Court recognized these stickers for what they are, an attempt to compel private entities to convey a government’s partisan political message,” Cara Zwibel said in a statement.
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A spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney General declined to comment, saying the department is reviewing the decision.
“As this matter is still in the appeal period, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further,” Brian Gray said.
But the Official Opposition urged the government not to appeal.
“He has already wasted enough of people’s money on his anti-carbon price stickers that don’t stick — a partisan and dishonest propaganda campaign,” NDP Energy and Climate Crisis Critic Peter Tabuns said in a written statement.
Ontario has challenged Ottawa’s right to impose a carbon tax, and the Supreme Court is set to hear that case in September.
Kazakhstan has proposed legislation that would see a 15% tax imposed on bitcoin mining firms. This is part of efforts to raise money to help with the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Proposed by the country’s ministry of economy, the new tax plan requires bitcoin (BTC) miners to first file an application for registration with the authorities, according to a recent report by a local Russian publication.
After this, the taxpayer must then indicate the 15% tax on their annual tax calculations. The report notes that “the clause on registration makes the bill unique… the taxpayer working with cryptocurrencies stands apart from the very beginning of filing a tax return”.
Funds raised from the draft tax will be channeled toward building the infrastructure that is needed to combat COVID-19 while also giving the economy a boost. The disease has so far killed nearly 1,300 Kazakhs, with more than 100,000 infected, official data shows.
Kazakhstan, a former Soviet state in central Asia, accounts for about 8% of the global bitcoin hashrate total, says crypto research company Bitooda. Together with Iran and Russia, the country boasts the world’s third-largest BTC mining industry.
Miners are typically drawn to Kazakhstan’s cheap electricity, which averages 3 cents per kilowatt-hour.
In June, Kazakh Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry Minister Askar Zhumagaliyev revealed that a total of 14 bitcoin mining companies were operating in the country’s north.
Over the next three years, the country is targeting up to $738 million of investment from crypto-related activities, particularly mining, he said.
According to the Russian publication, the Kazakh government is also planning to introduce legislation to regulate the cryptocurrency industry. The new laws are expected to set new electricity tariffs for the crypto mining sector.
In his push to get schools and colleges to reopen this fall, President Donald Trump is again taking aim at their finances, this time threatening their tax-exempt status.
Trump said on Twitter on Friday he was ordering the Treasury Department to re-examine the tax-exempt status of schools that he says provide “radical indoctrination” instead of education.
“Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education,” he tweeted. “Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!”
The Republican president did not explain what prompted the remark or which schools would be reviewed. But the threat is just one more that Trump has issued against schools as he ratchets up pressure to get them to open this fall. Twice this week Trump threatened to cut federal funding for schools that don’t reopen, including in an earlier tweet on Friday.
It’s unclear, however, on what grounds Trump could have a school’s tax-exempt status terminated. It was also not clear what Trump meant by “radical indoctrination” or who would decide what type of activity that includes. The White House and Treasury Department did not immediately comment on the president’s message.
Previous guidance from the Internal Revenue Service lays out six types of activities that can jeopardize a nonprofit organization’s tax-exempt status, including political activity, lobbying and straying from the organization’s stated purpose.
But ideology is not on the IRS’s list, said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, which represents university presidents. Any review of a school’s status would have to follow previously established guidelines, he said.
“It’s always deeply troubling to have the president single out schools, colleges or universities in a tweet,” Hartle said. “Having said that, I don’t think anything will come of this quickly.”
In his latest threat, Trump revived his oft-repeated claim that universities are bastions of liberalism that stifle conservative ideas. He used the same argument last year when he issued an executive order telling colleges to ensure free speech on campuses or lose federal research funding.
His interest in colleges’ finances appears to have been renewed as several schools sue the Trump administration over new restrictions on international students. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued to block the policy earlier this week, followed by Johns Hopkins University on Friday. The University of California system has said it also plans to sue.
The universities are challenging new guidance issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement saying international students cannot stay in the U.S. if they take all their classes online this fall. The policy has been viewed as an attempt to force the nation’s universities to resume classroom instruction this fall.
Under the rules, international students must transfer schools or leave the country if their colleges plan to hold instruction entirely online. Even if their schools offer a mix of online and in-person classes, foreign students would be forbidden from taking all their courses remotely.
The lawsuit from Harvard and MIT argue that the policy breaks from a promise ICE made in March to suspend limits around online education “for the duration of the emergency.”
Until Friday, Trump had mostly focused his efforts on reopening elementary and secondary schools as millions of parents wait to find out if their children will be in school this fall. He has insisted that they can open safely, and in a Friday tweet argued that virtual learning has been “terrible” compared with in-person instruction.
“Not even close! Schools must be open in the Fall. If not open, why would the Federal Government give Funding? It won’t!!!” he wrote. Trump issued a similar warning on Twitter on Wednesday, saying other nations had successfully opened schools and that a fall reopening is “important for the children and families. May cut off funding if not open!”
Trump has not said what funding he would withhold or under what authority. But White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany has said the president wants to use future coronavirus relief funding as leverage. McEnany said Trump wants to “substantially bump up money for education” in the next relief package, but only for schools that reopen.
“He is looking at potentially redirecting that to make sure it goes to the student,” McEnany said at a Wednesday press briefing. She added that the funding would be “tied to the student and not to a district where schools are closed.”
But Trump’s control over school funding is limited. The vast majority of funding for public elementary and secondary schools comes from state and local sources, and nonprofit colleges are more likely to rely on tuition or state aid than federal money.
His threats to withhold funding have been denounced by a growing array of education and health groups, including a medical association that the White House has repeatedly cited in its press to reopen schools.
In a joint statement with national education unions and a superintendents group, the American Academy of Pediatrics on Friday said decisions should be made by health experts and local leaders. The groups argued that schools will need more money to reopen safely during the coronavirus pandemic and that cuts could ultimately harm students.
“Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics,” the groups wrote. “Withholding funding from schools that do not open in person full-time would be a misguided approach, putting already financially strapped schools in an impossible position that would threaten the health of students and teachers.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics has supported a fall reopening, saying in June guidelines that schools should strive to start the academic year with their students “physically present in school.” Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and McEnany have repeatedly, and as recently as Wednesday, cited the group in defense of Trump’s approach.
But Friday’s statement acknowledged that it may be best for some schools to stay online. School leaders, health experts, teachers and parents should be at the center of reopening decisions, the groups said, “taking into account the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and the capacities of school districts to adapt safety protocols to make in-person learning safe and feasible.”
Some districts have already announced plans for only a partial reopening, with a mix of in-person and online instruction. New York City’s public school district, the nation’s largest, said students will be in classrooms two or three times a week and learn remotely between. DeVos has opposed that kind of approach, saying it fails students and taxpayers.
Central Okanagan Public School releases first survey results from transportation review
Along with extra funding for bylaw and recreation staffing, the 2020 budget will see the city continuing with an infrastructure catch-up program to make up for Vernon’s lack of investment in replacing aging equipment in the past.
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Vernon is currently eight years into what is expected to be a 10-year catch-up program, which the mayor said is already paying off.
Lib Dem leader said leaders should be ‘very careful’ about relationship with US president, ahead of his arrival for Nato
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Parties attack Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage over Donald Trump ties
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published a briefing on the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat plans for local government funding. This is not an issue that has attracted much attention in the campaign so far, but it deserves some focus because councils provide vital services – and the gap between what’s on offer from the Tories and Labour is vast.
Although the Conservatives claim to be a low-tax party, under their plans it is more likely that council tax would have to rise, the IFS suggests.
The money allocated by the Conservatives would not be sufficient to meet rising costs and demands over the next parliament even if council tax were increased by 4% a year, necessitating a further retrenchment in services or unfunded top-ups to the plans set out.
The Labour party has allocated more than enough money to meet rising costs and demands, allowing increases in service provision and quality, although not enough to restore them to 2010 levels. That is true even if council tax were frozen – although Labour has no plans for such a freeze.
In her BBC phone-in Nicola Sturgeon said she would like to see the SNP represented in the talks with the EU that would take place if Labour formed a government and negotiated a new Brexit deal. This issue came up in response to a question about fishing. Asked if the SNP would want to have someone negotiating alongside Labour on this, Sturgeon replied:
I want to make sure, in any of these discussions, the interests of the fishing industry were absolutely paramount, and that’s a commitment I would make on behalf of the SNP.
I think Scotland should be at the table in any of these discussions, all of the time, rather than being shut out by Westminster. And fishing is an example of the particular interests we have that mean that we should be much more represented.
Proposals by the European Union to establish a “carbon border tax” will damage the global community’s willingness to take joint action against climate change, China said on Wednesday.
The EU’s new climate commissioner Frans Timmermans said in October that research would begin on the new tax, which is aimed at protecting European firms from unfair competition by raising the cost of products from countries that fail to take adequate action against climate change.
At a briefing on Wednesday, Zhao Yingmin, China’s vice environment minister, warned Europe’s proposals, together with the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement, would seriously harm international efforts to tackle global warming.
“We need to send a strong political signal to uphold multilateralism,” he said. “We need to prevent unilateralism and protectionism from hurting global growth expectations and the will of countries to combat climate change together.”
Any border tax would probably increase the price of Chinese goods in the European market, and Beijing believes it would violate a core principle of the Paris agreement on climate change, which says richer countries should bear the greater responsibility for cutting emissions.
Carbon trading platform
As part of its national commitments to the fight against global warming, China – the world’s largest emitter of climate warming greenhouse gas – has pledged to bring its emissions to a peak by “around 2030”.
As part of its national commitments to the fight against global warming, China has pledged to bring its emissions to a peak by ‘around 2030’ [Ng Han Guan/AP]
It has also cut levels of carbon intensity – the amount produced per unit of economic growth – by 48.5 percent from 2005 to 2018, two years ahead of schedule, Zhao said.
Landmark UN climate report warns time quickly running out
But the United States says the Paris accord is unfair to US firms because it does not do enough to tackle emissions from competitors in China and India.
China’s total annual emissions stood at around 14 gigatonnes in 2018, according to a study published by the United Nations this week, more than twice the US level. China’s per capita emissions are around the same as Japan and the European Union.
China was also making progress on its long-awaited efforts to build a nationwide carbon trading platform, Li Gao, head of the climate change office at the environment ministry, told the briefing, although he did not give a timeframe.
China pledged to launch the platform in 2017 as part of its Paris commitments, but it has faced a series of technical difficulties.