Tag: News

Society condemns ‘special tax on legal profession’ | News

Government plans for a levy to fund the fight against financial crime amount to a ‘special tax on the legal profession’, the Law Society said today. In a strongly-worded response to a consultation on the economic crime levy announced by the chancellor earlier this year, Chancery Lane said any levy based on income would be especially harmful to the profession.

‘The legal profession is fully committed to supporting the fight against economic crime and takes anti-money laundering responsibilities very seriously,’ outgoing Law Society president Simon Davis said. ‘Law firms already play an important role in tackling money laundering, as demonstrated by the substantial costs and resources allocated by the profession to comply with its anti-money laundering (AML) and financial crime obligations.’

He noted that further increasing the cost of doing business would hit the international competitiveness of the legal sector and the willingness of law firms to invest in the UK.

‘With the UK in recession, the predicted future state of the economy being so uncertain and the legal sector already struggling in so many areas, imposing a tax on the profession is an unjustified step too far,’ Davis said. 

The Treasury has proposed that the economic crime levy, designed to collected £100m a year, be imposed from 2022/23. It is based on the idea that the costs of further action to tackle money laundering should not be borne solely by the general taxpayer but rather by a ‘joint public-private partnership’. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in his March budget that firms already in the ambit of money-laundering regulations should be required to pay. This would potentially affect 90,000 businesses, including many legal practices.

The consultation, on the design principles of the levy, proposed that ‘revenue from UK business should form the basis of the levy calculation’. The Law Society disagrees, saying that if the levy goes ahead it should be calculated according to the number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) that a firm submitted the previous year. This would be ‘simple, cheaper and fairer than a revenue-based levy’. However the consultation document argued that this method of calculation could incentivise non-reporting and entrench poor reporting behaviour.  

The consultation closed yesterday. The Treasury said it would announce further steps in due course.

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Evelyn Mullen named American Nuclear Society Fellow | US Department of Energy Science News

13-Oct-2020

DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

Evelyn Mullen, chief operating officer for Global Security at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was named a fellow of the American Nuclear Society.


LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 13, 2020–Evelyn Mullen, chief operating officer for Global Security at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was named a fellow of the American Nuclear Society for her leadership in nuclear national security and ensuring the nation’s experimental capability in nuclear criticality.

“For more than 25 years, Evelyn Mullen has displayed outstanding leadership in nuclear and radiological threat response,” said Nancy Jo Nicholas, associate Laboratory director for Global Security at Los Alamos. “She has provided intellectual leadership for planning and executing science and technology for nuclear nonproliferation, detection, render safe, and attribution; foreign nuclear weapon analysis; and nuclear detonation response and recovery issues. Being named an ANS Fellow is a well-deserved honor for someone who has contributed so much to the field.”

Mullen was instrumental in developing plans for new diagnostic capabilities for subcritical plutonium-integrated experiments at the Nevada National Security Site that will become operational in 2025. Furthermore, she currently leads a major effort for recovery from a radiation source accident in Seattle, Wash.

Mullen joined Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1992. She holds bachelor and master of science degrees in nuclear engineering and is a registered professional engineer in the State of New Mexico. She currently serves on the Army Science Board. Mullen has volunteered with the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation on the scholarship and grants committees for many years and is a founding member of the Legacy Society. Mullen is also a founding member of the Los Alamos Community Foundation and has been recognized by the Los Alamos Engineering Council with their community service award.

Established in 1954, the American Nuclear Society is an international professional organization of engineers and scientists devoted to the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology. Its more than 9,500 members represent government, academia, research laboratories, medical facilities, and private industry. ANS’s mission is to advance, foster, and spur the development and application of nuclear science, engineering, and technology to benefit society.


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About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is managed by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), and the Regents of the University of California (UC) for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

 

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Firm hire: Former NI Law Society president leads BLM offices | News

Insurance risk and commercial law firm BLM has appointed former president of the Law Society of Northern Ireland John Guerin as head of both the Belfast and Derry offices. 

Guerin commented: ‘Our clients’ needs are complex and have been compounded by the evolving environment in which we are all operating. I am honoured to be leading such a dedicated team that have our clients’ full confidence.’

John_Guerin

Legal expert Cormac Fitzpatrick has also been promoted to the firm’s strategy setting executive board. Fitzpatrick has overall leadership of the firm’s Irish offices working closely with the operations board, managing partner Vivienne Williams and senior partner Matthew Harrington.

The new leadership team follows the April appointments of partners Sinead Connolly and Olivia Treston as joint heads of office for Dublin.

Fitzpatrick commented: ‘As BLM and the wider law and business sectors adapt to the current challenges of the pandemic, our innovations and new leadership team position us strongly to deliver great outcomes for clients in the coming months and years.

‘Undoubtedly there have been operational challenges, however, our talented workforce has embraced our digital transformation strategy and we are confident that we will maintain momentum and our exceptional service provision across the island of Ireland in the period ahead.

BLM has seen significant business growth in its Northern Ireland office since a merger with Campbell Fitzpatrick Solicitors in 2014.

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Lebanon’s Bassil Criticises Hariri Efforts to Form Government | World News

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese Christian politician Gebran Bassil criticised Sunni former prime minister Saad al-Hariri on Tuesday for putting himself forward to lead a government that would champion a French initiative to resolve the country’s deep economic crisis.

Hariri has begun consultations with the president, parliamentary speaker and Lebanese political blocs about forming a government that would implement President Emmanuel Macron’s roadmap for reforms and unlock international aid.

He has said his mission was to form a six-month government of technocrats to rapidly carry out the reform plan set out in Macron’s initiative.

“We were not aware, and nobody informed us, that President Macron had appointed a high commissioner… to Lebanon, and made a prefect for us to oversee his initiative and the extent of its implementation,” Bassil said in a speech to supporters.

“Whoever wants to head a government of technocrats has to be a technocrat himself,” said Bassil, who heads Lebanon’s biggest Christian bloc, the Free Patriotic Movement. A former foreign minister, Bassil is also President Michel Aoun’s son-in-law.

Aoun will hold formal consultations on Thursday about nominating a prime minister to form a new government to replace Hassan Diab’s cabinet, which resigned two months ago after a powerful explosion damaged much of Beirut and killed 200 people.

Diab’s nominated replacement has been unable to form a government after the powerful Shi’ite group Hezbollah and its political allies insisted on nominating the finance minister.

Lebanon is suffering its worst financial collapse since a 1975-1990 civil war. Foreign donors have made clear there will be no fresh aid unless Lebanese leaders launch reforms to tackle graft and improve governance, and engage in IMF negotiations.

(Reporting by Samia Nakhoul and Ellen Francis, writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Indonesia Islamic Groups, Students Join Movement to Scrap Jobs Law | World News

By Yuddy Cahaya Budiman and Agustinus Beo Da Costa

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Wearing white Islamic garb and waving red and white Indonesian flags, more than 1,000 protesters from Islamic and student groups gathered in the world’s most populous Muslim nation on Tuesday to show discontent over a divisive new jobs law.

Conservative Islamic groups are among the latest to join the volatile street demonstrations, during which police fired tear gas on Tuesday to try to break up crowds, as pressure mounts on the government to repeal a law they say undermines labor rights and environmental protections.

The country’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, is among its opponents and says it favours conglomerates while “trampling” on the rights of working-class Indonesians.

Hamdan, a 53-year-old teacher who goes by one name, said he would keep protesting until the law was repealed.

“People can’t go out, some people can’t even eat and unemployment is still high,” he told Reuters in Jakarta. “Even my son still can’t find a job.”

Protests against the so-called omnibus law took place in multiple locations involving thousands of Indonesians last week, some of which saw streets blocked, tyres burned and rocks hurled, leading to more than 6,000 people being detained.

“The bill will definitely affect myself, my job, my relatives, my friends and everything,” said engineer Rafi Zakaria, 30.

“It doesn’t only affect labourers. Our students here joined the protest because they’re concerned about their parents’ jobs.”

The law, designed to reduce red tape and attract investors, has yet to be published and the unofficial versions circulating in the media and online have led to speculation and confusion.

Deputy house speaker Achmad Baidowi told Reuters the law would be sent to the president and made public on Wednesday.

The government is standing by the legislation and President Joko Widodo has blamed the public outcry on disinformation. Indonesia’s defence minister has blamed the demonstrations on “foreign interference”.

“There are those who do not want to see Indonesia as conducive to investors, and want to always benefit from that,” the ministry spokesperson, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, said, without elaborating.

(Writing by Kate Lamb; Editing by Martin Petty)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Malaysia’s Anwar Meets King in Bid to Form New Government | World News

By EILEEN NG, Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR (AP) — Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim met the nation’s king Tuesday in a bid to form a new government after claiming he had secured a majority in Parliament.

Anwar said he would present the monarch with “strong and convincing” documentary evidence of the support he has from lawmakers, which would allow him to unseat Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

But he did not speak to reporters gathered at the gate after spending about an hour at the palace, and instead his party said he will hold a hold a news conference “regarding an important announcement post-audience with His Majesty.”

Muhyiddin, who took power in March after securing enough support in Parliament to unseat Anwar’s reformist alliance, has dismissed Anwar’s claim to a majority. Muhyiddin currently boasts a slim two-seat majority and has been grappling to maintain support amid infighting in his coalition.

Allies in Muhyiddin’s ruling coalition have denied supporting Anwar, and branded Anwar a “desperado” for seeking to wrest power as the country struggles with the coronavirus.

The audience with the king was slated three weeks ago, but postponed as the king was hospitalized. Anwar has been tight-lipped and said he would only reveal details after meeting the king.

“I frankly do not think it will be a smooth and easy ride for Anwar. For one, even if the king is convinced of Anwar’s command of parliamentary majority, the king still has the alternative constitutional option of dissolving the parliament,” said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

Oh, a Malaysian, said support for Anwar could also have waned as Muhyiddin’s camp may have lured back defectors in the past three weeks.

Before leaving home Tuesday morning, Anwar tweeted a picture of himself and his wife. “Hopefully it will be a smooth affair today,” he wrote.

Anwar’s Alliance of Hope was elected in 2018 but collapsed after Muhyiddin withdrew his party and tied up with opposition parties to form a Malay-centric government in March. Then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned in protest, saying he wouldn’t work with parties accused of corruption that he ousted in the 2018 polls.

If Anwar succeeds, it will mark a dramatic comeback after his roller-coaster political journey since the 1990s.

Once a high flyer in the ruling party, Anwar was convicted of homosexual sodomy and corruption after a power struggle with Mahathir in 1998. He was imprisoned for a second time for sodomy in 2014.

Anwar and his supporters have long denied the sodomy allegations, saying they were concocted to destroy his political career.

Rather than give up, Anwar ended his feud with Mahathir from his prison cell to forge a the Alliance of Hope, which in the 2018 polls defeated the coalition that had led Malaysia for 61 years.

Mahathir became premier a second time. Anwar was freed with a royal pardon days after the polls and was Mahathir’s designated successor before their alliance fell apart.

Copyright 2020 The Associated

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Fundraisers help Friends Forever Humane Society make ends meet – News – Rockford Register Star

FREEPORT — It was a busy weekend for the volunteers and staff of Friends Forever Humane Society.

To kick things off at the shelter, there was a drive-through pumpkin purchase, complete with items to buy like pumpkins, squash, gourds, plants and fun Halloween costumes for cats and dogs.

Cars lined up in the parking lot to select the items for purchase. Everyone played it COVID-19 safe, and as she stood back to watch people purchase items or to donate money, Carol Falconer, executive director for the humane society, said, “This just makes me smile. People have been so generous to us during the pandemic, and to know we can make some money, allows us to know we can pay our electric bill.”

Kris Piper of Dakota took her time selecting just the right pumpkin. Jodie Modica, a volunteer, was patient as Piper changed her mind, and after Modica handed Piper the right pumpkin, Piper said, “I have two cats from this shelter and I like that they are a no-kill shelter. They take such great care of each animal, and I just hope more people remember them during this difficult time.”

Falconer said the year has been difficult, as the humane society has not been able to hold their many fundraisers. Money is tight. She said the annual rummage sale, which also took place on Saturday and Sunday in Cedarville, is usually a great way to know that money will come in to help get through the winter months.

Also on Saturday was a pet food giveaway, which takes place twice a month at the shelter. Falconer said she has seen an upsurge in people needing to find a way to feed their animals, and with the free pet food giveaway, it makes her feel good that animals are not going hungry.

“This weekend is our triple threat,” Falconer said. “We hope to make money through our fundraisers, and it is also a time that we can give back by giving pet food to those people who need a little help.”

The pet food giveaway is held on the second Saturday of each month from 9 to 11 a.m. The food given is often donated from people or a national retail chain that sells pet food.

“Giving pet food to people who need help is our way of making sure that the pets stay in their homes,” Falconer said. “Since COVID hit, giving pet food away has been steady. I expected an increase. It hasn’t been drastic, but is steady.”

Falconer said the shelter is in need of donations, both monetary and for gift cards from local retailers that allows them to purchase much-needed items.

“The pumpkin drive-through is a first for us, as we have had to resort to outdoor fundraising this year,” she said. “We hope to do the same thing for Christmas wreaths.

“It has been a struggle this year, and the lack of fundraisers has hurt, but we remain committed to doing what we can at

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CJ Extra: Helping Hands Humane Society’s annual fundraiser supports, helps care for animals – News – The Topeka Capital-Journal

Most events have changed in format this year because of COVID-19, and the same is true for Bone Appetit, a fundraiser that helps defray the costs of Helping Hands Humane Society while celebrating the human-animal connection.

Grace Clinton, director of business development and special events at Helping Hands Humane Society, answered questions about this year’s event.

Could you share Bone Appetit’s history along with its purpose and goals?

Since 2001, Bone Appétit has been our annual dinner and gala fundraiser to help the homeless animals in the Shawnee County community and the greater area of northeast Kansas. This essential fundraiser helps our organization care for over 6,000 animals who come through HHHS’s doors each year, and allows us to celebrate the human-animal bond with our supporters. These funds are vital to continuing our lifesaving mission.

When does this year’s event take place? How has COVID-19 changed this year’s event?

This year will be a bit different than in the past due to COVID-19 restrictions. It is most prudent to host this event virtually. While this decision was not an easy one to come to and we feel the loss of not getting to see everyone in person, we believe that community and public safety are pivotal elements in the work that we do here, and we needed to consider what would be the most prudent for our staff, volunteers and supporters. Our pets need their humans to remain well.

Additionally, COVID-19 has affected our operations tremendously. While we are very grateful for the outpouring of support from our community this year, it’s been a tough year for everyone and non-profits are no exception. We need fundraisers like this each year, even without a pandemic, but this year has proven to be particularly challenging.

The live, silent and wine auctions are some of the highlights of Bone Appétit. The auction will be hosted on a digital platform that you can access and bid from your computer, tablet or phone. Registration for this is free and the link is on our website.

During the livestream, which will take place from 7-8 p.m., you’ll hear about the progress being made to make Topeka a more humane city, as well as meet some adoptable pets and hear updates on some of the wonderful animals that your support has helped us save.

Finally, if you’d like to recreate the fun table atmosphere of our in-person gala, order a five or 10-person party pack, including a catered LaRocca’s Italian meal delivered by HHHS volunteers, a bottle of wine, and event swag bags for your guests. Register and buy your party packs on our website.

What is the admission fee? What will this fee cover?

The admission free for this year’s event is free. Anyone can watch the event on our Facebook or YouTube channels (we recommend YouTube as it allows clearer streaming), and can bid on the silent auction for free. If individuals are interested in receiving a commemorative event bag of goodies as an attendee,

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Thai Government Says ‘Can Handle’ Student-Led Protest | World News

BANGKOK (Reuters) – The Thai government said on Monday it was not concerned about a student-led demonstration on Wednesday as protest leaders sought to escalate their push to demand a new constitution and oust Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

During three months of protests, anti-government activists have also broken a taboo by calling for reforms of the powerful monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who is “enthroned in a position of revered worship” according to the constitution.

Protesters, who drew tens of thousands of people to a demonstration last month, said they planned to gather on Wednesday at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument before moving to Government House and would camp there overnight.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters that he did not expect huge turnout.

“We’re prepared and not worried,” he said. “I think we can handle it.”

The protest leaders, organising under the new banner of the People’s Movement, said their focus would be a call for constitutional changes before a parliament sitting on Nov. 1.

“We also want to oust Prayuth,” said Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, one of the leaders, adding that she expected even more people than at last month’s protest in Bangkok.

Protesters say the constitution was engineered to ensure that Prayuth, who first seized power in a 2014 coup, continued in office after an election last year. He says the election was fair.

Some protesters also want a reduction in the king’s powers to reflect Thailand’s status as a constitutional monarchy.

Raising the prospect of an encounter between the king and the protesters, his motorcade is due to pass Democracy Monument on Wednesday as he presides over a ceremony at a royal temple during a rare visit to Thailand.

Police said they would urge protesters to choose another location or at least clear the way for the motorcade.

Arnon Nampa, another of the protest leaders, said last week that demonstrators would not obstruct the motorcade but would show a three-finger salute – a symbol of resistance – if it passed by.

(Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Report card: Jacinda Ardern’s government graded on the past three years | World news

When Jacinda Ardern took over leadership of New Zealand’s Labour party less than two months before the 2017 election she had the country’s social woes firmly in her sights, blaming nine years of a National party-led government for child poverty rates and housing unaffordability. Ardern promised a government of transformation, pledging to do better on the climate crisis, tackle mental health and suicide rates, and build tens of thousands of new homes.

Her ability to respond in a crisis – such as the Christchurch terrorist attack in March 2019, the deadly volcanic eruption at Whakaari, and Covid-19 – is well-documented and has drawn global praise. But domestically, she has had a political coalition as well as a pandemic to manage: Labour has been in power along with the Greens and New Zealand First.

She promised a strong and empathetic government and a “fairer, better New Zealand”. How has her government performed on its promises of sweeping change? The Guardian asked two experts or political commentators in each field for their assessments.

The environment

Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (Kāi Tahu), a climate justice advocate, and co-founder of social impact agency Activate

Grade: C+

Her introduction was strong with Ardern proclaiming climate change her generation’s “nuclear-free moment”, but unfortunately, getting climate change on the agenda is not the same as getting outcomes. The Green party seems to be the one diligent student dragging the group across the finishing line with an ambitiously named but otherwise lacklustre Zero Carbon Act; and the government as a whole routinely ignores those communities actually at the frontline of climate and environmental destruction in favour of keeping in with the agricultural and business sectors. The one thing they have going for them is that the previous National government didn’t even turn up to class.

David Cormack, a former head of policy and communications for the Green party and co-founder of a public relations firm

Grade: B-

Passing the zero carbon bill and creating a pathway to get agriculture included in the emissions trading scheme are successes that should be praised; however the compromises with National, the centre-right opposition party, that resulted in a watered down bill has now been shown to be pointless, with National’s leader Judith Collins vowing to repeal parts of it. They should’ve just gone for it. Transport emissions are still a massive work in progress.

The Cosseys Dam in the Hunua Ranges



Auckland has suffered the worst reported drought in a quarter of a century. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Housing

Shamubeel Eaqub, a housing economist with Sense Partners

Grade: B

Housing affordability worsened: median house price has risen from 6.3 times the median household income at the last election to 6.9 now. During the previous nine years (under National) it rose from 5.5 to 6.3. The nine years before that (under Labour) it went from 3.9 to 5.5. The government did some long-term things, like building more state houses and delivering reforms on rental rules, and some ineffective things like a ban on foreign buyers. They get an F for their

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