International study finds consistent change in biodiversity rather than systematic loss.

April 18th, 2014

UniStAndrews

New research challenges understanding of biodiversity crisis

International study finds consistent change in biodiversity rather than systematic loss.

A University of St Andrews study has found that, despite fears of a biodiversity crisis, there has in fact NOT been a consistent drop in numbers of species found locally around the world.

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Instead, in a study of 100 communities and a total of 35,000 species that span from trees to starfish, scientists found a consistent change in which species are found in any one place.

The researchers, who were surprised by the findings, say that the study should not detract from the threat many of the world’s species are under, but that policy-makers should focus on changes in biodiversity composition as well as loss.

The findings, published by the leading journal Science this week, are the result of research led by Dr Maria Dornelas and Professor Anne Magurran of the Centre for Biological Diversity and Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews.

An international research team studied over 6 million observations in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats from the poles to the equator. Instead of finding a loss in biodiversity, they discovered that the species inhabitance of different locations has been systematically changing over time.

Dr Dornelas said, “Contrary to expectations, we did not observe consistent loss of species through time – indeed we found as many surveys with a systematic loss as well as gain in the number of species recorded through time. This is surprising given current concerns of a biodiversity crisis and abnormally high extinction rates.”

The team studied everything from trees, birds and mammals, to fish and invertebrates.

Professor Magurran commented, “We observed consistent change in species composition of communities. This surprising finding could be due largely to invasive species, which have been rapidly spreading around the globe, and the shifting ranges of species in response to climate change.”

The study was carried out in collaboration with Nick Gotelli (University of Vermont, USA) and Brian McGill (University of Maine, USA). The research was funded by the European Research Council project BioTIME.

Vermont’s Nick Gotelli, along with the other report authors, was keen to emphasise that the ‘findings do not negate the fact that many of the world’s species and habitats are under grave threat.’ He added, “What we do suggest is that scientists and policymakers should expand the focus of conservation science and planning to cover biodiversity change as well as loss.”

Fellow US scientist Brian McGill concluded, “Conservation scientists will need to shift from just talking about how many species are found in a place to talking about which species are found in a place. Put simply, species composition changed more often than species number, and these kinds of changes should be a focus for future study.”

The findings are published by Science on Friday 18 April.

Government’s retirement life expectancy guidance is “dangerously generic”

April 18th, 2014

woolencoffins

When You Cost Too Much You Gotta Go - Coalition Cutting Costs

Government plans announced today to include life expectancy estimates as part of new point-of-retirement financial guidance have been slammed as “well-intentioned but dangerously generic” by deVere United Kingdom’s Head of Financial Planning.

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Kevin White’s comments follow the Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, confirming in an interview that savers on the cusp of retirement will be provided with a life expectancy guide with the aim of helping them to make more informed financial decisions.

 

He explains: “Whilst any initiative that encourages people to think more carefully about their long-term financial requirements in retirement must be welcomed, there are also real concerns that this life expectancy table could be, whilst well intentioned, dangerously generic.

 

“The worry is that some individuals could overly rely upon this one-size-fits-all guidance, rather than making a more considered, bespoke planning approach to their finances before and during their retirement.

 

“For example, if someone has £100,000 and they buy an annuity and receive £500 per month, but this table suggests that they will live for another decade, then there could be the temptation to spend £10,000 a year, and have nothing remaining should they be fortunate to live for another 10 years.”

 

He continues: “My concern is there is a risk that what the Government is proposing might unintentionally lead some people to mistakenly believe that they are fully informed to make the right decisions for their retirement based on generic guidance.

 

“In my view, what is going to be provided is akin to Googling a serious health issue, rather than seeing a doctor.

 

“With all retirement planning matters the stakes are high and all encompassing for individuals and their families not to seek professional independent advice.

 

“In short, I would urge anyone not to exclusively rely upon general financial guidance.”

Jenny Beth Martin Responds to new IRS Revelations

April 18th, 2014

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Today, Tea Party Patriots Co-Founder Jenny Beth Martin is responding to revelations of just how far the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) went in targeting conservative groups. Not only did IRS officials subject tea party groups to increased scrutiny, they also apparently colluded with the Department of Justice in an effort to pursue investigations of these groups, despite having zero evidence of criminal activity. The IRS’ actions are tantamount to bullying and intimidation, and the American people won’t stand for it any longer. See Martin’s full statement below.

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In Liberty,

Tea Party Patriots National Support Team

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2014

Statement by Jenny Beth Martin on New IRS Revelations

WOODSTOCK, GA -- Tea Party Patriots Co-Founder Jenny Beth Martin today issued the following statement in response to the recent revelations on the extent of the targeting of tea party groups by the IRS.

"On Wednesday, we saw another example of how the Obama administration has turned government ‘Of the People’ upside-down.

"Instead of the Department of Justice investigating the IRS targeting of innocent Americans, we learned they were preparing to investigate groups like ours with absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing. And where there is evidence of a crime at the IRS, the Justice Department isn’t interviewing Tea Party Patriots or other victims of IRS abuse. Instead, there’s collusion with Senate Democrats and the IRS to find ways to prosecute innocent Americans. The DoJ should change its name to the Department of Injustice. It is unjust and unfair.

"How far would Lois Lerner, the IRS and the Obama administration go to silence groups like Tea Party Patriots and others with whom they disagree? They targeted us with intimidation and delays, and now we learn they contemplated prosecuting us. When the congressional recess is over and Congress reconvenes, we demand a vote of the entire Congress on whether to hold Lois Lerner in contempt. Americans deserve to know where their elected representatives stand on IRS abuse.

"Americans also deserve to know what other actions the IRS has taken in its efforts to deprive citizens of their First Amendment rights. That’s why Tea Party Patriots filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, asking the court to force the IRS to let taxpayers see for themselves the information about what their government is doing to subvert their personal freedoms and place limits on their First Amendment rights to free speech.

"We will not be bullied or threatened into silence. We will continue to speak out. This kind of abuse of power and government overreach is why the modern day Tea Party movement started, and we will continue to stand for personal freedom until those in Washington learn to cherish it again. We thank the group Judicial Watch for their research and hard work in looking for the truth."

Tea Party Patriots is a national grassroots coalition with more than 3,400 locally organized chapters and more than 15 million supporters nationwide. Tea Party Patriots is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the principles of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets. Visit Tea Party Patriots online at www.TeaPartyPatriots.org.

Farage puts fear of God into Cameron

April 17th, 2014

NigelArmsSlider

As Cameron tries to put God into politics and himself as the One and True Profit for big business and vested interests ( Prophets of the World Unite), its all because Farage and Ukip have put the fear of God into Cameron.

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Wreck removal convention to threaten Coalition?

April 16th, 2014

Cameron

"How will I manage if I lose my free house and the £6000 a month I make renting my own house out? "Clueless" Cameron, part leader of the Coalition wreckage

Does the new wreck removal convention threaten the British Coalition Government?

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Under new international conventions, "Clueless" Cameron and "Calamity" Clegg could be liable if they fail to remove the wreck of the Coalition Government. It is soon to be obligatory to locate and remove all wrecks.

The Coalition may not be able to rust on for another twelve months.

Breaking: Tea Party Patriots Files Lawsuit Against IRS

April 16th, 2014

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Today, Tea Party Patriots filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia against the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Treasury. The suit aims to force the release of documents pertaining to the IRS’ proposed burdensome regulations on 501c4 organizations. Tea Party Patriots believes in transparency and the rule of law across all levels of the federal government. The American people have the right to know why the IRS is trying to impose stricter regulations on non-profit groups, and the process by which it does so. See the full press release below.

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April 15, 2014

Tea Party Patriots Sues IRS and Treasury for Documents Regarding 501(c)4 Regulations

Lawsuit Seeks Documents on Lois Lerner, Administration's Secret Planning to Impose Restrictions on Citizens Speech; Plans Additional Demands for Information Regarding IRS Attempts to Revise and Reissue Speech Restrictions

WOODSTOCK, GA -- Tea Party Patriots today filed a lawsuit in US District Court for the District of Columbia against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Treasury, asking the court to force the release of documents shedding light on the agency’s proposal for burdensome regulations for 501c4 citizens groups, and the roles played by former IRS official Lois Lerner and other Administration officials in developing the regulations.

“Americans deserve to know the truth about how the IRS is trying to deprive us and other citizens of our First Amendment rights to free speech. Citizens shouldn't have to go to court to find out what sort of secret activities their government is up to,” said Tea Party Patriots Co-Founder Jenny Beth Martin. “It’s truly shameful; President Obama promised a transparent government but instead, people have to file lawsuits just to learn the truth.” Tea Party Patriots was among those groups targeted by the IRS for intimidation and delaying the group's application for tax-exempt status and will be directly impacted by the proposed regulations.

"With Monday's announcement that the IRS may issue revised regulations for groups such as Tea Party Patriots, getting to the origin of the Administration's plans to muzzle us becomes even more urgent," continued Mrs. Martin. "We plan to submit a new FOIA request this week to learn what has transpired behind the scenes since the proposed rules were first issued, and to add new claims to our lawsuit if the IRS and Treasury continue to ignore our requests for information."

The suit seeks documents relating to the IRS’s “Guidance for Tax Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities,” announced November 29, 2013. To date, the IRS has refused to provide any documents to Tea Party Patriots, which first requested them on December 10, 2013 under the Freedom of Information Act.

“The Proposed Regulations would impose significant burdens and restrictions on the First Amendment activities, speech, and associational rights of every social welfare organization in America,” the suit alleges, arguing that Tea Party Patriots and the public have the right to see any documents related to the IRS proposal. The propose rulemaking resulted in more than 150,000 public comments, which IRS officials described as a record number of responses to a proposed regulation.

The lawsuit makes note of IRS communications released by the House Ways and Means Committee and charges that, “high ranking individuals within the Treasury and the IRS began as early as June 2012 to develop new regulations “off plan” and in secret.” The suit specifically references email about the new regulations from Treasury Official Ruth Madrigal to Lois Lerner, the embattled former head of exempt organizations at the IRS who has been referred to the Justice Department for criminal investigation and has been found in contempt of Congress for her role in the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Monday the IRS is likely rewriting the proposed regulations to be reissued at some point.

"The IRS is continuing to scheme behind closed doors to restrict our First Amendment rights. Tea Party Patriots intends to continue to force the IRS and the Obama Administration to comply with the law, to come out of the darkness and to conduct this process in the light of day," concluded Mrs. Martin.

Tea Party Patriots is a national grassroots coalition with more than 3,400 locally organized chapters and more than 15 million supporters nationwide. Tea Party Patriots is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the principles of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets. Visit Tea Party Patriots online at www.TeaPartyPatriots.org.

Americans want the income tax gone!

April 16th, 2014

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The American people are fed up. The IRS has become an out of control, hyper-partisan, left-wing bureaucracy.

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The income tax is unwieldy and unfair.
It’s time for serious reform!

Please make a special generous contribution of $10, $15, $25, $50, or whatever you can afford right away to the national Tea Party campaign to repeal the 16th Amendment.

Right now Representative Jim Bridenstine’s amendment to repeal the 16th Amendment and abolish the income tax is picking up cosponsors.

But left-wing Democrats and establishment Republicans are blocking a vote in the House.

The liberals love the income tax because it is so grossly unfair to productive Americans.

And Ruling Class Republicans are defending it because lobbyists for special interest groups are showering them with campaign cash.

That’s why the Tea Party movement’s efforts to pass this amendment to repeal the income tax are so incredibly important.

We must lead a massive national grassroots revolt for serious tax reform!

However, that won’t be easy - or cheap.

So, we’re turning to you.

Please make the very best contribution you can right now.

Congressman’s Bridenstine’s amendment, H.J. Res 104, is popular with the American people. They are fed up with the IRS and this insane tax code.

If we can just rally enough taxpayers around this issue, we know we can garner enough support for it in the House.

Our goal is to organize local Tea Party groups across the country to personally lobby their elected representatives.

We want groups of fed-up taxpayers to visit Congressional district offices and DEMAND a vote on Representative Bridenstine’s historic amendment.

Already we’ve distributed Tax Day information packets to hundreds of local groups.

Americans are signing our national Repeal the 16th Amendment petition by the tens of thousands.

And all across the nation, Tea Party activists will host tax-day house parties to educate their neighbors, friends, and family members on the history of this horrible big government bureaucracy.

However, we need the funds to continue building this massive grassroots effort.

We must run ads, set up phone banks, and host rallies around the nation.

That’s why we need your help now more than ever.

Please donate what you can right now.

Thank you in advance for all your help.

Donate Now!

Sincerely,

 

Tea Party Patriots National Support Team

Osborne’s admirable tax cuts plans are supported by flawed research

April 14th, 2014

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Good Ideas - Badly Planned

14 April 2014

 

The methodology behind a Treasury report published today by George Osborne with the aim of highlighting the economic advantages of tax cuts while borrowing remains high, has been slammed as “utterly flawed”, by a leading economics expert.

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The comments from Tom Elliott, international strategist at deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory groups, follow the Chancellor releasing joint research from the Treasury and HMRC in which ‘dynamic scoring’ is used. This method accounts for growth created by tax cuts.

 

Mr Elliott observes: “Dynamic scoring is utterly flawed as it is impossible to separate cause and effect. It should be noted that even the authors of this report don’t know if they have discovered anything meaningful.

 

“This is part of a general tendency of the economics profession over the last 40 years to imagine that economics is a pure science, that it just needs to discover the right equations to discover how everything fits together. Economics is messy; too many unknown variables get in the way of neat models.”

 

He continues: “However, this is not to deny the Chancellor’s overarching message that any reduction in tax on business will spur activity and encourage business investment.

 

“Yet Mr Osborne needs to be more modest about what can and cannot be quantified if he is to accurately articulate the philosophy to his party and the electorate that by increasing financial choice, opportunity and responsibility, we will become a more prosperous country.

 

“Rather than using ‘dynamic scoring’, or other questionable methodologies to demonstrate his admirable message, I would urge the Chancellor to employ alternative tactics, such as the use of examples from recent economic history. For example, a very low tax environment is what made Hong Kong such a powerful economic force in the decades up to the hand-over.

 

“Unreliable research, such as that hailed by Mr Osborne today, could undo some of the important intellectual work he’s recently accomplished in presenting the case that, in general terms, individuals and businesses are better at investing money than government.”

Sexminster Capital of Political Scandals

April 14th, 2014

PalaceOfWestminsterRiverView

The wonder is - where do MPs find time to do the day job?

As the former Commons Deputy Speaker is found not guilty of homosexual rape, another Westminster sex scandal surfaces, raising many questions about the three old failed British political Parties and the system of Justice.

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Two questions may have been answered by the most recent Westminster sex scandals.

1. Voters were mystified by "Clueless" Cameron's priorities, passing gay marriage laws. The Blair Brown Regime frequently claimed that between 12% and 17% of the British population was homosexual and obviously believed their own claims. The National Census produced a figure of 1%. Exactly were the figure really lies is debatable but is probably much less than 5%. Westminster politicians have been trying to win the believed 17% votes. Many voters may wonder why MPs believe the 17% figure or claim even higher percentages. The trial of the former Deputy Speaker and subsequent revelations may provide the answer. It appears that between 20% and 24% of current Members of Parliament are homosexual and homosexual orgies are commonplace, with at least one of these orgies apparently having been paid for from public funds.

2. Voters were mystified when leading Labour and LibDem politicians were keen to reduce the age of sexual consent to 6 yrs old. Cynics suggested that this was a policy to dramatically reduce paedophile prosecutions, many of which involved Labour and LibDem politicians and supporters. The detailed revelations about the late LibDem MP Cyril Smith may provide some answers. That Smith had been a long term paedophile and sexual predator had been common knowledge for years and the main surprise was how he managed to avoid prosecution. It now emerges that he was protected by the Establishment, involving the security services and senior politicians in the Lib Dem and Labour Parties, with a suggestion that leading Conservatives may also have been involved. This matches revelations about the late Jimmy Saville and implies a widespread conspiracy in the Establishment to protect and nurture a homosexual and paedophile community at the heart of the Establishment, with the active involvement of police officers and security service personnel. From information continuing to surface, it would appear that this is a long term conspiracy going back for decades and raises some questions about the evidence used to get a LibDem Party Leader off an attempted murder charge involving a former homosexual lover.

There are many new questions raised by disclosures.

1. Why are MPs not acting to end sexual harassment at work? It is difficult to be certain how widespread the homosexual harassment of employees by MPs may be at Westminster but it seems clear that this is not a rare event.

2. Why should voters ever again trust the three old failed Parties as scandal follows scandal with sexual and criminal offences commonplace? Not only are MPs casually disregarding the law and seeking powers to muzzle the press to conceal their excesses, but they are arrogant in the process and determined to cling to office, as in the recent Miller scandal.

3. If voter revulsion sweeps Ukip to power, will this untainted Party be prepared to introduce, with urgency, legislation and practices to stamp out corruption in public office? To his credit, Ukip leader Farage has already committed to a Recall power that would ensure MPs involved in serious acts could be forced to resign, triggering a by-election. From recent sex and fraud scandals, it is also obvious that MPs expenses should be thoroughly reviewed, possibly cancelled, but, where some expenses are permitted, a completely independent accounting and enforcement system introduced. In fairness to some MPs, the current expenses system is so complex and generous that it is possible for genuine errors to be made by claimants, although in many of those instances, the MPs do not seem to have a very reliable moral compass. One potential approach would be to provide basic appartments for all MPs who live in Constituencies more than a certain distance/travel time from Westminster, possibly also providing very basic accomodation for all other MPs in the event of a late night session. The provision of staff for secretarial and research services would remove the need to pay allowances for MPs to hire their own staff, ending the anomalies of MPs employing relatives and friends who do not appear to work for the money. That would dramatically reduce the need for expenses claims and effective independent monitoring and approval of the remaining justified claims would restore public confidence and reduce fraud.

There are many new questions raised by the system of Justice.

1. The former Deputy Speaker has been found not guilty of a series of charges relating to homosexual acts. Some may feel that although he was found not guilty of committing a crime, he was guilty of unwise and unethical behaviour. The result is that he has been brought to reputational and financial bankruptcy by the charges brought by the Crown Prosecution Service on what appears to have been the flimsiest of evidence. The suspicion is that the CPS and the police have become addicted to celebrity prosecution, partly in an attempt to divert attention from their dramatic failures over the Saville and Smith paedophile scandals where both criminals are now dead and beyond prosecution.

2. This raises the question about who should bear the legal costs when any trial fails. In a civil trial, the victor can claim repayment of all his/her legal costs. The courts may decide to award costs in full, or to withhold repayment of some of the fees. In a civil case, probability is accepted and a win may not be a complete win, the court deciding that some blame may attach to the winner, or find partly in favour. In a criminal prosecution, guilt must be beyond reasonable doubt and each charge must be found for or against with the theory that the charged is innocent unless proven guilty. That places the onus on the prosecution to prove guilt. If guilt is not proven, the accused maintains innocence and therefore should not have to bear any costs. The law should therefore automatically ensure that the innocent do not have to carry an legal costs in maintaining their innocence. However, there will still be other potential costs. In the case of the former Deputy Speaker, he stood down to fight to maintain his innocence and has therefore lost a job and its remuneration. That applies to many who are charged with a crime of which they are judged not guilty. Even after successfully defending themselves, those prosecuted may suffer continuing losses for years to come. The risks may be greater for those in the public eye and all those caught up in the Saville witch hunt, but found not guilty, have suffered to a greater degree than may be typical for those who are not in the public eye before being charged. Difficult questions to address but never-the-less they are questions that should be address urgently and may require a major overhaul of the police service and the prosecution service.

The battle for financial education in England’s schools is “only half won”

April 14th, 2014

Cameron

Cameron still clueless

14 April 2014

 

The campaign for financial education to be included on England’s national curriculum has “only been half won,” according to the Head of UK Financial Planning at one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.

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Whilst deVere United Kingdom’s Kevin White acknowledges that “it is a victory for common sense” that from September it will be a compulsory component of the English national curriculum, he has still has “lingering doubts” about the extent and effectiveness of the classes.

 

He comments: “deVere Group has campaigned intensively for years on this issue and was, therefore, delighted by the Department for Education’s decision last autumn to formally and officially educate children in England on financial matters.

 

“The move is certainly a step in the right direction. It is a victory for common sense that will hopefully benefit individuals and the wider British economy in generations to come.

 

“However, although it has been widely applauded - and rightly so – campaigners, proponents and supporters must remember that the battle has only been half won. We have plenty more to do in this area. Indeed, the real fight starts now to ensure the success of this initial step and to remove any lingering doubts regarding its true value and effectiveness.”

 

The compulsory financial education lessons that have been included in the final version of the national curriculum for 2014/15 will involve ‘financial numeracy’ being taught in mathematics, and ‘money management’, which will include personal debt and public finances, being taught in citizenship classes.

 

Mr White continues: “Our main concern is that only around half of all children are in schools which follow the national curriculum, meaning 50 per cent of children in England will still not necessarily receive any formal financial education.

 

“With this in mind, we need to now focus our attention on the academies and free schools. We’re urging the head teachers and teachers of these schools to appreciate and value, as those who teach the national curriculum have now done, the vital importance of focused financial education in today’s world.

 

“Financially speaking, the world has changed in recent years, and it is continuing to evolve at an incredible rate. It would be a massive disservice to our children not to teach them ‘money’.”

 

deVere United Kingdom’s Head of UK Financial Planning adds: “The other key area of concern about the forthcoming national curriculum inclusion regards the allocation of time and resources to this critical area.

 

“Financial education will not be a standalone subject, but will instead be included within other subjects – maths and citizenship – which both, understandably, already have full syllabuses. As such, will financial planning matters be given the credence they truly merit?

 

“Campaigners should, if possible, next focus on financial education becoming a subject in its own right.”

 

For the last three years, deVere Group’s founder and chief executive, Nigel Green, has publicly lobbied the government to offer financial planning classes in schools, alongside more traditional subjects such as English, mathematics and science.

 

He argued: “Planning for your future financial security is a fundamental life skill that is consistently overlooked.”

 

Earlier this month, the Department for Education issued a letter to deVere United Kingdom thanking the firm for its “keen interest in the educational wellbeing of children and young people” and for “sharing experiences.”