Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Morning Has Broken, pet peeve

 Something that damages my enjoyment of the song "Morning Has Broken" is when people pronounce what should be re-creation (creating again) like recreation, like playing badminton. It trivializes the mood of the song.

They tried to get Trump to care about right-wing terrorism. He ignored them.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/26/trump-domestic-extemism-homeland-security-401926


By BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN
08/26/2020 04:30 AM EDT
 

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Neumann was DHS’s assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy at the time, handling counterterrorism work from the Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters. In M├ílaga, a history-drenched resort town on Spain’s Costa del Sol that once marked the fault line between the Muslim and Christian worlds, she and her counterparts from scores of countries spent long hours talking about the terrorism threats that concerned them most. After a while, she began to see a pattern: Though concerns about instability in the Middle East dominated most public discussions on counterterrorism, about 80 percent of the leaders at the conference ranked far-right extremism among their top concerns.

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For Neumann, her nightmare scenario of globalized white supremacist terrorism was coming to life. Meanwhile, the U.S. government was doing far too little about its own homegrown extremists — often "lone wolves" radicalized online by white supremacist websites and fueled by hostility toward immigrants and minorities. But White House officials didn’t want to talk about the rising domestic extremist threat or even use the phrase “domestic terrorism.” The administration’s relentless, single-minded focus on immigration enforcement — coupled with nonstop turnover on the National Security Council — constantly pulled senior DHS leadership away from everything else. And her ultimate boss, President Donald Trump, was part of the problem.

This story is based on background and on-record interviews with current and former law enforcement officials, inside and outside DHS. It includes, for the first time, detailed comments from two top former political appointees in the department who tried to tackle the problem before giving up on the Trump administration. Frustrated by the president’s failure to act, they are actively supporting his opponent.

“At least in this [Trump] administration,” Neumann said, “there’s not going to be anything substantive done on domestic terrorism.”

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The month after the El Paso and Dayton shootings, on Sept. 20, 2019, acting DHS Secretary McAleenan signed off on a strategic framework on terrorism and targeted violence. Neumann helmed the work drafting the document. McAleenan had previously ordered an immediate review of the department’s domestic terrorism efforts when he became its acting chief, and had tasked its Homeland Security Advisory Council with specifically looking into protecting houses of worship. He recognized domestic terror was a significant emerging threat and that the department needed to shift to respond to it, former DHS official Andrew Meehan said.

“White supremacist violent extremism, one type of racially- and ethnically-motivated violent extremism, is one of the most potent forces driving domestic terrorism,” the McAleenan framework document read.


The new strategic framework also promised that DHS would begin releasing a yearly State of the Homeland Threat Assessment document. Eleven months later, the first such briefing has yet to materialize. 

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John Cohen, the department’s former counterterrorism coordinator, said DHS could bring tremendous expertise and capabilities to the effort to fight domestic terror.

“The challenge is bringing those resources together in a cohesive, coordinated, and comprehensive way,” he added.

And, he said, the president isn’t making it easy.

“Law enforcement officials are concerned that the political rhetoric used by the president to inspire his political base has been viewed by some violent white supremacists as a call to violent action, and has been viewed by a number of mentally unwell, violence-prone individuals as permission to engage in acts of violence,” he added.

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One state law enforcement official, who requested anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the intelligence products DHS sends to its state and local partners emphasize the threat from left-wing extremists significantly more than the threat from right-wing extremists––and disproportionately so. Left-wing extremists have caused numerous problems and hurt police, the state official continued. “But none of them have been killed,” the official said. “But when we look at the far right, we’ve seen numerous attacks where cops have been killed.”

“I would expect at least a balanced production between far left and far right extremists,” the official continued.

The official also said he got much more helpful information on threats from the far right from the Anti-Defamation League than from DHS — particularly its material on Boogaloo, a coterie of extremists trying to incite a race war.

“They only have a handful of analysts at the ADL, and their handful of analysts put together a better product that the entire DHS,” the official said. 

Earlier in the Trump administration, DHS’s intelligence arm disbanded a group of analysts focused on domestic terrorism

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The Center for Strategic and International Studies — a centrist Washington think tank known for its focus on international affairs and defense technology — released a briefing in June of this year concluding that the most significant terror threat to the U.S. appears to come from white supremacists. Right-wing extremists were responsible for two-thirds of terror attacks and plots in the U.S. last year, it found, and for 90 percent in the first four months of 2020.

Neumann left the department in April. Last week, she endorsed Joe Biden for president. Taylor and Mitnick have endorsed Biden as well.

“The good news is, the people who have been given the charge to protect the country — even the career officials who folks think are the deep state — they passionately care about their jobs and are going to do whatever it takes to protect the country,” she said. 


The richest 1 percent dodge taxes on more than one-fifth of their income, study shows

I suggest reading the whole article.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/26/wealthy-tax-evasion/

 

By Christopher Ingraham
March 26, 2021 at 7:08 a.m. EDT 


The richest Americans are hiding more than 20 percent of their earnings from the Internal Revenue Service, according to a comprehensive new estimate of tax evasion, with the top 1 percent of earners accounting for more than a third of all unpaid federal taxes.

That’s costing the federal government roughly $175 billion a year in revenue, according to the findings by a team of economists from academia and the IRS.

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The researchers say that years of IRS funding cuts, combined with the increased sophistication of tax evasion tactics available to the rich, have made shirking tax obligations easier than ever. And they say that these estimates probably understate the true extent of tax evasion at the top of the income spectrum.

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But the new study finds that even the IRS’s standard corrections underestimate the true extent of tax evasion among the rich.

The researchers were able to demonstrate this after the IRS and Justice Department initiated a crackdown on tax evasion in 2008. That effort led to the creation of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, which allowed taxpayers to disclose previously hidden offshore assets and pay a penalty in exchange for immunity from prosecution. According to the IRS, tens of thousands of taxpayers took advantage of the program before it shut down in 2018.

Hundreds of those taxpayers, as it turns out, had also been randomly audited before the creation of the program. The researchers matched those audits with the subsequent disclosures, and found that IRS auditors missed the offshore assets roughly 93 percent of the time.

These riches sheltered overseas, moreover, were concentrated almost exclusively among the very top earners.

The study also uncovered evidence of widespread underreporting of income among proprietors of pass-through businesses, whose revenue is taxed on their owners’ returns. “Up to 35% of the income earned at the top is not comprehensively examined in the context of random audits,” the authors found.

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Since 2010, total funding for the IRS fell by about 20 percent, according to recent congressional testimony by IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. The number of enforcement staff employed by the agency fell 30 percent over the same period.

Those staffing cuts have, in turn, driven a sharp drop in audit rates, especially for wealthy taxpayers. In the mid-2010s, close to 30 percent of the returns of the richest 0.01 percent of taxpayers — those earning at least $10 million a year — were typically audited. By 2019, that number had fallen to well under 10 percent.

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