Trump administration fires deputy at U.S.A.I.D. to keep the acting chief in top job.

first_imgUnexpectedly on Friday, the administration fired the deputy at U.S.A.I.D., which will keep her boss in power, since the move came just hours before his appointment was to expire.Two officials confirmed that the deputy administrator, Bonnie Glick, was told around 2:45 p.m. Friday that she would be out of her job at 5 p.m. Her termination came shortly after the agency’s acting administrator, John Barsa, was notified by internal lawyers that his 210-day appointment would expire at midnight Friday, and that he would go back to his previous post as an assistant administrator. Had she not been fired, Ms. Glick would have become the acting administrator.- Advertisement – Now, with Ms. Glick gone, Mr. Barsa is in line to be the acting deputy administrator — and will, in effect, run the agency, since there is no Senate-confirmed administrator. One official described it as a “Game of Thrones” move. It is not clear why the White House or State Department refused to name Ms. Glick as the agency’s acting administrator either of the times she was passed over. One of the officials said she and Mr. Barsa have not gotten along since he was given the job in April.The personnel chaos at the aid agency, which has been beset by infighting and delays in distributing coronavirus assistance worldwide, was touched off earlier Friday by a press inquiry from Devex, an online news and community forum for development workers, which had asked about Mr. Barsa’s status given that his appointment was about to expire.Ms. Glick was confirmed by unanimous consent to her post as deputy administrator of the agency in January 2019. She is a registered Republican in Maryland. In a statement, the aid agency confirmed that Friday was Ms. Glick’s last day on the job and called her “a tremendous champion of, and for, USAID.” It did not include details of her firing, and a spokeswoman declined to comment further.Mr. Barsa was a Senate-confirmed assistant administrator, overseeing Latin America policy, when the agency’s former leader, Mark Green, resigned in April.At that point, the Trump administration tapped Mr. Barsa — over Ms. Glick, who was next in line — to run the agency in a temporary capacity.- Advertisement – WASHINGTON — As the nation awaits the final tally in the presidential election, the Trump administration appears to have used a shuffling of top jobs at the United States Agency for International Development to keep a political appointee in charge of the global development organization.The move offers a possible indication that, win or lose, President Trump intends to continue to defy the usual post-election comity to muscle through his policies and appointees for as long as he can.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

The Children Never Had Covid. So Why Did They Have Coronavirus Antibodies?

first_imgThen why do we have a pandemic? Shouldn’t most of us be protected by memory cells left by other coronavirus infections? – Advertisement – Now the researchers are planning to expand their study to monitor thousands of children and adults. Some have antibodies that can block the new coronavirus in lab tests. Others do not.“If they have the pandemic strain, are they protected?” Dr. Kassiotis asked. Will they get sick, he wondered, or will the infection be all but undetectable?Dr. Elledge and his colleagues at Harvard developed their own highly specific, sensitive and exhaustive antibody test, VirScan. It is able to detect a diverse collection of antibodies with that are directed at any of more than 800 places on the new coronavirus, including the antibody that Dr. Kassiotis and his colleagues studied.After examining blood taken from 190 people before the pandemic emerged, Dr. Elledge and his colleagues concluded that many already had antibodies, including the one targeting the base of the spike — presumably from infections with related coronaviruses that cause colds.But while adults might get one or two colds a year, Dr. Elledge said, children may get up to a dozen. As a result, many develop floods of coronavirus antibodies that are present almost continuously; they may lessen cold symptoms, or even leave children with colds that are symptomless but still infectious.While adults may not have detectable coronavirus antibodies, many may be able to quickly make antibodies if they are infected with a coronavirus.In typical viral infections, the immune system pours out antibodies to fight the virus. When the infection is quelled, the antibodies, no longer needed, diminish in number. But the body is left with so-called memory cells that allow antibody production to soar rapidly if the virus tries to invade again. The Coronavirus Outbreak ›Words to Know About TestingConfused by the terms about coronavirus testing? Let us help: In a study published Friday in Science, the group, led by George Kassiotis, who heads the Retroviral Immunology Laboratory at the institute, reports that on average only 5 percent of adults had these antibodies, but 43 percent of children did.Researchers who did not participate in the study were intrigued by the finding. H. Benjamin Larman, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, called it a “well-done study that puts forward a compelling theory which is supported by their data.” While the tip of the spike is unique to the new coronavirus, the base is found in all coronaviruses, Dr. Kassiotis said. In lab tests, antibodies to the base of the spike prevented the new coronavirus from entering cells in order to reproduce. Stephen J. Elledge, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, had a similar response. He and others have found many people have antibodies to common colds caused by other coronaviruses; in laboratory studies, these antibodies also block the new coronavirus.- Advertisement –center_img In March, as the pandemic was just beginning, Dr. Kassiotis and his colleagues decided to develop a highly sensitive antibody test. To assess it, they examined blood samples taken before the pandemic from over 300 adults and 48 children and adolescents, comparing them with samples from more than 170 people who had been infected with the new coronavirus.The scientists expected samples taken before the pandemic to have no antibodies that attacked the new coronavirus. Those were to be the controls for the test the scientists were developing.Instead, they found that many children, and some adults, carried one antibody in particular that can prevent coronaviruses, including the new one, from entering cells. This antibody attaches itself to a spike that pokes out of coronaviruses.- Advertisement – “It is quite possible that you lose your memory over time,” Dr. Elledge said. He suspects that the new coronavirus may interfere with the activation of the memory cells able to respond to the infection.An infection “might give you a hazy memory that fades over time,” he said. If so, a very recent infection with a common cold coronavirus would be needed to protect against the new coronavirus, and even then the protection might last only for a limited time.The new coronavirus would have hobbled the production of antibodies that specifically attack it. That might explain why children, with their seemingly continuous colds, are much better off than adults.Dr. Elledge said that if he is right about the loss of memory cells, that bodes well for vaccines. A vaccine boosts antibody production without the presence of a virus. So the virus “is not in the background, messing up memory cell formation,” he said.Another possibility is that most adults actually are protected by memory cells from previous infections with the common cold. Although few have enough antibodies in their blood to protect them at any given time, they may be able to quickly make antibodies to lessen the impact of the new coronavirus.That might explain why many adults who are infected recover quickly.“We focus on those who get really sick, but 95 to 98 percent of those who get the virus don’t have to go to the hospital,” Dr. Elledge said. “There are a lot of people who do get better.” Antibody: A protein produced by the immune system that can recognize and attach precisely to specific kinds of viruses, bacteria, or other invaders.Antibody test/serology test: A test that detects antibodies specific to the coronavirus. Antibodies begin to appear in the blood about a week after the coronavirus has infected the body. Because antibodies take so long to develop, an antibody test can’t reliably diagnose an ongoing infection. But it can identify people who have been exposed to the coronavirus in the past.Antigen test: This test detects bits of coronavirus proteins called antigens. Antigen tests are fast, taking as little as five minutes, but are less accurate than tests that detect genetic material from the virus.Coronavirus: Any virus that belongs to the Orthocoronavirinae family of viruses. The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is known as SARS-CoV-2. Covid-19: The disease caused by the new coronavirus. The name is short for coronavirus disease 2019.Isolation and quarantine: Isolation is the separation of people who know they are sick with a contagious disease from those who are not sick. Quarantine refers to restricting the movement of people who have been exposed to a virus.Nasopharyngeal swab: A long, flexible stick, tipped with a soft swab, that is inserted deep into the nose to get samples from the space where the nasal cavity meets the throat. Samples for coronavirus tests can also be collected with swabs that do not go as deep into the nose — sometimes called nasal swabs — or oral or throat swabs.Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): Scientists use PCR to make millions of copies of genetic material in a sample. Tests that use PCR enable researchers to detect the coronavirus even when it is scarce.Viral load: The amount of virus in a person’s body. In people infected by the coronavirus, the viral load may peak before they start to show symptoms, if symptoms appear at all. That happened to Dr. Larman and his family of five. Four of them got sick with Covid-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, in July. None were seriously ill, and his 4-year-old son was spared altogether.“My son was not isolated from us and therefore heavily exposed,” Dr. Larman said. “He tested negative twice, and so we certainly suspect that he had some form of pre-existing immunity.” It’s been a big puzzle of the pandemic: Why are children so much less likely than adults to become infected with the new coronavirus and, if infected, less likely to become ill?A possible reason may be that many children already have antibodies to other coronaviruses, according to researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London. About one in five of the colds that plague children are caused by viruses in this family. Antibodies to those viruses may also block SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus causing the pandemic.- Advertisement –last_img read more

The family farm in Križevci wants to gather and promote domestic products

first_imgThe second Eno-gastro fairy tale was held in the Development Center and Technology Park Križevci, which brought together small producers and family farms from the area of ​​Koprivnica-Križevci County.The mission of the Eno-gastro fairytale is to connect agricultural production with business entities in one place, explained the director of the Križevci Entrepreneurship Center Tihomir Hodak, while one of the initiators of the Eno-gastro fairytale project Miroslav Mirković informed the audience that the “OPG Burza” project will start next year. the goal is to connect end consumers – customers with family producers.The aim of the project is the economic revitalization of the rural area, connecting agricultural producers with business entities (B2B) and developing a culture of business gifts (gifts to business partners) from the supply of domestic and eco products, as well as raising product demand, and thus encouraging increased production capacity. increasing employment needs. Eno-gastro fairy tale is just one of the activities within a larger project that includes other measures, says Miroslav Mirkovic, marketing manager of Glas Podravine and adds that due to the growing demand for domestic and organic products. Also, “OPG burza” was announced, which is conceived as a unique and innovative portal that will connect all producers in the Podravina and Prigorje area with the end consumer, ie the buyer. ” The group of producers includes small, medium and large family farms, small and medium-sized enterprises engaged in agricultural production and the service sector (IT sector, innovation, etc.). A special part will be dedicated to organic production. The family exchange is designed as a kind of agro guide where the end consumer will be able to find in one place all available agricultural products from northern Croatia (meat, milk, eggs, cheeses, vegetables and water, honey and other agricultural products) to protect and brand domestic production and connecting customer and manufacturer. “Mirkovic pointed out.In addition to the above, the goal of the project is to brand Podravina-Prigorje (quality and origin label) products and institutions from Croatia (schools, kindergartens, hospitals, etc.), legal entities and individuals to offer a quality selection of domestic products and other activities. In the end, the organizers invite all family farms, small and medium producers in the Koprivnica-Križevci County to join the project and connect with each other through the family exchange and the project Eno-gastro fairy tale.<br />
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List of direct air connections with emitting markets 2019 winter – 2020

first_imgMore attached. All Croatian tourism workers will unquestionably agree that the key to further “tourist success” of our country, whether we are talking about extending the season or increasing average earnings from tourism, is adequate investment in the development of tourism infrastructure, content and offer, in order to optimize money ”which, according to all research, is crucial for the choice of destination, ie further positive recommendations of satisfied guests. Side dish: Overview of direct air connections of the Republic of Croatia – winter 2019 – 2020center_img To this end, the Department for Market Research and Strategic Planning of the Croatian National Tourist Board has prepared an overview of direct flights and direct air connections of Croatian airports from 20 major emitting markets according to information obtained from Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb, Zadar, Osijek, Pula, Mali Losinj. , Brač and Rijeka.last_img read more

Middle Eastern tourists are among the largest consumers in the world

first_imgThe four Middle Eastern countries whose travelers spend the most on travel In the latest research of Skift called “Outgoing trips of the countries of the Middle East in 2019”, a detailed overview of this market is provided. The report begins with an overview of the size of the market and the growth forecast of the region as a whole, as well as the characteristics of individual countries. The research then focuses on the key factors that study what drives international travel in the region and the consumer behavior trends that shape their travel-related preferences. Finally, some of the case studies of global tourism brands and destinations implementing strategic initiatives to conquer part of this market are covered. Average government spending per visit to the United Kingdom Consumption per outbound trip Average consumption per outbound trip Source / photo: Skift Looking at the largest consumers from that region at the country level, the dominance of the Middle East is again noticeable. The four GCC countries, which we wrote about earlier, also show very high spending per visit, as shown by VisitBritain data, with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia leading in spending. The average cost of outbound travel for residents of the three Middle Eastern countries is over $ 3.000. Research estimates Skift Research show that this is $ 1.100 more than the average consumption of American travelers. Due to the great wealth of the region, travel expenses of travelers from the Middle East are higher compared to other countries and regions. In 2017, average spending per outbound trip was $ 1.551, which is more than spending in the UK and Germany, two large outbound markets globally. Travelers of this lucrative market are happy to visit international destinations and are prone to long journeys. All in all, they have all the components that a target destination market should have worldwide. Certain destination marketing organizations have noted similar trends when visiting Middle Eastern travelers to their destinations. Data from the UK’s VisitBritain tourist board, for example, reveals that travelers from the Middle East in the UK spent an average of $ 2.040 per visit, compared to $ 1.579 for Asian travelers and $ 1.091 for North American travelers. Passengers from the three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries spent an average of more than $ 3.000 per outbound trip. By comparison, U.S. travelers spend an average of about $ 1.900 a year. Average consumption of the regions per visit to the United Kingdomlast_img read more

Geopark “Biokovo-Imotska Lakes” wants to become part of the UNESCO World Geoparks Network

first_imgWe currently have two UNESCO Geoparks in Croatia: the Papuk Nature Park and the Vis Archipelago, and we will soon find out whether the Biokovo-Imotska Lakes Geopark will become the third UNESCO Geopark in Croatia. The boundaries of the future Biopark-Imotski Lakes Geopark have already been determined, and their total area is 431 km2, and they cover the areas of the municipalities of Imotski, Proložac, Podbablje, Zmijavce, Lokvičići, Lovreć, Zagvozd and Runovići. One of the main ways to stimulate the economy and sustainable development of the future UNESCO Geopark is through geotourism, he points out. Luka Kolovrat, president of the association Geopark Imotska jezera and adds that by raising awareness and educating about the importance of geological heritage, UNESCO geoparks give the local community a sense of pride and strengthen their identification with the area in which they live. PAPUK NATURE PARK THE FIRST CROATIAN GEOPARK UNDER UNESCO PROTECTION UNESCO Geoparks are unique geographical areas of international geological significance governed by a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. Find out more about the Biokovo-Imotska Lakes Geopark application initiative with the aim of joining UNESCO Global Geoparks HERE In general, when we talk about the area that will include the future Biopark Biokovo-Imotska Lakes, it is an area that in addition to attracting attention with its relief and geomorphological forms, or numerous karst phenomena, adorns a great wealth of flora and fauna including many endemic species. In addition to the most attractive protected natural monuments and phenomena of world importance, Red and Blue Lakes, there is also the spring Krčevac, which is currently the only confirmed locality of the human fish (Proteus anguinus) in the Imotski region. There is also the Zovnjača cave in the municipality of Podbablje, which was recently established as an important archaeological and biospeleological site. Photo: Association Geopark Imotska jezera The network of UNESCO World Geoparks consists of areas of geological and geomorphological heritage of international importance, while the goal of the UNESCO World Geoparks program is to protect geological, geomorphological and other values ​​of geoparks and manage the area through education and implementation of activities in accordance with sustainable development goals. and for the benefit of the local community. center_img So far, numerous systematic and complex geological surveys have been carried out, monitoring is being carried out, the public is being educated, brochures, guides, manuals, educational materials, brochures, etc. have been printed. Precisely with the aim of protection, sustainable development and tourism, the Association Geopark Imotska jezera and the Public Institution Nature Park Biokovo launched an initiative for joint application and establishment of “Geopark Biokovo-Imotska lakes“With the aim of joining UNESCO Global Geoparks. The creation of a joint Geopark website is in progress, as well as the creation and marking of geo-trails, and a joint Facebook page has been created, which is updated daily, he points out. Ivana Capin from the Association Geopark Imotska jezera and adds: “Aware of the great potential of the area in which we live with all its features, together we embarked on this challenging project with the aim of becoming part of the international network of UNESCO Geoparks. As for our joint future activities, they are holding a presentation in November this year, then making a ten-year study with a management plan, and making and marking the geo-trail of the future Biokovo-Imotska Lakes Geopark. And most importantly, in the summer of 2021, the arrival of the Commission and evaluation is expected, and after that the accession to the network of world Geoparks under UNESCO protection.”Emphasizes Capin. “Our joint initiative stemmed from the fact that the Biokovo Nature Park and Imotski Krajina form a geologically, geomorphologically and landscape-unique area of ​​the Dinaric karst, and our wish is to use the potentials of both areas for the benefit of the local community. Kolovrat points out. VISA ARCHIPELAGO BECAME THE SECOND UNESCO GEOPARK IN CROATIA RELATED NEWS: “Geoparks attract a large number of visitors with their activities and enable the launch of various production and service activities that contribute to the socio-economic development of the community. Not only geologically interesting places, but also various other ecological, archeological, historical and cultural sights contribute to geoparks, and they are supported and actively participated by local communities that know how to recognize and want to affirm their geological, historical and cultural heritage, mostly through the idea of ​​geotourism.. The creation of innovative crafts and new jobs encourages the creation of new sources of income within geotourism, strengthens the local community, and at the same time the geological resources of the area remain protected.Kolovrat points out. Other sights include the Opačac spring, the Vrljika river, Ričice lakes, Galipovac, Knezovića and Mamića lakes, Prološko blato, Lokvičićka lakes, Dva oka and numerous other localities that were created during a long geological period by tireless work of water. The ichthyofauna of the Imotski region is significant for several protected endemic species, and some of them are soft-mouthed trout (Salmothymus obtusirostris), basak (Rutilus basak), Imotski gaovica (Delminichthys adspersus), makal (Squalius microlepis), Illyrian vijun (Cobitis il) dr.last_img read more

Visitors to the Krka National Park will receive a discount for visiting the Fortress of St. Nicholas

first_imgAll visitors who at the point of sale Info center of the Fortress of St. Nikola will show a ticket for the National Park “Krka”, not older than seven days, will get a 10% discount on the basic price of an individual ticket to visit the Fortress of St. Nicholas. In this way, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy one of the most beautiful Croatian national parks and a UNESCO heritage monument and stay longer in our area. The director of the Nature Institute of Šibenik-Knin County, Anita Babačić Ajduk, pointed out that this is a significant step forward in the cooperation between the two institutions.: “So far, we have successfully collaborated on research projects, and now the collaboration is expanding to promotion and visits. Our two institutions are closely connected and the territory they cover. JU Priroda manages the area of ​​the source and mouth of the river Krka, north and south of the National Park. These include the river Krčić, the source of the Krka, the river flow around Knin and the entire course and mouth from Skradin to the Channel of St. Ante and the Fortress of St. Nicholas. The flora and fauna know no administrative boundaries and our cooperation is necessary in every segment. Visitors do not know the administrative borders either, so such joint actions are very useful. This increases the visibility of the site, but also ensures a controlled, sustainable visiting system. ” This is the result of cooperation between the Public Institution Nature of Šibenik-Knin County and the Public Institution “Krka National Park”.center_img Photo: NP Krka  “Krka National Park and JU Priroda are two related institutions whose main tasks are the preservation, protection, interpretation and sustainable use of protected natural and cultural heritage. By promoting UNESCO monuments in the area of ​​the National Park, we connect two neighboring protected areas and some of the most important natural and cultural values ​​of our region. With this cooperation, we present ourselves as a whole, natural and cultural-historical, but also social and economic, which is especially important for us for this visitor season. “, said the director of the Public Institution “Krka National Park” Nella Slavica and emphasized that this cooperation is part of the continuous activities of the National Park “Krka” on the development of the entire area and encouraging economic activities of many entities living and working on the banks of the Krka. last_img read more

HUT: Great interest in the Covid-19 tracker is an indication that safety is a key determinant of success this season

first_imgImportantly, in the almost five months since the first case of imported Covid-19 infection was recorded in Croatia, there is still no official information that any of the citizens of other countries became infected in commercial accommodation in Croatia. Website www.croatiacovid19.info, launched by the Croatian Tourism Association with the aim of daily updated and accurate information on the number of Covid-19 cases in Croatia and its regions, in the first 4 days of launch was visited by over 30.000 unique users. Thanks to the quality epidemiological situation, Germany, Slovenia and Austria have confirmed that Croatia is safe and recommend it to their citizens for summer vacation. Bluesun Hotel Soline – Brela Most foreign guests from Germany, followed by Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Austria and Poland. The number of tourist arrivals from Germany is at 92 percent of last year’s result, from Slovenia at 91 percent of last year’s result, while the number of guest arrivals from Poland and the Czech Republic is at 82 percent of last year’s result The camp in Starigrad Paklenica has extremely good results, both due to its attractive position at the entrance to the Paklenica Nature Park, and due to the fact that guests in this, newly created conditions – choose this type of accommodation because they feel safe.  “Great interest, especially from foreign guests, for the Covid-19 tracker page is another indicator that safety is a key determinant of success this season, and Croatia has been recognized as a safe destination by many foreign guests this season. ” stand out from HUT. Most visitors come from Germany (30,91%), Hungary (28,15%), Croatia (13,57%), Slovenia (10,82%), Austria (6,88%), the Netherlands (2,83%) ) and the UK (2,16%). A smaller number of users come from Switzerland (1%), Italy (0,65%) and Belgium (0,61%).center_img 817 hotels and 417 campsites opened Occupancy of the tourist company Bluesun Hotels & Resorts currently it is about 80 percent, and it is expected that in the first half of August it will improve even more, because booking has increased significantly since mid-July, Bluesun Hotels & Resort points out. Since the beginning of the year, almost 3,9 million tourists have visited Croatia, with over 24 million overnight stays, and in July more than 2,2 million tourist arrivals, which is 53,2 percent of arrivals in the same period last year. Currently, 817 hotels and 417 campsites have been opened in Croatia, and new tourist facilities and facilities are opening daily in destinations along the coast. “Croatia continues to be the safest, closest and most acceptable holiday destination in the Mediterranean for all guests from the central EU”Emphasize from HUT. “As the air traffic has significantly decreased compared to previous seasons, most of them are still auto guests from countries close to us. The good news is that our biggest partner from the Scandinavian market, Ving, started with commercial flights from Sweden on Saturday, July 25.07, and Scandinavian guests are traditionally tied to our hotels on the Makarska Riviera and now we expect, and this can be seen on reservations – the return of guests from the area in the second half of August and in September”, Said Stjepko Šošić, Director of Revenue Management at Bluesun Hotels & Resortslast_img read more

Desperate billionaires finally getting the help they need

first_imgOh, wait, that’s exactly what’s happening!Trump understands, for example, that health insurance isn’t all that important for the riffraff. So he and the Senate GOP have again targeted Obamacare, this time by trying to repeal the insurance mandate.The Congressional Budget Office says this will result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance.But what’s the big deal?The United States already has an infant mortality rate twice that of Austria and South Korea.American women are already five times as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as women in Britain.So who’ll notice if things get a bit worse? Categories: Editorial, OpinionIt is so hard to be a billionaire these days!A new yacht can cost $300 million. And you wouldn’t believe what a pastry chef earns — and if you hire just one, to work weekdays, how can you possibly survive on weekends?The investment income on, say, a $4 billion fortune is a mere $1 million a day, which makes it tough to scrounge by with today’s rising prices.Why, some wealthy folks don’t even have a home in the Caribbean and on vacation are stuck brooding in hotel suites: They’re practically homeless!Fortunately, President Donald Trump and the Republicans are coming along with some desperately needed tax relief for billionaires.Thank God for this lifeline to struggling tycoons.And it’s carefully crafted to focus the benefits on the truly deserving — the affluent who earn their tax breaks with savvy investments in politicians. Perhaps that sounds harsh. But the blunt reality is that we risk soul-sucking dependency if we’re always setting kids’ broken arms.Maybe that’s why congressional Republicans haven’t bothered to renew funding for CHIP, the child health insurance program serving almost 9 million American kids.Ditto for the maternal and home visiting programs that are the gold standard for breaking cycles of poverty and that also haven’t been renewed.We mustn’t coddle American toddlers.Hey, if American infants really want health care, they’ll pick themselves up by their bootee straps and Uber over to an emergency room.Congressional Republicans understand that we can’t do everything for everybody. We have to make hard choices.Congress understands that kids are resilient and can look after themselves, so we must focus on the most urgent needs, such as those of hand-to-mouth billionaires. For example, eliminating the estate tax would help the roughly 5,500 Americans who now owe this tax each year, one-fifth of 1 percent of all Americans who die annually.Ending the tax would help upstanding people like the Trumps who owe their financial success to brilliant life choices, such as picking the uterus in which they were conceived.Now it’s fair to complain that the tax plan overall doesn’t give needy billionaires quite as much as they deserve.For example, the top 1 percent receive only a bit more than 25 percent of the total tax cuts in the Senate bill, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.Really? Only 25 times their share of the population?After all those dreary $5,000-a-plate dinners supporting politicians?If politicians had any guts, they’d just slash services for low-income families so as to finance tax breaks for billionaires.center_img In fairness, Congress has historically understood this mission.The tax code subsidizes moguls with private jets while the carried interest tax break gives a huge tax discount to striving private equity zillionaires.Meanwhile, a $13 billion annual subsidy for corporate meals and entertainment gives ditch diggers the satisfaction of buying Champagne for financiers.Our political leaders are so understanding because we appear to have the wealthiest Congress we’ve ever had, with a majority of members now millionaires, so they understand the importance of cutting health for the poor to show support for the crème de la crème.Granted, the GOP tax plan will add to the deficit, forcing additional borrowing.But if the tax cut passes, automatic “pay as you go” rules may helpfully cut $25 billion from Medicare spending next year, thus saving money on elderly people who are practically dead anyway.If poor kids have to suffer, we may as well make poor seniors suffer as well. That’s called a balanced policy. More broadly, you have to look at the reason for deficits. Yes, it’s problematic to borrow to pay for, say, higher education or cancer screenings.But what’s the problem with borrowing $1.5 trillion to invest in urgent tax relief for billionaires?Anyway, at some point down the road we’ll find a way to pay back the debt by cutting a wasteful program for runny-nose kids who aren’t smart enough to hire lobbyists.There must be some kids’ program that still isn’t on the chopping block.The tax bill underscores a political truth: There’s nothing wrong with redistribution when it’s done right.Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for The New York Times.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censuslast_img read more

IRS needs more staff to help tax filers

first_img“It cannot answer the phone calls it currently receives, much less the phone calls it can expect to receive in light of tax reform, without adequate funding.”Indeed, the new tax law could prompt a wave of confusion that the IRS is ill-prepared to handle.The agency estimates it needs about $500 million just to change computer programs, update forms, write new regulations and answer questions stemming from the bill.After the 1986 tax reform, agency call volume spiked, and the number of returns that required corrections also ticked up, and it is fair to expect the same now. Though the IRS has tried to improve its phone service recently, even before the tax law passed it anticipated that fewer than half of callers would obtain help from a live person this year.Given the complexity of the new law, many people will have questions that are more than basic.“Taxpayers who want to learn about how the tax law affects them are left searching about 140,000 web pages on IRS.gov or turning to paid professionals,” Olson wrote. Worried that you won’t be able to fill out your returns correctly under the new tax law?Do not take it out on the poor IRS employee who could not answer your tax question, even after you spent a half-hour on hold.Blame the GOP-led Congress, which, in its anti-IRS fervor, has driven the agency into the ground. It has become one of the most reliable traditions in contemporary Washington.Every year, the national taxpayer advocate explains that under-funding the IRS makes the tax filing process unnecessarily miserable for those who follow the law, while rewarding those who flout it.And every year, the Republican-led Congress decides to keep the tax system unnecessarily miserable for the law-abiding and easier on the lawbreakers.“Funding cuts have rendered the IRS unable to provide acceptable levels of taxpayer service, unable to upgrade its technology to improve its efficiency and effectiveness, and unable to maintain compliance programs,” national taxpayer advocate Nina Olson wrote in her annual report to lawmakers. Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appeared in The Washington Post.Hate the Internal Revenue Service?center_img While the taxpayer advocate argued that the IRS could do more with less, there is no doubt that underfunding is a key driver of the dysfunction.Congress has cut the agency’s budget by some $300 million since 2009, a bit under 3 percent.During that time, lawmakers have saddled the IRS with responsibility to oversee the phase-in of a new health-care law and, now, a major tax overhaul. Can’t the IRS — and the Americans it is supposed to serve — just cope?“On the surface, it appears ‘customers’ (taxpayers) don’t have a choice about seeking another tax agency to work with — there are no competitors to which they can move their ‘business,’” Olson wrote.“In fact, however, there is a competitor, and it is the lure of noncompliance. If the IRS isn’t going to provide you the assistance you need in the manner you need it, then why bother complying with the tax laws?” More from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censuslast_img read more