US: Activists arrested for feeding homeless
“Orlando [Florida] police arrested five more activists from behind a makeshift buffet table at Lake Eola Park on Wednesday evening, bringing to a dozen the number charged in the past week with violating city restrictions on feeding the homeless.
“The members of the group Food Not Bombs were ladling out corn on the cob, rice, beans and watermelon to about 35 people when they were handcuffed. About two dozen activists and homeless people booed and chanted 'Food is a right, not a privilege' as they were loaded into a waiting police van.
“They were violating a controversial city ordinance that prohibits sharing food with large groups in a downtown city park more than twice a year. Food Not Bombs has been fighting the ordinance but lost a legal appeal in April, clearing the way for the city to begin enforcement.”
June 8 Orlando Sentinel.
United States: Corporate giants pay negative tax rate
“Between 2008 and 2010, a dozen major US corporations—including General Electric, ExxonMobil, and Verizon — paid a negative tax rate, despite collectively recording [US]$171 billion in pretax US profits, according to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice. Taken together, these companies' tax burden was $2.5 billion, and 10 of the companies recorded at least one no-tax year between 2008 and 2010 ...
“Not a single one of the companies paid anything close to the 35 percent statutory tax rate. In fact, the 'highest tax' company on our list, ExxonMobil, paid an effective three-year tax rate of only 14.2 percent. That's 60 percent below the 35 percent rate that companies are supposed to pay.
“And over the past two years, ExxonMobil's net tax on its $9.9 billion in U.S. pretax profits was a minuscule $39 million, an effective tax rate of only 0.4 percent.
“Had these 12 companies paid the full 35 percent corporate tax, their federal income taxes over the three years would have totaled $59.9 billion. Instead, they enjoyed so many tax subsidies that they paid $62.4 billion less than that ...
"'These 12 companies are just the tip of an iceberg of widespread corporate tax avoidance,' Bob McIntyre, CTJ's director, said in a statement.”
— June 2 MotherJones.com article.
United States: Despite recession, rich get even richer
“Recent evidence suggests … wealth in America is becoming ever more entrenched and the rich really are getting richer, while the poor get poorer and the middle class work their butts off and borrow more just to tread water …
“Each year, the Internal Revenue Service constructs figures for the top 400 income earners in the country. In 2008, when the great recession was biting hardest, the top 400 earned on average $US270.5 million each — 20 times what they made in 1955 ...
“So pronounced is the disparity that the top 1 per cent of American taxpayers now takes almost a quarter of all income - double their share of 25 years ago. And they control about 40 per cent of America's wealth, compared to 33 per cent then.”
— June 18 Sydney Morning Herald.