Tag Archives: CAPITAL

US Unrest: National Guard troops step into Washington as the state responds to requests for help | Instant News


Against the backdrop of the US Capitol, members of the National Guard change shifts as they exit through an anti-scaling security fence in Washington. Photo / AP

Busloads of buses and cargo of planes, National Guard troops poured into the nation’s capital on Saturday, as governors responded to US defense officials’ urgent requests for more troops to help guard Washington even as they watched anxiously at possible violent protests in their own states.

Military leaders spent most of the night Thursday and Friday calling on the state in an unprecedented call for more National Guard troops to help lock down large swathes of the city in the days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. In the dribs and drabs, the governor replied, some agreeing to send an extra dozen, 100 or even 1,000, while others said no.

The calls reflect concerns that violent extremist groups are targeting the city after a deadly uprising on the US Capitol on January 6.

Threats range from armed insurgents to possible attempts to plant explosive devices on so-called soft targets. But as Washington begins to resemble an armed camp, with more than 25,000 guards set to be in the city as early as next week, concerns about violence in the state capital have mounted.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said she rejected a federal request to send at least 100 more National Guard troops to DC “I don’t think we can safely fulfill that commitment,” Brown said. Oregon has agreed to send 30 to Washington, but state leaders are concerned about violence at the state capitol in Salem.

Others agreed, sparking dizzying bursts of military and convoy flights into the region.

“The peaceful transfer of power is a central principle of American democracy, and Connecticut stands ready to help protect our country.” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, who initially agreed to send 100 guards and on Friday agreed to send 200 more.

In all, more than 130 US Air Guard flights in the past 72 hours have brought at least 7,000 Guard troops to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, according to US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal numbers. Thousands more were in buses and military trucks, rumbling down the highway to Washington.

Army General Dan Hokanson, head of the National Guard Bureau, called in general aides across the country, and others, such as Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, called in governors for help. McCarthy praised the state, saying defense and military officials were well aware of the threats they also faced.

“The governors and TAG were great. They helped us a lot,” McCarthy told The Associated Press.

“That’s the problem – that in the midst of a very dire situation you see how great this country is, everyone is getting together and helping each other get through this.”

Troops walk behind a security fence in Washington as security is stepping up ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.  Photo / AP
Troops walk behind a security fence in Washington as security is stepping up ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo / AP

What began in early January as a routine deployment of some 350 DC National Guard members to aid protests that are expected to explode over the past two weeks became a much larger operation to protect the inauguration and the US Congress Building, and to block access to the city and its many historical monuments.

When the protesters entered the Capitol on January 6, only a little over 100 National Guards were scattered around the city, guarding the Metro’s checkpoints and entrances. Hours later, five people are dead, the Capitol is in disarray and 1100 DC Guards have been activated.

The next day, as information arrived about more planned violence, requests went out for 6,200 members of the Guard from surrounding states.

On Thursday evening, as law enforcement and defense officials flooded maps and conducted security drills, they concluded they needed at least 25,000 to lock down Capitol grounds and vast areas of DC, including the National Mall. And they agreed that most of the Guards would be armed.

At that time, a new chapter of summons to state governors and military leaders began.

Many governors were willing to help, but they made it clear that the state capital was their priority. Some agreed to send more, while others couldn’t. And the numbers vary widely.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf doubled his initial commitment from 1,000 to 2,000. Other states managed to collect an additional dozen.

After reviewing threats against its own country, Minnesota decided it could significantly increase its contribution and would send 850 guards rather than the 130 originally deployed to leave, according to the state’s aide general, Major General Shawn Manke.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has agreed to send 700. On Friday, he announced he would send 300 more – even as he ordered nearly 600 to secure the Ohio state home in Columbus. So it is with the Governor of North Carolina.

Roy Cooper initially agreed to send 200 guards, and on Friday a Ford Porter spokesman said the country would send 100 more. Iowa first said it sent 250 and now the number is 265.

The big military response comes as Congress and law enforcement authorities try to figure out how the US Capitol captured the dramatic power of January 6.

The leaders of four committees in the Democratic-controlled House sent a letter on Saturday seeking briefings and documents from the FBI and other federal agencies as part of their review of the insurgency.

The call for more American soldiers also underscores the Pentagon’s limits on the use of active duty troops. Under the law, they cannot be used for law enforcement, and officials intend to avoid the emergence of armed active forces being used against US citizens on American soil.

Active duty forces routinely prepare to respond to emergencies in Washington, such as flight violations in restricted airspace over DC, and rapid reaction forces are on standby. Other active duty units will take part in various inauguration ceremonies.

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PPP demanded the PM, the interior minister to resign | Instant News


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Monday demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Home Minister Sheikh Rashid must resign over the murder of a student in Islamabad.

“The Pakistani Supreme Court (SC) should pay attention to the killing of a young student in Islamabad and the killing of 11 miners in Machh,” said PPP MPP Information Secretary of Parliament Dr Nafisa Shah, addressing a joint press conference with Palwasha Khan and Naz. Baloch is here on Monday.

He said that with Sheikh Rashid’s appointment as interior minister, a new wave of terror had arrived in Pakistan. “A young student was killed by people who were supposed to protect his life and property,” he said, adding that the unfortunate incident in Machh, in which eleven miners were killed by terrorists on sectarian grounds, has shaken the nation.

Dr Nafisa Shah said the establishment should not interfere in politics and every institution must work within its domain according to the Constitution. “Imran Khan’s elected government created chaos in the country and the PTI allies left the government because no one wanted to travel on a sunken ship,” he said. He said all PPP assembly members had submitted their resignations to the party leadership and would be used in a timely manner. “Resignation is like a nuclear weapon and will eventually be used,” he said.

Dr. Nafisa Shah said that this anti-people government raised the price of petroleum on New Year’s. “Every month, electricity and gas bills go up at the direction of the IMF,” he said.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was the only person in all of Pakistan, whose palace at Banigala was governed, while the homes of the poor had been razed to the ground. He said the Chairman of the National Assembly acted like a PTI worker not a custodian.

PPP Deputy Secretary of Information Palwasha Khan strongly condemned the killing of innocent students in Islamabad and said the interior minister did nothing but issue a political statement against the opposition.

He said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi did not know that every month, 20,000 people were sent back to Pakistan from abroad. “This government has alienated Pakistan in the global community,” he said.

He said when the youth in Islamabad died the interior minister was busy making political statements.

He said a bureaucrat had committed suicide out of fear of NAB in Islamabad. Plawasha Khan claims that to repay Saudi Arabia’s debt, a new loan of 14 percent was taken from China. PPP MNA Naz Baloch said that even white-collar professionals face economic constraints in this government.

On the one hand, he said, the government uses NAV as a means of victimization, while on the other hand, the government protects thieves of sugar, flour, medicines and fuel.

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UK Covid 19 coronavirus: Christmas crowds crowd London as curbs draw near | Instant News


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Shoppers, only a few wearing face masks, walk under the Christmas decorations on busy Regent St in London on Dec.12. Photo / Getty Images

Thousands of people flocked to London’s main shopping malls this weekend before a decision on whether coronavirus restrictions were tightened in the capital.

The current UK tier system will be reviewed on Wednesday 16 December.

London is on “high alert” at Level 2. This limits other people’s gatherings outside of households or support circles, but all non-essential retail is allowed to open.

The Guardian reports a clear threshold for moving to Level 3 – “very vigilant” – has been crossed in several areas of London.

This includes oatmeal, which has more than twice the UK average of 153 cases per 100,000 people, at 379 cases.

Below Level 3, bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – except for delivery and take-out.

According to Government figures, London alone recorded 17,131 cases in the week from November 29 to December 5, up 3,000 cases the previous week.

“The risks associated with Christmas are enormous, even without this increase,” Dr Mike Gill, former regional public health director for the Southeast, told the BBC.

London is at risk of switching to a Tier 3 coronavirus cap before Christmas as infection rates in the capital are now above the national average.  Photo / Picture of Gettty
London is at risk of switching to a Tier 3 coronavirus cap before Christmas as infection rates in the capital are now above the national average. Photo / Picture of Gettty

“People have to take steps to greatly reduce their contact. Level 3 lockdown will contribute very significantly to this.”

Across Great Britain, people will be allowed to form Christmas bubbles from December 23 to December 27, allowing three households to mix in a private home.

The photos below show the crowd on the iconic Regent St in London’s West End on Saturday (UK time).

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Wellington Weather: New Zealand’s heat wave passes through the capital | Instant News


More wind is blowing into Wellington this week. Photo / 123rf

While a heat wave is expected in most countries at the start of the week, the capital will experience strong winds and possibly wet conditions for a few days.

Weather Watch forecast hot nor’wester weather to be subtropical for (mostly) North Island residents, likely pushing Hawke’s Bay and Northland over 30C on Tuesday.

Meanwhile in the capital, the 18 cool winds are one of the lowest temperatures expected in the country on Monday, even lower than Invercargill and Greymouth.

Philip Duncan of WeatherWatch said Wellington residents can expect more windy weather earlier in the week.

“Around Wellington they have a lot of north and south and lots of cloud cover.

“This week, more windy weather, especially on the next day or so. As these elevations move away, the squash zone of the wind or windy west moves backwards.”

Temperatures will also drop when the wind blows south this weekend, Duncan said.

“So we haven’t gotten into stable weather yet but we think at the end of this week and into the weekend we’ll see a more established pattern start to develop.”

This is in accordance with the prediction of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in December, which said conditions in the capital will settle around the middle of the month.

Despite the first week of summer, Duncan said conditions in the capital were still mimicking spring weather patterns, with “tides” with nor’westers and sou-westers.

Above normal temperatures are estimated for Canterbury, Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, and can reach over 30C.

The upper North Island will also have humidity with the added subtropical winds – Whangarei had a high temperature of 28C on Tuesday, but Humidex (or “feels like”) temperatures are expected to be 32C.

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New Zealand already has a capital gains tax – you may not know it | Instant News


Two University of Auckland researchers argue New Zealand already has taxes on its books that can be used to tax property investors. Photo / 123rf

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may waive the capital gains tax, but there is already a tax on books that can do the job.

This is according to two University of Auckland researchers, who say that the CB6 section of the Income Tax Act has existed since the 1970s but is not widely known because it is rarely enforced.

However – if given a simple change – it could be turned into an effective capital gains tax that targets the profits investors make when buying and selling homes, Michael Rehm and Yang Yang said in a new research paper.

They argue that the recent skyrocketing house prices have brought the tax debate back into the spotlight.

And instead of considering the new tax, CB6’s section already states that anyone who buys land with the intention of making a profit from resale must pay income tax on those gains, Rehm said.

The government has not enforced this in the past because they think it is too difficult to know the intention of the buyer when making a purchase.

But Rehm said his decade-long analysis of rental housing purchases in Auckland showed nearly all had incurred initial losses and counted on the gains on resale to be considered a wise financial investment.

“This cash flow based stuff is a complete dog,” he said.

“The only rhyme or reason you’re going to invest in property is that you expect to get some sort of payment in the end.”

That means investors can safely be said to be acting as speculators hoping for house prices to rise – and that has broader consequences for society, Rehm said.

Auckland’s average selling price has now jumped to $ 1 million for the first time in October, while national prices have also ballooned to new highs, the Real Estate Institute reported.

This kind of price hike has further transformed housing from where Kiwis seek refuge and raise their families to golden geese treated as egg nests, Rehm said.

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It has two problems.

This helps create a rift in society between the rich, those who own property, and those who don’t, Rehm said.

And that’s funneling billions of dollars of investment from KiwiSaver accounts, stocks and businesses into real estate, where it yields less broad economic benefits, he said.

Politicians across many of the political spectrum have expressed similar concerns over rising prices.

Labor, the Greens and even the Reserve Bank this week suggested broader taxes were needed to help curb rising house prices.

Investors are already taxed like capital gains in the form of what is called a bright line test.

First introduced by the National Government in 2015, it initially required property investors who sold homes within two years of purchase to pay tax on their profits.

In early 2018, the Labor-led Government then extended the bright line test to five years.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Grant Robertson asked the Treasury Department to investigate further extension of the bright line test.

But changing taxation policies is fraught with political risks, given that opposition parties now accuse the Government of canceling its promise not to impose new taxes.

Researchers Michael Rehm and Yang Yang from the University of Auckland's Department of Property.  Photo / Provided
Researchers Michael Rehm and Yang Yang from the University of Auckland’s Department of Property. Photo / Provided

The Minister for Housing and Labor Revenue did not answer questions about whether they would consider investigating or implementing Rehm and Yang’s suggestions.

The Inland Revenue said it conducted a “very similar” study in 2014.

“It was concluded that there is systemic evidence of the turnover rate of residential properties, which is higher than normal,” he said.

“However, identifying possible speculative activity based on analytics and having enough evidence to prove speculative behavior are two different things.”

Rehm admits – even though the CB6 section already exists – enforcing it politically is another matter.

“I am not naive, I know this is a bitter pill that any politician should throw,” he said.

“I’m just trying to show that there’s a solution that’s already in the book.”

Two University of Auckland researchers argue New Zealand already has taxes on its books that can be used to tax property investors.  Photo / 123rf
Two University of Auckland researchers argue New Zealand already has taxes on its books that can be used to tax property investors. Photo / 123rf

He said the enforcement of the CB6 section would be more thorough than the bright line test because there was no time limit and also thought the analysis behind his paper was thorough.

His team used a new method to identify 117,000 rental property purchases in Auckland between 2002 and 2016, he said.

To calculate the profitability of purchasing a lease, his team then weighed the costs involved in running the various properties – such as home loan repayments, property management fees, and maintenance costs – against the rental income.

The results were clear, he said.

Leased property investment almost always goes bad compared to comparable investments when capital gains are excluded, Rehm said.

That means everyone is speculating on expectations the price will go up, he said.

“We beat our chests and said speculation is bad behavior and it needs to stop,” he said.

“But nothing has been done to try to persuade people not to continue speculating.”

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