Fact finding mission says 846 dead and 6,467 injured in Egypt’s uprising Reply

In this Jan. 29, 2011 file photo, Egyptians carry the body of a protester covered by Egypt’s flag who was killed during clashes with anti-riot police in Cairo. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

CAIRO: The official fact-finding mission investigating the death toll of Egypt’s revolution released on Tuesday its final report, saying that at least 846 were killed and 6,467 injured during the popular uprising that toppled the Egyptian regime and forced president Hosni Mubarak to step down in February.

According to a 30-page summary of the 400-page report, the revolution also left 26 officers and one prisoner dead.

The report confirmed that police fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters across Egypt starting Jan. 25, adding police only use live rounds if they are authorized to do so by a committee headed by the interior minister and high ranking officers.

“The fatal shots were due to firing bullets at the head and the chest,” the report read, adding that “a huge number of eye injures,” filled hospitals, and hundreds lost their sight.

The mission held Mubarak ultimately responsible for the killing of the protesters since his interior minister, Habib El-Adly, had issued the orders to open fire.

Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa are also being investigated on suspicion of involvement in the killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising.

“What is confirmed is that Mubarak’s permission (to use live fire on protesters) must be obtained. The shooting lasted for several days, and he did not hold accountable those who fired live rounds,” judge Omar Marwan, the mission’s secretary general, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“That confirms his involvement in responsibility,” he said.

Marwan said that the snipers who shot live ammunition at protesters in Tahrir that day were officers from the anti-terrorism department.

A former army official told the mission that the police had orders to withdraw from their posts and wear civilian clothes on Jan. 28, a claim that was backed by witnesses in Al-Kasr El-Aini hospital.

The enquiry is based on accounts of 17,058 officials and eyewitnesses along with 800 video clips and pictures obtained from individuals who were present at the protests, Marwan said.

The mission also investigated the incident captured in a YouTube video, in which a white van ran over several protesters on Qasr El-Aini Street on Jan. 28.

The report cited videos that showed the police encouraging prisoners to escape in order to cause mayhem and frighten people.

Prisoners escaped from 11 of Egypt’s 41 prisons, representing 26 percent of prisons, according to the report.

Palestinian group Hamas was also accused of breaking into Abou Zaabal prison in which 29 inmates affiliated with Hamas and Hezbollah were kept.

Taher Abou El-Nasr, human rights lawyer at the FDEP, told DNE that the report confirmed what all Egyptians knew about the involvement of the interior ministry in killing peaceful protesters and causing the security vacuum.

“However the evidence that the report presents will help us as human rights lawyers in supporting our legal cases against the regime,” said Abou El-Nasr. –Additional reporting by agencies.

By Heba Fahmy /Daily News Egypt April 19, 2011, 7:40 pm

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The Billionaires’ Tea Party 3

Video produced by Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham
His closing statement, “Be careful what you wish for… you just might get it.”

One of the better made exposures I have viewed. A must-see.

The Tea Party movement has taken American politics by storm. But is this truly a populist uprising or one of the greatest feats of propaganda ever seen? Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham sets out answer this question, finding that behind the movement’s rhetoric of ‘freedom’ versus ‘socialism’ lies a highly co-ordinated network of shadow groups, funded by the likes of billionaire ideologues Charles and David Koch. Are the Tea Party protestors really just pawns in a plan to replace government with a privatized America?

Here are some other sites of interest:

The Billionaires’ Tea Party official site

Facebook: Join the Coffee Party Movement

Dear Congress: Close Loopholes, Increase Revenue & Invest in America

America Needs Information Activists!

9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You To Know About Taxes

Edited version below. Click on title for full version.
April 13th, 2011 DAVID CAY JOHNSTON | Cover Story

As millions of Americans prepare to file their annual taxes, they do so in an environment of media-perpetuated tax myths. Here are a few points about taxes and the economy that you may not know, to consider as you prepare to file your taxes. (All figures are inflation-adjusted.)

1. Poor Americans do pay taxes.

Gretchen Carlson, the Fox News host, said last year “47 percent of Americans don’t pay any taxes.” John McCain and Sarah Palin both said similar things during the 2008 campaign about the bottom half of Americans.

When it comes to state and local taxes, the poor bear a heavier burden than the rich in every state except Vermont, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy calculated from official data. In Alabama, for example, the burden on the poor is more than twice that of the top 1 percent. The one-fifth of Alabama families making less than $13,000 pay almost 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes, compared with less than 4 percent for those who make $229,000 or more.

2. The wealthiest Americans don’t carry the burden.

It’s true that the top 1 percent of wage earners paid 38 percent of the federal income taxes in 2008 (the most recent year for which data is available). But people forget that the income tax is less than half of federal taxes and only one-fifth of taxes at all levels of government.

Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes (known as payroll taxes) are paid mostly by the bottom 90 percent of wage earners. That’s because, once you reach $106,800 of income, you pay no more for Social Security, though the much smaller Medicare tax applies to all wages. Warren Buffett pays the exact same amount of Social Security taxes as someone who earns $106,800.

3. In fact, the wealthy are paying less taxes.

Despite skyrocketing incomes, the federal tax burden on the richest 400 has been slashed, thanks to a variety of loopholes, allowable deductions and other tools. The actual share of their income paid in taxes, according to the IRS, is 16.6 percent. Adding payroll taxes barely nudges that number.

4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all.

Lots of other people live tax-free, too. I have Donald Trump’s tax records for four years early in his career. He paid no taxes for two of those years. Big real-estate investors enjoy tax-free living under a 1993 law President Clinton signed. It lets “professional” real-estate investors use paper losses like depreciation on their buildings against any cash income, even if they end up with negative incomes like Trump.

In Wisconsin, Terrence Wall, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2010, paid no income taxes on as much as $14 million of recent income, his disclosure forms showed. Asked about his living tax-free while working people pay taxes, he had a simple response: Everyone should pay less.

5. And (surprise!) since Reagan, only the wealthy have gained significant income.

Those at the top did better. The top 1 percent’s average income more than doubled to $1.1 million, according to an analysis of tax data by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. The really rich, the top one-tenth of 1 percent, each enjoyed almost $4 in 2008 for each dollar in 1980.

The top 300,000 Americans now enjoy almost as much income as the bottom 150 million, the data show.

6. When it comes to corporations, the story is much the same—less taxes.

Corporate profits in 2008, the latest year for which data are available, were $1,830 billion, up almost 12 percent from $1,638.7 billion in 2000. Yet, even though corporate tax rates have not been cut, corporate income-tax revenues fell to $230 billion from $249 billion—an 8 percent decline, thanks to a number of loopholes. The official 2010 profit numbers are not added up and released by the government, but the amount paid in corporate taxes is: In 2010 they fell further, to $191 billion—a decline of more than 23 percent compared with 2000.

7. Some corporate tax breaks destroy jobs.

Despite all the noise that America has the world’s second-highest corporate tax rate, the actual taxes paid by corporations are falling because of the growing number of loopholes and companies shifting profits to tax havens like the Cayman Islands.

And right now America’s corporations are sitting on close to $2 trillion in cash that is not being used to build factories, create jobs or anything else, but acts as an insurance policy for managers unwilling to take the risk of actually building the businesses they are paid so well to run. That cash hoard, by the way, works out to nearly $13,000 per taxpaying household.

8. Republicans like taxes too.

President Reagan signed into law 11 tax increases, targeted at people down the income ladder. His administration and the Washington press corps called the increases “revenue enhancers.” Reagan raised Social Security taxes so high that by the end of 2008, the government had collected more than $2 trillion in surplus tax.

George W. Bush signed a tax increase, too, in 2006, despite his written ironclad pledge never to raise taxes on anyone. It raised taxes on teenagers by requiring kids up to age 17, who earned money, to pay taxes at their parents’ tax rate, which would almost always be higher than the rate they would otherwise pay. It was a story that ran buried inside The New York Times one Sunday, but nowhere else.

In fact, thanks to Republicans, one in three Americans will pay higher taxes this year than they did last year.

9. Other countries do it better.

Compare this to Germany, one of many countries with a smarter tax system and smarter spending policies.

Germans work less, make more per hour and get much better parental leave than Americans, many of whom get no fringe benefits such as health care, pensions or even a retirement savings plan. By many measures the vast majority live better in Germany than in America.

To achieve this, unmarried Germans on average pay 52 percent of their income in taxes. Americans average 30 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

*******

David Cay Johnston is a columnist for tax.com and teaches the tax, property and regulatory law of the ancient world at Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management. He has also been called the “de facto chief tax enforcement officer of the United States” because his reporting in The New York Times shut down many tax dodges and schemes, just two of them valued by Congress at $260 billion. Johnston received a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for exposing tax loopholes and inequities. He wrote two bestsellers on taxes, Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch. Later this year, Johnston will be out with a new book, The Fine Print, revealing how big business, with help from politicians, abuses plain English to rob you blind.