Transparency vs. privacy

The shady revelations of the Panama Papers are sparking new demands for “transparency” in businesses and in financial transactions, including identifying exactly who owns particular assets.  To the point that efforts are being made to establish an international registry to keep track of exactly who owns what.

But some say that anonymity can be important, both to a business and in fending off governments that would love to be all-powerful and all-controlling.  Read that case after the jump.  What do you think? [Read more…]

The First Amendment Defense Act

A bill is before Congress that would protect individuals, churches, and other organizations from being discriminated against because of their beliefs about gay marriage.  The First Amendment Defense Act, which ingeniously frames the issue in terms of discrimination, has been bottled up in committee for over a year.  Lawmakers don’t seem to want to take it up, even though Republicans control both houses.

Though President Obama would surely veto the bill, both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump (though not John Kasich) have promised to sign it. [Read more…]

Updating the Constitution?

According to a recent poll, 41% of Democrats believe that the Constitution should be “updated.”  The study did not go into details about what they think should be changed.  The Second Amendment, probably.  I wonder what else they would change.  This compares to 28% of the general public and  20% of Republicans.

Do you think this is an eroding of allegiance to our fundamental national law?  Or a prudent openness to revision?  If the latter, what changes do you think are in order? [Read more…]

Freedom of worship or freedom of religion?

The citizen test given by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services speaks of “freedom of worship.”  Senator James Lankford (R, OK) has been trying to get the agency to change the test and the study materials so that they refer to the “freedom of religion.”  The agency has finally agreed to do so.

Do you see the difference? [Read more…]

Finding out how the IRS investigates churches

Two years ago, the atheist group the Freedom from Religion Foundation sued the IRS in order to make it enforce the law that would take away a church’s tax exemption if it got involved in politics.  The IRS settled, to the atheists’ satisfaction, by drawing up rules and procedures that it would follow in investigating churches.

But those rules have not been made public, despite Freedom of Information applications.  So some religious liberty organizations have filed a lawsuit to make the IRS disclose how it will handle churches. [Read more…]

The Panama Papers, Vladimir Putin, and the Clintons

The Panama Papers are the records of a law firm that specializes in setting up secret bank accounts, offering tax havens and money-laundering services to the rich, famous, and corrupt.  Investigators are still combing through those recently-leaked documents.

But one thing that has come out is a connection between the Vladimir Putin-controlled Russian bank whose subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere are involved in these shady dealings, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, and her chief fundraiser, his brother Tony Podesta. [Read more…]


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