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eyes on the U.S.

The “Homeless Billionaire” And His Plan To Save California

German billionaire Nicolas Berggruen has a plan to make America’s “Golden State” sparkle again: cut income and sales taxes, but broaden the revenue base by taxing services at 5%. Now he just has to convince California's voters and political leade

The man with the plan: billionaire Nicolas Berggruen (YouTube)
The man with the plan: billionaire Nicolas Berggruen (YouTube)

Nicolas Berggruen is a German billionaire who owns, among other thing, the successful Karstadt distribution company. He's also a visionary. Berggruen's ultimate goal? To write – together with experts from the world over – the perfect constitution.

But that doesn't stop him from working in the meantime on more practical jobs – like saving California from its crippling deficit. In 2010 Berggruen, nicknamed the "homeless billionaire" (because he lives in hotels and does not own a home) – assembled a committee of experts tasked with renewing and profoundly reforming the U.S. state's economic policies.

Berggruen's Think Long Committee for California, which includes former U.S. Secretaries of State George Schultz and Condoleezza Rice among others, recently published its recommendations. The suggestions focus primarily on reshaping California's fiscal system. The main idea is to drastically lower all current taxes while at the same time broadening the overall tax base.

Taxing "discretionary" services

The Committee recommends applying just two income tax rates: 2% for people with annual salaries of between $45,000 and $95,000; and 7.5% for anyone earning above $95,000 per year. People with annual incomes of less than $45,000 would face no state income tax under the group's plan. The tax rate for companies would be cut back to 7%. The sales tax rate for goods would also be trimmed, from 5% to 4.5%. In order to broaden the overall tax base and "make the state more competitive," the Committee recommends taxing all services at 5%

"This combination of cutting the personal income tax and broadening the tax base will help stabilize the boom and bust cycle of the budget while generating $10 billion in new revenues annually to start paying down the state's ‘wall of debt"," the report reads.

Berggruen and his associates also recommend creating a citizen council in charge of overseeing public accountability. With an eye on the November 2012 California elections, the group plans to launch a p.r. machine in favor of its "Blueprint to Renew California."

Read the original story in French

Photo - YouTube

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Big Brother For The People: India's CCTV Strategy For Cracking Down On Police Abuse

"There is nothing fashionable about installing so many cameras in and outside one’s house," says a lawyer from a Muslim community. And yet, doing this has helped members of the community prove unfair police action against them.

A woman is walking in the distance while a person holds a military-style gun close up

Survellance and tight security at the Lal Chowk area in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on October 4, 2022

Sukanya Shantha

MUMBAI — When sleuths of the National Investigating Agency suddenly descended on human rights defender and school teacher Abdul Wahid Shaikh’s house on October 11, he knew exactly what he needed to do next.

He had been monitoring the three CCTVs that are installed on the front and the rear of his house — a chawl in Vikhroli, a densely populated area in suburban Mumbai. The cameras told him that a group of men and women — some dressed in Mumbai police’s uniform and a few in civil clothes — had converged outside his house. Some of them were armed and few others with batons were aggressively banging at the door asking him to immediately let them in.

This was not the first time that the police had landed at his place at 5 am.

When the policemen discovered the CCTV cameras outside his house, they began hitting it with their batons, destroying one of them mounted right over the door. This action was captured by the adjacent CCTV camera. Shaikh, holed up in his house with his wife and two children, kept pleading with the police to stop destroying his property and simply show them an official notice.

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