Thursday, November 01, 2007

Internet Access Tax Ban OKd for 7 Years

Congress unanimously approved it and the president has signed it. A ban on taxing internet access until 2014 has been made into law. However ....

Not everyone is safe from taxes under the bill. States that already had Internet access taxes in place before the ban took effect several years ago would still be allowed to keep them through a grandfather clause in the bill. (Nine states--Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin--fall into that category, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.) Officials can also tax Internet services, albeit more indirectly, if they had already enacted broad-based laws on their books that tax the gross income or receipts of a business.

The bill isn't a blanket ban on all Internet-related taxation, either. It bars states from taxing services that provide a connection to the Internet, such as cable, DSL, and wireless-type services. But governments are free to tax "voice, audio, or video programming" that charges consumers a fee--such as IPTV and subscription-based Internet phone services--and basically any other "products and services" delivered over the Internet and not specifically exempted by the bill. (The bill also does not deal with the separate question of sales tax on goods purchased online.)

The politicians did opt to carve out from the possibility of taxing the following services: "home page electronic mail and instant messaging (including voice--and video--capable electronic mail and instant messaging), video clips, and personal electronic storage capacity, that are provided independently or not packaged with Internet access." That section was added at the last minute in response to concerns raised by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the original author of the tax ban, which dates back to 1998."

Cities and counties and states continue to eye the internet as a cash cow. A brief period of sanctuary exists for now, and the issue has been pushed aside until another election cycle. The battle now shifts back to states, where voters will need to demand the internet does not get taxed into oblivion.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

At The Mountains of Madness

As Halloween draws ever closer, I've got some items worthy of your seasonal contemplation and enjoyment.

First comes the annual Astonishing Jack'O Lanterns provided each year by Tennessee Jed. He's made his selection and has a preview image for you to see, so go see it! The man works wonders with a pumpkin. (Click here for his Pumpkins of Halloween's Past.)

That sly and vigilant Newscoma has collected a helpin' heap of Halloween movie scares. Scenes from movies like "Freaks" and "Audition" and a clip I was so happy she offered - Viggo Mortensen in "The Prophecy" - he is one scary dude in that one. Scroll through her blog to see them all .... and just keep telling yourself "It's only a movie, IT'S ONLY A MOVIE!!!"

The ever delightful Tits McGee (who is swooning in happiness along with all Red Sox fans) has some fantastic pics of the massive Pumpkin Festival in New Hampshire, which you can view by clicking here.

The spooky stories of haunted places in East Tennessee are offered in this account from the Kingsport Times News, which you can read by clicking here. Go on, I dare you! You want a sample?

Devil’s looking glass

Above the Nolichucky River in Unicoi County is a pile of rocks in the mountainside that, by day, looks like an ordinary pile of rocks. But when the moonlight shines on it at night the pile of rocks transforms into the face of Satan himself."

Looking for the spooky near you? Then search GooGhoul for scary events in your neighborhood.

For a more literary chills, then take a journey into the unknown and ancient "At The Mountains of Madness".

For binary fiends, there are of course the Top 10 Zombie Flash Games.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Krystal Burger-Eating Champ

First Joey Chestnut took the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating crown in Brooklyn in July and in Chattanooga on Sunday he gobbled up 103 Krystal hamburgers in eight minutes. Details here.

I can't explain how he did it. I remember at around age 10 thinking it was a staggering feat to eat a dozen Krystals in fifteen minutes. Joey's win means he scarfed 12 per minute.

Poltical Views Tennessee Style

A new Tennessee political blog, TennViews, has just started gathering the views and opinions with a progressive stance, and it's one which you should put on your regular reading list. I've also added it to my blogroll.

I hope you take time to go there, and a post from Saturday on the state's open meeting laws from Knox County Commissioner Mark Harmon is a fine place to begin. Late last week, a state legislative committee voted to propose a change in the open meetings laws which sadly makes it far easier for elected officials to gather, deliberate and decide issues in secret.

Harmon writes:

Let me state as firmly as I can that the Open Meetings Act DOES NOT need to be weakened by adding a provision that only a quorum can violate it. In the aftermath of the abuses that took place this year in Knox County we should be looking to strengthen the Open Meetings Act, not weaken it."
"The public does not object to commissioners arguing with one another, attempting to persuade one another, and compromising with one another. The public only rightly insists these acts be done in public sessions and meetings.

Your committee has heard vast overstatements that commissioners no longer can talk to one another or cannot attend the same events as district mates. Nonsense. The current act’s prohibition is on deliberation. If commissioners need to deliberate, they can do so in regular or special meetings or properly announced workshops."

Will Tennessee's political leaders take the progressive stand to keep meetings open to the public or we will race backwards to seek dark corners of secrecy?

More here