1st International Multimedia Conference - Connectivity Beyond Diversity

As a graduating student of Communications, I become more anxious about the job(s) I might be doing after college. There are days when I tell myself I have to be in the print industry, and there are days when I want to be in the film industry instead. It’s scary! And it just gets scarier every single day.

Step Up International Services Inc. held the 1st International Multimedia Conference “Connectivity Beyond Diversity” in Ateneo De Manila University Philippines last February 22, 2015. Luckily, I was able to be part of it! I had been to a few seminars about media but this was the only seminar in which I really, really listened. I learned so much about Journalism, Indie Filmmaking, Graphics, Animation, and Directing. Every speaker were so inspiring that it made it harder (as if it were not hard enough gahh) to choose which field I really want to be in, if I ever get lucky, that is!

Kevin Sites (Backpack Journalist)

Who is Kevin Sites? ONLY THE BRAVEST MAN I KNOW SO FAR! He was a “backpack journalist” who covered wars in different parts of the globe once for ABC, once for CNN, once for Yahoo!, and twice for NBC! Talk about Big Time! He also wrote two books about his and other people’s experiences in the war zones. Know more about him here.

Jeff Canoy (ABS-CBN News Reporter)

Seriously, who doesn’t know him? He is the guy who always reports about disasters like typhoons in the Philippines. Scratch that. He doesn’t report, he shows!

Sigfreid Barros Sanchez (Director)

Okay, I thought of being in the film industry more than twice but never in the Indie film industry. Sanchez was very animated and so much fun to listen to. He talked no nonsense. I do not know about you but I have a high respect for people who are not afraid to make fun of themselves and are making sense at the same time.

Ivan Chris Despi (The Acid House Production)

It’s not known to many that the opening billboards of most shows in ABS-CBN and its sister channels (lol what is a sister channel) are made by The Acid House Production in which Despi, together with his wife, is the brainchild! Despi encouraged not wait for one’s dream project to happen. Instead, invent it.

Joaquin Valdez (Commercial Director)

He directed some of the ads on Youtube that we skip most of the time! How amazing it is to meet the person behind some of those ads? If right now you want to check some of the ads he directed, you may go here.

If your life after school is so close you could reach it, you do not just sit around and hope that the good life you believe you are fated to live will appear in front of you just like that. You grab it, by all means. I mean, right? If you don’t agree, then carry on!

I’m closing out Women’s History month with a post about someone I actually knew, my grandmother’s best friend, Jean Moore Fasse.

Mrs. Fasse was born in Lillington, North Carolina, in 1908 and was raised on a Harnett County farm. She worked as a nanny while attending high school and enrolled at Fayetteville State Teachers College (now Fayetteville State University). That’s where she and my grandmother met. They both earned teaching degrees. My grandmother accepted a position at a one-room school in rural Harnett County. Mrs. Fasse’s first teaching job was in a one-room school in Goldsboro, NC. My grandmother spent her career in education, but her friend decided teaching was not her calling.

In 1944, Mrs. Fasse joined the American Red Cross and was sent to Washington, D.C., for training. After training, she was stationed along the Ledo Road, a supply lifeline from India to China, built by the U.S. Army in World War II. She spent time in Calcutta, India and Burma. After the war, Mrs. Fasse returned to the States, but traveling was in her blood by then.

She signed up for the U.S. Special Services and was trained to run recreation clubs in Europe. She spent many years working in Germany, until she married in 1963. She remained in Europe until 1990.

Mrs. Fasse’s visits were always exciting. She was vivacious, quick-witted and sophisticated. And she always had lots of stories to tell. As a child who was curious by nature, she made me want to see the world myself.

The last time I saw Mrs. Fasse was after my grandmother’s funeral in 2002. She spent some time with our family, talking about the friendship she shared with my grandmother. They had a lot in common. They were both adventurous, independent, strong-willed women who thrived on breaking barriers.

Jean Fasse died on June 21, 2008.

Source: Jean Moore Fasse Papers, Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Photo: Jean Fasse in Indian dress, circa 1946

Omg this is so accurate I’m d y i n g

Taxpayer Bill of Rights - IRS’ Most Serious Problem

National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Nina E. Olson’s 2013 annual report to Congress urges the Internal Revenue Service to adopt a comprehensive Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and says IRS budget cuts and training reductions are harming taxpayer service. 

First things first – The NTA’s annual report is prepared by the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) – an independent organization within the IRS.  

The NTA delivers the report to the tax committees in Congress. That means the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance. 

The report does not require a prior review by the IRS Commissioner, Treasury Secretary or the OMB, which makes the NTA a very powerful advocate for taxpayers and for reforming the tax collection process. 

The report has four primary sections – most serious problems, legislative recommendations, most litigated issues, and a second volume that includes the results of TAS research and related studies. 

You can read the full NTA report if you want to read all of it, but the “headlines” are listed below. 

Most Serious Problems:-

- IRS Should Adopt a Taxpayer Bill of Rights

- IRS Budget Cuts Harm Taxpayer Service

- IRS Training Reductions Harm Taxpayer Service

- IRS Employees Lack Education on Taxpayer Rights

- New Approach Needed for Identity Theft Victim Assistance

- Taxpayers are harmed by Lack of Regulation of Return Preparers

- Offshore Voluntary Disclosure (OVD) Pressures Taxpayers Into Paying Disproportionate Penalties

- Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Could be Bothersome

 Legislative Recommendations:-

- Permanent Repeal of AMT

- Broaden Timeframes for Filing Refund Claims

- Lower Affordability Threshold for Premium Tax Credit

- IRS Should Bear the Burden of Proof Required to Ban Taxpayers From Claiming ETIC for Two Years

- Allow Educational Institutions to Verify Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) with the IRS before filing Tuition Information Reports

 Top 10 Most Litigated Issues of 2013, in descending order are:-

- Accuracy-Related Penalty Under IRC § 6662(b)(1) and (2)

- Trade or Business Expenses Under IRC § 162(a) and Related Code Sections

- Gross income Under IRC § 61 and Related Code Sections

- Summons Enforcement Under IRC §§ 7602(a), 7604(a), and § 7609(a)

- Collection Due Process Hearings Under IRC §§ 6320 and 6330)

- Failure to File Penalty Under IRC § 6651(a)(1), Failure to Pay Penalty Under IRC § 6651(a)(2), and Estimated Tax Penalty Under IRC § 6654

- Charitable Deductions Under IRC §170

- Frivolous Issues Penalty Under IRC § 6673 and Related Appellate-Level Sanctions

- Civil Actions to Enforce Federal Tax Liens or to Subject Property to Payment of Tax Under IRC § 7403

-  Relief from Joint and Several Liability for Spouses Under IRC § 6015

Uh oh. Obamacare just made your taxes even more difficult to file; IRS says don't call them for help

Don’t look now, but your already impossible-to-file-correctly taxes just got even more difficult to file thanks to Obamacare. And the IRS says they can’t help. They’re swamped. Man, this law is the gift that keeps on giving.

From Yahoo! News:

Filing a federal tax return is about to get more complicated for millions of families because of President Barack Obama’s health law. But they shouldn’t expect much help from the Internal Revenue Service.

Got a question for the IRS? Good luck reaching someone by phone. The tax agency says only half of the 100 million people expected to call this year will be able to reach a person.

Callers who do get through may have to wait on hold for 30 minutes or more to talk to someone who will answer only the simplest questions.

"Taxpayers who need help are not getting it, and tax compliance is likely to suffer over the longer term if these problems are not quickly and decisively addressed," said a report Wednesday by agency watchdog Nina E. Olson.

Read the Rest

This is a perfect little microcosm of government.

They passed a law without reading it first. It cost many times what they said it will cost. It raised the price of both health care and health insurance — the exact opposite of what its ostensible purpose was. It hurt the economy. It raised taxes on everyone. And it forced people, against their will, to participate in it by using the most expensive website ever created — a website that didn’t work. And then, when the dust finally settled and citizens tried to follow the law and comply, the very people responsible for implementing it, the IRS, failed. Only government could be this inept.

At the end of March i will be embarking on a journey to the Middle East with International Service. 

International Service is a development charity protecting and promoting the rights of marginalised people in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

The social and economic crises resulting from the conflict in Palestine means that more focus and attention is needed in ensuring human rights and to create sustainable livelihoods. When people are denied their basic rights and opportunities, they become trapped in a cycle of poverty and and inequality.

Our goal is to support the people in the area in understanding their rights and enforcing it. We would be working to target issues related to women, children and young people and those with disabilities.

There are 4 projects currently running. I personally will be working on the Women’s Empowerment Project with the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling in Ramallah. The West Bank has a population of approximately 3,000,000 where the overall unemployment rate is 23% and 18% live below the poverty line.

The Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling is an independent Palestinian, not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation that seeks to develop a democratic Palestinian society based on the principles of gender equality and social justice. By forging a feminist vision based equality and justice, it plays an important role in addressing gender-based violence in the area. we aim to defend women’s rights by providing legal aid, social counselling and protection services to women in an environment where human rights abuses are rampart and women’s issues are regularly overlooked.  WCLAC also aims to address the gender-specific effects of increasing militarisation associated with the Israeli occupation and the needs of women victimised by Israel’s violent actions in the occupied Palestinian Territories.

More information can be found here:

I have until the 16th of March to reach my target of £800.
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

please share! thank you!

IRS to innocent companies: Hey, we're totally sorry we stole your money through civil asset forfeiture

If you’re not familiar with civil asset forfeiture, take some time to familiarize yourself with it. In short, it’s the name of a practice used by many government agencies to seize assets (cash and valuable possessions) from citizens without any due process. And it is rarely given back even if the accused is eventually proven to be innocent. We hear the term most often refer to police officers and highway patrol officers who seize large amounts of cash during routine traffic stops. They claim that the cash itself is reason enough for them to be suspicious of its owner. They presume that he or she is involved in criminal activity — in their minds, this is the only reasonable explanation for why anyone would need a large amount of cash on them. I can think of about 500 other legitimate legal reasons but that’s neither here nor there. They then confiscate the cash (or car or any other valuable possession they feel like taking) and there is nothing you can do about it. And no, it doesn’t just happen to folks who fit some pre-conceived criminal stereotype. It happens to all sorts of people.

It’s truly unbelievable that this sort of thing is so rampant here in the United States. But it’s not just the police who are getting into the action. The feds have been doing this sort of thing for years. The IRS, for instance, often seizes the assets of anyone it finds suspicious, regardless of the actual innocence or guilt of the person or business. And rarely do these innocent parties receive anything back in a timely manner, if ever.

This leads us to our current story. The feds have a rule: Any deposit made at any bank in the country that exceeds $10,000, must be reported directly to the IRS (there are so many things wrong with this ridiculous law, I don’t even know where to begin. But since it would take 10 pages of ranting, I’ll wait until another day.). But what if, upon examination, the IRS discovers that you deposited $9,900 a few times? Maybe you’re self-employed and that’s how your payment structure is set up. Maybe you sold some things that cost around 9 grand each. Maybe you did it because you didn’t want to be pulled over by the police only to have them discover that you had more than $10,000 on you. Maybe you did it just because you wanted to do it that way. These are all very plausible explanations but they would likely be ignored by the IRS. Rather, the IRS would say that they are suspicious of you and your activity and that they need to take your money just in case. This is exactly what is happening to dozens and dozens of people and businesses all around the country. And as you can imagine, it’s causing problems for them to say the least.

From the AP:

Pressured by Congress, the IRS said Wednesday it is changing its policies and apologizing for seizing banks accounts from otherwise law-abiding business owners simply because they structured bank transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements.
Their alleged crime: routinely making bank deposits of less than $10,000. That allowed the business owners to avoid reporting requirements designed to catch drug dealers and money launderers.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress that the IRS is changing policies to prevent the seizures, as long as the money came from legal means.
"To anyone who is not treated fairly under the code, I apologize," Koskinen told the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. "Taxpayers have to be comfortable that they will be treated fairly."
By law, bank transactions above $10,000 must be reported to the IRS. It’s a felony, called “structuring,” to manage transactions to avoid the reporting requirement, even if the money is legally earned.
In some cases, the IRS seized and held bank accounts for years without bringing charges.

Read the Rest

"Sorry we took your money by force and didn’t pay you back! Are we still besties?"

I don’t think I know one person who thinks this is a just practice. But it will continue to happen until the average American knows it is happening and gets rightly indignant about it.