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Whistle blowing is that to publicly allege concealed misconduct on the part of an organization or body of people, usually from within that same organization. This misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations, and corruption. Whistle blowers may make their allegations internally (for example, to other people within the accused organization or externally (to law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues).

– Wikipedia

Establishing effective reporting mechanisms is one of the key elements of a fraud prevention program.  Many scams are discovered or suspected by people who arent involved in them. The challenge of employees is to encourage witnesses to speak out by showing that it is very much in their own interests.  Organizations that can overcome the culture of silence and encourage openness are likely to benefit in many ways.

In the UK there is no legal requirement for companies to have a policy on whistle blowing. But listed companies are obliged under the Combined Code to have whistle blowing arrangements or explain why they do not, while public bodies are expected to have them. Firms that are subject to the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002, are also required to have whistle blowing arrangements.

According to Public Concern at Work’s best-practice guidance, a whistle blowing policy should make the following points;

  • The organizations take malpractices seriously. Here it should give examples of the type of concerns to be raised, thereby distinguishing a whislte blowing issue from a grievance.
  • Employees have the option to raise their concerns outside their reporting line. Here the policy should give guidance on when and how concerns may properly be raised outside the organization.
  • Employees may access confidential guidance from an independent body.
  • The organization will, when requested, respect the confidentiality of anyone raising a concern.
  • The victimization of a whistle blower will be treated as a disciplinary matter- as will any malicious false allegation.

– CIMA, UK

The European Union, taken as a whole, is a high-tax area. In 2006, the last year for which detailed data are available,  he overall tax ratio, i.e. the sum of taxes and social security contributions in the 27 Member States (EU-27) amounted to 39.9 % of GDP (in the weighted average; see Table 1); this value is about 12 percentage points above those recorded in the United States and Japan. The EU taxto- GDP ratio is high not only compared with these two countries but in general; amongst the major non-European OECD members, only New Zealand has a ratio that exceeds 35 per cent of GDP1. The high EU tax-to-GDP ratio is not a new phenomenon; it mostly dates back to a strong upward trend in the 1970s, and to a lesser extent also in the 1980s and early 1990s, which was closely linked to the growing share of the public sector in the economy in those years. In the later 1990s, first the Maastricht Treaty nominal convergence criteria and subsequently the Stability and Growth Pact encouraged the adoption of a series of fiscal consolidation measures. In a number of Member States, the consolidation process relied primarily on restricting or scaling back primary public expenditure, in others the focus was rather on increasing taxes (in some cases temporarily). At the end of that decade, a number of countries took advantage of buoyant tax revenues to reduce the tax burden, through cuts in the personal income tax and social contributions, but also in the corporate income tax. The overall tax burden decreased perceptibly from 2000, but generally only for a couple of years. Efforts to reduce taxes permanently gradually lost steam; reductions in tax ratios, fairly aggressive in 2001, became less significant in subsequent years and mostly stopped altogether in 2005. Cyclical factors contributed to slow the decline in tax ratios after 2002; particularly from 2004 onwards, growth in the EU reaccelerated, boosting the revenue of pro-cyclical taxes; in addition, Member States strove to reduce their deficits, which probably led them to postpone tax cuts. Overall, one may conclude that, in the last decade, the upward trend in taxation has largely been stopped, but has been reversed in few countries only.

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Corporate income tax rates continue their rapid decline throughout the EU

Since the second half of the 1990s, corporate income tax (CIT) rates in Europe have been cutforcefully . This trend has continued in 2008, as shown by an 0.9 percentage point drop in the EU-27 average. The cut was even stronger in the euro area (1.2 points), whose rates nevertheless remain somewhat higher (at 26.5 %, the EA-15 average is almost three points above the average for the Union as a whole). Seven Member States countries cut the corporate tax rate in 2008, most prominently Germany (-8.9 points to 29.8 %) and Italy (-5.9 points to 31.4 %). No country increased the CIT rate.
Although the downward trend has been quite general, corporate tax rates still vary substantially within the Union . The adjusted statutory tax rate on corporate income3 varies between a minimum of 10 % (in Bulgaria and Cyprus) and a maximum of 35 % in Malta, although the gap between the maximum and the minimum has shrunk since 1995. As in the case of personal income tax, the lowest rates are typical of countries with low overall tax ratios; consequently, the new Member States tend to have low rates (with the notable exception of Malta, which is also the only Member State, together with Sweden, not having changed its CIT rate since 1995). The reverse is, however, not true: unlike in the case of the personal income tax, the two Member States with the highest tax burden, Denmark and Sweden, display corporate tax rates that are not much above the average. This is linked to the adoption by these countries of Dual Income Tax systems, which by nature tax capital income at a moderate rate.

Source : http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs

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Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday he sees no change in U.S. policy toward Iran despite the U.S. promise of a “new beginning.”

Khamenei said a change in rhetoric is not enough, and Washington must practice what it preaches, according to the English-language Press TV channel in Iran.

He also promised that Iran will change its policy if the United States does so as well, Press TV reported.

Khamenei’s comments, which he made in a televised address to mark the start of the Iranian New Year on Friday, come a day after U.S. President Barack Obama reached out to Iran in a videotaped message.

A spokesman for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad condemned U.S. foreign policy Friday in response to the video.

Obama’s message spoke of “new beginnings” with the promise of a new year.

“My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community,” the president said in his message Friday.

Obama said the United States seeks engagement with Iran that is “honest and grounded in mutual respect.”

The president’s message is part of a dramatic shift in tone from that of the Bush administration, which branded Iran as part of an “axis of evil” along with North Korea and Iraq. It also echoes Obama’s inaugural speech in which he told the Muslim world, “We seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

Ahmadinejad said last month that Iran would welcome talks with the United States “in a fair atmosphere with mutual respect.”

Khamenei also said world powers have come to realize they are not able to block Iran’s nuclear progress. He looked back on the February 25 testing of Iran’s first nuclear power plant, at Bushehr, as one of the “joyful developments” of the past year.

Last month, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security released a report saying that Iran has reached “nuclear weapons breakout capability” — it has enough uranium to make a nuclear bomb.

The report was based on an analysis of data from the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, an IAEA official who asked not to be named cautioned against drawing such dramatic conclusions from the data, saying Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium would have to be turned into highly enriched uranium to be weapons-grade material. That hasn’t been done, the official said.

The United States has had tortuous relations with Tehran since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Meanwhile, the widow of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, died Saturday morning after a long period of illness, the Iranian-run Islamic Republic News Agency said.barack_obama_speech000x0432x479

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A funeral for Khadije Saghafi was scheduled to be held Sunday in Tehran and she was set to be laid to rest in Khomeini’s tomb, the agency reported.

Khomeini was the leader of the 1979 revolution that led to the toppling of the shah of Iran and the ushering in of an Islamic state. He died in 1989.

Source : yahoo news

team

Working in a team environment provides an excellent opportunity to develop invaluable skills, positive energy and innovative approaches to problem-solving. The best of these activities uses the dynamics of play and the right amount of humor to encourage brainstorming abilities. In short, an atmosphere of playfulness and a team building exercise with a built-in ‘fun factor’ helps relieve individual and group stress. Without stress, team skills can flourish.

The oft-used term ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ refers to the ability to generate new ideas, as opposed to derivative ones. To think that creatively, individuals and teams must have their intellectual boundaries removed. They must have the freedom to scatter their toys on the floor and make a mess. As a game designer, I find that ‘making a mess’ is often the only way to discover new approaches to solving a problem.

In a team building game, an amount of structure is obviously needed to achieve desired results. However, as with any game design, team activities can be cleverly created with enough ‘play room’ that a real fun factor exists. If the teams feel free enough, perhaps to the point where they don’t notice the structure of the exercise, they will have the play experience we are seeking. This is why very cleverly designed games have what I call ‘Invisible Rules’, a set of rules that are so seamlessly integrated that they never hamper the experience. If team members feel too restricted by rules, they may resist contributing fully and this undermines the activity’s purpose.

The freedom to play is often accompanied by, and supported by, a healthy sense of humor. This combination of play and lightheartedness is difficult to beat.

As Psychologist Rollo May puts it, “Humor is a healthy way of feeling a ‘distance’ between one’s self and the problem.” Finding ways to laugh as we confront challenges gives us perspective-often allowing us to find solutions more quickly”.

When the challenge is difficult, stress will only makes the climb to the top of the mountain much harder. Determination without humor is a recipe for disaster. Humor keeps the mind and spirit flexible enough to cope with sudden changes and longer-term issues. In a team setting, a group that is laughing together is already getting a head-start on the team building process. They trust each other. They have relaxed their individual egos. Laughing together is an immediate way to begin bonding. Play becomes more productive with humor as an undercurrent.

Anyone that a plays a game seriously may concentrate and win that game, but in a team environment, individual victory is not the focus. It is more important to learn to work together, grow together, and explore new options for problem-solving. It is less about winning than it is about trying new approaches. This requires freedom to play. This requires laughter along the way!

Source:www.phillyhops.com/articles

It’s a common misconception that people with ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)are unable to focus. ADDers are able to focus. It’s just that we have a hard time staying focused.That’s especially true when the activity calling for our attention isn’t one that we find especially engaging. Ever struggled to pay attention to a boring lecture? Or stay involved in a business meeting that drags on? Here are six strategies to boost the ability to focus:

1 Get it in writing.

If you’re preparing to attend a meeting, lecture, workshop, or another gathering that requires close attention, ask for an advance copy of the relevant materials (meeting agenda, lecture outline, and so on).Take the materials with you to the gathering. Use them to guide your active listening and—just as important— your note-taking. Writing as you listen will help you stay focused on what the speaker is saying.

2 Get a good seat.

Where you sit is critical. You may find it easier to be attentive if you sit up front, facing the speaker. Arriving early will increase your chances of getting a seat far away from distractions, such as a noisy fan or a doorway that opens onto a busy hallway. If the event is scheduled to run for several hours, change your seat after each break. That will give you a new perspective and allow you to refocus your attention. If you will need to work independently for some time, such as in a science lab or during a lengthy exam, ask ahead of time for permission to take occasional breaks and, possibly, to change your seat. Standing up and walking around will help you stay fresh and focused.

3 Ask for a review.

As soon as possible after the class or meeting, ask your teacher or co-worker for a brief review of the main points. Explain what you think the points were, and see if he or she concurs. This is a good time to fill in any details you might have missed when your focus flagged. It’s also a good time to find out exactly what is expected of you next—assignments to turn in, succeeding steps on a project, and so on. Don’t forget to confirm deadlines.

4 Avoid fatigue.

It’s hard to pay close attention when you’re tired. Whenever possible, sign up for classes that meet early in the day (or whenever your focus is greatest). At work, you may not be able to control meeting times, but, whenever possible, pick a time that works well for you.

5 Move!

Feel the urge to fidget? Go right ahead. As long as you don’t disturb others, clicking a pen, playing with your hair, knitting, and so on can help you pay attention. If discretion is an issue, chewing gum, sucking on hard candy, or even sipping from a glass of water might do the trick. If there is any doubt as to what’s permissible, ask the speaker—before the lecture or meeting begins. For more ideas, see the book Fidget to Focus, by Roland Rotz, Ph.D., and Sarah Wright (iUniverse).

6 Choose your leader carefully.

Picking classes? Look for an instructor who is well-organized, flexible, and dynamic enough to hold your interest. You also want someone who announces deadlines well in advance and provides students with lots of feedback. You may not be able to choose your supervisor at work. However, you can ask for accommodations that allow you to function at your best and get the job done. Getting deadlines in writing,working in a quiet spot, and scheduling frequent short meetings to confirm that you are on track will help enormously.

Over the last thirty years or so, group think has become a term against which all employers rebel because it signifies the end of creative and independent thought. When you have a tightly-knit group of people who work together, they are likely to conform to one another’s thought processes, making it almost impossible to foster independent thought. This is something that should be avoided at all costs, so here are a few tips for avoiding group think during a business meeting.

Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting: Don’t Get Mad

One of the ways that you can promote groupthink is by getting angry every time an employee opposes your viewpoint. If you send the message that contradicting the boss is “bad”, the group as a whole will avoid inciting conflict. Instead, make new ideas and arguments a pleasant experience, and take every idea into consideration. Further, if one or two members of the group consistently berate another member for their ideas, take them aside and advise them that all ideas are welcome. Make the business meeting a positive atmosphere.

Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting: Appoint a Co-Leader

Often, one leader of a business meeting can seem overwhelming to the rest of the group. Since you have your own opinions, they may assume that there’s aren’t welcome, which promotes groupthink. To battle this problem, appoint a co-leader for your business meetings — preferably someone who is likely to disagree with you. Show your staff that new and previously unmentioned ideas are not only acceptable, but welcome.

Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting: Assign Discussion Leaders

You might take a page out of the educational rule book and assign discussion leaders for each meeting. For example, let’s say that there are four topics on the agenda, and there will be twelve members of the meeting. A week before the meeting takes place, assign those four topics to groups of three. This gives each group a chance to brainstorm ideas and to come up with possible solutions for the meeting. This will help battle groupthink because they won’t be asked to come up with ideas on the spot in front of all their colleagues.

Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting: Give Breaks

A business meeting doesn’t have to be a three-hour-long marathon; it can be broken up. You might want to schedule two meetings for the day — one before lunch and one right after. This will allow your staff to come up with new ideas, to argue those ideas, and then to take a mental and emotional breather. When you reconvene, they’ll feel fresh and ready to start anew.

Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting: Provide a Venue for Anonymous Feedback

One of the reasons why groupthink is so prevalent is because people are reluctant to voice a controversial idea in front of their colleagues. In order to allow everyone a voice, come up with a venue for anonymous feedback. For example, after every meeting, you can leave a closed box in a room with small slips of paper. Allow your staff to write down their reactions to the meeting as well as new ideas they weren’t comfortable with bringing up. Make sure the box cannot be opened and that there is a slit in the top for the pieces of paper.

Source: http://www.associatedcontent.com

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Most recenlt, President Obama won the votes for his “stimulus plan” for $787 billion showing the voters’ interest on his mission.

“This historic step won’t be the end of what we do to turn our economy around, but the beginning,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

Obama has scored a significant victory as the Congress on Friday finally approved his massive stimulus package, an unprecedented attempt to jump-start the ailing American economy.

The 787 billion dollar package was approved by a vote of 246-183 in the House of Representatives but with no Republican support. Hours later, the bill advanced in the Senate by a vote of60-36. Three centrist Republicans joined Democrats to move the legislation forward.

But Obama expressed his confidence that the U.S. could work through the economic crisis.

“It will take time, and it will take effort, but working together, we will turn this crisis into opportunity and emerge from our painful present into a brighter future,” he said.

In addition to roughly 286 billion dollars in tax cuts and 54 billion dollars for cash-strapped states, the package contains 311billion dollars in appropriations, including 120 billion dollars in infrastructure, 14.2 billion dollars for health care, 105.9 billion dollars for education and training.

All these dollars he wish to spend and recover I hope will do good for the US and globally recovering the crisis. We in Sri Lanka didn’t feel the crisis much for a reason unknown to me. But the businesses with global sharing suffered with tax imposes and other penalties resulting a bad accounting session. However if the stimulus fails, Obama would try another dart. Lets keep watching..

Source : http://news.xinhuanet.com/