Senate votes to kill service tax
As expected, the Michigan Senate voted 23-15 yesterday to repeal a much-maligned tax on services such as business consulting, tanning and graphic design before it takes effect Dec. 1.
The full House could follow up as early as Thursday with a plan replacing the $614 million the tax would generate this fiscal year.
The linchpin to successfully killing the service tax is making up for the revenue that lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm have designated for K-12 public schools and other government services.
Bhutto’s supporters scuffle with police
Supporters of Benazir Bhutto clashed with police in front of parliament yesterday after she urged party activists into the streets to protest emergency rule, deepening the uncertainty engulfing a Pakistan already shaken by rising Islamic militancy.
Seeking to position herself as the only leader able to unite the country to confront Islamic extremism, the former prime minister toughened her rhetoric against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, but she left open the possibility of resuming talks if he ends the crackdown.
President Bush, meanwhile, told the U.S.-allied general that Pakistan must go through with parliamentary elections that had been planned for January.
Georgian president declares state of emergency
Riot police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon yesterday to break up demonstrations calling for the ouster of President Mikhail Saakashvili. The pro-Western leader declared a state of emergency and banned all news broadcasts except state-controlled television.
Saakashvili, a U.S. ally who has tried to integrate Georgia with the West, also expelled three Russian diplomats and accused Moscow of fomenting the protests, which began last week. He now faces the worst political crisis of his four years in office in this former Soviet republic, where a low-level tug-of-war between Russia and the West is being played out.
There has been growing disillusion with Saakashvili among critics who say he has not moved fast enough to spread growing wealth.
School shooting stuns Finland
An 18-year-old gunman opened fire at his high school in this placid town in southern Finland on Wednesday, killing seven other students and the principal before mortally wounding himself in a rampage that stunned a nation where gun crime is rare.
Police were analyzing YouTube postings that appeared to anticipate the massacre, including clips in which a young man calls for revolution and apparently prepares for the attack by test firing a semiautomatic handgun.
Investigators said the gunman, who was not identified, shot himself in the head after the shooting spree at Jokela High School in Tuusula, some 30 miles north of the capital, Helsinki. He died later at Toolo Hospital in Helsinki.
– Compiled from Daily wire reports