OKLAHOMA CITY – A top Republican lawmaker said Tuesday that the Oklahoma Legislature has no plans to bow to striking teachers' demand to eliminate a capital gains tax break as a way to end a walkout now in its second week. Rep. John Pfeiffer, a House majority floor leader, also said lawmakers are unlikely to consider any other major revenue bills this session. Gov. Mary Fallin also defied striking teachers on Tuesday, signing a bill to repeal a tax on hotel stays that teachers had called on her to veto. Fallin encouraged lawmakers to turn their attention to other issues. The actions of the governor and Legislature appeared to indicate that the confrontation has reached a stalemate.
BANGKOK – Thailand has amended a royal property law to formally give King Maha Vajiralongkorn full control of the agency which manages the multibillion-dollar holdings of the monarchy. The newly amended Crown Property Act replaces three laws dating back to as early as 1936, and is the first amendment to legislation concerning crown property in decades. The Royal Gazette on Sunday published the new law governing the opaque Crown Property Bureau that was passed by the junta's rubber-stamp legislature last week and which went into effect Monday. It is the latest change to give greater authority to the king, who has shown himself increasingly assertive since ascending the throne in December following the death last October of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who ruled for seven decades. The exact size of the Crown Property Bureau is not made public, but recent estimates have run to more than $30 billion through its holdings in real estate and other investments.
Even as top U.S. diplomats press issues of cybersecurity and Internet freedom in virtually every top-level meeting with their foreign counterparts, it's too soon to begin contemplating a formal, multilateral treaty laying out parameters for digital rules of the road, according to a senior State Department official. That's in part because it remains early days in cyber-diplomacy, but also because the U.S. approach of framing Internet issues within the context of existing international law and pushing to develop generally accepted norms is netting some encouraging results, Christopher Painter, the State Department's coordinator for cyber issues, testified Wednesday during a Senate hearing. In particular, Painter argued to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that it would be unwise to approach the cyber question in the same fashion as the global community has grappled with issues of nuclear proliferation (though officials make the comparison often). Cyber challenges, especially questions of security and free expression, can cut both ways. "They're dual-use technologies," Painter said.
BANGKOK – The official agency that had managed the vast wealth of Thailand's royal family has announced that its assets have formally been turned over to King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who assumed the throne after the death of his father in 2016. An undated announcement seen Saturday on the website of the Crown Property Bureau says that assets it has been administering will be put in the same category as the monarch's personal assets and managed together at his discretion. Forbes magazine's rankings of the world's richest people had estimated the fortune of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at more than $30 billion, including the holdings of the Crown Property Bureau. King Vajiralongkorn last year had already asserted total control over the bureau.