- - Tuesday, April 24, 2012

OTTAWA — Canada’s Ontario province Tuesday introduced a 2 percent surtax on the “super rich” - those with annual earnings of more than $500,000.

The measure passed by a vote of 52 to 37, with New Democrats abstaining and Tories voting against. It will help the government eliminate a $15.3 billion deficit by 2017-18.

“They wanted a tax on the rich, I wanted to pay down our deficit faster,” Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said at a news conference Monday. “So if you make more than half a million dollars, we will ask that you do a little bit more.”

The minority Liberal government was short two votes in the 107-seat legislature to pass its budget bill. Despite a pledge last year not to raise taxes, it struck a last-minute deal with Social Democrats to avert a snap election.

The surtax is expected to generate about $470 million in revenue next year, which will go directly to deficit reduction. Once the budget is balanced in five years, the surtax will be removed.

This is expected to affect 23,000 Ontarians, or about 0.2 percent of tax filers in the province.


Tymoshenko goes on hunger strike

KIEV — Jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has gone on hunger strike after prison guards allegedly beat her, her lawyer said Tuesday.

Mrs. Tymoshenko, who suffers from a severe spinal condition and needs hospital treatment, was taken Friday to a clinic in the eastern city of Kharkiv where her prison is located, but was moved back to jail a day later after refusing treatment.

Mrs. Tymoshenko’s lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, said prison officials kicked Mrs. Tymoshenko in the stomach while taking her to the hospital by force.

Mrs. Tymoshenko refused to be treated at the Kharkiv clinic because she doesn’t trust government-appointed doctors.

When prison officials entered her jail cell, Mrs. Tymoshenko “naturally got scared, began resisting, after which she received a punch in the stomach and passed out,” Mr. Vlasenko said, adding that she still has a large bruise on her stomach after the incident.

Mr. Vlasenko said Mrs. Tymoshenko has been refusing food since Friday night.


Opposition chief fears binational state

JERUSALEM — Israel’s new parliamentary opposition leader said Tuesday that the Jewish state faces the danger of being replaced by a binational Jewish-Arab entity if it fails to separate itself from the Palestinians.

Former military chief Shaul Mofaz won leadership of the centrist Kadima Party last month.

“The threat of us losing the Jewish majority and Israel becoming a binational state is the biggest threat to Israel, and time is working against us,” he told Israel Radio. “The threat of a binational state that we are bequeathing to our children really keeps me awake at night.”

The Iranian-born Mr. Mofaz, in one of his first interviews since winning the Kadima primary last month, said Israel must resume negotiations with the Palestinians.

Talks are stalled after the failure of repeated efforts over the past two decades to reach a deal on carving out a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Mr. Mofaz’s comments came a day after former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia struck a similar theme from the other side of the Mideast equation, saying the Palestinians might abandon the “two-state solution” strategy and aim for a single state consisting of Israel plus the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in which all ethnic and religious groups have equal status.


Detective: DNA suggests 3rd party in spy death

LONDON — A senior British detective said Tuesday that specks of another person’s DNA were found on the zipper and lock of a sports bag that contained the body of a British code breaker, casting doubt on theories the young spy climbed into the bag himself as part of a sex game.

Gareth Williams worked for Britain’s secret eavesdropping service GCHQ, and was attached to the country’s MI6 overseas spy agency when he was found in the bathtub of his central London home in August 2010.

The discovery of the 31-year-old’s body launched a media frenzy and a flurry of conspiracy theories - there were no signs of struggle, and no drugs or poison in Williams’ body.

While detectives have suggested Williams may have died in a sex game gone wrong, his family has claimed that British spy agencies may have been involved in the death.

An inquest into his death is investigating whether Williams could possibly have climbed inside the sports bag and locked it from the inside. But the new DNA evidence has deepened the mystery of how he died.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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