Friday, November 23, 2007

POLLS predict a Ruddslide on Saturday. Yet, beneath the wave that Kevin Rudd appears to be riding, there are a series of undercurrents that may overturn years of accepted political wisdom Opinion from the Murdoch empire

WWLL wall-to-wall Labor and Liberal Will to win: tough and tight
Cross your fingers and hope you get what you vote for.

Labor seems likely to have a landslide election victory in Australia on the threshold of an economic collapse even more devastating than that 0f 1929.
There are intriguing similarities between the forthcoming Australian elections and those of 1929. In 1929, the Scullin Labor Government won a landslide victory and took office just 2 days before the New York Stock-Exchange Crash of Black Thursday, 24 October ushered in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Now we have a similar situation in that centre-right Prime Minister John Howard, after eleven years in office, looks like being swept away in a landslide by centre-left Labor led by Kevin Rudd. Though perhaps unlikely, it may be that Howard could even lose his seat in the House of Representatives.

Is Rudd Another Scullin? ; [Dr James Cumes is author of The Human Mirror: The Narcissistic Imperative in Human Behaviour. His new book America's Suicidal Statecraft was published in November 2006. In 2000 AD James encouraged Media Dragon to pen down Cold River James Cumes; A healthy dose of scepticism is crucial to our ability to process information, especially during an election campaign. A sceptic's guide to politics ; Rudd and Howard are both guilty of dumbing-down political debate through their use of pithy YouTube statements and glittering websites to divert debate. Hey, pollies, you're in my space. Get out!]
• · This is an exclusive indepth report on what it’s like to being a lower house candidate My Experience as a Candidate at Federal and State Elections; Former White House press spokesman Scott McLellan will discuss in his forthcoming spring book WHAT HAPPENED: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong with Washington how top officials got him to mislead the press. A very brief posted excerpt reads: "The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself. Scott McLellan: They Got Me to Lie: There was one problem. It was not true
• · Australians are much more socially mobile than Americans - but there are worrying signs Flipping burgers in America, land of missed opportunity ; No-one knows less about Australian elections than Antony Green who has blurbs everywhere. Czech out Mackerras pendulum … wisdom v hot air Last Minute Reports; Professor Brian Costar believes Labor will win about 36 additional seats to give it 96 House of Representatives members. Betting market
• · · Ambit Gambit Gambler; The Crikey Guide to the 2007 Election at Larvatus Prodeo gambler
• · · · Media Dragons inside the Blogging Community gambling on election and beyond A Must Read APO: French Zo Zo Zo ; Tropical Political Club; Graham Young loves blogs! Best Blog Posts of 2007: Call for Nominations
• · · · · Ach Top 100 Australian Blogs Index; A new blog every month? Are you nuts?
• · · · · · 100 Important Living Australians John Hatton used to have a metaphor for democracy - sunlight being the best disinfectant. Top 100

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mmmmm..... The pork is coming thick and fast, with pollies spending our money like there's no tomorrow ... D-day minus 9 (NEIN) ; ach and You Decide

Bookmark YouDecide2007 - your election coverage Stay up to date on the Australian e(l)ections
The first thing I noticed is how heavy the pork barrel is

If Mr Rudd wants to have a debate about surpluses between now and election day, make my day
Nine days out from election day and what a campaign so far: the worm controversy, the rise and rise of MeTooism, pork barrelling by the truckload, the PM's morning walk turns into a daily stalk, Tony "I laugh in the face of your political correctness" Abbott, Family First's first p-rn candidate, things you can learn in the Qantas Chairman's lounge ... and so much more.
Don't lose the detail of this memorable (if interminable) campaign in the tired and emotional haze of Election Night 2007. Make a note of your favorite hustings moments now ... and send them to us!
The categories are (envelopes please):
1. The Evolution-Of-Dance Award for most excruciating YouTube campaign moment.
2. The Pork-Me Plate for the most gratuitous spending pledge.
3. The Latham Handshake Clasp for biggest campaign cock-up.
4. The Dennis Shanahan Medal for the most courageous spinning of a bad news moment.
5. The Suspend-Your-Cynicism Cup for the most inspiring campaign moment

Election Coverage; [Fedral Election; The Crikey Election Awards: ]
• · Hain resurrects spectre of higher tax rate for the rich Richest Debate; How the Cold War gave birth to the Killer B. So the Internal Revenue Service has shut down the Killer B, the tax shelter that has helped fuel the stock buyback programs of many companies with foreign earnings, proving once again that the first rule of Tax Shelter Club is. Do Not Talk About Tax Shelter Club
• · · Last week Mr Keating lambasted key Rudd strategists David Epstein and Gary Gray … In the end, those kind of conservative, tea-leaf reading, focus group-driven polling types who I think led Kim into nothingness - you know, he's got his life to repent in leisure now, from what they did to him - they're back, they're back. These are, in my opinion, no-value people. Wouldn't fight, don't know how to fight, much less fighting the Liberal Party. They don't have the structure, or the creativity, or the passion, or the belief to go and grab the prize. They don't understand a victory. Keating the Musical; World-Renowned Social Entrepreneurs Issue a Call for Action

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Things are seldom what they seem: poor masquerade as rich ... Jozef Imrich is nothing if not rich.

I can spot a revolutionary from 100 paces. First clue: Everyone else thinks they're crazy, dangerous or ridiculous.
-Anita Roddick

George Will is a very dangerous writer and a man who is not freaked out by age ;-) Being rich isn't all it's cracked up to be

Enough, already, with compassion for society's middle and lower orders. There currently is a sympathy deficit regarding the very rich. Or so the rich might argue because they bear the heavy burden of spending enough to keep today's plutonomy humming.

Furthermore, they are getting diminishing psychological returns on their spending now that luxury brands are becoming democratized. When there are 379 Louis Vuitton and 227 Gucci stores, who cares?

Citigroup's Ajay Kapur applies the term "plutonomy" to, primarily, the United States, although Britain, Canada and Australia also qualify. He notes that America's richest 1 percent of households own more than half the nation's stocks and control more wealth ($16 trillion) than the bottom 90 percent. When the richest 20 percent account for almost 60 percent of consumption, you see why rising oil prices have had so little effect on consumption.

Kapur's theory is that "wealth waves" develop in epochs characterized by, among other things, disruptive technology-driven productivity gains and creative financial innovations that "involve great complexity exploited best by the rich and educated of the time." For the canny, daring and inventive, these are the best of times — and vast rewards to such people might serve the rapid propulsion of society to greater wealth.

But it is increasingly expensive to be rich. The Forbes CLEW index (the Cost of Living Extremely Well) — yes, there is such a thing — has been rising much faster than the banal CPI (consumer price index). At the end of 2006, there were 9.5 million millionaires worldwide, which helps to explain the boom in the "bling indexes" — stocks such as Christian Dior and Richemont (Cartier and Chloe, among other brands), which are up 247 percent and 337 percent respectively since 2002, according to Fortune magazine. Citicorp's "plutonomy basket" of stocks (Sotheby's, Bulgari, Hermes, etc.) has generated an annualized return of 17.8 percent since 1985.

'Positional economy'

This is the outer symptom of a fascinating psychological phenomenon: Envy increases while — and perhaps even faster than — wealth does. When affluence in the material economy guarantees that a large majority can take for granted things that a few generations ago were luxuries for a small minority (a nice home, nice vacations, a second home, college education, comfortable retirement), the "positional economy" becomes more important.

Positional goods and services are inherently minority enjoyments. These are enjoyments — "elite" education, "exclusive" vacations or properties — available only to persons with sufficient wealth to pursue the satisfaction of "positional competition." Time was, certain clothes, luggage, wristwatches, handbags, automobiles, etc. sufficed. But with so much money sloshing around the world, too many people can purchase them. Too many, in the sense that the value of acquiring a "positional good" is linked to the fact that all but a few people cannot acquire it.

That used to be guaranteed because supplies of many positional goods were inelastic — they were made by a small class of European craftsmen. But when they are mass-produced in developing nations, they cannot long remain such goods. When 40 percent of all Japanese — and, Fortune reports, 94.3 percent of Japanese women in their 20s — own a Louis Vuitton item, its positional value vanishes.

James Twitchell, University of Florida professor of English and advertising, writing in the Wilson Quarterly, says this "lux populi" is "the Twinkiefication of deluxe." Now that Ralph Lauren is selling house paint, can Polo radial tires be far behind? When a yacht manufacturer advertises a $20 million craft — in a newspaper, for Pete's sake; the Financial Times, but still — cachet is a casualty.

'Marks of opulence'

As Adam Smith wrote in "The Wealth of Nations," for most rich people "the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches, which in their eye is never so complete as when they appear to possess those decisive marks of opulence which nobody can possess but themselves." Hennessy understands the logic of trophy assets: It is selling a limited batch of 100 bottles of cognac for $200,000 a bottle.

Enough, already, with compassion for society's middle and lower orders. There currently is a sympathy deficit regarding the very rich The Man Who Sold the Cold Rich River; A Lexus In Every Garage

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tax Poetry
(Snell & Wilmer, Costa Mesa, CA). Here are the first few lines:
To withhold, or not to withhold: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous penalties,
Or to take arms against a sea of business situs tests,
And by opposing end them? To withhold: to report;
No more; and by tax reporting to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand tax audits

Poetic Tax Law
Whoever said that tax law does not appeal to our higher faculties should read this by Jim Scheinkman:
To withhold, or not to withhold: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous penalties,
Or to take arms against a sea of business situs tests,
And by opposing end them? To withhold: to report;
No more; and by tax reporting to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand tax audits
That aggressive report positions is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To withhold, to report;
To remit: perchance to 1099: ay, there's the rub;
For in that reporting what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off all of our income,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long statute of limitations;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of the IRS,
The tax agent's wrong, the taxpayer's form over substance,
The pangs of despised Treasury Regulations, the law's delay,
The insolence of the FTB and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy tax returns,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary tax code,
But that the dread of something after April 15,
The undiscover'd revenue ruling from whose bourn
No advisor returns, puzzles the analysis
And makes us rather bear those taxes we have
Than evade others that we know not of?
Thus Circular 230 Disclaimers does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of income recognition
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of AMT,
And enterprises of great adjusted gross income
With this regard their cash flow turn awry,
And lose the name of after tax profit.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my tax schemes remember'd.
I think I need a vacation...
Tax & Poetry

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I have read the Impact Assessment and I am satisfied that, given the available evidence, it represents a reasonable view of the likely costs, benefits and impact of the leading options …

We are living longer, with higher incomes, better standards of housing, marrying less, Hinduism is growing. The average age in Australia is 37 years old, compared to 34 in 1996.
The most common family type is a couple with children. The average number of children living in a couple family with children under 15 is 2.16. Nine out of ten couple families with young children live in a separate house with an average of four bedrooms. Almost two-thirds of these families are paying off a mortgage. China (~96,000), and India (~70,000) We're richer, more diverse but deeper in debt: Census

Can we change the heart of politics? Targeting a Tax Dodge
Private-equity funds are the new moneybags of the capitalist system. When companies want a cash infusion or a new ownership structure, the first place they look these days is not the marketplace but rather these huge pools of cash.

That status has also made them suspect. Whenever anything gets too big or too rich in America, it usually has a target painted on its back. Bringing the wealthy and the powerful down a notch is an age-old tradition in a country enamored with the underdog.
Therein lies one reason that the congressional tax-writing committees are considering a proposal to end a little-known tax break, called carried interest, that has allowed financiers who run private-equity firms and hedge funds to cut their income tax bills by billions of dollars a year. The tax rule involved (it is actually not a law) has allowed fund managers to pay the capital gains tax rate of 15 percent instead of the ordinary top income tax rate of 35 percent. Taking away that benefit would raise tens of billions of dollars that Congress could then use to fund other, humbler services. It will not be easy for the private-equity funds to cry poverty as a defense.

Magicians with No Clothes; Private equity dispatches lobbyist army [Tom Herman gives a nice plug to TaxProf Blog in today's Wall Street Journal: Tax geeks HMRC is one of the first Government departments to launch podcasts, designed to make information on some of the most wide-ranging issues simple and accessible. The podcasts are between three and four minutes' duration, offering advice, support and helpful hints in a conversational style. Another podcast also launches today, discussing topical issues relating to the tax profession Employers turn to their iPods as tax deadline looms ]
• · It is truth that liberates, not your effort to be free ... When You Allegedly Cheat on Taxes, the Terrorists Win Eternal vigilance the price of freedom; September 11, 2001 has been linked to a number of criminal activities and now we can add tax fraud to the list. Tax Girl Power
• · MAKE no mistake: the gloves are off in Canberra and the election campaign is on. All that remains is for John Howard to name the day of the prize fight. Unlike the US, Britain, Canada and other democracies, Australia has no full-time watchdog organisation that fights against government secrecy. Heat's on Howard to jemmy open the vaults ; Australians are reported to be the most technology savvy nationality in the world. We have an insatiable desire for anything new be it the DVD, mobile phones, plasma and LCD TVs, iPods, PDAs, broadband and wireless technology Gov site ; Those towns are rich sources of stories. Everyone knows everything, and everyone wants to know everything. Real life is messy. Fiction refines it to a form that we can get some meaning out of. Sometimes I think we are just a bag of stories with flesh wrapped around Soul Drain
• · · All Things Considered· The man British authorities charged with poisoning former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko has responded with his own accusations I was framed by MI6, says ex-KGB spy ; Expectations were not high when Tony Fitzgerald, QC, was appointed 20 years ago to inquire into allegations of illegal activities within the police force and in high places. Queensland had lived through inquiries before with minimum effect on the way of life.
Fitzgerald put light on dark system
; This chamber resonates with the power of its accumulated memory. The plaques and the furnishings and the carpets, the smell of leather, the geographic expression of power and vying for power. How fortunate a Premier would be who could choose from the array of talent assembled the length, incongruously, of the Opposition frontbench. It’s lovely to see three generations of the Knowles. As, surely, it is right buried out of sight at the back is Ted Mack, the only independent who chose to come this day. He would not have sat anywhere else. The electorate builds so much of its impression of the functioning of democracy
• · · · THE Government of the ACT has now entered the complacency phase. It is a political danger faced by any government going beyond its first term A wake up call came at the recent Annual Report Awards by the Institute of Public Administration (IPAA). The outcomes of these awards ought to have embarrassed the ACT Government in the extreme. Hold the smugness, there’s no time for complacency; Fairfax Digital has strengthened its ties with Google, announcing an expanded relationship that will include a rollout of Google's AdWords text advertisements across the media company's network of websites. Photos and Books before bullets
• · · · · Good Web connection, bad connection, no connection? No problem. Google Gears software will allow users to run Web applications from any location A sea change for the Internet ; A man described as one of the world's most prolific spammers was arrested, and US authorities said computer users across the Web could notice a decrease in the amount of junk email Uber-spammer's arrest hardly making dent on spam volume
• · · · · · A study of Google’s most recently filed quarterly balance sheet provides some interesting insights. Of its gross assets of about $20 billion, almost $12 billion represent cash, cash equivalents and investments. Other assets on the balance sheet comprise property and equipment at $2.8 billion, non-marketable equity securities at $1.5 billion, and other assets at $3.7 billion. Yet the marketplace tells us that Google is richly endowed with assets that are not on its balance sheet e.g. intellectual, informational and other intangible assets! If the $20 billion book value shown by the balance sheet was replaced by the approximate $150 billion market value that analysts have reckoned, the $130 billion gap is presumed to reflect the intellectual, informational and other intangible properties embedded in the company – but not reflected by the bookkeepers. Google’s quarterly balance sheet ; Long Tail of Google

Thursday, May 24, 2007

For leaders to move towards a state of emotional creativity, they need constantly to be in touch with their feelings and express them in appropriate and creative ways...

As Aristotle said: Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way – this is not easy.

Two trains from North and South Korea crossed the heavily armed border on Thursday, restoring for the first time an artery severed in the 1950-1953 fratricidal war and fanning dreams of unification. Today the heart of the Korean peninsula will start beating again. The trains represent the dreams, the hopes and the future of the two Koreas

Can we change the heart of politics? Heckuva job: A Bad Case of Irony Overload (IO)
This is a totally useless article. I suggest stop reading right now and come back to this column next week. Have a nice weekend.

If you are still with me, this article deals with the question of whether it is possible that a diamond polishing plant operated by the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and would-be-again diamond miner Alan Bond may be facing similar legal and reputational challenges in marketing their output.

Alan Bond ; [ALL OF a sudden John Howard wants more transparency in government. He told us so this week. Twice. But it's not his government he's unhappy with, it's those other ones; the ones run by the states. Unlike the US, Britain, Canada and other democracies, Australia has no full-time watchdog organisation that fights against government secrecy. The media coalition has now promised to fund one. That would be a first, vital step towards forcing the major parties to commit to make Australia a truly open democracy. But with an election so soon, time is fast runnning out. Heat's on Howard to jemmy open the vaults ; Parting with the art of war - Like most wars, former federal minister Graham Richardson's fight against the tax office is mixing long periods of boredom with brief bursts of drama. War and conflict, of the heart and the battlefield, are hallmarks of the 54-year-old's oeuvre ]
• · Forbes Misery And Happiness Indexes ; Macquarie Bank Gets More Income Overseas Than at Home Allan Moss's remuneration totalled $33.49 million. Most of us could work for several lifetimes and not earn anything like $33.5 million, but that's how much the Chief Executive of Macquarie Bank got for his efforts in the last 12 months. Rich list ...
• · Bribes to former Oregon prison food buyer Fred Monem went on twice as long as earlier suspected and totaled more than $1.1 million Prison bribes lasted 6 years, Corrections chief ducks; In the April.May 2007 edition of Pink magazine there is an article that addresses the progression of women committing more crimes as they move up in the workplace. The FBI reports that embezzlement by women increased 80.5 percent from 1993 to 2002 and that the total number of women incarcerated increased 138 percent from 1994 to 2004. Women Committing White-Collar Crimes
• · · Tax Cheat Rap Sheet: The Senate's recent look at ways offshore tax havens escape IRS enforcement got me thinking about those scofflaws who do get caught. Inaugural Tax Cheat Rap Sheet; If you were going to commit tax fraud, would you and your partner in crime exchange checks for the same exact amount to the penny? That's among the evidence that caused Inn-Chung Chen (aka Daniel Chen) to plead guilty to tax fraud. Some Rather Blatant Fraud
• · · · Telecommunications Entrepreneur Concocts Grand Scam: Off-Shore Accounts, Smart Business Planning or Underhanded Tax Evasion? Anderson’s scheme was not some small ploy to avoid paying a few dollars: Rather, it has been coined the largest tax-scam ever; In what it called an “Information Age undercover investigation,” the U.S. Secret Service announced the arrest of 28 people from eight states and six countries allegedly involved in a global organized cybercrime ring. Charges filed against the suspects include identity theft, computer fraud, credit card fraud, and conspiracy. The investigation was code-named Operation Firewall Secret Service Busts Internet Organized Crime Ring

Monday, April 23, 2007

Once you slow the growth under 3 per cent, unemployment starts to rise again. Then you’re gone. You’re a banana republic
-Keating Musical is back and this time at the Seymour Theatre

Tall Media Dragons should pay more in taxes than short people, according to a Harvard economics professor, N. Gregory Mankiw, and his student, Matthew Weinzierl, in a paper published last week Why Not Tax the Tall?

The story of tax administration is a really big one Is Richo’s tax bill being secretly settled by the ATO?

Political ambassadors open heart online The biggest Story in Australian Political History
A Paper that examines the common law and taxation of trusts and the practical application of these principles in the use of trusts as a tax-planning vehicle. It is curious to note that an article in Taxation in Australia in May 1998, the writer, a tax partner with Coopers & Lybrand in Brisbane, Simon Gaylard, stated "We were warning people back in 1975 to be prepared for the possibility of trusts being taxed as companies and advising them to act cautiously,".

Without inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kindred to the United Kingdom. Without inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kindred to the United Kingdom

Back in 1994 and 1995 when independents still ruled the Parliament at NSW and I was able to observe the power insider the corridors of the bear pit one amazing story was in the making. Nothing new - two duty free store owners in New South Wales, went out of business. The matter would have achieved no further significance had it been left to lie at that. However a curious legal challenge was to unfold. For some unknown reason a pilot was arrested for ‘smuggling’ tobacco from Norfolk Island to New South Wales. The ‘smuggling’ practice was so renown that purpose-built transport aircraft were used for the regular deliveries. That Customs became involved in the incident is mystifying as the practice had existed for many years. The owners of the aircraft successfully defended the charge as the tobacco was simply being transported between States and not imported into Australia for the first time. That the complex system was in place to avoid duty is not the element it was lawful. By coincidence, the owners of two duty free stores became embroiled in an action with the New South Wales government over the State levies by way of licensing. Legal representatives for the parties became aware of the importation case and took action in the High Court to have the convictions for the breaches of the Business Franchise Licenses (Tobacco) Act 1987 (NSW). Though the verdict was contrary to precedents set in Dickenson’s Arcade Pty Ltd v Tasmania (1974); Dennis Hotels Pty Ltd v Victoria (1960); Philip Morris Ltd v Comr of Business Franchises (Vic) (1989); Capital Duplicators Pty Ltd v Australian Capital Territory (No2) (1993), it was held that the State could not impose such levies and that they constituted an excise provided by S 90 of the Constitution. The difference being the manner in which the licenses had been based, in New South Wales the fee was based entirely on the total value of sales rather than a set license fee basis and therefore found to be a tax. The only action the New South Wales government had to take was to let the action stand ignore the lost revenue and reset its licensing system back to levels successfully held in the Dickensons and other cases.
There the matter may have lay undisturbed for another sixty years but in an interesting political move the Howard, Liberal Government encouraged the Carr, Labor Government to allow the matter to go before the full bench of the High Court even though the plaintiffs’ summons for reference to the Full Court had been dismissed by Kirby J . The Howard Government even financed the legal challenge as under S 96 of the Constitution the Federal Government can grant financial assistance as it thinks fit. Surely the Carr Government should have been aware of ‘Greeks Bearing Gifts’. The outcome was obvious to even the most inexperienced of constitutional law students. The Carr Government was soundly beaten and the State taxation issue sent into disarray.

• The Common Law and Taxation of Trusts in Australia in the Twenty-First Century Suggested Outcomes ; [As F. Scott Fitzgerald observed, the powerful and rich are different from you and me … The most successful Liberal premier in NSW -- and only two have won elections -- would have been 100 this month. But no one bothered (or dared) to remember. Robert Askin: the legacy that dare not speak its name; It turns out that the dollar is now officially worthless (reaching its lowest point against the pound in 15 years) Early in the film Mr. Russo, the narrator, asserts that every president since Woodrow Wilson and every member of Congress has perpetrated a hoax to tax people’s wages and issue them dubious currency.... NY Times Pans Anti-Tax Movie America: From Freedom to Fascism ]
• · In the words of Louis XIV's finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, it involves plucking the most goose feathers with the least amount of hissing. Men talk about tax, women act on it ; Tax breaks for Aussie films; Additionally, for the first time, studios and filmmakers will be able to access information on financial and tax incentives dynamically on a global basis ... Online tool, program expansion among efforts

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

In addition, it is vital that there be a set of financial intermediaries, who are at least as competent and sophisticated at receiving, processing, and interpreting financial information . . . as the companies are at delivering it.” Puzzles are “transmitter-dependent”; they turn on what we are told. Mysteries are “receiver dependent”; they turn on the skills of the listener, and Macey argues that, as Enron’s business practices grew more complicated, it was Wall Street’s responsibility to keep pace.

Ancient history or not … Warsaw's new archbishop has resigned amid a scandal over his involvement with the communist-era secret police that has shaken the deeply Roman Catholic country. Archbishop resigns over spying

Can we change the heart of politics? Moral dilemma sharpens: now it's 'rat' or run dry
Dobbing, throughout history, has been seen as a despicable act — perhaps nowhere so much as in Australia, which has harboured a deep distrust of authority since convict days and adhered to a code of mateship demanding that citizens protect each other at all costs.

“I want to know what were the steps by which men passed from barbarism to civilization”. This query raised by Voltaire, the eighteenth century French philosopher may have numerous responses and answers. One thing is, however, quite clear that evolving the taxation system has been an important step taken by the organised societies while moving up the ladder of civilization.

Testy Lines; [ Taxation and civilisation ; This month, Siemens, the Germany-based global engineering and electronics company, informed the United States Securities and Exchange Commission that prosecutors investigating the company for corruption have seized bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, two leading "offshore" banking centres. One hand launders the other ]
• · Even if little else can be said for it, Little Chef is a British institution. So the company's turbulent week - when, a year after being ditched by one private-equity group, it was plunged into administration and then pulled back out by another - was noticed by many who normally pay no attention to such dealings. It was further evidence of the way private equity, that is shares in any company not listed on public stock exchanges, is increasingly important to British business. Where the traditional pattern is for private companies to grow before being floated on the stock market, there is now increasing traffic in the other direction, as new year figures from Thomson Financial confirmed. Companies worth a record £77bn globally were taken private in 2006 Business in the dark ; Democracy in Britain is in a dangerous state. Faith in politicians has sunk to an all-time low. But is the public image fair? Cash for questions, lobbying, political favours, patronage, party funding, whipping, indiscretions, secrecy, half-truths...What lies behind these issues? The Truth About Westminster
• · The decision by Bill Gates to give all his time in future to his foundation, and then by Warren Buffett to add $37bn to the fund, will together trigger a series of events of truly lasting significance. Warren Buffett gives $37bn to Bill Gates' Foundation and Gates to leave Microsoft to run it all ; Gates and windows
• · · All great men of the calibre of Marcus Einfeld, who devote their lives to worthy causes, deserve to be rescued by a blonde angel. Angela Liati has come forward to assist the former judge in his hour of need because, as she explained: "The man has given his life to good causes Jeff Shaw needs his own bombshell from a blonde ; Is there a politician or a judge left who's not in trouble?
• · · · Former ABBA star Bjorn Ulvaeus is accused of tax evasion, with officials believing Ulvaeus siphoned his royalty payments into a Netherlands-based construction company. Money, Money, Money was the title of one of former ABBA member Bjorn Ulvaeus' hits … The tax office agreed to reduce its claim to around $9.5 million, but Ulvaeus appealed the case. It wasn't clear when the court would consider the appeal. Money, Money, Money ; Dancing Queen
• · · · · Every part of the story on its own seems to be the same old, worn-out thing: appointing cronies, political intrigue, pressure, a case of one hand washing the other. Is there anyone left who's not corrupt? ; The national-security expert Gregory Treverton has famously made a distinction between puzzles and mysteries. Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts are a puzzle. We can’t find him because we don’t have enough information. The key to the puzzle will probably come from someone close to bin Laden, and until we can find that source bin Laden will remain at large OPEN SECRETS
• · · · · · 'No ifs, no buts': the government will turn a blind eye if you are rich You are rich … so am I; Communicating with Congress: How Capitol Hill is Coping with the Surge in Citizen Advocacy