Friday, July 31, 2009

The use of cliches in blogs should be avoided. Readers of Dickens' novel Oliver Twist may recall that when it was suggested to Mr Bumble that "the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction", he was shocked. He responded with a line that has become one of the English language's most excruciating cliches: "If the law supposes that, the law is an ass - an idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst l wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience - by experience."

Russia’s free media find a haven in Ukraine Is Russia again too big to fail?
The magazine contains real-life case studies, interviews and stories about Australian and international tax crime – how we’re trying to stop it and the serious consequences for those who offend. Targeting tax crime: a whole-of-government approach

The Plan by Michael Cranston for 2009-2010 Traits of a Leader
I read an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones recently called "Why should anyone be led by you?" In it they outline four key differentiators in today's world for successful leaders and apart from a few minor points, I believe in what they had to say and fully recommend you take a read…

There’s an awful lot of theory written about leadership nowadays. For the past decade, along with Mike Pratt, Clive Gilson, and Joe McCollum, we’ve been working with major companies on our view of what constitutes inspirational leadership and peak performance. It started by learning what we could from great sporting organizations such as the All Blacks – whose inspirational dream is to “maintain rugby’s position at the heart of the nation)

Leaders are born ; [We have long pointed to the fact that the United States is, to a very significant degree, a secrecy jurisdiction, not least through dirty practices offered in places such as Delaware. It isn't something that people like to mention in polite company Australia: America is a secrecy jurisdiction ; Testifying today before the House Financial Services Committee, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke took some well-deserved flak for the Fed’s power-grasping attempt to gain even greater control over the nation’s financial institutions. Man-Bites-Dog Story: A Politician Speaks the Truth; Goldman Sachs surprised even optimistic analysts with a $3.44 billion profit for the three months to June, almost 90% more than the previous quarter. Crony Capitalism]
• · In the last of his three Lionel Robbins lectures at the London School of Economics on June 30 of this year, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman remarked that the macroeconomic theory of the past thirty years has been spectacularly useless at best, and positively harmful at worst Inflation Ahead ; I Agree With Paul Krugman, but This Time Only! The inability to collect all sales taxes that are legally due on purchases made over the Internet costs states billions of dollars a year in lost revenue. In 2008, New York State enacted an innovative law that helps to address this problem. Rhode Island adopted a similar measure this year. All states with sales taxes should give serious consideration to doing so as well. sales taxes
• · Our innovative online database helped shed light on the murky world of corporate tax avoidance. Corporate taxation is one of the fundamental issues in British society that rarely gets discussed in mainstream media. A large but twilight industry has grown up in recent years of offshore tax havens and arcane avoidance schemes. They benefit large corporations and rich individuals, but cost governments billions in lost taxes. Holding the UK's major corporations to account ; Lord Mandelson suggested the Government had lost sight of the importance of PR skills. “You can get so consumed by government that you forget to present what you do to the public. Our organisation has to be better, we have to campaign more effectively — and give a clear message.” A new analysis today found businesses are eagerly courting the Conservatives. Leading accountancy firms KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers have given the Tories free services and staff on secondment, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Such companies will compete for billions of pounds of Government contracts
• · · Windfall for Tories as firms eye £4bn contracts ; Blistering attacks on tax avoidance from unions, politicians and the media are coming thick and fast. The prevalence of aggressive but legal tax planning has become increasingly controversial as the public finances sink deeper into the mire The growing allure of foreign shores ; Both Volkswagen and Porsche had close connections with the Third Reich. It was Ferdinand Porsche who designed the "people's car," the legendary VW Beetle, in 1934 Adolf Hitler was so taken with the engineer he declared him "brilliant
• · · · As per the Concise Oxford Dictionary the history of money laundering can be traced to Emperor espasianus who had raised taxes on public toilets by relying on the maxim, ‘pecunia non det’ means money does not stink. A few years ago, Solomon Dwek was the black sheep of the New Jersey Jewish community where his father Yitzhak was a prominent rabbi. After a string of failed real estate ventures and charges of bank fraud, Dwek's career appeared all but over. But the rabbi's son found his true calling as an FBI informant, where he is now achieving stardom after helping bring indictments against 44 defendants, including a number of prominent rabbis, four ex-mayors and a former senator, in one of the largest money-laundering and corruption investigations seen in the U.S. in years How the FBI used a rabbi's son to crack massive U.S. corruption case ; Even in the state of "The Sopranos" and "On the Waterfront," where corruption seems institutionalized, the arrest of a neophyte mayor in office a mere three weeks stands out US Corruption Arrests Shock Jewish Community
• · · · · It’s one of the biggest corruption cases in the history of a state that’s famous for them: Three mayors, two state legislators and several rabbis were among those charged Thursday in what authorities described as a “dual-track” investigation united by a single undercover operative ; BBC
• · The arrests of more than 40 prominent politicians and Jewish leaders in New Jersey and New York on corruption and money laundering charges have sent shockwaves through the close-knit Syrian Jewish community there. Modus operandi Money Laundering; An 87 year-old Syrian rabbi. A special lingo in which payments were "invitations" and approvals were "opportunities." We're slicing people open and selling Google
• · · · · · To read the criticisms about the Net Generation,” writes author Don Tapscott in his latest book, Grown Up Digital, “you might conclude that they are a bunch of dull, celebrity-obsessed, net-addicted, shopaholic exhibitionists Skills: Business must learn from the new tribe ; Navigating the online jungle

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I ain’t shoot nobody in like since the early 80’s, man. Mightier than the guitar. You know who the critics are? The men who have failed in literature and art. Insects sting, not in malice, but because they want to live. It is the same with critics: they desire our blood, not our pain My Book Slut and the The Sydney Morning Herald looks at rockers who write literature

In a classic death spiral: Citizen satisfaction and trust Tax havens: Misplaced passion
A pearl in the crown is A few things John has learned: examining tax havens ;

Here is part of what the Australian Tax Office wrote to Senator Carl Levin, the Chair of the US Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. ‘In our opinion, entities established in some states of the US, for example some US incorporated companies, have some of these same attributes as entities established in secrecy havens.’ These attributes include tax avoidance and evasion, investor fraud,manipulation of markets and sometimes money laundering. So there we have it. The US has its own internal tax and secrecy havens. Now for the UK and its disgraceful tax havens.

• Revolutionary reflections on this world of ours Taxman not always bad guy: Blatant form of Robin Hood economics ever proposed ; [DETAILS of tax scams by Australian organisations involving US entities have been revealed in a submission sent to US authoritiesBanks ; Čekia: Tax havens attract 154 Czech firms in H1
Prague, July 14 (CTK) - The number of Czech companies based in places considered tax havens grew by 154 to 9,144 in the first half of this year, according to databases and calculations of the Cekia agency.
Owing to the economic crisis, interest in transfer of companies to tax havens got smaller. In the full of last year, the number of Czech companies in tax havens rose by 740. Among the most attractive places where taxes are not high are the Netherlands, Cyprus and Luxembourg. The highest relative growth this year was seen by Panama, Monaco and Belize. A significant fall was seen by the British Virgin Islands and the Bohemian Dutch Antilles]
• · For consumers how much is enough? It's a personal answer, and the power of change is always personal. The concept of "Enoughism" is addressed by British journalist John Naish in his book Enough: Breaking Free from the World of More ; Kevin Roberts-authored article in Italian magazine Oxygen, on the role of communications in resolving the water crisis. "[H2O] represents much more than an obvious combination of chemical elements: water is life, and today it can turn into the heart of a revolution that will lead to a Blue Planet, to a sustainable future for all of us." Water is life 15 Jul 09
• · Many owners decline to rent the homes due to local council tax rules, which tax properties at a lower rate if they are empty and unfurnished. That loophole frustrates Mr. Palmer. As the Westminster City Council's empty-property officer, Mr. Palmer strolls the area's streets six hours each day to identify vacant homes and track down their owners. Under British law, local authorities have the power to seek an order to claim ownership of the ghost properties and put them up for sale. Once he identifies a vacant house, Mr. Palmer consults property records. After that, he often finds himself sending letters to the British Virgin Islands, a known tax haven for foreign companies, and a place where many of the property owners in question have mailing addresses. He says he rarely receives a response back. Except, that is, when a court action is about to begin. The compulsory purchase, says Mr. Palmer, is a "tool we use as a last resort to take empty property away from owners who refuse to do anything to it. You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables Keeping Up Appearances: London Turns Eye to Empty Mansions ; Goldman Sachs, Best in the Business;
• · · Blogosphere Star Provides Refreshingly Alternative Ideas
Taxation without Representation Unfair to Internet Retailers; All enmity, all envy, they disclaim, Disinterested thieves of our good name: Cool, sober murderers of their neighbors' fame Uncooperative prima donna
• · · · While there is no disputing Bernie Madoff's involvement in the scam, it is reasonable to conclude he wasn't alone Swindler’s list: the Bernie Madoff story; Bernie Madoff Was Only a Petty Crook Compared with Uncle Sam; Italy’s prime minister once again proves to be a great survivor DEPENDING on your view of his final destination, Silvio Berlusconi has either a guardian angel or the luck of the devil. In heaven or hell
• · · · · "The new CRS report - "Gang of Four" Congressional Intelligence Notifications, July 14, 2009 - explains the role of the "Gang of Four," meaning the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, who are to be informed of particularly sensitive intelligence activities. When the Bush Administration first notified Congress of its warrantless surveillance program, it limited the disclosure to the Gang of Four ; These days, when employers are cutting salaries, staff and bonuses - and staff is uncertain about the next round of layoffs - more employees are committing fraud. How to stop fraud; On 14 July 2009, IFSA Chair David Deverall, announced the appointment of John Brogden as IFSA's third CEO to commence on 28 August 2009. Mr Deverall said Mr Brogden "brings both stature and a wealth of experience to the position". He said Mr Brogden "has had experience in public policy as a parliamentarian and adviser, and has successfully led advocacy for the credit union, building society and friendly society peak body". IFSA also thanked Richard Gilbert who will officially retire on 28 August when Mr Brogden assumes the position of CEO John Brogden
• · · · · · For Germans, who have painful memories of state-sponsored surveillance, the new spying allegations touch a raw nerve. Prosecutors have confirmed they're now considering whether to launch a criminal investigation in Deutsche Bank. Germany's largest lender is accused of spying on two board members it suspected of leaking sensitive details, as well as one critical shareholder Deutsche Bank is Germany's largest bank ; IRS agent Albert Bront, 49, of Valencia, California, screamed “I’m going to kill all of you!” when U.S. Treasury agents served a search warrant at his home as part of an investigation into whether Mr. Bront had filed false tax return. He is being held without bail pending a July 28 preliminary hearing in Los Angeles IRS Agent Threatens to Kill Treasury Department Investigators

Friday, July 24, 2009

The business of tax avoidance, like the trade in derivatives, is ferociously complicated, and intentionally so: the fewer the people who understand what is going on, the easier it is to play the financial equivalent of a three-card trick and whisk your money off to a safe location. Tax dodgers have quite a sense of humour – or so it seems to me. Take transfer mispricing. One of the commonest forms of tax evasion, it accounts for much of the $160 billion. I could explain that this particular stunt involves transnational corporations exaggerating costs and minimising profits when they file their tax returns. I could mention surveys which estimate that more than 60 per cent of international trade takes place within TNCs, allowing companies to make up prices that suit their purposes. But the story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the firm that officially paid $972.98 for each plastic bucket it imported, or the toilet gloves which were priced at $4,121.81 per kilo Business of tax avoidance ;

Citizen satisfaction and trust: When a Blogger Voices Approval, a Sponsor May Be Lurking Ignorance of money helps bankers and politicians escape
Why is that so hard for people to understand? Keynes did - and he called it a paradox that what works for individuals is completely unsuitable for states - and yet the mindset of the grocer prevails in government.

Most assume that credit = savings, and that only by mobilising savings or surpluses (generated by production of one sort or another) is it possible for banks or financial institutions to lend money to finance economic activity. In other words, that money (deposits/savings/credit) exists only as the result of economic activity; and those deposits/savings/credit then create economic activity.
On the contrary: it is bank money/credit that creates economic activity - and only then are deposits, surpluses and savings generated. And not the other way around.
And this is why we can spend our way out of recession. Indeed it is why we must spend our way out of recession. Any other option costs more, increase debt, and causes more hardship.

Taxing Times; [ People fight a lot about priorities at DKos. Groups accuse other groups with different priorities of being "concern trolls" or "purity trolls" or of expressing "poutrage". No matter what you think is important, someone else will be happy to tell you it really isn't as important as their pet issue. Here's my way out of that dilemma.
Prosecuting criminal behavior is a post-Bush theme that unifies all groups. To solve our economic problems, we need to prosecute present (and, inevitably, past) criminal behavior and the malign deregulation that enabled such criminality. To get ourselves out of foreign wars, we need to prosecute the war crimes that got us into those wars and the ongoing war crimes and frauds that those operations continue to produce. To solve our healthcare problems, we need to prevent criminal behavior, such as recision, on the part of healthcare-denial companies. But, isn't fighting crime obvious? Not in the age of deregulation. Not in the age of the politicized DOJ. In order to fight crime, we must first restore regulations with teeth. We need to become "law and order Democrats". Below the fold I will lay out the rationale behind that seeming oxymoron. Its the Criminality, Stupid ; Successful innovation remains elusive for many organisations. Part of the problem concerns the myths that surround the innovation process - PDF - Four dangerous myths]
• · IF you've ever wondered how to fire up the folk who inhabit the blogosphere, you got an unambiguous answer last week - insult them. It worked a treat for the boss of News Limited, John Hartigan. In a speech to the National Press Club he said bloggers produced "something of such limited intellectual value as to be barely discernible from massive ignorance". For good measure he added that the blogosphere was "all eyeballs and no insight". Many blogs and a large number of comment sites specialise in political extremism and personal vilification Bloggers' rage show they're out of touch with reality ; IT'S Tuesday and I'm at a forum on the topic "Twitter's Impact on Media and Journalism", busily taking down the speeches in shorthand. As I do, the business-suited woman sitting on my left is tweeting about me on her laptop. Journalists take to the Twitterverse
• · · When Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska, she gave a cursory announcement to journalists, then moved on to tell her story directly to her supporters using Twitter and Facebook. This is the latest example of traditional journalists being disintermediated by government and other newsmakers, and it will make a big difference in the careers of IT managers (and me too, as a journalist) Journalists Get Left Out By Social Media ; Katja Presnal, who recommends products on her own blog, is interviewed at elf cosmetics offices in New York. Marketing companies are keen to get their ... When a Blogger Voices Approval, a Sponsor May Be Lurking
• · LIKE a research scientist who gets a chance to play with a chemistry set, Sreenath Sreenivasan, a new-media professor at the Columbia Journalism School, returned to the roots of his chosen field last month riding home on the No. 1 train. How the Media Wrestle With the Web ; TJN and some of our partners in France have just issued a statement expressing great concern about a Cameroonian journalist, Jean Bosco Talla, who is being harrassed and intimidated as a result of his work in publicising a huge and detailed report outlining the scale of dictators' and élites' assets in a wide number of countries around the world, including in Cameroon – PDF ahead - Journalist under threat
• · · Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murders sound respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. Old Orwell’s Instructive Errors ; How is the global financial crisis affecting our beliefs about work, money, the environment and each other? Broadcaster Libbi Gorr gathered Australia's top social researchers - Bernard Salt, Mark McCrindle & Dr Rebecca Huntley - to get the lowdown on the meltdown. Is Gen Y that bad? Yes!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ach, Bondi. Golden, pinkish sand beaches. Charming pastel Hungry Czech restaurants and kelly-green golf courses. Tiny cafes peppered everywhere …

Ideas can come from anywhere; the thing is to recognize them and give them shape. The global financial catastrophe has hit companies, families, and individuals

Do ideas sometimes pop into your head from, it seems, nowhere? Yes, and it’s because your brain actually operates on the edge of chaos
Fire exists in nature, a wild thing tamed by the mind of man. But when it first appeared, the wheel was an invention of something completely new.. Salute to wheels of ideas

Serving revenge Cold Communist secret police database goes online
Former dissident publishes list, rush of visitors crashes web server

Intense public interest saw a server collapse when databases kept by the Czechoslovak communist secret police (StB) were put online by former dissident Stanislav Penc. Within an hour of the data going online around 11 a.m. July 7, the server collapsed. Over the next three days, the Web site,, registered 140,000 hits. It has since crashed again several times and was down as of press time.
Democracy needs to know the serious reading of books. Long books. Hard books. Books with which we have to struggle...

The Dictator and I: Husak’s Émigrés and Exiles [Lessons of Charter 77 July 7 ; 2nd coming of Vacal Havel or Lech Welechsa ; Defining Slavic Dreams The Cold(est) War River]
• · US President Barack Obama has told Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin they may not agree on everything but they had an excellent opportunity to put ... In a polite atmosphere where both men seemed reserved, President Obama met Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this morning at his dacha in Moscow. I think you just cut out Lech Waleza and Poles, cut out Havel and the Czechs. There were a whole bunch of people in eastern europe who showed courage. Important to acknowledge people who struggled for own freedom. Lift the Iron curtain. we don't have to diminish other people in order to recognize our role Obama, Russia 'reset' Cold War relations; Google Stories ; There are two different versions of the story of the end of the Cold War: the Russian version, and the truth. President Barack Obama endorsed the Russian version in Moscow last week. The truth, of course, is that the Soviets ran a brutal, authoritarian regime. The KGB killed their opponents or dragged them off to the Gulag. There was no free press, no freedom of speech, no freedom of worship, no freedom of any kind Obama Rewrites the Cold War
• · Hugo Blick has written a deliciously enthralling triptych of comedy-dramas about people facing death Last Word Monologues ; The next train leaves from all platforms
• · · Even after our recent orgy of bailouts, and even as the culture of entitlement grips our country ever more tightly, Americans hunger for the assurance that we can do it for ourselves without a nanny state running our lives. Rediscovering Frederick Douglass in the Age of Obama ; Economic theory in meltdown: the biggest financial calamity in 80 years has left the reputation of economics in tatters. What went wrong with economics
• · · · To escape a 1930s culture war that soon turned into a shooting war, artists, writers and composers fled Europe for Southern California.. Hitler's Émigrés and Exiles ; Embrace individualism and reject stereotypes, says Tyler Cowen. Even look in a mirror. You may find far more talent than you expected. Talent
• · · · · It’s puzzling that such promising and prurient subject matter can lead to such flat, dull books. My Life In a G-String: A Round Up of Stripper Memoirs Stripper memoirs: Are all naked women pretty much the same? ; Language pervades the deepest domains of thought, shaping us from the nuts and bolts of perception to our loftiest abstract notions and major life decisions.. Ideas
• · · · · · The answer is capitalism’s dirty little secret: excessive lending was the only way to maintain the living standards of the vast bulk of the population at a time when wealth was being concentrated in the hands of an elite Capitalism's dirty secret ; What is the future for liberal democracy? This should be a pressing question. All around us, corporations rule the roost. They fund political parties and reward former and potential ministers with consultancies. They finance think-tanks, control newspapers and television and radio stations to mobilise particular kinds of opinion Corporate takeover of the state: What future for democracy when the private sector’s advance shows no sign of abating ; ANZ Bank has axed a further 248 jobs across the country as part of its strategy to slash the size of its Australian workforce