Her numbers never do add up, do they?

Eight-year-old Finley has always had things tough. He has autism and a bowel condition, and is scared by crowds and noise. Finley’s mum, Lisa, is disabled and does the best she can, but the costs are colossal. Finley’s special nappies alone cost £60 a month. Since Lisa became too ill to work, social security has been their lifeline – from specialist food to keep Finley healthy to therapy toys to make him less anxious.

Then universal credit came in. The inbuilt six-week wait stopped the family’s only income – “[It] left me with literally no money in that time,” Lisa says – and her benefits now vary month to month.

What’s more, under universal credit, disabled kids like Finley are seeing their child disability payment cut in half – that’s a loss of more than £1,750 a year – and Lisa has had to start using her own disability benefits to top up Finley’s.

The family car recently broke down and they were housebound as they saved to fix it. Respite care for Finley – a precious breather for both him and Lisa – has ended. Even Christmas has to be rationed.

“We’ve had to limit Finley’s expectations about Christmas, saying that Santa will bring one or two presents this year,” Lisa says. “We’re not taking him to see Santa in the runup to Christmas because we can’t afford it.”

Who is the “we” here? And why isn’t the other part of the “we”‘s income included in the calculations?

Bit of a problem for the Google tax campaigners

Advertisers continued to pour money into Google at the end of last year but a $9.9 billion tax charge pushed its parent company Alphabet to a loss in the fourth quarter.

Even without the charge, which was linked to the US tax reforms passed late in December, Alphabet’s underlying profit missed Wall Street’s expectations, sending its shares down last night.

Alphabet is a holding company for Google, its largest business, and a smaller division that houses several experimental projects, known as “other bets”. Google, the world’s most popular search engine, makes more money from digital advertising than any other company.

Alphabet reported a fourth-quarter loss of $3 billion compared with a year ago, when it made a profit of $5.3 billion. Without the tax charge the company would have reported a profit of $6.8 billion.

You know, given that it is actually paying tax?

Well done to the Herald

Bank of Scotland’s £20m bailout now back in pockets of taxpayer

THE Government has recouped the £20.3 billion used to bail out the Lloyds Banking Group during the financial crash, leaving the Bank of Scotland owner on the brink of privatisation.

Billion, million – and, of course, Lloyds is already in he private sector.

Brexit will largely fix this, won’t it?

Like Google, Apple and other hi-tech multinationals, eBay routes income from customers in many of its largest markets, including the UK, through a European sales hub located in a tax-friendly country. The income can then flow into further controversial tax structures that ultimately wipe huge sums off the group’s tax bills.

UK losing millions in VAT from non-EU sellers on Amazon and eBay
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Last year, the then British chancellor George Osborne introduced a new punitive tax, known as the diverted profits tax, designed to target tech businesses artificially shifting UK revenues abroad. He said such practice had “abused the trust of the British people”.

Mack Rice

Something of a haul of good songs here……

If you’re walking ’round think’n that the world owes you something ’cause you’re here
You goin’ out the world backwards like you did when you first come here yeah
Keep talkin’ bout the president, won’t stop air pollution
Put your hand on your mouth when you cough, that’ll help the solution
Oh, you cuss around women and you don’t even know their names, no
Then you’re dumb enough to think that’ll make you a big ol’ man

As a staff-writer for the Stax label …..well, yes, when the house band is Booker T and the MGs you can see that a songwriter might be able to have some fun……

That’s a very good idea you’ve got there, we should discuss it further

Lately, observers have been arguing that useful Indianisms such as prepone should form part of the global vocabulary of our language. Indian English, they say, is a perfectly valid form of English – as is American or east Asian English – excluded only by rank snobbery.

That Indian English is a perfectly valid form of the language is entirely true. Just as Italian and Spanish are entirely valid forms of the original Latin and the intermediary Romance languages. This does not mean that we should be transporting phrases from Italian to Spanish for example: despite the fact that Spanish simply does not have a phrase meaning the lassitude of “doppo domani”.

And thus the headline, which diligent students of intercultural English will know means something rather different in English English than it would in, say, American or Indian English.

Will Hutton’s latest mind fart

Britain is not as good at making things as it could and should be. Nor is it very good, despite the hype, at financial services. Its widely trumpeted “success” is built on turning a blind eye to quasi-criminality in investment banking and to systemic fleecing of ignorant customers in the asset management industry through an opaque and self-serving fee structure.

But Britain does have one trump card. It is the location capital of the world. Britain is the European or world headquarters of 469 global companies, according to the EY Inward Investment Monitor. No other European country comes close: Germany is home to 86 global companies, Switzerland 84 and France 77. The resulting dense concentration of high-end business decision-making spawns whole industries to service it. These include IT, law, accounting, insurance, lawful banking, design and advertising. It represents the unspoken and dynamic core of the British economy worth many millions of jobs.

So, err, given that IT, law, accounting, insurance, banking, are in fact financial services then we’re pretty good at them then, aren’t we?


Funding cuts ‘threaten the very existence’ of English National Opera

If people aren’t willing to pay for their own pleasures out of their own pockets then why in fuck should they be allowed to pick he taxpayers’ pockets to fund it for them?

Yes, this applies to Strictly Baking A voice at the BBC too.

There’s something to be said for a statute of limitations

Two members of 1960s pop group The Tremeloes, aged 70 and 72, are accused of sexually assaulting a fan, 15, after a concert in Chester in 1968

Anyone think we can have a fair trial, with no physical evidence, on something that occurred or did not occur 47 years ago? He, he says versus she says?

And if we can’t have a fair trial should we be having one at all?

This is one of those things the American cousins have got right, in principle at least if not entirely in every operation detail. After a certain period of time, varying by place and by crime, it won’t be possible to try someone fairly: thus there can be no charges.

Bit of a blow, eh?

All that sustainability, good for the planet:

It has a reputation for being better for us and the environment, but new research suggests organic food may actually be harming the planet.

Scientists have found that rather than reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released, organic farming may actually be increasing them.

They found the shift to large scale organic farming in order to meet growing demand for organic products in shops has led to an increase in emissions for each acre of land.

And given that organic is less productive, that means that more land needs to be farmed with those higher emissions, too.


Local blues musician Stan the Man has died July 13 at age 64 after an undisclosed illness, according to a post on Facebook.

Local here means Prague. Which isn’t quite local to where I am. But I had meant to go down and see a gig: for Stan was an occasional reader and commenter here. And now I cannot.

Carpe Diem, eh?

Darwin Awards start with “Hold my beer and watch this”

A 22-year-old man who was drinking and celebrating the Fourth of July tried to launch a firework off the top of his head, killing him instantly, authorities said Sunday.

Devon Staples and his friends had been drinking and setting off fireworks Saturday night in the backyard of a friend’s home in eastern Maine, said Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

Staples, 22, of Calais, a small city on the Canadian border, placed a reloadable fireworks mortar tube on his head and told his friends he was going to light it, McCausland said. But his friends urged him to stop.

“Apparently, he thought that was a great idea,” McCausland said. “His friends they thought dissuaded him from doing it, and the next thing they knew, he ignited the fireworks and he was killed instantly.”

They’re not called rednecks up there but the effect is the same.

And this is old, old news

Feminists have debated it for decades, but scientists have finally got to the bottom of why men still exist.

Biologists have always puzzled over why males have survived given that their only contribution to reproduction is sperm.

It makes far more sense in evolutionary terms to have an all-female asexual population which creates daughters who can reproduce rather than sons who cannot, such as the Mexican whiptail lizard.

But new research suggests that sexual competition for mates keeps populations healthy, free of disease and genetically diverse.

“Almost all multicellular species on earth reproduce using sex, but its existence isn’t easy to explain because sex carries big burdens, the most obvious of which is that only half of your offspring – daughters – will actually produce offspring,” said lead researcher Prof Matt Gage, from the University of East Anglia School of Biological Sciences.

“Why should any species waste all that effort on sons? An all-female asexual population would be a far more effective route to reproduce greater numbers of offspring.

“Our research shows that competition among males for reproduction provides a really important benefit, because it improves the genetic health of populations.”

How many decades is it since Matt Ridley’s Red Queen?

Tempora, Mores, now the Italians are more English than the English

An Italian 90 year old grandmother is to be presented with service medals for her actions in WWII:

“It’s really very unexpected,” she told The Daily Telegraph from her home in Pitigliano, a medieval village clustered on top of a cliff in the Tuscan countryside.

“I never thought this would happen. People of my generation just got on with what we had to do. We never really talked about it after the war – even my children and grandchildren know very little of what I did.

“I’m deeply honoured but a bit embarrassed too. I’m an old girl now and it all happened 70 years ago, for God’s sake.”

That r