Gosh, Really?

So they lose more data:

Miss Kelly was informed about the latest data loss – which experts say could expose millions to the threat of identity fraud – on Nov 28.

Yet she admitted the fiasco only last night, on the eve of MPs\’ Christmas break.

Amazing that, isn\’t it? The timing of the admission? Perhaps they don\’t have enough spin doctors? 20 days to write a press release might be a symptom of that you know.

Nice Line

Speaking of embarrassments, the Spice Girls have managed to imbue their long-awaited comeback with all the glamour and class of a hurried crap in a service station toilet by whoring themselves out to Tesco. The first instalment, in which the Girl Power quartet try to hide from each other while shopping for presents, represents a important landmark for the performing arts: Posh Spice becomes the first human being in history to be out-acted by a shopping trolley.

Good Luck With That, Gwyneth

Gwyneth Dunwoody, the chairman of the committee, said: "The Government must stop this folly and endeavour to bring the European Commission to its senses.

"The EU now appears to be sleep-walking into a further vast financial commitment to Galileo which is likely to take the public funding for the project to £10 billion, without any realistic assessment of its costs and benefits.

"We must have independent and up-to-date evidence that proceeding with Galileo is worthwhile, and if it can be demonstrated that Galileo offers good value for tax-payers\’ money. Any decision on funding must be based on sound management of European Union budgets."

It\’s a political project dear: it\’s not amenable to standard cost benefit analysis. Big important people have their own GPS systems. The EU is big and important, thus it will have a GPS system. It\’s dick waving, not rational.

You What?

Richard Murphy\’s latest idea:

I argue for a citizenship based tax – which only the US has.

So if you decide that you don\’t like the way the country is going and decide to leave (not, perhas enjoying the tyrrany of the majority) you still have to pay tax to fund the way that you don\’t like the country going. Truly, you are a slave to the State.

It gets even more interesting though. The US system also taxes you if you decide that you\’d like to give up citizenship.

Section 205 creates a new “exit tax” on all persons who give up, renounce, and/or relinquish their US citizenship or greencard.  For greencard holders, expatriation can and does happen involuntarily.  It also applies to US citizenship (though no one can force you to give up US citizenship).  You are deemed to have sold all your worldly goods on the date of expatriation.  The first $600,000 is exempt, and the rest is taxed and due within 90 days of expatriation.  There is no step-up in basis for arrival to the US, so for greencard holders this tax is also on gain incurred prior to moving to the US.  US retirement plans are deemed distributed and taxed immediately.  Taxpayers’ interests in foreign trusts are taxable, even if there is no legal access to the funds.

No, I think we\’ll not have that tax system, shall we?

Hmmm.

Pekka-Eric Auvinen, 18, killed seven fellow pupils and the headmistress at Jokela High School in Tuusula, 30 miles north of Finland’s capital Helsinki. He then turned the gun on himself, and died after being taken to hospital.

And

\’\’Bowling for Columbine\’\’ is riveting and scary, and its vision of a society racked by fear, riven by inequality and armed to the teeth is neither comforting nor easily wished away.

Gini for Finland, 26, for the US, 40.

Availability of guns about the same.

Might we need to take "riven by inequality" off our list of causes of school massacres?

Amanda Marcotte

That’s why I’m mostly unable to get on the train with the strange fascination with this woman. Yes, she’s horrendously wrong and pig-headed and possesses a shocking lack of self-awareness, but I’m a softie and I just end up embarrassed for her.

Sadly, no, not a moment of self-realization. She\’s talking about someone else.

Royal Sex Scandal

Naming the person at the centre of the royal sex scandal might not be all that wise an idea:

A lawyer who is defending one of the men accused of blackmailing a member of the Royal Family has called for anyone identifying the alleged victim to be prosecuted.

Giovanni Di Stefano, who represents Ian Strachan, an Icelandic socialite, has written to Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, and Sir Ken Macdonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions, after overseas media were reported to have named the victim.

The lawyer has emphasised that his client never intended to harm the Royal Family, but wanted to alert them to the behaviour of an aide.

Mr Di Stefano claims that he has consulted several QCs and has been told that British authorities could have powers to act against foreign-based broadcasters and websites and issue a European arrest warrant. They could be liable for breaching an English court order guaranteeing anonymity to the blackmail victim and witnesses if their speculation reached Britain.

Mr Di Stefano said: “I am writing to Baroness Scotland and Sir Ken asking them to bring criminal charges against a number of people who have violated the orders of the judge.

“A violation of a contempt of court act is an extraditable offence and I am going to ask for charges to be brought against any newspaper from any jurisdiction that names any people, even if it is the wrong name, because it is in violation of the order.”

Fortunately, I didn\’t. Phew.