July 2013

Fun in GuardianWorld, innit?

Vicky Pryce, who was jailed for taking speeding points for her ex-husband Chris Huhne, has been stripped of an official honour. In this she joins the ranks of Fred Goodwin, Idi Amin and Kim Philby. Others, like Conrad Black and Jeffrey Archer, have kept theirs. Is the decision right?

Sigh. Black and Archer are peers. We do not have a system which allows someone to be stripped of a peerage. You can execute them and they\’ll still be peers right up to the moment that severed head falls into the basket. You can then prevent anyone inheriting that title.

But you can\’t take away a peerage.

Trying to explain debt to people

Says this bloke in The Guardian.

And then immediately and totally fucks up.

Because he only looks at aggregates. Japan owes debt to the US, the US owes debt to Japan etc.

No, specific people and organisations that happen to be located in Japan own US debt, just as specific people and organisations in the US own Japanese debt. If you\’re not going to look at the distribution of it all then you\’re never going to get close to the truth.

They\’re still not getting it on corporate tax, are they?

Seriously, do we have to be ruled by ignorant buffoons?

The committee said it was \”not clear\” whether the OECD reforms unveiled this month ahead of a G20 summit go far enough to stop big companies, such as Amazon, shuffling sales income from British customers to low-tax countries.

\”It is not yet clear how effective the proposed solutions will be or whether they can be achieved within the [two-year] timescale,\” the committee\’s report, published on Wednesday, said. \”In the meantime, the UK faces the prospect of losing much-needed revenue.\”

Amazon doesn\’t make profits, remember? A loss last year globally, a loss last quarter globally. There just aren\’t any profits to rightfully tax.

George Osborne had hailed the OECD tax reforms – potentially the most ambitious internationally-agreed tax changes since the 1920s – as an \”important step towards a global tax system that is fair and fit for purpose for the modern economy\”.

The OECD reforms promise to put a stop to Amazon routing its £4.2bn annual UK sales through Luxembourg, paying negligible UK tax along the way.

Companies are not taxed on turnover or economic activity. They are taed upon profits: and if you don\’t make any then you don\’t pay tax.

For goodness sake, if we had the Murphmeister\’s unitary taxation we\’d being issuing Amazon with sodding tax credits.

Lord MacGregor , chairman of the committee, said: \”There is a sense that corporation tax is voluntary for some multinationals… while small UK-based businesses go by the book and have to pay.\”

He said the government should consider introducing a destination-based cashflow tax, under which companies would be taxed on profits generated in the countries where their customers live.

But Amazon doesn\’t make any profits!

The committee also raised serious concern that HMRC, the only public body able to see corporate tax returns, has not publicly commented on these cases or the controversial tax deals it reached with Goldman Sachs and Vodafone.

Good grief. The GS case was whether GS should have paid interest on the tax owed or not. No one else in hte case had paid interest on the tax paid: so it\’s entirely arguable whether GS should have done or not. But that is what it was all about. And for £20 million or so. An amount that could indeed get swallowed in legal bills if GS had decided to fight it out.

Vodafone is even more silly as we know very well what the \”deal\” was. V simply didn\’t owe any tax, the £6 billion bill never existed. And V won on EU law as well. The settlement was that V brought some of those offshore profits into the UK in order to pay the dividend. An action which all agree makes those profits liable to UK corporate taxation. That\’s it. There simply isn\’t any controversy here. Well, except that manufactured by a few lying scum that is.

It\’s simply so annoying to find that those who rule the country just don\’t know the basics of what is available on numerous blogs for free.

The latest threat from the Murphmeister

If you comment here then you won\’t be allowed to comment there.

I want to note that several commentators who fall foul of the ban on those who openly support the policy of blogs where abuse is commonplace have placed abusive comment on this thread, as might be expected.

Their comments have been deleted.

One also suggested I wished to create an echo chamber – which is exactly, of course, what right wing think tanks set out to do

Yes, that combination of right wing think tanks and promoting a culture of abuse does indeed mean here.

Participating in web sites that approve abusive language and an aggressive tone, frequently laden with sexual innuendo and all with clear intent to oppress those calling for greater equality in society, which comment carries with it the clear message that violence in pursuit of greed and manipulation to secure advantage is acceptable, means a commentator is not welcome here, ever.

Apparently either disagreeing with someone or pointing out their errors is oppressing them these days.

Who knew?

Be careful about the FBI\’s child slavery announcement

For I\’m sure that what has actually happened here will be twisted into the proof of something quite different.

Declaring child prostitution a “persistent threat” in America, the FBI said Monday that authorities had rescued 105 young people and arrested 150 alleged pimps in a three-day sweep in 76 cities.

That\’s excellent.

The FBI announced on Monday that it had freed 105 sexually exploited teenagers and arrested 150 suspected pimps in a nationwide sting on underage prostitution over the weekend that included 76 cities


Police liberated 12 child prostitutes and arrested 21 pimps in an FBI-coordinated sweep that targeted people who forced minors — some as young as 13 locally — into the sex trade in the Bay Area and across the nation.

That\’s not quite so good reporting. And this is worse:

FBI agents have rescued more than 100 children forced into prostitution by sex traffickers, during a three-day sweep across the US.

The FBI has indeed cracked down on child prostitution but on trafficking not so much. But this will, I am certain, be used to bolster the claims that trafficking is widespread and that something must be done.

Let\’s start from the beginning. Almost all of the victims here can indeed be described as children: 13-17 year old females. Given that they are not over the age of consent (in the US, for either porn or prostitution that\’s 18, while that for sex can be the same or much lower, in some States those 13 year olds could be married, I think that\’s still true).

We might also describe them as teenagers which is rather less emotive than the linkage between \”child\” and \”paedophilia\”.

But I have no doubt that someone will use this to prove that there are vast numbers of children being sold off to paedophiles.

The other important point is over the definition of trafficking. In its strict sense this means sex slavery, being held against their will and then being repeatedly raped. So, we can indeed argue that being under the age of consent they cannot consent so therefore they are being trafficked. I\’m attracted to that logic myself.

However, at the same time we should also agree that this is rather different from that strict sense of \”trafficked\” which is that sex slave repeated rape thing. That teenage prostitutes are found, those who cannot in law consent, is not the same thing as finding women tied up in basements who are only let out to perform a blow job.

But I equally have no doubt that we\’ll see, soon enough, someone claiming that the proven existence of the first means that the second must be true.

I have no doubt that there is teenage prostitution in the UK and elsewhere and I very much wish there wasn\’t. But that existence is very diferent from the claims that there are 25,000 (D. MacShane) sex slaves in the UK. But as I say, I have no doubt that soon enough we\’ll be seeing people using the proof of the first as proof that the second exists.

Not entirely convinced that I believe this aluminium manipulation story

Brewer Miller Coors last week told the US Senate that inflated aluminium prices were costing consumers $3bn (£2bn) a year, putting the focus on the stockpiles held by the Wall Street investment bank and the world’s largest commodity trading firm.

Together, the two firms are estimated to control two-thirds of the world’s stockpiles of aluminium, with Goldman Sachs holding 1.5m tons, while Glencore has 2m tons in its warehouses.

Aluminium prices have more than doubled in the past three years. At the same time, the amount stored in warehouses has hit a record 5.5m tons.

No, I don\’t know the details of this market. But something doesn\’t sound quite right about it.

Global annual production of aluminium metal is 45 million tonnes or so.

Yes, I know that prices work at the margin and all that. But I\’m deeply unconvinced that a stock of 10% of annual production is going to manipulate prices very much. I can imagine that it does indeed make a significant difference to who gets the profits from playing around with futures and spot prices. The speculators or the banks that own the warehouses. But I can\’t see how there\’ll be a significant link to general Al prices.

On this new world order thing

The European Union is planning to “own and operate” spy drones, surveillance satellites and aircraft as part of a new intelligence and security agency under the control of Baroness Ashton.

It\’s an interesting thing for a vice chair of CND to be in charge of, isn\’t it?

Willy, please, do stop….

Local authority budgets are so reduced that new council house building has dwindled to almost zero.

Dear God.

No, council house building has not shrunk to almost nothing as a result of budget squeezes. It\’s because we\’ve shifted all that social housing over into housing associations and they build the new houses, not the councils. We\’ve renamed it, not stopped it.


Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter JJ Cale, one of the most versatile musicians of his era who played guitar and spanned music genres from rock \’n\’ roll to blues and jazz, has died after suffering a heart attack.


You probably know the cover of this song rather than this, the original. Some very fine indeed guitar here.


Ticket Type Sales End Price * Fee Quantity
Blogging for absolute beginners Aug 10, 2013 £349.00 £0.00


The Guardian is running a course on how to blog for, for, for, threehunnerdnfittyquid?

Via Longrider.

Serendipity strikes again

So, I\’m working in the new office today. Haven\’t quite got it kitted out with glasses and coffee cups yet. Off to the supermarket, get a bottle of juice and one of lemonade. Supermarket seems not to sell plastic cups. Oh well, slug it from the bottles.

Stop by McDonalds for lunch (I know, I know) and guess what? When I order a Coke they give me a nice Coke glass.

So I am now slightly ill from a MaccyD and sipping lemonade and juice, mixed, from my new glass.

It\’s amazing how easy it is to please the little boy that\’s still there, somewhere, inside.

A question about Bitcoins and other digital currencies

So, as far as I understand the market the major input cost is electricity. Sure, you need a mining rig and these days that means ASICs etc.

However, again as I understand it, the major variable cost is the electricity required to power such a machine.

So, if you\’re in an office environment where electricity is a standardised part of your rent, attracting no additional costs as consumption rises, does this mean that running a mining rig thereby becomes profitable?