May 2015

Business Insider might wanna check this geography

the nine Azore Islands located off the coast of Portugal.

Umm, no, not really.

16 incredible European destinations

Well, no.

The Azores (UK /əˈzɔrz/ ə-ZORZ, US /ˈeɪzɔrz/ AY-zorz; Portuguese: Açores, [ɐˈsoɾɨʃ]), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (Região Autónoma dos Açores), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal, composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the North Atlantic Ocean about 1,360 km (850 mi) west of continental Portugal, about 880 km (550 mi) northwest of Madeira, about 1,925 km (1,196 mi) southeast of Newfoundland, and about 6,392 km (3,972 mi) northeast of Brazil.

Not really Europe, is it?

Ah, but when the Clintons do it it is different

Three experts on the FCPA, the law passed by Congress in 1977 in response to news stories that Lockheed had been engaged in a systematic program of bribing foreign officials in return for foreign government contracts, (Steptoe and Johnson attorney Michael Edney – writing in the Wall Street Journal, CFPA expert attorney Roger Cassin, and Koehler) all seem to be in agreement that had these very same transactions taken place in a foreign country–an American company donating to a foundation established by the country’s former president who was married to that country’s current Foreign Minister, who in turn authorized the purchase of arms from that country — it would have been a violation of the FCPA.

Yes, of course it’s all corrupt.

And that they won’t get called on it is evidence of corruption.

Yes, agreed, the source is Breitbart but still, it stinks.

Isn’t this a remarkable complaint?

BAT’s position in Burma at the turn of the millennium was hugely controversial. “BAT’s factory in Burma was jointly owned with the military dictatorship and so helped fund one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world,” said Anna Roberts, executive director at Burma Campaign UK. “BAT refused to admit how much money it gave to the dictatorship, but Burma Campaign UK estimated that BAT paid the generals $16m (£10m) in taxes alone between 1999 and 2002. In contrast, BAT paid its factory workers in Burma just £15 a month. The dictatorship spent 40% of its budget on the military.”

They’re complaining that a multinational actually did pay taxes in a poor country.

Seems fairly obvious that this will happen

Rare, it seems, is the aspiring actress who hasn’t been sexually harassed by a director, casting agent or producer, and in recent years many have spoken out about their experiences – from Dame Helen Mirren to Gwyneth Paltrow, Susan Sarandon to Charlize Theron.

The exploitation of actresses – and actors – is not confined to Hollywood. Equity, the UK actors’ union, is receiving ever more complaints and has established a working party to investigate and draw up a set of industry guidelines.

Vast numbers of good looking young women want these jobs. Ergo, some will exploit this in order to have sex.

Also true that some of them will agree to have sex in order to get the job. That no good looking young woman would do so is as ridiculous a thought as the idea that all would.

A problem that doesn’t really have a solution: other than the cultural one of asking and offering being acceptable and insistence not.

Dave Broome missed a chance with The Briefcase

The Briefcase, premiering on CBS at 8 p.m. Wednesday, features “American families experiencing financial setbacks,” to use the network’s terminology. The family is given a briefcase with $101,000 in it, and then they’re shown another family who’s “experiencing financial setbacks.” They have to decide how much money to keep and how much to give the other people, or whether they want to keep it all for themselves; neither family knows both families have in fact received a briefcase, and that their counterparts are also deliberating over if and how to share the money. In the two episodes CBS made available for review, the decision weighs incredibly heavily on all participants. One woman is so overcome that she vomits. Everyone talks about health insurance. Several people claim this is the hardest decision they’ve ever made. Many, many tears are shed. And perhaps unsurprisingly, people demonstrate impressive generosity. That’s the point of the show, right? To show how generous people truly are? Surely these people were screened not just for emotive telegenics but also for proclivity toward magnanimity.

Well, no, not really, that’s how human beings work actually. As tha classic economic experiment, the ultimatum game shows.

And this is of course a version of that ultimatum game. A one time, going in both directions, real life version of it. I don’t, of course, know what the splits being offered are. But I would be surprised if anyone offered less that 30% of the cash to the other people.

But perhaps Dave Broome, the originator of the show missed a trick here. Because wouldn’t it be fun to have the other part of that game? Where if there’s a rejection, then no one gets anything? Here, a rejection being offering more than 10% less than the other participants are offering you?

That would be a lovely reveal, wouldn’t it? (Strokes white cat, feeds shark, puffs cigar.)

Ain’t Ritchie wonderful?

I have been assisting the BBC with their news story, first broadcast this morning on the Today programme, on a new and, in my opinion, extremely abusive tax avoidance scheme.

The scheme abuses the employment allowance introduced in April 2014 that provides small employers with a rebate of £2,000 a year on their employer’s national insurance charges.

Excellent, so, dodgy tax scheme uncovered, HMRC will be right on it, OK, credit where it’s due, well done!

Leading to Ritchie’s legal demands:

All I can guess is that they think that if the Revenue come and ask for that Employers National Insurance, what they’ll say is: ‘Well, there’s no money in any of these companies, they’re all empty shells, therefore, you can sue us, you can put us in to liquidation, but they’ll be nothing for you to have.” The response to that is that is isn’t it time now to consider whether there should be a penalty on the directors of limited companies that are incorporated for the purposes of abusing the tax system.

Ooer Missus! Tough on tax, tough on the causes of tax!

But if, as I suspect, this scheme shows that systemic use of limited liability is being relied on to make sure that tax is not paid this situation has, as I have also long argued, to change so that where it can be suggested with reasonable probability that limited liability has been used for the purposes of not settling tax liabilities properly due then the liability for that tax should fall on the directors, shareholders and promoters of the scheme in question together with any who might have enjoyed economic benefit as a result of its use (i.e. the end user of the labour in this case), and this liability should be joint and several.

If the government is serious about tackling tax abuse this has to be one its first acts on this issue or this abuse will grow, rapidly. I would urge them to act, quickly.

The government must do something and quickly!

In the comments:

The scheme appears mis-guided from start to finish. Under RTI HMRC would get an early heads-up on this, the costs and admin of setting up hundreds of companies and transferring thousands of employees would be horrendous.

HMRC do, of course, already have powers to pursue directors by issuing a PLN on them under the Social Security Administration Act 1992.


I agree with you that this doesn’t seem to work.

I note that s121CSSAA 1992 allows the recovery of unpaid Class 1 NI from the directors of a company, or any other officer, where there is fraud or neglect.

If the Employment Allowance is being deliberately exploited, then this is arguably fraud. If it has not been looked at properly, this is arguably neglect. HMRC only need to be able to argue the case to start each company racking up a pretty significant cost defending itself.

The NI Manual has some good stuff on this (see NIM 12200 for details, if you’re interested in the detail). It predates Employment Allowance, but indicators that s121C should be invoked include situations where the directors are involved with other companies doing the same thing, which would seem to be pretty much bang on the money here.

So, Ritchie’s demand is already law. government, qactually, need do nothing. His response?

I admit I had forgotten that Act

How Glorious Is The Knowledge Of The Lord High Tax Denouncer!

And how much did the BBC pay for help on this story then?

An extraordinary claim

4. One-in-six people work in the global fashion industry.

These workers include everyone from leather tanners who assemble cheap shoes, fabric dyers, and seamstresses to the cotton-pickers who gather the bolls to be spun into fiber.

A billion and a bit people work in the fashion industry?



True but

It is “intolerable” for the left that the Conservatives have won the first general election in nearly a quarter of a century, Carswell suggests. The logic of Carswell – and others – is that if a party wins a general election, then the whole population must submit and accept their legislative programme without so much as a whimper. An elected dictatorship, if you will. Even if that government is pushing one of the most radical rightwing agendas in postwar British history after receiving the support of a quarter of eligible voters – no, we must silently accept everything, from the dramatic curtailing of the trade union movement to the abolition of the Human Rights Act.

But…..when the left get in in, say, Venezuela and procede to entirely wreck the economy they’re defended with the mantra “but they won a free and fair election, didn’t they?” The Germans must cugh up to pay for Syriza’s plans because democracy.

Gooses and ganders Mr. Jones, gooses and ganders.

Well, yes, but….

As anyone who has been to a certain kind of pre-natal “support group” knows, for a woman to say – admit, even – that she will avail herself of all the pain relief and opt for a c-section is tantamount to admitting you plan to give your kids heroin to keep them quiet during EastEnders. The attitude in these groups is truly something to behold, with women being berated for opting for a birth plan that involves anything more sophisticated than giving birth in a woodland attended to only by twinkly-eyed foxes.

And entire column about natural childbirth and intervention and how women get shouted at to go for one, not the other. And the right answer too. Bugger off, up to the about to be mother.

There is one bit missing though. Apart from the occasional self-promoter with a book to sell it’s almost never men who are doing any of the insisting on the natural stuff. Rather the other way around in fact. Most about to be fathers will do absolutely anything their pregnant partners desire. It’s the screaming harpies in the midwife and feminist movements who are insisting on the as much paid as possible is good for you and the baby routines.

Which leads me to a law that will come in when I’m dictator. No one may become a midwife until they’ve had two children, one with drugs and one without.

So, if the statistical value of a life is £2 million

Then was this worth the money:

A council which switches off street lights in the middle of the night has been urged to review the controversial money-cutting measure after a young woman pedestrian was killed by a car.

An inquest heard mother-of-five Cheryl Richards was run down as she walked home along an unlit section of a rural A-road at two o’clock in the morning.

The A361, near Hilperton, Wiltshire, was in complete darkness at the time because Wiltshire County Council decided three years earlier to switch off street lights from midnight to save £300,000 a year.

Crude and brutal calculation here but this is the way that it is and should be done. Statistical value of a life (£2 million or so is what the rail uses) times number of lives lost per year times saving from the activity/cost of the activity.

One death in three years? Not worth it. One in six years? About break even.

Yes, that’s assuming the death was solely caused by the lights going off, not just a contributing factor.

Tehre’s just no getting around the fact that there are opportunity costs.

How very, very amusing about Dennis Hastert

The rough background is this.

So, high school wrestling coach, becomes Congressman, Speaker of the House, retires to be a lobbyist.

Someone who has, according to the court documents, known Haster all their lives comes along in 2010 (3 years after retirement from Congress) and asks for $3.5 million to, allegedly, keep quiet about something that had happened to both of them.

Hastert agrees and starts paying.

Hmm, well, no, we don’t know what. We can all assume all we like about a former high school wrestling coach agreeing to cough up but……

So, who is now indicted? The bloke coughing up the money. And not for whatever might have been done. Nor for coughing up. But for taking the money out of accounts in amounts of less than $10k at a time to dodge, allegedly, reporting requirements.

Ain’t American law just great?

There really is a male/female difference

What amuses here is the underlying message:

In a trilogy of rather brilliant short films, WaterAid imagines how different society would be if it were men who lost the endometrium of their wombs every month. An accompanying survey of 2,000 people found that 78% thought the world of sport would change if men had periods; a quarter thought white sportswear would be banned and that men would brag about their periods; 21% thought that bookmakers would factor menstrual cycles into their odds.

The films bring this alternate reality to vivid life. Around the office photocopier, men compare flows: the heavier the better. In WaterAid’s second film, football commentators talk blithely about a player being the most likely to score because he’s “on day two of his cycle” and “right in the optimum performance zone this month”. Wait, there’s an optimum performance zone? I’ve come to the end of my menstruating life without realising that, and I haven’t realised that because there is nothing blithe or casual in how we talk about periods.

So, OK, men and women are different then. So whither feminism now?

Equity feminism, different but equal is fine: but the sort that insists there’s no difference looks rather holed doesn’t it?

Donde esta La Polla

The British left must learn to speak a new language – Spanish

So says Owen Jones.

So I offer that title as a first language lesson for said British left. Admittedly, there’s a couple of ways one could interpret that, one using Polla to mean Polly Toynbee, which presumably isn’t what Owen is referring to as that would be the old British left, the one that must be left behind.

The other, more colloquial, meaning, well, more sui8table really as these people are willing to say or do prety much anything for power, aren’t they?

Rather sharp from Cameron

In a surprise move the Conservatives introduced a new law to reform the way union activists pay a “political levy” to Labour.

Under the Conservative plans, union members will have to opt-in to paying an annual amount to Labour, rather than opting out as at present.

If he goes on to get the Boundary Commission working properly then there’s a good chance of a third term….

Yep, still looking for a job

Tomorrow is Queen’s Speech day. No government that might have been elected would have presented the programme I would wish for. These would have been my priority bills:

To create an Office for Tax Responsibility


And marvel at the logic here:

Replacing the Lord’s with an elected Senate. This would begin the process of real change in the way we a are governed. This ought to have happened in the aftermath of the mp’s claims scandal.

Elected politicians are thieving scumso, err, let’s have more elected politicians!