Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Budget 2016

‘Public figures and commentators use econobabble to dress up their self-interest as the national interest, to make the absurd seem inevitable or the  inequitable seem fair.’
— Richard Denniss Chief Economist, The Australia Institute

      Rule N.1 of Tax Haven Club: NEVER talk about Tax Haven Club 

Here is what we know will be in Scott Morrison's 2016 budget

Treasurer Scott Morrison will unveil a suite of multinational tax avoidance measures, including a diverted profits tax - commonly known as a "Google tax" - designed to raise billions of dollars over four years and head off claims it is only cutting taxes for business and the wealthy. A new unit within the Australian Tax Office will also be handed more resources and staff to crack down on multinational tax avoidance Scott Morrison to raise billions through multinational tax crackdown

Budget 2016: Scott Morrison to raise billions through multinational tax crackdown 

Live Blog .... 

Budget 2016: $10m turnover cut-off for business tax cuts

Happy budget day, folks. Follow the latest developments from Parliament in our live blog

Scott Morrison's relentless rise to power (Good Weekend at Currarong)

On Sunday, Mr Morrison had said the budget would offer tax relief for "people out there earning average wages"; he clarified on Monday that "the average full-time earnings in Australia is $80,000".
Tax stats from 2013-14 show there were 9,712,293 Australians with taxable income and 7,187,104 of them earned less than $80,000.

baby porcupine links
The man who attests that his faith has imbued him with “the values of loving kindness, justice and righteousness” also tried to make political hay when relatives of asylum seekers killed in the boat tragedy off Christmas Island in December 2010 were flown at taxpayers’ expense to attend their loved ones’ funerals in Sydney. The Scott Morrison who claims that deterring boat people from ever embarking on the hazardous journey across the Indian Ocean offers the most humane and Christian approach is also the Scott Morrison whose incessant politicisation of the issue has made compromise so difficult. “There is nothing to negotiate,” he said after a vessel carrying 250 asylum seekers sank off the coast of Java in December, adding glibly that Labor had “super-sized” the problem by releasing boat people into the community.
So Who bloody Hell are you ...

Illustration: Ron Tandberg.
Illustration: Ron Tandberg.

Compare with UK Budget 2016:

United Kingdom Budget UK budget 2016 documents
The United Kingdom (UK) Budget: was handed down on 16 March 2016. Some of the key measures announced include:
* a reduction in the corporation tax rate to 17 per cent by 2020 (previously due to fall to 18 per cent)
* more details on the implementation of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action 4
* changes to the loss relief rules for businesses
* extension of the anti-hybrid rules to eliminate tax advantages arising from mismatch arrangements involving permanent establishments
* expanded royalty withholding tax rules and treaty abuse.

Hostage to Fortune: Mr Read gets the Key to city of Sydney

“Don’t you read anything but novels, I hear you say. I wish I could say that I really read novels. There are libraries full of novelists who are thought great whose work I have not read, or cannot read. I know some of Henry James, but not much, because I would rather read Powys. With the best will in the world I have never been able to get beyond the first few pages of Moby-Dick. Of the novels of Virginia Woolf I forbear to speak, because although I have read them, nothing can make me read them again; too much acute sensibility affects me as if I were a deep-sea diver—I get the bends. And I have to keep my mouth shut about D.H. Lawrence. I do not deny these delights to those who are able to appreciate them, but I am too old to pretend that they are for me.” 
~ Robertson Davies, The Merry Heart: Reflections on Reading, Writing, and the World of Books (courtesy of Richard Zuelch)

“The sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being,” Carl Jung wrote as he contemplated life and death

As another famous saying goes, “life is like photography, you need the negatives to develop.” In MD's  case, we have developed our hardships into a blogging masterpiece ;-)

Why birthplace matters so much: Sorting, learning and geography VoxEU. Lordie. Notice the assumption: that where you were born is where you grew up. They don’t even attempt to correct for that in the analysis. I “lived” where I was born for all of the six days that I was in the hospital and lived in three different small towns before I was six, when we moved to a big city.

The truth is always an abyss. One must — as in a swimming pool — dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order later to rise again — laughing and fighting for breath — to the now doubly illuminated surface of things.  In the last four years of his life, Kafka befriended a seventeen-year-old Czech boy named Gustav Janouch  

Luck plays a more important role in our lives than we imagine — and recognising this has political implications Hostage to fortune 

Hollywood Reporter, Michael Jackson Estate Faces Billion-Dollar Tax Court Battle

Government pressure driving HMRC's scatter gun approach to criminal investigations  

THEY PUBLISH THE BEST AUTHORS. ALSO ME! Check out the new Encounter Books website

“The piece was written for the March 1960 issue ofThe Grapevine, a magazine for FBI professionals … The article was about the gruesome murder of Herb and Bonnie Clutter, and their teenage children 
Nancy and Kenyon at their farmhouse in Kansas” – the crime that Lee helped Truman Capote research for his book In Cold Blood  The Guardian 

Ms Lahood's tardiness is a trait she shares with her former fiance, Eddie Hayson. For more than a decade she and the big-time punter controlled the Camperdown brothel Stiletto, a haunt of rugby league players, jockeys, bikies and underworld figures Sydney Madam Jamelie Lahood pursued over tax bills

Poetry and money. Eileen Myles sent poems to The New Yorker for 30 years. Finally, one was accepted. Payment: $600 and two nights at a motel .... 

Of all the befuddling legal matters in the entertainment business, there's perhaps none that causes attorneys to scratch their heads like the battle between Michael Jackson and the Internal Revenue Service over what the late entertainer should be paying in estate taxes. In the years after his death in 2009 at age 50, Jackson has experienced a commercial rebirth thanks to the savvy executors who have managed his assets. The 2009 documentary This Is It grossed $261 million, a Cirque du Soleil tribute show packs in fans, and there have been albums, video games and other lucrative memorials. Now the IRS wants its share, claiming the value of Jackson's name and image upon death amounted to more than $434 million. The estate's own valuation? Just $2,105

Right Wing German party alternative adopts antiislam policy

Prince died without a will, according to court documents filed by his sister, which may cause complications for his financial estate and musical legacy.

STEPHEN GREEN’S APPARENT YOUTH EXPLAINED: To your health? Anti-aging gin claims to make you look younger.

Well, gin-and-tonic season is just around the corner.

How the Banks Stole Higher Education Vice

Where Jobs Are Squeezed by Chinese Trade, Voters Seek Extremes New York Times. Translation: the natives are unreasonable and refuse to believe that they are not living in the best of all possible worlds.

Overhearing and repeating the wrong sort of evidence can land a parrot in a witness-protection program [Laurel Braitman, Digg]
 It’s all smoke and mirrors:
Dark side of dating  
Goldman Sachs opens to the masses Financial Times. Resilc: “You know the end must be near.”

Last month, De La Rue, the world’s largest currency maker, sent a letter to the central bank complaining that it was owed $71 million and would inform its shareholders if the money were not forthcoming. The letter was leaked to a Venezuelan news website and confirmed by Bloomberg News

 “German army forced to lay down weapons due to ‘overtime limits'” [Hostage to Misfortune via Telegraph, U.K.]

Burtch, Gordon and Ghose, Anindya and Wattal, Sunil, Secret Admirers: An Empirical Examination of Information Hiding and Contribution Dynamics in Online Crowdfunding (April 19, 2016). Information Systems Research, Forthcoming. Available for download at SSRN:http://ssrn.com/abstract=2767276
“Individuals’ actions in online social contexts are growing increasingly visible and traceable. Many online platforms account for this by providing users with granular control over when and how their identity or actions are made visible to peers. However, little work has sought to understand the effect that a user’s decision to conceal information might have on observing peers, who are likely to refer to that information when deciding on their own actions. We leverage a unique impression-level dataset from one of the world’s largest online crowdfunding platforms, where contributors are given the option to conceal their username or contribution amount from public display, with each transaction. We demonstrate that when campaign contributors elect to conceal information, it has a negative influence on subsequent visitors’ likelihood of conversion, as well as on their average contributions, conditional on conversion. Moreover, we argue that social norms are an important driver of information concealment, providing evidence of peer influence in the decision to conceal. We discuss the implications of our results for the provision of online information hiding mechanisms, as well as the design of crowdfunding platforms and electronic markets more generally.”

Kevin LaCroix explores some reasons why we're seeing a decline in the number of public corporations and then looks at some of the consequences. A very good analysis of a very important issue. Recommended

‘I never dress up for boys’ says 100-year-old star of Harvey Nichols’ new Vogue campaign Telegraph 

FiveThirtyEight, What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?:
Daniel Straub remembers the night he got hooked on basic income. He had invited Götz Werner, a billionaire owner of a German drugstore chain, to give an independent talk in Zurich, where Straub was working as a project manager for a think tank. He had read an article about the radical proposal to unconditionally guarantee citizens an income and spent a few years casually researching the idea. Straub had heard Werner was a good speaker on the topic, and that night in 2009 he was indeed excellent at connecting with the audience, a sold-out house of 200. “It was a very intense evening; people were paying attention,” Straub recalled.

New York Times:  Fantasy Math Is Helping Companies Spin Losses Into Profits, by Gretchen Morgenson: Companies, if granted the leeway, will surely present their financial results in the best possible light. And of course they will try to persuade investors that the calculations they prefer, in which certain costs are excluded, best represent the reality in their operations. Call it accentuating the positive, accounting-style.

David Brunori, Regressive, Addictive, and Immoral — What’s Not to Like About Gambling? (Tax Analysts Blog). “Do we really want to fund schools and healthcare with a regressive, addictive, morally questionable source of revenue?”

Richard Phillips, Donald Trump the Farmer? (Tax Justice Blog). “According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump has saved tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes on two golf courses in New Jersey through the use of a farmland tax break.”

News from the Profession. Here’s Why There Won’t Be an Uber for Accounting (Blake Oliver, Going Concern)

Joseph Henchman, Lunch Links: April 25, 2016. Things that caught the attention of the Tax Foundation’s brilliant Mr. Henchman

Career Corner. Accounting’s Bootstrapping Martyrdom Complex (Chris Hooper, Going Concern).

Barnaby Joyce defends blocking of Kidman estate sale

Monday, May 02, 2016

Panama Papers include top military contractor Triple Canopy

Panama Papers include top military contractor Triple Canopy Fusion

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists will release on May 9, 2016 a searchable database with information on more than 200,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers investigation. The database will likely be the largest ever release of secret offshore companies and the people behind them. The data comes from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, one of the top players in the offshore world, and includes information about companies, trusts, foundations and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens, from Hong Kong to Nevada in the United States. It links to people in more than 200 countries and territories. When the data is released, users will be able to search through the data and visualize the networks around thousands of offshore entities, including, when possible, Mossack Fonseca’s internal records of the company’s true owners. The interactive database will also include information about more than 100,000 additional companies that were part of the 2013 ICIJ Offshore Leaks investigation.
 While the database opens up a world that has never been revealed on such a massive scale, the application will not be a “data dump” of the original documents – it will be a careful release of basic corporate information. ICIJ won’t release personal data en masse; the database will not include records of bank accounts and financial transactions, emails and other correspondence, passports and telephone numbers. The selected and limited information is being published in the public interest. Meanwhile ICIJ, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung which received the leak, and other global media partners, including several new outlets in countries where ICIJ has not been able to report, will continue to investigate and publish stories in the weeks and months to come. The Panama Papers investigation revealed the secret offshore dealings of world leaders and other politicians as well as criminals and celebrities. It exposed the role of big banks in facilitating secrecy and tax evasion and avoidance. And it showed how companies and individuals blacklisted in the U.S. and elsewhere for their links to terrorism, drug trafficking and other crimes were able to do business through offshore jurisdictions

Panama Papers: Süddeutsche Zeitung’s (SZ) Claims “National Security,” Press Plays Dead Tim Durusau. Important

Has the time come to consider criminalising tax avoidance and making boards and senior officers liable for prison sentences, asks former ATO Assistant Commissioner, John PassantBy John Passant, a former Assistant Commissioner of Taxation, former tax academic and is currently a PhD candidate in the School of Politics and International Relations at the ANU. This is an edited version of a speech he gave at the National Law Reform Conference at the ANU on 15 April. You can follow John on Twitter @JohnPassant. Originally published at Independent Australia
In a speech in 2013, Barack Obama labelled inequality “the defining challenge of our time”.

 Forget Panama: Why Corporations And The Rich Love US Tax Havens  

 Why the Panama Papers Are a Feminist Issue  

 10 Tax Havens In The World - What They Are And Who Goes There  

Thanks to Delaware’s strict corporate secrecy laws, more than 285,000 companies are registered, for tax reasons, at a two-story building in Wilmington—more than any other address in the world. Among them are holding companies belonging toHillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Louis Armstrong performing for his wife in Giza, Egypt, 1961

BHS Hit By VAT Demand Days Before Collapse  

 The schemes used by big foreign pharmaceuticals to pay the lowest tax in Australia  

 ATO asks multinationals to 'please explain' on profit shifting  

  EU referendum: OECD warning of 'Brexit tax' sparks row  

  IFS Report: The changing composition of UK tax revenues 

  Barely more than half of UK adults pay income tax, says report  

 Consequences of Inequality: Top 1% will pay a third of tax by 2020 after rise in personal allowance to £12500  

 Effective rate of UK income for those earning more than £2 million has declined from 43.2% in 2012/13 to 39.7% in 2015/16  

 What the UK Companies Act 2006 says about the keeping of a register of shareholders  

 The Great Ponzi Scheme of the Global Economy  

 Revolving Doors: US Treasury anti-laundering head to join HSBC   

 Brazil Prosecutor Vows to Keep Petrobras Corruption Probe on Course  

BHS is a victim of shareholder greed  

Philip Green: Blair gave him a knighthood, Cameron gave him a job  

LuxLeaks whistle-blower Antoine Deltour deserves protection  

 Sheltering Foreign Profits From US Taxes Is No Big Feat  

Shares in BHS parent company Arcadia Group were held by Jersey based Taveta Investments (No. 2) Limited 

Ireland, taxation and multinationals  

Government pressure driving HMRC's scatter gun approach to criminal investigations  

  IFS criticises 'ad hoc' tax policies  

Taxing the rich

Dennis J. Ventry, Jr. (UC-Davis),Stiches for Snitches: Lawyers as Whistleblowers, 50 U.C. Davis L. Rev. ___ (2017):
This Article challenges the prevailing wisdom that ethics rules forbid lawyers from blowing the whistle on a client’s illegal conduct. While a lawyer is not free to disclose confidential information in every jurisdiction for every legal violation, the ethics rules in all jurisdictions permit disclosure of confidential information pertaining to a client’s illegal activities under certain conditions. Proving the lie of the prevailing wisdom, this Article examines a high profile case in the state of New York that ruled a lawyer whistleblower violated the state’s ethics rules by revealing confidential information to stop his employer-client from engaging in a tax fraud of epic proportions. The Article argues that the court undertook a deficient analysis of New York ethics rules pertaining to permissive disclosure of confidential client information. 

Forbes:  Get Published And Win An A In Tax Law, by Kelly Phillips Erb:
That’s right, I said, “Win an A in Tax Law.” My popular contest for law and paralegal students is back. So let’s get right to the good stuff…
Here’s how it works: simply write a guest post for consideration on the site about a hot tax policy issue. I don’t mean a news or legal summary. I want a policy post: tell me what the issue is and why it matters. In other words, pick a topic and take a position. ...

Social Security is designed to ensure that no workers go penniless in old age and also as an equalizer between rich and poor. It is structured to give more generous retirement benefits to low-income people, given the taxes they pay during their working years. ...

Interview with Card and Krueger.  Very good, goes well beyond previous coverage of their work and ideas

CITY JOURNAL: “Did New York City mayor Bill de Blasio run a pay-to-play money laundering operation out of City Hall? It’s looking that way.”

Come back Mayor Mike, all is forgiven!

Shot: “See, I think we should look at people who are trying to avoid U.S. taxes…Isn’t that unpatriotic?”
—Paul Begala, then-co-host, CNN’sCrossfire, August 1, 2002, segment titled,“Corporations Establishing Off-shore Tax Havens Called Unpatriotic; Will Hillary Run for President in 2004?”
Double-shot: “President Obama suggested it’s ‘patriotic’ for well-off Americans to pay more in taxes, bringing back an argument then-Sen. Joe Biden first made before the 2008 election.”

—Headline atop article by Richard Pollock, the Daily Caller

Jane Gravelle (Congressional Research Service) presentsPolicy Options to Address Corporate Profit Shifting: Carrots or Sticks? at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Chris Sanchirico

IRS, Tax Gap Estimates for Tax Years 2008–2010

 On Luxembourg’s contribution to financial instability  

 Contextualizing Financial Corruption: Financialization and the Criminogenic Structures of Finance Capitalism 
 The role of financial secrecy jurisdictions in undermining gender justice and women’s human rights  
 Corruption Wasting Human Rights   
 The Anatomy of the Cayman Islands Offshore Financial Center: Anglo-America, Japan, and the Role of Hedge Funds  
  Hiding proceeds of corruption and IFFs through the abuse of Law – the extractive industries example  
 Tax Haven Networks and the Role of the Big 4 Accountancy Firms  
 Illicit financial flows after ‘Panamania’: Seizing the moment  
 Iceland: The ‘offshorisation’ of an economy  
 On the trail of Scottish LPs  
 Laws for Nothing and Ores for Free? A Case Study of Tax Planning in the Finnish Mining Sector  
 The State Administration of International Tax Avoidance  
 Tax Cheats Stick Honest Taxpayers with a $406 Billion Annual Tax Bill  
  How Barclays turned a $10 billion profit into a tax loss  
  Delaware's $1 Billion Opacity Industry Gives U.S. Onshore Haven 
  RBS reveals £1bn loss and Swiss inquiry into Coutts subsidiary  
  Tax avoidance is denying the world's forgotten children a future  
  Swiss Regulator Probes Coutts in International Investigation  (
  Vatican auditors close 5,000 'suspect' bank accounts after investigation finds secret slush funds used for possible insider trading and tax evasion
The City of London is so Criminogenic That It Boggles Even Its Banking Apologists  
Liberia: Africa's unknown tax haven with much to lose  
 US Tax Gap Estimates for Tax Years 2008–2010 
  SNP MP slams Dundee HMRC office closures  

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Currarong: In an Age of Privilege, Not Everyone Is in the Same Cold River

Like it or not, writers need to recognise Google Blogger has become Global social network. The evidence is overwhelming...

Also it is a right thing to stay at Currarong

Lemon Tree Cottage is a traditional 1950 seaside cottage which is 200m to beautiful Warrain beach. It was renovated in 2013 and there are four bedrooms (2x Queen + 2 singles + trio bunk; blankets and doonas provided); 3 bathrooms a large kitchen family room; and a second large lounge room; perfect for holidaying families sleeps 8 comfortably
Lemmon Tree House

The Boss on tour: revisiting ‘The River’: The US election is once again being played out to a soundtrack of Bruce Springsteen

Man arrested after NSW Parliament evacuation

In an Age of Privilege, Not Everyone Is in the Same Boat New York Times

Marijuana is kosher for Passover, leading rabbi rules The Independent

“What a person normally goes to the cinema for is time: time lost or spent or not yet had.” Sculpting in Time: Legendary Russian Filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky on Why Film Enchants Us and What a Great Director Should Aim to Do

Movie ratings: Do critics and fans see eye-to-eye? Strong Analytics (Lance N). Notice how it correlates with the economic cycle

Alain de Botton on the fiction of love
How representations of romantic relationships ruined the real thing

Here it is! Louis Armstrong “I Ain’t Got Nobody!” from Satchmo Plays King Oliver, 1959 – “Here’s a peek at Louis Armstrong and his Hot Fives in the recording studio in 1959 recording the great album, “Satchmo Plays King Oliver.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit [reg req’d]: “The Worldwide Cost of Livingis a twice yearly Economist Intelligence Unit survey that compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services. These include food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private schools, domestic help and recreational costs. The survey itself is a purpose-built internet tool designed to help human resources and finance managers calculate cost-of-living allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers”

Robert Love, AARP Magazine“I’ve always been drawn to spiritual songs,” Bob Dylan tells me. “In ‘Amazing Grace,’ that line —  ‘that saved a wretch like me ’— isn’t that something we could all say if we were honest enough?” At 73, Dylan is still in the game, still brutally honest and authentically himself, as you will see in this extended version of the exclusive interview that appeared in the February/March issue of AARP The Magazine and can be found online here. In the 9,000 or so words that follow, Dylan goes where he has rarely gone before in public conversation: He explores his creative process and offers his insights on songwriting, performing, recording, and the creative destruction unleashed by rock and roll. For fun, perhaps, he tosses us a few pointed asides on contemporaries like Elton JohnRod Stewart and Eric Clapton, but reserves his undiluted praise for Chuck Berry’s poetry and Billy Graham’s soul-searing hellfire.  You may be struck, as I was time and again, at just how powerful a force music has played in Dylan’s life. At various times he was hypnotized,spellboundliftedknocked out by what he’d heard. Listening to theStaple Singers for the first time at 14, he said, he couldn’t sleep that night. “It just went through me like my body was invisible.” From the moment he stumbled upon blues, country and gospel at the nether end of the radio dial, he never stopped listening closely, absorbing the best. A student and professor of America’s truest music, he begins our conversation by explaining his decision to record ten beloved standards for Shadows in the Night…”

Here's what we know: Shakespeare was buried on April 25, 1616. How did he die? Many theories - alcoholism, typhus - but little evidence 

Finding Love Again, This Time With a Man Harris Wofford, NY Times

 Traffic lights embedded in pavements, in case you cross the street while viewing your smartphone the culture that is Germany.

OVER the last year, America’s professional intelligentsia has been placed under the microscope in several interesting ways.
First, a group of prominent social psychologists released a paper quantifying and criticizing their field’s overwhelming left-wing tilt. Then Jonathan Haidt, one of the paper’s co-authors, highlighted research showing that the entire American academy has become more left-wing since the 1990s. Then finally a new book by two conservative political scientists, “Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University,” offered a portrait of how right-wing academics make their way in a left-wing milieu. (The answer: very carefully, and more carefully than in the past.)

Most importantly and contra predictions, we showed that economically developed and more gender equal countries have a lower overall level of mathematics anxiety, and yet a larger national sex difference in mathematics anxiety relative to less developed countries.

*Today would have been Larry Ribstein's birthday 

I miss him. It was a great loss both professionally and personally. My short essay Larry Ribstein, RIP, 2 JOURNAL OF LAW (2 THE POST) 433 is here

Elections: DOD Needs More Comprehensive Planning to Address Military and Overseas Absentee Voting Challenges,GAO-16-378: Published: Apr 20, 2016. Publicly Released: Apr 20, 2016.

Todd J. Wiebe, Association of American Colleges and Libraries: “…When you “Google it,” you are engaged in an information snatch and grab—get in, get out, move on. Folks who work in web design and Internet marketing are well versed in search engine optimization and the critical importance of having a link appear on the first page of someone’s search results. A study done by Chitika, a major online advertising network, found that over 70 percent of Google search “clicks” go to the top three results. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bureaucratic Insanity is Yours to Enjoy

“Taking the chance of making a complete fool of himself—and, sometimes, doing so—is the first demand that is made upon any real critic: he must stick his neck out just as the artist does, if he is to be of any real use to art.”
~ Randall Jarrell, “The Age of Criticism”

From Roger Parloff at Fortune, a slideshow of 30 of the top Donald Trump lawsuits and legal threats.Earlier, and generally

Stalin's henchmen. Vile murderers and treacherous cowards, they were also a musical bunch. They could have made a competent chamber ensemble... Cold River Memories 

Bureaucratic Insanity is Yours to Enjoy Club Orlov 

Are public bureaucracies really a fount of innovation? Not really, despite vogue for new Marianna Mazzucato book The Entrepreneurial State [Alberto Mingardi, EconLog]

Bernie’s greatest legacy: Suddenly, it’s OK to question capitalism! Salon

Dwain Downing, an attorney in Arlington, Texas, says he is suing a Mansfield diner that ran out of soup at 2 p.m. during a Saturday lunch special. The server and on-site manager told Downing that while he didn’t have to order the sandwich, two sides, and soup special at all if the lack of soup made it unattractive to him, the restaurant’s policy was not to discount the $7.95 price or offer a third side dish as a substitute. “Downing demands $2.25 – the cost of an additional side at Our Place – plus $250 in legal fees.” Why didn’t he handle it through an online review, calling the owner on the phone or simply not coming back? “‘I’m a lawyer,’ Downing said Friday by phone. ‘And lawyers write letters.'” [Marc Ramirez, Dallas Morning News]

Overhearing and repeating the wrong sort of evidence can land a parrot in a witness-protection program [Laurel Braitman, Digg]

College Life Before Facebook American Conservative 

Wood ducks links
Who dares speak freely in an election year?

When it comes to the great stagnation, don’t blame the engineers.  A very good post with lots of detail; I say fear the services

Grocery chain sued over dog bite: “Richard Spring claims Whole Foods did not do enough to protect him from the dog, which was leashed to a ‘tie-up’ station provided by the grocery chain.” [KATU]

A billionaire is willing to bring back public access to Martins Beach — for a price Los Angeles Times

How License-Plate Readers Have Helped Police and Lenders Target the Poor Atlantic  

"The sad truth is that the majority of people are speaking from a position of ignorance on this. They should stop being so sanctimonious and spend a year in banking to understand what the job actually entails and why it needs to incentivise so hard - yes, the pay is large, but to think that every banker sits at their desk thinking of new ways to rob the poor is asinine in the extreme. Every industry has unethical staff (see VW for just one) and 99.9% of us are normal, hard working people and pretty sick of being cast in with a few bad eggs."
By Dead Cat Bounce on US finance professionals face fresh pay crackdown

Psychologists Who Designed the CIA Torture Program Can Be Sued by Victims, Federal Judge Rules Alternet  

Big Food in health drive to keep share Financial Times. Problem is consumers know Corporate America’s “healthy food” falls short of what health-conscious types deem acceptable. They’ve seen them buy small producers with good products and degrade them. But making mass market foods less unhealthy is a step in the right direction.  

The millionaires leave cities, build fortresses failed evolution 

Stateline: “Cities and states have long had hotlines for reporting misuse of government resources. But mobile apps bring a new level of sophistication. They allow people to submit photos and videos in support of their claims; and in some cases auditors can use the app to respond and ask for follow-up information, all while maintaining a tipster’s anonymity. Sixty-four percent of American adults now carry a smartphone, according to a reportfrom the Pew Research Center. (The Pew Charitable Trusts funds both the Pew Research Center and Stateline.) Because reporting waste, fraud and abuse through an app is so easy, people are more inclined to do so, auditors say.”

EU Files New Antitrust Charges Against Google Over Android Apps NPR

Ruined Chernobyl nuclear plant will remain a threat for 3,000 years McClatchy

“In the early days of the Chernobyl disaster [April 1986], many still had faith in the Communist Party, but by late ’88, delusions about the Soviets were long gone. Fear of reprisals had receded with the deaths of strongmen Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov (known as the Butcher of Budapest after the 1956 Hungarian uprising). So when rumors started swirling about Communist officials evacuating their children while denying the opportunity to parents who wanted to do the same, the mood in Chernivitz grew mutinous. Parents ignored orders to stay put, and within weeks, the town emptied…”

Facial Recognition Service Becomes a Weapon Against Russian Porn ActressesGlobal Voices (guurst). Given that tons of people have been working on facial recognition technology for well over a decade, the industrial-surveillance complex has to have technology of similar capabilities. The fact that is hasn’t been released in the wild (yet) would lead on to think that the Humint types was to keep it as much under their control as possible. Separately, this is enough to make me consider wearing fake eyebrows and a fake nose on a regular basis.

HOW BADLY DID THE U. MASS SOCIAL-JUSTICE-WARRIOR PROTESTS BACKFIRE?So badly that people are talking about it in Australia