Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How Goldman Sachs and Australia’s biggest brewer SAB pay no tax

By MW Mike West:

How Goldman Sachs and Australia’s biggest brewer SAB pay no tax

By Nassim Khadem:

Chevron appeal in federal court against multimillion dollar tax bill kicks off

Bill Black: The 2016 Nobel Prizes in Economics Go to Defenders of Criminogenic Policies

CODA Organised Crime

Democracy Dies in Darkness: An Accidental Activist

It is never until one realizes that one means something to others that one feels
 there is any point or purpose in one's own existence
 ~ Stefan Zweig, who died around this date in 1942:

Professor Johnston often said that if you didn't know history, you didn't know anything. You were a leaf that didn't know it was part of a tree. ~Michael Crichton, Timeline

“To hell with dreams. We are done with it. This is true.” #ColdRiver is the worst seller on the Amazon 😇


Oh, irony of ironies: Gov.UK's transparency report reveals... nothing 

When the IMF Evaluates the IMFA recap of where the IMF admits that it screwed up. Also points out how the IMF overlooked a core methodology prone to errors and gaming...

Hadas: Statistical tricks are easy and dangerous Reuters

Go to washingtonpost.com and look under the masthead.
"Democracy Dies in Darkness," it says, as of Wednesday.
"This is actually something we've said internally for a long time in speaking about our mission," said a spokeswoman. "We thought it would be a good, concise value statement that conveys who we are to the many millions of readers who have come to us for the first time over the last year."
I initially thought it was a wee bit precious, even pretentious and overly reactive to the Trump-inspired outrage in many journalism quarters. There's a circling of wagons. Some people can't watch the news. Others binge on "The West Wing." Folks ask whether Trump will be impeached in the next few months. They inquire, imploringly, if we're not already witnessing the sequel to Watergate.
So "Democracy Dies in Darkness" could be seen to fit a preachy, overweening industry self-regard of the moment. A plea for attention and respect when simple, unexplained daily action will have to do, if not necessarily suffice.  But it works.
At minimum, it might just be a masterstroke when it comes to branding. Straightforward, succinct, a phrase that captures purpose. We'll see.
Obviously, it's about democracy, which one would hope remains a nonpartisan value. It sets a high bar for the paper, especially in a world increasingly filled with deceit and commentary passing as reporting.
This is a period of time that can seem a bit off-kilter and unhinged on some days, with the president attacking a free press, then rattling off falsehoods in front of reporters. There's the possibility of dismantling a host of government safeguards on various matters. The defenseless may be even more so in a year or two.
If Trump read books or plays — which he seems not to, and proudly so — I'd send a copy of "Night and Day," a 1978 play by Stoppard, the brilliant British playwright.
It’s all about honorable foreign correspondents and includes one George Guthrie, an old-hand and knowing photographer. He tells a young reporter, “People do awful things to each other. But it’s worse in places where everybody is kept in the dark.”
“Information is light. Information, in itself, about anything, is light.”
Baron is not a great playwright or novelist. He's a smart newspaper guy, now adroitly using the vast resources of a wealthy boss in transforming an institution.
And he's keeping a set of values that include trying to avoid his readers being kept in the dark. As the opening night audience would declare at the end of many Stoppard plays, bravo

Why We Must Oppose the Kremlin-Baiting Against Trump Stephen Cohen weighs in on the New McCarthyism.

In An Era Of Endless Choice, It’s The Massive Blockbusters That More And More Dominate

“As a business, entertainment has in some ways become less democratic, not more. Technology is making the rich richer, skewing people’s consumption of entertainment towards the biggest hits and the most powerful platforms. This world is dominated by an oligarchy of giants, including Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix and Disney (as well as Alibaba and Tencent within China’s walled ecosystem). Those lacking sufficient scale barely get noticed. Paradoxically, enabling every individual and product on the planet to find a market has made it next to impossible for the market to find them. Consumers generally favour whatever they find on their mobile screens or at the top of their search results. The tail is indeed long, but it is very skinny.”

An Accidental Activist  By 

It has become obvious that people who are ill-suited to activism no longer have the option of leaving it to others. Maybe we never did

New models for new MEdia Dragons? ... Is there life for technology firms beyond Wall Street?

(1) Want to terminate fake news? Follow the ad money. (2) A critique of the criticism of Décodex. (3)  Not all fact-checkers are the same. (5) Pagella Politica has a fact-checking newsletter. (6) The Quote Investigator published a book. (7) Africa Check fact-checked the State of the Nation Address. (8) Google expands its Fact Check tag to Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. (9) Is this the first major pop song about fake news and filter bubbles? (10) Librarians are warriors in the fight against fakery. (11) A look at the history and future of Snopes. (12) The optimistic results of an actual debate about fake news

Truth to Power Jacobin. Discussing Noam Chomsky’s seminal antiwar essay “The Responsibility of Intellectuals”, published fifty years ago.

Trusts – the hole in the EU's response to the Panama Papers

HM government transparency report 2017: disruptive and investigatory powers Ref: ISBN9781474140942 Cm9420 PDF 1.2MB, 110 pages, “Information on the use, regulation and oversight of a wide range of disruptive and investigatory powers. Annual transparency report on the work of our intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies.

This report covers:

  • the range of powers used to combat threats to national security
  • the extent of their use
  • the safeguards and oversight in place to guard against their abuse.”

 Struggling single mum's Facebook tax return message goes viral

 Oxford University Press Blog: “…A presidential library is actually two things,” Giller [Melissa Giller, Chief Marketing Officer for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Institute in Simi Valley, California] describes. “It’s a museum that anyone can come and visit and tour through…and it is a library.” The library is, more often than not, the private side of the establishment, where the archives are held. The curation is for the actual museum. The museum covers the president’s life before becoming president, his time during office, post-administration, and if the president is deceased, then any history related to him after his death. At the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, one might be so lucky to catch a glimpse of certain famous historical artifacts, such as a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg address in Lincoln’s handwriting, an original printing of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln, a copy of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the bloody gloves Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated, and the stove pipe hat he wore, “where you can still see the thumb print on it from when he would tip his hat to people,” Lowe informs me. “So in terms of what goes into our library versus a private library…you can’t compare,” Giller says of the Ronald Reagan President Library. “We don’t have books on display.” At Lincoln, they have a permanent exhibit and special exhibit, and it takes time to determine which artifacts to show in each section. Since many of their pieces no longer contain information that could be a threat to national security, their primary concern with these items is conservation and the ability to streamline the research process for those using these artifacts as evidential or study materials. “My main goal since I got here,” Lowe declared, “is making sure we have the right research rooms set up to help researchers and educators to get the most out of their time here…” 

UC San Diego Students Protest Visit by ‘Oppressive and Offensive’ Dalai Lama. They’re Chinese students spouting the Chinese government’s line, wrapped in college diversity-speak. To be fair, college diversity-speak lends itself to communist propaganda
World Economic Forum: “Should your driverless car value your life over a pedestrian’s? Should your Fitbit activity be used against you in a court case? Should we allow drones to become the new paparazzi? Can one patent a human gene? Scientists are already struggling with such dilemmas. As we enter the new machine age, we need a new set of codified morals to become the global norm. We should put as much emphasis on ethics as we put on fashionable terms like disruption. This is starting to happen. Last year, America’s Carnegie Mellon University announced a new centre studying the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence; under President Obama, the White House published a paper on the same topic; and tech giants including Facebook and Google have announced a partnership to draw up an ethical framework for AI. Both the risks and the opportunities are vast: Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and other experts signed an open letter calling for efforts to ensure AI is beneficial to society…”

Peers grill HMRC's Making Tax Digital team over software development plans


Inside Uber’s Aggressive, Unrestrained Workplace Culture 


While he was waiting in the emergency department, the executive took out his phone and searched “treatment of coronary artery disease.” He immediately found information from medical journals that said medications, like aspirin and blood-pressure-lowering drugs, should be the first line of treatment. The man was an unusually self-possessed patient, so he asked the cardiologist about what he had found. The cardiologist was dismissive and told the man to “do more research.” Unsatisfied, the man declined to have the angiogram and consulted his primary-care doctor.

When Evidence Says No, but Doctors Say Yes 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Robots: Vaclav Havel on Parallel Polis

“And so I keep going;

death remains close;

I carry my life

in a blue envelope.

“The letter’s been ready

ever since autumn:

just one little word –

it couldn’t be shorter.

“But I still don’t know

where I should send it;

if I had the address,

my life might have ended.

Shalamov often writes about the impulse to write and its futility, like the futility of blogging as words turn to dust and dust spirals on that windy summer day into words ...

“I went out into the clear air

and raised my eyes to the heavens
to understand our stars
and their January brilliance.

“I found the key to the riddle;
I grasped the hieroglyphs’ secret;
I carried into our own tongue
the work of the star-poet.

“I recorded all this on a stump,
on frozen bark,
since I had no paper with me
in that January dark.”
Internet-connected toys are an insane privacy risk. That's why watchdogs in Germany suggested that parents smash My Friend Cayla to pieces

Robots Will Soon Do Your Taxes. Bye-Bye, Accounting Jobs Wired

Robert D. Flach, NO SURPRISE TO ME. “No software package, or online filing service, is a substitute for knowledge of the Tax Code, and no tax software package, or online filing service, is a substitute for a competent, experienced tax professional!”

Technology is often blamed for destroying traditional working-class jobs in sectors like manufacturing and retail.

In the queue for the Soviet utopia

Most influential libertarians

TaxGrrrl,IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ Tax Scams For 2017 Include ID Theft & Bogus Refunds.

I was authorized to trash my employer's network, sysadmin tells court


The Cold War–era writings of the Czech writer Václav Havel offer ideas on how dissidents can resist “the irrational momentum of anonymous, impersonal, and inhuman power.”

Václav Havel’s Lessons on How to Create a “Parallel Polis”


Lessons from the Czech writer Václav Havel on how to resist “the irrational momentum of anonymous, impersonal, and inhuman power.”
The recent political earthquakes have found us intellectually and emotionally underprepared, even helpless. None of our usual categories (left, right, liberal, conservative, progressive, reactionary) and perspectives (class, race, gender) seem able to explain how a compulsive liar and serial groper became the world’s most powerful man. Turning away from this unintelligible disaster, many seek enlightenment in literary and philosophical texts from the past, such as Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” George Orwell’s “1984,” and Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here.” It may be more rewarding, however, to turn to Václav Havel: a writer and thinker who intimately experienced totalitarianism of the Orwellian kind, who believed that it had already happened in America, and who also offered a way to resist it.

Leslie Book, Preparer “Doctors” the Return Adding Phantom Income: Court Sustains Preparer Penalties (Procedurally Taxing). “As the Foxx case illustrates, the EITC creates the odd incentive for the creation of phantom income that could fuel a tax refund.”

Robert Wood, Dear IRS: Sorry, A Typo On My Taxes Dropped Some Zeros. It could happen to anyone…

Why Nothing Works Anymore Atlantic

How a bad board of directors could kill HPE

Columnist Rob Enderle writes that the trouble with HPE stems from its board of directors. Just replacing a CEO, if the board lacks core skills, just changes the problem.

New Cold War


Cloudflare memory leak exposes its bad practices and a lot of users

INTERNET FACILITATOR Cloudflare has been shown up by Google's Tavis Ormandy, who has revealed that the firm has suffered a memory leak, has a problem with user data diarrhoea, and a joke of a bug bounty program.
       Книжная Капелла, newly opened in St. Petersburg, is certainly an ...impressive-looking private library, a cathedral (of some sorts) of books. 
       It's also one that charges an entrance fee: 'Стоимость разового посещения — 7 000 рублей'. Yes, 7,000 rubles for a single (four-hour) visit -- that's almost US$120. Sure, cheaper than a visit to the local bordello, but right up there with a first-rate meal. (By comparison, an annual Апостола Книги-card is a bargain 230,000 rubles -- not even US$4,000.)
       There are corporate packages available too ! 
       Yes, it's run by a publishing house (Альфарет), for whom it's apparently also a showroom (they specialize in: "reprints and facsimiles of Russian and international masterpieces"), but still, you have to wonder about the business model here. 
       (While it's kind of fun to imagine they mean and do all this for the love of books -- and believe that there are actually readers out there willing (and able ...) to pay for the privilege --, I'm afraid there's a distinct whiff of something rather different to this set-up.) 
       See also Alexandra Guzeva's report at RBTH, 5 million for a book: Russia's most expensive library opens in Petersburg. 

       (Updated - 15 February): The Guardian now has a look, too, as Paula Erizanu reports The most expensive library in the world ? Book Capella opens for Russian elite (though I don't know why they don't translate 'Капелла' as 'chapel'). 

Via GOOD – “Last May, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss a problem tragically common in the 21st century: dead journalists. In the new millennium, 876 journalists have been killed—with almost 40 percent of those deaths occurring in the last five years. Meanwhile, global press freedom is at its lowest point since 2003, according to Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization.”  See this Infographic – the 10 Most Dangerous Countries for Journalism.

Why Aphorisms Seem So Powerful To Us

The voices of Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker and Benjamin Franklin still feel electrically alive to us because they managed to bake their personas into their brief observations. While proverbs and adages (cousins of the aphorism, to be sure) often lose their authorship and become orphaned—think about how many times someone has mentioned “an old Irish saying” without knowing anything about its actual provenance—aphorisms stay tethered to their creators, dragging their voices along through history.”

As we immerse ourselves in this year’s commemoration of 1917, we should not forget the recently passed centenary of the man who was more responsible than any other for bringing down the Romanovs. Such a grand claim for Grigory Rasputin’s significance may invite scepticism, but Douglas Smith’s engrossing and deeply researched biography shows that it is sustainable, as long as “Rasputin” is securely encased within inverted commas. This Siberian holy man was important less for what he was and did than for what he was taken to do and be.  Rasputin ecstasy fire