Friday, September 25, 2020

Does Australia need some 20th-century spying?

 Companies can track your phone’s movements to target ads Ars Technica

Nearly 9 million people didn’t get stimulus payments. A GAO report asks why the IRS isn’t doing more to help. WaPo

Pockets full of cash that bankrolled the visa scam linked to former Liberal MP: ICAC

ICAC officials hunt hard drive at NSW Parliament amid probe into former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire

Does Australia need some 20th-century spying?

There is, or there should be, more to spying than high-tech electronics. As we have seen, it can get agencies into trouble. It can lead up the wrong paths, to dead ends and bear pits. We need to get back to basics, feet on the ground.

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Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (1932-2020)

Amélie Oksenberg Rorty, a philosopher known for her work in moral psychology and ethics, has died. (more…)

US spy plane impersonates Malaysian aircraft, apparently to fool China (Popular Mechanics Sep 10, 2020)

A US Air Force RC-135W reconnaissance aircraft carried out several flights off China’s Hainan island. The plane switched its transponder code in mid-flight, mysteriously becoming a Malaysian airplaneThe RC-135W was likely trying to keep a low profile while it spied on Chinese military bases.

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ASIO Doublespeak

A party member lives under the eyes of the Thought Police: 

He can be inspected without warning and without knowing that he is being inspected;

He should live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors…..Continue reading 

Saturday’s good reading and listening for the weekend

What people in other forums are saying about public policy Continue reading 

Les Miserables – Killing the ABC in a time of national emergency

Empty chairs at empty tables … where my friends will sing no more. (Les Miserables – the musical).

The departure of many of the ABC’s most experienced journalists, producers and presenters has immiserated the public broadcaster. 

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Secrecy covers up abuse of power and poor performance by security services

One would have to go back to the 1970s to find the nation so ill-served. All the more so as politicians have politicised national security, and reverted to 1960s games of gathering and using secret information for political purposes. It would not be strictly correct to describe the agencies themselves, or their leaders, as politically compromised  — at least in a party-partisan way — but each now operates in a far from detached environment.

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Tax and opacity remain at the heart of Starbuck’s operations

Posted on September 17 2020

As the FT has reported this morning: Starbucks’ European division paid $175m in dividends to its US parent company last year, despite recording a 99
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Jeffrey A. Dubin (MIT) & Emma Cockerell (USC), Bi-Annual Taxes – A Simple Solution to Rising Tax Non-Compliance, Shrinking IRS Budgets, and Increasing Taxpayer Burden:

Each year, individual tax non-compliance results in billions of dollars of lost tax revenue. While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) conducts examinations of select returns, the audit rate has fallen precipitously in past decades.


Meanwhile, the number of individual returns has grown and return complexity has risen. Individuals face a dauntingly complex tax code that requires the assistance of paid preparers. More than ever, the IRS experiences greater demands for assistance from taxpayers but fewer resources to fulfill these demands. Instead of the oft-proposed IRS budget increase, we propose a simple and pragmatic, but transformative, solution: the bi-annual filing and collection of taxes, which would minimize taxpayer and paperwork burdens, free up IRS funding, and result in a de facto doubling of the audit rate.