Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Art of writing MEdia Dragon headlines: Wrong Way, Turn Back

As writers and bloggers are so fond of saying; you couldn't make it up. You don't cross the Iron Curtain and come out without scars ...
· Jozef Imrich, Survivor of the Iron Curtain Crossing

 “I regret the mistakes I made in my 20s, though I am the same, and would make them again. In fact I wish I could make them again.” This is something I too want from poetry — truths no one can contradict....

Some of Media dragon observations  lie dormant for years before experiencing a sudden spike in citations as they are discovered and recognized as important.” 
Nick Greiner has been a great person to obtain timeless quotes from: "I actually think that the primary objective to be achieved, which is once and for all to change the culture of integrity in the public sector in New South Wales at every level of judiciary and public servants and politicians, has been lost. The pendulum has clearly gone too far and a lot of the public sector people, both politicians and bureaucrats, are using ICAC as an excuse for not doing anything"
Nick Greiner on Democracy ; Leadership style ; 

Bloodless Headers in Lifeless Papers
The art of writing vivid and original headlines is dying.
June 11, 2015

For centuries, sloths have been caricatured as the essence of laziness. But the stigma no longer applies. Choloepus (the two-toed sloth), has been replaced by homo diurnalis (the creator of headlines for daily newspapers and tabloids). Gone are the raffish days of HEADLESS BODY IN
Art of writing headlines

Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?
NY Times - The rich array of microbiota in our intestines can tell us more than you might think.

Outrage over China dog meat festival Financial Times

 A collection of biographies shows literature as a longtime refuge for sad sacks and self-destructors, a cynical celebration of spectacular  failure...

The Drum, Peter Lewis, 16 Jun 2015. As long as there are laws there will be loopholes, and as long as there are loopholes there will be accountants. But while their existence comes as no surprise, their social standing does.  Why is it socially acceptable to be an accountant?

Freedom: Strong people don't need strong leaders

Director’s Blog: Something Interesting is Happening
Tom Goodwin made an intriguing observation in a recent Techcrunch.com essay : “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

  • Death of culture
  • Councils are the Root of All Evils: Bizarre Statements

    “The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.”
    Sunlight is the Best Disenfactant

    Far from crying poor, NSW councils are rich and getting richer: analysis shows that the amount of money they hold has grown by $1 billion over the past two years.

    Today, Tuesday 30 June 2015 AD is the final day for councils to make their case to the state government about whether they are financially fit to continue operating on their own. Those that fail the test might yet be forced to merge with their neighbours. The government will respond in October. 

    The state government often repeats the controversial statistic that councils are losing $1 million a day, a claim that is central to their case for merging NSW's 152 councils. As Premier Mike Baird put it: "Losing $1 million a day is not something that we can ask the community to bear."
    "Recent claims ... that councils are 'going broke' in NSW by '$1million per day' are shown to be fallacious by [these] growing cash balances," Professor Brian Dollery, an expert in local government at the University of New England, said. "The 'fact-free' nature of [the merger process is] laid bare for all to see."
    Locals are rich and getting richer as merger deadline looms

     Loss of trust (John Menadue 1), ‘We need political reform to restore trust in our political system and our polity.’

    In our cities, an ugly building is soon removed, and is never repeated, but any beautiful building is copied and improved upon, so that all masons and carpenters work to repeat and preserve the agreeable forms, whilst the ugly ones die out...

    A few weeks ago while hunting for a flat, my housemate and I unwittingly signed up to inspect an illegal boarding house. Behind a nondescript door in a vomit-encrusted back laneway of Ashfield, Sydney, we went single file up a narrow staircase, pressing our bodies against the wall to avoid making contact with the garbage bins blocking most of the passage.
    Mouldy rentals are no place to raise kids. Why isn't housing a scandal? 

    The Story of Project Wickenby

    Find out how Project Wickenby started, how the agencies worked together and the lasting impact on the Australian community. For more information visit https://www.taxmatters.gov.au
    The story of Project Wickenby 

    Targeting tax crime: a whole-of government-approach - Wickenby, a lasting legacy [https://www.ato.gov.au/General/The-fight-against-tax-crime/In-detail/Targeting-Tax-Crime-magazine/2015/Targeting-tax-crime--Wickenby,-a-lasting-legacy/] - The ATO has issued a special final issue of its "Targeting tax crime" magazine focusing on its reflections of Project Wickenby. This is the final edition of the magazine in its current, PDF format. In future, the ATO says it will be publishing articles relating to tax crime under a new "news & updates" section of the taxmatters.gov.au [http://taxmatters.gov.au/] site.

    Reflections on Project Wickenby
    Written by Michael D’Ascenzo, former ATO Commissioner.

    As Project Wickenby officially comes to an end, it seems timely
    to reflect on the journey, and the legacy the program leaves.
    As former Commissioner of Taxation I saw Wickenby as an
    important and pioneering way to protect honest taxpayers
    from those who would abuse Australia’s tax system.
    During my tenure, we saw a massive attitudinal shift in the way
    the community perceived and reacted to tax crime.
    We began to see white collar crime being recognised by the 
    community as serious crime. We recognised that there were
    real victims, and in relation to tax fraud it was the honest
    taxpayer that was being cheated. White collar crime was not
    to be left in the too-hard basket. For example, the prosecution
    of those involved in tax crime built community trust in the tax
    system. Such action rea rmed for the general public that the
    perpetrators of so called ‘white collar crime' were not above
    the law. Firm action showed that the Commonwealth had the
    resolve to bring these criminals to book notwithstanding the
    subterfuge, secrecy and misrepresentations that often clothed
    their fraudulent behaviour ..
    Even though Project Wickenby is officially coming to a
    close at the end of this financial year, its deterrent
    message has been heard. Wickenby has reduced
    international tax evasion of Australian taxable income, it
    has recouped substantial amounts of tax, and it has
    provided the community with renewed confidence in its
    tax system. Wickenby has also provided the template
    for collaborative cross agency responses to serious and
    organised crime.

    "The current focus on multinational profit shifting is also attributable to Wickenby. Wickenby told us that some taxpayers and advisers play to those secrecy havens or dark pools in the global economy. It’s therefore no surprise that multinationals also park billions in countries like Bermuda, especially facilitated by the digital economy." [via MO'N] 

    Post Script: In April 2012, Stuart Hamilton was the assistant deputy commissioner of risk strategy with the Australian Taxation Office’s large business line and had then been involved in taxation compliance matter for nearly three decades ...  Project Wickenby: the ATO’s drive against tax evasion

    On 2 October 2014, the Senate referred an inquiry into corporate tax avoidance to the Senate Economics References Committee [http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/Corporate_Tax_Avoidance] for inquiry and report by the first sitting day in June 2015. The Senate has now granted an extension to the Committee to report by 13 August 2015.
    The latest hearing of the Committee was held in Sydney on1 July 2015 where it heard from the following companies: AstraZeneca Pty Ltd, Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline Australia Ltd, Johnson and Johnson, Sanofi, Merck, Sharp and Dohme, Roche Products Pty Ltd, Novartis Australia, and Eli Lilly Australia Pty Ltd. The Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan and Mr Mark Konza, ATO Deputy Commissioner, Public Groups of International, also appeared before the Committee.
    The Committee's Terms of Reference stated that it would examine tax avoidance and aggressive minimisation by corporations registered in Australia and multinational corporations operating in Australia, with specific reference to a number of matters eg:

    1. the adequacy of Australia's current laws;
    2. any need for greater transparency to deter tax avoidance and provide assurance that all companies are complying fully with Australia's tax laws.

    The Committee received over 100 submissions.

    CODA:  The founder of cabling concern Davnet, Moignard quit in 2001 and moved to Hong Kong. He has complained bitterly of being pursued by the Australian Taxation Office's Wickenby taskforce.
    Moignard now runs the Terra Rosa Wine Club on his Coonawarra vineyard. His latest vintage honours his nemesis, with two drops named:
    Tax Collector and Deputy Commissioner.


    Monday, June 29, 2015

    Minerva: Dr Cope and Libraries

    NSW Parliamentary Library and Jubilee Room

    Russell Cope joined the staff of the Parliamentary Library on 1 March 1949 some 4 months short of his 18th birthday ...  Heritage and National Living Treasure inside the Mother of Antipodean Parliaments

    Dr Cope Of NSW Parliamentary Library Fame ... 

    “James Billington, 86, is a Russia scholar who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 as the 13th Librarian of Congress and leader of the oldest federal cultural institution. In a video message to his staff, he said he will leave Jan. 1.” Washington Post

    Did You Know The Librarian Of Congress Oversees Copyright? (The Plot Thickens)

    “In theory, the Librarian could do whatever he or she wants,” in terms of granting exemptions, says Jonathan Band, a lawyer in Washington, D.C. who specializes in technology and intellectual property law. “They could be more aggressive and grant more exemptions and broader exemptions.” The Atlantic

    “Across the country, in city art collections and special collections of public libraries, one-of-a-kind items are routinely misfiled, misplaced, lost or stolen. And sometimes, routine mistakes and slipshod documentation grow into a much more intractable problem, with large portions of public collections being managed by institutions who have no idea what’s in them and no full inventory of their holdings.” Atlas Obscura 

    The Brave New World

    It is getting harder to love Jesus C ...
    - overhearing conversation on a bus

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking the Paris riots against Uber are worker versus capitalist, the attacks are rentiers versus capitalists and worker versus worker. Slow Motion tragedy of workers in 21st century ...

    Using the minimum wage to stimulate the economy “like trying to get rich by picking your own pocket” [Megan McArdle]

    New South Wales will see extensive machinery of government changes this week, while federally the Digital Transformation Office will launch as a flagship agency. Here are The Mandarin’s non-exhaustive picks of public sector changes that formally take effect around Australia this fiscal year.
    Major public sector changes from 1 July 2015

    links lemurs

    The fresh round of redundancies was announced as the nation's 18,000 tax officials arrived for work on Monday morning and already there is criticism that the tax office's drive for a cheaper workforce will erode its skills base.
    More Tax office executives to be culled

    Rona was said to be in the running in 2012 for the job of Commissioner of Taxation after  rocketing up  the ranks of the Australian Taxation Office during her 20 years working there.
    Agriculture Department boss Rona Mellor latest bureaucrat forced out

    Vested interests (John Menadue 2), ‘Vested interests represent a growing and serious corruption of good governance and the development of sound public policy’

    You might forget, say, about the 1960s, and about how the Court made sweeping social change for the good, despite the views of many. You might even forget your own vote in Citizens United. Regardless, saying that things are going downhill quickly doesn’t make it so. So your argument just went to hell in a handbasket

    Line at the ATM in Parliament House ....  One television source is claiming 400 millions euros have been withdrawn from ATMs since the referendum was announced.
    - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/page/3#sthash.TyryocuA.dpuf


    There are insiders and then, well, there are outsiders. Four self-styled outsiders in particular: the Australian Taxation Commissioner, Chris Jordan; the secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Michael Thawley; the Secretary of the Treasury, John Fraser; and the Public Service Commissioner, John Lloyd – all of whom were hired most recently from outside the Australian government.  They've been known to do lunch as "the outsiders".  But that's no reason for the rest of the department and agency heads to become paranoid. What's a little lunching between friends?  The Outsiders