Monday, August 31, 2015

That Greatest Reinvention ~ Taxes: the Price of Civilisation even if Big Thieves Tend to Hang the Little Thieves

This Vice News segment makes the normally dry and daunting subject of taxes (really tax policy) accessible and entertaining. Plus it features Lee Sheppard, who is the oxymoron of a tax celebrity (see this New York Times article) and is also a friend of NC. Certainties of Life
Denmark reveals €800m tax fraud – the country's biggest

Surge of investment scams sparks alarm in City Financial Times

Bean Counters to the Rescue Foreign Affairs 

If You’re Not P******* Your Pants In Fear Over China, You’re Not Scared Enough: Jim Chanos 

The Atlantic, Can Yelp Make Government Agencies Work Better?: The feds are partnering with the popular review site to encourage feedback on public services like the TSA and IRS—and preparing to get an earful. The IRS currently has a 2.5 rating (out of 5) on Yelp.

TaxGrrrl, Lawyers, Accountants and Administrators, Oh My! Putting Together A Professional Team. “I know what you’re thinking. A professional team costs money. And startups and small businesses are often short on money”

H&R Block’s entire business model is premised on taxes being confusing and hard to file.

Tipping, power, and the gig economy mathbabe

The Isle of Man is a strange place. Home to four-horned sheep, cats without tails, and perfectly preserved Victorian-era steam locomotives, this rock in the middle of the Irish Sea is perhaps best known for hosting the world's most dangerous motorcycle race, the Manx TT.
It is also a place where, after you take a 70-minute flight from London, a car service called The Lady Chauffeurs will meet you at the airport in a silver Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Imagine my surprise, then, when I'm greeted at arrivals by Keith, who, while courteous, impeccably dressed in a grey suit, and an able driver, is most decidedly not a lady. "All of our regular drivers are busy," says an apologetic Nula Perren, who owns the company and has accompanied Keith to the airport. Not that I mind. I didn't choose The Lady Chauffeurs for its ladies – I booked for the bitcoin.

The Danegeld (/ˈdn.ɡɛld/;[1] “Danish tax”, literally “Dane tribute”) was a tax raised to paytribute to the Viking raiders to save a land from being ravaged. 
Now the money is going the other way, it appears, because the Danish tax agency is outdoing the IRS in sending money to thieves, no questions asked. reports Danes stunned by €800mn tax fraud:
Criminals have duped Denmark’s tax authority into incorrectly refunding €830 million in the past three years, by filling out an online form for tax refunds under double taxation agreements.
The fraud was alerted to police on Wednesday (26 August) and appears to be the country’s biggest tax scam ever, with little chance for the state to recover the money.
They apparently made it easy:
With most of Danish taxes administrated online, it was easy for the fraudsters to fill in the one-page, so-called 06.020 form on the tax authority’s homepage and then claim refunds for taxes paid on stock revenues from Danish companies held by foreign companies.
The fraud would have been easily revealed if the tax authority cross-checked the ownership of shares with Danish companies.
Denmark has about 5 million people, so it’s as though the scammers had taken $185 from every Dane. That would translate to about a $55 billion theft loss in the U.S. Actual annual losses from U.S. tax refund fraud are estimated to run in the neighborhood of $5-6 billion annually.
Being better than Denmark doesn’t seem to comfort one congressman very much. Deseret News reports Congressman Jason Chaffetz is victim of tax return scam:
Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is using the incident to add fuel to his call for the firing of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
The congressman asked President Barack Obama last month to remove Koskinen, saying he has obstructed congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups. Chaffetz said not only has Koskinen ignored a congressional subpoena but has shown an inability to manage a large organization and protect sensitive data.
“There has to be a better, smarter way to authenticate who somebody is. Social Security numbers are floating out there everywhere,” the congressman said.
While the refund fraud debacle started before Koskinen became IRS Commissioner, he sure hasn’t gotten it under control.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Life lessons from villains, crooks and gangsters

Beyond the morally reprehensible side of criminals' work, some business gurus say organised crime syndicates, computer hackers, pirates and others operating outside the law could teach legitimate corporations a thing or two about how to hustle and respond to rapid change. Life lessons from villains, crooks and gangsters

Humans aren’t normal animals—we are unnaturally destructive super-predatorsQuartz. Resilc: “Especially those inside the Beltway.”

Slovakia announced yesterday that it will only accept Christian villains and refugees 

What would Michael Polanyi say? (bicycle video and Boettke bait, all in one link)

In France before the Revolution, for example, there were plenty of wealthy middle-class people who were shut out of the political system by the aristocracy and the royal court, and thephilosophes went out of their way to appeal to them and get their support—an easy job, since the philosophes and thenouveaux-riches shared similar backgrounds. That paid off handsomely once the crisis came ...
The last refuge of incompetent
bird v. mantis links

The other side of the coin of Irish Dutch sandwiches of corporate corruption   needs to be energised. Experts wanted for hazardous mission. Small wages, fierce resistance, many years in the wilderness, constant pressure 

From its earliest days the Tax Justice Network has been formulating an alternative to the governing consensus on tax. Along the way the writings of its members and allies have raised profound questions about the relationship between the state and the most powerful actors in the economy, about the prerogatives of finance, and about the size and significance of the offshore sector.  The greatest invention tax and the campaign for a just society

Complement The Rabbit Box, which is long out of print but well worth the hunt, with The Magic Box, the part of the set dedicated to autumn and celebrating the invigorating beauty of the cycle of life and death.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ach rous sos: 'What in the world is going on?' - Why Everything Seems to be Travelling the Wrong Way ...

The Story of the Butterfly That Got Adopted by A Red Ant Smithsonian

Hugo Weaving: Just because Australian films aren't seen doesn't mean they don't exist

More than 50 years later, the Southern Baptist preacher’s words resonate—even outside of America.

Reading MLK in New Zealand

A woman with a child worked in a poppy field in Guerrero State in Mexico. As American heroin use has risen sharply, so has opium production south of the border. Credit
Former MP has accused both sides of politics of being loose with the truth ...
Former independent MP Tony Windsor has hit out at a bungled operation that would have seen people stopped for passport checks on the streets of Melbourne, telling ABC radio he had no doubt that some in the Abbott government "hopes that something goes wrong domestically".
Speaking on ABC radio national current affairs program AM, Mr Windsor said the Border Force operation was no mistake, but a "deliberate agenda to create fear in the community" Former MP Tony Windsor Border Force patrol was 'a deliberate act to create fear' 

A joint Fairfax-Four Corners investigation found up to two-thirds of 7 Eleven investigation exposes shocking exploitation of convenience store workers - 7-Eleven stores could be underpaying workers Visas and Illegal Immigrants: 7-Eleven warns franchisees violating law

Three Bulgarians and one Afghan citizen have been arrested in relation to the 71 migrants found dead in a truck on the side of an Austrian highway, Hungarian police said in a statement.
Four arrested in Hungary after dozens of dead migrants found in truck in Austria

Via Malchkeon circa MMIV Mr Giraffe at the Mara

Ugly scenes erupted in Bendigo as anti-Islam and anti-racist protesters faced off over the construction of a controversial mosque in the town. Frontline police trying to keep rival protest groups apart were forced to use pepper spray as tensions boiled over high about 3.20pm. Officers deployed the capsicum spray after anti-racism protesters set fire to an Australian flag, triggering a furious reaction from rivals. Sharia Laws and Hallal ... Bendigo mosque: Anti-Islam and anti-racist protester face off in counter rallies 

The horror discovery of more than 70 bodies in a truck outside Vienna is no isolated event.  People-smuggling for profit
Seized proceeds of organised crime could be pumped into ice rehabilitation and treatment programs under a proposal announced by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Saturday. Drug and People-smuggling for profit  Queensland Labor state conference: Proceeds of crime could fund drug programs 


The most sincere form of Rakhi ...

Rakhi aka Raksha Bandhan is a festival that shows the bond of brothers and sisters.It is the sentiments that matter on this day and what can be a better expression of the sisterly love than a self made rakhi...

When a sister ties Rakhi on her brother's wrist, he is bound to protect her in all respects, throughout his lifetime. After the sister ties sacred thread (Rakhi) on her brother's wrist, he reciprocates the love shown to him by bestowing gifts and money upon her. In return, she offers him sweet treats. To make it all the more different, many people often dedicate poems and quotations to their sibling, on the festival of Rakhi....

Here's to my brother 
Remember every day No matter what I've said
Here's what I'd like to say I will always love you 
Be with you till the end When no one else is around 
I will be your friend As I'm proud to be your sister 
And someday when we're far away And the miles keep us apart 
I'm gonna whisper I respect my brother And you'll know it in your heart ...

The world is separated by less than 6 six degrees from Noirobi to Praha to Sydney  to High Tatras and Rugby  ...

The social network has recorded 1 billion logins during a single day, with Mark Zuckerberg labelling the moment an 'important milestone'. 

A narrative straight out of the second world war changed every time you read it, and true or not, each re-mix added something delightfu
Gung-ho Americans, steady Brits, and a lack of French resistance – but was the story of the terror train really so clear? 

venomous frogs, Brazil, Bruno’s casque-headed frog, Aparasphenodon brunoi, Greening’s frog, Corythomantis greening, Carlos Jared, Butantan Institute, Edmund Brodie, Utah State University
The Brazilian rainforest has offered up yet another hidden treasure—sort of. Two new frog species were recently discovered which, in itself, is a newsworthy event, but these little amphibians are getting a lot of attention because they also happen to be the first two venomous frogs ever discovered

Peter Reilly, Travel Blogger Finds Sex, Drugs Even Some Museums But No Tax Deductions. Sex, drugs, but no tax rock ‘n roll.

Hannah Ryan, University of Sydney, has published What's in a Name? Bloggers, Journalism, and Shield Laws at 33 Communications Law Bulletin 10 (2014). Here is the abstract.

 The High Court of New Zealand recently handed down a decision finding that bloggers can be legally considered as journalists and claim protection for their confidential sources. Hannah Ryan provides a summary of the Court’s decision and compares it with the legislative framework in Australia.
Jack Perkins was filming a fierce electrical storm at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia when the 737 was hit.
Fork lightning hits the Delta plane with more than 100 passengers on board. Picture: Jack
A bitcoin civil war is threatening to tear the digital currency in two Business Inside

Friday, August 28, 2015

Perfect Human Storm: Absurdity and Havel

INK BOTTLE“The more slavishly and dogmatically a person falls for a ready-made ideological system or ‘worldview,’ the more certainly he will bury all chances of thinking, of freedom, of being clear about what he knows.”
~ Václav Havel, letter to Olga Havlová, May 1, 1981 (trans. Paul Wilson, courtesy of Patrick Kurp)
The world is neither meaningful, nor absurd. it quite simply is, and that, in any case, is what is so remarkable about it.
— Alain Robbe-Grillet, born on this date in 1922

This week Media Dragons met Michael Rueben Eagan AO (Chancellors at Macquarie Uni)  and it is clear that while we have characters like Michael among us who passionately voice their opinion and ideas  on a number of issues of public importance then our democracy is safe ... Voices of reason and logic tend to be rarer today than ever before. 

Michael was in a good mood and It is lucky for Warren Cahill as Michael is not too eager to collect an outstanding legislative debt (with interest) even though The High Court ruled in Michael's financial favour.  Most former Treasurers would be tempted to engage debt collectors of Papadopolos (sic) statutue, but not Michael ... 

One thing we have in common as we both share the same respect for media dragon's former Chair Andrew Tink - Historian and great storyteller Andrew received well deserved doctorate from Macquarie Uni ;-)

What a tantalising prospect - getting hold of Michael Eagan's memories and all his secret files! His recollection of Havel's presidential swearing in ceremony is worth gold and The meeting with Prague's Cardinal is filled with promise of many dramatic campfire stories ...

Speaking of thoughtful and caring Andrew Tink  he was among the first to visit John Brogden in hospital John Brogden: 'Experiences like mine show there is a way back'

The Pilot and the Little Prince is a thing of beauty for both eye and spirit, and a fine addition to other delightful graphic biographies, including those of Czech born Sigmund Freud, Slovak born Andy Warhol, Charles Darwin, Richard Feynman, Hunter S. Thompson, Steve Jobs,  and Salvador Dalí. Complement it with Saint-Exupéry’s original watercolors for The Little Prince and his soul-stretching meditations on solitude and the meaning of life and our shared humanity

Júlia Warhola was born Júlia Justína Zavacká to a peasant family in the Rusyn village of Miková, Austria-Hungary (now in northeast Slovakia) and married Ondrej Varchola (Americanized as Andrew Warhola). 
Julia enjoyed singing traditional Rusyn folk songs and was artistic. She loved to draw. Her favorite subjects were angels and cats. She also did embroidery and other crafts, such as bouquets of hand-made flowers made from tin cans and crepe paper. During the Easter season she decorated eggs in the Pysanka tradition.  As a widow, she moved to New York City in 1951 to take care of Andy. It should be noted that Andy often used her decorative handwriting to accompany his illustrations. She won awards for her lettering, including one from the American Institute of Graphic Arts for an album cover for The Story Moondog, featuring the musician Louis Thomas Hardin in 1958. In 1957 she illustrated a small book called Holy Cats and she also worked on 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy...

How Not to Be a Leader Medium
Reality bites Mark Latham ...

Creation of some jobs isn’t always about economic: it’s moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger…

“Our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless tantrum about, the lives we were unable to live. But the exemptions we suffer, whether forced or chosen, make us who we are.”

“What you do with yourself, just the little things you do yourself, these are the things that count.”
“The only transformation that interests me is a total transformation — however minute,” Susan Sontag wrote in her diary. It’s a sentiment both paradoxical and profound — we tend to think of the total and the minute as polarities, and yet any total transformation is the product of a series of minute, purposeful shifts. That, after all, is the transformative power of habit.
No one has articulated the machinery of transformation more succinctly and powerfully than architect, inventor, and philosopherBuckminster Fuller (July 12, 1895–July 1, 1983) — a man of timeless wisdom and prescience so extraordinary that he envisioned online education, TED, and Pandora decades before these ideas became a reality.

Tim Campbell identifies a problem with the standard view of self-defense.  Anyone got a solution?                                                         
GARY BRECHER IS CREATING THE WAR NERD PODCAST. Bob urges readers to support him!
The Internet has created unprecedented opportunities for individuals to explore a wide range of unfamiliar and often-marginalized desires, and in doing so has also created unprecedented opportunities for the criminal justice system to monitor and punish these sexual desires. An important example of this dynamic is the recent trial of Gilberto Valle, New York City’s so-called “Cannibal Cop.” Valle, an NYPD officer, was convicted for conspiracy to kidnap several women based on a series of highly fictionalized conversations on a “dark fetish” fantasy website. Although these conversations revealed Valle’s fantasies involving kidnapping, torturing, and cannibalizing women, he had made no effort to kidnap, kill, or eat anyone, and there was no evidence that his online discussions went beyond graphic exchanges and digital role-playing.
 Thea Johnson and Andrew Gilden have posted Common Sense and the Cannibal Cop (11 Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 313 (2015)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

HR Public Sector and Digital Disruptions

The plot thickens: 
1 Heydon I will decide Tues 
2 No, I wont 
3 AFP raids (Journo's error ;-)
4 $11,000 a day
5 Stoljar knew 
6 I will decide Friday or Monday or ...
Tony Abbott can't even organise a decent witch hunt #turc #auspol

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten recently observed "everything the royal commission says may as well have a Liberal Party logo stamped on it".
CFMEU Twitter 

An "ERROR" ? How do you write a whole story with witnesses to an event that didn't happen in ERROR? #auspol #turc
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1:44 AM - 27 Aug 2015
Decision Made in 5 Minutes. ... Dyson Heydon has decided to stay on as head of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption Dyson Heydon rules he will stay on as trade union royal commissioner

Labor is preparing a new parliamentary vote in the Senate against trade union royal commissioner Dyson Heydon in the wake of his decision to remain in the post, claiming the commission's findings will have a "Liberal Party logo" stamp on them unless he is replaced Parliamentary Representative question The Royal Commissions

The Australian Public Service Commission says the future leaders of the Commonwealth bureaucracy can be found on social media, and departments need to be clicking away in their search for emerging talent If you want a top Australian public service get clicking on twitter and facebook...

Human Resource management in the public sector must change to remain relevant and contribute more. It is tempting to talk of compelling challenges demanding a new human resources focus that will lead to an epoch of innovative people management.
I have worked for 40 years in workplace relations giving me a window into human resources. My sense is both human resources and workplace relations are adaptive.
Proficient practitioners change their practices and strategies to achieve outcomes set by broader business trends and challenges John Lloyd case HR public sector

Commissioner warns public servants to get busy or get out

PS needs to do-l more to retain older workers age discrimination boss says

Kathryn Campbell: DHS service delivery reform a success, all things considered

Centrelink CEO Grant Tidswell on Mygov as  an "outstanding success" 
 Digital world

Fit for purpose? Parliamentary Services to get full review

Parliament House bursting at the seams