Friday, December 15, 2017

Tax Latitude Games: outsiders 'experiencing the wrath' of management

From an article (poetry) by The Hon. Richard Edmonds SC, writing in Australian Tax Review (Vol 46 No 3, 2017):

" ... to date the Chevron case has been a farewell hurrah from the grave for [the now repealed] Div 13 . The decisions of the primary judge and the Full Court suggest that it will not pass into oblivion as a toothless tiger like its predecessor, s 136 , despite being bruised in the latter part of its statutory life. ... Only time will tell whether Div 13 is allowed to rest in peace, with the epitaph on its tombstone: "He who laughs last, laughs best" ."
[Mr Edmonds retired from the Federal Court in February 2016 and is now practising at the NSW Bar.]

Paradise papers: how Australia can halt unfair use of tax 


Gabriel Zucman, an economist at University of California, Berkley, estimates that about four-fifths of money in offshore bank accounts is there in breach of other countries' tax laws. Tax havens are used by drug-runners, extortionists and money-launderers. They are used to hide the proceeds of fraud, corruption and tax ...

Transparency International UK has analysed 52 cases of global corruption – amounting to £80 billion – and found hundreds of UK registered shell companies at the heart of these scandals. At the same time the UK’s system to prevent this abuse is failing. This new research, Hiding in Plain Sighthas found 766 companies registered in the UK that have been directly involved in laundering stolen money out of at least 13 countries. These companies are used as layers to hide money that would otherwise appear suspicious, and have the added advantage of providing a respectability uniquely associated with being registered in the UK. Our evidence has shown this is no accident. The UK is home to a network of Trust and Companies Service Providers (TCSP’s) that operate much like Appleby and Mossack Fonseca – companies at the heart of the Paradise and Panama Papers – who create these companies on behalf of their clients. TCSPs will register these companies to UK addresses, often nothing more than mailboxes

The European Union has created a game to teach kids (9-12), teenagers (13-17) and young adults about the tax system.

POLITICIANS and executives are held to different standards. That is pretty clear when it comes to issues such as sexual harassment, notwithstanding the resignation of Al Franken or the rejection by voters of Roy Moore. As others have pointed out, the tweets and remarks of Donald Trump would have seen him forced out of the leadership of an S&P 500 company long ago.

There are also big differences when it comes to the consequences of their regular actions. Politics is about making choices. Should public money be spent on defence or welfare benefits? Should taxes be cut for one type of voter and raised for another? The problem for politicians is that making those choices explicit may not be a vote-winning strategy. The losers will be more resentful than the winners will be grateful. So politicians get around this problem by making their promises very generic—tax cuts will go to hard-working families, public spending will be reduced through cutting waste and the like. 
...When politicians and executives get caught out

National wastewater drug monitoring program: report 3, November 2017

Whistleblower compensation is sorely needed

SEC Issues $4.1 Million Award to Overseas Whistleblower

Karen Nelson-Field: My life as a whistleblower

Australia: Strong whistleblower laws in the Asia Pacific region?

Tax Games - the Race to the Bottom

REALLY, MCCONNEL?  The Taxman Cometh:  Senate Bill’s Marginal Rates Could Top 100% for Some.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The 10 most Googled MEdia Dragons Down Under revealed: 2017 in Photos

“Virtually as soon as humans developed the ability to speak and write, somebody somewhere felt the desire to say something to somebody else that could not be understood by others.”

The 10 most Googled Aussies revealed | Daily Mail Online

St Cath's duo take out national competition | The Singleton Argus

MY DATA, MY CHOICE: Congressman Says Google, Facebook, Amazon Should Pay Consumers for their Harvested Data

I’m A College English Instructor. My Breed Is Dying

“This is a bad time for my species — and a bad time for the study of English. In academe, we are witnessing an extinction of fields of study once thought essential. I teach at a private university that has just canceled majors in English, religious studies, philosophy, and music. The English major is becoming the useless gentleman, the Charles Smithson, of the modern university.”

Roxane Gay, Henry Louis Gates, Margaret Atwood, Hillary Clinton, And Others On The Words That Mattered In 2017

Truth (Gay), roots (Gates), belief (Atwood), empathy (Clinton), ally (Ana Marie Cox), gaslight (Carmen Maria Machado), crossroads (Ellen Pao), collusion (Mitch & Freada Kapor), and others.

WORD SALAD SURGERY: Sarah Hoyt on the Politics of Meaningless Words

UK Public Library Survey: 100 Libraries Closed Last Year

“The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s annual survey of Great Britain’s libraries paints familiar picture: for the seventh year running, the number of branches and paid staff declined. There are now 3,745 branches remaining in England, Scotland and Wales, down by 105 since 2016, while the number of paid staff has declined by 5% compared with a year ago.”

Thich Quang Duc during his self-immolation. Photograph by Malcolm Browne.

For an extreme example of compatibilism in action, Koch points to the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, who famously set himself on fire in 1963 to protest the tyrannical regime in South Vietnam and burned to his own death with silent composure, not once flinching from his lotus position. Koch considers the universal truth within the fact of this particular action:

For the rest of us, who struggle to avoid going for dessert, freedom is always a question of degree rather than an absolute good that we do or do not possess.

During the summer break from her graduate studies in Canada, Rumana Monzur returned home to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to tell her husband she wanted a divorce. He reacted with leaden silence.

But a few hours later, he strode into the room where she was working on her thesis, locked the door and pinned her down on the bed. Then he dug his fingers into her eyes, blinding her. He also bit off the tip of her nose, and tore flesh from her cheeks and her right arm.

2017 in Photos: How the First Months Unfolded – “As the year comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2017. Among the events covered in this essay (the first of a three-part photo summary of the year): the inauguration of President Donald Trump; the Women’s March on Washington; the retaking of Mosul, Iraq, from ISIS; observations from Saturn; massive opposition rallies in Venezuela; and much more. See also, the Top 25 News Photos of 2017, and, from this series, the Year in Photos, Part 2, and Part 3. The series comprises 120 images in all. Warning: Some of the photos may contain graphic or objectionable content.” 

NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER: Ex-Gawker Employees Launch Crowdfunding Drive to Buy Website

'Journalism for rent': Inside the secretive firm behind the Trump dossier

EVERYBODY meets in Sydney ...

A MESSAGE TO THE JOURNALISTIC COMMUNITY: “Speaking truth to power involves speaking truth.”

'Journalism for rent': Inside the secretive firm behind the Trump dossier

How Ex-Spy Christopher Steele Compiled His Explosive Trump ...

Few technologies have the ability to stir passionate online debate and baffle the vast majority of the population as bitcoin

Breakingviews - Bitcoin futures set scene for more gambling - Reuters

FOR many it is a reflex as unconscious as breathing. Hit a stumbling-block during an important task (like, say, writing a column)? The hand reaches for the phone and opens the social network of choice. A blur of time passes, and half an hour or more of what ought to have been productive effort is gone. A feeling of regret is quickly displaced by the urge to see what has happened on Twitter in the past 15 seconds. Some time after the deadline, the editor asks when exactly to expect the promised copy. Distraction is a constant these days; supplying it is the business model of some of the world’s most powerful firms. As economists search for explanations for sagging productivity, some are asking whether the inability to focus for longer than a minute is to blame.
Are digital distractions harming labour productivity?

A DECADE ago the idea of paying real money for virtual items was strange and exotic. These days many video-game publishers build their business models around it. Some of the world’s biggest games, such as “League of Legends”, cost nothing to buy. Instead they rely for their revenue on players buying things for use in the game, such as new characters to play with or costumes to put them in.
A new twist on that model has been attracting the attention of regulators in recent weeks. “Loot boxes” are yet another type of “in-game” item that gamers buy with currency. Unlike the usual sort of purchase, however, players do not know in advance what they are buying, for the contents of a loot box are generated randomly. Sometimes they might be desirable, and therefore valuable; prized items include new gestures or “emotes” for a character, or a pearl handle for an automatic weapon. If less alluring, well, players can pay a bit more mone

Video games could fall foul of anti-gambling laws

A BOA constrictor swallowing capitalism. A cyclone dragging the economy into its vortex. If you look back at how people described Walmart a decade ago, it is eerily similar to how Amazon is viewed now. The supermarket chain has “a scale of economic power we haven’t encountered before”, warned “The Walmart Effect”, a best selling book in 2006. But capitalism never stands still. The world’s largest company by sales is now the perceived underdog in an escalating grocery war with Amazon to fill 320m American bellies. The struggle will probably end in a messy stalemate. That will mean mediocre returns for investors—and happy days for consumers.
Just when Walmart’s aura was at its most intimidating, in 2006, stagnation beckoned. Its reputation for bullying its suppliers and staff became toxic. Over the next decade it hit saturation point. About 95% of Americans shop at Walmart at least once a year. It has three square feet of shop space for every adult in the country and has sunk...A BOA constrictor swallowing capitalism

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

TIME Person of the Year 2017 The Silence Breakers

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better
– Ralph Waldo Emerson.

MEdia Dragon aka Feste, in Twelfth Night, introduces a central theme when he tells Olivia that "the future is uncertain, laughter momentary, and youth 'a stuff will not endure'

“Some will not look on suffering because it creates responsibility.” Fulton J. Sheen,Those Mysterious Priests ... read more

29 Wise and Inspiring Shakespeare Quotes | Bright Drops

6 Year Old reviews toys and makes millions

A writer must refuse to let himself be turned into an institution,” wrote Sartre, turning down the Nobel. Thus began the Sartre Prize for Prize Refusal  Sartre 

A Magazine For Southeast Asia’s Literary Scene Strives To Produce Sharp Political Commentary – And Avoid Censorship

The Mekong Review is published out of Sydney, partly to avoid some censorship, and despite a tiny staff and a patchy delivery system, it’s doing well: “The magazine punches above its weight: Its contributors include some of the best-known authors, journalists and academics who follow the region, including Viet Thanh Nguyen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, and Emma Larkin, the pseudonym for a Bangkok-based American writer who has published several nonfiction books on Myanmar.”

How We Use “Um” To  Control Our Conversation

Things like “ums” and “uhs” signal there’s some delay in processing. But as a speaker, what I can do is exploit those kinds of signals. I can use them dishonestly. I can use something like “um” to give the overt signal that I’m having some sort of trouble with processing, but in reality, all I’m doing is trying to claim more ground and get you to keep waiting for me to finish.

Tax Adviser

Order here

VW executive gets seven years for U.S. emissions fraud Reuters. Adrien: “If only DOJ had pursued banksters with the the same enthusiasm. Still it is a victory ..and it has changed the conversation about diesel in Europe..where the air is, believe it or not, a lot worse than in NYC.”
More on this here.

Economists in 2017: What Can They Agree On? The Market Mogul 
Jeremy Hunt attacks Facebook over app aimed at children Guardian. UK health secretary on the offensive.

Ruth Dudley Edwards: The trouble with closed minds is that they make for very dull, meaningless conversations

Germany Preparing Law for Backdoors in Any Type of Modern Device Bleeping Computer  Help me. “Force manufacturers to include backdoors”? How about “tell German authorities about the backdoors that already exist.”

Bitcoin Is a Bit of a Miracle at Any Price

Is serialism one of the hot genres of 2017?

TIME Person of the Year 2017 The Silence Breakers: The Voices That Launched a Movement – “…This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along.
They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought…The women and men who have broken their silence span all races, all income classes, all occupations and virtually all corners of the globe. They might labor in California fields, or behind the front desk at New York City’s regal Plaza Hotel, or in the European Parliament. They’re part of a movement that has no formal name. But now they have a voice…”

Who's listening? Australians are well ahead of Turnbull's ICAC rethink.
Three-quarters of Australians want a federal ICAC and a majority want a greater say in what government does.


Parkinson floats national citizen survey.
Get ready for more disruption, there's more to do, says the APS head. Solving three problems in one, a regular survey could bring the public service and the community closer together, and that would be worth the discomfort.