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The Panama Papers

(As stolen borrowed from Counting Cats in Zanzibar)

The Panama Papers - Mossack Fonseca

 

The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC.

What do they reveal?
The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.

A $2bn trail leads all the way to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president’s best friend – a cellist called Sergei Roldugin – is at the centre of a scheme in which money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin’s daughter Katerina got married.

Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.

An offshore investment fund run by the father of British prime minister David Cameron avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain by hiring a small army of Bahamas residents to sign its paperwork. The fund has been registered with HM Revenue and Customs since its inception and has filed detailed tax returns every year.

The Grauniad – What are the Panama papers?

As a libertarian and someone who believes that all tax is theft, I have some measure of sympathy and indeed support for those who go to extraordinary lengths to avoid taxation and government meddling in the private affairs of citizens, for example Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin who paid a 15% exit tax on his US assets to expatriate to Singapore in 2011.

Those who are unworthy of such libertarian acclaim are those who use illegal means to hide wealth arising from bribery and corruption or who enforce taxation on the little people, but evade it themselves.  (Agree – Guffaw)

Traditionally, this has been 3rd world dictators or the governors of oil rich provinces in Nigeria and such places who essentially steal the wealth of their own populace / electorate. So it was not surprising to find these “usual suspects” in the Panama papers.

Even Vladimir Putin is not someone that I am particularly surprised at given that he has ruled Russia as President and proxy for nearly 20 years.

The sorts of names that you don’t expect are the legislators of modern Western countries such as Iceland’s PM (but not I suspect for long), Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. Bastards like this who illustrate Leona Helmsley’s view that “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes”* should face the full force of the law.

[EDIT: and as predicted, less than a day later he’s quit]

For UK politicians and business leaders, it is not just tax evasion that the Panama papers might reveal, but also crimes committed under the Bribery Act 2010 and earlier criminal statutes. For example, those cosy little 3rd world arms deals so recently brought to life in the BBC’s adaptation of John Le Carre’s “The Night Manager”.

I suspect that quite a few of the worlds elite will be having sleepless nights over the revelations and since the papers go back 40-years, I expect we will be pissing on the graves of quite a few ex politicians and members of the elite as well. GOOD!

* – Leona Helmsley disputes that she ever said this.

Why should we as Americans care?

Bilton, Richard (April 4, 2016). “Panama Papers: How a British man, 90, covered for a US millionaire”. BBC News. Retrieved April 4, 2016.

Hall, Kevin G.; Taylor, Marisa (April 4, 2016). “Americans, including a Bellevue man, show up in Panama Papers”. Seattle Times. Retrieved April 5, 2016.

Is this just the tip of the iceberg?  Or has malfeasance at the highest level of someone other than Americans made the papers for a change?

Interesting that in the list of those nations investigating this matter the United States is absent*

 

Good ‘News’ From Way Up North!

(via my dear friend Rev. Paul)

With all the bad press aimed at police departments around the country – and sometimes bad things do happen – we don’t hear enough about the good things they do.

Here’s one.

The Officer and Harley: A Lesson in Kindness

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. Your child is off somewhere in the world without you and something goes wrong. With children who have developmental disabilities or mental illness, something is bound to go wrong at some point. So you craft action plans. You practice what to do. You get their care providers on the same page. You hope your action plan will work if and when needed. Many times it will. But there’s always the possibility that one time, in some ordinary place doing some ordinary thing, something will go awry. Then what?

The Anchorage Police Department has a volunteer training program to help its officers make the best possible decisions when encountering people with autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries, depression or any other condition that can affect a person’s behavior and how well he or she might respond to police.

For parents, the worst nightmare isn’t the meltdown. It’s how other people will react, and then how your child will react to them. Will the others — store clerks, passersby, waiters, managers — be well-meaning helpers who unknowingly muck things up even more? Or maybe they will be disrupters and increase stress and tension as they try to firmly get matters under control. What then? What if the police show up and rattle off a bunch of questions or issue orders at your child, who can’t handle being addressed in that way? Will your child run off? Lash out? What if an officer tries to put their hands on your child, who cannot tolerate touch?

The worst nightmare is that someone will get hurt.

Harley Hamilton, a senior at West High living with downs syndrome and autism, gives Anchorage police officer Matt Fraize a side hug at Sagaya City Market on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. Watching at left is DeVon Brentlinger, one of Harley’s caregivers.
Loren Holmes / ADN

Hamilton asked a friend, Angie Fraize, an Anchorage police officer who serves with her on the Governor’s Council for Disabilities and Special Education, what to do. Fraize helped coordinate a coffee date for Harley with her husband, Matt, who is also an Anchorage police officer. The goal? Get Harley to understand police as helpers, as safe people she can trust.

“The face of law enforcement is changing with the times. But we have to. We have to show people that we are human. That we are dads and moms,” Angie Fraize said over coffee last week. She grew up with an uncle who had Down syndrome, and one of her two daughters has the condition.

Matt Fraize, a large man who once played football for the University of Washington, showed up in uniform to the coffee date with Harley. He asked if he could sit with Harley and her mother, who suggested, “Harley would love for a handsome man in uniform to sit across from her.”

Harley hugged officer Fraize, beaming during the half-hour visit that ended with a ride home, without Mom, in the police car. During a second meeting, Harley tried to tickle officer Fraize, nuzzled his side, gave a friendly head-butt and a quick kiss to his right shoulder before they walked over to his patrol car, holding hands.

“A lot of us are parents of kids with special needs. And so we get it. We have the same fears for our children,” Matt Fraize said.

Heroes like Officer Fraize need all the good publicity they can get. This is a wonderful program.

I commented on Rev. Paul’s posting of the above story that news of a positive nature is not considered news.  The dictum ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ came to mind.

I hope that most of the men and women in blue are of Officer Fraize’s mindset, rather than the stormtrooper/Gestapo/’us against them’ mindset.  Too often, it’s only police misconduct that makes the news.

As the good Reverend said, this story needs to go viral!  So I’m doing my .02 worth. :-)

Is ‘Instant’ Media Good, Or Not?

hbBack-in-the-day (the 60’s), if news happened during the day, we had to wait until the 5:30 Huntley/Brinkley Report to hear about it.

Unless it was of a catastrophic nature, like the JFK assassination.  Then, someone who had been listening to a transistor radio passed the news along word-of mouth.  (The school janitor?)  And people with TVs ran to them for the latest reports.  Because, not everyone had a TV!

Otherwise, if the evening news had been missed, it was the next morning’s Arizona Republic that brought the news.  Usually bad – because news of a good nature is rarely news.

Fast-forward (another antiquated term from VHS tape days) to this post-Internet era.  I’ve a smartphone which I am rarely without.  She lives in my right, front pocket (having a fused hip means my back pocket isn’t a good idea for access) with my keys, .38 speed strip and my Blur lockblade knife.  (The .38 S&W snub is in my LEFT front pocket, in a pocket holster, me being sinestral, and all!)

I keep my smartphone on, because, why not?  She bleeps and chirps with receipt of texts, emails and the latest headlines.  (I do put her on vibrate or mute as appropriate!)  And sometimes she even rings announcing a telephone call! :-)  Or a specific ringtone advising me of particular callers, like my roomie or close friends.  Roomie’s ringtone is Moonlight Sonata, and Biff’s is the Peanuts theme!

Which brings me to my point (finally!)

Biff has a smartphone, but he doesn’t keep it on.  Doesn’t use it for spur-of-the-moment research, or shopping or to-do lists.  He doesn’t use it for email or texts, either.  Or receipt of the latest news!

He uses it as a telephone, when he chooses to have it turned-on.

And, I razz him mercilessly about this.  The term Luddite has been bandied about.

Why have a smartphone, if one isn’t going to use it as such?

He says he doesn’t want to be that connected.  And usually leaves it in his car, anyway!

We met for coffee the Saturday evening last, and were having our usual conversations, and I brought up the death earlier in the day of Justice Scalia.

And, he didn’t know about it – he hadn’t heard!  And he’s a radio news guy!

(I’d received a notification minutes after it had been reported, from three news sources!)

To be fair, he hadn’t worked that day.

So, which is better? – to be voluntarily ignorant of the day’s events, to choose to call only when one makes that choice, or to be tethered to the electronic instantaneous (or nearly so) news cycle?  And at the mercy of people who choose to call, whenever?

Being already a volunteer for the tethering, my opinion in the matter is skewed one direction.  Much like having a P.C. at home with a router, I don’t think I could revert to dial-up.

Or no Internet access at all…

So, which is better?

no sp

(Not mentioning potential for brain cancer and/or government surveillance/tracking, because so doing would further muddy the issue!)

My Rebuttal To The Editorial Board Of The New York Times.

(Well, not mine, exactly…

BUT, I do agree!)

From Brock Townsend

Via WRSA

https://i0.wp.com/www.bookwormroom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/King-Leonidas.jpg

I will not give up my guns. You will have to try to take them.

One of us will die.

I will not give up combat-capable rifles, their standard-capacity, 30-round magazines, nor any kind of ammunition that I see fit to run through these guns. I will not give up my combat-capable shotgun, designed to kill a human being the first time, every time with one well-aimed blast of plated buckshot. I will not give up my high-capacity semi-automatic pistols that I can hide under almost any kind of clothing without a hint that I’m armed at all, nor will I give up the hollowpoint ammunition that fills them. You will not take my long-range precision rifle, with which I control anything within a half-mile of my position.

I am one of 100 million armed American citizens, trained in the use of small arms by military and police trainers who want citizens to be armed against an increasingly tyrannical government.

We are free, and we will not submit to you.

Bob Owens

My only additional comment is this was posted in response to a front-page editorial published Saturday by the NYT, the second in 95 years.  (The first criticizing the nomination of Harding for President).  The editorial was about us needing to renounce our right to be armed.

I don’t think the original editorial changed any of the minds of the current NYT readership – all 6 of them.

Editorial License

THIS is CNN (Again)

Images of the mixed-race, hater of White people who killed nine people (after asking them if they were Christians!) at the junior college.

(And who shall NOT be named here…)

oregon shooter 9 color black

REAL IMAGE (left)  – CNN IMAGE (right)

I’m certain there was no intent to deceive anyone here.

RIGHT?

Per my loyal readership, this image has been debunked as not from CNN!  Mea Culpa.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the mixed race shooter didn’t shoot people based on their religion…

h/t The Last Refuge, The Feral Irishman

All The News That’s Unfit Not To Print

(This came my way through Theo Spark.)

And I think it’s shameful and disgusting!

NYT – September 11. 2015

NYT

GAHHH!

Geekery + Politics =

HILLARIUM!

Old NFO (via JP) brings us geekery of the first order, coupled with first-rate humor!

In part…

The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university. The new element has been named Hillarium. The chemical symbol of Hillarium is Bs.
Hillarium has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons.
Hillarium’s mass actually increases over time, as morons randomly interact with various elements in the atmosphere and become assistant deputy neutrons within the Hillarium molecule, leading to the formation of isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Hillarium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as a Critical Morass. When catalyzed with money, Hillarium activates CNNadnausium and MSNBCobnoxium, elements that radiates orders of magnitude more energy, albeit as incoherent noise, since each has half as many peons but twice as many morons as Hillarium. Hillarium has also been reported in some war torn countries to inexplicably draw sniper fire out of thin air where no snipers are present, and to cause shoes to catapult across the room as a result of intense attraction to Hillarium.
You should really go and read the whole thing!
mad scientist

 

The Bill Cosby Thing

cosI love Bill Cosby.  The public persona of him.  Funny, kind, charitable, good to children.  He took a segregated world of us and them and made us we.  He understood that people are people, have children, they act like kids and parents act like parents.  No matter what color you are.

He made a lot of money doing this, and got a doctorate along the way.  And, was a good friend of his co-star in I Spy, Robert Culp.  They spoke every day after they met initially to do the show.   And for the rest of Culp’s life.   Culp taught Cosby about acting and how Hollywood works.

I disagree with Bill Cosby about guns.  His son was murdered.  That could color your view.  I agree with him regarding self-respect and education.

I love his comedy.

As to these allegations that have surfaced.  At first, I was shocked, surprised.  I didn’t want to believe.  I mean, this is BILL COSBY, not Al Sharpton!?

But then I remembered Michael Jackson.  And Bill Clinton.  People in famous and monied positions are easy targets for predators.

And sometimes ARE predators.

Jackson paid some folks off.  Whether it was easier than a trial or simply efficient, I do not know.  Cosby paid some folks off.  Clinton used his power and influence to intimidate folks into silence.

And there was more physical evidence regarding Clinton than Cosby!

Bill Cosby has yet to have his day in court.  And THAT’S what we’re supposed to be about.  Justice.  The women who have come forward (16 17 by this morning’s count) have no physical evidence and have nothing to gain.  Those who allege payment were already paid.  And concerts have been cancelled and reruns excised from TVLand.  The testimonial evidence appears damning, but…

Innocent until proven guilty

I read that somewhere.

Being tried in and by the media is the price of fame.  Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan know this.  So do Bill Clinton and President Obama.

It helps to have them on your side.

Who Are The Powerful?

vets101313

SO…

I’m tracking the so-called major media, looking for the major story about the Million Vet March…

{crickets}

To be fair, CNN, Fox, and NPR did cover the story, mentioning (mumble-mumble) thousand veterans showed up as promised, brought down the barricades, and occupied the memorials.  Apparently, some politicians spoke, and The President barricaded The White House against rioters.  (Actually, some protesters moved some barricades to in front of the Executive mansion!)

At least it was the lead on Drudge for a while…

No rioters were spotted.

There was no reported violence, or damaging of the historic sites, save the removal of the barricades.  One protester was arrested for having handguns in his backpack in D.C.

And no report as to accurate numbers of attendees, either.  It’s as though the MSM had an editorial agenda (?)

I was reminded of a Summer protest in front of the Arizona State Capitol.  I think it was the weekend after Independence Day, so you know it was hot.  The peaceful protesters were speaking out against yet another attempted action by the State and Federal governments, regarding guns and gun control.  This was during the time of the Clinton so-called Assault Weapons Ban.  Something like 250+ protesters were there, with appropriate signs and speakers.  Seems to me Sheriff Mack was there.  We drank a lot of bottled water.

And media vans drove around us, but, none stopped or filmed.  We didn’t fit the agenda.

For comparison, earlier that year, six (6) people met a couple State legislators on the steps of the capitol to discuss something to do with abortion.  THIS made state and national news.

Who are the most powerful persons in any newsroom?  The assignment desk and the editors.

It’s all about the agenda.

Have You Heard The One (TWO) About The BORED Teens?

You know, the ones who murdered another teen in Oklahoma, just for fun?

Or, this just in…WWII Veteran Dies After Parking Lot Beating

No, wait.  I’m not bringing THOSE REAL WORLD items up.

I’m talking about history repeating itself.  Well, sort of.

Not exactly history, but a theme.

The theme of the Michael Caine film Harry Brown.

You know!  The movie where Michael plays an old man (typecasting) who sees London failing around him – graffiti, gang activity, drug abuse.  London looks more like Detroit in this movie!  Then his best friend gets killed by a gang misguided yutes.  And Harry is alone.

And he decides to revisit HIS youth.  Not as a misguided yute, but as a Royal Marine. (!)

You can guess much of the rest of the film.  Call it Death Wish On The Thames.

An old man taking back his life by taking direct action against the unintended consequences of the ever-encroaching societal fixes imposed by a socialist regime.  (like gun control and a broken judicial system)

Safe to say, it’s powerful stuff.  My only complaint is with the heavy accents, subtitles would help us to understand the English.

Of course, the movie got scant play here in the Colonies.  I wonder why?

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…

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