Dual Loyalty

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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Last week wasn't a one-off, the 'Kyle and Jackie O Show' has a history of sordid publicity stunts. Entertainment fodder

This Month of July 2009 Dust to Dust
F rank McCourt, author of best-seller Angela's Ashes, has died of cancer. Angela's Ashes, a memoir of McCourt's childhood in Ireland, sold millions of copies and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Frank McCourt had a wonderful way of bringing his past to life. I do think the laughter of the world has diminished by about 10 percent He was a wonderful, decent, modest laughing boy

During a time in which the word “survivor” is primarily used to describe jungle-dwelling reality stars, it's easy to marvel at Angela's Ashes author Frank, Frantisek, McCourt, a man who endured enough childhood hardship to be cast as a true fighter.

Frank, Frantisek; [Amazon; In a spare, brisk prose, Ollestad tells the tragic story of the pivotal event of his life, an airplane crash into the side of a mountain that cost three lives, including his father's, in 1979. Only 11 years old at the time, he alone survived, using the athletic skills he learned in competitive downhill skiing, amid the twisted wreckage, the bodies and the bone-chilling cold of the blizzard atop the 8,600-foot mountain Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival ]
• · Why would The Age take a swipe at a journal like OLO? There are a number of possible reasons, none of which are to their credit .'The Age' and 'On Line Opinion'; It's high time lazy journalists and commentators moved beyond the simplistic Balls-inspired Labour investment vs Tory cuts argument, as well as the Mandelson-inspired gentle Labour cuts vs evil Tory cuts argument, and instead focused on tax rises vs spending cuts and the debate over what the appropriate balance between these two fiscal options should be in the coming years Arguments
• · Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes commented: "A public debate on the impact of digital cinema in Europe is long overdue since some have suggested that thousands of Europe’s arthouse and local cinemas may face closure because they cannot afford the conversion costs Arthouse ; Film Festivals
• · · Add actor Stephen Baldwin to the large and growing list of celebrity tax scofflaws ; Bald win ; Professor ; The "Stickiest" Law Prof Blogs ranking of blogs based on their "average visit length
• · · · Why don't we teach Congress about how the tax code works maybe trough some games on the internet they can learn how Subpart F works - a non-partisan effort to informally educate the public about taxes through popular methods such as web-based games and other internet activities pdf ahead Why don't we teach Congress about how the tax ; A civil suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday reads like a script for a big screen Hollywood legal thriller. It's a case of the truth being stranger -- And far more complicated -- than fiction
• · · · · Lawyer, writer and blogger Nicole Black advises fellow professionals about important core techniques and goals to consider Five Things Lawyers Should Know About Social Media ; UberCEO: Fortune 100 CEOs and Social Media - "...top CEOs in the country appear to be mostly absent from the social media community. That's the result from research we conducted over the past several weeks. We looked at Fortune's 2009 list of the top 100 CEOs to determine how many were using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, or had a blog. The results show a miserable level of engagement." Fortune 100 CEOs and Social Media
• · · · · · Going Concern is an online tabloid covering the worlds of accounting and business finance. The site provides original news and insider analysis of the culture, people, and firms that shape the industry

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I ain’t shoot nobody in like since the early 80’s, man. Mightier than the guitar. You know who the critics are? The men who have failed in literature and art. Insects sting, not in malice, but because they want to live. It is the same with critics: they desire our blood, not our pain My Book Slut and the The Sydney Morning Herald looks at rockers who write literature

In a classic death spiral: Citizen satisfaction and trust Tax havens: Misplaced passion
A pearl in the crown is A few things John has learned: examining tax havens ;

Here is part of what the Australian Tax Office wrote to Senator Carl Levin, the Chair of the US Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. ‘In our opinion, entities established in some states of the US, for example some US incorporated companies, have some of these same attributes as entities established in secrecy havens.’ These attributes include tax avoidance and evasion, investor fraud,manipulation of markets and sometimes money laundering. So there we have it. The US has its own internal tax and secrecy havens. Now for the UK and its disgraceful tax havens.

• Revolutionary reflections on this world of ours Taxman not always bad guy: Blatant form of Robin Hood economics ever proposed ; [DETAILS of tax scams by Australian organisations involving US entities have been revealed in a submission sent to US authoritiesBanks ; Čekia: Tax havens attract 154 Czech firms in H1
Prague, July 14 (CTK) - The number of Czech companies based in places considered tax havens grew by 154 to 9,144 in the first half of this year, according to databases and calculations of the Cekia agency.
Owing to the economic crisis, interest in transfer of companies to tax havens got smaller. In the full of last year, the number of Czech companies in tax havens rose by 740. Among the most attractive places where taxes are not high are the Netherlands, Cyprus and Luxembourg. The highest relative growth this year was seen by Panama, Monaco and Belize. A significant fall was seen by the British Virgin Islands and the Bohemian Dutch Antilles]
• · For consumers how much is enough? It's a personal answer, and the power of change is always personal. The concept of "Enoughism" is addressed by British journalist John Naish in his book Enough: Breaking Free from the World of More ; Kevin Roberts-authored article in Italian magazine Oxygen, on the role of communications in resolving the water crisis. "[H2O] represents much more than an obvious combination of chemical elements: water is life, and today it can turn into the heart of a revolution that will lead to a Blue Planet, to a sustainable future for all of us." Water is life 15 Jul 09
• · Many owners decline to rent the homes due to local council tax rules, which tax properties at a lower rate if they are empty and unfurnished. That loophole frustrates Mr. Palmer. As the Westminster City Council's empty-property officer, Mr. Palmer strolls the area's streets six hours each day to identify vacant homes and track down their owners. Under British law, local authorities have the power to seek an order to claim ownership of the ghost properties and put them up for sale. Once he identifies a vacant house, Mr. Palmer consults property records. After that, he often finds himself sending letters to the British Virgin Islands, a known tax haven for foreign companies, and a place where many of the property owners in question have mailing addresses. He says he rarely receives a response back. Except, that is, when a court action is about to begin. The compulsory purchase, says Mr. Palmer, is a "tool we use as a last resort to take empty property away from owners who refuse to do anything to it. You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables Keeping Up Appearances: London Turns Eye to Empty Mansions ; Goldman Sachs, Best in the Business;
• · · Blogosphere Star Provides Refreshingly Alternative Ideas
Taxation without Representation Unfair to Internet Retailers; All enmity, all envy, they disclaim, Disinterested thieves of our good name: Cool, sober murderers of their neighbors' fame Uncooperative prima donna
• · · · While there is no disputing Bernie Madoff's involvement in the scam, it is reasonable to conclude he wasn't alone Swindler’s list: the Bernie Madoff story; Bernie Madoff Was Only a Petty Crook Compared with Uncle Sam; Italy’s prime minister once again proves to be a great survivor DEPENDING on your view of his final destination, Silvio Berlusconi has either a guardian angel or the luck of the devil. In heaven or hell
• · · · · "The new CRS report - "Gang of Four" Congressional Intelligence Notifications, July 14, 2009 - explains the role of the "Gang of Four," meaning the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, who are to be informed of particularly sensitive intelligence activities. When the Bush Administration first notified Congress of its warrantless surveillance program, it limited the disclosure to the Gang of Four ; These days, when employers are cutting salaries, staff and bonuses - and staff is uncertain about the next round of layoffs - more employees are committing fraud. How to stop fraud; On 14 July 2009, IFSA Chair David Deverall, announced the appointment of John Brogden as IFSA's third CEO to commence on 28 August 2009. Mr Deverall said Mr Brogden "brings both stature and a wealth of experience to the position". He said Mr Brogden "has had experience in public policy as a parliamentarian and adviser, and has successfully led advocacy for the credit union, building society and friendly society peak body". IFSA also thanked Richard Gilbert who will officially retire on 28 August when Mr Brogden assumes the position of CEO John Brogden
• · · · · · For Germans, who have painful memories of state-sponsored surveillance, the new spying allegations touch a raw nerve. Prosecutors have confirmed they're now considering whether to launch a criminal investigation in Deutsche Bank. Germany's largest lender is accused of spying on two board members it suspected of leaking sensitive details, as well as one critical shareholder Deutsche Bank is Germany's largest bank ; IRS agent Albert Bront, 49, of Valencia, California, screamed “I’m going to kill all of you!” when U.S. Treasury agents served a search warrant at his home as part of an investigation into whether Mr. Bront had filed false tax return. He is being held without bail pending a July 28 preliminary hearing in Los Angeles IRS Agent Threatens to Kill Treasury Department Investigators

Sunday, July 26, 2009

So Kevin Rudd has a blog. So what? He puts up a post about climate change and it draws hundreds and hundreds of comments. And then…Well, nothing really. Australia doesn’t actually need more online opportunities to sound off. With ABC Unleashed, News Ltd’s Punch, Crikey, of course, New Matilda, Online Opinion (no journalism please) etc, and the hundreds of actual standalone, ordinary citizen bloggers, there is now any amount of opportunities for people to vent and oh so occasionally offer an insight, a fresh perspective or even a useable policy idea Rudd’s blog: popular but pointless; Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is now omnipresent on the internet - he's started his own blog.
This comes on top of his popular Twitter account, Facebook and MySpace pages, and a myriad of YouTube appearances. Rudd everywhere on the internet

Media Dragon PM begins blogging
In a move that may suggest greater use of Web 2.0 tools by the Federal Government, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has begun blogging. NINE months after taking the Twitterverse by storm, the Prime Minister has turned his hand to blogging.

The blog according to the PM's site, is an opportunity for the community to provide comments and engage with each other in relation to the policy initiatives under discussion. Those wishing to join the blog must fill out a subscription form, provide a valid email address and submit to the blog's conditions. The PM is also on Twitter. But Kevin Rudd's cautious approach to accepting comments from readers has led to a cool response from some of Australia's leading bloggers. "I decided to kick off my blogging career with a focus on climate change," Mr Rudd wrote yesterday in his first post, which by 5pm had attracted more than 50 comments.

Blog standard approach brings PM to the people; [Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is now omnipresent on the internet Review of Blog; Rudd Sound Bites Sydney Morning Herald]
• · In today’s Age former head Hunter & Collector, Mark Seymour, has written a scathing indictment of the commercially driven lobby to remove Australian literary copyright, a lobby being fronted by ex-NSW Premier Bob Carr. The stupid country; Bring Aussie publishers to book
• · Not all of what a community service is or provides can be captured in dollar terms on a balance sheet... Despite promising to introduce a register of lobbyists in the 2006 election campaign, the Victorian government has still not set one up almost three years later Who's who of Labor in the lobby business; REMIER Anna Bligh is seeking legal advice on whether she can ban lobbyists in Queensland being paid "success fees", or at the very least make them public Ex-Labor lobbyists may be forced to reveal success fees ; Bligh tackles lobbyist 'success fees' Amid much speculation as to what the future holds for the long-term state leader, just days after his retirement Carr set up RJ Carr Pty Ltd, a proprietary company whose ownership is limited by shares. The ex-Premier is listed as sole director and shareholder. The business is registered to a Burwood Rd, Burwood address, with Carr citing a Maroubra address against his name. Bob the bizoid RJ Carr Pty Ltd
• · · SOME wordsmith at Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission dubbed its report into the murky Capri affair: "Dangerous Liaisons". For Premier Anna Bligh, it might equally be called rotten timing. Barely a week after the jailing of former state government minister Gordon Nuttall - a man who spent five years around the same Cabinet table as Ms Bligh before she ascended to the top job - Queenslanders have received another rude reminder that the bad old days did not necessarily end with the Fitzgerald inquiry and the blowtorch it put to the Moonlight State A case of rotten timing for Queensland premier Anna Bligh ; ALMOST half of the 25 police officers implicated by the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission in rackets involving a double murderer are still serving in the force Google
• · · · Like the Media Dragon, TaxProf Blog Passes 7,500,000 Visitor Milestone, after just five years in operation ; Ultimately, the law of frivolity is a double-edged sword. At its best, it preserves the integrity of the courts and the legal system. Through normative shaming, it enforces a code of behavior for attorneys. It ensures that only legal arguments may be put before courts. Thus, it strengthens the development of a healthy legal subculture. On the other hand, frivolity at its worst threatens pro se litigants by excluding them from that subculture and fails to accomplish its own goals. Frivolity encourages courts and attorneys to view themselves as an intellectual and perhaps moral elite. Moreover, it encourages hostility to pro se arguments, particularly those cloaked in rhetoric that violates lawyerly norms. This may lead to legitimate arguments' erroneous rejection. Barbarians at the Gate?: The Law of Frivolity as Illuminated by Pro Se Tax Protest Cases
• · · · · Most Indonesians are tolerant pluralists, genuinely friendly, proud of their country, and keen to meet and help visitors Jakarta bombings: bad things and evil people; Attorney-General Robert McClelland is confident that if we get the lingo right 'community harmony' will be strengthened and extremists 'disempowered' Junk the jihad, it's jargon we need

Friday, July 24, 2009

The business of tax avoidance, like the trade in derivatives, is ferociously complicated, and intentionally so: the fewer the people who understand what is going on, the easier it is to play the financial equivalent of a three-card trick and whisk your money off to a safe location. Tax dodgers have quite a sense of humour – or so it seems to me. Take transfer mispricing. One of the commonest forms of tax evasion, it accounts for much of the $160 billion. I could explain that this particular stunt involves transnational corporations exaggerating costs and minimising profits when they file their tax returns. I could mention surveys which estimate that more than 60 per cent of international trade takes place within TNCs, allowing companies to make up prices that suit their purposes. But the story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the firm that officially paid $972.98 for each plastic bucket it imported, or the toilet gloves which were priced at $4,121.81 per kilo Business of tax avoidance ;

Citizen satisfaction and trust: When a Blogger Voices Approval, a Sponsor May Be Lurking Ignorance of money helps bankers and politicians escape
Why is that so hard for people to understand? Keynes did - and he called it a paradox that what works for individuals is completely unsuitable for states - and yet the mindset of the grocer prevails in government.

Most assume that credit = savings, and that only by mobilising savings or surpluses (generated by production of one sort or another) is it possible for banks or financial institutions to lend money to finance economic activity. In other words, that money (deposits/savings/credit) exists only as the result of economic activity; and those deposits/savings/credit then create economic activity.
On the contrary: it is bank money/credit that creates economic activity - and only then are deposits, surpluses and savings generated. And not the other way around.
And this is why we can spend our way out of recession. Indeed it is why we must spend our way out of recession. Any other option costs more, increase debt, and causes more hardship.

Taxing Times; [ People fight a lot about priorities at DKos. Groups accuse other groups with different priorities of being "concern trolls" or "purity trolls" or of expressing "poutrage". No matter what you think is important, someone else will be happy to tell you it really isn't as important as their pet issue. Here's my way out of that dilemma.
Prosecuting criminal behavior is a post-Bush theme that unifies all groups. To solve our economic problems, we need to prosecute present (and, inevitably, past) criminal behavior and the malign deregulation that enabled such criminality. To get ourselves out of foreign wars, we need to prosecute the war crimes that got us into those wars and the ongoing war crimes and frauds that those operations continue to produce. To solve our healthcare problems, we need to prevent criminal behavior, such as recision, on the part of healthcare-denial companies. But, isn't fighting crime obvious? Not in the age of deregulation. Not in the age of the politicized DOJ. In order to fight crime, we must first restore regulations with teeth. We need to become "law and order Democrats". Below the fold I will lay out the rationale behind that seeming oxymoron. Its the Criminality, Stupid ; Successful innovation remains elusive for many organisations. Part of the problem concerns the myths that surround the innovation process - PDF - Four dangerous myths]
• · IF you've ever wondered how to fire up the folk who inhabit the blogosphere, you got an unambiguous answer last week - insult them. It worked a treat for the boss of News Limited, John Hartigan. In a speech to the National Press Club he said bloggers produced "something of such limited intellectual value as to be barely discernible from massive ignorance". For good measure he added that the blogosphere was "all eyeballs and no insight". Many blogs and a large number of comment sites specialise in political extremism and personal vilification Bloggers' rage show they're out of touch with reality ; IT'S Tuesday and I'm at a forum on the topic "Twitter's Impact on Media and Journalism", busily taking down the speeches in shorthand. As I do, the business-suited woman sitting on my left is tweeting about me on her laptop. Journalists take to the Twitterverse
• · · When Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska, she gave a cursory announcement to journalists, then moved on to tell her story directly to her supporters using Twitter and Facebook. This is the latest example of traditional journalists being disintermediated by government and other newsmakers, and it will make a big difference in the careers of IT managers (and me too, as a journalist) Journalists Get Left Out By Social Media ; Katja Presnal, who recommends products on her own blog, is interviewed at elf cosmetics offices in New York. Marketing companies are keen to get their ... When a Blogger Voices Approval, a Sponsor May Be Lurking
• · LIKE a research scientist who gets a chance to play with a chemistry set, Sreenath Sreenivasan, a new-media professor at the Columbia Journalism School, returned to the roots of his chosen field last month riding home on the No. 1 train. How the Media Wrestle With the Web ; TJN and some of our partners in France have just issued a statement expressing great concern about a Cameroonian journalist, Jean Bosco Talla, who is being harrassed and intimidated as a result of his work in publicising a huge and detailed report outlining the scale of dictators' and élites' assets in a wide number of countries around the world, including in Cameroon – PDF ahead - Journalist under threat
• · · Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murders sound respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. Old Orwell’s Instructive Errors ; How is the global financial crisis affecting our beliefs about work, money, the environment and each other? Broadcaster Libbi Gorr gathered Australia's top social researchers - Bernard Salt, Mark McCrindle & Dr Rebecca Huntley - to get the lowdown on the meltdown. Is Gen Y that bad? Yes!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

CAST my own shadow upon my path,
because I have a lamp that has not been lighted.
-- Rabindranath Tagore, "Stray Birds"

The former state shadow attorney-general Andrew Tink’s book William Charles Wentworth appears next month, a biography of a many of many firsts: crossing the Blue Mountains; setting up a university. Tink has also written about Lord Sydney … Andrew noted that if the Wentworth book goes well, I am hopeful my manuscript on Lord Sydney will be picked up. He is unfairly maligned. The First on Firsts (According to Damien Murphy and Emily Dunn of the SMH DIARY fame who noted this week in hard copy of the paper on 20-7-09]

THE NAMING OF SYDNEY and its Mountains Author Talk: Andrew Tink on William Charles Wentworth: Blue Mountains or Sydney are Named for Them
An explorer, a master political manipulator, a barrister, a newspaper proprietor and a physical giant of a man who was afraid of nothing and no one, William Charles Wentworth was in every sense Australia's founding father. His story is the story of colonial Australia.

Described by Manning Clark as 'Australia's greatest native son', William Charles Wentworth led a life of firsts. A man of rat cunning, great intelligence and sharp wit, he wrote the first book by an Australian to be published, was joint editor and proprietor of the colony's first independent newspaper, and founder of Australia's first university. But more importantly, with ruthless energy and a volcanic personality this 'convict brat' spent his life as an unrelenting advocate for comprehensive trial by jury, self-government and an Australian Confederation. Articulating a distinctly Australian identity to the world, he has a strong claim to be a founding father of modern Australia.
Wentworth's great personal achievements have been largely forgotten - until now. Andrew Tink, who for nineteen years sat under the looming presence of Wentworth's portrait in the New South Wales Parliament, has turned his gaze to this great man of Australian history. The result is a biography that is long overdue and a fascinating and richly rewarding insight into the life of this complex man and the young nation he helped to create.

• 9781741751925 William Charles Wentworth, a founder of the Bar, a free press, trial by jury ; [; Changes ahead Motive for writing still unknown ; Former NSW Epping MP Andrew Tink, who had an account at the newsagency, described the Lins as a ''quiet, hard-working and self-sufficient'' Chinese migrant family. This week’s Tragedy in former electorate ]
• · His interest in and research of Brush Farm has formed the basis for a chapter in the book In Search Of The Pennant Hills on which he collaborated with James Symes and Trevor Patrick. ; Former MP, Historian, Author ; History and his stories
• · Willoughby City Library - An explorer, a master political manipulator, a barrister, a newspaper proprietor and a physical giant of a man who was afraid of nothing and no one, William Charles Wentworth was in every sense Australia's founding father. Join Andrew Tink as he discusses the subject of his new book. Author Talk: Andrew Tink on William Charles Wentworth ; As a member of the NSW Legislative Assembly, I was confronted in the parliament every sitting day for 19 years by an aggressive, larger than life portrait of William Charles Wentworth, a founder of the Bar, a free press, trial by jury and responsible government in NSW. Despite Wentworth’s achievements and his brilliant, volcanic personality – the product of a convict mother and a father who was the black sheep of one of Britain’s most distinguished families - no full length biography of him has yet been written William Charles Wentworth, a founder of the Bar, a free press, trial by jury ; In 1786-87 the Home Secretary Lord Sydney spent £54,000 to ensure that his able contractor William Richards could adequately provision the First Fleet, as a result of which there were only about 23 deaths on the voyage out. But his successor, the young up and comer William Grenville, keen to make a name for himself in Cabinet as a cost cutter, sacked Richards and replaced him with the London slaving firm of Camden, Calvert and King, saving over £20,000 in the process. As a result, 267 people died during the Second Fleet's voyage and the conditions were so bad that one of the captains was prosecuted for murder Andrew Tink speaking at Parliament
• · · In appreciation of Lord Sydney's efforts, the loyalists named Sydney in Nova Scotia after him. Tink argues that it was Lord Sydney's support for the loyalists that was a key reason why the English of Canada went on to dominate the country over the country's French settlers. Seldom has an historical figure been so little honoured in a great city that took his name, than the British aristocrat Lord Sydney. Put simply, Pete Townshend, a founder member of the famed rock group The Who, is far better known in the host city for this year's Olympic games than his 18th century namesake Tommy Townshend. Forget that as Lord Sydney, Tommy Townshend also had Sydney in Nova Scotia named after him and played a key role in bringing reconciliation between Britain and the fledgling United States after the American War of Independence. Towshend puts Lord Sydney in shadows ; The fact is that few Sydneysiders know exactly who the city was named after and even fewer could tell you what was his non-aristocratic name. An inquiry to the Sydney city council historical section about Tommy Townshend drew a blank until it was pointed out that there was an 'H' in Lord Sydney's name
• · · · The long standing reputation of Lord Sydney, as mentioned above, is being reassessed by Andrew Tink. Mr Tink will show that this reputation was not only unfounded but was caused by incident 10 years before Lord Sydney even took office. Click here to View Andrew Tink's article.Lord Sydney; Sydney is Named for Him ; Where have all the political leaders gone? Where are all the visionaries? Politicians: the epitome of bland
• · · · · Google good at capturing historical posts History never black and white; My former boss, the chairman of the NSW PAC, Andrew Tink, laments how little honoured is Lord Sydney in his own backyard: Media Dragon Cached by Google ; Protecting the book industry panders to the cultural cringe Death of author unlikely

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ach, Bondi. Golden, pinkish sand beaches. Charming pastel Hungry Czech restaurants and kelly-green golf courses. Tiny cafes peppered everywhere … Happy birthday RLC ;-)

In addition to being addicted to Slavic recipes, Lidka is also addicted to jigsaw puzzles. The more pieces, the happier Lidia is … The thrill of putting the pieces all together, the curiousity on how the entire image looks like, and the patience when it seems so difficult how to position each piece of the puzzle. There is no jigsaw puzzle she cannot solve. …
Lidia - Passion

Ideas can come from anywhere; the thing is to recognize them and give them shape. The global financial catastrophe has hit companies, families, and individuals

Do ideas sometimes pop into your head from, it seems, nowhere? Yes, and it’s because your brain actually operates on the edge of chaos
Fire exists in nature, a wild thing tamed by the mind of man. But when it first appeared, the wheel was an invention of something completely new.. Salute to wheels of ideas

Serving revenge Cold Communist secret police database goes online
Former dissident publishes list, rush of visitors crashes web server

Intense public interest saw a server collapse when databases kept by the Czechoslovak communist secret police (StB) were put online by former dissident Stanislav Penc. Within an hour of the data going online around 11 a.m. July 7, the server collapsed. Over the next three days, the Web site, Svazky.cz, registered 140,000 hits. It has since crashed again several times and was down as of press time.
Democracy needs to know the serious reading of books. Long books. Hard books. Books with which we have to struggle...

The Dictator and I: Husak’s Émigrés and Exiles [Lessons of Charter 77 July 7 ; 2nd coming of Vacal Havel or Lech Welechsa ; Defining Slavic Dreams The Cold(est) War River]
• · US President Barack Obama has told Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin they may not agree on everything but they had an excellent opportunity to put ... In a polite atmosphere where both men seemed reserved, President Obama met Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this morning at his dacha in Moscow. I think you just cut out Lech Waleza and Poles, cut out Havel and the Czechs. There were a whole bunch of people in eastern europe who showed courage. Important to acknowledge people who struggled for own freedom. Lift the Iron curtain. we don't have to diminish other people in order to recognize our role Obama, Russia 'reset' Cold War relations; Google Stories ; There are two different versions of the story of the end of the Cold War: the Russian version, and the truth. President Barack Obama endorsed the Russian version in Moscow last week. The truth, of course, is that the Soviets ran a brutal, authoritarian regime. The KGB killed their opponents or dragged them off to the Gulag. There was no free press, no freedom of speech, no freedom of worship, no freedom of any kind Obama Rewrites the Cold War
• · Hugo Blick has written a deliciously enthralling triptych of comedy-dramas about people facing death Last Word Monologues ; The next train leaves from all platforms
• · · Even after our recent orgy of bailouts, and even as the culture of entitlement grips our country ever more tightly, Americans hunger for the assurance that we can do it for ourselves without a nanny state running our lives. Rediscovering Frederick Douglass in the Age of Obama ; Economic theory in meltdown: the biggest financial calamity in 80 years has left the reputation of economics in tatters. What went wrong with economics
• · · · To escape a 1930s culture war that soon turned into a shooting war, artists, writers and composers fled Europe for Southern California.. Hitler's Émigrés and Exiles ; Embrace individualism and reject stereotypes, says Tyler Cowen. Even look in a mirror. You may find far more talent than you expected. Talent
• · · · · It’s puzzling that such promising and prurient subject matter can lead to such flat, dull books. My Life In a G-String: A Round Up of Stripper Memoirs Stripper memoirs: Are all naked women pretty much the same? ; Language pervades the deepest domains of thought, shaping us from the nuts and bolts of perception to our loftiest abstract notions and major life decisions.. Ideas
• · · · · · The answer is capitalism’s dirty little secret: excessive lending was the only way to maintain the living standards of the vast bulk of the population at a time when wealth was being concentrated in the hands of an elite Capitalism's dirty secret ; What is the future for liberal democracy? This should be a pressing question. All around us, corporations rule the roost. They fund political parties and reward former and potential ministers with consultancies. They finance think-tanks, control newspapers and television and radio stations to mobilise particular kinds of opinion Corporate takeover of the state: What future for democracy when the private sector’s advance shows no sign of abating ; ANZ Bank has axed a further 248 jobs across the country as part of its strategy to slash the size of its Australian workforce

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I believe that there is a fine line between freedom and authority and that we need both to maintain a reasonable society.
To much freedom brings chaos.
To much authority brings rebellion.
I say we need both and go back to the Greek city-states.

Nature is far harsher than the market: If you are not sustainable, you die. No second chances and no bailouts. Diversify across generations Nature’s 10 Simple Rules: Part

Let's throw caution to the wind ... but at what cost? Social Media and New Roles For Employees
Sadly this week Mr Greig Tillotson, NSW Parliamentary Librarian, announced his retirement. There are many Tears for Greig and David Clune at Macquarie Street. The global financial catastrophe has hit parliaments, families, and individuals. The crisis at library world is, in a word, complicated. The library has gone through a very difficult time in the last year and its two senior managers, David Clune and Greig Tillotson, have played a key role in ensuring that those difficulties have not disrupted our work. As a member of the Library Committee I saw this first-hand. I congratulate both of them on recently passing an important milestone 30 years of service as members of the library staff. {They are both much, much younger than me and much more intelligent than any of us …}

Regardless of your job title, social media allows you to help your organisation and get a little career protection for yourself. Governments and public services around the world are grappling with very complex issues. Looking for better and more innovative ways to perform our traditional public service role of providing policy advice to the Government. We need to be able to design smarter policy so that the policy instruments used, including regulation, information strategies, voluntarism, and the range of economic instruments, more effectively change the behaviour of those we seek to influence.need to work increasingly with others...the active participation of citizens, the third sector, business and local community groups.improving policy design in this environment of increasing complexity and interconnectedness."

• The train leaves from all platforms Social Media and New Roles For Employees ; [Just Czech with the one who must be obeyed the Shaw and unShaw creatures of the working world: We're trusted to do our own deals on groceries, but not on wages and conditions. We can be adult everywhere but the workplace; From a campaign that began almost four years ago to the day, Australian workers are set to have greater protection for their jobs, their conditions and their workplace rights. Employees enter a new era of rights; Executive power: unicameral parliaments cannot rely on watchdogs alone to guard against corruption Democracy has long odds in a stacked house ]
• · Why We Need Economics to Make Policy: An Introduction on How Not to Kill People. A citizen who casts his ballot without having to the best of his abilities studied as much economics as he can fails in his civic duties. Those fighting for free enterprise and free competition do not defend the interests of those rich today. They want a free hand left to unknown men who will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and whose ingenuity will make the life of coming generations more agreeable. They want the way left open to further economic improvements. They are the spokesmen of progress Free enterprise and free competition ; BARACK Obama's favourite television program is The Wire. The HBO series' title refers to electronic surveillance, a tool of law enforcement growing in favour not just in the US. In 2007-08, law enforcement agencies in Australia sought 3254 warrants for telephone intercepts. Ten years earlier the figure was 675 ; If any good has come out of Utegate, it brought into question the integrity and efficacy of adversarial politics. Of integrity, adversarial politics and a fake email
• · IN ITS obsession with property prices and housing affordability, Melbourne and Sydney have overlooked a startling fact: the cities are awash with empty buildings. They are Toorak's ghost mansions: grand houses that have sat unoccupied behind chained gates and boarded-up windows for years, even decades. Melbourne tycoon David Yu ; The number of unoccupied residential dwellings in Sydney counted by census workers in 2006 was 122,211 ; The number was up from 97,889 a decade ago. It begs analysis ; Map the number of empty buildings Daniel Cox Bubblepedia
• · · What image libraries like Getty and Corbis have done for still photography, YouTube and the proliferation of video sources have done for moving image. The spoils of tomorrow will go to the brands that take action to deepen emotional bonds with consumers today Roaring sounds; No one in their right mind would suggest that an economic collapse was just what we needed, but sometimes, tough times do throw up opportunities we don’t hear when the bulls are roaring. Opportunity knocks
• · · · Allowing commercial banks to create our money inevitably causes frequent booms and busts. Money from nothing: supplying money should be a public service; I did not mean to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative – John Stuart Mill Why Tax Havens Are Bad;
• · · · · Two months ago G20 leaders pledged a crackdown on tax havens in response to the global financial crisis. But how much has changed? Global; The plans of a Swiss canton to attract the super-rich by offering them the chance to buy property in exclusive, previously out of bounds locations has sparked a political row and accusations that the country is encouraging apartheid of the rich and poor.Swiss offer millionaires a haven away from the poor
• · · · · · We have just been sent a most useful document: a really clear explanation of two highly important tax issues: transfer pricing and outward domestication. It's called Tricky Tax: Two Tax Avoidance Schemes Explained. The author has sent us these words to accompany it Alfred Hitchcock and Tricky Tax ; Offshore companies are exploiting their tax advantage, attracting capital to acquire U.S companies Supports bill to stop foreign insurers from avoiding US taxes

Friday, July 10, 2009

If you would be happy consider not what you want, but rather what you want to give.
- Happy Birthday Christopher and Lidia ... the luckiest couple I have ever known ;-)

Fear fades when facts are faced.
-Frank Tyger

Darkest movies we have seen in the last few weeks…Directed by Kriv Stenders, (Boxing Day, Blacktown) Lucky Country is a period western in which Aden Young stars as Nat, a small landholder barely hanging on to his patch of the bush. His daughter Sarah is just old enough to see herself as a woman, his son Tom just old enough to judge his father as a man. When three ex-soldiers arrive amidst rumours of gold, the group begins to turn on each other, and the cabin becomes a battleground. Not So Lucky
Based on the novel by the Nobel Prize winner JM Coetzee, 'Disgrace' is a tale of race, class, sex and a strange man in a strange land. Certainly, in Disgrace, John Malkovich gives an extraordinary performance because he's modelled himself on Coetzee… he looks like him, speaks like him Dark method actor Malkovich shines in Disgrace

What's Right and Wrong with Media Dragons Now Echos of Fears
Hitchcock said something to the effect that a confused audience was an unmoved one. I believe the same applies to the public. Without understanding how companies are exploiting the tax system, it is difficult to be motivated about it.

Even if they only knew her through a blog. The opinions expressed are solely the writer's. Carrie Steinweg, the mother of five, lives in Lansing …

Mourning an incredible mom ; [The human inclination toward the unique, creative, and individual was underlined by a recent Harvard and Arizona University study on musical inspiration. While the study focused on musicians, it has important insights on how to unleash and inspire any team Musical Inspiration ; Hearing of my newfound love for the Kindle, I was sent a website called Smell of Books. The site purports to be a source for aerosol fragrances that you can scent your e-books with for that old book mustiness or new book tang. It's not the best gag in the world, but it did start me thinking… Smell of Books ]
• · Like most things on the Internet, there?s a good side and a dark side to where the media business is headed. What's Right and Wrong with Media Now ; Blogs on water; For Europeans, it will be a lot harder to stop immigration from Muslim lands than it was to initiate immigration flows in the first place...
immigration flows
• · The idea of a “fairy tale.” It is as thorny and hard to penetrate, says Jennifer Howard, as the hedge that surrounds the enchanted princess’s castle in Sleeping Beauty... What does not change is the magic hold fairy tales have over us. Children are born with fairy tales," Zipes says. "It's the only genre that stays with us our entire lives. Fairy tale ; New Media award from the Guild of Food Writers Word of Mouth blog
• · · • · · · · · Seriously now, lard is good for you. After years in the shadow of cholesterol worries, it turns out that lard is not as unhealthy as you thought... Seriously now, lard is good for you. ; Do great cooks memorize countless recipes? No. They have a grasp of basic ingredients and the ratios of ingredients that make great food...Recipes

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Twenty Nine (29) Years ago Today, the idea of the Bohemian Stranger and Media Dragon started to be formed and the Blogger.Com has made it possible Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing inside Cold River?

Newsweekly’s last stand. Yes, the news magazines are in trouble in a digital age – all except The Economist. So why is it thriving?...
Media Weather Media Cloud is a system that lets you see the flow of the media. The Internet is fundamentally altering the way that news is produced and distributed, but there are few comprehensive approaches to understanding the nature of these changes. Media Cloud automatically builds an archive of news stories and blog posts from the web, applies language processing, and gives you ways to analyze and visualize the data. The system is still in early development, but we invite you to explore our current data and suggest research ideas. This is an open-source project, and we will be releasing all of the code soon. You can read more background on the project or just get started: Visualizations / What Are Your Research Ideas? / Keep Up-To-Date with Media Cloud. - Open Clouds

Interactive Clouds Mainstream Media Dragons Under Increasing Pressure
WSJ WSJ Interactive Map - Adverse events at top 100 newspapers, 2006-2009, this New York Times op-ed by Frank Rich - The American Press on Suicide Watch:

"Newspaper circulations and revenues are in free fall. Legendary brands from The Los Angeles Times to The Philadelphia Inquirer are teetering. The New York Times Company threatened to close The Boston Globe if its employees didn’t make substantial sacrifices in salaries and benefits. Other papers have died. The reporting ranks on network and local news alike are shriveling. You know it’s bad when the Senate is moved, as it was last week, to weigh in with hearings on The Future of Journalism. Financial Times: WSJ plans micro-fees for online articles - News Corp plans to introduce micro-payments for individual articles and premium subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal's website this year in a milestone in the news industry's race to find better online business models.

Media ; [The American Press on Suicide Watch: "Newspaper circulations and revenues are in free fall. Tibute; Circulation ]
• · The Guidelines on Recruitment Advertising have effect from 1 July 2009 and apply to all agencies subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. The guidelines govern a range of aspects of agencies' and departments' recruitment advertising in print media.
Internet: Guidelines on recruitment advertising; Isaiah Berlin disliked nature, linking love of the land with reactionary romanticism. People were his landscape...
• · Greed is good, up to a point. We must get straight on what capitalism offers the world, and know what its limits are. This means better knowing ourselves, says Fareed Zakaria... Greed is good ; Bitterness is so common and so deeply harmful that some psychiatrists are urging it be identified as a mental illness: post-traumatic embitterment disorder ... Bitterness

Monday, July 06, 2009

St John's Eve bonfires continued to be lit on every hill in the High Tatra Mountain ...

Most men talk too much. Much of my success has been due to keeping my mouth shut.
-J. Ogden Armour

Human creativity thrived in prehistoric life where our ancestors were crowded into small spaces, mingling and talking ... Party animals

One of two certainties Distant voices, desperate lives
The recent conference on tax reform organised by the Henry tax review and the Melbourne Institute was outstanding, with giants of the field advancing far-reaching proposals. But some crucial perspectives were missing, creating risks for the ultimate outcome.

A strong point of the conference was recognition that a revolution has occurred in the analysis of taxation in recent decades. That revolution is based on the realisation that when governments set taxes, they don't know the productive potential of individual income earners.

• Henry Ergas has produced a tax reform proposal for Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbul Taxing Inspiration; [Fight billion (and counting). This is the sum that has potentially been lost by hundreds of thousands of savers across middle-class Australia who invested in failed schemes arranged by the likes of Westpoint, Fincorp. Storm, Opes Prime, Great Southern and Timbercorp. The collapse of the country s two biggest managed investment scheme providers has shone a light on the potential risks associated with using niche investment strategies solely to reduce tax. ; THE Australian Taxation Office is looking to cut a deal with a high-flying businessman claimed to owe $35 million as part of the nation's largest tax fraud probe ]
• · Without strong upper houses, parliaments cannot rely on watchdogs alone to guard against bad government. ACROSS MODERN DEMOCRACIES, there have been increasing public complaints that executive government is too powerful and too dominant. The concern is not new, but it has become more urgent as executive government increasingly controls and manipulates not only parliament but also the other institutions of state, such as the public service, advisory bodies and, in some cases, the judiciary. In the 1970s, British Conservative politician Lord Hailsham believed such trends meant modern government had become an ‘‘elective dictatorship’’, whereby, although elected, it dominated all aspects of the political process at the expense of democratic practice Perils of government dominance ; As the prime minister said to public service leaders: 'We cannot afford a public service culture where all you do is tell the government what you think the government wants to hear' ; David Flint The ‘Utegate’ affair and the constitution
• · In an upside to the rugby s*x scandal the community has been forced to think about morality. Love, s*x, pride and morality; 'I feel more at home as editor of The Big Issue ... than I did for much of my time working in the mainstream media.' Working on big issues
• · · Fresh claims over Barclays tax - alleged tax avoidance schemes so highly orchestrated HMRC is struggling to comprehend them The alleged Barclays tax avoidance schemes entered into to make a profit involved companies with headquarters in the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg, and are said to be so complex HM Revenue and Customs is having difficulty deciphering them. Earlier this week, a court injunction forced the Guardian to remove internal bank documents from its website, according to guardian.co.uk Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman, said public disclosure of the documents is in the interest of taxpayers. This is a sad day for democracy. British taxpayers are being asked to underwrite Barclays' loans... banks use the finest legal brains money can buy to avoid tax, but HM Revenue & Customs is underpaid and overstretched, so it is far from a level playing field,' he said New whistleblower claims over £1bn Barclays tax deals ; Zipped Documents; Further detailed allegations about tax avoidance schemes set up by Barclays Bank emerged tonight from whistleblowers who said the bank made close to £1bn profit a year from a series of elaborate deals. The schemes are similar to those detailed in documents published by the Guardian this week which have been the centre of a three-day hearing at the high court, and are the subject of a gagging order. The Tax Gap series; Snapshot;
• · · · 2008 ushered in an unprecedented global downturn that originated in 2007. What started as a financial crisis soon expanded into the larger economy, affecting mature and emerging markets alike. World equity markets lost a decade of gains, and volatility reached record levels. Our 2008 findings show HNWIs began to lose trust in the markets, regulators, and, in some cases, their financial advisory firms. They also extended their allocations to safer investments—a trend that had its inception a year earlier. As a result, our research shows, cash and fixed-income instruments now make up 50% of HNWIs’ portfolios overall, and many HNWIs have retreated to familiar domestic markets Australia Endorses Ongoing Global Efforts to Combat Tax Avoidance and Evasion; UK companies are using lax visa rules to bring in cheap offshore IT staff at the expense of local contractors, an investigation by the BBC’s File on 4 programme has found. IT Trends of Global Fame
• · · · · Consumers are neck deep in information and I believe what they are after now is an experience. Some fun, some intrigue, maybe a little romance. If this thought strikes a chord with you, crack open Cristina Nehring's book A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-First Century… The Wild Side of Love ; This site aspires to be nothing less than the definitive site for human achievement, based on its belief that every person on earth has the potential to be the world's best 'something'. What your 'something' is depends on the limits of your imagination… The Universal Record Database
• · · · · · Can you compare it across countries and regions or across different fields of human activity? If yes, in what way? Can creativity be measured?; The reason for the bonfires? They're a reminder of the birth of St. John the Baptist. Slovakia has a very colourful St John aka Jan Jan Figel

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Describe the world as an ordinary person sees it Take things seriously. And tell the truth. Tell the truth .. George Orwell, desperately sick, fighting demons of his imagination in a bleak Scottish outpost after the war, was trying to finish a novel…

Laws of supply and demand do not apply The end of East Germany: Mirror on Germany
The end of East Germany was ushered in by massive protests across the land. But opposition to communist rule had started with a whisper...

Jan Fleischhauer was forbidden to eat oranges as a child. Proper left-wing German families knew oranges grew in lands ruled by dictators. As for eating at McDonald’s? Mein Gott!...

• The likes of neither Victor Navasky nor Ann Coulter owns the truth about spying against the U.S. in the Cold War. Time to let facts alone speak. Cold War; [After the Germans rolled over France’s defenses in 1940, how brave were French writers in resisting the Nazis? Ah, it was a complex, sadly mixed affair Complexity of Fear; Thomas Paine both inspired and witnessed two revolutions: the one that gave birth to the United States and the one that destroyed the French monarchy... French Rulers]
• · Bernstein on the podium: “fencing, hula-dancing, and calling on the heavens to witness his agonies.” Then there was his politics Machiavelli; Vodka was invented in Russia by medieval monks, but it has had a most unholy effect on the Russian people...Holy Voda
• · Philosopher E.M. Cioran is all about despair, ecstasy, boredom, insanity, suicide, crime, illness, nothingness – And puncturing our bloated pieties...; The atonement Milan Kundera’s critics have demanded of him seems strangely to act out dramatic scenes from his novels...
• · · What’s going on? Much of Europe falls into the hands of conservative parties, while America has “gone socialist.” In truth, differences between Europe and the U.S. are overrated... Truth; Boring labor is a threat to one’s humanity. It follows therefore that interesting labor can be a form of redemption. Like fixing motorcycles... Boring labor is a threat to one’s humanity
• · · · One day, I’ll write a really nerdy book. But until then, Malcolm Gladwell will continue to be the rock star of nonfiction... Nonfictions on Amazon; Said Groucho Marx to the talkative bore, “You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.” Mark Edmundson too has met his share of bores... Mark Edmundson too has met his share of bores...
• · · · · How much richer is your existence since you got that high-speed router? How much better off is the life of the mind in the internet age?...Digital Dragons; In a story, the writer commands every aspect of the world the reader inhabits. Fine: it’s worked for centuries. But in a video game...
• · · · · · Kmart gave some bloggers a free shopping spree in exchange for a blog post about the experience — a practice we call sponsored conversation. With appropriate protections for disclosure and authenticity, this practice will take its place alongside public relations and advertising activities in the blogosphere. Marketers should take advantage of sponsored conversation as an entrée into the online conversation. To succeed, you should get to know the bloggers you plan to work with and set expectations across your organization. Add Sponsored Conversations To Your Toolbox - Why You Should Pay Bloggers To Talk About Your Brand ; Obama's Team: The Face Of Diversity National Journal Profiles Key Players in Obama Administration