B12 Solipsism

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Bruce Rauner channeled part of fortune to Cayman Islands To Avoid Paying Taxes

A Mere Hint of Evidence
A Mere Hint of Evidence

Illinois Democratic governor Pat Quinn, the incumbent, is not someone to get excited about, but his opponent in the upcoming election is a non-Mormon clone of Mitt Romney, down to the off-shore tax havens. Bruce Rauner won’t release his tax returns either, basically thumbing his nose at the electorate.

Multimillionaire Republican Bruce Rauner has channeled at least part of his fortune into the Cayman Islands, a Caribbean paradise long criticized as a tax haven for American investors, the Chicago Sun-Times has confirmed.

A Rauner spokesman insisted that the former private equity investor has met his legal tax obligations and properly disclosed to the federal government information regarding at least five investments by him or his firm in a country that has no income tax and a financial system cloaked in secrecy.

Rauner’s campaign has refused so far to release a full set of his most recent tax returns to corroborate that and perhaps show the extent and value of those investments in offshore companies. No one has suggested Rauner has done anything illegal. In fact, offshore investments among the wealthy have been a common practice in recent years.

(click here to continue reading Bruce Rauner channeled part of fortune to Cayman Islands | Early & Often.)

Seem Never Satisfied
Seem Never Satisfied

Are people really going to vote for this plutocrat who is too good, too powerful, too rich to pay his fair share of taxes to a near bankrupt state? If you planned to run for political office, why would you do this? And worse, once news of Rauner’s lack of patriotism was exposed, he doubled down on it.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner funneled part of his wealth to a Caribbean territory long considered a tax haven, a business practice he defended yesterday, stressing there was no impact on his personal tax rate.

A central part of Gov. Pat Quinn’s re-election bid has been scrutinizing how the multimillionaire Rauner made his money, and the Chicago Democrat’s campaign has alleged Rauner “stashed” money to avoid paying taxes. “I’d think someone who anticipates being in the public eye wouldn’t be in the Cayman Islands because the question to be asked is, ‘Why would you have invested there?’” Richard L. Kaplan, a University of Illinois law professor told the newspaper. “

AT NO POINT HAVE I TRIED TO AVOID TAXES’

Rauner dismissed the notion yesterday after speaking to Asian leaders in Chinatown.

“At no point have I tried to avoid taxes or done these things that they’re trying to spin,” he said…

“GTCR has its own structure for just a couple of investments. When they invest in overseas companies, they set up that particular structure. It doesn’t impact our personal tax rate whatsoever.”

Cayman, a British territory, is considered one of the world’s largest financial centers and a haven for mutual funds and private equity. International companies and ultra-rich investors have long taken advantage of offshore financial centers there, drawn by regulations and legal systems making it easy to move capital internationally. 

(click here to continue reading Rauner defends Cayman Islands money move – Government News – Crain’s Chicago Business.)

Not A Republican
Not A Republican

and as Aaron Cynic of the Chicagost writes, this isn’t trivial amounts of money, but most likely millions of dollars:

While Rauner might be in full legal compliance, the practice itself allows major corporations and other wealthy individuals to skip out on paying taxes in the United States. According to a June report from the group Citizens for Tax Justice, U.S. based multinational corporations booking profits in tax shelters like the Cayman’s has allowed them to skip out on an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes. For someone trying to save the Illinois economy with a tax plan that targets professional and business services – many of which are smaller businesses – sheltering profits from a company boasting a $10 billion investment portfolio seems somewhat duplicitous, at best.

(click here to continue reading Rauner Defends Dumping Dollars Into Off-Shore Accounts: Chicagoist.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 5th, 2014 at 8:13 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Sit Down And Be Counted was uploaded to Flickr

Borders

A few of Steinunn Thorarinsdottir “Borders” sculptures in Grant Park.

“Borders” — hosted by the Chicago Park District in conjunction with the Grant Park Conservancy and the Icelandic Ministry of Culture, and sponsored by Bloomberg — will remain through spring, the sculptures looming with pupil-less gazes over park visitors. (Each aluminum piece weighs 180 pounds; each iron piece weighs 440 pounds.) Thorarinsdottir, who sometimes “stands and peeks” at passers-by, said she enjoys watching her art evoke different reactions from people.

And that’s the fundamental idea of this exhibition: Viewers make what they will of it. The pieces can be poked, stroked, cuddled — so long as the art stimulates some kind of mental and physical response, Thorarinsdottir said she considers her mission accomplished.

Her artwork, which took two years to complete, was first installed in 2011 at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Thorarinsdottir said she consciously placed her figures in that socially and politically charged environment, and her choice to install them in Chicago’s Solti Garden was just as careful and deliberate.

Days before “Borders” was installed, she sat on one of the garden’s benches for hours considering how her sculptures would fit into her surroundings. She recalled listening to the languages spoken by people of all sizes and colors, and she knew she had found her gallery space.

“I wanted the installation to relate to people that wherever we come from, whatever our life experiences, we’re all connected in shape and spirit,” she said. “This garden was my first choice, a natural choice.”

The park, situated just south of the Art Institute of Chicago, provides the intimacy of an enclosed room in an area heavy with foot traffic. The lattice of tree trunks forms the walls, brambly branches netting up into a leafy canopy.

“Some sites are too big, but this garden had a nice body. I like that it forms a natural ‘border’ that the viewer can cross and connect,” Thorarinsdottir said.

Thorarinsdottir purposely left her androgynous figures “neutral.” Some may be sitting, a couple kneeling, others standing, but their faces are left enigmatic. Her Icelandic background influenced her philosophy, she said: “In Iceland, it’s an island with lots of space, very few people, tons of organic nature. So everyone in Iceland gives this feeling that what you are, what you do, matters. We are individuals, but we are also all connected, we are all part of humanity.”

more: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-08-07/entertainment/ct-ent-0808-borders-sculpture-20130808_1_art-institute-sculptures-exhibition…

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I took Sit Down And Be Counted on June 26, 2014 at 07:17PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 05, 2014 at 02:38PM

Written by eggplant

August 5th, 2014 at 7:53 am

Neon – Phyllis Musical Inn was uploaded to Flickr

Division Street at night. Phyllis Music Inn was allegedly established in 1954

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I took Neon – Phyllis Musical Inn on July 13, 2014 at 10:52PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 04, 2014 at 03:29PM

Written by eggplant

August 4th, 2014 at 3:26 pm

A Mere Hint of Evidence was uploaded to Flickr

Lower Yurtistan

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I took A Mere Hint of Evidence on July 21, 2014 at 12:00PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 04, 2014 at 12:37AM

Written by eggplant

August 3rd, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Blow Your Own Horn Sometimes was uploaded to Flickr

Lower Yurtistan

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I took Blow Your Own Horn Sometimes on July 21, 2014 at 11:58AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 04, 2014 at 12:19AM

Written by eggplant

August 3rd, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Let Your Own Words Describe was uploaded to Flickr

shadows, Forest Preserve

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I took Let Your Own Words Describe on August 02, 2014 at 03:02PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 02, 2014 at 08:15PM

Written by eggplant

August 2nd, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Only Time Will Tell Where We Are Going To was uploaded to Flickr

Leaves, Cook County Forest Preserve

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I took Only Time Will Tell Where We Are Going To on August 02, 2014 at 03:19PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 02, 2014 at 08:24PM

Written by eggplant

August 2nd, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Lobster Tails and so forth

Lobster Tails and so forth

ancient rust-bucket being hauled, hopefully to be repaired. Big chunks of metal and rust kept being jogged out by Chicago potholes…

Taken on March 16, 2012

Written by Seth Anderson

August 1st, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , , ,

One Eye Upon the Heavens was uploaded to Flickr

Downtown Toronto somewhere

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I took One Eye Upon the Heavens on September 09, 2013 at 11:19AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 01, 2014 at 03:29PM

Written by eggplant

August 1st, 2014 at 8:49 am

Zanzibar and Rye was uploaded to Flickr

Yonge St, Toronto.

Wikipedia entry:
http://ift.tt/1ljhvUu

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I took Zanzibar and Rye on September 09, 2013 at 11:04AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 01, 2014 at 03:15PM

Written by eggplant

August 1st, 2014 at 8:48 am

Running 5 Minutes a Day Has Long-Lasting Benefits

Blago Jogging on May Street
Blago Jogging on May Street

Does running to the wine cellar count?

Running for as little as five minutes a day could significantly lower a person’s risk of dying prematurely, according to a large-scale new study of exercise and mortality. The findings suggest that the benefits of even small amounts of vigorous exercise may be much greater than experts had assumed.

In recent years, moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, has been the focus of a great deal of exercise science and most exercise recommendations. The government’s formal 2008 exercise guidelines, for instance, suggest that people should engage in about 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week. Almost as an afterthought, the recommendations point out that half as much, or about 15 minutes a day of vigorous exercise, should be equally beneficial.

As a group, runners gained about three extra years of life compared with those adults who never ran.

Remarkably, these benefits were about the same no matter how much or little people ran. Those who hit the paths for 150 minutes or more a week, or who were particularly speedy, clipping off six-minute miles or better, lived longer than those who didn’t run. But they didn’t live significantly longer those who ran the least, including people running as little as five or 10 minutes a day at a leisurely pace of 10 minutes a mile or slower.

“We think this is really encouraging news,” said Timothy Church, a professor at the Pennington Institute who holds the John S. McIlHenny Endowed Chair in Health Wisdom and co-authored the study. “We’re not talking about training for a marathon,” he said, or even for a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) race. “Most people can fit in five minutes a day of running,” he said, “no matter how busy they are, and the benefits in terms of mortality are remarkable.”

The study did not directly examine how and why running affected the risk of premature death, he said, or whether running was the only exercise that provided such benefits. The researchers did find that in general, runners had less risk of dying than people who engaged in more moderate activities such as walking.

But “there’s not necessarily something magical about running, per se,” Dr. Church said. Instead, it’s likely that exercise intensity is the key to improving longevity, he said, adding, “Running just happens to be the most convenient way for most people to exercise intensely.”

(click here to continue reading Running 5 Minutes a Day Has Long-Lasting Benefits – NYTimes.com.)

not that I have a wine cellar myself, more like an area under the stair that has a few bottles stored for a moment or two…

In Between the Rains
In Between the Rains

Seriously, it can’t hurt to go for a vigorous walk or run every day, and you might even enjoy it. 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 31st, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Posted in health,science

Tagged with ,

The Ridiculous Required White House Response on Marijuana

Nancy Reagan - Just Say Yo
Nancy Reagan – Just Say Yo

When we talk about how dysfunctional American politics is, here is a prime example. Talk about ridiculous “make-work” jobs, sheesh, thanks President Clinton, and Reagan, and Nixon…

When the White House issued a statement last night saying that marijuana should remain illegal — responding to our pro-legalization editorial series — officials there weren’t just expressing an opinion. They were following the law. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is required by statute to oppose all efforts to legalize any banned drug.

It’s one of the most anti-scientific, know-nothing provisions in any federal law, but it remains an active imposition on every White House. The “drug czar,” as the director of the drug control policy office is informally known, must “take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance” that’s listed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and has no “approved” medical use.

Marijuana fits that description, as do heroin and LSD. But unlike those far more dangerous drugs, marijuana has medical benefits that are widely known and are now officially recognized in 35 states. The drug czar, though, isn’t allowed to recognize them, and whenever any member of Congress tries to change that, the White House office is required to stand up and block the effort. It cannot allow any federal study that might demonstrate the rapidly changing medical consensus on marijuana’s benefits and its relative lack of harm compared to alcohol and tobacco.

(click here to continue reading The Required White House Response on Marijuana – NYTimes.com.)

via the always interesting and informative DrugWarRant.com

Ballin'
Ballin’

and more history of cannabis prohibition from the NYT Editorial Board:

The federal law that makes possession of marijuana a crime has its origins in legislation that was passed in an atmosphere of hysteria during the 1930s and that was firmly rooted in prejudices against Mexican immigrants and African-Americans, who were associated with marijuana use at the time. This racially freighted history lives on in current federal policy, which is so driven by myth and propaganda that is it almost impervious to reason.

The cannabis plant, also known as hemp, was widely grown in the United States for use in fabric during the mid-19th century. The practice of smoking it appeared in Texas border towns around 1900, brought by Mexican immigrants who cultivated cannabis as an intoxicant and for medicinal purposes as they had done at home.

Within 15 years or so, it was plentiful along the Texas border and was advertised openly at grocery markets and drugstores, some of which shipped small packets by mail to customers in other states.

The law enforcement view of marijuana was indelibly shaped by the fact that it was initially connected to brown people from Mexico and subsequently with black and poor communities in this country. Police in Texas border towns demonized the plant in racial terms as the drug of “immoral” populations who were promptly labeled “fiends.”

(click here to continue reading The Federal Marijuana Ban Is Rooted in Myth and Xenophobia – NYTimes.com.)

National Library of Medicine

Miarihuana – Weed With Roots In Hell! – An ad for the 1930s film “Marihuana.” Credit National Library of Medicine

Fascinating stuff, yet disheartening that decades of policy was built on xenophobia and intentional, malicious misinformation. You should click the link and read the rest of this overview.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 30th, 2014 at 9:13 am

Durbin bill to target corporate inversions

Financial Blues Brothers
Financial Blues Brothers

As we mentioned, the anti-moocher bill is finally going to be announced by Senator Durbin, though the odds of it passing through the House are slim, unfortunately…

Sen. Dick Durbin said he and other Democrats today will unveil a bill aimed at curbing corporate tax inversions. No federal contracts would go to businesses that engage in corporate inversions (moving headquarters overseas to lower tax bills), the Illinois Democrat said.

The measure is called the No Federal Contracts for Corporate Deserters Act.

The bill would mean no federal contracts would go to businesses that incorporate overseas, are at least 50 percent owned by U.S. shareholders and do not have substantial business opportunities in the foreign country in which they are incorporating. The law now defines a company as being “inverted” if it is at least 80 percent owned by U.S. shareholders after it reincorporates overseas, according to Durbin.

Drugmaker AbbVie of North Chicago is among the corporations that recently have announced they are “moving their mailbox overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes,” according to a statement from Durbin and the other Democrats. Deerfield-based Walgreen Co. also is considering such a move.

The others legislators involved are Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Lloyd Doggett of Texas, who are to appear today with Durbin at the news conference.

The White House estimates that nearly $20 billion in corporate taxes could be lost over the next 10 years because of the corporate merger deals known as inversions.

 

(click here to continue reading Durbin bill to target corporate inversions – chicagotribune.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 29th, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with ,

Triumph of Crony Capitalism: Export-Import Bank to be Renewed (probably)

  Presidential Towers with a Benjamin

Presidential Benjamins

We’ve mentioned the Ex-Im Bank before, at least once, with my solution being to limit tax-payer subsidized loans to businesses who have annual gross income less than $1,000,000, with the thought that perhaps mega-corporations like Boeing and GE could get loans on their own, without involving the Ex-Im Bank. Unfortunately, Corporate Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer are as happy with the idea of crony capitalism as his counterparts among the Republicans, and it looks like the bank is going to continue business as usual. Money triumphs over common sense, again…

The U.S. Congress probably will reauthorize the Export-Import Bank before its charter expires in two months, adding tools to crack down on misconduct by employees, a Republican House committee chairman said.

“It’s an important agency, but it clearly has corruption problems,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa of California said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

The 80-year-old bank is facing its toughest test as it seeks reauthorization before its financing powers end Sept. 30. Manufacturers such as Boeing Corp. as well as Wall Street banks back the lender, while the Republican-leaning Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth, oppose the bank as “crony capitalism.”

(click here to continue reading Export-Import Bank to Win Renewal, With Changes, Republican Says – Bloomberg.)

Golden Plowshares
Golden Plowshares

David Sirota writes:

In politics, as the old saying goes, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies – there are only permanent interests. Few policy debates prove that truism as well as the one now brewing over the Export-Import Bank — a government agency providing taxpayer subsidized loans to multinational corporations.

This tale starts 15 years ago when my old boss, U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, was trying to construct a left-right coalition to reform the bank. While a few libertarians were willing to voice free-market criticism of the bank, the impetus for reform was primarily among Democrats and the left. Indeed, Sanders’ failed 2002 amendment proposing to restrict the bank’s subsidies garnered only 22 Republican votes but had 111 Democratic backers — mostly progressive legislators who, in the words of Sanders, saw the Ex-Im Bank program as “one of the most egregious forms of corporate welfare.”    

…By 2008, the progressive-themed criticism of the bank had become so central to Democrats’ agenda that Barack Obama used a presidential campaign speech in 2008 to lambast the bank as “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”

Fast forward to the last few years. In 2012, Democrats rammed a bill reauthorizing the bank through the Senate, and Obama held a public ceremony to sign the reauthorization bill into law. At the same time, Republicans provided most of the congressional votes against the bank. And now, in the last few weeks, the GOP’s new House majority leader is threatening to block the next authorization bill and thus completely shut the bank down.

This tale is not just another “I was for it before I was against” anecdote. It is also a bigger parable providing a two-pronged lesson: Partisan politics can abruptly shift; yet money politics almost never changes.

(click here to continue reading Corporate Welfare’s Quiet Enablers: How Democrats Pander to Big Business | Alternet.)

More Spare Change
More Spare Change

A little back-story from a David Dayen report in Salon:

But pre-Internet liberals might want to get out their back issues of the Nation and Mother Jones at this point to jog their memory, for they will see article after article condemning the 80-year-old institution as a slush fund that allows the government to fund a series of nasty activities. Here’s one from 1981 (“The Ex-Im helps sell nuclear reactors to dictatorships like the Philippines”). Here’s another from 1992, about the Reagan administration using Ex-Im to funnel loans to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during their war with Iran. Even more recently, in 2011, Mother Jones reported on how Ex-Im loan guarantees helped build one of the largest coal plants in the world, in South Africa. (Ex-Im subsequently announced it would stop facilitating coal plant production – but only in December of last year.)

Ex-Im wasn’t just a minor annoyance, but a lefty cause célébre. Here’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, back when he served in the House, eviscerating Ex-Im on the floor in 2002, when it came up for reauthorization then. Sanders asked why American taxpayers would provide “huge subsidies and loans to the largest multinational corporations in the world, who pay their CEOs huge salaries … and companies take this money from the taxpayers and say, thank you very much, and oh by the way, we are laying you off because we are going to China and hiring somebody at 20 cents an hour.”

Sanders crafted bipartisan legislation to reform Ex-Im to better protect manufacturing workers, but the bill’s markup got canceled at the last minute. “My suspicion is that the moneyed interests who like the Export-Import Bank as it is right now sent down the word from the top that that markup never take place,” he told his House colleagues.

Back then, liberals highlighted how Enron, the failed energy giant, benefited from $675 million in Ex-Im loans. In 2002, Sanders also pointed out that Ex-Im gave an $18 million loan to a Chinese steel mill, which was later on accused of dumping steel into U.S. markets and hurting U.S. workers. And it was common just a decade or so ago for lefties to call Ex-Im the “Bank of Boeing,” because close to 60 percent of all Ex-Im loans facilitated their aircraft sales. Sanders in particular pointed out that Ex-Im aid for a Boeing sale to the Chinese military ended up displacing workers, as some manufacturing for the aircraft moved from Wichita to China. “The Export-Import Bank is helping General Electric ship jobs to Mexico … helping AT&T ship jobs to China. And on and on it goes,” Sanders concluded.

And Sanders certainly did not believe that financing for multinational trade deals would dry up without Ex-Im. He questioned the head of the bank in 2004, asking, “General Electric, which itself is one of the largest financial institutions in America, cannot get loans anyplace else but from the taxpayers and the workers of America? Are you going to tell me with a straight face that GE is a struggling small business, a minority business in the barrio of New York, and they just cannot find financing?”

(click here to continue reading Wingnuts and liberals’ bizarre role reversal: Why Export-Import Bank politics are so perverse – Salon.com.)

Stay tuned, Congress is about to go on recess until September, I doubt this will be settled until then, at the earliest…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 29th, 2014 at 8:51 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with

Photo Republished at Did Pharmaceutical Firms Exploit Pancreas Problems to Increase Profits? – Truthdig

My photo was used to illustrate this post

Photo by swanksalot (CC BY-SA 2.0) Successful efforts by patient advocacy groups to require new approval standards for a particular class of drugs have resulted, perhaps inadvertently, in a sharp reduction of available products and a spike in the cost of brand name drugs to a tune of $350 million per year, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News contributor Monica J. Smith reports.

click here to keep reading :
Did Pharmaceutical Firms Exploit Pancreas Problems to Increase Profits? – Truthdig

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Written by eggplant

July 28th, 2014 at 6:51 pm