MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd is making the rounds in DC, trying to gin up support for the Stop Online Piracy Act, which establishes a national censorship regime in which whole websites can be blocked in the US if the MPAA objects to them. The former senator turned shill has run out of plausible arguments in favor of the bill, so he’s resorted to really, really stupid lies.
Case in point: Dodd recently told the Center for American Progress that “The entire film industry of Spain, Egypt and Sweden are gone.”
Of course, this is a flat-out, easily checked, ridiculous lie.
America’s tax code allows losses amassed during the meltdown … to be used to offset future tax bills. Since a bank is increasing its future cashflows by reducing expected tax payments, this is recorded as an asset on the balance-sheet.
JPMorgan Chase held DTAs of $16 billion at the end of last year, while Bank of America had $27 billion-worth. The undisputed deferred-tax king, however, is Citigroup with slightly more than $50 billion-worth, the largest discretionary accounting item in the company’s history (my italics).
To some, this looks highly optimistic. Mike Mayo, an analyst with CLSA, a broker, has relentlessly questioned Citi’s ability to produce enough taxable income to justify the asset and has suggested that it could be overvalued by $10 billion…
Conclusion: U.S. banks may be seriously inconvenienced by lower corporate taxes.
Here’s the under-appreciated reality of all this: HP, RIM and Amazon have all moved millions of touch tablets into the market at below cost. This has caused two problems for the market. First, it’s created a domino effect. HP’s fire sale on the TouchPad cut demand for the BlackBerry PlayBook, reducing unit sales. That contributed to RIM’s need for a fire sale of its own. (Plus, Amazon has probably long intended to sell below cost.)
All this crazy, unexpected discounting has both artificially taken market share away from the various Android tablets, and re-set consumer expectations about how much a touch tablet is supposed to cost.
Now, the only way to sell a non-iPad tablet in any significant quantity is to sell it below cost.
Android tablet makers are faced with the choice between making a little money on each tablet but selling few, or losing money on each tablet and selling many.
It’s a horrible state of affairs for the tablet industry, unless you’re Apple or Amazon. And it’s almost entirely the fault of the iPad.
The iPad’s reception convinced the industry that they could succeed, too. The success of the iPad made HP and RIM vastly over-estimate demand. And the success of the iPad made it impossible to compete against the iPad in the market, forcing companies to ultimately dump inventory at below cost and, in doing so, nearly destroy the Android tablet market.
That’s why the consumer tablet industry hates the iPad. But they’re not the only ones.
As he discussed his plans on Saturday to remake Washington, Rick Perry pledged that he would put forward a budget that cut $5 trillion from the one President Obama has offered, in part by eliminating or downsizing congressional agencies.
That’s a bit of a tall order. Obama’s proposed FY2012 budget is $3.7 trillion.
The harm that does to ordinary, non-infringing users is best described via a hypothetical user: Abe. Abe has never even so much as breathed on a company’s copyright but he does many of the things typical of Internet users today. He stores the photos of his children, now three and six years old, online at PickUpShelf* so that he doesn’t have to worry about maintaining backups. He is a teacher and keeps copies of his classes accessible for his students via another service called SunStream that makes streaming audio and video easy. He engages frequently in conversation in several online communities and has developed a hard-won reputation and following on a discussion host called SpeakFree. And, of course, he has a blog called “Abe’s Truths” that is hosted on a site called NewLeaflet. He has never infringed on any copyright and each of the entities charged with enforcing SOPA know that he hasn’t.
And yet, none of that matters. Under SOPA, every single one of the services that Abe uses can be obliterated from his view without him having any remedy. Abe may wake up one morning and not be able to access any of his photos of his children. Neither he, nor his students, would be able to access any of his lectures. His trove of smart online discussions would likewise evaporate and he wouldn’t even be able to complain about it on his blog. And, in every case, he has absolutely no power to try to regain access. That may sound far-fetched but under SOPA, all that needs to happen for this scenario to come true is for the Attorney General to decide that some part of PickUpShelf, SunStream, SpeakFree and NewLeaflet would be copyright infringement in the US. If a court agrees, and with no guarantee of an adversarial proceeding that seems very likely, the entire site is “disappeared” from the US internet. When that happens Abe has NO remedy. None. No way of getting the photos of his kids other than leaving the United States for a country that doesn’t have overly broad censorship laws.
“There is a controversy brewing in Leesburg, VA over just what constitutes a ‘holiday display.’ The traditional creches have already been joined this year by a skeleton Santa nailed to a cross and displays put up by atheists. Members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are scheduled to put up their contribution this weekend.”
Stanley Caulkins, who moved to Leesburg in 1937, remembers the first time the Nativity was put up at the corner of the courthouse lawn.
Caulkins, who has owned Caulkins Jewelers in downtown Leesburg for over half a century, sees it as a valued symbol, something that should not be messed with. He went before the county board two years ago to argue that it should stay. Last week, he said that he still does not understand why the issue engenders such controversy.
“The creche is not religious,” Caulkins insisted, his voice trembling.
A depiction of the adoration of baby Jesus, attended by the three kings, is not religious?
“It is a belief symbol. You have to believe in something,” Caulkins said.
Apparently, you have to believe in whatever Mr. Caulkins believes in.