“I’m not a target for snipers because I’m a tourist, not like you journalists,” he told a reporter. “Besides, I’m not afraid if they shoot at me or that they might kill me. I’m a combination of samurai and kamikaze.”
Despite evidence to the contrary, murder is not a commonplace occurrence in Ankh-Morpork, there are, of course, assassinations, but as these are guild sanctioned they are not deemed to be against the law. Ankh-Morpork does, however, have an extraordinarily high suicide rate, due mainly to the city’s view on what constitutes as suicide. For example, walking alone through the night-time alleyways of the Shades is suicide, as is asking for a short in a dwarf bar. It is very easy to commit suicide in Ankh-Morpork if you are not careful.
It has been four long winters since the federal government, in the hulking, shaven-skulled, Alien Nation-esque form of then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, committed $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street from its own chicanery and greed. To listen to the bankers and their allies in Washington tell it, you’d think the bailout was the best thing to hit the American economy since the invention of the assembly line. Not only did it prevent another Great Depression, we’ve been told, but the money has all been paid back, and the government even made a profit. No harm, no foul – right?
It was all a lie – one of the biggest and most elaborate falsehoods ever sold to the American people. We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in – only temporarily, mind you – to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we actually ended up doing was the exact opposite: committing American taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system that exacerbates the greed and inequality that caused the crash, and forces Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to increase risk rather than reduce it. The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.
What if the threat of a voluntary default by the United States could be erased by simply turning one tiny scrap of platinum into a coin?
That’s right. No debt ceiling problem. No bickering in Congress. No market jitters. The only thing needed is for the Treasury Department to mint a platinum coin with a face value of $1 trillion.
A really interesting report was released today by CampaignMoney.org, which follows Mitch McConnell’s use of the filibuster and how money seems to pass to him when he exercises that “minority voice” of his.
The full report (PDF) highlights eight specific instances where McConnell’s fortune increased commensurate with his blocking efforts in the Senate. It’s more blatant than we usually see.
US tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
New debt: $1,650,000,000,000
National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
Recent budget cuts: $38,500,000,000
Let’s now remove eight zeros and pretend it is a household budget:
Annual family income: $21,700
Money the family spent: $38,200
New debt on the credit card: $16,500
Outstanding credit card balance: $142,710
Total household budget cuts so far: $38.50
After unsuccessful attempts to knock President Obama off the ballot and defeat Obama after the election by throwing the Electoral College into chaos, WorldNetDaily now is petitioning Chief Justice John Roberts to refuse to administer the presidential oath of office. WND commentator Craige McMillan said that if Roberts doesn’t withhold the oath, he will face “impeachment and eternal dishonor.” He even compared the current state of the U.S. to Nazi Germany by warning that America will have its own Nuremberg Trials to prosecute those who had been “violating their own oath of office, continu[ing] the sham through a second presidential term”
NASA Kepler released last month 18,406 planet-like detection events from its last three year mission to search for exoplanets (Kepler Q1-Q12 TCE). Further analysis is required by the NASA Kepler Team and the scientific community to extract and identify true planets, including those potentially habitable. The Planetary Habitability Laboratory @ UPR Arecibo (PHL) performed a preliminary analysis and identified 262 candidates for potentially habitable worlds in this dataset. These candidates become top priority for further analysis, additional observations, and confirmation.
While it is not particularly remarkable that there would be members of the Republican caucus who would vote against honoring the obligations of the United States government (they are, after all, threatening to disavow debt that we’ve already promised to pay if we don’t do what they say in making budget cuts), what shocks even an old cynic such as myself are those Members who had the extraordinary nerve to cast a ‘no’ vote despite recently pleading for the very same relief when voters in their own districts were under water or picking up the pieces of their lives following a devastating tornado.
Members like Missouri Republican Sam Graves who—just two years ago—begged President Obama for an emergency declaration freeing up big time federal bucks to aid the people in his home district in their hour of need following a severe natural disaster.
And what do you imagine the money was for?
“This is the problem with entitlements. They’re really only entitlements when they’re something other people want. When it’s something you want, they’re a hallmark of a civilized society, the foundation of a great people.
– Jon Stewart
A great demonstration of the modern GOP mindset: Fuck you I got mine.
Congressional investigators are wrapping up an inquiry into the accounting practices of Apple and other technology companies that allocate revenue and intellectual property offshore to lower the taxes they pay in the United States.
Apple has long been a pioneer in developing innovative tax strategies that lessen its domestic taxes. At the September hearing, Senator Levin said the investigation indicated that Apple had deferred taxes on over $35.4 billion in offshore income between 2009 and 2011.
Tech companies are able to easily shift “intellectual property, and the profit that goes along with it, to tax havens,” said a former Treasury Department economist, Martin A. Sullivan. “Apple went out of its way to try and ensure that its tax savings didn’t attract too much public attention, because tax avoidance of that magnitude — even though it’s legal and permissible — isn’t in keeping with the image of a socially progressive company.”
In its statement, Apple said it paid “an enormous amount of taxes” to local, state and federal governments. “In fiscal 2012 we paid $6 billion in federal corporate income taxes, which is 1 out of every 40 dollars in corporate income taxes collected by the U.S. government,” it said.
So if Apple is a huge tax-avoiding company, and still manages to pay 1 out every 40 dollars, there’s only two options: either Apple is insanely profitable compared to all the others, or all the others are even bigger tax cheaters. It’s time to change the entire system.
Lance Armstrong, who this fall was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping and barred for life from competing in all Olympic sports, has told associates and antidoping officials that he is considering publicly admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career, according to several people with direct knowledge of the situation. He would do this, the people said, because he wants to persuade antidoping officials to restore his eligibility so he can resume his athletic career.