Sunday, December 21, 2014

Russian Cat Arrests: Pedigree Pussies Snatched in Lieu of Unpaid Taxes

by Nomad

A recent news story about Russian tax officials and cats as tax dodges exposes a badly-kept secret about the Russian economy. Corruption and widespread tax evasion has made real development next to impossible. The question is now whether Putin is really prepared to risk tackling the problem or not?

Here's a story from the St. Petersburg Times that caught my eye.

Herding Cats for Mother Russia
When Russian tax collectors demanded that a Novosibirsk resident pay back taxes of about 12,000 rubles  or (as of this minute) about $198, he explained the he had no money and no assets for them to take. So, The state tax officials threatened to seize the man's pedigree cat and its three kittens.

Russians have had to find creative ways to hide their already dwindling cash reserves. Apparently one way, tax inspectors claim, is to invest in expensive breeds of cats. According to the Interfax News agency,
When collection officials arrived at the young man's apartment, they initially found nothing to seize for his tax appears because the man was living with his parents, attended college and had no regular income, the Novosibirsk region's court marshals service was cited as saying in a statement by Interfax.

"Then a bailiff noticed a beautiful cat that the debtor was holding in his arms, and three small kittens of a British breed that were running around the house," the statement was quoted as saying. "Because the animals are pedigree and expensive, the representative of the law decided to place the cat brood under arrest."
The threat was enough to shake the loose change from the pet owner's pockets. As the bailiff was filling out the seizure order, the man unexpectedly found the money to pay his debt.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why the Cuban Thaw Puts GOP in Danger of Losing Corporate Sponsors

by Nomad

Rejecting Obama's new policy for Cuba could be the biggest political blunder the Republican Party could make.
In 2016 American corporations will not forget  or forgive who  put the brakes on the significant business opportunities in Havana.

It's obvious that Republicans hate everything President Obama does. It's hard for them to deny it. And why should they? Being against President Obama has always been a vote catcher. Fox News misrepresents the issue, the Internet sites stir up the hate, the Republicans get the support from the un-informed voters and their corporate sponsors dish out the cash to ensure the Republican Congress will happily vote accordingly. It's a beautiful little machine.

Let the Rants Begin!
So it was no great surprise that when the president announced a restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba, Republican politicians began to rant and foam at the mouth. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Approved Speech: Tennessee Town Bans Negative Remarks and Criticism on Social Media

by Nomad

Yesterday we reported how one Russian governor decided that the best way of handling the national economic crisis was by banned the use of the word "crisis." 
Such a backward idea, right?

Well, Americans shouldn't laugh too hard at those crazy Ruskies. Bloomberg recently reported that a similar effort in Tennessee to silence discussion that local government approves of. 

No Expectation of Privacy Whatsoever
Earlier this month, the town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, near Chattanooga, passed a resolution that prohibits anybody professionally connected to South Pittsburg, from “publicly discuss[ing] information about other employees and/or volunteers not approved for public communication” on social media. This includes employees, volunteers, and contractors. 

The resolution also wags a finger against posting anything on a personal Facebook page or on Twitter that anybody might consider either defamatory or libelous. The policy states that citizens "should have no expectation of privacy whatsoever."

The Chatanooga Times Free Press supports the Bloomberg piece:
It applies to all city elected representatives, appointed board members, employees, volunteers, vendors, contractors and anyone associated with the town in an official capacity who uses social networks. The policy says those persons can't post anything negative about the city, its employees or other associates.
The officials said that the tough policy was necessary because over the past year, their work has been "hampered by criticism and lies on social media."
Mayor Jane Dawkins defended the action, saying that this was "not a new concept." 
Nobody is arguing that. The question is whether it is legal or wise.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Russian Governor Decides Banning a Word is One Way to Deal with Economy in Free Fall

by Nomad

When you happen to live in a country where the media is under the near-absolute control of the government, how would you know with utter certainty that your motherland is in the middle of a major crisis? 
It's all very simple, comrade.

An Inconvenient Moment 
An article in Russia Today provides us with the answer to the question above. While the world's news media are using words like "free-fall" and "meltdown" to describe the present state of the Russian economy, some officials inside the country have found a novel way to control the discussion:
Authorities in the Central Russia’s Kaluga Region have banned the use of the word ‘crisis’ in public and the measure is already helping to attract investors, according to the local governor.
The governor of Kaluga Oblast, Anatoly Artamonov, told the Russian News Service  
“It is possible that the crisis exists, but we forbid the use of this word.”
Artamonov preferred to use the term  "an inconvenient moment" to describe the historic crash of the Russian currency, which, despite all efforts by the Central Bank, has plunged more than 20% in just one day.

Why Immunity for Bush and Cheney May Not Be the Final Word

by Nomad

Claims of immunity might have so far protected former Bush officials (including the ex-president and former vice president Dick Cheney) but as this post explains, treaty obligations demand that action be taken. 

In light of the revelations of CIA torture, some people have rightfully begun asking why the people involved- who have admitted that they authorized the interrogation techniques- should not be held accountable. Isn't it clear that the things done were illegal? 
How is it possible that a US government official, like Dick Cheney, can escape accountability even though he/she had all but admitted human rights crimes, as defined by international standards
The exact legal means for escaping accountability wasn't recently devised especially for the Bush administration. It was, in fact,  established back in 1988.