How Donald Trump Could Build an Autocracy in the U.S. – The Atlantic

Frankly frightening.

Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from within fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state: not by diktat and violence, but by the slow, demoralizing process of corruption and deceit. And the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them. We are living through the most dangerous ch

Source: How Donald Trump Could Build an Autocracy in the U.S. – The Atlantic

Big Wall Street Firms Make Lame Excuse for Volcker Rule Non-Compliance, Ask for Additional Five Year Extension | naked capitalism

Anyone who knows bupkis about finance knows if you can’t sell a financial asset in three years (or more accurately, seven), particularly with public and private market valuations at record levels, the problem is not liquidity. It’s valuation. These banks are carrying these holdings on their books at inflated marks and don’t want to recognize losses……..

“It’s laughable that the biggest, most sophisticated financial firms in the world claim they can’t sell the stakes year after year,” said Dennis Kelleher, CEO of non-profit Better Markets. “Everyone else in America has to comply with the law and Wall Street should also.”

Source: Big Wall Street Firms Make Lame Excuse for Volcker Rule Non-Compliance, Ask for Additional Five Year Extension | naked capitalism

Study: Top Bank Execs Saw the Crisis Coming and Sold Their Company’s Shares | naked capitalism

Would be shocking if we didn’t already know that it was true.

So much for the “whcouddanode” theory of the crisis.

Source: Study: Top Bank Execs Saw the Crisis Coming and Sold Their Company’s Shares | naked capitalism

A Small City with a Big Vision: Chattanooga’s New Form-Based Code – Form-Based Codes Institute : Form-Based Codes Institute

Chattanooga’s form-based code is part of an innovative vision for the city’s economic, environmental and cultural future. Following a recent visit to Chattanooga, Bruce Katz wrote in a Brookings Institute blog, “Something special is happening in Chattanooga.” As Katz points out, too often venture capitalists “pay too little attention to small and mid-sized cities with …

 

Chat. 2

 

Source: A Small City with a Big Vision: Chattanooga’s New Form-Based Code – Form-Based Codes Institute : Form-Based Codes Institute

Canada willingly makes tax deals with tax havens | Toronto Star

Billions of dollars are moving out of Canada – nearly all tax free – with 92 tax treaties signed.

“I think those of us who warned, 35 years ago, that one of the consequences of this would be, ‘those who have the most would end up paying the least and those with the least would end up paying the most’ — we’ve been proven right. ”

Source: Canada willingly makes tax deals with tax havens | Toronto Star

The Massachusetts Supreme Court Will Decide on a Religion-Related Tax Exemption for the Attleboro Catholic Shrine – The Atlantic

The Massachusetts Supreme Court will decide whether a local shrine should be tax-exempt—a decision that could have broad implications for faith organizations in America.

Source: The Massachusetts Supreme Court Will Decide on a Religion-Related Tax Exemption for the Attleboro Catholic Shrine – The Atlantic

Top 50 US Companies Stash a Trillion Dollars Offshore While Benefitting from Trillions in Government Support | Oxfam America

The 50 biggest US companies, including global brands such Pfizer, Goldman Sachs, Dow Chemical, Chevron, Walmart, IBM, and Procter & Gamble, have stashed more than a trillion dollars offshore and used more than 1,600 subsidiaries in tax havens to avoid billions of dollars in tax each year, according to Oxfam America. In a new report released today ahead of Tax Day, Oxfam outlines how corporate tax dodging costs the US an estimated $100 billion each year, a gap that the average American taxpayer would have to shell out an extra $760 to cover…..

…..The report reveals that the same companies are among the largest beneficiaries of US taxpayer funded support, receiving a staggering $11 trillion in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailout assistance from 2008-2014 even as they avoided hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes over the same period.

Oxfam calculated that during this period, these 50 companies collectively received approximately $27 in loan support for every $1 they paid in federal taxes.“…..

The companies, which made nearly $4 trillion in profits globally between 2008 and 2014, paid an average effective tax rate of just 26.5% – well below the statutory tax rate of 35% in the US and well below the tax rate of an average US worker of 31.5%…..

“For every $1 spent on lobbying, the largest 50 companies received $130 in tax breaks and more than $4,000 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts,”…..

Source: Top 50 US Companies Stash a Trillion Dollars Offshore While Benefitting from Trillions in Government Support | Oxfam America

Panama papers: “an old tradition of English piracy” | openDemocracy

Looking at the documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca and one thing is clear: Britain’s network is once again at the core. More than half of the companies listed in the documents are registered in the UK or its Overseas Territories, and Hong Kong plays a huge role.

Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising. Britain has for for a while now been thought to be the global capital for money laundering. And it’s no shock that nothing has been done about it. In 2010, two years after they crashed the global economy, the City paid for more than half of the Conservative party’s election campaign, helping (along with the aforementioned Lord Ashcroft) them limp them over the line, with a Lib Dem shaped crotch. Though, of course, Labour did little to regulate in the previous 13 years.

If we want to understand modern Britain, first we need to realise that our primary economic function in the world is probably our network of tax havens. After all, around $21tn is estimated to sit in offshore accounts, of which Britain’s territories are said to make up by far the biggest part. Our own GDP is only around $3tn.

Second, we need to get to grips with the serious claims about our role as the global money laundering capital: a function which pushes up the price of the pound, making other exports unaffordable (bye bye steel), and drives up the cost of houses in London and the South East, fuelling a vast speculative bubble which sucks investment out of the rest of the economy.

And third, we need to think about how this gradually dawning economic reality interacts with our politics: not through the obvious corruption of direct bribery, but through revolving doors between government and civil service, through old boy’s networks and friendship groups, through perfectly legal election donations and media domination.

Source: Panama papers: “an old tradition of English piracy” | openDemocracy

The World’s Favorite New Tax Haven Is the United States – Bloomberg

The U.S. “is effectively the biggest tax haven in the world” —Andrew Penney, Rothschild & Co.

Source: The World’s Favorite New Tax Haven Is the United States – Bloomberg

Massive leak reveals offshore accounts of world leaders | Center for Public Integrity

PANAMA PAPERS

An investigation published today by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners reveals the hidden workings of a secretive industry that banks and lawyers use to hide the financial holdings and dealings of powerful clients, including prime ministers, parliamentarians, plutocrats and criminals, according to a trove of leaked documents.

The files, known as the Panama Papers, exposes the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders and reveals how associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion through banks and shadow companies, according to the joint investigative project conducted by ICIJ, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations around the globe. ICIJ is the international arm of the Center for Public Integrity.

The files — which total more than 11.5 million documents — contain new details about major scandals ranging from England’s most infamous gold heist in 1983, an unfolding political money laundering affair in Brazil and bribery allegations currently convulsing FIFA, the body that rules international soccer and is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Source: Massive leak reveals offshore accounts of world leaders | Center for Public Integrity

The Pragmatic Case for Bernie Sanders – The Atlantic

Political and social change emanate from persistent pressure for a just world, not settling for what is “realistic” before even getting to the negotiating table.

Source: The Pragmatic Case for Bernie Sanders – The Atlantic

Punish the Bankers! | Foreign Policy

Timely article given recent article in NY Times (An S.E.C. Settlement With Citigroup That Fails to Name Names) wherein Citi agrees to pay a $180 million settlement plus $726 million in investor compensation and yet the SEC not only doesn’t hold any individual responsible – it doesn’t even name them. Talk about moral hazard.

The sentencing of the trader Tom Hayes for his part in the Libor scandal caused many a sharp intake of breath on London’s Canary Wharf.…

Source: Punish the Bankers! | Foreign Policy

Welcome | European Union Open Data Portal

The EU Open Data Portal provides, via a metadata catalogue, a single point of access to data of the EU institutions, agencies and bodies for anyone to reuse.

Source: Welcome | European Union Open Data Portal

Corporate Kleptocracy: 6,300 Examples Of America’s Malignant Malfeasance | Zero Hedge

The settlements with the banks along with the ongoing investigations have shown that virtually every market is being manipulated; the stocks, metals markets, LIBOR, FOREX, everything. The companies would only break so many laws if they felt they would have a reasonable chance of getting away with it; they would also need a reason to do it, which is provided by the infinite growth model our economy is based on.

Source: Corporate Kleptocracy: 6,300 Examples Of America’s Malignant Malfeasance | Zero Hedge

The Five Worst Supreme Court Justices In American History, Ranked | ThinkProgress

“the justices of the Supreme Court have shaped a nation where children toiled in coal mines, where Americans could be forced into camps because of their race, and where a woman could be sterilized against her will by state law. The Court was the midwife of Jim Crow, the right hand of union busters, and the dead hand of the Confederacy. Nor is the modern Court a vast improvement, with its incursions on voting rights and its willingness to place elections for sale.”

Even amidst this dark history, certain justices stand out as particularly mean-spirited, ideological or unconcerned about their duty to follow the text of the Constitution. Based on my review of over 150 years of Supreme Court history in Injustices, here are the five jurists who stand out as the worst justices in American history:

The Five Worst Supreme Court Justices In American History, Ranked | ThinkProgress.

Scalia: Innocence is for Sissies

Who cares if you’re innocent. It’s the process that counts, not Justice.

This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.

Scalia’s utter moral failure: How he destroys any claim to a superior system of justice – Salon.com