Earth Day. Does anyone (really) care, now?
Too busy, this guy got it about right, about us, including me, I am, so very sorry to say: 200+ years ago!
“Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not; Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn,
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.”
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Best for us in the UK, HMRC, not to know, otherwise, we (the ‘general public’) will not want to pay our taxes, say, like in Italy or Greece. “The revelation of how little tax Google, Starbucks and Amazon have been paying on their global operations has triggered political indignation around the world and thrown fresh light on the aggressive techniques multi-national companies can use to slash their tax bills. More than lost tax is at stake.In this programme, Michael Robinson reports on the additional advantages aggressive tax avoidance can provide to multinationals. With sophisticated systems, shifting their profits to low-tax countries, these multinationals have a competitive edge over nationally-based companies whose tax bills are usually far harder to avoid. The result: more profit for the multinational and squeezed margins for the national competitor. And there’s more. With an effective tax-avoiding infrastructure in place, aggressive multinationals are better placed to compete for new markets or to buy up competitors in higher-tax countries – further extending their global reach. For governments around the world, many already facing slowdown and recession, such tax-avoidance powered competition is a disturbing danger. Because as a tax-avoiding company extends its operations, so a country’s revenues from corporate tax come under threat. While politicians around the world look for ways to cut back corporate tax avoidance, and with Prime Minister David Cameron promising the issue will be on the agenda when the G8 group of world leaders meet in Northern Ireland in June, this programme assesses their chances of reversing this global trend” http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s0df4 The Dutch Tax Conduit (EU) (USA’s Interstate Tax – model for EU/UK tax policy, all States (26) have to agree, including UK for it to work. Prognosis, not all States will agree!
“Global Gullibility ‘For Dawkins, “Religious gullibility is not only an illustration of, but may be a precursor to, a more global form of gullibility. As he said, if you can believe, “Something as daft as the transubstantiation [then] you can believe anything”, and (witness the story of Doubting Thomas) these people are trained to see that as a virtue” (p. 141). In other words, training children to accept nonsensical religious notions may predispose them to accept all kinds of other nonsense with a similar blind trust.’http://www.stephen-greenspan.com/pdf/samplechapter.pdf “Nothing is so fatal to religion as indifference, which is, at least, half infidelity” Edmund Burke (1728-1797).
“A global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion (£13tn) hidden in secret tax
havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18944097 Oil Rich Arabs, and ‘others’ (below), ‘Muslims believed that gold and silver must circulate, and this circulation, called rawaj, was a social and religious duty. Hoarding gold and silver was forbidden by the Qur’an’: “Those who store up gold and silver and do not spend them in the way of God, tell them of a painful chastisement!” The cosmographer al-Qawini, writing only a decade or so after the minting of the first florin, says: “Gold is the noblest of the blessings of Almighty God upon his servants, for it is the foundation of the affairs of this world and brings order to the affairs of mankind…. With silver and gold coins, everything can be bought and sold. They must circulate, unlike other forms of wealth, for it is not desirable for anyone to accumulate silver and gold…. Anyone who stores them up destroys the wisdom created by God, just as if one imprisoned the qadi of a town and prevented him from carrying out his duties toward the people.” Wreck the Western Economies! Bullion sales hit record in rush to safety: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/359da604-f6d4-11dd-8a1f-0000779fd2ac.html And, ‘Peak Oil’! Oh Dear! “While HMRC is accused of sweetheart deals with Vodafone and Goldman Sachs – potentially short-changing the taxpayer by billions – HMRC is turning its attention to…cricket clubs” http://money.aol.co.uk/2013/05/29/hmrc-targets-local-cricket-clubs/
“According to figures from Eurostat, the jobless rate ticked up to 12.2pc in April from 12.1pc in March, with the statistics office estimating that 19.4m people in the eurozone were unemployed in April. The highest increases were registered in Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. Separately on Friday, data showed that Italy’s jobless rate reached a 36-year high in April of 11.9pc. Those figures came as protestors from the so-called “Blockupy” anti-capitalism movement surrounded the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, where they are protesting against ECB debt policy, food price speculation and poor labour practices in the clothing industry. Fears that Europe is facing a ‘lost generation’ were underlined by the youth unemployment rate standing at 24.4pc in the eurozone during April. Almost two-thirds of youngsters are unemployed in Greece while more than half are jobless in Spain” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/10090829/Eurozone-unemployment-rate-hits-record-high.html And, UKIP – Nigel Farage, “A lot of uncomfortable, and no doubt, some very fat (living off the fat of the land) Euro bottoms” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN_1mF-3JTI
“For £621 billion you could provide education, clean water and basic healthcare for millions of people around the world. That’s why the analysis we just released (which appeared in today’s Financial Times) is so shocking: never-before-seen data exposing plans by world leaders to spend $1 trillion (£621 billion) on nuclear weapons over the next 10 years”
‘World Leaders Dilemma’ – “The CIA-directed drone strikes are increasingly unpopular. In response, US President Barack Obama has brought targeted killings out of the shadows – but just a bit. On US soil, no American can be killed without due process, whether with “a drone, or a shotgun”, Mr Obama said on Thursday. For Americans living abroad “to wage war against America”, however, the situation is different. In his national security speech in Washington DC, Mr Obama said that an American overseas who was “actively plotting to kill US citizens”, as well as anyone else who posed a threat to US citizens, could be eliminated with a drone.
The drone strikes are part of a legitimate campaign against terrorists – the killings are “legal” and “just”, he said” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22646446 And, ‘A Threat, Really, Who says’? “The second-in-command of the Pakistani Taliban has been killed in a suspected US drone strike, a senior Taliban source told the BBC. The Pakistani Taliban (the threat?) leadership has not officially confirmed the death of Waliur Rehman so far. Earlier, Pakistani security officials said a local Taliban commander was among casualties in the raid. Missiles hit a house close to the town of Miranshah, in north-west Pakistan, early on Wednesday. The strike is the first for almost six weeks. It comes a week after President Barack Obama issued new guidelines for tighter scrutiny of the US drone programme and stricter targeting rules” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22698363
99% of species that have ever lived have become extinct, likely are humans; not that it bothers me, particularly, on a very personal level. It’s not science fiction, religious doctrine or a late-night conversation in the pub. There is no plausible moral case not to take it seriously. “Dr Bostrom says there is a real gap between the speed of technological advance and our understanding of its implications. We’re at the level of infants in moral responsibility, but with the technological capability of adults,” he says. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22002530
Big Debate – 7.5 million years ago, early human ‘savannah or aquatica’ evolution from forests: which one, or a bit of both? “Humans were living and thriving on open grassland in Africa as early as 2 million years ago, making stone tools and using them to butcher zebra and other animals. That’s according to powerful evidence from artefacts found at Kanjera South, an archaeological site in south-west Kenya. “There is no clear evidence of any hominin being associated with or foraging in open grassland prior to this 2-million-year-old site,” says Thomas Plummer of Queens College at the City University of New York. All of the other earlier hominins that have been found in the geological record – such as Ardipithecus ramidus and Australopithecus afarensis – known as Ardi and Lucy, respectively – lived either in dense forest or in a mosaic of woodland, shrub and grasses, says Plummer. The Kanjera South site now offers a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors as they were starting to adapt to life on the plains. “The site occurs in a grassland setting, dominated by grass-eating animals, and is thus the first clear evidence that grasslands were indeed part of the diversity of environments inhabited by early human tool-makers,” says team member Richard Potts of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC” http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18018-earliest-evidence-of-humans-thriving-on-the-savannah.html And, “Abrupt climate change in Africa helped trigger technological and cultural advances in early modern humans, according to new research. Archaeologists had long noted that the complexity displayed by human groups moved in fits and starts. But there has been a debate about the causes of this stop-start pattern. Analysis of marine sediments suggest a close link between changes in human behaviour and changes in the southern African climate. The research by a British, Swiss and Spanish team is published in the journal Nature Communications” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22630912
“Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have broken through a symbolic mark. Daily measurements of CO2 at a US government agency lab on Hawaii have topped 400 parts per million for the first time. The station, which sits on the Mauna Loa volcano, feeds its numbers into a continuous record of the concentration of the gas stretching back to 1958. The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago – before modern humans existed. Scientists say the climate back then was also considerably warmer than it is today” Ref, Climate Tipping Point (delayed Ice Age) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22486153 Ref, http://cid-a18bf3fcc5e126a2.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Daddys%20Space%20The%20Gutter%20Or%20The%20Stars%20-%20Journal%20^0%20Book/The%20Prehistoric%20Mind.%20How%20did%20Prehistoric%20Man%20Think.%20The%20Primitive%20Mind^2docx
The World’s People – poor – Same in: Europe, UK – USA, Russia, so on.., “Tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has said. Firms that shift profits to lower tax jurisdictions cost Africa $38bn (£25bn) a year, says a report produced by a panel he heads. “Africa loses twice as much money through these loopholes as it gets from donors,” Mr Annan told the BBC. It was like taking food off the tables of the poor, he said. The Africa Progress Report is released every May – produced by a panel of 10 prominent figures, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Graca Machel, the wife of South African ex-President Nelson Mandela” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-22478994 Too Late, “Finance ministers from the G7 group of industrialised nations are meeting, with global banking reforms and tax evasion on the agenda” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22476233
So near: ‘freedom from tyranny’: We need you to email your MP right now to support legal recognition for humanist marriages in England and Wales. On Monday and Tuesday next week, MPs will be debating the Marriage Bill currently before Parliament. Its main purpose is to extend marriage to same-sex couples but also being debated will be an amendment to give legal recognition to humanist marriages in England and Wales.
Humanist marriages have had legal recognition in Scotland since 2005 and this has led to a great increase in public knowledge of Humanism and non-religious approaches to life in Scotland in that time, as well as giving non-religious couples the option of a wedding ceremony that allows them full expression of their own personal beliefs and values, conducted by a celebrant who they know shares them. Last year, almost 3000 couples had a humanist marriage in Scotland – overtaking the number of Roman Catholic marriages and on course to overtake the Church of Scotland by 2014. Every year, the number of weddings conducted by our celebrants in England and Wales exceeds the number of many sorts of marriage that are legal (e.g. Quaker, Unitarian, or Jewish marriages) and we believe that legal recognition for humanist weddings is fair, rational and timely.
We urgently need your help today. Although the government has said it is not against humanist marriages in principle, it is resisting the change. However, the vote will be a free one, which means MPs will make up their own minds on whether to support legal recognition for humanist marriages or not. We need MPs from all parties to support this move, and we need you to contact your MP today. http://campaign.publicaffairsbriefing.co.uk/emailsupport.aspx?cid=1831cf95-e7fb-47b0-9c9d-f324077aa7f3
God in England is doing quite well: “The Church of England has criticised the conduct of Barclays in its annual report, after a year dogged by scandal and resignations at the bank. The church, which holds a small stake in Barclays, said the bank had “repeatedly let down society with its conduct” during 2012. It said it was now looking for a “fundamental turnaround in culture” at Barclays, which declined to comment. The Church of England has more than £5bn invested in the stock market” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22540885 Poor People “The gap between rich and poor widened more in the three years to 2010 than in the previous 12 years, the OECD group of industrialised nations has said. It says the richest 10% of society in the 33 OECD countries received 9.5 times that of the poorest in terms of income, up from nine times in 2007. Those with the biggest gaps included the US, Turkey, Mexico and Chile” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22545210 You have to wear a funny hat for £5 billion pounds!
|“I accept Your Majesty as the sole source of ecclesiastical, spiritual and temporal power.” The oath of loyalty sworn by Church of England bishops1 The privileged church. 2 The case for disestablishment. 3 Who’s for and who’s against. 4 An alternative way: the American way. 5 The road to privilege – a short history of the Church of England.|
Value of investment portfolio £5.2bn (2011)