Standards Decline At Failing Universities

Sadly struggling US institutions are not getting the help they need and continue to speed their own decline with poor decisions and failure to recruit capable staff. Worse is that many graduates of these failed institutions go on to a life of crime at a huge social cost to the nation. Surely the time is coming when people must take the matter in hand and close down these intellectually bereft disasters. As their existence is prolonged it appears they are becoming hotbeds of dangerous ideologies that call for violence to reshape the world to their narrow fundamentalist vision, exporting this dangerous cancer overseas further destabilising countries already racked by vicious dictatorships.

Still at least I think he’s given up on the EU job. (ht2 Chicken Yoghurt)

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Rich Thieving Scum Whine

London is losing its status as the world’s leading financial centre and being overtaken by New York, according to a global survey of finance professionals.The collapse of Northern Rock and the proposed tax crackdown on non-domiciled residents are making the UK less attractive to overseas businesses, according to the City of London Corporation, which commissioned the survey.

A separate survey, also commissioned by the City, said the UK tax system had lost its competitive edge over other financial centres. The UK had become increasingly unpredictable and uncertain, complex and unnecessarily aggressive in its approach to taxpayers, it found.

So basically a shot across the bows by kleptocrats unlimited. Also via Mask of Anarchy (and see Exxon using UK courts to attack Venezuela) we see Tesco is weighing up suing the Guardian over blowing its Enron scams-

“Tesco is, apparently, considering suing The Guardian newspaper over a story alleging widespread offshore tax avoidance by the Grocer That Ate Middle England. This could give rise to a little friction between the rest of the Tesco board and one of its non-executives. In her day job, Carolyn McCall is chief executive of Guardian Media Group.”

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Tesco Pulls An Enron

Your friendly (every) neighbourhood Tesco supermarket hates you, when you need the police, or a hospital, or safe roads, or schools they most assuredly wish to deny them by not paying their way. Good job they come across so friendly in their teevee adverts, because really they just want your money and then for you to fuck off and die (and their custard slices taste like shit).

Tesco has created an elaborate corporate structure involving offshore tax havens which enables it to avoid paying what could be up to £1bn of tax on profits from the sale of its UK properties.

The complex new structures uncovered by a six-month Guardian investigation include a string of Cayman Island companies, each named after a different colour, from aqua to violet. These are being used by the supermarket giant as it proceeds with its announced programme to sell and lease back £6bn worth of its UK stores.

The Guardian’s analysis of Tesco’s accounts over the past five years also shows that the company has paid an effective tax rate of just over 20% on the rest of its profits, at a time when the UK corporation tax rate is 30%.

· New company structures set up by Tesco to own stores that are being sold and leased back mean that 99.9% of the company that owns the stores could end up being held offshore. Tesco would be liable to pay UK tax on only the 0.1% of its profit on the sale of the stores held in the UK. Tesco’s first two property deals, worth about £1bn, have used this structure and will avoid tax on £500m of profits.

· Although its accounts for the past five years report an average rate of corporation tax of 29%, the actual rate of tax Tesco paid, according to its cash flow statement, is closer to 20%. This is on profits separate from the property deals. UK corporation tax is 30%.

· Tesco has sold its 37 stores in the first two sale and leaseback deals at twice the book value that is included in its accounts, making a profit of about £500m on the £1bn of stores sold. If it achieves the same rate of return on all its disposals as expected, its share of profits from property sales would come to about £3bn. The UK corporation tax due on this would be as high as £1bn, but the retailer could avoid paying this because of its offshore structure.

· A string of other company structures leading to the Cayman Islands have been set up and more of Tesco’s properties have already been transferred to them so that they could be quickly activated for the next tranche of store sales.

So weirdly if you went shoplifting in one of their stores and absolutely crammed your coat with stuff you’d still be nothing like the thief that the shop around you is. Not that I’m suggesting you go shoplifting in Tescos, after all why mix with such lowlife corporate crooks?

See also Korova’s posts at Mask of Anarchy on Tesco.

NeoCon AEI Advance Iranian Influence Meme

A new report (“Iranian Influence in the Levant, Iraq, and Afghanistan”) published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think-tank purports to show the reach and scope of Iranian influence across the Middle East…Co-written by AEI fellows Fred Kagan and Danielle Pletka, and Kagan’s wife, Kimberly, who heads the Institute for the Study of War…… it warns: “Much as America might desire to avoid war with Iran, continued Iranian interventions… might ultimately make that option less repulsive than the alternatives.” The report relies entirely on open-source material, international and domestic media, non-governmental and government reports, as well as interviews conducted by Fred and Kimberly Kagan, who respectively visited Afghanistan and Iraq.

While President Bush may share AEI’s view on Iranian malfeasance, his influence is waning. In a National Public Radio interview this month, Defence Secretary Bob Gates appeared to contradict his boss’s view that Iran posed a “threat”, instead saying that Tehran posed “significant challenges”.

“When I think of a threat I think of a direct military threat, and while the jury’s out in terms of whether they have eased up on their support to those opposing us in Iraq, I don’t see the Iranians in the near term as a direct military threat,” he said.

It seems the scholars at AEI have caught on, as they have attempted to shift the focus of the debate from Iranian motivations and intentions towards an “empirical study” of Iran’s influence. In the final analysis, it reflects a tactical shift away from openly beating the war drums as do scholars like Ledeen, whose most recent book is entitled, “The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots’ Quest for Destruction”, and towards an attempt to highlight the extent of Iranian influence in the region. The conclusion to be drawn is that, even without the nuclear issue at the forefront, Iran continues to exert a negative impact on U.S. interests.

But perhaps the authors should do some fact-checking of their own. On page three, the incorrectly identify the former President of Syria as “Hafez al-Hassad,” who died in 2006. Assad died in 2000.

Well they never were the brightest, or the most honest, or…ok they are just scumbags. Obviously angling for that sweet spot of the bipartisan imperial ego that cannot bear any power other than its own to dominate and the arrogant presumption that America has any business (interests)thousands of miles from ‘der Homeland’. Give them enough time and they will cook up a report saying Iran causes restless leg syndrome & wrinkles. Keeps them wealthy and after all isn’t that the most important function of war and ‘think’ tanks for the neocon organism?

Dirty Thieving Capitalist Scum

Why am I even surprised, oh wait I’m not, I’m just disgusted-

Britain’s high street banks have raised billions of pounds in funds through complex financial deals that use supposedly charitable trusts which are not donating a penny to good causes, the Guardian has learned.

Last week it emerged that Northern Rock had raised £71bn through a Jersey-registered trust called Granite, which issued a prospectus that told potential investors: “Any profits … will be paid for the benefit of the Down’s Syndrome North East Association (UK) and for other charitable purposes.”

Down’s Syndrome North East, a small charity run by volunteers from a semi-detached house on the outskirts of Newcastle, was told nothing about this and did not receive any money. During the period that Northern Rock was using its name to raise billions of pounds, volunteers were raising a few hundred pounds through sponsored slimming and cycling tours, and primary school children donating similarly small sums.

There was confusion at the NSPCC when the Guardian told the charity that for the last five years it had been the named beneficiary of a £47.9bn trust, with officials saying they could find no record of ever being informed of this by the Halifax.

Abbey said it had donated £30,000 from earlier wound-up trusts. Abbey currently raises funds on the back of home loans worth £40bn. 

Oh Abbey you generous bastards, bet they ate a lot of cake with that. And here we are bailing out Northern Rock, note bailing out, not actually getting ownership for all the money. Frankly if we are dumb enough to buy The Church of the Free Market scam we really shouldn’t whine at the disaster they are walking us into. Still at least ties make a handy ad hoc noose.

This Is A Lie- The Fix Is In: Iraq Puppets Ask For Domination

Hypocracy spreads, as previously posted first they deny the parliament the right to vote because they would vote out the US/Coalition (ha!)-

when the only people who all those purple-fingered Iraqi voters actually elected to office try to attach some conditions to the U.N. mandate, demand a timetable for withdrawal or come out against privatizing Iraq’s natural resources, then somehow the legislature magically disappears

Read full post here.

Now today this utter capitulation to imperial exploitation-

Iraq’s government is preparing to grant the US a long-term troop presence in the country and preferential treatment for American investors in return for guaranteed security, it emerged today.

By disappearing previous legislation attempts the US/UK have forced the only negotiations over the UN mandate into a corner where the Iraq govt. shills must hand over their country to a genocidal shock doctrine takeover by US & other multinationals.

Preferential treatment for US investors could provide a huge windfall if Iraq can achieve enough stability to exploit its vast oil resources.

Christopher Pang, the head of the Middle East programme at the Royal United Services Institute, said the proposals were continuing the “pattern since 2003”. “That US troops will stay in Iraq is a fait accompli. They have just built their largest embassy there,” he said.

But promises of long-term troop deployments were “jumping the gun”, Pang said, because a president coming to power after US elections next year could change policy.

Would a Democrat president end this murderous occupation and thus endanger all that oil they need for the huge dirty and inefficient US energy economy? I wouldn’t hold you breath. In return for fewer above the law death squads the Iraqis get some internal control back but tens of thousands of US troops and permanent bases remain and the assets are given preferentially to US investors. Utterly repulsive, immoral, an illegal invasion rubber stamped into a long term resource grab by the Empire. Shame on anyone, anyone who goes along with this in America.

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Corruption Pays

Oh no! Can you believe it, a public asset is sold off for peanuts to the private sector and the govt. shills who ran the deal become multi-millionaires and national defence becomes the property of corporations and…the Carlyle Group was involved. Who’d a thunk it?

The part-sale of QinetiQ was ordered by the Treasury in the late 1990s and led to government assets being snapped up by a US private equity company at an eighth of their value.

“The report will be highly critical of the whole process, in particular the over-incentives given to senior civil servants to privatise part of QinetiQ,”

“…both US research workers and British research workers funded from the public purse would resent the fruits of their work going to enrich individuals in a private company.”

Sir John Chisholm, chairman of QinetiQ – and also chairman of the Medical Research Council – and Graham Love, the chief executive, turned investments of £129,000 and £108,000 into assets worth £22m and £18m respectively when the firm was floated in 2006.

At the same time Carlyle, the private equity group, which bought a stake in QinetiQ for £42m in 2003, was able to sell at a £300m profit three years later.

What you have to ask yourself is, the politician’s (Brown!) who did this, whose interests do their actions serve? The public who were robbed, or the corporations who were enriched, ok not a hard question. So what do we do when our elected representatives have betrayed us and are working against us? Because y’know a vote every few years ain’t really cutting it. Meanwhile the US part of this deal is simply more of the same pattern of public funds and liabilities being harvested into private hands by means of the ‘defence’ industry and great big lovely wars which turn a loss for the public commons but a profit for the corporations. So again can you guess who the politician’s are serving? Is there still the death penalty for treason?

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