How the richest of the rich avoid paying taxes

The invaluable investigative news outfit ProPublica has come out with a blockbuster report on how little the really wealthy pay in taxes and ow they do it. It is based on secret IRS files that they received from an anonymous source.

In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world’s richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes. He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes.

Michael Bloomberg managed to do the same in recent years. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did it twice. George Soros paid no federal income tax three years in a row.

ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years. The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits.
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Asian-Americans and the myth of the model minority

On his show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver said a lot of things that needed to be said about Asian-Americans and the model minority myth. He rightly points out how when in 1965 the US overhauled its racist immigration policies, it initially favored those from Asia who were highly educated and had skills the US needed. This has enabled some to use the relative economic success of this subset to claim that systemic discrimination does not exist and to shame all the other groups of color who had none of their advantages.

A recent survey found that 42% of Americans could not name even a single famous Asian American, even though Kamala Harris is vice president. The next highest number of 11% named Jackie Chan, who is not an Asian American.

Michael Cruz Kayne helps them out.

Peru’s leftist presidential candidate has highly reactionary views on social issues

The leftist Pedro Castillo, a teacher from the rural areas of Peru, is holding a very slim lead over the right wing Keiko Fujimori as the counting reaches its final stages after the voting on Sunday for president.

Socialist Pedro Castillo, who has roiled markets and miners with plans to shake up the copper-rich country’s politics, held a slim lead of some 50.2% ahead of right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori on 49.8%, with almost 96% of the votes tallied.

The leftist candidate, the son of peasant farmers, had surged late in the count, driven by an energized rural vote beyond capital Lima. Fujimori, the scion of a powerful political family, started to close the gap on Tuesday, however, as overseas votes came in that favor her.

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Facebook and Ethiopia

Facebook has rightly been charged with allowing its platform to be used to spread hate and even fomenting violent ethnic conflicts in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and other countries, most recently in Ethiopia. It has moderators who make decisions based on internal guidelines about whether offending posts should be removed and their posters penalized but the process has been criticized for being opaque and the results erratic. In response to criticisms that this was inadequate, the company has created an additional structure that would adjudicate more controversial cases involving hate speech or speech that foments violence.The company created a body that has been called a ‘Facebook Supreme Court’ (FSC) consisting of a wide array of people from around the world that would review difficult cases to see if the decisions of the company were justified.
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Whatever happened to Naomi Wolf?

I admit that I have not been following the career of Naomi Wolf closely, and had not read any of her stuff recently. I had read a few essays some time ago and had the vague impression that she was a feminist author who was somewhat involved in politics and had been a former advisor to Al Gore. So I was blindsided by the news that she has been permanently suspended by Twitter for spreading the wildest Q-worthy misinformation about vaccines. She seems to have gone completely bonkers.
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A careful look at the transgender sports

The number of people who comprise the trans community is small. The number of them who compete in competitive sports and athletics is even more minuscule. And the number of them who are competing at the highest levels has to be tiny. And yet, the last group has become the focus of intense attention by social conservatives who seem to see this issue as an indicator of the end of civilization as we know it.

Nathan J. Robinson takes a long and close look at why this might be so. He says that the effort to institute laws and rules to prevent trans women from taking part as women in sports ignores the vast harm done to all the other members of the trans community in every aspect of their lives. He examines the arguments put forward and says that their focus on only women’s sports is significant.
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A scathing critique of prominent New Atheists

Phil Torres has published a scathing essay that looks closely at the ugly trajectories that the careers of a group of prominent people identified with New Atheist movement has taken. The title of the piece Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right, along with the subtitle What once seemed like a bracing intellectual movement has degenerated into a pack of abusive, small-minded bigots pretty much captures the essence of the essay.
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Getting corporations to pay their share of taxes

I have written before about one method by which huge highly profitable corporations avoid taxes. The way it works is for a big company in the US (say) to buy a small company in a country that has favorable tax laws, Ireland being the current favored nation. They then ‘invert’ the relationship, claiming that the foreign company is the parent one while the US one is the subsidiary, even though nothing else has changed. This enables them to pay the lower taxes of the other nation while enjoying all the benefits of being in the US. This practice even has a name: ‘corporate perversion’.
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A leftist has a chance to become president of Peru

Peru is holding presidential elections on Sunday and the two people who won the first round of elections on April 11 to qualify for this runoff represent vastly different classes.

By law, any president of Peru must be born on Peruvian soil. But few of the country’s past leaders know that soil like the frontrunning candidate in the current electoral race – the son of Andean peasant farmers, who grew up in poverty.

On a recent morning, Pedro Castillo wore a woollen poncho, sandals made from old car tyres and a traditional wide-brimmed straw hat as he tended to his cows on his farm in Chugur, a tiny hamlet seven hours’ drive from the city of Cajamarca.

“When you see that your children wear the same clothes, sleep in the same clothes, wake up and go to school again in the same clothes, you realise the political class has been using you,” he told the Guardian, using the homely language that chimes with rural Peruvians who feel left behind by the country’s two decades of economic growth.

“This is a battle between the rich and the poor, the struggle between the … master and the slave,” Castillo told reporters from Peru’s north in comments broadcast on local television.

Amid mudslinging on both sides, Castillo has been labelled a “terrorist” but responds that the “real terrorists are hunger, misery, neglect, inequality, injustice”.

And although Castillo’s political experience is largely limited to leading a national teachers’ strike in 2017, many Peruvians identify with a life experience that reflects many of the harsh realities they also face.

“People don’t know there are thousands of children living in poverty and now, due to the pandemic, in extreme poverty,” said Castillo, who has taught for more than 25 years in rural schools.

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Selling oneself

Donald Trump Jr, the idiot son of the idiot president, has joined the ranks of people whom you can pay to make a recorded message for you.

The former president’s eldest son, listed on the site under the category of “activist”, is charging fans $500 a video with an undisclosed amount of the proceeds being donated to his chosen charity.

He follows a number of other “Maga celebrities” to join the platform, including his partner Kimberly Guilfoyle ($200 a video), convicted felon and former campaign adviser Roger Stone ($100 a video) and far-right political commentator and former presidential adviser Sebastian Gorka ($99 a video).

Let me guess. The ‘undisclosed amount’ that goes to charity would be $0, because that is how the Trumps roll, sticking like glue to any cash that comes anywhere close to their grubby fingers. It beats me why anyone would pay for such a thing but clearly there are people for whom being even marginally connected to a celebrity, even a C-list one like Don Jr., by having them say your name even if one has to pay for it, is worth it

So what can one get for one’s money?
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