Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
SAYS Simon Carr on Northern Rock: “The Sketch’s recommendation is the imprisonment and/or the impoverishment of the directors. At least the public would get some sort of entertainment for their money.”
John Leaver is at his detached three-bedroom property in Caerleon, South Wales. All fixtures and fittings are in the garage.
The lodgers are out. Says he. “We agreed a rent of £650 a month. The rent was paid into my bank account on time and there were no reports of any problems.”
The looks on the front doors have been changed. So Mr Leaver gets a ladder and climbs in through a skylight. “I opened a skylight and got inside. It was pitch black. There was a young Chinese-looking guy standing right in front of me on the landing. I was frightened, and he looked petrified.”
THE Budget: 2The Iraq and Afghanistan wars will cost approximately $12 billion a month — triple the rate of their earliest years — Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and coauthor Linda J. Bilmes report in a new book.”
“CLIMATE change may spark conflict with Russia, EU told,” announces the Guardian.
This front-page story appears alongside the report: “Darling plans Labour’s greenest budget yet.”
Can the two tales be linked? Is this green budget delivered with a nod to Russia?
The Mail’s front-page headline is grist to the mill of they who warned us against Gordon Brown’s love of stealth taxes.
The Queen’s guard at Buckingham Palace stand still. Are they exempt? Or is it one Still Tax for all?
And how still is still? Is the Government engaged in a giant game of Dead Lions, walking among us looking for signs of life to tax?
If you remain still, you must pay. If you remain too still you are most likely dead, which leads us to think that this new Still Tax is a likely replacement to Inheritance Tax. In which case, is the £800 a one-off payment, or is the Still Tax calculated each year, meaning that the longer you are dead the more you pay?
Reading on, the Mail says the Still Tax is brought on by the high cost of heating, petrol and mortgages. You might be better off dead.
But, then, they get you there as well…
They Always Want the Writer To Work For Nothing – I’m thinking of having this tattooed on my tongue…
Shall we whoop or cry?
IN: “Ikea’s cheap lines upset the Danes”, the Telegraph reports:
Academics in Denmark have accused Ikea, the furniture chain, of “Swedish imperialism” for naming its cheaper products after Danish towns.
The researchers claim to have discovered a pattern where more expensive items, such as beds and chairs, have been named after Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian towns whereas doormats, draught excluders and runners are named after Danish places.
“The stuff that goes on the floor is about as low as it gets,” said Klaus Kjöller, of the University of Copenhagen, who described the phenomenon as “Swedish imperialism”.
Officials at Ikea’s headquarters in the district of Scania – which once belonged to Denmark – rejected the criticism. “It’s nonsense to say that we did this on purpose. It was a pure coincidence,” said Charlotte Lindgren.
PORTFOLIO asks: “Why on earth should it be more difficult to estimate potential revenues for a blog than it is for other forms of media? In the short term, most big blogs, like TechCrunch or BoingBoing or Huffington Post, know pretty much exactly what their revenues are going to be. And in the long term, no one knows anything in any medium.”
Our publisher Nick Denton loves to point out that no major media company could buy Gawker and keep up the site’s outsider angle. Of course he wants you to believe Gawker does something special and to think of it as a competitor to decades-old media empires. But he’s not lying.When this network tried licensing stories to Yahoo News two years ago, the editors bitched about it (this was before he replaced them with inexperienced, unsure toadies like me), and the stories never did well. Gawker and Yahoo let the contract expire, and while Denton pretended it was because I kept maligning Yahoo execs on our Silicon Valley site Valleywag, it was really because no one was reading Gawker on Yahoo. Their audience just wasn’t interested.
Imagine you were running this show. Why sell it and either work under some executive who probably hates you for some five-year-old blog post, or struggle to start another business that becomes this influential? It’s easy to say Denton is in this for the money, but only if you’ve never seen the man revel in his own role. He doesn’t want to be rich, he wants to be Rupert Murdoch.
Anorak was on Yahoo! news for years. It never worked well. As for Denton – can you be a poor – non-rich – Rupert Murdoch?
THE new UK Libertarian Party want to abolish income tax. Policy No.1…
NINE Inch Nails give away their new album…
OVER tyhe Goverment newswires: “Yvette Cooper launches £12m pathfinder for new money guidance service”
Up to three quarters of a million people will get free money guidance on matters like managing debt, planning for retirement or saving for a mortgage deposit, under a new £12m pathfinder Yvette Cooper, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has today announced.
Taxpayers can apply for a cashback scheme by…
As the Mail’s front-page headline announces: “Benefit rules mean three in four ordinary families would be better off living apart.”
How much? “£100 FROM THE STATE IF YOU SPLIT UP.”
Old Mr Anorak says that all things considered, Mai Ling should pack her bags and only attend to her matrimonial duties at meal times and when Anorak Towers needs righting after one of his AGMS with the Thai women’s Ping-Pong Consortium he heads…
RECESS Monkey says that Prince Harry would like to be treated just like everyone else save for:
…primogeniture, corporation tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and wildlife protection laws.
Primogeniture means that it’s his older brother who will inherit. So, fair enough, he might be against it. The corporation, inheritance and CGT issues: well, they’re all to do with the Duchy of Cornwall. Which, as a result of the primogeniture issue won’t go to Harry, but to, umm, his older brother.
As for assassinating wildlife, that’s what the aristocracy is for, isn’t it
And if it has, has Prince Harry got his skis ready packed?
In “Alistair Darling chases rich in tax-free haven of Monaco – Chancellor tightens screw on wealthy Britons and their Riviera refuge”, the Times talks of “hostilities against Britain’s super-rich” and “sanctions against Monaco, the Mediterranean tax haven”.
“So far the attention has been on Liechtenstein, but Monaco is the goldmine,” says a Whitehall official. “Germany has got the bit between its teeth now and Monaco is where they want to go next – and we’re right with them.”
We learn that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) expects to obtain £100m in unpaid tax from 100 Britons who bank in Liechtenstein. “It paid £100,000 to Heinrich Kieber, a former bank employee, for clients’ names and bank account details. In the past few days it has begun sending them letters referring to their account numbers”.
This is the Heinrich Kieber who “has made millions of euros by selling stolen bank records to the world’s tax authorities. He is now Liechtenstein’s ‘most wanted’ man.” He is undoubtedly Liechtenstein’s most famous man.
On one had, news that the HM Revenue and Customs is buying stolen data must cause the banks to worry. And given the security around HMRC’s data reserves, foreign powers, domestic banks and the curious can expect to be offered the same information on a couple of discs any day now.
But it is the talk of sanctions that shocks? It all sounds so heavy-handed, putting Monaco on a par with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
The wonder is what Liechtenstein will do about it? Will it link up with Monaco and Andorra and form a mini-me Axis of Evil? The Snowy Peril could consult with the Duchy of Grand Fenwick on a military strategy.
The invasion is coming…
“MY name is Mr.Moses Odiaka. I work in the credit and accounts department of Union Bank of NigeriaPlc,Lagos, Nigeria. I write you in respect of a foreign customer with a Virgin Galactica ticket. His name is Engineer Manfred Becker. He was among those who died in a plane crash here in Nigeria during the reign of late General Sani Abacha.
Since the demise of this our customer, Engineer Manfred Becker, who was an oil merchant/contractor, I have kept a close watch of the deposit records and accounts and since then nobody has come to claim the airmiles in this a/c as next of kin to the late Engineer. He had only 18.5mllion air miles in his a/c and the a/c is coded. It is only an insider that could produce the code or password of the deposit particulars. As it stands now,there is nobody in that position to produce the needed information other than my very self considering my position in the bank.”
YOUR tax money: “Departmental Visits Abroad”:
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many overseas visits by officials in his Department took place in each of the last 10 years; which countries were visited; and how much was spent on such visits in each such year. 
Dizzy tots it up a bill of £1,436,939. And the coutries visited to appraise their teaching methods are:
Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korean Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, USA.
No, we can’t see Fiji , either. No small shock, given the weather and Gordon Brown’s support of the country’s tourist industry…
The guy I buy my coffee from in the morning has run the franchise also for ten years. Every day during this time at least two and may be as many as five young people come in asking for a job. Not once has any of those young people been British.
Yesterday, I bought egg and chips from Polaks, coffee from a Spaniard, a bus ride from a Jamaican and a pint for an Australian. I drank with an Israeli, a Malaysian, a true Anglo-Saxon and a second-generation Chinese girl.
And – yes – we all agreed that it beat working…
NIM39140 – National Insurance Numbers (NINOs): Format and Security:
MARKS And Spencer, Unions and Cyber Warfare – more here
NORTHERN Rock and the Northen Rock Foundation – it’s your money now. The Croydonian takes a look:
Very generously, the expropriators of Northern Rock have agreed to continue giving the Northern Rock Foundation large sums of money to spend as the trustees see fit:
“Tim Farron: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will ensure that the guaranteed funds for the Northern Rock Foundation will go to funding arts and heritage projects.
Angela Eagle: As part of the Government’s decision to take Northern Rock plc into temporary public ownership, on 17 February the Treasury announced that the Northern Rock Foundation will receive from Northern Rock a minimum of £15 million a year in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The distribution of funds is a matter for the trustees of the Northern Rock Foundation.
A quick snoop around the Foundation’s website makes it exceedingly clear that it is not going to be operating under straitened circumstances, relative to previous years:
“From 1997 to 2007, the Foundation received 5% of Northern Rock’s annual pre-tax profits, totalling more than 190 million. As part of the Government’s decision in February 2008 to take the company into temporary public ownership, the Foundation will receive from Northern Rock a minimum of £15 million a year in 2008, 2009 and 2010“.
And what is the NRF’s remit?:
This: “Our current objectives are to tackle disadvantage and to improve quality of life in North East England and Cumbria. To achieve these objectives, we invest in charitable activities that help those most disadvantaged in society, and that make our area a place for everyone to enjoy and celebrate“.
And more specifically:
Question 3. Where will you fund?
Answer. We offer funding exclusively for work that takes place in North East England (Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and the Tees Valley ) and Cumbria . If your work takes place outside these areas, please do not apply.
Might even this government feel that funding such a Foundation is just not cricket?
“SHOPPING BILL UP £18 A WEEK,” announces the front-page headline. “Food crisis is new blow for families.”
This on top of the soaring gas and electricity prices. “To make matters worse, council tax bills will rise by an average 4.5 percent in April,” says the paper.
The clear advice is to remain as you are, Mr Foreigner. The Express says the price of grain from Kazakhstan is “soaring” to a “record high”. Peoples of the East have never had it so good.
But still they come.
“Yet another coachload of migrants setting out from Poland to look for jobs in Britain,” says the Express, words hung below a a shot of a coachload of young men and women holding gigantic sausages with menace. “The scale of the influx of foreigners into Britian is breathtaking,” says the paper.
But we are not a thriving, vibrant and confident nation that values hard workers and their desire. We are a country of soaring food prices, where a loaf of bread costs a week’s wages.
Turn back, says the Express. Haven’t you hear, the UK is over.
From today, a free copy of the Daily Express will appear on every coach seat leaving Poland, Romania and Bulgaria!
HILLARY Clinton wants to be the head of a country with the biggest economy on the planet. Hillary Clinton says:
It’s imperative that we approach this mortgage crisis with the seriousness that it is presenting. There are 95,000 homes in foreclosure in California right now. I want a moratorium on foreclosures for 90 days so we can try to work out keeping people in their homes instead of having them lose their homes, and I want to freeze interest rates for five years.
Freeze interest rates for five years. Anyone want to explain to her how the economy works..?
AS is often the way, this is the non-Muslim fearing the fear in the Muslim: “Knorbert the piglet has been dropped as the mascot of Fortis Bank after it decided to stop giving piggy banks to children for fear of offending Muslims.”
A spokesman told the Dutch media that “Knorbert does not meet the requirements that the multicultural society imposes on us”. The bank added that there had been “a number of reactions to the pig” and that a new gift and character were being developed that would be “fun for children of any persuasion”.
Fun in banking. When will the madness end..?
Police will be able to seize high-value assets from suspected drug dealers as soon as they are arrested under plans to be unveiled this week by Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary.
If you are suspected of a crime the [police can seize your assets.
Law-enforcement agencies will be able to take cars, televisions, laptops and expensive jewellery belonging to big-time offenders. Such assets can currently only be seized at the end of a criminal process, by which time drug dealers have often disposed of them.
Perhaps the goods are sold to pay for a decent defence lawyer to escape a wrongful arrest? Perhaps Jacqui Smith, who admits to having smoked cannabis, thinks seizing dugs is better than walking the dangerous streets looking to buy them illegally?
A Home Office spokesman said last night: “Our starting point will be that all criminal gains should be removed from offenders. For example those criminals buying commodities to avoid the circulation of cash could have their assets seized before they have chance to disperse them. Seizing ill-gotten gains is critical to reducing the incentives for crime.”
Great plan. Only, how do the police know which is an–ill-gotten gain and which is not? And if the suspect is found not guilty can they sue the police for depreciation of their assets?
THE Subprime Market for idiots – a google presentation… Here