Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"This one-year projection of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will ruin your day" We'll have to wait for the oil to start wrecking the Eastern Seaboard for American politicians to start doing anything about it. Fortunately, that won't be too long.

"More developments in Jesuits case in Spain":
"The witness, whose name was not disclosed, is said to be a former military officer. His testimony reportedly indicated, as has generally been assumed, that the planning of the Jesuits murder happened at the highest levels of the Salvadoran military. The bombshell revelation was that the witness apparently testified that president Alfredo Cristiani had advance knowledge of the assassinations and approved them. Previously Cristiani had only been accused of participating in a cover-up of the crime. The witness also testified that following the massacre he took a satchel full of various belongings of the Jesuits to the military headquarters, where his superior officer called President Cristiani to apprise him of the event."
Cristiani is still a big player in extreme right-wing politics in El Salvador.

"There Are Mountains and There Are Mountains":
"Who is financing Mountaintop Removal now that Chase got out of the business? Our answer came from Rainforest Action Network. Two banks, mostly, PNC Bank of Philadelphia and UBS Bank of Switzerland."
"The Making of Manhattan's Elite Welfare Farmers":
"Mark F. Rockefeller, a fourth-generation industrialist, probably had taxes on his mind when he purchased roughly 5,000 acres of farmland in Swan Valley, Idaho, and started receiving subsidy checks at his capitalist lair in the Rockefeller Plaza. Starting in 2001, the federal government has been giving him $54,500 a year to not farm his land. That’s right: The government gives your money to a member of the ultimate capitalist clan, which has a combined worth of more than $200 billion, to just laze around, not work and let his fields weed over. It’s what they call a “conservation payment” program, in which the government pays farmers to convert their land into something natural, like wetlands or whatever other eco-friendly habitat might be appropriate for the environment.

It worked out well for Rockefeller. By some strange coincidence, his farmland happened to be right next to an upscale fly-fishing resort he opened up with his wife in 1999. The place, called South Fork Lodge, plays host to groups of rich, middle-aged men who pay $1,000 a day to fish in elegance and beauty with a personal fly-fishing guide. According to its website, “South Fork Lodge rests on a dramatic bend of eastern Idaho’s world famous South Fork of the Snake River in scenic Swan Valley. As you prepare to spend your day on one of the most scenic and majestic fly-fishing rivers in America, you will marvel at the breathtaking views from your room or the Lodge patio.”

What their guests probably don’t know is that they’ll be paying for some of those views twice: once to South Fork Lodge and once to Mark F. Rockefeller himself.

Rockefeller gets double the welfare by gaming the generous tax breaks built into agricultural land. It appears that instead of having South Fork Lodge own the land surrounding the resort and suffer the full force of a normal property tax rate, Rockefeller has had the business buy up just enough property to house the hotel’s various structures, while he purchased all the open space the resort needed - riverfront real estate for fly-fishing, outdoor activities and background scenery - in his own name and dedicated it to farming.

It’s win-win for Rockefeller’s business, allowing South Fork Lodge to offer commercial services on land for which he pays almost no taxes. The lodge charges $1,700 per night for its outdoor safaritype quarters, complete with servants and a personal chef, which they offer to guests who want to rough it in a 'gorgeous wilderness retreat nestled in the cottonwoods and aspens of the South Fork of the Snake River Canyon Section.'

Two of Rockefeller’s spinoff businesses - which provide guided fly-fishing trips - also exploit the tax-free property, using it for private boat-launches, riverfront access and camping. If you were wondering why wealthy guys like him would go all the way out to places like Idaho for a lousy couple of grand in subsidies, do the math: He’s making a fortune off the land. Rockefeller pays a pitiful property tax of roughly $10 per acre, something like 1/60th of what it should be. Adding up the 5,000 acres or so, he gets a massive tax break of $500,000 or more.

But rich subsidy queens don’t need to travel far to filch their fair share of taxpayer wealth; they can do it right where they live and work. Failed dot-com entrepreneur Craig Winn lives in Albemarle, Va., and paid $1,000 in taxes on a $3.5 million estate by converting its 50 acres into conserved farmland. All his rich neighbors, including pop culture hacks Dave Matthews and John Grisham, enrolled their land in the tax saver program, too. Hell, even Walt Disney World became a farmer by putting some cows to pasture on its land in Orlando to shave millions off its tax bill. Hewlett-Packard opened up a Christmas tree farm on its massive Houston campus, which saved it (and cost Houston) half a million dollars a year in taxes.

No wonder America is starting to feel like a third-world country. Fighting two wars and bailing out banks is enough without having the rich plundering our country right out from under us. It’s not just property taxes, either. In the past decade, two-thirds of corporations doing business on U.S. soil paid no income taxes. The rich aren’t just not paying their fair share, they’re not paying anything at all."
"The Muir-Russell report":
"All in all, none of the various accusations and insinuations that have been floating around the blogosphere have been sustained."
The phony scandal, promoted by the Bloggers For BP, lasted just long enough to wreck the Copenhagen Climate Conference, as Big Oil intended.

"EXCLUSIVE: FBI Expands Probe In Fraud At Holocaust Claims Conference"
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