BMEWS
 
Sarah Palin's presence in the lower 48 means the Arctic ice cap can finally return.

calendar   Wednesday - July 02, 2008

SOME ANGRY BRIT POLITICS IN THE HOUSE.  (doesn’t matter if you don’t know what’s going on)

I’m always fascinated by this stuff.  There’s as much acting here as there is back home in senate and congress, except these folks sound better and they’re usually better actors.  And as a rule, they don’t pussy-foot around things unless they’re referring to each other as “my honorable friend,” when they’re talking about someone they can’t stand the sight of.

http://tinyurl.com/5mc93f


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 07/02/2008 at 02:10 PM   
Filed Under: • GovernmentPoliticsUK •  
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calendar   Tuesday - June 03, 2008

All your air are belong to us

Remember the Fairness Doctrine? The one that the libtards in and out of Washington want to resurrect? The theory behind the Fairness Doctrine is:

radio stations could be regulated in this way due to the limited spectrum of the public airwaves.

Source: Wikipedia. The airwaves are held, by government, in trust for the public.

It was, in other words, a government-created scarcity that justified government regulation. Much like the government-created gasoline scarcities under Nixon and Carter.

Now a whacko Goremon named Mary Wood is asserting that the air is held in trust by the government.

University of Oregon law professor Mary Wood is tired of waiting for government officials to take action on global warming. So she’s devised a new legal tool to hurry them up.

Drawing on her background in both natural resources and property law, Wood has developed a theory that claims the atmosphere is an asset that belongs to all but is held in trust by the government. The government has a legal obligation to protect that trust from harm, she argues, just as financial managers have a legal obligation to protect the monetary assets in their care.

I’m sure that BMEWS readers have figured where this is going…

“The main problem with climate is that no government is taking responsibility for it and our government is sitting idle while this catastrophe is unfolding,” Wood said.

“There’s no other body of law that requires the government to act. But a trustee has to act to protect the body of the trust.”

Yep. And the laws are already on the books. No need to debate!

From theory to practice

Greg Costello is one of the public interest attorneys evaluating Wood’s proposal as the basis for potential lawsuits. He thinks it could be a successful legal strategy because it’s grounded in a widely accepted principle of common law.

“Public trust doctrine is a doctrine everybody learns in law school. It goes back to Roman times,” said Costello, executive director of the Eugene-based Western Environmental Law Center.

“It’s a theory that seems well-suited and perhaps ideal when you’re talking about who owns the atmosphere.”

Be afraid. Be very afraid.  machinegun

Dick: The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers and environmentalists.
Cade: Nay, that I mean to do.

* William Shakespeare, Henry the Sixth, Part II

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HT: Neal’s Nuze

cross-posted at my blog Something’s Rotten


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 06/03/2008 at 10:13 PM   
Filed Under: • Climate-WeatherColleges-ProfessorsDemocrats-Liberals-Moonbat LeftistsGovernmentInsanityJudges-Courts-LawyersNanny StateOutrageousScary StuffStoopid-People •  
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calendar   Sunday - June 01, 2008

Tag! You’re It!

A week in the life of an Embassy Duty Officer and his poor family.

Yes, our life in the diplomatic corps is glamorous and unexpected and lively, but it is not all fun all the time. One of the requirements of Kenny’s job is that every once in awhile - so far on 2 3-day weekends, lucky us - he must act as the Embassy Duty Officer. This means that on Wednesday afternoon before he leaves the office he is given a very large, black bag full of reference materials and phone numbers and a cell phone that he must carry on his person at all times until the following Wednesday when he passes the baton to the next victim. The purpose of the duty officer is to make sure the US Embassy in Lima (actually every Embassy in the world) has 24 hour 7 day a week coverage so that Joe Citizen can speak to someone live in the event of a catastrophe (i.e. lost passport, detention by foreign government, accident, arrest etc.). Translation: if the planets align just so, the duty officer and family will likely find themselves embroiled in a fare amount of insanity and interruption over the course of the week, and especially the weekend. Kenny was duty officer over Memorial Day weekend and, sadly for us the cosmos was feeling vengeful and directed its’ ire at us.

I thought my Memorial Day weekend was lousy. Jeesh…

The good news for Joe Citizen is no ‘Press 1 for English, Press 2 for...’, wait, this was Peru. Maybe the whole thing happened in Spanish.


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 06/01/2008 at 05:32 PM   
Filed Under: • GovernmentInternational •  
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calendar   Sunday - May 25, 2008

A liberal tells the truth

So, ‘this liberal’ wants to take over the oil companies? At least she was honest: she identified herself as a ‘liberal’ (semantically equivalent to ‘thief’).

I issue the same challenge to Maxine Waters: if you did nationalize the oil companies, can YOU guarantee that the price would go down?


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 05/25/2008 at 02:42 PM   
Filed Under: • CommiesDemocrats-Liberals-Moonbat LeftistsGovernmentInsanityOil, Alternative Energy, and Gas PricesStoopid-People •  
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calendar   Thursday - May 22, 2008

This is what you get when lawyers run the government

House passes bill to sue OPEC over oil prices

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation on Tuesday allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC members for limiting oil supplies and working together to set crude prices, but the White House threatened to veto the measure.

The bill would subject OPEC oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, to the same antitrust laws that U.S. companies must follow.

The measure passed in a 324-84 vote, a big enough margin to override a presidential veto.

The legislation also creates a Justice Department task force to aggressively investigate gasoline price gouging and energy market manipulation.

Are they out of their ever loving minds? How terminally stupid can you be and not fall over dead? Yes, OPEC is nearly a monopoly. We’ve known that for 35 years. So what? Yes, they are a massive cartel that has the world by the nadgers. This is news? Of course they are fixing the prices and fixing the amounts delivered. You can’t do anything about it, other than invading their countries. That’s it.

And just how do you think “our friends the Saudis” are going to react to being sued for price gouging? How about “Ok, never mind, we’ll sell our oil to someone else.”?

This is another example of our do-nothing government wasting time and money just for appearance’s sake. It’s bad enough this utterly useless measure was even considered, yet alone worked on. But when it came down to voting, an awful lot of “Conservative” Republicans went over to the other side and supported this “We’re all victims, let’s sue somebody to make things fair bill. Hope you clods are wearing comfortable shoes in November, because it’s walking time.

The way to energy independance is two-fold. First, you move heaven and earth to maximize your own production. Second, you do whatever you can to eliminate or minimize aspects of your own economy that run on imported fuels. It isn’t that hard to figure out. Yes, it’s going to require some sacrifices. Tough. Fucking. Shit. And it might cost you some money. Too bad. And you might rail against it like a cranky 2 year old because it’s an evil Socialist Agenda Taking Away Your Rights. Well, there may be some truth in that. But one thing you can say for Socialism is that it gets things done much faster. And we need solutions. In place. Yesterday. But let’s keep things in balance too; we just might have to put up with a bit more pollution for a few years. An endangered specie or two might go bye-bye. Again, that’s just too bad. Let’s shoot for “good enough” instead of only be willing to accept perfection.


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Some Ideas That Will Work But Will Not Be Popular


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/22/2008 at 08:58 AM   
Filed Under: • GovernmentOil, Alternative Energy, and Gas Prices •  
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calendar   Tuesday - May 20, 2008

Afghan hijacker found working at Heathrow

All together now ... Screw,,, Britannia, uh ... no. those aren’t the words. Oh damn. I know the song from somewhere.

Afghan hijacker found working at Heathrow ‘ransacked travel agency in a rage’
By Sam Greenhill
Last updated at 10:18 PM on 19th May 2008

One of the Afghans involved in the Stansted hijacking was back in court yesterday - accused of ransacking a travel agency.

During a violent argument with his landlord, Nazamuddin Mohammidy allegedly hurled a metal chair, smashed a computer and fought with staff until police arrived.

The 34-year-old was one of nine men who hijacked an airliner in Afghanistan in 2000 before landing in Britain and threatening to kill all 160 passengers unless they were granted asylum.

The gang were jailed, but cleared on appeal and freed to live comfortable lives on benefits worth £150,000 a year.

Last week, it emerged Mohammidy was working at Heathrow as a cleaner and had been given a British Airways security pass.

The latest charge of assault was unrelated to either the hijacking or the revelation of his job at Heathrow, magistrates in Ealing, West London, heard.

Mohammidy is said to have stormed into the Pamzee Airlines travel agency in West London on December 13 last year and started an argument with owner Manjit Komal.

Mohammidy rented a room above the shop and Mr Komal was his landlord. Mohammidy was complaining about the heating not working, but Mr Komal said he had infuriated the other tenants by constantly turning the temperature up to 30c (86f).

The pair came to blows and an enraged Mohammidy allegedly grappled across the counter with Mr Komal’s 20-year- old son Amardeep and threw a chair at his head.

After the fight, Amardeep had a gash to his leg needing stitches and Mohammidy was bleeding from a wound on his forehead.

Olu Phillips, prosecuting, said: ‘In the course of the struggle, there was damage to property in the shop floor.’

A computer monitor, display case and a wall were smashed causing £2,000 of damage, he said.

Mr Komal told the court: ‘He came into the shop and I saw him throw a chair at my son. The chair hit him. They were holding each other and both fell on the floor. He was hitting my son.

‘I held his arm and put my knee on him and was calling to the staff to call the police. I saw blood on the floor.’

Sarah Lewis, defending, said Mr Komal and his son attacked her client. She said Mohammidy was a man of good character who had been making a justified complaint to his landlord about the heating.

(A man of good character? Oh right. A hijacker of planes.  Threatens to kill ppl. Sure thing. Lotsa good character here)

Mohammidy denies assault and criminal damage and the trial continues. Last week, he was at the centre of what the Conservatives called a devastating breach of security by being allowed to work at Heathrow.

His job cleaning BA offices did not give him access to planes but he did have a pass for secure areas. The pass has since been taken from him.

In 2001, Mohammidy, his brothers Ali and Mohammed Safi and six other Afghans were jailed for hijacking the Boeing 727 and flying to Stansted.
But in 2003 the Court of Appeal ruled the convictions were unsafe and the men were released.

They moved into large private homes in Hounslow with their wives and children. In 2006, the gang were given ‘discretionary leave’ to remain in Britain as Afghanistan was ‘unsafe’ to return to.

http://tinyurl.com/6ycx23


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/20/2008 at 08:44 AM   
Filed Under: • GovernmentTerrorists •  
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calendar   Thursday - May 15, 2008

BATFE Out of Control As Usual

Veteran Gets 30 Months In Prison For “Transferring Automatic Weapon”

Of all the branches of the federal government, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives has the worst reputation. Like the IRS they seem to be a law unto themselves. This is the group that once decided a piece of string was a machine gun and convicted someone because of it. They have a tough job to do, but many folks in the gun world see them as jack booted thugs. The news about the conviction of David Olofson seems to bear this out. Worse, Olofson is being utterly slandered by the media, who are doing their best to make him appear as some kind of gun crazy terrorist.

The rest of this post might get a little technical, and it’s pretty long, so if you aren’t a gun enthusiast you can stop here. Just be aware that BATFE is out of control, and has the power to muscle the court system to get whatever convictions they want. Mr. Olofson is appealing, and I hope he wins. BATFE should be disbanded, or severely curtailed at the least.

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See More Below The Fold

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/15/2008 at 08:55 AM   
Filed Under: • GovernmentGuns and Gun ControlInsanity •  
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calendar   Wednesday - May 14, 2008

Did I miss the “Denial Of Reality” memo?

“BREAKING" NEWS ITEM:

US Declares Polar Bears “Threatened”

U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced that the polar bear will receive protection as a “threatened” species under the U. S. Endangered Species Act. Conservation groups had petitioned the U.S. to give full “endangered” protection to the mammals — citing a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice, and U.S. government studies predicting a rapid decline for the bear population due to loss of habitat. The government was under federal court order to rule on the bears’ status by tomorrow.

Just in case you were wondering, here is yesterday’s picture of the sea ice, compared to the sea ice in mid January.

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The purpley blob surrounded by white in the left area of both photos is Hudson Bay, where lots of P-bears live. Yeah, the ice is starting to melt. So is the snow cover on the land! Hello, Spring is already half over; summer starts in 5 weeks.

Lost of habitat indeed. The parts of the world where Ursus Maritimus (the old pole bar) lives are the least habitated areas on the planet. And the ice pack seems to be doing just fine. Heck, if this fellow is reporting things properly (looks that way to me) then there is actually far more ice around right this minute than is usual for this time of year, for the past 25 years!

On a global basis, world sea ice in April 2008 reached levels that were “unprecedented” for the month of April in over 25 years. Levels are the third highest (for April) since the commencement of records in 1979, exceeded only by levels in 1979 and 1982. This continues a pattern established earlier in 2008, as global sea ice in March 2008 was also the third highest March on record, while January 2008 sea ice was the second highest January on record. It was also the second highest single month in the past 20 years (second only to Sept 1996).

But, but, but, if it isn’t the ice pack, or the habitat, something must be killing of the polar bears. Right? Otherwise they wouldn’t get put on the Threatened List. Right? So maybe it’s from hunting? Just how few bears are left, and how many did there used to be? Well, according to Polar Bears International

“In the 1950s the polar bear population up north was estimated at 5,000. Today it’s 20- to 25,000, a number that has either held steady over the last 20 years or has risen slightly. In Canada, the manager of wildlife resources for the Nunavut territory of Canada has found that the population there has increased by 25 percent.”

So the P-bear population is 4 or 5 times higher than it used to be. Gee, that seems really threatening. But wait, I was wrong. (which is why you should always follow the links and read things for yourself.) Mr. Dr. Expert at that web site says this is a bogus statement, and the real truth is ... um ... well ... we don’t exactly know, and we never really did know, exactly or even roughly how many bears there are or used to be. Hey, maybe because they’re hard to see? Especially in snowstorms! But let me not knock Mr. Dr. Expert On Polar Bears. He is giving us an answer, and it’s a very scientific and wordy “we don’t know”. At least that’s honest science. For once.

So maybe people should lay off hunting the bears for a few decades, just to see what happens. It worked here in NJ with our regular bears, and now they’re damn near everywhere. I’m sure that when the P-bear population rises enough so that they start competing with California coyotes for tasty little children to snack on, then it will be time to think about “managing” their numbers.

So, let’s have a tiny bit of truth in government. Ain’t nothing wrong with the polar bear habitat. And nobody can tell if their numbers are growing or shrinking. Nope, they just got the special treatment from the evinron-mentalists because they’re cute when they’re babies.

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UPDATE

HA! The thing about news blogging is that everyone else is going to jump on the same story. There are no exclusives, and nobody really cares if you get there first. So Michelle Malkin has put up her version of this story, which links over to the American Enterprise Institute. Where they say, and she quotes

At present, polar bear populations are robust and, according to native people, are considerably larger than they were in previous decades. Predictions of polar bear endangerment are based on two sets of computer models: one set predicts how much Arctic sea ice will melt as a result of global warming, and the other predicts how polar bear populations will respond. But computer models of climate are known to be fraught with problems, and the ecological models used to predict polar bear response are equally limited.

Because of extreme limitations in data, it is essentially impossible to decide whether polar bears are endangered and whether their habitat is threatened by man-made global warming or other natural climate cycles. This is acknowledged by the experts themselves–the actual IUCN/SSC report is more broad in naming causes and more conservative about estimating their effects.

What we do know about polar bears is that, contrary to media portrayals, they are not fragile “canary in the coal mine” animals, but are robust creatures that have survived past periods of extensive deglaciation. Polar bear fossils have been dated to over one hundred thousand years, which means that polar bears have already survived an interglacial period when temperatures were considerably warmer than they are at present and when, quite probably, levels of summertime Arctic sea ice were correspondingly low.

In discussions of whether to drill in the Arctic, one of the arguments raised by environmentalists is that this would harm the habitats of the many creatures, including polar bears, that make their homes in Alaska. If polar bears are placed on the endangered species list, the legal hurdles to oil and gas drilling will increase.

Now, I have to say that I didn’t think of that, perhaps because the news articles I heard and read said “threatened”. But it nice to see that both AEI and Ms. Malkin notice the same Global Warming tie-in I wrote about. Even sweeter is AEI’s title for their article - “Is the Polar Bear Endangered, or Just Conveniently Charismatic?” which really says exactly the same thing I did, although maybe in a little more polished manner: the darn bears got on the list because they’re cute.

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So cute


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/14/2008 at 02:41 PM   
Filed Under: • AnimalsClimate-WeatherGovernment •  
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calendar   Thursday - May 08, 2008

Not Your Usual Aarrggh Pirates, part 2

Los Angeles Says Piracy Detrimental to the Public Health



batbatbat


Well, duh, right? Ordinarily I wouldn’t give this article a second glance. Of course piracy is bad for you. But, unfortunately, this is LA we’re dealing with, so their idea has nothing to do with Jean LaFoote and his merry band of seaborne cutthroats. No, LA is talking about music and video piracy. See, by declaring such things a Public Nuisance, they can set the wheels of government turning to use Emminent Domain to steal your house. Legally. Hang on a minute, who is the pirate here?

Local governments in California and the United States have long had the power to declare property a public nuisance when their owners allow their land to become denizens of drugs, gangs, prostitution and gambling.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, following New York’s lead, is adding a new category: music and video piracy.

In an ordinance just adopted, the five-member board is declaring that piracy “substantially interferes with the interest of the public in the quality of life and community peace, lawful commerce in the county, property values, and is detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare of the county’s citizens, its businesses and its visitors.”

The regulation was crafted at the urging of the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America.

Oh hell, you wouldn’t think LA would be in bed with the MPAA now would you? Not a chance. It’s not like they own Hollywood or anything. Um, hang on ...

The county retains the right to shutter a property for up to a year for violating ordinance 13.90.010 and also gives local authorities the right to bring a civil action to “temporarily restrain, preliminarily enjoin, and/or permanently enjoin the person or persons intentionally conducting, or knowingly maintaining or permitting the public nuisance from further conducting, maintaining, or permitting such a public nuisance.”

Property owners who knowingly permit such activity can also be dinged $1,000 for each counterfeited work produced on the property.

Permanently enjoin the person conducting the nuisance from maintaining the nuisance. Yup, I’m pretty much sure that means We Get To Seize Your Property.

Fuck ‘em. Another punishment that’s waaay overboard for the crime committed. Avast there LA, else it be fair time for the oak plank two step, and a long dance with Davey Jones.
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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/08/2008 at 06:00 PM   
Filed Under: • GovernmentPirates, aarrgh! •  
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calendar   Friday - May 02, 2008

Is New York State Now The Federal Government?

That’s a strange and seemingly stupid question to ask, but I was certain that the regulation of interstate commerce was a power/duty reserved for the feds. A few weeks ago New York passed a convoluted tax that is going to require Amazon and other complex online retailers to collect NY state sales tax for them. While quite a few states have a Use Tax which requires citizens of that state to fork over tax money for everything they buy out of state, almost no one other than my mom actually complies, because it is obviously unenforceable. New York’s new “Amazon Tax” would close this “loop hole”, and if effective, would spread overnight to every other state, and the tax advantages of buying things on the internet would soon evaporate.

What makes the Amazon Tax interesting is the convoluted thought process behind it. Amazon is not one store anymore. Amazon is a reseller; more and more of what you shop for there doesn’t come from a place called “Amazon.com”, it comes from whatever Mom & Pop happens to have the product at the price point you want. Amazon simply redirects your order to the small businesses, and takes it’s little slice for that effort. There are tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of these associated businesses, all over the country. Therefore, reasons NY, some of them must be in NY. Therefore an internet sale to Amazon from a customer in NY is a sale within NY so sales tax must be collected. Thus their new law.

There is a basic logically fallacy here which I can’t quite put my finger on. Something about not extrapolating from the individual to the general? Sounds close. Just because an Amazon affiliate is in NY doesn’t mean they are ALL in NY, so making a law requiring NY sales tax to be collected at Amazon is logically incorrect. And unconstitutional, by, as we have seen with Philthydelphia’s gun laws, that doesn’t stop laws from being passed at all.

New York has some of the highest taxes in the country, if not THE highest. The recent state budget is $122 Billion, for a state with a population of 20 million. This law is expected to collect about $50 million.

‘Amazon Tax’ Lands in New York
Controversial new law shifts collection requirement to online retailers in a move that other states could follow, but legal uncertainties abound. With the passage of the hotly debated state budget last night, New York legislators approved a bill that will require many online retailers to begin collecting sales taxes on purchases shipped to the state, even if they have no operations or employees working there.
New York Governor David Paterson is widely expected to sign the measure.  The so-called “Amazon tax” closes a loophole for Internet retailers who derive sales through affiliate programs in which Web site owners place a link to the merchant on their site and earn a commission on sales made from referrals. In lobbying for the bill, the industry group representing New York retailers had argued that the exemption from the sales-tax collection requirement gave out-of-state online retailers an unfair competitive advantage.
...
The controversial bill ends what for many New Yorkers had been tax-free online shopping, and experts predict that other states could follow suit with similar provisions. Consumers are required to report purchases they make online from out-of-state companies on their tax returns and remit a use tax, but many people are either unaware of that obligation or ignore it. Collecting those taxes from individuals has been an administrative impossibility.  New York expects the new requirement will generate about $50 million in revenue this fiscal year.
...
The tax was inspired in some ways by a 1992 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Quill v. North Dakota, the Court determined that out-of-state retailers cannot be required to collect sales tax on purchases sent to states where they did not have a physical presence. They argued that compelling merchants to adhere to the complexities of the state and local tax codes would place an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

With the new law, New York is taking an aggressive stance on the Quill ruling, claiming that a retailer such as Amazon holds a physical presence in the state because it derives sales through its affiliates who live there, explained Hugh Goodwin Jr., a state and local tax attorney and partner at the global firm DLA Piper.

Amazon is suing of course. My guess is that a mere 98% of the population supports their suit.

Amazon Sues New York State to Void Sales Tax Rules
Before the ink on the bill has even dried, Amazon.com has filed a suit challenging New York State’s new law that forces online retailers to collect sales taxes on shipments to state residents.
...
The question is whether the vendors must collect those taxes on behalf of the state. Generally, only those companies that have a physical presence, such as an office or store, in the state of the purchase are required to collect the taxes.

The new law is based on a novel definition of what constitutes a presence in the state: It includes any Web site based in the state that earns a referral fee for sending customers to an online retailer. Amazon has hundreds of thousands of affiliates—from big publishers to tiny blogs—that feature links to its products.
...
The state law says that if even one of those affiliates is in New York, Amazon must collect sales tax on everything sold in the state, even if it is not sold through the affiliate. This is an extension of an existing rule that companies that employ independent agents or representatives to solicit business must collect sales taxes for the state.

Amazon’s suit challenges the constitutionality of this interpretation and seeks a declaratory judgment that it is invalid.
...
The online retailer further claimed that the new rules violate the equal protection clause of the constitution because it specifically targeted Amazon. “It was carefully crafted to increase state tax revenues by forcing Amazon to collect sales and use taxes,” the complaint says, noting that “state officials have described the statute as the ‘Amazon Tax.’ “

So there you have it. A new law, a new lawsuit. I’m sure Amazon can claim “proactive standing” as they will obviously be “injured” by this one. But that’s a side issue. Is New York overstepping it’s bounds? Does this law attempt to regulate intersate commerce through taxation? Why write such a law against Amazon - and it is against Amazon and other Big Business, because the law doesn’t apply to small companies that have less than $7400 per year worth of referral fees - when this kind of action would probably be more effective if written against the credit card companies and PayPal.

Personally I think it’s bullshit and I hope NY gets a swift boot in the ass in court. I understand it takes money to make government run, and that money has to come from taxes. But I think all Use Taxes are wrong, period. It’s my money. The state I live in already taxed me when I earned it, and they tax me again on what I spend within the state. That’s more than enought. What I spend out of the state is none of their goddammed business. They do not own my money and I can spend it how and where I please. Fuck off.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/02/2008 at 10:27 AM   
Filed Under: • GovernmentCorruption and GreedTaxes •  
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calendar   Monday - April 28, 2008

SCOTUS gets one right

Supreme Court Upholds Law Requiring Indiana Voters to Produce Photo IDs

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights, validating Republican-inspired voter ID laws.

In a splintered 6-3 ruling, the court upheld Indiana’s strict photo ID requirement, which Democrats and civil rights groups said would deter poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots. Its backers said it was needed to deter fraud.

It was the most important voting rights case since the Bush v. Gore dispute that sealed the 2000 election for George W. Bush.

The law “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting ‘the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,”’ Justice John Paul Stevens said in an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also agreed with the outcome, but wrote separately.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented.

More than 20 states require some form of identification at the polls. Courts have upheld voter ID laws in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan, but struck down Missouri’s. Monday’s decision comes a week before Indiana’s presidential primary.

The case concerned a state law, passed in 2005, that was backed by Republicans as a way to deter voter fraud. Democrats and civil rights groups opposed the law as unconstitutional and called it a thinly veiled effort to discourage elderly, poor and minority voters — those most likely to lack proper ID and who tend to vote for Democrats.

Well there you go. You want to use a check in the grocery store you have to show ID. You want to sign up for a credit card you have to show ID. You want to get onto a military base you sure as hell have to show ID. You get pulled over by the cops you better be able to produce the right kind of ID for yourself AND your car. What’s the big deal about showing ID for voting? Especially when the ID doesn’t cost you anything to procure.

I wish we had more stringent voter ID here in NJ. All I have to do is sign my name in a book, and have my signature verified by a little old lady who’s nearly blind. I didn’t even have to show a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate when I registered. Ok, maybe I’m an exception, because the person who registered me is the lady who lives downstairs, and I do handyman work for the nearly blind old lady from time to time ...

Getting a NJ driver’s license is now an involved ID process that makes you come up with “7 points” worth of ID - a passport is not enough, and your old license doesn’t help at all. Not only do you have to prove you’re an American, you also need to provide several kinds of proof that you live at the address you put on the form. And that’s Ok. But voter IDs, especially those with a photo, aren’t Ok? Nonsense. Done properly, a photo voter ID is almost a national ID. While I am against a National ID card, it’s pretty much a moot point. The government already knows who I am, where I live, what I do, where I went to school, who I’m married to, where I work, how much I earn, right down to the color of my car ... and what they don’t know about me the credit card companies do: what I buy, where I shop, how often I travel, etc. And because of gun control laws my fingerprints are on a government record already. Most law abiding, non pistol packing people don’t have their prints on file.

Without voter ID you get illegals voting. Without voter ID you get the dead voting. Early and often. Without voter ID you get people voting multiple times in different areas. Would we still get these things with a photo based voter ID? Well, that depends on the processes in place. If you make absentee voting more difficult - eg, fill out the form a month or so ahead of election day, then hand it over to the government and they’ll check your ID then - the system will be fairly clean. If you keep the voter database up to date, and remove the dead people frequently, that will help too. If the Change of Address form you fill out at the post office also goes to the voting record keepers that would also be a help. There are lots of ways to keep the records accurate.

There are too many holes in the voting system. Plug the holes and you make the results more honest, so that “make every vote count” becomes more like “make every legal vote count”, which actually gives MORE power to the legal voters. The voter registration process can be made more exacting without making it onerous. Just prove that you are an American, and prove where you live. That isn’t hard at all.

Oh, and SCOTUS’ 6-3 split? Hardly surprising is it? The lefty judges took the path of less responsibility. Does this decision show that the court is now Conservatively biased? Maybe, maybe not. It shows me that at least 6 of these people can figure out the difference between right and wrong. SCOTUSblog covers more of the details than you’ll get from the news blurbs, and relates that “Court was ruling on the law only as written” which means this decision says only that Indiana’s process if Ok: it is not a blanket approval of all voter ID laws.

The actual ruling for Crawford v. Marion County Election Board can be found here, where you can also read the dissenting opinions too, starting on page 31. Mainly they boil down to the arguments that 1) getting a copy of your birth certificate costs up to $12, and going to the DMV every 4 years to get a renewed non-driver ID is “onerous” for those who don’t drive; and 2) homeless people have to go to the county clerk after voting and sign and affidavit that they are homeless. Each time they vote. And that’s an “excessive burden”. Uh no, it isn’t.  And that $12 - or even $100 as Souter tries to twist it - is not a burdensome expense, nor can it be considered a poll tax. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/28/2008 at 10:30 AM   
Filed Under: • Government •  
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calendar   Monday - April 21, 2008

Psssst. Hey. Yeah, You. Had any S_X lately? When? How much? The gument wants ta know.

AH, don’t we live in interesting times?

Government to quiz households on sex lives and salaries
By Lewis Carter
Last Updated: 3:05am BST 21/04/2008

More than 500,000 people a year are to be questioned about their sex lives and salaries by Government inspectors, it has emerged.

Officials will ask for information about former sexual partners, contraception and how long couples have lived together before getting married.

(when I applied for my Brit visa to come here with my wife, I was asked that very question.)

The 2,000-question survey, which will be carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), has prompted fears of further data security breaches as both names and addresses will be logged by inspectors.

Critics also say the £3.5 million-a-year cost will be a waste of money as people tend to lie about their private lives and begrudge intrusion into personal matters.

Eric Pickles, the shadow communities secretary, said: “Day by day, the liberty and privacy of the British public is being undermined by Labour’s surveillance state. People will be shocked that taxpayers’ money is being spent on intrusive surveys. Now state spies want to log and record who sleeps with whom and how often. Not even the Stasi went this far.”

Inspectors will ask the questions as part of the new Integrated Household Survey.

They will visit 200,000 homes at random each year and question each occupant, meaning that about 500,000 individuals will take part.

One of the questions asks: “Have you ever had a baby - even one who only lived for a short time?”

Interviewers are warned: “Exclude: Any stillborn; Include: Any who only lived for a short time.”

The survey features intimate questions on exact dates when relationships ended, and the precise amount of money people take home.

There will also be 35 questions on contraception, such as whether men have had vasectomies, the brands of Pill women use, and whether they have ever taken the morning-after Pill.

Frank Furedi, a professor of sociology at Kent University, said: “When researchers ask about sexual habits there is a very strong tendency for ­people to clam up, or to say what they think they want to hear.

“I would resent being asked these questions and I don’t think the Government should be doing it.”

A spokesman for the ONS said the survey was the most efficient way of meeting the Government’s “information needs”.

He said that all names and addresses would be deleted from the files once they arrived in the main office.

http://tinyurl.com/4jdtjc


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 04/21/2008 at 10:28 AM   
Filed Under: • Government •  
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calendar   Saturday - April 12, 2008

Tax Time

This is Hell Weekend for a lot of Americans. It’s time to finally face the inevitable and do your taxes. April 15th is Tuesday, and the check has to be in the mail by then.

Some of you have been smart, and have been spending a little time doing them for a month or so now. Others, the few and lucky, who will be getting back a tiny bit of what they’ve paid in, got to work back in January and may have even received their refund checks by now. But tens of millions of us were at Walmart early this morning looking for a copy of TurboTax, or lining up outside H&R Block with a suitcase full of papers and receipts.

My taxes weren’t hard. I’m living close to the poverty line right now, but I’m not on any kind of public assistance whatsoever. And even with my pathetic income, I still had to pay a little bit more to the state and the feds than what had been withheld.

So for those millions who are tying themselves in knots this glorious spring weekend, trying to figure out the cost basis for some damn partial share that was automatically sold because some company they owned a few shares of stock in was bought out by some other company they might have owned a few shares of, my hat’s off to you. I feel your pain, because I’ve been through this myself in the past. Heh, I remember one year when I was in college I had to send in something like twenty forms. I’d worked more than a dozen jobs that year in several states, and the paperwork was amazing.

Many people will have a wake up call today and realize that the Fair Tax would solve so much of this pain. So would some kind of Flat Tax. Other folks just feel a real sense of resentment right now when they realize just how much of their tax money goes to support the lazy and shiftless - and that means people on the dole and the infinite morass of the ever expanding jobs program that is government. If you’re one of them, and find yourself snapping pencils in anger, take heart: Rachel Lucas wrote a great Tax Rant you can read and adopt as your own. I’d give you some excerpts, except that Rachel is in full swing, and it’s hard to find two lines that don’t contain swearing. Go Read. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/12/2008 at 03:43 PM   
Filed Under: • GovernmentCorruption and GreedTaxes •  
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calendar   Friday - April 04, 2008

The nicest part of the NJ government is the DMV

It’s true! A certain previous governor revamped the whole organization, even renaming it the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission. The attitude is gone. Totally. The people are helpful and friendly. Go figure.

I can get in and out of my local office in Flemington in a matter of minutes. Change the registration, get one of our spiffy new “counterfeit proof” driver’s licenses, new plates, whatever. Half an hour tops, and they’ve got snack machines, soda machines, and an accessible clean bathroom. Plus lots of chairs to sit in, TV to watch, and I don’t even have to bring my own pen.

The state inspection station is across the street and a few blocks down. They open early most days. If I go at an off-peak time I can get through the whole process in 20 minutes. While I wait in a fume free climate controlled waiting area that allows me to watch my car getting worked on. If I go at the busy time they usually have two inspection lines running but will open a third line if there’s a backup. The inspections are paid for with tax money, and the inspections are run by an outside vendor. Granted, they get paid a good buck to do the work, but they actually work, and do try to make the process as painless as possible.

Hey, don’t take my word for it. Go read The Trusted Advisor, who has also been through it and was happy with the results. Of course, Trusted also writes about Customer Service Hell when dealing with the cable company. And that’s the cable company that has just bought up my cable company. Oh joy.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/04/2008 at 11:39 AM   
Filed Under: • Government •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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