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BENEDICT ARNOLD, CAPITALIST HERO: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on December 9, 2016 at 12:22 am

The British offered Revolutionary War General Benedict Arnold £20,000 for betraying West Point to the Crown.

Benedict Arnold

But Arnold was a piker compared to companies that are raking in literally billions of untaxed dollars by betraying the United States in its time of economic trial.

To avoid paying their legitimate share of taxes, they move their headquarters overseas to countries with reduced tax rates. In tax parlance, this is called an “inversion.”

For almost 20 years, tax-avoiding corporations fled to Caribbean countries such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. But in 2004, Congress ruled that American companies could relocate overseas if foreign shareholders owned 20% of their stock.

According to statistics compiled by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in 2014:

“Forty-seven U.S. corporations have reincorporated overseas through corporate inversions in the last 10 years, far more than during the previous 20 years combined.

“In total, 75 U.S. corporations have inverted since 1994 – with one other inversion occurring in 1983. What’s more, there are a dozen prospective inversion deals involving U.S. corporations looking to reincorporate overseas, according to CRS

“The new data underscores the significant increase in the number of U.S. corporations that have or are seeking to lower their U.S. taxes by reincorporating overseas.

“It also adds urgency to a legislative solution. Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin in May introduced legislation that would tighten rules to limit inversions.

“The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the legislation would save $19.5 billion over 10 years. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Carl Levin.

“‘Barely a week seems to pass without news that another corporation plans to move its address overseas simply to avoid paying its fair share of U.S. taxes,’” said Ranking Member Levin.

“These corporate inversions are costing the U.S. billions of dollars and undermining vital domestic interests.

“‘We can and should address this problem immediately through legislation to tighten rules to limit the ability of corporations to simply change their address and ship U.S. tax dollars overseas.’”

Among those companies that have chosen to betray their country in its time of economic need:

INVERSION YEAR COMPANY NAME TYPE COUNTRY OF INCORPORATION REVENUE
1983 McDermott International Engineering Panama $2.7 billion
1994 Helen of Troy Consumer Products Bermuda $1.3 billion (FY 2014)
1996 Triton Energy Oil and Gas Cayman Islands Acq by Hess in ’01
1996 Chicago Bridge & Iron (CBI) Engineering Netherlands $11.1 billion
1997 Tyco International Diversified Manufacturer Bermuda $10.6 billion
1997 Santa Fe International Oil and Gas Cayman Islands Acq by Transocean in ’07
1998 Fruit of the Loom Apparel Manufacturer Cayman Islands private company
1998 Gold Reserve Mining Bermuda N/A
1998 Playstar Corp. Toys Antigua Acq by Premier Mobile in ’06
1999 Transocean Offshore Drilling Cayman Islands $9.4 billion
1999 White Mountain Insurance Insurance Bermuda $2.3 billion
1999 Xoma Corp. Biotech Bermuda $35.5 million
1999 PXRE Group Insurance Bermuda Acq by Argonaut Group in ’07
1999 Trenwick Group Insurance Bermuda Acq by LaSalle Re Holdings in ’00
2000 Applied Power Engineering Bermuda Now called Actuant $494 million
2000 Everest Reinsurance Insurance Bermuda $5.6 billion
2000 Seagate Technology Data Storage Cayman Islands $14.4 billion
2000 R&B Falcon Drilling Cayman Islands Acq by Transocean in ’00
2001 Global Santa Fe Corp. Offshore Drilling Cayman Islands Acq by Transocean in ’07
2001 Foster Wheeler Engineering Bermuda $559 million
2001 Accenture Consulting Bermuda $28.6 billion (FY 2013)
2001 Global Marine Engineering Cayman Islands Acq by Bridgehouse Capital in ’04
2002 Noble Corp. Offshore Drilling Cayman Islands $4.2 billion
2002 Cooper Industries Electrical Products Bermuda Acq by Eaton in ’12
2002 Nabor Industries Oil and Gas Bermuda $1.6 billion
2002 Weatherford International Oil and Gas Bermuda $15.2 billion
2002 Ingersoll-Rand Industrial Manufacturer Bermuda $12.3 billion
2002 PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting Consulting Bermuda N/A
2002 Herbalife International Nutrition Cayman Islands $4.8 billion (sales)
2005 Luna Gold Corp Mining Canada $85.3 million
2007 Lincoln Gold Group Mining N/A  
2007 Western Goldfields Mining N/A Acq by New Gold in ’09
2007 Star Maritime Acquisition Grp Shipping N/A Now Star Bulk $69 million
2007 Argonaut Group Insurance Bermuda $1.4 billion
2007 Fluid Media Networks Music Distribution    
2008 Tyco Electronics Industrial Manufacturer Switzerland Now TE Connectivity $3.4 billion (FY ’13)
2008 Foster Wheeler Engineering Bermuda $3.3 billion
2008 Covidien Healthcare Ireland $10.2 billion
2008 Patch International Inc Oil and Gas Canada  
2008 Arcade Acquisition Group Financial    
2008 Energy Infrastructure Acquisition Group Energy    
2008 Ascend Acquisition Group Electronics N/A Acq by Kitara Media in ’13
2008 ENSCO International Oil and Gas United Kingdom $4.9 billion
2009 Tim Hortons Inc Restaurant Chain Canada $3.2 billion
2009 Hungarian Telephone & Cable Corp. Telecommunications Denmark $219 million
2009 Alpha Security Group Security N/A  
2009 Alyst Acquisition Group Financial N/A Acq by China Networks Media in ’09
2009 2020 ChinaCap Acquirco Financial N/A Acq by Exceed Co. in ’09
2009 Ideation Acquisition Grp Private Equity N/A Acq by SearchMedia in ’09
2009 InterAmerican Acquisition Grp Business Management N/A Acq by Sing Kung Ltd in ’09
2009 Vantage Energy Services Offshore Drilling Cayman Islands $732 million
2009 Plastinum Polymer Tech Corp. Industrial Manufacturer    
2010 Valient Biovail Pharmaceuticals Canada $5.7 billion
2010 Pride International Offshore Drilling United Kindom Acq by Ensco in ’11
2010 Global Indemnity Insurance Ireland $319 billion
2011 Alkermes, Inc. Biopharmaceutical Ireland $575 million
2011 TE Connectivity Industrial Manufacturer Switzerland $13.3 billion
2011 Pentair Water Filtration Switzerland $7.5 billion
2012 Rowan Companies Oil Well Drilling United Kindom $1.5 billion
2012 AON Insurance United Kindom $11.8 billion
2012 Tronox Inc Chemical Australia $1.9 billion
2012 Jazz Pharmaceuticals / Azur Pharma Pharmaceuticals Ireland $872 million
2012 D.E. Master Blenders Coffee Netherlands $3.5 billion
2012 Stratasys Printer Manufacturer Israel $486.7 million
2012 Eaton/Cooper Power Management Ireland $22 billion
2012 Endo Health Solutions Pharmaceuticals Ireland $2.6 billion
2013 Liberty Global PLC Cable Company United Kindom $17.3 billion
2013 Actavis / Warner Chilcott Pharmaceuticals Ireland $8.7 billion
2013 Perrigo/Elan Pharmaceuticals Ireland $3.5 billion (FY 2013)
2013 Cadence Pharmaceuticals Pharmaceuticals Ireland $110 million
2014 Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Pharmaceuticals Ireland $2.2 billion
2014 Chiquita Brands Produce Ireland $3 billion
2014 Medtronic Pharmaceuticals Ireland $16.5 billion

SOURCE: Source: Ways and Means Committee Democrats. GRAPHIC: Danielle Douglas – The Washington Post. Published Aug. 6, 2014.

The most popular countries for these “inversions” are:

  • The Cayman Islands
  • Bermuda
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands

BENEDICT ARNOLD, CAPITALIST HERO: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on December 8, 2016 at 11:04 am

On May 13, 2012, Forbes magazine ran an Op-Ed piece under the headline: “For De-Friending The U.S., Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin Is an American Hero.”

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York angrily disagreed.

Chuck Shumer

“It is scary. It is a scary, absurd place where even a tax dodger who renounces America for his own 30 pieces of silver is celebrated as a patriot and an American hero.

“It is perverse. I am appalled by making heroic a man who renounces citizenship to escape a tax rate of capital gains of 15%.

“No one gets rich in America on their own,” Schumer said. “And when people do well in America, they should do well by America. I believe the vast majority of Americans believe this, too.”

From that Op-Ed piece:

“Saverin’s flight from the U.S. is yet another reminder of the superiority of a national consumption tax that in a perfect world would be implemented in concert with the abolition of the I.R.S.”

It’s tempting to imagine a world without an agency to collect taxes. But it’s nightmarish to contemplate a world where there were no taxes to pay for

  • a powerful military to protect us;
  • an FBI to combat terrorism and organized crime;
  • an FAA to safely regulate airline traffic;
  • agencies to repair roads;
  • agencies to erect public buildings (such as schools, courts and libraries) and
  • agencies (such as the EPA and FDA) to protect us from predatory businessmen.

The Op-Ed piece further asserts that “you cannot limit the power of the Federal Government if its officials hold the power to tax incomes.” 

Every nation in history–-whether a democracy or a dictatorship, whether capitalist, socialist or communist–-has understood the absolute necessity for collecting public revenues. And it has created means by which to do so.

“When individuals resist governmental hubris, we should exalt their actions.”

We should, in short, celebrate those who come to the United States to make fortunes they could not make anywhere else–-and then, when they do, turn their backs on their adopted country.

We should rejoice that they have stuffed billions of dollars more into their already-fat pockets and left their supposed fellow countrymen to shift for themselves.

“In an ideal world the Federal Government should implement a consumption tax.  And if, as a result, poor people suffer because they’re taxed at the same level as rich ones, fine. 

“Everyone should know how much it costs to run the government.”

Of course we should have a “regressive” tax that “hits low incomes at the same percentage as high ones.   

Of course, those who are barely able to feed their families or can’t afford medical care should pay as much in taxes as a rich parasite who, like Mitt Romney, throws out $10,000 bets like so many dimes.

“If the Federal Government can’t fund all its programs because rich people like Saverin refuse to pay taxes, then U.S. taxpayers generally will have to make good for the missing taxes.  It’s the fault of Congress that it cannot put an end to any program.”

For billionaires like Saverin and the well-heeled types who subscribe to Forbes, it doesn’t matter whether “the Federal Government can’t fund all its programs.”

San Simeon, estate of William Randolph Hearst

Greed-obsessed “swells” like Saverin:

  • don’t depend on Medicare–they can easily afford the best doctors money can buy;
  • don’t have to depend on Social Security to see them through old age;
  • don’t have to worry about standing in food bank lines;
  • don’t need to rely on police departments–if they’re threatened, they can easily afford round-the-clock bodyguards; 
  • don’t need consumer protection agencies; if they’re victimized by unscrupulous businessmen, they can hire platoons of lawyers and private detectives.

A contemporary writer who warned of America’s abandonment by its privileged classes was Christopher Lasch. In his posthumously published last book, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy [2005] he wrote:

The Revolt Of The Elites And The Betrayal Of Democracy

“There has always been a privileged class, even in America. But it has never been so dangerously isolated from its surroundings.

“George Bush’s [the president who served from 1989 to 1992] wonderment, when he saw for the first time an electronic scanning device at a supermarket checkout counter, revealed…the chasm that divides the privileged classes from the rest of the nation.”

Until recently, wrote Lasch, American cultural and economic elites willingly shouldered civic responsibilities. But in post-modern capitalism, a professional elite defines itself as entirely separate from civic concerns.

The new elites flourish through enterprises that operate across international borders. The rich in America have more in common with their fellows in Europe or Asia than with the vast majority of their fellow Americans who don’t share their comfortable surroundings.

Thus, the privileged class in America–the top 1%–has separated itself from the crumbling public services and industrial cities that are used and lived in by the rest of the country’s citizens.

Even worse, our society has condoned their exalted status. The dust jacket blurb for James Patterson’s crime-thriller, NYPD Red, says it best:

“NYPD Red is a special task force charged with protecting the interests of Manhattan’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens.”

It’s time to protect the 99% of America’s citizens against the predators of its 1% wealthiest.

BENEDICT ARNOLD: CAPITALIST HERO: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on December 7, 2016 at 12:54 am

Americans need to realize that a country can be betrayed for other than political reasons.  It can be sold out for economic ones, too

On May 15, 2012, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship.

Born in Brazil, the 30-year-old Saverin became a U.S. citizen in 1998 but had lived in Singapore since 2009.

Eduardo Saverin 

Giving up his citizenship allowed him to avoid paying taxes on billions of dollars on capital gains when Facebook launched its IPO on May 18, 2012. Singapore does not have a capital gains tax.

And America’s extreme Right couldn’t have been happier.

Take Rush Limbaugh, the Right-wing talk-show host. The Rush Limbaugh Show airs throughout the U.S. on over 400 stations and is the highest-rated talk-radio program in the United States.

When Limbaugh speaks, his “dittohead” audience listens–and acts as he decrees.

Rush Limbaugh

“So if it’s a more favorable tax haven that you can find elsewhere and you go there,” asked Limbaugh, “why is it automatically that you are unpatriotic?

“Why is it automatically that you are a coward, that you are not paying your fair share? It’s this whole class envy thing rearing its head again.”

For Limbaugh, the villain isn’t a billionaire who turns his back on the country that gave him the opportunity to become one. No, the villain lies in those who believe that even wealthy businessmen should behave like patriots–instead of parasites.

“But [Barack Obama is] out there demonizing successful people every day,” said Limbaugh, “targeting successful people every day, running a presidential campaign based on class warfare, trying to get the 99% of the country who are not in the top 1% to hate the 1%, to literally despise ’em.”

Consider the implications of this: 

On November 1, 2011, Forbes magazine reported that, in 2007, the richest 1% of the American population owned 34.6% of the country’s total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%. 

Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%.

According to Limbaugh’s philosophy, the bottom 80% of the population owning 15% of the country’s wealth should pay homage to the top 20% of Americans who own 85% of the country’s wealth.

In short, they should “know their place” and not expect the moneyed few to pay their fair share of taxes.

Of course, this is to be expected of Limbaugh–whose own wealth makes him a multi-millionaire. 

In 2001, U.S. News & World Report noted that Limbaugh had an eight-year contract, with Clear Channel Communications, for $31.25 million a year.

And according to a July 2, 2008, Matt Drudge column, Limbaugh signed a contract extension through 2016 that is worth over $400 million.

And Limbaugh wasn’t alone in his praise for Saverin.

Another right-winger who defends those who run out on their country is anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

On May 7, 2012, two Democratic Senators–Chuck Schumer of New York and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania–introduced legislation designed to tax expatriates even after they have left the country. 

Their “Ex-PATRIOT Act” would have imposed a mandatory 30% tax on American investments for those who renounce their citizenship and would also prohibit individuals like Saverin from re-entering the country.  

But the bill died in committee. 

In 2013, Schumer and two other Senators added similar provisions to a major immigration reform bill. But their amendment was not included in the version of the bill that passed the Senate. 

“Saverin has turned his back from the country that welcomed him, kept him safe, educated him and helped him become a billionaire,” Schumer said at a press conference. He added that it was time to “de-friend” the Facebook co-founder.

Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATF) said the targeting people that turn in their passports reminded him of regimes that had driven people out of the country, only to confiscate their wealth at the door.

Grover Norquist

“I think Schumer can probably find the legislation to do this,” said Norquist. “It existed in Germany in the 1930s and Rhodesia in the ’70s and in South Africa as well. He probably just plagiarized it and translated it from the original German.”

On the floor of the Senate, Schumer denounced Norquist in return:

“I know a thing or two about what the Nazis did. Some of my relatives were killed by them.

“Saying that a person who made their fortune specifically because of the positive elements in American society, in turn, has a responsibility to do right by America is not even on the same planet as comparing to what Nazis did to Jews.”

Chuck Schumer

Schumer added that he found it troubling that conservatives would lionize someone like Saverin, who was called “an American hero” by Forbes magazine.

On May 13, 2012, Forbes–which describes itself as “The Capitalist Tool”–had run an Op-Ed piece under the headline: “For De-Friending The U.S., Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin Is an American Hero.”

“Can you believe it?” asked Schumer. “An American hero? Renouncing your citizenship now qualifies as heroic for the hard Right-wing?”

“This has gone so far, this idolatry they have taken to such an extreme end, they make Eduardo Saverin into their patron saint. In the name of low taxes for the wealthy, they have lionized an inherently unpatriotic person.” 

A KISSINGER-STYLE SOLUTION TO SAVE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 7, 2016 at 9:19 am

On September 4, 1970, Salvador Allende, a physician and politician, became the 30th President of Chile.

More importantly, he became the first Marxist to win leadership of a Latin American country in a free election.

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Salvador Allende

Once in office, Allende began carrying out his socialist agenda. This included:

  • Nationalizing large-scale industries (notably banking and copper mining);
  • Government administration of the educational and health care systems;
  • Providing free milk for children in the schools and shanty towns of Chile;
  • Allocating 3,000 scholarships to Mapuchechildren to integrate the Indian minority into the educational system; and
  • Establishing an obligatory minimum wage for workers of all ages (including apprentices).

For staunchly anti-Communist President Richard Nixon, the rise of Allende to such power was a nightmare. In September, 1970, he authorized the CIA to spend $10 million to prevent Allende from gaining power–or to overthrow him if he did.

After failing to prevent Allende from winning a democratic election, the CIA plotted to replace him with a military junta.

Henry Kissinger, then acting as Nixon’s national security adviser, infamously said: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”

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Henry Kissinger

On September 11, 1973, the Chilean military, aided by the United States and the CIA, staged a coup against Allende.

Allende committed suicide or was shot to death (accounts vary) and a brutal military tyranny under General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was quickly installed.

Only in 1990 was democracy restored in Chile.

So what does a Henry Kissinger remark made 43 years ago have to do with the 2016 American Presidential election?

A November 5 CNN opinion piece explains it best.

Titled, “The World Is Watching America’s Election,” the article noted: “Many months ago” people around the world “sounded a mixture of entertained and puzzled by the campaign.

“People were asking ‘Who is Donald Trump?’ ‘What are Hillary Clinton’s chances?’”

But American elections affect more than Americans–they affect millions of people in countries throughout the world.

“Increasingly, the amusement and befuddlement have given way to alarm and disgust. And in authoritarian countries where ‘democracy’ comes in quotation marks, authorities are deriving visible pleasure from describing American democracy as a chaotic sham.”

During a trip to Japan in May, President Barack Obama said he had found global leaders “rattled” by the rise of Trump.

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Donald Trump

Especially alarming to many Americans has been the mutual admiration society among Trump and foreign dictators such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong On.

Click here: The world is watching America’s election (Opinion) – CNN.com 

In his bestselling 1973 biography, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, British historian Robert Payne harshly condemned the German people for the rise of the Nazi dictator.

To America’s shame, much of what he wrote about the Germans now applies to those Americans supporting Trump:

“[They] allowed themselves to be seduced by him and came to enjoy the experience….[They] followed him with joy and enthusiasm because he gave them license to pillage and murder to their hearts’ content. They were his servile accomplices, his willing victims….

“If he answered their suppressed desires, it was not because he shared them, but because he could make use of them. He despised the German people, for they were merely the instruments of his will.

“Many Germans voted against Hitler but few fought actively against him, and of these even fewer fought with clean weapons and clear consciences.”

There is a very real danger that millions of ignorant, hate-filled, Right-wing Americans will catapult Donald Trump–a man without kindness or charity–into the Presidency.

And that this man–who apparently received no love, and can give no love–will assume all the awesome power that goes with that office.

Thus, to rephrase Kissinger: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Fascist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”

A first step in that direction would be the legal abolishing of the Republican party as a threat to the American democratic system.  

For example: Several Republican Senators, including John McCain, have openly boasted that even if Hillary Clinton becomes President, they will prevent her from filling the Supreme Court seat left vacant in February by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

It’s the President’s duty to nominate Supreme Court Justices–and the Senate’s to vote Yes or No to confirm them.

Ignoring the mandate of a national election and refusing to carry out their Constitutionally-assigned duties is a flagrant violation of their oaths of office.

And that is, in itself, sufficient cause for their removal from office.

To rephrase what Robert F. Kennedy once said about the underworld-dominated Teamsters Union: “Quite literally, your life–the life of every person in the United States–is in the hands of the Republicans and their followers.”

In Germany, the Socialist Reich Party (SPR)–an heir to the Nazi party–has been banned since 1952. Yet Germany remains a strong force for democracy in Europe.

In America, it’s time to remove Right-wing totalitarians–and the dangers they represent to democratic government–from the levers of power they now hold.

A TAXING PROBLEM

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Law Enforcement, Self-Help on November 4, 2016 at 12:23 am

“We’ll try to cooperate fully with the IRS, because, as citizens, we feel a strong patriotic duty not to go to jail.”
–Dave Barry

Several years ago, a private investigations agency found itself in serious trouble with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

One of its employees had suddenly quit the company–leaving behind a major financial disaster.

That employee–whom I’ll call Pete–had been tasked with sending payroll tax records to the IRS. The company’s owner, Bill, assumed he had carried out his assignment.

Until he learned from the IRS that they had never received the records.

Consider the potential consequences:

  • Failing to timely and properly pay federal payroll taxes results in an automatic penalty of 2% to 10%.
  • Similar state and local penalties apply.
  • Failing to properly file monthly or quarterly returns may result in additional penalties.
  • Failing to file W-2 Forms results in an automatic penalty of up to $50 per form not timely filed.
  • A particularly severe penalty applies where federal income tax withholding and Social Security taxes are not paid to the IRS.
  • The penalty of up to 100% of the amount not paid can be assessed against the employer entity as well as any person (such as a corporate officer) having control or custody of the funds from which payment should have been made.

About 70% of the annual revenue collected by the IRS comes from payroll taxes. Under-reported and unpaid employment taxes account for about $72 billion of the United States tax gap. So the IRS makes the collection of payroll taxes a high priority.

No doubt about it–Bill was facing serious trouble.

What to do?  

Fortunately, Steve, one of Bill’s employees, had a B.A. in Communications and had worked as a newspaper reporter.

When Bill told him of the calamity he was facing, Steve offered his best advice: Immediately contest the charge that he had been delinquent in providing the records. And explain to the IRS–in writing–what had happened.  

Bill agreed.

First,  Steve interviewed him at length to make certain he fully understood the circumstances leading up to his present crisis.

Then Steve sat down and typed up a letter–on office letterhead stationery–to the IRS. Letterhead would give it an official appearance–and Steve wanted every advantage he could get.

Steve offered a straightforward presentation of what had happened: Pete, the number-two man in the company, had been entrusted with submitting payroll tax records to the IRS.

Apparently nursing a grudge against the company, he had, in fact, done nothing of the sort.

Instead, he had dumped the records in a box and stashed this in a locked filing cabinet.

Then he had given notice and left the company. Later, an investigation of his office computer revealed that it had often been used to access pornography.

Steve emphasized that Bill’s company had previously had an unblemished record for meeting its payroll tax obligations on time. And he stated that the newly-found records had been sent to the IRS by registered mail.

Finally, Steve wrote that Bill was prepared to fully meet his financial obligations  to the IRS. But he asked that Bill not be penalized for the irresponsible actions of a single, malcontented employee.

The result? 

Bill ended up paying only those monies that he legally owed.  He was not forced to pay a penalty.

So what are the lessons to be learned from this episode?

  • In dealing with an agency as powerful as the IRS, don’t ignore its letters and/or phone calls. 
  • You have nothing to gain by pretending it will go away.  It won’t.
  • If you owe money, don’t deny it. 
  • Remain calm, even if you feel angry or afraid. 
  • Don’t use profanity or insults. 
  • Don’t try to play tough-guy with the IRS.  Even the Mafia fears this agency.

  • If you have a legitimate reason for having missed a payment, say so. 
  • Remember that everything you say to the IRS–verbally or in writing–is considered evidence given under oath. 
  • If you lie and get caught, you can face perjury charges as well as those for failing to comply with tax laws.
  • Offer to fully pay any monies that you legally owe.
  • If these amount to more than you can meet in a single payment, say so. Ask the agency to set up a plan by which you can pay it off in installments.
  • If the agency balks at cooperating with you, contact a veteran tax accountant or attorney.
  • The best accountants or attorneys for dealing with the IRS are former agents now working in private practice. They not only know the tax laws; they know the best ways to short-circuit an IRS audit and/or penalties.

PAY MORE TAXES, GET LESS FOR THEM

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 1, 2016 at 6:20 am

The budget for the City and County of San Francisco for 2016-17 is $9.6 billion. Its proposed budget for 2017-18 is $9.7 billion.

San Francisco occupies 46.87 miles and has a population of 837,442.

Roughly half of the budget goes toward city-related business operations–such as the Port, the bus line, the Airport and the Public Utilities Commission.

The other half of the budget goes toward such public services as Public Health, Police and Fire Services, Recreation and Parks.

As the November 8 election quickly approaches, the most controversial issue on the city ballot is Proposition V.

Specifically, this calls for a tax of one cent per ounce from the distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages.

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Currently, San Francisco does not impose a tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverage.

The initiative defines “a sugar-sweetened beverage” as “a beverage that contains added sugar and 25 or more calories per 12 ounces.

“These include some soft drinks, sports drinks, iced tea, juice drinks and energy drinks. The tax would also apply to syrups and powders that can be made into sugar-sweetened beverages, for example, fountain drinks from beverage-dispensing machines.”

Supporters of the initiative are trying to sell it via the “save our kids” argument. The Vote Yes on V campaign states:

“On November 8th, the health of children in San Francisco relies on us.

“Proposition V will tax distributors of soda and other sugary drinks that have direct links to obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart and liver disease.”

Left unsaid is how putting more money into city coffers would lead children to show more restraint in buying “sugar-sweetened beverages.”

Perhaps the real reason why many city officials enthusiastically back this measure can be found in a statement by the San Francisco Controller:

“Should this ordinance be approved, in my opinion, it would result in an annual tax revenue increase to the City of approximately $7.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 2017–2018 and $15 million in FY 2018–19The tax is a general tax and proceeds would be deposited into the General Fund.”

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San Francisco Controller’s Office

San Francisco takes in more than $9 billion in taxes every year. But for many San Francisco officials this just isn’t enough.

Yet for many San Francisco residents, it is. In 2014, they defeated a similar soda tax.

Opponents of the tax have attacked it as a “grocery tax.” They argue that grocers–especially those running the mom-and-pop stores popular in San Francisco–will pass on the costs to their customers by raising prices on groceries altogether.

Proposition V supporters claim this is a lie. Rebecca Kaplan, a member of the Oakland Council, told the Huffington Post: “People worry about having to pay for their groceries. To threaten that their groceries are going to be taxed when it’s not true is a totally despicable tactic from the soda industry.”

Actually, there is nothing in the measure to prevent grocers from passing the tax on to consumers.

Meanwhile, what are San Franciscans getting for the $9 billion in taxes City Hall collects?

  • Call the general number of the police or fire department–and chances are you’ll get a recorded message telling you to wait your turn in line.

Call even 9-1-1 and the odds are great that you’ll get the same message. And if you complain to a city official about it, you’ll likely be told: “Well, we have only so many operators.”

The last thing someone calling police or the fire department in a crisis wants to hear is: “We’ll get back to you when we feel like it.”

  • Or wander into downtown Market Street, a major thoroughfare into the heart of San Francisco.

You’ll find its red-brick blocks filled with stinking, disease-ridden, drug- or alcohol-addicted, often psychotic men and women whom city officials politely call “the homeless.”

In 2016, the city spent $241 million on “homeless” services. But the population surges between 7,000 and 10,000. Of these, 3,000 to 5,000 refuse shelter.

City officials admit that San Francisco ranks second to New York in homelessness. What they won’t admit is that they are largely responsible for it.

The city’s mild climate and social programs that dole out cash payments to virtually anyone with no residency requirement draw rootless, unstable persons like a magnet.

  • The problems affecting the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) aren’t as obvious as the homeless infesting the city’s streets. But they are nevertheless real.

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In 2002, the San Francisco Chronicle found that the city’s violent criminals had a better chance of escaping punishment than predators in any other large American city.

The SFPD had the lowest violent crime “clearance rate” among the nation’s 20 largest cities. Among Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, the SFPD is considered a joke.

  • At the San District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors often can’t decide if they want to lock up criminals–or defend them.

From 2004 to 2011, Kamala Harris served as the city’s District Attorney. In total defiance of the law, she set up a secret unit to keep even convicted illegal aliens out of prison.

Kamala Harris

Her program, called Back on Track, trained them for jobs they could not legally hold. This was a flagrant violation of Federal immigration law. It is not the duty of local law enforcement, she said, to enforce Federal immigration laws.

In San Francisco, you don’t necessarily get what you pay for.

SOMETHING PRECIOUS LOST IN PUBLIC LIFE

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on October 31, 2016 at 9:15 am

Today, America has two major candidates running for President: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Trump is a billionaire businessman and television personality. Clinton is a former First Lady (1993-2001), U.S. Senator from New York (2001-2009) and Secretary of State (2009-2013). 

Despite the great differences in their backgrounds, they both share one thing in common: They are fiercely hated by millions of their fellow Americans.  

Trump’s character has been poignantly summed up by David Brooks, a conservative political columnist for The New York Times

“The odd thing about [Trump’s] whole career and his whole language, his whole world view is there is no room for love in it. You get a sense of a man who received no love, can give no love, so his relationship with women, it has no love in it. It’s trophy.

And so you really are seeing someone who just has an odd psychology unleavened by kindness and charity, but where it’s all winners and losers, beating and being beat. And that’s part of the authoritarian personality, but it comes out in his attitude towards women.”   

For Republicans, Hillary Clinton arouses hatred that is often as much directed at her sex as her political views: She’s a bitch, a lesbian, physically unattractive. She’s not feminine enough. She “shrieks” and “shouts” when making speeches. She hates men–and, worse, castrates them.

She will abolish religion and force everyone to become atheists. She will authorize U.N. soldiers to confiscate the more than 300 million guns Americans privately hold. She will throw open American borders to millions of illegal aliens from Central and South America. She will sell out America to whoever pays the highest bribe to the Clinton Foundation.

But 48 years ago, Senator Robert Francis Kennedy aroused passions of an altogether different sort.  

Kennedy had been a United States Attorney General (1961-1964) and Senator from New York (1964-1968). But it was his connection to his beloved and assassinated brother, President John F. Kennedy, for which he was best known.  

In October, 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, his wise counsel helped steer America from the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. As a U.S Senator he championed civil rights and greater Federal efforts to fight poverty.

Robert F. Kennedy campaigning for President

Millions saw RFK as the only candidate who could make life better for America’s impoverished–while standing firmly against those who threatened the Nation’s safety.  

As television correspondent Charles Quinn observed: “I talked to a girl in Hawaii who was for [George] Wallace [the segregationist governor of Alabama]. And I said ‘Really?’ [She said] ‘Yeah, but my real candidate is dead.’  

“You know what I think it was?  All these whites, all these blue collar people who supported Kennedy…all of these people felt that Kennedy would really do what he thought best for the black people, but, at the same time, would not tolerate lawlessness and violence.  

“They were willing to gamble…because they knew in their hearts that the country was not right. They were willing to gamble on this man who would try to keep things within reasonable order; and at the same time do some of the things they knew really should be done.”

Campaigning for the Presidency in 1968, RFK had just won the crucial California primary on June 4–when he was shot in the back of the head.

His killer: Sirhan Sirhan, a young Palestinian furious at Kennedy’s support for Israel.

Kennedy died at 1:44 a.m. on June 6.    

On June 8, 1,200 men and women boarded a specially-reserved passenger train at New York’s Pennsylvania Station. They were accompanying Kennedy’s body to its final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery.  

As the train slowly moved along 225 miles of track, throngs of men, women and children lined the rails to pay their final respects to a man they considered a genuine hero.

Little Leaguers clutched baseball caps across their chests. Uniformed firemen and policemen saluted. Burly men in shirtsleeves held hardhats over their hearts. Black men in overalls waved small American flags. Women from all levels of society stood and cried.

A nation says goodbye to Robert Kennedy

Commenting on RFK’s legacy, historian William L. O’Neil wrote in Coming Apart: An Informal History of America in the 1960′s:  

“…He aimed so high that he must be judged for what he meant to do, and, through error and tragic accident, failed at….He will also be remembered as an extraordinary human being who, though hated by some, was perhaps more deeply loved by his countrymen than any man of his time. 

“That too must be entered into the final account, and it is no small thing. With his death something precious disappeared from public life.”    

America has never again seen a Presidential candidate who combined toughness on crime and compassion for the poor.  

Republican candidates have waged war on crime–and the poor. And Democratic candidates have moved to the Right in eliminating anti-poverty programs.  

RFK had the courage to fight the Mafia–and the compassion to fight poverty. At a time when Americans long for candidates to give them positive reasons for voting, his kind of politics are sorely missed.

MARCHING THROUGH TREASON–AGAIN: PART TWO: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 27, 2016 at 12:09 am

When Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837, was close to death, he asked his doctor: “What act of my administration will be most severely condemned by future Americans?”

“Perhaps the removal of the bank deposits,” said the doctor–referring to Jackson’s withdrawal of U.S. Government monies from the first Bank of the United States.

That act had destroyed the bank, which Jackson had believed was a source of political corruption.

“Oh, no!” said Jackson.

“Then maybe the specie circular,” said the doctor. He was referring to an 1836 executive order Jackson had issued, requiring payment for government land to be in gold and silver.

“Not at all!” said Jackson.

Then, his eyes blazing, Jackson raged: “I can tell you. Posterity will condemn me more because I was persuaded not to hang John C. Calhoun as a traitor than for any other act in my life!”

John C. Calhoun had once been Vice President under Jackson and later a United States Senator from South Carolina. His fiery rhetoric and radical theories of “nullification” played a major part in bringing on the Civil War (1861-1865).

John C. Calhoun

Calhoun was an outspoken proponent of slavery, which he declared to be a “positive good” rather than a “necessary evil.” He supported states’ rights and nullification–by which states could declare null and void federal laws they deemed unconstitutional.

Historians have not condemned Jackson for failing to hang the senator. But perhaps he was right–and perhaps he should have hanged Calhoun.

It might have prevented the Civil War–or at least delayed its coming.

Over time, Southern states’ threats of “nullification” turned to threats of “secession” from the Union.

Jackson died in 1845–16 years before the Civil War erupted.

The resulting carnage slaughtered as many as 620,000 lives. More Americans died in that war than have been killed in all the major wars fought by the United States since.

When it ended, America was reinvented as a new, unified nation–and one where slavery was now banned by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Equally important, the Federal Government had now set a precedent for using overwhelming military power to force states to remain in the Union.

But in 2012, within days of Barack Obama’s decisive winning of another four years as President, residents across the country raised the call of treason.

They did done so by filing secession petitions to the Obama administration’s “We the People” program, which is featured on the White House website.

States whose residents filed secession petitions included:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington (state), West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The reason: Thousands–if not millions–of Americans couldn’t abide a moderately-liberal black man winning a second term as President.

Abraham Lincoln dedicated his Presidency–and sacrificed his life–to ensure the preservation of a truly United States.

And Robert E. Lee–the defeated South’s greatest general–spent the last five years of his life trying to put the Civil War behind him and persuade his fellow Southerners to accept their place in the Union.

But today avowed racists, Fascists and other champions of treason are working hard to destroy that union–and unleash a second Civil War.  

Yet no official in Washington, D.C.–from President Obama on down–has so far dared to openly confront this menace. This failure to do so has only emboldened Trump’s Fascistic supporters and dismayed those who would oppose them.

President Obama should follow Andrew Jackson’s example–before treasonous talk becomes treasonous action.  

He should make clear that if treasonous violence erupts during his last two months in office, he will act decisively to crush it, using whatever level of force is necessary.

President Obama should warn these 21st-century would-be traitors that the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service are prepared to combat any threats to national security.

And if these agencies aren’t sufficient, the United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand ready to send modern-day counterparts of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to wherever they are needed.  

In 1864, Sherman’s 62,000 soldiers marched more than 650 miles in less than 100 days, ravaged Georgia, burned Atlanta to the ground–and ended the Civil War.

President Obama’s attitude should be: “Let them hate me, so long as they fear me.”

Sherman’s March through Georgia

Similarly, Hillary Clinton–if she is elected–should issue a similar statement: That her coming administration will not tolerate the outbreak of widespread violence from any section of the population, whatever the excuse.

And she should bluntly warn that “Marching Through Georgia” is a song that can be played wherever treason dares to show its face:

So we made a thoroughfare for freedom and her train
Sixty miles of latitude, three hundred to the main.
Treason fled before us, for resistance was in vain
While we were marching through Georgia.

MARCHING THROUGH TREASON–AGAIN: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 26, 2016 at 12:19 am

They cannot be made to love us, but they may be made to fear us.
–William Tecumseh Sherman speaking of the Southern Confederacy

If Hillary Clinton is elected President, she may soon face the same crisis that confronted Abraham Lincoln more than a century ago: Mass treason.

Americans haven’t even voted yet. But, already, hard-core supporters of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump believe a sinister international cabal has “rigged” the 2016 election for Clinton.  

There is absolutely no evidence for this–other than what Trump himself has loudly and repeatedly told them: That there is a massive conspiracy to take him down.  

At one town hall meeting where his Vice Presidential running mate, Mike Pence, appeared, a woman named Rhonda stood up and announced: “One of the things that I can tell you that a lot of us are scared of is this voter fraud.

“There’s a lot of out here saying that when we vote, we’re going to wear red. Our lives depend on this election. Our kids’ futures depend on this election.

“For me personally, if Hillary Clinton gets in, I myself am ready for a revolution.”  

In Cincinnati, a Trump supporter threatened to forcibly remove Clinton from the White House if she won the Presidential race: “I feel like Hillary needs to be taken out if she gets in the government. I’ll do everything in my power to take her out of power–which, if I have to be a patriot, I will.”

When asked if he was physically threatening Clinton, Dan Bowman, 50, told CNN: “I don’t know, is it?”

Officially, the Trump campaign claimed: “We reject violence in any form and will not allow it to be a part of our campaign.”

But on August 9, Trump told a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina that Clinton intended to abolish the Second Amendment: “If she gets to pick her judges, there’s nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people–maybe there is, I don’t know.”   

The Clinton camp instantly saw it as a “dog-whistle” solicitation for political assassination. The Trump campaign issued a statement denying that he had meant any such thing.  

On July 19, Trump clinched the Republican Presidential nomination. By early August, Roger Stone, a longtime Right-wing political consultant and now Trump strategist, was already predicting “widespread voter fraud” in the coming election.  

This despite the fact that a 2014 Washington Post analysis of 14 years of voter fraud found 31 possible incidents of in-person voter fraud, comprised of approximately 241 fraudulent ballots.  

In an interview with the Right-wing Breitbart News website, Stone said:

“The first thing that Trump needs to do is begin talking about [voter fraud] constantly. If there’s voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate, the election of the winner will be illegitimate, we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government.” 

Image result for Images of Roger Stone

Roger Stone

Stone added that Trump should keep drumming up his supporters against the “rigged” system, and promise that the government would be shut down if Clinton was pronounced the victor in November.  

“I think he’s gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath… We will not stand for it.” 

Yet no official in Washington, D.C.–from President Barack Obama on down–has so far dared to openly acknowledge–let alone confront–this menace.

If Hillary Clinton is elected President, she would do well to review how Andrew Jackson, America’s seventh President from 1829 to 1837, reacted to threats of secession.

Andrew Jackson

In 1830, South Carolina was threatening to secede from the Union. A South Carolina Congressman who was returning home visited Jackson and asked: “Do you have a message you want me to give to your friends in the state?”

Jackson questioned him about the recent mass meetings in Charleston.

The friend warned him that South Carolina’s fire-eaters believed “the Army and Navy aren’t big enough to collect a penny” of Federal taxes.

“Do they realize what their words mean?” asked Jackson.

“I’m afraid they do, General.”

“Then tell them from me that they can talk and write resolutions and print threats to their hearts’ content.

“But if one drop of blood is shed there in opposition to the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man I can lay my hands on engaged in such treasonable conduct, from the first tree I can reach.”

News of Jackson’s threat quickly spread throughout Washington, D.C.

Senator Robert Hayne of South Carolina told his fellow Senator, Thomas Hart Benton, of Missouri, that he couldn’t believe that Jackson would send an army to invade a sovereign state.

Benton replied: “I tell you, Hayne, when Jackson starts talking about hanging, they can begin to look for the ropes.”

Jackson later issued a proclamation to the people of South Carolina and threatened to hang Hayne’s successor, Senator John C. Calhoun. He also warned that he would himself lead an army into the state to enforce Federal law.

The treasonous rumblings stopped–for the moment.

DENYING THE PAST: DAVID IRVING AND DONALD TRUMP: PART TWO (END)

In History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 25, 2016 at 12:10 am

On October 7, The Washington Post leaked a video of Donald Trump making sexually predatory comments about women. The remarks came during a 2005 exchange with Billy Bush, then the host of Access Hollywood

The two were traveling in an Access Hollywood bus to the set of the soap opera Days of Our Lives, where Trump was to make a cameo appearance. A “hot” microphone picked up their conversation–which has proved damning for Trump: 

Donald Trump: You know and I moved on her actually. You know she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her.

She was married. No this was–and I moved on her very heavily, in fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there, and she was married.

Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

[At that point, they spot Adrianne Zucker, the starring actress in Days in Our Lives.]

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful–I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.

And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

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Donald Trump

When the Washington Post broke the story on October 7, the reaction was immediate–and explosive.

The Trump campaign quickly released a statement: “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course–not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”  

During the second Presidential debate on October 9, moderator Anderson Cooper asked Trump: “Have you ever done those things?”  

Trump: “And I will tell you–no I have not.”  

On October 12, The Palm Beach Post, The New York Times and People all published stories of women claiming to have been sexually assaulted by Trump.

Mindy McGillivray told the Post that Trump groped her buttocks when she visited Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2013.  

In December, 2005, People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff went to Mar-a-Lago to interview Donald and Melania Trump for a first-wedding-anniversary feature story.  

During a break in the interview, Trump said he wanted to show Stoynoff around his mansion. There was one “tremendous” room he especially wanted to show her.

According to her account: “We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.”

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Natasha Stoynoff

Fortunately, Trump’s butler soon entered the room, and Trump acted as though nothing had happened. But as soon as he and Stoynoff were alone again, Trump said: “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”  

Stoynoff asked her editors–and received permission–to be removed from writing any further Trump features.

The Times reported that, more than 30 years ago, Trump had made equally unwelcome advances toward businesswoman Jessica Leeds, then 38.  

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Jessica Leeds

She said she was sitting next to Trump in the first-class cabin of a New York-bound flight when Trump lifted the armrest, grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.  

She fled to the back of the plane.

Another woman who spoke to the Times was Rachel Crooks. She was a 22-year-old receptionist at Bayrock Group, a real estate investment and development company in Trump Tower in Manhattan in 2005.

One morning she came face-to-face with Trump outside an elevator in the building. Knowing that her company did business with him, she introduced herself. They shook hands. But instead of letting go, Trump kissed her cheeks, and then “kissed me directly on the mouth.”

On October 11, questioned by a Times reporter about the women’s claims, Trump shouted: “None of this ever took place.”

He accused the newspaper of inventing accusations to hurt his Presidential candidacy.  And he threatened to sue for libel if the Times reported the women’s stories. 

On October 13, Trump used Twitter to deny the allegations in the Times and People.

On October 14, at a rally in North Carolina, Trump attacked the character of the women accusing him.  

Of Stoynoff, he said: “Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”

Calling Jessica Leeds “that horrible woman,” he said: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you. Whoever she is, wherever she comes from, the stories are total fiction. They’re 100% made up. They never happened.”  

At one point during his lengthy outburst, Trump–who’s been married three times and often boasted of his sexual prowess–asked why President Barack Obama hasn’t had similar claims leveled against him.  

By October 14, at least 12 women had publicly accused Trump of sexually inappropriate behavior.

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