Saturday, October 26, 2013

Marty Sullivan figured out how the world’s biggest companies avoided billions in taxes.

Here’s how Marty wants to stop them - How will this affect the Cayman Islands?

It was a humbling experience for the chief executive of the world’s most valuable company. Hauled before a Senate panel, Apple’s Tim Cook had to explain how an American company whose American engineers had created the iPhone and the iPad was able to avoid paying any taxes on billions of dollars in profits generated by those products — not to United States, not to any country. The only defense the Cook could conjure up for Apple “stateless” income was that it was all perfectly legal.

A few miles away in Arlington, a 55-year-old economist named Marty Sullivan sat on a folding metal chair at a card table in the garage of his modest brick home and watched the hearing unfold on his laptop computer. Sullivan is one of those unheralded members of the permanent Washington establishment who make things work, at least when the politicians let them. And for two decades, from the same home office, Sullivan has been exposing the tax-dodging schemes of multinational corporations in the columns of Tax Notes, a must-read publication for tax lawyers, accountants and policy wonks.

It was Sullivan who shined an early light on how companies had finagled “transfer prices” — the price one division charges another for parts or services — to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions.</p><p>It was Sullivan who had called out the big drug and tech companies for transferring ownership of their patents and trademarks — the source of much of their profits — to subsidiaries in Ireland and other low-tax jurisdictions.

It was Sullivan who highlighted the absurdity of tax havens in which just a handful of multinationals claimed to earn annual profits that were several times the country’s entire GDP.

“What politicians keep forgetting is that you can’t ‘partner’ with the corporate community when it comes to writing the tax laws,” Sullivan explains. “They’re not partners — they are adversaries.”

And it was Sullivan who in 2010 pieced together from public filings that Apple had understated its reported profits to hide the fact that it was paying a tax rate of less than 2 percent on its overseas profits, shining the spotlight on Apple’s tax avoidance schemes.

“We’ve been banging the drum on this stuff for years,” Sullivan said with just the slightest hint of satisfaction as the morning sun filtered into the garage he shares with bicycles, garden tools, an American flag and an old coffee maker. “But it’s finally gone prime time.”

For years, big multinational corporations, waving the banner of competitiveness, have been pushing hard for corporate tax reform. “Reform” means different things to different people, but to multinational corporations, it has meant a sizeable cut in the 35 percent corporate tax rate and an end to all U.S. taxation on profits earned overseas.

Now, however, revelations of elaborate tax dodges by respected companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Starbucks have badly undermined their “reform” push, not just in the United States but around the globe.

At a recent meeting in St. Petersburg, the leaders of the 20 leading industrial nations vowed to push ahead with tough new global standards that would put an end to “stateless” income and limit the ability of firms to avoid taxation by shifting profits to tax havens. After years of competing against one another for corporate investment by offering ever-more-favorable tax regimes, cash-strapped governments have decided to go after the companies rather than each other.

“There’s been a race to the bottom, and the multinationals were winning,” said Eric Toder, co-director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington. More



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Model OSCE of the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship

Switzerland will assume the Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2014.

In accordance with the year’s overall theme, “Creating a Security Community for the Benefit of Everyone,” it will pursue three overarching objectives:

  • Fostering security and stability in Europe;
  • Improving people’s lives;
  • And strengthening the OSCE and increasing its capacity to act.

As part of its third objective, Switzerland wants to strengthen the voice of young people and enhance their involvement within OSCE structures. It will therefore organise a year-long Model OSCE series in which one delegate from each of the 57 OSCE-participating States will be invited to participate.

More specifically, that means that the delegates will simulate the activities and responsibilities of two specific OSCE decision-making bodies. And in doing so, the delegates will . . .

  • Get familiar with OSCE structures and –themes;
  • Have the opportunity to acquire and develop various skills (in international diplomacy, negotiations, public speaking, communications, problem solving and critical thinking);
  • Improve their team-working and leadership abilities;
  • And have the opportunity to meet other young people from the 57 OSCE-participating States.

Who should register in the Model OSCE? We strongly encourage young people aged 18-30 to submit their applications. Participants must be citizens of one of the 57 OSCE participating States, fluent in written and oral English, interested in international politics, and ready to devote their time and ideas to this project throughout the year of the Swiss OSCE Presidency. More


Please visit the Swiss National Youth Council (SNYC) website to submit your application.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

15 year-old In Line to Win Nobel Prize

A new generation of children has emerged, different from its predecessors. Whether cause to refined sugars and chemical additives in food, one thing is certain: the rise of autism and ADHD has risen significantly. Yet without giving cause to understanding the true underlying cause of the perceived issue, many of the diagnosed youngsters (1 in 88) with autism have been easily dismissed to special-ed classes and forgotten about as less-developed.

An interesting phenomenon and inspiration to the culturally accepted ‘mental disorders’ has emerged, however, and his name is Jacob Barnett. A 15-year old prodigy with an IQ higher than Einstein’s, Barnett was diagnosed with autism at age 2, and like so many other young individuals, was dismissed by doctors in their analysis that he would ‘be forever unable to independently manage day-today activities, such as tying his own shoe-laces’. Thankfully, they were completely wrong.

Jacob Barnett

With such diagnosis, it was Barnett’s mother, Kristine Barnett whom battled with her intuition to let Jacob “study the world wide-eyed and full of wonder” or listen to the teachers and therapists who dissuaded her from hoping to teach Jacob more than ‘basic skills’. Diagnosed with moderate-severe autism at age 2, Jacob struggled through the special-education system and withdrew into himself with conventional instruction. Perceiving the ‘spectacular things’ Jacob was accomplishing on his own outside of therapy, such as creating accurate maps with streets out of Q-tips on the floor, Kristine knew he just wasn’t being guided in the instruction he needed. Therefore, she took on the instruction herself.

“For a parent it’s terrifying to fly against the advice of the professionals,” Kristine writes in her memoir “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius.” “But I knew in my heart that if Jake stayed in special-ed, he would slip away”.

Operating under the concept of ‘muchness’, Kristine surrounded her children with what they loved, and let Jacob explore all the things he wanted to explore – such as patterns, shapes, and stars. His intellect was apparent when his mom once took him out stargazing. A few months later, they visited a planetarium where the professor was giving a lecture. Whenever the teacher asked questions, Jacob’s little hand shot up and he began to answer questions – easily understanding complicated theories about physics and the movement of planets.

Nurturing his individual process to learn, Jacob was soon ready for college at age 11. Now, at age 15, he is a Master’s student, on his way to earning a PhD in quantum physics; with an IQ of 170 (higher than Einstein’s), Jacob is currently working on his own theory of relativity.

Professors at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study are impressed, stating “The theory that he’s working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics,” astrophysics professor Scott Tremaine wrote to the family in an email. “Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize”.

Jacob continues to inspire as a tutor to other college students in subjects like Calculus, is a published scientific researcher, and with his family, runs a charity called Jacob’s Place for kids on the spectrum, raising awareness and dispelling myths about autism.

“I’m not supposed to be here at all,” he said last year during a TEDx Teen Speech about “forgetting what you know” in New York City. “You know, I was told that I wouldn’t talk. There’s probably a therapist watching who is freaking out right now”.

While he makes it look so easy, his mother, Kristine Barnett, confides that he has to work hard on a daily basis to handle his autism. “He overcomes it every day. There are things he knows about himself that he regulates everyday” she told the Indianapolis Star in April.

Jacob and his family’s inspirational story was quickly snatched up by Warner Bros. Films with intended purpose to share the phenomenal journey. It’s clear with dismantled conditioning of limitation, he will continue to shine and contribute immensely in the field of science.

The challenge to become aware of unguided potential is easily clouded by the close-minded trap of Western thinking. Truly, there are no limitations, and in order to grow and conceive even greater than past cultures have achieved, this mindset needs to be accepted by all. Thankfully Jacob Barnett has made waves for this to become so. More

Jacob Barnett is an American mathematician and child prodigy. At 8 years old, Jacob began sneaking into the back of college lectures at IUPUI.

After being diagnosed with autism since the age of two and placed in his school's special ed. program, Jacob's teachers and doctors were astonished to learn he was able to teach calculus to college students.

At age nine, while playing with shapes, Jacob built a series of mathematical models that expanded Einstein's field of relativity. A professor at Princeton reviewed his work and confirmed that it was groundbreaking and could someday result in a Nobel Prize. At age 10, Jacob was formally accepted to the University as a full-time college student and went straight into a paid research position in the field of condensed matter physics. For his original work in this field, Jacob set a record, becoming the world's youngest astrophysics researcher. His paper was subsequently accepted for publication by Physical Review A, a scientific journal shared on sites such as NASA, the Smithsonian, and Harvard's webpage. Jacob's work aims to help improve the way light travels in technology.

Jacob is also CEO and founder of Wheel LLC, a business he started in his mom's garage, and is in the process of writing a book to help end "math phobia" in his generation.

Jacob's favorite pastime is playing basketball with the kids at his charity, Jacob's Place. It is a place where kids with autism are inspired every day to be their true authentic selves...just like Jacob.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Passing the National Conservation Law

Passing the National Conservation Law, enhancing our Marine Parks, adopting a Climate Change Policy and updating CITES legislation - discussed in the Premier’s speech yesterday: The long-awaited National Conservation Bill will be brought to this honourable House before the end of this year.

This important legislation has the support of my caucus, and we have ensured that the Department of Environment, or DoE, will be in a position to support this legislation once it is passed. The draft Bill being presented is substantially the 2009 version prepared by the former PPM administration, updated to address concerns raised by the past UDP administration and independent Members. While Government plans to allow Members of the House and the public significantly more time than the required 21 days to review the draft Bill, we do not anticipate significant amendments, and we look forward to unanimous support for this seminal legislation.

The Government also is committed to continuing the consultation on proposals to enhance our current system of marine parks. DOE research shows that, while the marine parks are providing some protection, a confluence of factors has caused serious changes to our reefs, and the current protections therefore are no longer enough. These factors include population increase (resident and tourist), overfishing, coastal development, invasive species, disease of coral and other marine organisms, and climate change. The future for our marine resources is bleak without decisive and timely corrective action.

An appropriately configured and enhanced system of marine parks is the best tool available for actively managing our marine resources in order to achieve fisheries sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem resilience, in the face of the existing and emerging threats. Further, we recognise the importance of addressing climate change. We acknowledge the sobering message of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a summary of which was released on Friday, 27 September: Climate change is real, it is caused by human actions, and it continues unabated.

Cayman simply cannot afford to ignore the conclusions of this worldwide committee of eminent scientists, as the implications for the continued rise in sea levels will have severe consequences for future generations if left unchecked. The Government therefore intends to adopt the draft climate policy, produced in 2011 by a multidisciplinary public/private sector initiative led by the DoE, and to begin urgent work on an implementation plan. And lastly, in an effort to honour our commitments made under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna,

Government will take all necessary steps to bring into force the updated, local CITES-implementing legislation – the Endangered Species Trade and Transport Law – which was passed by this honourable House in 2004. Madam Speaker, we must do all that we can to protect the environment on all three Islands to ensure that we preserve paradise for future generations of residents and tourists alike. Just as we are protecting our flora and fauna, we are making moves to improve the infrastructure to make our visitors’ stays more comfortable and accommodating. (Photo:


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era

Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era offers market-based, actionable solutions integrating transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity. Built on Rocky Mountain Institute's 30 years of research and collaboration in all four sectors, Reinventing Fire maps pathways for running a 158%-bigger U.S. economy in 2050 but needing no oil, no coal, no nuclear energy, one-third less natural gas, and no new inventions. This would cost $5 trillion less than business-as-usual—in addition to the value of avoiding fossil fuels' huge but uncounted external costs.

Dig Deeper With Our Series of Core Sector Presentations:

View the Reinventing Fire Transporation video

View the Reinventing Fire Buildings video

View the Reinventing Fire Industry video