Syrian Hospitals Abuse Protesters

An Amnesty International report released this morning finds that Syrian security forces have forced medical personal to assist their brutal crackdown on protesters. Hospital administrator were told deny medical attention to protesters and security forces were allowed to torture wounded men at their bedside. The report comes only a day after the US has withdrawn its ambassador to Damascus, citing credible threats against his life.

Daily Wrap Up

“All the News in Fits of Print”

The Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, Less Clogged: The McRib is back baby, oh yeah

Blockbuster Will Turn a Profit on the Schadenfreude Alone: Netflix stock plunges on brutal Q3, outlook not good

Buzz Kill:  Highwayaccident lets 25 million bees out of truck

When Hillary is Happy President Obama Should Be Concerned: Hillary says Obama is pretty swell president

The 1% versus the .1%: NBA lockout continue, Knicks fans get reprieve

Warning, Viewer Discretion Advised: Herman Cain ad features a heinous act……….a guy smoking

To Have Sex With Other People?: Why men cheat

Tunisia Completes Arab Spring’s First Free Election

Tunisia, the first nation to overthrow dictatorial rule and install democracy as part of the Arab Spring has completed its inaugural elections. The elections will determine an assembly that will establish a government and begin to draft the nation’s constitution. Ennahda, the victorious political party, is a party of moderate islamists has been declared as the “most modernist” party, dedicated to pluralism, democracy and the country’s already strong traditions of secularism and women’s rights. It is hoped that Tunisia will lead the way for other Arab nations facing the establishment of their own political systems.

Tonight: Headline Talks With Chris Zepeda-Milan

Tonight at 8pm Headline will host a talk with the University of Chicago’s Chris Zepeda-Milan about immigration and the Latino community in the United States. Originally from East L.A., Dr. Zepeda-Millan has spent years conducting extensive research on large-scale immigrant collective action and demographic settings. For his work, Dr. Zepeda-Millan has been recognized with various fellowships, including the Cornell Provost Fellowship, and the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. He is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Political Science and the Center of Race, Politics, and Culture at UChicago.

Check out the event on Facebook

Daily Wrap Up

We Bomb It, You Live With It and You Buy It: Bachman tells CBS that Iraq should pay back money US spent on liberation

There’s a Sheep Joke in There Somewhere: Rugby World Cup fans party hard to celebrate All Black victory

Because If Creditors Knew How Screwed We Really Are They Would Never Loan Us Money: EU considers ban on credit ratings for countries

After Previous Requests For an IMF Loan Were Declined: Strauss-Kahn ‘sex soirees paid for by businessmen’ 

A Simple “Thank You for Keeping Me from Ending Up Like Gaddafi” Would Have Sufficed: Karzai says Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in war with US 

Damn, They Took My Joke: Chinese Rare Earth Company Strokes Mustache, Cuts Off World’s Access to Rare Earths to Inflate Prices

 Finally, Libyans Other Than Gaddafi Can Have Access to Easy Money and Multiple Women: Libya declared an Islamic state, will ban interest on loans and permit polygamy

To Be Fair, the Kids Were Really Acting Out That Day: Union lobbyists teach for one day, will get millions in pensions

China Etc. #4

Kevin Kwok (@discoballs) rounds up the week’s most eye-catching news from the Middle Kingdom.


Context here.

  • We begin this week with a piece of news that is eye-catching for all the wrong reasons. A horrific video from Foshan, Guangdong that first surfaced last Monday recorded a young toddler being run over twice by trucks, then ignored by at least a dozen passersby before finally being assisted by a trash collector. The video has shot around China (and to a lesser extent, the world), instigating agitated soul-searching amongst its populace about how its society could come to this. The toddler, identified as “Yueyue”, has now died from the injuries sustained, and the two drivers have been arrested. [The Globe and Mail] [ABC] [Daily Mail]
  • BBC reports that China’s economic growth is down to “only” 9.1% for the third quarter of 2011. Economists have pointed to the tightening of credit markets by China’s central bank over fears of inflation and asset bubbles, particularly in property, as well as exports being hurt by the economic troubles in both the US and the eurozone. [BBC]
  • Caixin reports that non-registered Beijing residents (those without the city hukou) will qualify for public housing starting December 1st. This move by the Beijing municipal government is widely believed to be a response to the city’s astronomical property prices and overcrowding.
  • With more and more Tibetans turning to self-immolation in a desperate bid for greater religious and social autonomy, the US has lodged a complaint towards China. [AP]
  • Finally, in an effort to help neutralize the effect of the Yueyue story, brighten up your day by ogling the monstrous slipper accompanying this Telegraph article. Weighing in at size 1450, it was made for Tom Boddingham by Chinese manufacturers who misread Size 14.5 (Boddingham’s original request) as Size 1450. Speculation is rampant that Boddingham’s slipper is in fact a hoax, but China Etc. begs that does not detract your attention from the amazing photo…
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Daily Wrap Up

Because She Knows the Importance of Picking the Right Candidate: Christine O’Donnell Donates to Romney

Disorganized Movement is Disorganized: New divisions and hierarchies are threatening to upend Occupy Wall Street

“Wow, Some Good News For Once” Headline of the Day: Major ALS Breakthrough

But We’ll Be So Quiet You Won’t Even Know We’re There : Iraq rejects US request to maintain bases after troop withdrawal

That Sounds Unlikely: Mike Huckabee says Herman Cain “sounds pro-choice”

President Obama Reassesses His Election Strategy: Sony postpones Bin Laden film until after election 2012 

Now Women, on the Other Hand…:  Memo to single women: there is nothing ‘wrong’ with men today

Evaluating The “Buffett Rule”

Warren Buffett’s crusade for tax reform that began with an op-ed piece that he wrote in the New York Times in August took another step forward earlier this week. After months of calls from politicians to release his tax return Buffett sent a letter to Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) which disclosed his gross income and federal income tax receipt from 2010.

Buffett had a gross income of about $63 million, almost $40 million of which was taxable income, on which Buffett paid slightly less than $7 million in federal income taxes, for an effective rate of 17.4%.Buffett’s argument is that it’s not fair that he has a lower effective tax rate than his secretary, who has an effective tax rate of about 30%. Buffett’s call for higher taxes on the wealthy has lead President Obama to call his proposed surtax on millionaires and billionaires the “Buffett Rule” as part of his $447 billion jobs plan. However, once one digs beneath the surface the numbers turn out to be misleading.

The main reason that Buffett pays such a low effective tax rate is that very little of his gross income comes from an annual salary; his salary has been set at $100,000 for years. He derives most of his income from other sources, most likely capital gains or dividends. Dividends and capital gains are only taxed at 15%, whereas ordinary income is taxed at a top marginal level of 35%. Though Buffett only pays 15% on those dividends and capital gains that’s not all of the revenue that the federal government draws from them. Capital gains and dividends are also taxed at 35% at the corporate level, which means that they are taxed twice at a combined effective rate of about 45%.

Buffett’s anecdote that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary is an exception, not the rule. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in 2006, the last year with available data, the highest quintile by comprehensive household wealth paid a 25.8% effective federal tax rate, while the lowest and second lowest quintiles paid 4.3% and 10.2% respectively.

While I do agree with Warren Buffett that comprehensive tax reform is needed, the numbers just don’t back up his argument that the rich aren’t paying their fair share. Buffett just structures his gross income in such a way that he pays a low effective tax rate through taking advantage of deductions for charitable donations and by paying himself in capital gains and dividends instead of a salary. While his idea that the super rich are being coddled because he has a lower tax burden than his secretary is a good anecdote, it shouldn’t be the basis for changes in tax policy.

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Eurozone Debt Talks Progress

European finance ministers have declared that they are close to a deal designed to shield them against future losses to indebted governments. The BBC reports that UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne declared “real progress” had been made. Eurozone countries are currently seeking to use a 1 billion Euro insurance fund to protect their banks from a potential Greek default, which would result in disastrous losses of investment across Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that this deal represents a more realistic outlook on Greece and will help to protect the Euro into the future.