Saturday, February 26, 2011

A 400 million year chronicle of our civilization From Pangea I to Pangea II

leia este artigo em português

Once upon a time in Human Era a man named Carl-Henric Svanberg said “What brought us here won't keep us here” it could be a good hint to be used in business world and also in matters related to our world.

200 millions before Human Era, Earth had one big continent called Pangea, scientists believed that a new Pangea will form 200 million years in the future, so, the Human Era is placed in the very center between the two Pangeas.

This 400 million years period is merely a small fraction of time in universe history, and at the same time, a very long period for us to conceive.

It was on Triassic Era that the first vertebrate flew, the pterosaurs evolved from dinosaurs, that first appeared on earth surface about 230 million years ago and survived the Late Triassic mass extinction (228 million years ago), when some 35 per cent of all living families died out.

Historically the rise of the dinosaurs has been treated as a classic case in which a group evolves key features that allow it to rapidly expand, fill many niches, and out-compete other groups.

At that time, Earth history was ready to a big change; it was in Human Era that the most incredible event took place, the emergence of sentient beings. Carl Sagan put it in a very poetical way “We (human beings) are a way for the cosmos to know itself. We are creatures of the cosmos and always hunger to know our origins, to understand our connection with the universe. How did everything come to be? Every culture on the planet has devised its own response to the riddle posed by the universe. Every culture celebrates the cycles of life and nature. There are many different ways of being human”.

We learned how to cultivate the land, and that aloud us to stay in the same area. Cities was founded, wealth invented, we started using the nature, instead of living in, and with it.

The population started to explode, and we were forced to occupy areas that were not prime. That again let to an even stronger misuse of the nature.

The Human race had almost destroyed itself and the planet when we were learning the power of nuclear energy. We were young and curious and as children we did not know what we were doing.

But we learned how to survive and how to help others instead of use them. After all the technological accomplishment we realize that was important to get back to our own origins.

Earth was about to become incandescent due to the amount of electricity we were using when we understand how to use bioluminescent light. The building not just saved electricity but also generated oxygen by using BASS (Bioluminescent Algae Symbiotic Systems).

Brazilian city of São Paulo was one of the first to use BASS, Avenida Paulista was elegantly illuminated and Brazil prospered.

But it was during the Ice Age that Avenida Paulista suffered its worst threat. Almost 100 years of Iced cold storm almost destroyed MASP, Cultural Heritage of Humanity filled with tons of our civilization’s art.

Planet of the apes? No, planet of the dogs.

Men always asked himself “If for some reason humankind died off, what creature would rise up as the dominant specie?”

Dogs, not apes (as we’ve seen on movies) thrived. Dogs, wolves, and coyotes was the species with the highest probability of success to dominate planet earth.

The earliest wild dog originated in Africa fifteen to thirty-five million years before Human Era, probably a wolf father and jackal mother bread a beautiful puppy that was tamed by a primitive man.

The friendship between dogs and humans could be summarized in the tale of a hunter: “after a successful hunt, a group of primitive men started a small fire with lower branches to cook and eat. They realized that wolf-like-animals were watching closely. A boy of the group had been touched by the sad look of the animal and offered a piece of meat. The brave dog came closer and caught it. Weeks later, the friendship was sealed when the dogs, organized in a group leaded by that same dog, defended the hunters from the attack of a large predator during the night”.

The friendship has become stronger and stronger, humans were buried with their pet dogs in ancient Jericho, Homer's tough warrior Odysseus wept at the death of his devoted old hound Argus, and greyhounds were valued companions to Roman and medieval aristocrats.

There are differing opinions about how dogs became so diversified. But many experts believe that humans, able realize the dogs' potential, started selectively breeding dogs of certain physical characteristics for different types of tasks.

But, how dogs become self-conscious, and intelligent?

Largely known French novelist Pierre Boulle became famous by writing two of the greatest novels which were adapted for blockbusters films in the 70’s, “The Bridge over the River Kwai” and “La Planète des singes”.

The book published in 1963 and the film released in 1968 (again in 2001) tells the story of an astronaut crew who crash-land on a strange planet in the distant future. The surviving crewmembers stumble upon a society in which apes have evolved into creatures with human-like intelligence and speech. The apes have assumed the role of the dominant species and humans are animals wearing animal skins.

A Russian biologist, Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov (Илья Иванович Иванов”, August 1 1870-March 20, 1932) specialized in the field of artificial insemination and the interspecific hybridization of animals. He was involved in controversial attempts to create a human-ape hybrid with the purpose of making Soviet dictator's dream come true; soldiers with no fear, with superhuman strength and endurance, who would follow any order, eat anything, and ignore pain or injury or workers who could do the labor of ten men without complaint.

Nobody knows exactly how appeared the first Intelligent Cynocephalus, may be it is the result of military experiments to create more intelligent dogs, able to perform complex strategic missions, or could have been, a multi-millionaire businessman, who wanted to impress his family, commissioned a corrupt geneticist and brought home the ultimate “state in the art” pet – the so called G.A.D. (Genetically Altered Dog). But what we do know is that once the GADs become intelligent, words such as racism (or would say “specism”) riots, slavery and anti-slavery become common place on news screens.

Underwater society

Hothouse earth 100 million years in the future

New subduction zones along the eastern coasts of North America and South America began to consume the ocean floor separating North America from Africa. About 100 million years from the Human Era, Mid-Atlantic Ridge subducted and the continents will come closer together.

100 million years after human era, human race is pretty much the same because of the so called “shark syndrome”. The researches on cure of cancer led us to the sharks. They have survived some 400 million years on Earth with little evolutionary modification; their longevity is due in part to an extraordinary resistance to cancer and other diseases.

In the quest for the cure of cancer mankind has made use of lots and lots of genetic experiences. At some point, scientists performed interspecific hybridization with sharks and man. The result was the cure of a disease and the creation of a not so good condition, in which the evolutionary modifications are very slow.

The experiences with sharks did not stop there. In a particular edition of Olympic games an outstanding swimmer broke all the records, he was able to swim 1,5 kilometers without putting his head out of water, and was not doped.

After some examination, it was discovered that the man had gills and webbing between their fingers and toes. He was result of a series of experiments in order to create “Atlanti” the man from Atlantis.

When the results of the test came to light there were already a considerable population of Atlantis living in the oceans.

So, in “Hothouse Earth Era” man haven’t change much, but there are other species coexisting in harmony; Cynocephalus, Atlanti, and some others. The space trip capability helped humans and humanoids to survive some mass extinction events.

The Atlanti was undoubtedly the most prolific and prosperous specie. As the sea level rose because of the high temperatures of the planet, they had plenty of space on earth's watery surface. The human race has stagnated evolutionarily in matter of intelligence due to “shark syndrome” and the dogs are not that smart, assuring the well-intentioned and benevolent specie of Atlantis the status of “EDS” (Earth Dominant Species).

Today a huge earthquake hit the planet, looks like Earth wanted us to remember that Pangea II is almost united. We don’t need long bridges to link continents in Pangea II, we could remember facts from 2 minutes ago with the same precision that we remember facts from the Triasic. I want to finish this chronicle by thank the Humans, Cynocephalus and Atlantis for all this beautiful treasure, the Earth civilization.

Today, a huge earthquake hit the planet, it seemed that the earth wanted us to remember that Pangea II is almost united. We do not need long bridges connecting the continents in Pangea II, we are able to remember events that occurred within 2 minutes with the same precision that we remember events of the Triassic. Let me end this chronicle by thanking to Humans, Cynoscephalae and Atlantis and quoting Carlos Drummond de Andrade from the Human Period - New Year's Recipe:

“To have a New Year

Which deserves that name

You, my friend, have to deserve it,

You have to make it new; I know that it's not easy,

But try, experiment, be conscious.

It's inside of you that the New Year

Has always been dormant and waiting.”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tax Haven

leia este artigo em português

It is a well-known fact that investment taxes differ from bank to bank and from countries to countries. In Ancient Greece (circa 400bC), for instance, some of the Greek Islands were used as depositories by the sea traders of the era to place their foreign goods to thus avoid the two-percent tax imposed by the city-state of Athens on imported goods.

The avoidance of the Cinque ports (coastal towns established in 1155 for military and trade purposes in Kent and Sussex at the eastern end of the English Channel) in order not to pay the taxes to the English Crown illustrate very well the human historical need for maximize return on investments.

Basically a Tax Haven is the place in which certain taxes are imposed either at a low rate or not at all. It is the place where investors always want to go in order to reduce their tax rates.

There are some specific characteristics as being identified by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (the OECD) to decide the tax structure of any nation to be denoted as Tax Haven. These are:

- Regarding the situations when there is either payment of no/only nominal taxes. In special cases, Tax Haven creates such conditions to offer themselves as shelters for the non-residents to evade high taxes in their respective residential countries.

- Tax Haven generally emphasizes protecting the personal financial information of the taxpayers. They have specific laws for the benefit of corporate houses and individuals that can protect them from the scrutiny and other strict laws of the foreign tax authorities.

However, there occurs a lack of transparency in the functioning of the different provisions of the Tax Haven. As per the OECD, the tax laws should be open and consistent such that any information on the individual taxpayer required by the foreign tax authorities is easily available. The OECD decides whether every jurisdiction can be allowed to impose direct taxes and to determine the required tax rate.

Among the oldest Tax Haven in the world stands the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. As per the modern concept of Tax Haven, Bermuda is the first Tax Haven creating the first offshore tax companies of Conyers Dill and Pearman. This view is contested as according to some the first Tax Haven in its truest sense was Switzerland and then Liechtenstein. Nevertheless, the emersion of the modern Tax Haven is difficult to decide.

The U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research has suggested that roughly 15% of countries in the world are tax havens, that these countries tend to be small and affluent, and that better governed and regulated countries are more likely to become tax havens, and are more likely to be successful if they become tax havens.

Places regarded as tax havens:

- Andorra – No personal income tax.

- Anguilla – A British Overseas Territory and offshore banking centre

- Antigua and Barbuda

- Aruba

- The Bahamas levies neither personal income nor capital gains tax, nor are there inheritance taxes.

- Barbados – A 'Low-tax regime' not 'Tax haven'. – The government of Barbados sent off a high level note to members of the United States Congress recently in protest of the label "Tax Haven" stating it has the potential to undermine or override the Barbados/United States double taxation agreement. Since appearing on the 2009 OECD/G-20 white-list, the Barbados government began an international ad-campaign to market the country as the only Caribbean country to be included on the white-list.

- Belize – No capital gains tax.

- Bermuda does not levy income tax on foreign earnings, and allows foreign companies to incorporate there under an "exempt" status. Companies are "exempt" from the local 60/40 ownership laws, and are not offered any special tax status. Exempt companies are also limited from doing local trade and may not hold real estate in Bermuda, nor may they be involved in banking, insurance, assurance, reinsurance, fund management or similar business, such as investment advice, without a license. The island also maintains a stable, clean reputation in the business world. At present, there are no benefits for individuals. In fact, for a non-Bermudian to own a house on the island, they would have to pay a foreign ownership tax of 25% of the purchase value, and minimum of $15,000 a year in land tax alone. They also can only purchase homes of a specific type and high value (over $4 million), so the tax is generally greater than $1 million.

- Bosnia and Herzegovina – 10% corporate income tax, 10% income tax, 10% capital gain tax

- British Virgin Islands: the 2000 KPMG report to the United Kingdom government indicated that the British Virgin Islands was the domicile for approximately 41% of the world's offshore companies, making it by some distance the largest offshore jurisdiction in the world by volume of incorporations. The British Virgin Islands has, so far, avoided the scandals which have tainted less well regulated offshore jurisdictions.

- Bulgaria – 10% corporate income tax, 10% income tax, 10% capital gain tax

- Campione d'Italia an Italian enclave within Switzerland

- Cayman Islands

- In the Channel Islands, no tax is paid by corporations or individuals on foreign income and gains. Non-residents are not taxed on local income. Local taxation is at a fixed rate of 20% in Jersey, Guernsey, & Alderney and 0% in Sark.

- Cook Islands

- Cyprus: this jurisdiction has grown recently in popularity and anticipates further future growth. As a jurisdiction Cyprus is in a position to exploit its unusual position as an offshore jurisdiction which is within the EU. 10% corporate tax (0% for shipping companies), 20 - 30% income tax, 20% CGT

- State of Delaware a State in the USA which charges no income tax on corporations not operating within the state,

- Egypt – 20% corporate income tax, 20% income tax, No capital gain tax

- Gibraltar is no longer considered a non-cooperative tax haven since 30 June 2006. No new Exempt Company certificates are being issued from that date. All previous Exempt Company certificates will be ineffective from 2010.

- Hong Kong's tax rates are low (16.5%) enough that it can be considered a tax haven. Hong Kong does not levy tax on capital gain as well. However, it contains a highly vibrant service economy and its low taxes were not designed to make Hong Kong a tax haven. Hong Kong itself has usually rejected the label. The former financial secretary, Nicholas Haddon-Cave has asserted: "In Hong Kong we rely on our low tax structure and free movements across exchanges to encourage investment, and not on the usual gimmicks of tax holidays and quick write-offs found in tax havens."

- The Isle of Man does not charge corporation tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax or wealth tax. Personal income tax is levied at 10–20% on the worldwide income of Isle of Man residents, up to a maximum tax liability of £115,000 (as of April 2010). Banking income tax is levied on the profits of Isle of Man based banks at 10% and income from the rent of Isle of Man property is levied at the same rate.

- Labuan, a Malaysian island off Borneo

- Kuwait

- Macau - Corporate tax rates between 9-12%. Personal Income tax rates between 5-12%. No capital gains tax. No tax for companies operating "off shore". The overwhelming majority of the Macanese gov't taxes are derived from a hefty casino tax of 39%. All Macanese Residents (Temporary and Permanent) are entitled to an annual cash handout from the gov't of MOP3600 or MOP6000 (Approx. $450 USD/ $750USD).

- Mauritius – based front companies of foreign investors are used to avoid paying taxes in India utilising loopholes in the bilateral agreement on double taxation between the two countries, with the tacit support of the Indian government, who are keen to improve figures relating to inward investment. The use of Mauritius as a gateway to funnel foreign investments into India has always been controversial. Mauritius's financial regime has a number of the key characteristics of a tax haven, which has helped to facilitate this.

- Republic of Macedonia – corporate taxes 10%, income taxes 10%, tax on reinvestment profit 0%

- Monaco does not levy a personal income tax.

- Nauru – No taxes. Only tax in country is an airport departure tax.

- Netherlands Antilles – In October 2008 the State Secretary of Finance announced that the Netherlands Antilles along with the Isle of Man would begin to seek ways to combat the 'Tax Haven ' label that has been placed on their territory by some governments. The leaders hinted they would welcome a more level playing field in terms of the international financial services industry.[33]

- Nevis

- New Zealand does not tax foreign income derived by NZ trusts settled by foreigners of which foreign residents are the beneficiaries. Nor does it tax the foreign income of new residents for four years.[34] No capital gains tax.

- Norfolk Island – no personal income tax.

- Panama 'Offshore' entities are not prohibited from carrying on business activities in Panama, other than banks with International or Representation Licenses (see Offshore Business Sectors) but will be taxed on income arising from domestic trading, and will need to segregate such trading in their accounts.

- Russia – 13% personal income tax

- Samoa

- San Marino

- Saudi Arabia

- Seychelles

- St Kitts and Nevis

- St Vincent and the Grenadines

- Switzerland is a tax haven for foreigners who become resident after negotiating the amount of their income subject to taxation with most of the cantons of Switzerland in which they intend to live. Typically taxable income is assumed to be five times the accommodation rental paid. French-speaking Vaud is the most popular canton for this scheme, thus it is usually called "forfait fiscal" (tax package). For businesses, the canton of Zug is popular, with over 6000 holding companies.

- Turks and Caicos Islands The attraction of the Exempt Company lies in a combination of its tax exempt status and minimal disclosure and administrative requirements. In order to obtain tax exempt status the subscribers must at the time of incorporation lodge at the Companies Registry a signed declaration stating that the business of the company will be mainly carried on outside the Turks and Caicos Islands. The subscribers are not required to inform the Registrar of the identity of the beneficial owners. An exempt company must nominate a representative resident in the Islands for the purpose of service of legal process. There are more than 15,000 International Business Companies registered in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

- Ukraine – 15% income tax

- United Arab Emirates for individuals and Jebel Ali Free Zone for companies.

- United States Virgin Islands offers a 90% exemption from U.S. income taxes and 100% exemption from all other taxes and customs duties to certain qualified taxpayers.

- United Kingdom no Capital Gains Tax for non-residents or foreign corporations or overseas Trusts, no worldwide taxation for non domiciles

- Vanuatu's Financial Services commissioner announced in May 2008 that his country would reform its laws so as to cease being a tax haven. "We've been associated with this stigma for a long time and we now aim to get away from being a tax haven."

Former tax havens:

- Beirut formerly had a reputation as the only tax haven in the Middle East. However, this changed after the Intra Bank crash of 1966,[36] and the subsequent political and military deterioration of Lebanon dissuaded foreign use as a tax haven.

- Liberia had a prosperous ship registration industry. The series of violent and bloody civil wars in the 1990s and early 2000s severely damaged confidence in the jurisdiction. The fact that the ship registration business still continues is partly a testament to its early success, and partly a testament to moving the national Shipping Registry to New York City.

- Tangier had a brief but colorful existence as a tax haven in the period between the end of effective control by the Spanish in 1945 until it was formally reunited with Morocco in 1956.

In the map below, Blemya selected 50 financial centers or 50 countries suspected of tax practices more or less doubtful according to the methodology shown in the “Le Mond” article, considering the crossed definitions as follows:

- From the OECD

- Definitions of Chambost Edward, an internationally renowned expert in offshore locations.

Definitions of Gregory Duhamel, French tax lawyer, author of guides on tax havens.

The level of transparency of the 50 tax havens identified is evaluated taking into consideration the criteria extracted from the OECD reports, "For equal conditions, " Global Forum on Taxation 2007.

* Countries with strong banking secrecy laws but involved in automatic exchange of information in the context of the EU directive on investments, and also three other countries with bank secrecy a little less strict, but also signatories to this sort of agreement, They are: Aruba, Cayman Islands Montserrat.

Civil society groups at the World Social Forum in Dakar launched a campaign on February 8, 2011 to end financial secrecy in tax havens by multinationals they say deprive developing countries of enormous sums of money.

"Very few people are aware that developing countries lose more money through tax dodging than they receive in aid. It is really important to make the link between tax and development," said Mariana Paoli of London-based group Christian Aid.

The group joined Oxfam, the Tax Justice Network Africa and others in calling on the G20 group of leading economies to end financial secrecy in tax havens.

The groups estimate tax losses in developing countries at more than 125 billion Euros ($170 billion) per year, "more than the total budget for development assistance, while the economic crisis leads to significant budget cuts and millions of children still lack access to education."

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