It’s become blatantly obvious that I’m now posting about once or twice a week on this blog, at least for the next 20 or so days. So I’m going to just push forward with some news. It’s also become blatantly obvious that grinding has taken up so much of my time I haven’t even done a cast in a matter of days. I still do keep up with MLP eps but that’s only because I’m somehow reminded that people are still watching MLP in 1080p. I know that January 2012 will always be remembered on this blog as a slow start to something big; At least I hope that’s the case. Anyway, without further ado, let’s start.

Iran Agrees to Return the U.S. Stealth Drone in Toy Form

John Hudson

Iranians won’t return the advanced RQ-170 Sentinel drone downed in their country late last year but they will give the White House a toy replica.

On Tuesday, Iranian Radio Payam reported that a local company is manufacturing a toy version of the stealth drone one eightieth of its size that will be shipped to the White House. News of the toy brinkmanship was first reported outside Iran by Reuters‘ Mitrak Amiri, who happened to be reporting on a ban on Barbie dolls by the state’s morality police (children’s toys are a hot topic in Iran right now). The report says the miniature drone will be sold in a “variety of colours.” According to Trend, a news site in neighboring Azerbaijan, the toy will be 30×14 cm bearing the inscription “We will trample the U.S.” While the Associated Press merely notes that a company is behind the toy’s rollout, Trend cites an Iranian radio report attributing its production to a “group of Iranian youths.”

“There will be a special ceremony on Feb. 1 marking the 34th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran,” reads the report.

Since early December, Iran has said that it shot down the stealth drone and has used its capture to champion the country’s military might. U.S. officials maintain that the drone wasn’t shot down and on Monday, told Reuters that they now know how the craft crashed. (However, since military officials won’t explain exactly how it malfunctioned or went off course, you just have to take their word for it.) In any case, given that President Obama personally stated the U.S. expects Iran to return the drone, responding to the commander-in-chief with a toy is quite the brazen act.
Update: The Washington Post reports that the Iranians reserved a pink-colored drone for President Obama.
Ah, those Iranians trolling the U.S. again; Such a nice laugh was had.
Next up, Donald Trump the cheapskate.

Donald Trump: Still A Miserly Billionaire

JANUARY 17–Confirming that Donald Trump is the world’s most miserly billionaire, the latest tax return filed by the real estate developer’s private foundation shows that he again failed to donate a penny to his eponymous charitable group.

The 65-year-old businessman–who recently reported his net worth as $7 billion–is president of The Donald J. Trump Foundation, which filed its 2010 return with the Internal Revenue Service three months ago. The return shows that, for the second straight year, Trump donated nothing to his foundation, which was formed in 1987.

In large part, the Trump charity has been funded in recent years by $5 million in donations from World Wrestling Entertainment. The foundation received the seven figures in return for Trump’s involvement in a couple of WWE story lines, which included promotion of a pay-per-view WrestleMania event.

IRS records show that, over the past five years, Trump–who describes himself as an “ardent philanthropist”–has donated just $675,000 to his foundation. As TSG has previously reported, this level of philanthropy is dwarfed by Trump’s billionaire peers like Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, George Soros, and the Koch brothers.

When compared to Bloomberg–another New York City billionaire with a household name–Trump’s stinginess is staggering. In 2010, Bloomberg (pictured below) donated more than $350 million to his foundation, which during the year made donations totaling about $105 million. At year’s end, the Bloomberg foundation had assets of $2.734 billion. Trump’s foundation had $2.255 million (largely thanks to Vince McMahon).

The Trump Foundation’s 2010 return shows that the group made 53 donations totaling $1.037 million. Contributions ranged from $110,650 (American Heart Association) to $300 (National Multiple Sclerosis Society).

The charity’s third-largest donation–$100,000–went to the Eric Trump Foundation, which is run by the billionaire’s 28-year-old son Eric. Other contributions went to foundations affiliated with Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher ($10,000); Larry King ($2500); NASCAR ($2500); the New York Jets ($10,000); and the late Princess Grace of Monaco ($5000).

A golf enthusiast, Trump gave $1000 to the Metropolitan Golf Association and $10,000 to Fore Life, a Miami-based group that describes its “principle objective” as providing “access to the game of golf and it’s life altering skills to impact the lives of youth involved in criminal and/or unhealthy behavior or at risk of such behavior.”

The president of the Fore Life’s board of directors is Lawrence Taylor, the NFL Hall of Fame member whose most recent criminal conviction stemmed from his patronizing of an underage prostitute at a New York hotel (Taylor, 52, recently had to register as a sex offender in Florida, where he lives adjacent to the Grand Palms Golf and County Club in Pembroke Pines).

Trump, who recently positioned himself as a possible Republican presidential candidate, also donated $10,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation.

To read more, go here. But in the end, we all know Trump is a rich asshole who doesn’t give 2 shits about anything because he has power and he has money. Power and money are clearly what run this world we live in, and in a true sense that is what has become of our world in the current day and age.

And our last post of the day.


Bush tax cuts helped the rich get richer

WHILE FEW QUESTION the fact that income inequality has risen in the United States over the past three decades, there is plenty of dispute about why. Some argue that the upward shift in after-tax income reflects a high-tech society’s increasing rewards to highly skilled workers, or the rise of super-paid “superstars” in everything from finance to sports, or the decline of labor unions and the minimum wage.

Another concern is that the lighter federal taxation of capital gains and other investment income relative to ordinary income has skewed income distribution upward. This is related to the so-called “Buffett Rule,” whereby the Omaha billionaire (and former Washington Post Co. board member) Warren Buffett pays income tax at a lower effective rate than his secretary does, largely because so much of his income comes from investments.

Now comes evidence that this is, indeed, at least part of the story. A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service shows that, between 1996 and 2006, the share of total after-tax income attributable to dividends and capital gains grew by 40 percent, faster than any other category. Earned mostly by the well-to-do, investment income was the largest contributor to the increase in income inequality between 1996 and 2006, according to CRS.

The tax cuts enacted at the urging of President George W. Bush magnified what CRS calls the “disequalizing” impact of this shift. The 1986 tax reform eliminated the gap between the ordinary and capital gains rates. The gap began to widen again during President Bill Clinton’s second term, but the Bush tax cuts of 2003 blew it wide open by slicing the top rate on dividends and long-term capital gains from 28 percent to 15 percent. The tax code as of 2006 was still progressive, in that top earners paid a greater share of their income to Washington than everyone else. But thanks largely to the more favorable treatment of investment income, the code was significantly less progressive in 2006 than it was in 1996, CRS found.

True, the study does not account for the impact of the Great Recession, which hit top earners hard. The top 1 percent’s share of total income (before taxes) dropped from 23 percent in 2007 to 17 percent in 2009. That group’s average income fell to $957,000 in 2009 from $1.4 million in 2007. A plunging stock market is probably the cause.

Yet it remains true that the top ordinary income rate of 35 percent is 20 points higher than the 15 percent rate on dividends and capital gains. Not only does this foster inequality, it also creates an incentive to seek investment income rather than the ordinary kind, either through productive investment that creates jobs or through tax shelters and other gimmicks.

There is a case to be made that capital gains and dividend taxes are a second tax on earnings that have been subject to the 35 percent corporate income tax; the report acknowledges that this argument has merit.

But it shouldn’t be impossible to resolve this dilemma. One approach would be to lower corporate rates to compensate for increasing rates on individual filers’ dividends and capital gains. A 2007 CRS report suggested that Congress could cut four percentage points from the corporate rate if it eliminated the Bush tax cuts on dividends and capital gains, and that the code’s overall efficiency would improve in the process. When Congress turns to tax reform, it will have to keep equality as well as efficiency in mind.

That’s our stories for today folks, I’ll see you next time.