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July 03, 2012

Investigation: Mitt Romney’s Offshore Accounts, Tax Loopholes, and Mysterious I.R.A.

In a just world, the 2012 election would be about putting rampant, marauding capitalism on trial. We'd be comparing Obama's bootstrapping his way into being a millionaire through hard work, dedication, and an inspiring memoir (which is where his money came from) with Romney's inheritance, his days at Bain Capitol finding companies to pillage and burn to the ground, and the vast fortune he has hidden away in tax dodges, secret accounts, and shady foreign banks. But our media being who they are, they'll just shrug like a character on The Wire and say, "It's all in the game, yo," and start focusing on haircuts or shoes or the way the men hole their hands while speaking. Anything to avoid addressing someone's record or policies or doing any real reporting. Focusing on the utterly trivial is so much easier. Investigation: Mitt Romney’s Offshore Accounts, Tax Loopholes, and Mysterious I.R.A. | Politics | Vanity Fair
To give but one example, there is a Bermuda-based entity called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd., which has been described in securities filings as “a Bermuda corporation wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney.” It could be that Sankaty is an old vehicle with little importance, but Romney appears to have treated it rather carefully. He set it up in 1997, then transferred it to his wife’s newly created blind trust on January 1, 2003, the day before he was inaugurated as Massachusetts’s governor. The director and president of this entity is R. Bradford Malt, the trustee of the blind trust and Romney’s personal lawyer. Romney failed to list this entity on several financial disclosures, even though such a closely held entity would not qualify as an “excepted investment fund” that would not need to be on his disclosure forms. He finally included it on his 2010 tax return. Even after examining that return, we have no idea what is in this company, but it could be valuable, meaning that it is possible Romney’s wealth is even greater than previous estimates. While the Romneys’ spokespeople insist that the couple has paid all the taxes required by law, investments in tax havens such as Bermuda raise many questions, because they are in “jurisdictions where there is virtually no tax and virtually no compliance,” as one Miami-based offshore lawyer put it.

June 29, 2012

Why are schools and camps banning sunscreen?

Because of bizarre state laws preventing kids from taking "medication." Sunscreen forbidden at schools and camps – USATODAY.com
It turns out that many schools and camps do that worrying for parents, with policies that ban kids from carrying sunscreen without a doctor's note and warn staffers not to dispense it. Such policies are getting new scrutiny this week, thanks to Jesse Michener, a mother in Tacoma, Wash., who was horrified to see two of her daughters, ages 11 and 9, return from a school field day with severe sunburns. The girls have extremely fair skin, and none of the adults at the event offered them sunscreen — or shade, for that matter — as a rainy day turned sunny, Michener, 37, wrote in a post in her blog, Life.Photographed, that got nationwide attention. More than a week later, their skin still is peeling and red, Michener told USA TODAY Wednesday: "It's appalling." Michener says school officials have promised her the sunscreen policy will be changed by fall, thanks to a change in state law that gives schools new leeway on handling over-the-counter drugs. Shannon McMinimee, a lawyer for Tacoma Public Schools, said in an e-mail that the school board was expected to review the policy but would need to seek guidance from state officials and health experts first. . . . But sunscreen rules are common. They typically stem from state and local policies that stop kids from bringing any drug — including non-prescription drugs — to school, says Jeff Ashley, a California dermatologist who leads an advocacy group called Sun Safety for Kids. Sunscreens are regulated as over-the-counter drugs, so many districts treat them like aspirin, just to be safe, he says. . . .