The Polifix: 15th – 21st October

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Fidel is still alive; MPs are still ripping us off with expenses and the British justice system is, well, not just – it all sounds about right…. Well, maybe, except Britain stand up to the US and Romney waxes lyrical about the ladies…maybe not then. 

“Got my ‘binders full of women’, my girls in the back”

Round two of the Presidential debate and Obama came out fighting; indeed, the President was widely believed to have edged the contest. Yet, the most memorable quote of the night was a Romney response to a question on ‘gender inequality in the workforce’; the Presidential candidate stated that his team had “taken a concerted effort to go out and find women” (slightly stalkerish). Worst still, Romney followed that by stating he brought back “whole binders full of women”; a line that sounds more suited to a Lil’ Wayne rap than a presidential debate. (It also turned out to be a lie; a bipartisan group brought Romney a list of qualified women for cabinet positions; it was never authorised by Romney himself)

Boy, I’m so full of women!

@RomneysBinder

So how did the US people react to this Romney gaffe? Well, they loved it; BindersFullofWomen.com and BindersfullofWomen.net were snapped up as URLs in seconds, a spoof twitter account was made and a tumblr one to boot. The internet went crazy; memes-galore with ones referencing Hugh Hefner, Ryan Gosling, Bill Clinton, Dirty Dancing to name a few. Even Obama got in on the action stating that he “didn’t need to order up some binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women”. Another Romney Gaffe; but he might actually get away with this one through internet hilarity.

StarBUCKS

Who does pay tax anymore? Jimmy Carr certainly doesn’t and neither does everyone’s favourite boyband product, Gary Barlow. UK-based companies Barclays, Vodafone, Topshop and Boots also go to long lengths to avoid paying money that the average UK citizen is entitled too. Now its the chance for a few US-based companies to fall under the cosh; the news last week that Facebook only paid a £238,000 tax bill in 2011 – based on profits of £175 million followed on from news that Google has only paid £6 million based on UK revenues of £395 million.

Now its Coffee giant Starbucks’ turn; the Seattle-based corporation has paid only £8.6m in the last 14 years – nothing in the last three – whilst earning sales worth over £3 billion in the UK. Just to point out;thats less than 1% corporation tax. Starbucks should be in for a roasting though after Reuters, the investigators of the sting, reported that the chain had told HM Revenue & Customs that profits were so low thus no tax was due.  Naught, naughty; (sounds like fraud to me). Technically, the company works in away so that it doesn’t make a profit; but then again, it buys its Coffee beans from the well-known coffee producing country that is…Switzerland, so maybe we need to take another look at these technicalities.

Starbucks have paid only £8.6m in tax in the last 14 years whilst earning sales worth over £3 billion

In reality, probably nothing will happen as the governments turns a blind eye. And why should it? As many tax experts have stated these activities aren’t illegal; and apparently thats okay, despite the fact that every man and women in the street pay their tax – and those that don’t would face a lengthy spell in jail. Who cares about morals then? One rule for them; one rule for us.

The British Pussy Riot?

Trenton Oldfield, the Australian man who disrupted the Oxford and Cambridge boat race as a protest against government cuts and elitism, has been jailed for six-months on grounds of public nuisance.  Yes, thats right; a man who did the boating equivalent of football streaking – just perhaps a braver version considering whats in the Thames and the high chance of being decapitated by a oar – will now be spending half a year in jail. The sentence has been widely criticised for its draconian length; the punishment looks ill-fitting for a crime which was pretty much just a young-man version of “throwing your toys out the pram” – Justin Lee Collins, after all, escaped any jail sentence despite being found guilty of harassing his girlfriend.

Many believe the harsh sentence was because his protest upset the establishment so the establishment got him back; no doubt, the very elitism that Oldfield was protesting about existed in the court that sentenced him. And, to be fair to old Trenton, his protest – while stupid – was on pretty legitimate grounds; the Oxford-Cambridge isn’t just elitism, it is the epitome of elitism. Word of warning – don’t disrepect Oxbridge.

Oh and just to confirm; Oldfield is not the British version of Pussy Riot.

Deja ‘expenses’ Vu

Oh dear; looks like MPs haven’t learnt their lesson from last time with the issue of expenses raising its ugly head again with the news that 27 MPs let out their homes whilst claiming expenses to live elsewhere, claiming as much as £20,000 a year on rent. The loophole effectively allows MPs to continue using the expenses system to their own advantage by building-up property nest-eggs on the taxpayers’ money. MPs have also been keen to use money on first-class tickets rather than sitting in standard carriages with 180 claiming such expenses; the loophole this time being that they can book first class if it cheaper than standard ‘anytime’ travel.

This story comes after the news that George Osborne refused to sit with the ‘commoners’ in standard as he refused to move from first class despite only having a standard ticket. Rumours are that he didn’t want to sit with any old riff-raff, but backed this statement up by saying he wasn’t “out-of-touch”; just that he didn’t want to get his new shoes or suit dirty. (Please note: The last bit is a guess, not an actual quote)

Viva Castro!

I’m still alive!

The former Cuban leader Fidel Castro pretty much died this week; then he came back alive – at least according to the media. On Tuesday, The Miami Herald, reported that a Venezuelan physician had said Castro had suffered an embolic stroke and that he couldn’t feed himself nor recognise anyone. Such claims were plausible; Castro has been extremely ill since 2006, hasn’t been since in public since March and hasn’t written his column “Reflections” since June. Alas, it was the forthcoming death of one of the 20th century’s last living (in)famous leaders.

That was until three days later where Fidel Castro had a meeting with the Venezuelan ex-Vice President Ellas Jaua; one five hours long. Mr Jaua even had a picture to confirm the encounter; so not dead then.

In Other News…

David Cameron & Alex Salmond have agreed to a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014; current polls indicate there is little appetite for a split in the Union.

Those pans look awfully clean Paul…

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, was accused of staging a photo-op at a Ohio soup kitchen as he and his family washed pots and pans that “did not appear to be dirty”

The Oregon Supreme Court has allowed the release of 14,000 pages of internal memos, letters and other documents from the Boy Scouts of America showing decades of child molestation and sexual predators being covered up.

A bomb has killed eight people – and wounded another eighty – in a Christian neighbourhood of Beirut, creating fears that the Syrian conflict could reignite sectarian violence in Lebanon.

And Gary McKinnon, who is accused of hacking into the Pentagon, will not be extradited to the US, after Home Secretary Theresa May refused the request by the US government.

Tune in next Monday morning for your weekly political news fix…

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