Tax Foundation debunks its own anti-tax map

A nice little article in the U.S. magazine Slate, providing a map of the horrors of those U.S. states with the “worst” business tax climates.

As Slate notes:

“Another day, another weird map from a libertarian group that seems designed to debunk libertarianism. Last time it was strange assertions about freedom, today it’s the Tax Foundation explaining why there are no successful businesses in California or New York.”

The triumph of dogma over evidence remains, unfortunately, a hardy perennial.

Switzerland: time for Independent Commission of Truth and Justice

Switzerland has been fighting hard to attack and undermine long-running transparency efforts in Europe, and in recent days it’s been playing a particularly pernicious role. (Christian Aid’s new report Swisspoliation adds more: and that’s just the charge sheet of the last few days. The case against Switzerland is long, extremely ugly, and goes back decades. Despite some moderate improvements in recent years, the country remains justifiably at the top of TJN’s Financial Secrecy Index.

We thought we would now publish a letter circulated to us, originally from Ana Gomes, a Member of the European Parliament. Directed to Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, it speaks for itself, and relates to this Change.Org Petition, which we mentioned before and is entitled The citizens demand actions against corruption and the secrets hidden by Switzerland. The letter is from Monday:

Dear President Van Rompuy,

One of the main problems affecting the EU and several EU Member States in particular is the lack of sufficient financial and fiscal resources to invest in the economies and job creation and to deliver to citizens even the most basic services and infrastructure they expect and deserve. Sadly, tax evasion, tax avoidance and corruption are a reality and they have been protected by Switzerland, Liechtenstein and other tax havens and money laundering financial centres (including EU Member States), undermining governance in the EU by covering up criminal activities.

To put an end to this long running conspiracy to defraud all EU Member States, that undermine all EU economies – with the excuse of financial secrecy – more than 24 thousand EU citizens, including me, have already signed the petition #TruthCH (#VeriteCH-#VerdadCH-#WahrheitCH-#VerdadeCH) demanding to the EU institutions the creation of an Independent Truth and Justice Commission on Switzerland to investigate its role in political corruption and tax evasion.

I hope that you agree that, at this time in European history, it does not matter how many thousands of citizens have signed this urgent demand for action. It is our obligation as representatives of all 500 million Europeans to act, without further  delay,  to stop this unacceptable behaviour, investigate the truth and prosecute all criminally responsible as they are not only undermining our economies with their secret cross border financial services but are also eroding our democracy by hiding corrupt and illegal assets. This has been the case for too many decades.

The ECOFIN meeting taking place tomorrow, 14th of May 2013, under the presidency of Mr Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance of Ireland, will decide on very important EU instruments to tackle tax evasion. I urge you, thus, to bring up the creation of an Independent Truth and Justice Commission on Switzerland in the discussion.

We cannot remain indifferent. I look forward to working with you to build a social and transparent Europe that will fight together against all forms of corruption, tax evasion and avoidance.

You may find the complete text of the petition, along with the weblink, below,

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Ana Gomes
Member of the European Parliament

Workaround: Jolla rotation and video format problems

Jolla phone – video formats

With Beta releases, it’s sometimes just needed to do something yourself. This time, unless a fix is released, it has to do with the video recordings using Jolla’s camera. There’s a minor bug in rotation, turning some videos upside down (and some photos too), and there’s another problem related to Jolla’s less common video format h.263. Oh… and the recorded audio quality isn’t great either (I hope the problem is just in the software)

Workaround for the rotation bug

When recording a landscape video, turn your Jolla anticlockwise (to the left).
This way the rotation angle will be 0. If you turn it right, the video will show upside down in your computer.

Workaround for the less supported video format

When sending videos to services like Youtube or Vimeo, the videos are automatically converted, and the file size & quality is reduced. No problem in here, if you’re satisfied to the quality and the service.

Jolla records videos in format mp4v/h.263 (MPEG-4 Visual Simple@L6 to be exact). Not all players, and especially not the common web players are able to show this (you’ll only hear the sound).

If you don’t want to use 3rd party services, here’s what you can do for the empty video frames and whining relatives: Convert your video to a better supported format. Here’s a HowTo for mp4/avc1 format, which is well supported:

For converting a video, I used VLC Player. HowTo:

  1. Save your video to any folder in your computer. You can transfer it via USB cable, Bluetooth or Email (attachment). Moving it via 3rd parties is not recommended, as it’s usually converted in their desired way when uploaded, reducing the quality
  2. Open VLC Player (link is to the official download site)
    Select from menu: Media -> Convert/Save…
  3. Add… the video / videos you want to convert to the File selection list
  4. Click Convert / Save
  5. Browse Destination File. Select the Folder and write the name for the converted video, ending to text .mp4 (note the dot)
  6. Select any profile from the dropdown menu, as it need to be edited anyway. I used Video – MPEG4 + AAC (mp4)
  7. Edit your selected profile (click the tools icon)
  8. For encapsulation, choose mp4
  9. Video codec selections (this is what we convert)
    The selection boxes: Select “Video”, unselect “Keep original video track”
    Codec: choose H.264
    Bitrate: 10 000 Kbit for max quality, 300-600 for web viewing purposes. This selection is the most important considering the file size and quality, and the processing time too. You could start with smaller values, and make another setting later if you’re not satisfied with the outcome.
    Frame rate: 30fps for max quality, less to get smaller file size. At least 12 fps recommended.
    Scale 1 / Width 0 / Height 0 for original size, or change only one of the values for desired size.
  10. For audio codec, select “Audio” and also select “Keep original audio track”
  11. Save the settings (next time they will be ready in your selected profile)
  12. Leave the checkboxes unselected, and start. Convertion takes a while, you can follow the advance from the bar at bottom. After it’s ready, the player shows its stopped (no notifications)

You can find your converted video in the Folder you selected earlier. The original video is left unchanged. The format of the new video is mp4/avc1 (MPEG-4, Advanced Video Codec High@L4.0) which is recognized by most web players and html5. Html5 supported browsers are at least Mozilla Firefox (from v21), Internet Explorer, Google Chrome & Safari. Opera does not support mp4 – to gain visibility there, convert video also to ogg format.

Sharing videos in mp4/avc1 format is currently the best way considering most viewers, as both the web and most players in several devices/computers support viewing this format. As an example, here’s a 7 second teddy clip not using iframe or Java/Flash. The format is simply supported by html5 programming language. You shouldn’t see this with Opera browser, but with most others, yes:
Sorry, but your browser does not support html5 video tag.