TODAY’S HNW “Suspicious Wealth, Pension Debt & Misguided Drinking”

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By Ed Emerson

“Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.” – Robert Orben

Pissed Away Pension Pots

Money advice charity StepChange has reported a near 80% rise year-on-year in the number of over-60s making contact about worrying levels of debt heading into retirement, with an average £18,624 financial burden. However, international banking giant Old Mutual has suggested the problem is far more severe. Findings from last week’s Redefining Retirement report showing some 19% of those at retirement age had accrued debts of over £50,000, and just under 10% were in the red in excess of £100,000. In light of the new rules on pensions drawdown ‘freedoms’ (read: Took the cash. Now I’m broke), it comes as little surprise that the main pressure now felt amongst 50-59 year-olds is how to pay off those mortgages, credit cards and other revolving credit sources while approaching retirement. The reality break? Do what you should have done thirty years ago; get advice…and a second job. Now. 

“Oops I Did It Again” Guardian

The NSA Is Listening…Again

A landmark ruling in a US federal appeals court has reversed a 2013 decision that called out the National Security Agency’s (NSAs) practice of ‘bulk data collection’ as unconstitutional. Translation? A ban on listening into your conversations has been lifted, and we’re back to our previous ‘Orwellian’ society where the NSA can legally keep collecting data under Section 215 of the Patriot Act…and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. From an Americana standpoint, does it appear to violate the Fourth Amendment Right that prohibits unreasonable searches, and requires a warrant for collecting evidence? A myriad of technicalities surround a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’. And I probably just made ‘The List’ for saying so…

“I Don’t Care About Your Constitutional Rights” Gizmodo

Sir Eric Pickles’ Suspicious Wealth 

New proposals focused on ‘suspicious wealth accumulation’ are being drawn up by David Cameron’s anti-corruption honcho Sir Eric Pickles. The former Communities Secretary and chair of the Conservative Party in 2009/10, is the same politician who made headlines in 2013 for an alleged £40,000 spend on serving custard creams, ginger nuts and digestives at meetings, and whose luxury limousine bill has managed to pass the half a million pound mark in just three years; spending £247,775 in 2012, £185,935 in 2013 and £103,091 in the first six months of 2014. They knighted him for it, of course. Sir Eric’s plan is to progress the new ‘unexplained wealth orders’, which reverse the burden of proof onto the recipient to justify where their questionable cash has come from. Perhaps the magnifying glass should focus first on Whitehall’s sweetheart tax deals for large corporates, and government budgetary ‘irregularities’ before instituting McCarthyism-style practices beneath a banner of hypocrisy. 

The Parameters of the Unexplained Wealth Orders?

1. A bank notices that a customer suddenly has suspicious sums in his or her bank account, and reports him or her to the National Crime Agency, the police lead on economic fraud
2. The agency examines the allegation and, if it has concerns about criminality, issues an Unexplained Wealth Order
3. The suspect has a duty to explain where their new found wealth has come from.
4. If the suspect cannot explain the wealth was obtained lawfully, he or she will be pursued through the civil courts for the wealth

“Anti-Corruption Tzar?” Telegraph

And Finally…Hangover Cures? There’s Only One

New research presented at the ECNP conference in Amsterdam, examining the age old game of “Drink-Sanity” – Why do I keep drinking and expecting a different result in the morning – has found what everyone in the audience on the day probably already knew; excessive alcohol consumption has familiar consequences, many of them quite damaging. The group of international researchers from the Netherlands and Canada – alleged to be experts in their respective field – surveyed drinking habits to see what can be understood about ‘the morning after’. And, after much statistical hoo-haa, blood alcohol level indicators and clearly years of coal face research (at God only knows what cost), lead author Dr Joris Verster of Utrecht University concluded: “We have been working with Canadian and Dutch students on this issue. In general, we found a pretty straight relationship; the more you drink, the more likely you are to get a hangover. The majority of those who in fact reported never having a hangover tended to drink less, perhaps less than they themselves thought would lead to a hangover.” Now my head really hurts.

 

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