North Ain’t Where You Thought It Was

In case you haven’t noticed already, your magnetic compass is now pretty much worthless, you may as well toss it in the trash. There goes all that Boy Scout orienteering training.

Magnetic north shifting its position

Magnetic north, the point at the top of the Earth that determines compass headings, is shifting its position about 64 kilometres a year. In geologic terms, it’s racing from the Arctic Ocean near Canada towards Russia.

As a result, everyone who uses a compass, even as a back-up to modern GPS navigation systems, needs to be aware of the shift, make adjustments or obtain updated charts to ensure they get where they intend to go, authorities say. That includes pilots, boaters and even hikers.

“You could end up a few miles off or a couple hundred miles off, depending how far you’re going,” said Matthew Brock, a technician with Lauderdale Speedometer and Compass, a Fort Lauderdale company that repairs compasses.

Although the magnetic shift has little effect on the average person and presents no danger to the Earth overall, it is costing the aviation and marine industries millions of dollars to upgrade navigational systems and charts.

See also:
Ordinary Compasses Thrown Off by Changes in Earth’s Magnetic Field
Natural change in earth’s magnetic field causes issues for some pilots
Randy Mann: Magnetic pole angles toward Russia
Pilots, boaters adjust to shift in magnetic north position
Magnetic north drift affects airports
Map: Shift in magnetic north
Headed north? It might not be where you think it is
Which Way Is Magnetic North?
Natural change in earth’s magnetic field causes issues for some pilots
Magnetic North Is on the Move. Time to Panic?

Of course, now we have GPS to do our navigating for us. But what happens when the batteries go dead or, in a worst case scenario, GPS is no longer available because the satellites have been destroyed or there’s been an EMP attack? There’s no reliable backup anymore, now that magnetic compasses are pretty much useless.

/how many people nowadays are trained in celestial navigation or sextant use?

A Really Bad Day For Rich Tax Cheats

Fess up or go to jail.

UBS to Give 4,450 Names to U.S.

Swiss bank UBS AG will hand over some 4,450 names of U.S. account holders as part of a U.S.-Swiss tax-evasion settlement and investigation that could produce a total 10,000 account identities.

UBS and the governments of the U.S. and Switzerland agreed on a final settlement last week, but the details weren’t made public until Wednesday. UBS isn’t expected to pay a monetary fine as part of the settlement.

Separately, the Swiss government said it is exiting its six-billion Swiss franc ($6.46 billion) investment in the bank, made as part of a rescue package the height of the financial crisis. It was lining up investors to buy its 332 million shares late Wednesday, and the sale was expected to be completed soon.

No details on the sale price were given. The government needs to sell the shares at around 13 francs each to break even on its investment, bankers say. The announcement came well after stock markets had closed. UBS shares shed 0.9% to 16.90 francs in Zurich.

As part of the tax settlement, U.S. tax authorities will file a treaty request with the Swiss government to obtain the data on the American UBS clients, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said on a conference call with reporters. The Swiss government will then direct UBS to turn over the account data to the IRS, the agency said.

Mr. Shulman said the legal agreement allowed the IRS to obtain substantially all the information it was interested in.

He said the criteria used to select the 4,450 accounts to be turned over are being kept confidential. Lawyers involved in representing UBS clients believe that violations of Swiss law would be a factor.

Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the agreement fully complies with Swiss law and doesn’t violate banking secrecy, which she emphasized isn’t meant to protect criminal behavior.

“With this agreement, we have managed to avoid a conflict between the sovereignty of two states,” Ms. Widmer-Schlumpf said.

The U.S. will drop the John Doe summons it was pursuing to get access to 52,000 sets of client data as part of the settlement, the Swiss government said in a statement.

Mr. Shulman said the IRS would be receiving information on various account types with a wide range of dollar values. UBS will turn over data on bank accounts, custody accounts, securities accounts and accounts that were set up as sham trusts, he said.

The total of 10,000 identities is a figure the IRS expects to have by Jan. 1. That includes the 4,450 names being turned over by UBS. That number includes the 250 names produced by UBS as part of a $780 million criminal settlement reached with the Justice Department in February. It also includes UBS clients expected to come forward through a special IRS disclosure program where UBS clients acknowledge unpaid income tax. The IRS declined to say how many will use that program. Additional identities could stem from leads generated from the 4,450 accounts or the voluntary disclosures.

If the total identities do reach 10,000, it would represent a staggering number of Americans who banked with UBS and now are having to have their identities revealed.

US says building criminal cases against UBS clients

The United States is building criminal cases against more than 150 American clients of Swiss bank UBS as part of a crackdown on tax evasion now made easier by a deal over access to secret account information.

U.S. prosecutors gave their first official confirmation of the initial number of criminal investigations in a filing on Tuesday with a federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The number of criminal probes is widely expected to mushroom soon.

In the same court document, the prosecutors requested a sharply reduced prison sentence for ex-UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld, a key informant in the ongoing U.S. prosecutions of wealthy American clients of UBS.

See also:
UBS, IRS Reach Tax Pact
Swiss Government Says UBS, IRS Tax Pact Within Swiss Bank Law
IRS wins a skirmish in the war on wealth
Names Deal Cracks Swiss Bank Secrecy
UBS Case Shows IRS ‘Is Going To Be Relentless’ In Going After Tax Evaders
150 Americans targeted in UBS Swiss bank tax-evasion case
Over 150 UBS Clients Face US Tax-evasion Probe: Reports
U.S. Builds Crime Cases on Clients of UBS
US preparing to prosecute 150 UBS account holders
150 US clients of UBS investigated
Internal Revenue Service
United States Department of Justice
Prison Ahead For Rich And Famous People

It’s too late to file amended tax returns.

/better hurry up and try to plead guilty and beg for leniency, because all that money saved by evading taxes is worthless in prison