Facebook could face extra $5bn tax bill after US investigation – Jemima Kiss wFriday 29 July 2016 21.24 EDT

Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Facebook could be liable to pay between $3 to $5bn in extra US tax after an extensive investigation by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) into the way the tech company transferred assets to Ireland.

The tax agency has been exploring whether Facebook deliberately deployed complex financial processes designed to minimize the amount of US tax it paid.

The IRS issued the firm with a “statutory notice of deficiency” on 27 July, the company said in its quarterly financial filing, noting that it could have a “material adverse impact” on its finances. Facebook broke out the possible loss in its earnings report, as a minimum of $3bn and maximum of $5bn. It would also be liable for interest lost, though any additional penalties are not known.

On Friday, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement: “Facebook complies with all applicable rules and regulations in the countries where we operate.”

The IRS began investigating Facebook in 2013 over assets it had transferred in 2010 to its base in Dublin. Ireland is known for its corporation-friendly tax structures; it has a corporate tax rate of 12.5%, compared to the US rate of 35% and 21% in the UK.

The case became public on 6 July when the IRS filed a lawsuit in San Francisco, suing Facebook over access to records related to the transfer. Its 2013 investigation described the valuation of the assets as “problematic”, implying it had undervalued the assets to pay less US tax.

The IRS has stated that Facebook has failed to attend seven appointments at the IRS office in San Jose, 19 miles from Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced record quarterly earnings with $6.24bn in advertising sales powered by the popularity of mobile and video.


How Your Health Data Lead A Not-So-Secret Life Online – ANGUS CHEN July 30, 2016 5:00 AM ET

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Katherine Streeter for NPR

There are apps that can help people with diabetes keep track of their blood sugar and apps that can attach to a blood pressure cuff and store blood pressure information. I use an app called ZocDoc to schedule and manage doctor’s appointments. Every time I see a therapist or a primary care doctor or dentist, the data get stored in my personal account.

But we leave behind other trails of health data, too, from apps and activities that are sometimes only tangentially health related. When I walk down the street, an app on my phone logs steps as it bounces against my thigh. When I swipe a loyalty card at the pharmacy, the over-the-counter medications that I buy become bits of data attached to my name. Medical information can be gleaned from all this and more, says Nathan Cortez, a professor of law at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.

Outside In

This week the NPR podcast and show Invisibilia explores how people change from the outside in. We look at an all-women debate team in Rwanda, a country that has declared gender equality. We look at twins who introduced an app into their relationship and how it changed them. And a man who met a bird that transformed his view of the world.

Those data aren’t always protected. A recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services showed that the vast majority of mobile health apps on the marketplace aren’t covered by the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. “HIPAA is pretty narrow as far as these things go. It applies only to traditional entities [like hospitals, doctors and health insurance providers], and it’s not surprising. HIPAA was written by Congress in 1996 before we had health apps,” Cortez says.

Apps or devices used in conjunction with a doctor’s office or a hospital can’t share or sell your information. But there’s no definitive federal law governing what happens to the data that an app developer, tech company or private individual collects. Cortez and I spoke about what that means and what people can do with individuals’ data. This interview has been shortened for length and clarity.

So if you share your data with a physician or a hospital, then it’s covered under HIPAA. If you share it with someone like Apple, then it’s not?

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Hearts, minds and souls – The Economist Jul 30th 2016 | VATICAN CITY | From the print edition

CARDINAL ROBERT SARAH (pronounced Sar-AH, with the accent on the last syllable) has never been afraid to speak out. Such was his defiance of his native Guinea’s dictator, Ahmed Sékou Touré, that he was at the top of a list of candidates for assassination found when the strongman died in 1984. Since coming to Rome in 2001 he has emerged as standard-bearer-in-chief of the traditionalists: Roman Catholics who prize doctrinal certainty over adapting to changing times. Many in the church’s higher reaches would like to reverse some of the innovations that followed the Second Vatican Council, which closed in 1965 (indeed, they often claim its intentions were misinterpreted).

As the head of the department overseeing the church’s charitable activities, Cardinal Sarah brought Caritas, its main development agency, under tighter Vatican control and in 2011 jettisoned its liberal-minded director, Lesley-Anne Knight. At a recent synod, or meeting of bishops, called by the pope to discuss issues that split liberals and traditionalists relating to the family and sexual orientation, he vigorously opposed change. On July 5th he went further, openly defying Pope Francis. The issue was one of immense symbolic importance for Catholics. At a conference in London Cardinal Sarah, who now heads the Vatican’s liturgy department, asked priests to resume celebrating mass facing east, with their backs to the congregation, as they had done before the Second Vatican Council.

Seldom do Catholic leaders clash so publicly. The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, wrote to the priests of his diocese reminding them that an instruction “approved by the highest authority in the church” told them to face the congregation whenever possible. The pope saw Cardinal Sarah on July 9th, after which the Holy See said the cardinal’s words, which went against that settled position and the pope’s known wishes, had been wrongly interpreted.

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GOP applauds bipartisan opioids bill – By Evelyn Rupert July 30, 2016, 06:05 am

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman touted the recently passed bill to fight the opioid epidemic, which he said has struck hard in his home state.

“I have heard too many of these heartbreaking stories from grieving moms and dads all across Ohio. This epidemic is at crisis levels and it knows no ZIP code or walk of life. It’s everywhere. Fighting it is going to require all of us to work together,” Portman said in the weekly Republican address.

Portman lauded the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was easily passed by Congress earlier this month.

The legislation will put $181 million a year into federal opioids programs, expand treatment options and bolster education program and availability of an overdose drug.

“It is not a Republican or Democratic approach,” Portman said.

“It’s an example of how, by working together to find common ground, we can address the big issues that face our country.”

How China’s state media covers the problems with American democracy — Vice News Published on Jul 27, 2016

Wang Guan is the chief political correspondent for the American division of China Central Television, China’s main state-run TV network. At the Democratic National Convention, VICE News correspondent Isobel Yeung spoke with Wang about state censorship, the Chinese disdain for Hillary Clinton and their take on Donald Trump.

Flint’s mayor will bring the water crisis to prime time at the DNC – http://bit.ly/2avoChg

Fact-checking Hillary Clinton’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination – By Allison Graves, Neelesh Moorthy on Thursday, July 28th, 2016 at 8:47 p.m.

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at Jul 29, 2016 3.02

The Democratic Party has a new presidential nominee, and for the first time for either major political party, she is a woman.

Hillary Clinton — a former secretary of state, senator and first lady — accepted her party’s nomination on July 28, 2016, the final night of the Democratic National Convention. After being introduced by her daughter Chelsea, Clinton challenged the campaign message of Republican nominee Donald Trump as being all about himself.

“That’s why ‘Stronger Together’ is not just a lesson from our history,” Clinton told the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. “It’s not just a slogan for our campaign. It’s a guiding principle for the country we’ve always been and the future we’re going to build.”

The night also saw speeches by Republicans who decided this election to vote for Clinton over Trump, as well as the families of fallen police officers. Several service members rallied on Clinton’s behalf, and singer Katy Perry sang her songs “Roar” and “Rise.”

Clinton’s address was the night’s biggest moment. Let’s see how accurate it was.

(See our wrap-ups from night onetwo and three of the Democratic convention.)

Attacking Donald Trump

Clinton critiqued Trump’s address at the Republican National Convention a week earlier, saying “he spoke for 70-odd minutes – and I do mean odd,” and should not be trusted.

“And most of all, don’t believe anyone who says: ‘I alone can fix it.,’ ” Clinton said. “Those were actually Donald Trump’s words in Cleveland.”

We looked back at his speech, and Trump really did say this.

“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” Trump said.

However, Trump did allude to working with others in different parts of his speech. He said he would work with law enforcement and added this tidbit about working with allied countries..

“We must work with all of our allies who share our goal of destroying ISIS and stamping out Islamic terror,” he said. “This includes working with our greatest ally in the region, the State of Israel.”

With that extra context, we rated Clinton’s claim Mostly True.

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