Apple’s corrupt political bribery gets outed. Not the nice zen computer company but the mercenary bastards of dirty corporate tech.

Making us pay tax will DESTROY EUROPE, roars Apple’s Tim Cook

Apparently everyone could pay 0.005 per cent tax if they only asked

Forcing Apple to pay the same tax rate as other companies will lead to the destruction of Europe, according to its not-entirely objective CEO Tim Cook.

“This would strike a devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states over their own tax matters, and to the principle of certainty of law in Europe,” Cook said in a statement Tuesday, adding: “Beyond the obvious targeting of Apple, the most profound and harmful effect of this ruling will be on investment and job creation in Europe.”

On Tuesday, the electronics giant was hit with a massive €13bn ($14.5bn) tax bill following a two-year investigation into the unusual arrangement Apple had reached with the Irish tax authorities that saw it pay an extraordinary 0.005 per cent tax rate in 2014.

The European Commission called it “illegal state aid,” the Irish tax authorities claimed they had “collected the full amount of tax due,” and Apple… well, Apple claimed that the same deal is available to every business based in Ireland, if only they ask.

“Over the years, we received guidance from Irish tax authorities on how to comply correctly with Irish tax law – the same kind of guidance available to any company doing business there. In Ireland and in every country where we operate, Apple follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe.”

Cook also strongly disputes the EC’s claims that Apple has reached a special agreement with Ireland: “The opinion issued on August 30th alleges that Ireland gave Apple a special deal on our taxes. This claim has no basis in fact or in law. We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals.”

The EC explains how Apple’s unusual tax arrangement works

Of course, the suspicion is that the Irish authorities struck a deal with Apple in order to get it to hire people in parts of the country that were not doing well. Cook’s response only serves to support this idea, and could even be seen as a coded warning to the Irish government that if it doesn’t fight the decision, Apple will start dropping people.

“In October 1980, Apple opened a factory in Cork, Ireland with 60 employees,” Cook said, reminiscing about the days of Steve Jobs. “At the time, Cork was suffering from high unemployment and extremely low economic investment … We have operated continuously in Cork ever since, even through periods of uncertainty about our own business, and today we employ nearly 6,000 people across Ireland. The vast majority are still in Cork.”

Better days? Steve Jobs visits the new Apple building in Cork in 1980

He also implies that forcing Apple to pay billions in back taxes may impact the country, beyond just itself: “Countless multinational companies followed Apple by investing in Cork, and today the local economy is stronger than ever.”

Despite the huge potential bill, Apple’s share price dropped by just one per cent on the news. That is likely in no small part because it will still be the Irish tax authorities that ultimately decide how much Apple must pay. And Ireland is currently sticking to its guns, saying it will appeal the ruling.

Cook says Apple will do the same and notes: “We are confident that the Commission’s order will be reversed.”

Whether it will be or not is the fifteen billion dollar question. ®

NY Times says Obama’s Eric Holder covered up more Wall Street crimes than any man alive

Prosecution of Financial Crisis Fraud Ends With a Whimper

Photo

 
In 2011, Robert Khuzami of the Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against top executives from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Credit Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

One source of great frustration from the financial crisis has been the dearth of cases against individuals over subprime lending practices and the related securitization of bad loans that caused so much financial havoc. To heighten the frustration, I offer Aug. 22, 2016, as the day on which efforts to pursue cases related to subprime mortgages were put to rest with no individuals — save perhaps the unfortunate former Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre — held accountable.

On that date, the Securities and Exchange Commission settled its last remaining case against a former Fannie Mae chief executive for securities fraud related to the disclosure of the company’s subprime mortgage exposure. The agency accepted a mere token payment that will not even come out of the individual’s own pocket.

On the same day, a federal appeals court refused to reconsider its May ruling that Bank of America’s Countrywide mortgage unit and one of its former executives did not commit fraud by failing to disclose to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that the subprime loans it was selling to them did not come close to the contractual requirements for such transactions.

In December 2011, the S.E.C. publicized its civil securities fraud charges against top executives from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for understating their exposure to subprime mortgages, which resulted in the government taking them over. Robert Khuzami, then the head of the S.E.C.’s enforcement division, said that “all individuals, regardless of their rank or position, will be held accountable for perpetuating half-truths or misrepresentations about matters materially important to the interest of our country’s investors.”

That is not how it turned out, however. Five of the executives settled in 2015 by arranging for modest payments to be made on their behalf by the companies and their insurers, amounts that were never even described as penalties in the settlements.

Each also agreed not to hold a position in a public company that would require signing a filing on its behalf for up to two years. That is far short of the director and officer bar the S.E.C. usually seeks in such cases, but at least it had the sound of something punitive regardless of whether there was any real impact.

The settlement with the sixth defendant, Daniel H. Mudd, the former chief executive of Fannie Mae, disclosed in a judicial filing on Aug. 22, did not even reach that modest level of accountability. Fannie will make a $100,000 donation on his behalf to the Treasury Department — which is like shifting money from one pocket to another because the government already controls the company. Nor is there any ban on Mr. Mudd holding an executive position at another public company, something that at least resulted from the cases against the other executives.

Continue reading the main story

Most S.E.C. settlements involve neither an admission nor denial of the charges, something that has proved frustrating to those who seek accountability, but at least it keeps the defendant from claiming that there was no basis for the case. That is not the situation with Mr. Mudd, however, who told Reuters that the terms would “end a case that should have never been brought.” The S.E.C. usually announces the outcomes of its cases, but the settlement has not yet been posted on the S.E.C.’s website, with the document only available through the court filing system.

What the S.E.C. accomplished in settling the cases against Mr. Mudd and the other executives hardly sends a message to other executives to be careful about how they act in the future. No money came out of the pockets of any of the defendants, and the prohibitions on future activity were token requirements. It was, after all, unlikely that any of the defendants would have been put in a leadership position at a public company within the applicable time. It is difficult not to come away with the impression that the settlements were little more than a slap on the wrist, and perhaps less than that for Mr. Mudd.

The case involving Countrywide may be more disheartening because it calls into question the scope of a federal statute from the savings and loan crisis, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act, or Firrea, that the Justice Department used to extract large settlements from banks. That law authorizes the Justice Department to seek civil penalties for conduct that violates the mail and wire fraud statutes if it affects a bank.

The government won the jury trial in 2013. Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said that “in a rush to feed at the trough of easy mortgage money on the eve of the financial crisis, Bank of America purchased Countrywide, thinking it had gobbled up a cash cow. That profit, however, was built on fraud.” The trial court hit Bank of America with a $1.267 billion penalty and ordered a former Countrywide executive, the only individual named as a defendant in the case, to pay a separate $1 million fine.

But the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan overturned the verdict this year by ruling that the government had not shown fraud because there was no false statement made when Countrywide sold loans that did not meet certain contractual obligations it had with Fannie and Freddie. The opinion found that “willful but silent noncompliance” with a contract was not fraudulent without some later misstatement.

The government’s aggressive approach to the case may explain why the Justice Department asked the full appeals court to review the decision even though such a request is rarely granted.

The appeals court judges issued a terse order on Aug. 22 denying the government’s request without further comment, which means the only option for challenging the ruling will be to try to take the case to the Supreme Court. The last time the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to review a case from Mr. Bharara’s office was in United States v. Newman, an insider trading decision. The justices rejected that request before granting review in a similar case from California.

The likelihood that the Supreme Court will take up the appeals court’s decision appears to be low. The issue about what constitutes fraud in a contractual relationship is narrow, raising arcane questions about how a court should construe an agreement between sophisticated parties and when full disclosure is required. This is the type of claim that is usually pursued in a private lawsuit rather than through a federal enforcement action, so the justices may not want to be dragged into a dispute that will have little precedential impact on the application of federal law.

<

p class=”story-body-text story-content”>The lack of cases identifying individuals for any misconduct related to the financial crisis has become an all-too common complaint. What will be additionally disheartening to many is that even those few cases that were brought have now ended up largely as defeats for the government.

Stanford University Frat Boys Can’t Rape Sleepy Co-eds Any More Under New Laws

California closes legal loophole after Stanford assault

 
Image copyright AP
Image caption Brock Turner was seen by two witnesses sexually assaulting an unconscious woman

Legislators in California have closed a loophole in sexual assault cases, whereby more lenient sentences could be issued if the victim did not resist.

The change follows a high-profile sexual assault case in Stanford earlier this year.

In June, Brock Turner, 20, was sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on a university campus.

The sentence was widely criticised for being overly lenient.

In California, the use of force in a sexual assault results in a mandatory prison sentence. In cases where no force is used – when the victim is unable to defend themselves – no mandatory sentence exists.

State assembly members voted unanimously to amend the law, and prevent the use of probation in such cases. The bill has been passed to Governor Jerry Brown for approval, but has not yet been signed into law.

Turner, a former top swimmer at Stanford University, was found guilty in March of three felony charges. Two witnesses said they had seen him sexually assaulting the woman, who was lying on the ground unconscious, on the university campus. Prosecutors wanted a sentence of six years in state prison.

Judge Aaron Persky, who handed out the sentence, expressed concern about the impact of prison on Turner. In his decision, he said positive character references and Turner’s remorse and lack of previous criminal record were mitigating factors.

Brock Turner’s father, Dan, also caused controversy during the case, saying his son should not have been jailed for “20 minutes of action”.

The victim, referred to by the pseudonym Emily Doe, then released her victim impact statement publicly. It was read by millions, and openly praised by US Vice President Joe Biden.

Turner is expected to be released later this week after serving half his sentence, the Mercury News reports.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who prosecuted Turner in the Stanford case, said legislators had helped protect “the next Emily Doe against the next Brock Turner”.

“They not only read Emily Doe’s now famous letter, but they clearly understood it as cry for change,” he said in a statement.

Assembly member Evan Low said: “rape is rape, and rapists like Brock Turner shouldn’t be let off with a slap on the wrist.”

Death threats

The Stanford case was widely criticised, and became the focus for a campaign for tougher sentencing.

Judge Persky has faced death threats and online petitions demanding his removal following the case, and has now been assigned to the court’s civil division at his own request, where he will no longer hear criminal cases.

The case has also been used as an example in other cases involving sexual assault on university campuses across the US.

In Massachusetts, high school athlete David Becker, 18, was sentenced earlier this month to probation on charges of indecent assault. His attorney, Thomas Rooke, told local media “The goal … was not to impede this individual from graduating high school and to go onto the next step of his life.”

“We all made mistakes when we were 17, 18, 19 years old, and we shouldn’t be branded for life with a felony offence and branded a sex offender,” he told the Mass Live news outlet.

Governor’s Council member Michael Albano has called for a review of the sentence, which has been denied by the court.

Also this month, in Colorado, Austin James Wilkerson, 22, was sentenced to “work release” and probation for sexually assaulting a woman he had agreed to walk home after a party. The victim in that case also chose to publicly release her victim impact statement.

GM and the U.S. Army will unveil their hydrogen fuel-cell truck in October

Home > Cars > GM and the U.S. Army will unveil their hydrogen…

GM and the U.S. Army will unveil their hydrogen fuel-cell truck in October

gm and us army to unveil hydrogen fuel cell truck in october chevrolet colorado vehicle teaser

Almost a year after it was first announced, General Motors and the U.S. Army are getting ready to a reveal a prototype hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle based on the Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck.

The truck will debut in October at a meeting of the Association of the United States Army in Washington, D.C. Announced last November, the program is a joint effort between GM and the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). Research work takes place at TARDEC’s facility in Warren, Michigan, where GM has its own technical center.

The Department of Defense engaged in this partnership because it believes fuel cells may have military applications. It also hopes to leverage more technology from the civilian sector in the development of future military hardware. GM in turn expects to get feedback on its fuel-cell tech from the Army, something it believes will be valuable in the further development of that technology.

Read more: Nissan unveils a van powered by its solid-oxide fuel cells

The Chevy Colorado-based prototype will be used in demonstrations and testing through 2017. Among the benefits officials expect from a fuel-cell powertrain are quiet operation, copious low-end torque from electric motors, and the ability to generate both electric power and water while in the field.

GM’s relationship with TARDEC goes back to 2013, when the two entities agreed to collaborate on research into new materials and designs for hydrogen fuel cells. Prior to that, GM was already running a fleet of Chevy Equinox SUVs converted to hydrogen power. They collectively logged over 3 million miles in testing on public roads.

In addition to working with the Army, GM also has a fuel-cell research partnership with Honda. A report earlier this year claimed the two carmakers would also share a fuel-cell factory, with plans to start producing cells in 2025. But while Honda is currently rolling out its Clarity Fuel Cell, GM has no concrete plans to offer a production fuel-cell car.

ITT Tech and San Francisco Academy of Art Scam Colleges Get Crammed In California

California bans ITT tech from accepting new students

Times staff and wire reports

The for-profit college chain ITT Educational Services has been banned from accepting new students at its 15 California locations under an emergency decision issued Friday by the state Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.

The state will also seek to revoke ITT’s approval to operate in California.

The emergency order, which takes effect Sept. 1, comes one day after the U.S. Department of Education banned ITT from enrolling new students who use federal financial aid. 

“The federal action raises grave concerns about the continued financial viability of ITT,” bureau chief Joanne Wenzel said in a press release. “We took today’s action in the interest of protecting potential students who are considering enrolling in ITT.”

Federal officials announced the action Thursday amid a series of measures that could threaten the survival of the chain, which has been the subject of state and federal investigations focusing on its recruiting and accounting practices. Company officials did not immediately comment. 

Among the measures, ITT has been ordered to pay $152 million to the department within 30 days to cover student refunds and other liabilities in case the company closes. The chain, based in Indiana, is still paying an additional $44 million demanded by the department in June for the same reason. 

The Education Department also has prohibited ITT from awarding its executives any pay raises or bonuses, and it must develop “teach-out” plans that would help current students finish their programs at other colleges if the chain shuts down. 

Under the new measures, current students can continue receiving federal grants and loans. 

Education Secretary John King said the government is taking action to protect students and taxpayers following “troubling” findings about the company. This month, a group that accredits ITT found that the chain failed to meet several basic standards and was unlikely to comply in the future. 

“It simply would not be responsible or in the best interest of students to allow ITT to continue enrolling new students who rely on federal financial aid,” King said during a telephone conference with reporters. 

If it fails to follow the government’s demands, ITT could be cut off entirely from federal aid, the top source of revenue for most for-profit colleges. 

ITT operates vocational schools at more than 130 campuses in 38 states, often under the ITT Technical Institute name. Last year, it enrolled 45,000 students and reported $850 million in revenue. 

One of the biggest for-profit chains in the nation, ITT has been under increasing scrutiny from the Education Department following allegations of misconduct. 

The Massachusetts attorney general sued the company in April, alleging that it misled students about the quality of its programs. The federal government had previously sued the chain, saying that it pushed students into high-cost private student loans knowing they would likely end in default. 

Department officials have been closely monitoring ITT’s operations since 2014, when the chain was late to submit an annual report of its finances to the government. 

Under President Obama, the Education Department has led a crackdown on for-profit colleges that have misled students or failed to deliver the results they promised. In 2014, the department cut off federal aid to the Corinthian Colleges chain amid allegations of fraud, leading it to close or sell all of its schools. 

MORE BUSINESS NEWS

Fed Chair Janet Yellen: The case for another interest rate hike ‘has strengthened in recent months’

How to calculate the ‘magic number’ for college savings

Apple boosts iPhone security after powerful spyware targets an activist

Match.com and OKCupid dating users found to have incurable STD’s from easy internet sex

WHO urges shift in STD treatment due to devastating antibiotic resistance (Update)

 

 

Growing resistance to antibiotics has complicated efforts to rein in common sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday as it issued new treatment guidelines.

 

 

Globally, more than one million people contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection (STI) every day, WHO said.

 

“Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are major public health problems worldwide, affecting millions of peoples’ quality of life, causing serious illness and sometimes death,” Ian Askew, head of WHO’s reproductive health and research division, said in a statement.

 

WHO estimates that each year, 131 million people are infected with chlamydia around the globe, 78 million with gonorrhoea and 5.6 million with syphilis.

 

More than one million people contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) every single day, WHO medical officer Teodora Wi said.

 

Until recently, the three diseases, which are all caused by bacteria, had been fairly easy to treat using antibiotics, but increasingly those drugs are failing, WHO said.

 

“Resistance of these STIs to the effect of antibiotics has increased rapidly in recent years and has reduced treatment options,” the UN agency said.

 

Resistance is caused, among other things, by doctors overprescribing antibiotics, and patients not taking the correct doses.

 

Injected into the buttock or thigh

 

Strains of multidrug resistant gonorrhoea that do not respond to any available antibiotics have already been detected, while antibiotic resistance also exists in chlamydia and syphilis, though it is less common, it said.

 

When left undiagnosed and untreated, the three diseases can have serious consequences, causing pelvic infamatory disease and ectopic pregnancy in women, and increasing the chances of miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death.

 

They can also greatly increase the risk of being infected with HIV, and untreated gonorrhoea and chlamydia can leave both men and women infertile.

 

To rein in resistance, WHO on Tuesday presented new guidelines aimed at ensuring that doctors prescribe the best antibiotics, and the right doses, for treating each specific disease.

 

To reduce the spread of the diseases, national health services will need to “monitor the patterns of antibiotic resistance in these infections within their countries,” Askew said.

 

For gonorrhoea for instance, WHO recommends that health authorities study local resistance patterns and advise doctors to prescribe the most effective antibiotic with the least resistance.

 

For syphilis, meanwhile, WHO recommended a specific antibiotic—benzathine penicillin—that is injected into the buttock or thigh muscle.

 

It stressed that condom use was the most effective way to protect against STD infection.

 

<

p style=”margin-bottom:0;line-height:100%;”> 

 

TechDirt Reports That EVERY Cisco device is being hacked now with the hack of the NSA hack

 tdicon 

 

Leaked NSA Zero Days Already Being Exploited By Whoever Thinks They Can Manipulate Them

from the the-best-offense-is-not-giving-a-fuck-about-playing-defense dept

There are still people out there who think it’s a good idea for the government — whether it’s the FBI, NSA, or other agency — to hoover up exploits and hoard vulnerabilities. This activity is still being defended despite recent events, in which an NSA operative apparently left a hard drive full of exploits in a compromised computer. These exploits are now in the hands of the hacking group that took them… and, consequently, also in the hands of people who aren’t nearly as interested in keeping nations secure.

The problem is you can’t possibly keep every secret a secret forever. Edward Snowden proved that in 2013. The hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers are proving it again. The secrets are out and those who wish to use exploits the NSA never disclosed to affected developers are free to wreak havoc. Lily Hay Newman of Wired examines the aftermath of the TAO tools hacking.

Whoever they are, the Shadow Brokers say they still have more data to dump. But the preview has already unleashed some notable vulnerabilities, complete with tips for how to use them.

All of which means anyone—curious kids, petty criminals, trolls—can now start hacking like a spy. And it looks like they are.

Curious to learn if anyone was indeed trying to take advantage of the leak, Brendan Dolan-Gavitt—a security researcher at NYU—set up a honeypot. On August 18 he tossed out a digital lure that masqueraded as a system containing one of the vulnerabilities.

Dolan-Gavitt used the Cisco zero-day — one which the company is still unable to completely thwart — for his honeypot. This exploit was in the hands of the NSA for at least three years and was never disclosed to Cisco. The security researcher saw one attack in the first 24 hours. Since then, there have been a handful of attacks mounted every day.

This is the end result of someone hacking the hackers. The Shadow Brokers have turned the agency’s exploit toolkit into NSA Everywhere!™ — the NSA’s new “Inadvertent Disclosure” project. The hackers have divulged far more exploits than the NSA ever has, even with the (severely loopholed) “presumption of disclosure” mandate handed down by the Obama Administration.

The NSA — and its defenders — remain mostly unworried about this collateral damage. Presumably the nation is still secure, even if its companies and their customers aren’t. I guess that’s supposed to be good enough. Every war inflicts a toll on non-combatants, and the neverending War on Terror will be no different than the neverending War on Drugs in this respect.

But those at the top of the IC heap — and those who work closely with them, like the FBI — need to stop pretending the government can be trusted with keeping its most secret secrets secure. And officials need to stop applying pressure on lawmakers to craft encryption backdoor legislation, because this debacle should make it clear — even to true believers like FBI director James Comey — that any hole labeled “GOVERNMENT USE ONLY” isn’t going to keep bad guys out forever.