How Amazon sends its profits offshore to avoid paying taxes in the US

Basically, Amazon US pays its Luxemburg subsidiary inflated fees for the right to use its own software. The effect is to move large chunks of Amazon’s profit to countries where the tax rate is lower. The cool thing is that, apparently, both Microsoft and Google do the same thing.

Wal-Mart operates a similar scheme:

As the world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pays billions of dollars a year in rent for its stores. Luckily for Wal-Mart, in about 25 states it has been paying most of that rent to itself — and then deducting that amount from its state taxes.

My question is: how do the rest of us get in on these scams?

Something Fishy Has Happened At Amazon Over The Last 2 Years.

Sad news: David Brooks has symptoms of early dementia

Yes, the New York Times columnist is losing it. On Meet the Press, he actually said the following:

“Basically since Yalta we’ve had an assumption that borders are basically going to be borders, and once that comes into question, if in Ukraine or in Crimea or anywhere else, then all over the world … all bets are off. And let’s face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a — I’ll say it crudely — but a manhood problem in the Middle East. Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad or somebody like Putin? I think a lot of the rap is unfair, but certainly in the Middle East there is an assumption that he’s not tough enough.”

Our sympathies go out to his friends and family.

David Brooks Actually Talked About Obama’s ‘Manhood Problem In The Middle East’.

Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg Plans $50 Million Challenge to the N.R.A.

Regular reader of know in what high regard we hold Michael Bloomberg. Nevertheless, when he offers to put $50 million behind a project, we sit up and listen.

Well, that’s what he’s promised to do with his gun control crusade.

Bloomberg said that gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda — even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own.

Bloomberg’s blueprint reimagines the way gun control advocates have traditionally confronted the issue. Rather than relying so heavily on television ad campaigns, Mr. Bloomberg will put a large portion of his resources into the often-unseen field operations that have been effective for groups like the N.R.A. in driving single-issue, like-minded voters to the polls.

But all is not sweetness and light: Democratic leaders argue that Bloomberg threatens to hand control of the Senate to Republicans, which they say would doom any hope of passing gun control legislation.

via Bloomberg Plans a $50 Million Challenge to the N.R.A. –

NY police handcuff shooting victims to their hospital beds

Yup, if you’re shot in NY City, the police will check if you have any outstanding warrants. If you do, they handcuff you to your hospital bed for the duration of your stay. If doctors want to examine you, the police have to unlock you first.

Here’s a thought: Why not chain the prisoner to the bed? That way, they could move about while not being able to escape.

From Shooting Victim to Prisoner, Not an Uncommon Passage –

Rent regulated tenants banned at Upper West Side indoor pool

In a story that is becoming increasingly familiar, the below market-rate tenants of a NYC building are denied access to the building’s new pool.

Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Mark Levine and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal have been working on legislation that would prohibit such disparities. Not so Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who is enthusiastic about the gentrification of her borough.

At least the regulated tenants don’t have to use a separate entrance.

EXCLUSIVE: Outsiders welcomed, rent stabilized tenants banned at Upper West Side indoor pool – NY Daily News.

NY City stills suffers from bad Bloomberg budget bungle

“The price keeps growing for Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, the course the Parks Department has spent the past 14 years building at the foot of the Whitestone Bridge in the Bronx.

“The city now expects to spend an astonishing $236 million to complete the Ferry Point project by next spring over a former landfill, according to new figures compiled for the Daily News by the Independent Budget Office. . . .

“Even though the course will not open until spring 2015, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a symbolic ribbon cutting there in October with golf legend Jack Nicklaus, who designed the course, and with Donald Trump, the developer City Hall selected two years ago to operate it.”

Trump golf course at Ferry Point will cost city $236 million — 10 times original price tag – NY Daily News.

Smartphone trial interrupted by smartphones continually ringing

The case is part of the ongoing Apple v. Samsung saga. In spite of signs on the door and repeated warnings by the judge and her courtroom deputy, the attorneys, reporters, experts, executives, staffers and spectators have been unable to restrain themselves from keeping their mobile devices turned on during court.

Judge Lucy Koh has even gone so far as to make offenders stand up when their devices ring out.

“It’s a case of connection addiction,” Columbia University religious studies professor Robert A.F. Thurman said when he was told about the drama. “They’re afraid to be on their own, without some sort of artificial assistance. It needs to be treated by some kind of contemplative therapy.”

Smartphone trial judge annoyed by phones in court.

CIA misled on interrogation program

A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.

“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”

CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says – The Washington Post.

Catholic healthcare firm tells doctors to stop prescribing birth control

If you get your heathcare from Ascension Health, the Catholic non-profit that operates more than 500 locations in 19 states (including 70 hospitals), good luck getting birth control pills.

Catholic healthcare firm tells doctors at Oklahoma facility to stop prescribing birth control | The Raw Story.