Monday, June 24, 2019

How to Create a Great Podcast, According to the Professionals

Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.
— Anne Frank, born in 1929

A delightful short interview with 101-year-old Apple enthusiast George Jedenoff (who still skis as well). "When I turned 70, I decided I needed mental exercise [so] I purchased my first computer, a Macintosh Plus

 “Prosecutors Call for an End to Jury Trials [in Serious Criminal Cases in Belgium]”

Boris Johnson 'would be first to move girlfriend into No.10'

Friends of Johnson are insisting nothing has changed in the couple's relationship after they were recorded by neighbours arguing loudly.

Senior barristers facing private scandals

A longest-standing silk in March quietly departed his chambers.


A bad day for darkness ...

The Washington Post announces that it's hiring 10 more investigative positions in the newsroom.

Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron in 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Already one of the elite newspapers in the world, which happens to be doing some of the best work it’s ever done, The Washington Post is stepping up its game even more. The paper announced Thursday a major expansion of its investigative team, adding 10 staff positions to the newsroom.
The Post’s investigative unit will add five staffers — including a reporter and editor for fast-turnaround work, a reporter to work on long projects, a researcher and a public records specialist. The Post also will add investigative reporters to the sports, climate/environment and foreign sections. The foreign job likely will be based out of Europe.
In a statement, The Post’s executive editor Marty Baron said, “The Post has a long and distinguished history of groundbreaking investigative journalism. This expansion is very much in that tradition, and it accentuates one of our newsroom’s greatest assets.”

... including in Boston.

A unique grant will allow the Boston Globe to launch an investigative unit examining public education there.

The Boston Globe. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
The Boston Globe is creating a special investigative group that will focus on public education in Boston. Along with its own resources, the Globe will take advantage of a $600,000 grant from Boston’s Barr Foundation to hire and deploy a team of journalists and an editor, all of whom will work on the project for two years. The Globe will have complete editorial control over story selection, reporting and editing.
In a statement, Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory said, “Inequality of opportunity is one of the defining issues of our times, and our failure to give all kids the opportunity to get a quality public school education is where it all begins. This team is charged with probing where we've gone so wrong and what can be done to help make it right, all the while raising provocative questions that will lead to a community conversation.” – Technological Convergence: Regulatory, Digital Privacy, and Data Security Issues. May 30, 2019 R45746.

Personal data of 2.9 million people leaked from Desjardins. “Quebec-based credit union federation learned of data breach from police.”

I HAD BEEN ASSURED THE SCIENCE WAS SETTLED: That Story About Kids Growing Horns Because of Smartphones Is Fake News.

Behind one of the most printed typos in the world

No one noticed the triple mistake on the new $50 note for almost two years before 480 million were printed.

New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger fired back at President Donald Trump’s attacks with a strongly-worded op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. (Seeing as how the Times and Wall Street Journal are competitive with one another, the solidarity speaks volumes.) Sulzberger is disturbed by Trump’s recent tweet accusing the Times of treason, which is technically punishable by death. In his op-ed, Sulzberger writes: 
“There is no more serious charge a commander in chief can make against an independent news organization. Which presents a troubling question: What would it look like for Mr. Trump to escalate his attacks on the press further? Having already reached for the most incendiary language available, what is left but putting his threats into action?”
Sulzberger wrote that he met with Trump in the Oval Office earlier this year and relayed his concerns about attacks on a free press. He said Trump “expressed concern and insisted he wanted to be viewed as a defender of the free press.” But Trump also took credit for the term “fake news.” 
Sulzberger wrote, “Mr. Trump’s campaign against journalists should concern every patriotic American. A free, fair and independent press is essential to our country’s strength and vitality and to every freedom that makes it great.”

For Adrienne Rich, the great philosopher of secrets, the wish to keep and share them goes to the heart of intimacy, and why we value art  

How to Create a Great Podcast, According to the Professionals - Lifehacker: “Starting your own podcast is hard. Making your podcast better is even harder. And a lot of advice out there is too vague. How do you make it more interesting?How do you identify your target audience? So we asked 14 successful podcasters one question: What’s a podcasting tip that most people don’t think about? Here’s what they said…”

Daxton R. Stewart, Killer Apps: Vanishing Messages, Encrypted Communications, and Challenges to Freedom of Information Laws When Public Officials “Go Dark”, 10 Case W. Res. J.L. Tech. & Internet [1] (first article) (2019)Government officials such as White House staffers and the Missouri governor have been communicating among themselves and leaking to journalists using apps such as Signal and Confide, which allow users to encrypt messages or to make them vanish after they are received. By using these apps, government officials are “going dark” by avoiding detection of their communications in a way that undercuts freedom of information laws. This article explores the challenges presented by government employee use of encrypted and ephemeral messaging apps by examining three policy approaches: (1) banning use of the apps, (2) enhancing existing archiving and record-keeping practices, or (3) legislatively expanding quasi-government body definitions. Each of these approaches will be analyzed as potential ways to manage the threat presented by “killer apps” to open records laws.”

iFixit:  If you’re worried you’re not getting the battery life you should, the battery may just be old. Over time, batteries degrade, leading to lower and lower life after a couple years—meaning you might be able to solve your problem with an inexpensive battery replacement. Apple rates iPhone batteries at 500 charge cycles, or about a year and a half of typical use–more on that in a bit. To check your iPhone’s battery health, you can go into the settings and navigate to Battery > Battery Health. If it’s under 80% or so, it may be time to replace the battery. We wrote a detailed step-by-step guide on how to check your battery health.
While you could take your phone to Apple for a replacement, they’ll charge you at least $50. You can save money by doing it yourself, and it’s much easier than you might think. We photographed straightforward and easy-to-follow guides for every iPhone model. We also sell the parts and tools you’ll need to get the job done for much less than Apple. But you’re nervous. Opening your phone is an endeavor. I feel you! But you’re not in this alone–we’ve got your back. And literally thousands of people have come before you. We get sent success stories every week from community members who’ve replaced their iPhone battery. You got this!…”

Don’t Know Which Toaster to Buy? There’s a Website for That - The Ringer – “More like a dozen, actually, for every type of online purchase—from appliances to sandals, from sunscreen to digital cameras. When did recommendation sites like the Wirecutter and The Strategist become such a central part of the online economy? And are they changing the way we shop?…anyone who has ever impulse-ordered something from Amazon knows that such an expansive market yields unpredictable results. Major e-commerce sites like Amazon, eBay, Newegg, and have all been accused of selling knockoff merchandise. In 2016, Apple sueda company for selling copies of its electronics on Amazon, claiming that 90 percent of so-called “genuine” chargers on the site were counterfeit. Despite the “substantial” resources Amazon claims to invest in preventing counterfeit goods on its platform, a 2018 Guardian investigation found it was easy to purchase everything from fake Kylie Jenner lip gloss to imitation AirPods on the site. And if third-party retailers aren’t straight-up copying major brands, they may still be misrepresenting their products. Two years ago, a home goods distributor named Joyfay went viral for selling a disturbingly leggy teddy bear that looked nothing like the one pictured on its online storefront. Recently my colleague ordered a sea sponge, and it turned out to be the size of a thimble. I am still trying to get rid of the lifetime supply of moth-repelling cedar blocks that I mistakenly bought a few years ago…”

KPMG - Taxing Hidden Wealth: The Consequences of U.S. Enforcement Initiatives on Evasive Foreign Accounts

An inconvenient truth: regulation often helps the very companies being regulated against because the rules are so expensive to follow that only incumbents can afford it.

High-profile detective Gary Jubelin charged over alleged illegal recordings

The high-profile detective sensationally quit the NSW Police last month. He has now been charged with four criminal offences.

'Political football': controversial NSW coal project granted mining licence

The controversial Wallarah 2 coal project has been granted mining licences by the NSW government.

Former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell (centre).
 *Open Market Institute via LM

Day of Reckoning for KPMG-Failures in EthicsFCPA Compliance Report (Chuck L). Wowsers. The article is full of stuff like this:
In addition to taking these mandatory CPE hours, the professionals are required to pass a proficiency examination, administered by KPMG. KPMG also provides internal training to help its professional prepare for this examination. Professionals get three chances to pass. If they fail three times, they are reported internally, cannot sign off on audit assignment and may receive a dock in pay.
However it turns out that KMPG employees, from senior partners including lead audit engagement partners who were responsible for compliance with PCAOB standards in auditing their clients’ financial statements, down to junior level employees were sharing the examination answers freely between themselves. They shared this information via email and even sent screen shots of pages with correct answers.

Jay Soled (Rutgers), Reimagining the Estate Tax in the Automation Era, 9 UC Irvine L. Rev. 787 (2019):
In a technological age, labor no longer plays the central role it once did in the nation’s economy. Instead, automation has become more ubiquitous. This economic transformation has important and far-reaching consequences for the nation’s tax system and, in particular, the means by which to fund public expenditures.
Under current law, the central underpinning to automatization, namely, capital, yields income that is either lightly taxed or, in some instances, escapes taxation altogether. This puts tremendous stress on the nation’s coffers and further perpetuates wealth disparities. Yet, levying a heavier capital gains tax burden might (i) dissuade taxpayers from realizing their gains and (ii) in a global arena, result in its flight.

The IRS has released the papers from the 2018 IRS-TPC Joint Research Conference: on Tax Administration (program, research bulletin):
1. Interventions: Factors That Contribute to Voluntary Compliance
2. Behavioral Responses to IRS Interventions

3. Complexity and Global Tax Administration
4. Future Directions in Tax Administration
Here are PDF copies of the slides from sessions 1, 2, 3, and 4:
Session 1     Session 2    Session 3    Session 4

Congress Enacts Robust Protections For Tax Whistleblowers

How To Avoid A Sexist Tax On Tampons? Sell Them In Books

In order to avoid the unreasonably high VAT on tampons in many European countries, a startup in Germany (where the tax is 19%!) has started packaging 15 tampons with a 46-page booklet about menstruation as a book (taxed at 7%). The Tampon Book’s first printing sold out in a day, the second within a week. What’s more, it just won the Grand Prix in PR at the Cannes Lions festival for advertising professionals. – Melville House

There is a consensus that the existing international taxation rules and standards are not adequate to allocate taxing rights and income among countries, prevent tax base-eroding transactions carried by multinationals and fight harmful tax competition among countries. The digitalization of the economy rushed and escalated the problems, and even developed countries are not able to collect taxes on the profits of multinationals anymore. Thus, countries are pursuing the reform of the international legal tax system focusing on the corporate taxation standards and the tax challenges of the digitalization of the economy. In this context, the challenges faced by developing countries are higher.

Darren Rosenblum (Pace), The Futility of Walls: How Traveling Corporations Threaten State Sovereignty, 93 Tul. L. Rev. 645 (2019):
Inversions — mergers in which one firm merges with another abroad to avoid taxes in its home country — have spread as globalization has reduced many of the transactional costs associated with relocating. As firms acquire the power to choose the laws that govern them, they challenge the sovereignty of nation-states, who find their ability to tax and regulate firms depleted. States and firms compete in a game of cat and mouse to adapt to this new global reality. The subversion of state power by these firms reveals the futility of walls, both literal and regulatory. This Essay describes the phenomenon of these “traveling corporations” and analyzes several remedies that could limit future mergers. We conclude by arguing that inversions provoke deglobalization and yet may continue to flourish despite it as firms take the lead in dictating global norms.

TaxJudith Freedman (Oxford), Restoring Trust in the ‘Fairness’ of Corporate Taxation: Increased Transparency and the Need for Institutional Reform, in Tax and Trust Institutions, Interactions and Instruments (Sjoerd Goslinga (Leiden) et al. eds. 2018):

This paper examines the relationship between trust and transparency in the context of corporate taxation. Transparency will not always increase trust and might even undermine it. Sometimes this loss of trust will be deserved and might help to bring about change that is needed, but at other times transparency can lead to misunderstanding and inability to absorb or utilize the information that is being made available, with a consequential unjustified and unfortunate loss of trust. In such cases, increased transparency can actually lower tax morale and the willingness of taxpayers to pay their taxes voluntarily, with little or no corresponding benefit.

Eric C. Chaffee (Toledo), Collaboration Theory and Corporate Tax Avoidance, 76 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. ___ (2019):
Tax revenue is the primary source of income for the government, yet corporations regularly engage in tax avoidance. Corporate managers and advisers commonly claim that the corporate form requires that they undertake this behavior because the nature of that form mandates it. Direct and indirect references are made to the classic case of Dodge v. Ford, as providing an edict that corporations must engage in unrelenting profit maximization that requires them to undertake aggressive tax avoidance.
As explored in my co-authored piece with Professor Karie Davis-Nozemack [Georgia Tech),Corporate Tax Avoidance and Honoring the Fiduciary Duties Owed to the Corporation and Its Stockholders [58 B.C. L. Rev. 1425 (2017)], the “Dodge Mandate,” as it may be termed, is far from absolute.

Although plagued by delays and other challenges, the IRS Whistleblower Reward Program has achieved some success in encouraging insiders with information about significant tax underpayments to come forward.  Since Congress established the IRS Whistleblower Program in 2006, whistleblower disclosures to the IRS have enabled the IRS to recover $5 billion, and the Whistleblower Office has awarded whistleblowers approximately $811 million.

But many whistleblowers are reluctant to come forward because there is no federal law protecting tax whistleblowers against retaliation.  For several years, the IRS Office of the Whistleblower has called on Congress to enact statutory protections from retaliation.  In its FY 2018 annual report to Congress, the IRS Whistleblower Office notes that  “[p]roviding whistleblowers with a zone of protection from economic or physical harm is imperative to the success of any whistleblower program as Congress has recognized in other whistleblower statutes . . . The need for greater protection of whistleblowers is amplified as sophisticated taxpayers are increasingly attempting to learn the existence or identity of a whistleblower.”

This week, Congress heeded that request by enacting robust whistleblower protections for tax whistleblowers, modeled on the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and False Claims Act

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson today released her 37th and final report to Congress in advance of her previously announced retirement on July 31. In the preface, Olson reflects on her 18 years in the job and provides her assessment of the key challenges facing the IRS and the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) in the coming years. The report also presents a review of the 2019 filling season.