Monday, October 31, 2016

The Gift Of Transparency: Post Divali and Halloween Weekend

 Quote on All Saints Day  ... “I have no answer to the great civic questions raised by the behavior of Furtwängler or the other artists I have named. Splendid artists all, they compromised their civic virtue in order to accomplish their art. Those who remained were compromised by their remaining, and those who left were compromised by their leaving. What resistance they offered as human beings to the evil around them must be credited to them; in no case of which I know can it be said that physical survival with full honor was possible under the worst forms of totalitarianism, for the very act of surviving was itself a compromise with evil. The ultimate triumph of totalitarianism, I suppose it can be said, is that under its sway only a martyred death can be truly moral.”
Samuel Lipman, “Furtwängler and the Nazis” (Commentary, March 1993)

Potential conflict seen in firms’ review of their own tax work.
Facebook is having an argument with the Internal Revenue Service, which the social media giant says could cost it as much as $5 billion. The dispute involves a tax strategy designed by EY, formerly Ernst & Young, that helped Facebook slash billions from its U.S. tax bill since 2010. Part of Facebook’s defense is that the plan was fully reviewed by its outside auditors. The accounting firm that signed off on EY’s tax plan? EY.

This Billionaire Governor Taxed the Rich and Increased the Minimum Wage — Now, His State’s Economy Is One of the Best in the Country HuffPo

Italy judge agrees tax probe settlement with head of Apple's Irish unit  

Half a year has passed since the corruption story of the year – the Panama Papers – revealed the real owners behind thousands of shell companies. Over 50 per cent of the shell companies uncovered in the Panama Papers were set up in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). As of June this year, BVI hosted 430,000 companies: 15 for each of their 28,000 inhabitants... British Virgin Islands: have they cleaned up since the Panama Papers

Jersey and Guernsey part of 'largest tax evasion network in the world'  

South African finance minister to face corruption charges via Facebook

Digital Redlining At Facebook Another Word for It

"If share-baiting Facebook posts are the junk food of the political internet, then fact-check journalism is steamed spinach." Emma Roller in the New York Times

Is your Facebook feed an echo chamber? (Spoiler alert: Yeah, it is.)  Here’s a way to test it, according to The Verge, which also explains what you can do about it.  

What's the dumbest mistake you've made on social media? Brooke Borel once retweeted a photo of what she thought was a baby polar bear – and it turned out to be fake. But here's the worst part: Borel is a science journalist, and at the time of the fateful RT she was busy trying to sell her new book, "The 
Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking." Read her cautionary tale and check out her "polar bear test."

Multinational tax reports will be an exercise in spin, not transparency 

The analysts—the cheeky devils—decided to apply the test to The Economist’s covers 
Are magazine covers a contrarian indicator? 

There is no "clown purge" planned across the world on Halloween night, says Snopes. And Allistair Reid of First Draft is so tired of reading one particular fake clown-attack story that he's made an offer: "If this story is revealed to be true then name your price and I’ll pay it."

The Duke Reporters' Lab taught Amazon's Alexa a new trick. When addressed with "Ask the fact-checkers," the virtual assistant delivers fact checks.  "My Pundit," a similar virtual assistant for Alexa, also was launched last week. And in other technology news, take a look at this list of apps recommended by a New York Times tech writer to help you through the election.

This blog also tries, but often fails to echo the Churchillian line that “an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Pakistan Supreme Court issues notice to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, others in Panamagate petition The Nation

The Gift Of Transparency  The Nation

Every time government attempts to handle our affairs, it costs more and the results are worse than if we had handled them ourselves.
— Benjamin Constant, born on this date in 1767
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library – University of Montana: A guide to information on the upcoming elections

Electoral Integrity Project:
“An independent academic study, the Electoral Integrity Project addresses three questions:
*When do elections meet international standards of electoral integrity?  
*What happens when elections fail to do so? 
*And what can be done to mitigate these problems?
Under the direction of Pippa Norris, the research team is based at the University of Sydney and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.”
When Clive James met David Hockney, they discussed Picasso. Hockney had so much to say, recalls James. "I still count this as one of the great conversations of my life"... Review  

As O’Neil defines it, a weapon of math destruction, or WMD, has three elements: Opacity, Scale, and Damage. Combined, these factors create traps with feedback loops, capturing victims in systems they can’t understand and can’t escape, all the while exploiting them. Of the three, Scale seems the most pernicious element, enabling Damage.

TCKFollowing up on my previous posts:

A former U.S. Tax Court judge pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring with her husband to fraudulently omit nearly $1 million of income from their tax returns while she served as judge, using the gains on personal expenses like international trips and Pilates classes.

Diane Kroupa, 61, faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States in federal court in St. Paul. A federal grand jury indicted Kroupa and her then-husband, Robert Fackler, 63, in April.

Fackler, a self-employed lobbyist and political consultant, pleaded guilty last month; sentencing dates have yet to be scheduled for either defendant. The couple began divorce proceedings shortly after their indictment.

Kroupa, who was appointed to the court in 2003 and retired in 2014, and Fackler have admitted to purposely understating their taxable income by about $1 million and their amount of taxes owed by about $450,000 from 2004 through 2010.

Both defendants admitted to fraudulently deducting at least $500,000 of personal expenses, which they listed as expenses at Fackler's consulting firm, and another $450,000 in purported business costs, for which clients had actually reimbursed Fackler. Kroupa also failed report a $44,520 real estate transaction, instead claiming it was part of an unrelated inheritance.

How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul Matt Stoller, Atlantic

CRS report via FAS – State Voter Identification Requirements: Analysis, Legal Issues, and Policy Considerations, Eric A. Fischer, Senior Specialist in Science and Technology; R. Sam Garrett, Specialist in American National Government; L. Paige Whitaker, Legislative Attorney. October 21, 2016

The recurring lesson Y Combinator Chief Operating Officer Qasar Younis has learned as a founder, investor, and now COO is that you can never put enough emphasis on people; Who you work with, who you hire, and who you spend time with. We've all heard that relationships are important. According to Qasar, they are the most important part of our journeys. No matter the stage you're at in your career, you should never take them lightly. That's why he spends hours getting to inbox zero every night responding to founders, team members, his partners, and more. When you recognize the number of founders in the YC network alone - There are over 2,400 - you can grasp the significance of the responsibility he's tasked himself with. Relationships Are Your Future - Y Combinator's COO on How to Build Them 

(1) No, ISIS did not declare a war on cats (h/t Pagella Politica). (2) In Portland, baloney sandwiches, with a side of fact-checking. (3) This American Life talks about "post-fact" and the truth is – they don't do a great job at it. (4) ICYMI: posts by hyperpartisan pages containing false information or no facts do well on Facebook, a BuzzFeed analysis found. (5) Little lies lead to big lies, says a new study. 

Thomas Wood at Ohio State University and Ethan Porter at George Washington University conducted a study of 8,100 people to test whether factual corrections on 36 different issues compounded the respondents' erroneous belief (the so-called "backfire effect"). Their conclusions: "By and large, citizens heed factual information, even when such information challenges their partisan and ideological commitments."

Andrew Mitchel offers Over 50 New Situational Charts – Code §7874 Regulation Examples.