July 29th, 2014 § § permalink
Alex at TYR discovers that we have become more trusting since the ’80s.
He’s taken a bunch of polls on which professions are trusted, and compared those for ’83-93 against those for ’03-’13. Trade Unionists are now much more trusted, presumably becuase they have been entirely defanged. Likewise civil servants, although they’re still trucking along more-or-less as they were.
Overall, though, it seems we now have a lot more faith in our institutions. So much for the idea that the center is falling apart, and society is fragmenting into mutually-suspicious subcultures.
July 23rd, 2014 § § permalink
An alleged Russian credit-card hacker has been extradited to the US after being arrested in the Maldives, says Kenneth Rijock. To complicate matters, his dad is a Duma deputy, and a member of the far-right Liberal Democratic Party)
Looking at the indictment, what surprises me is how manual the entire carding operation is.
July 22nd, 2014 § § permalink
‘Tax inversion’ mergers are an increasingly-popular way for multinationals to dodge their tax bills, by arranging to be taken over by a corporation in a lower-tax jurisdiction. Fruit of the Loom, for example, used this dodge to move to the Cayman Islands back in 1998.
In the current wave, a string of companies are queuing up to move to Ireland through tax inversions, with pharmaceutical companies being the largest among them. Here the FT looks at a current example, Abbvie (US) planning to merge with Shire (UK/Ireland)
Reading the FT’s commentary makes it painfully clear that there is little business logic to a deal like this, beyond the massive extra profits to be had from dodging tax. And despite the political unpopularity, the IRS hasn’t yet found a way to crack down on them.
All this makes me look at the tech sector in a new light. Companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are hoarding huge piles of cash in their non-US subsidiaries. They’ll be liable for a massive tax bill once they bring it back to the US — which they will need in order to pay it out as shareholder dividends.
The general assumption is that they are waiting for some kind of tax break — if not a permanent change in the law, at least a one-off amnesty which will let them bring the money home. I’m now wondering, though, whether some of them are also contemplating a tax inversion. Move out of the US, then finally claim your profits and pay out dividends at a lower tax rate. This analysis suggests it’s likely, but has found no tech companies even hinting that they are contemplating it.
July 21st, 2014 § § permalink
Did you ever worry which jurisdiction a server was in? No longer. The US and UK have both decided they can demand access to data regardless of where in the world it is, writes Marcy Wheeler.
The UK version comes courtesy of DRIP, the surveillance bill being rushed through parliament to avoid awkward questions. The government’s defense, bizarrely, is that they have been doing this all along:
The home secretary told the Commons home affairs committee that it had always been assumed “in government circles” that the requirement on overseas companies to comply with British intercept warrants was included in the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
In the US, the government has won a case forcing Microsoft to turn over data from Ireland:
the U.S. feels free to demand data from U.S. companies no matter where that data is stored. So while Microsoft’s challenge largely serves to make its legal obligations visible to the rest of the world, the legal case may have real consequences, both legally and economically.
So, in brief: wherever in the world your data is, it isn’t safe from hte UK or the US
July 20th, 2014 § § permalink
So far this year, 770 migrants have died trying to reach Europe, or trying to stay here.
That’s an underestimate.
The Migrants Files contains the details. It’s an attempt to track all the deaths associated with migration in(to) Europe. The details make for sobering reading:
- 25 migrants were locked up in a cold store by their traffickers in Libya. 13 died.
- The 27 survivors of a shipwreck said there were an additional 75 persons on board.
- A migrant was shot at Calais. No other details were provided by the police.
- Stowaway fell from the wheelbay on a plane to Zürich.
It goes on, and on — 2780 incidents stretching back to 2000. 25,000 dead.
And, aside from the occasional media fuss, we don’t care. We don’t even know the names of most of the victims, let alone the circumstances which drove them to risk their lives in transit. The deaths aren’t being tracked officially — this is a database put together by journalists, mianly from news reports.
July 1st, 2014 § § permalink
I’ve not tried this, but I like the concept. Quietnet connects two computers using their speakers, turning a text chat session into ultrasonic communication:
run python send.py in one terminal window and python listen.py in another. Text you input into the send.py window should appear (after a delay) in the listen.py window.
Warning: May annoy some animals and humans.