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Culture

Amazon’s 2018 profits: $11.2 billion; Amazon’s 2018 IRS bill: negative $129 million


Amazon doubled its profits in 2018, to $11.2 billion; the company will receive a $129 million tax rebate for the year.


Though Trump denounced Amazon’s tax return, Amazon actually has Trump’s tax deal, which handed massive breaks to America’s richest people and corporations, to thank.

In contrast to Amazon’s $129 million tax rebate, millions of Americans will not get their customary tax rebate this year, and many Americans will owe additional tax.


According to The Week, Amazon ended up paying an 11.4% federal income tax rate between 2011 and 2016, which is a contrast to the -1% rate this year.

Amazon has a history of avoiding various sales taxes and made headlines last summer after successfully convincing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to repeal a tax that would have helped the city’s homeless population.

Amazon Will Pay a Whopping $0 in Federal Taxes on $11.2 Billion Profits [Laura Stampler/Fortune]

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2019/02/15/trump-loves-bezos.html

Culture

Amazon’s 2018 profits: $11.2 billion; Amazon’s 2018 IRS bill: negative $129 million


Amazon doubled its profits in 2018, to $11.2 billion; the company will receive a $129 million tax rebate for the year.


Though Trump denounced Amazon’s tax return, Amazon actually has Trump’s tax deal, which handed massive breaks to America’s richest people and corporations, to thank.

In contrast to Amazon’s $129 million tax rebate, millions of Americans will not get their customary tax rebate this year, and many Americans will owe additional tax.


According to The Week, Amazon ended up paying an 11.4% federal income tax rate between 2011 and 2016, which is a contrast to the -1% rate this year.

Amazon has a history of avoiding various sales taxes and made headlines last summer after successfully convincing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to repeal a tax that would have helped the city’s homeless population.

Amazon Will Pay a Whopping $0 in Federal Taxes on $11.2 Billion Profits [Laura Stampler/Fortune]

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2019/02/15/trump-loves-bezos.html

Culture

Amazon’s 2018 profits: $11.2 billion; Amazon’s 2018 IRS bill: negative $129 million


Amazon doubled its profits in 2018, to $11.2 billion; the company will receive a $129 million tax rebate for the year.


Though Trump denounced Amazon’s tax return, Amazon actually has Trump’s tax deal, which handed massive breaks to America’s richest people and corporations, to thank.

In contrast to Amazon’s $129 million tax rebate, millions of Americans will not get their customary tax rebate this year, and many Americans will owe additional tax.


According to The Week, Amazon ended up paying an 11.4% federal income tax rate between 2011 and 2016, which is a contrast to the -1% rate this year.

Amazon has a history of avoiding various sales taxes and made headlines last summer after successfully convincing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to repeal a tax that would have helped the city’s homeless population.

Amazon Will Pay a Whopping $0 in Federal Taxes on $11.2 Billion Profits [Laura Stampler/Fortune]

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2019/02/15/trump-loves-bezos.html

Culture

Hasbro’s new Fortnite Nerf guns launch on March 22nd, with preorders starting today

Hasbro, owner of the Nerf brand, today revealed its full lineup of Fortnite-themed Nerf products, including the previously announced AR-L Elite blaster modeled after the SCAR in Epic Games’ hit battle royale game.

Prior to today, only the AR-L Elite was confirmed back when the line was first announced in October. At the time, that product had a ship date of June 1st, 2019 and a price tag of $49.99. That price tag stays the same, but Hasbro says all of the products will now start shipping on March 22nd. Preorders start today through the Hasbro Pulse website, although the company says you’ll also be able to order them well through Amazon, Target, and Walmart when the full product listings go live at some point in the future.

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/15/18226955/fortnite-hasbro-nerf-toy-guns-release-date-pricing-preorders

Culture

President of United States reposts video from winner of Infowars meme contest

President Trump tweeted a video today from a YouTuber known for winning an Infowars meme contest.

The video, from a creator who goes by Carpe Donktum, primarily mocks the reactions of Democrats who attended this year’s State of the Union. Trump didn’t call out Donktum or Donktum’s channel specifically (although there is a watermark on the video), but far-right personalities like Mike Cernovich and Scott Adams congratulated Donktum on the newfound attention.

Trump has tweeted images and videos that originated with the far-right online community before, sometimes provoking controversy. Trump found himself under international criticism last year after retweeting…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/15/18226716/trump-meme-twitter-infowars-winner

Culture

Anti-vaxxers use Facebook to target pregnant women with fear and lies

Anti-vaxxers know no shame, Facebook is willing to do anything for an ad dollar, water is wet.

Science Alert:

Facebook is aggressively being used by anti-vaccination advocates to target pregnant women with sponsored advertisements to spread false information and conspiracy theories as the US battles a climbing measles outbreak.

A sponsored ad found by Quartz journalist Jeremy Merrill shows the anti-vaccination organisation Stop Mandatory Vaccination targeting women ages 20 to 60 who have expressed interest in pregnancy living in the state of Washington – where the governor recently declared a state of emergency over the measles outbreak.

Nearly 50 children and young adults in Clark County, Washington have become sickened by the disease since January.

According to the CDC, there have been over 100 instances of measles since January – more than the entire year of 2016, when there were only 86. So far, nearly every child who has gotten ill is un-vaccinated.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

In the sponsored ad by Stop Mandatory Vaccinations, which has over 100,000 likes on Facebook, it said a woman’s daughter died “12 hours after being injected by eight vaccines in 2008.”

Vaccination rates have plummeted in pockets of the Pacific Northwest in recent years, as lies about the dangers of vaccines have spread, despite the fact that the measles vaccine is safe for almost everyone and can prevent many debilitating illnesses and death.

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2019/02/15/anti-vaxxers-use-facebook-to-t.html

Culture

Apple buys AI voice startup that helps companies build Alexa and Google Assistant apps

Apple has acquired a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence startup called PullString that specializes in helping companies build conversational voice apps, according to a report from Axios. Pullstring was founded back in 2011 by former Pixar employees — its CEO, Oren Jacob, is Pixar’s former chief technology officer. Up until now, PullString was most well known within the tech industry as the software backbone behind voice systems for popular toys, like Mattell’s talking Hello Barbie doll.

It’s not clear what Apple will be getting out of the deal, which is said to be worth under $100 million, but well over the $44 million in venture capital funding PullString has amassed thus far. But beyond toys, PullString has also worked on the…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/15/18226836/apple-pullstring-ai-voice-chat-app-amazon-alexa-google-assistant

Culture

Apple’s latest iPhone ad shows a different kind of portrait mode ‘fail’

Portrait mode causes some uncomfortable tension between two parents in Apple’s latest iPhone commercial, which has got to be one of the funnier spots that the company has produced in some time. In the ad, one mother is swiping through photos of the group’s kids when another notices that her son has been blurred and made unrecognizable by the iPhone’s portrait mode. She asks, “Did you… bokeh my child?” The ensuing conversation demonstrates how the effect can be dialed back or turned off altogether to get both kids in sharp focus — but the damage has already been done.

Be considerate with your bokeh, people. This is also advice that extends to Android, as many devices now offer adjustable portrait blur. Apple doesn’t usually go for…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/tldr/2019/2/15/18226793/apple-iphone-bokeh-blur-commercial-jacob

Culture

Twitter has been storing your ‘deleted’ DMs for years

Twitter lets users delete direct messages from their own side of the conversation (the recipient will still get to keep a copy, unless they also choose to delete it). But it turns out, those deleted messages aren’t really getting removed at all, according to a report from security researcher Karan Saini, via TechCrunch.

It turns out that despite showing that the message was deleted, Twitter still stores all those DMs dating back years. Folks can access this simply by downloading the archived data on their account from Twitter. Saini confirms that even messages sent to and from deleted or suspended accounts are still accessible.

Now, this isn’t the most concerning of bugs — the data appears to only be available to the user that sent or…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/15/18226785/twitter-deleted-dms-stored-years

Culture

Uber sues to overturn New York City’s cap on new ride-hail drivers

Uber filed a lawsuit on Friday to overturn New York City’s first-in-the-nation law capping the number of ride-hail drivers that operate on its streets. The law, which went into effect last August, paused the issuance of new licenses to drivers for 12 months. But Uber wants the law overturned for fear that the city will ultimately make the cap permanent.

The law was part of a sweeping legislative package passed by the New York City Council last summer to give regulators more control over e-hail companies. In addition to the cap, the city council also approved a minimum pay standard among drivers, with the goal of reducing how much time empty cars spend on the road.

Supporters…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/15/18226599/uber-nyc-driver-cap-lawsuit-de-blasio

Culture

Many hurt, including multiple officers, in Illinois mass shooting

A gunman has been apprehended after a “mass shooting” in Aurora, Ill., reports Chigaco’s WGN9 News.

Kane County’s SWAT team, the U.S. Marshal’s Task Force and other police are on the scene of an industrial park, which is near Highland Avenue and Prairie Street. There are several businesses in that area, including Henry Pratt Company. The streets in the area are closed.

Security analyst John O’Malley told WGN that four police officers were injured in the shooting. There are also reports that multiple civilians have been shot.

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2019/02/15/many-hurt-including-multiple.html

Culture

Newly signed funding bill gives NASA’s budget a significant boost

After enduring the longest government shutdown in history, NASA stands to receive a big boost in funding for fiscal year 2019, thanks to a new budget bill signed by President Trump today. The legislation, which funds the federal government through September 30th, 2019, would give NASA $21.5 billion — an increase over last year’s budget of $20.7 billion and much more than the $19.9 billion the agency asked for.

Practically every major program within NASA will receive a boost. The agency’s science programs, which cover planetary missions and Earth science, will receive a total $6.9 billion, up from $6.2 billion from last year. The human exploration program will get $5 billion, while it got $4.79 billion in 2018.

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/15/18226398/nasa-funding-bill-fiscal-year-2019

Culture

Many hurt, including multiple officers, in Illinois mass shooting

A gunman has been apprehended after a “mass shooting” in Aurora, Ill., reports Chigaco’s WGN9 News.

Kane County’s SWAT team, the U.S. Marshal’s Task Force and other police are on the scene of an industrial park, which is near Highland Avenue and Prairie Street. There are several businesses in that area, including Henry Pratt Company. The streets in the area are closed.

Security analyst John O’Malley told WGN that four police officers were injured in the shooting. There are also reports that multiple civilians have been shot.

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2019/02/15/many-hurt-including-multiple.html

Culture

Vogue executive quits after “slave-themed photo” posted

Just the other day I remarked that the fashion industry picked the worst possible year to try and make racist imagery cool, even as it’s obvious why such an insular and privileged culture would think it clever and edgy. Hot on the heels of Katy Perry’s blaceface shoes we have Vogue exec Donata Meirelles “on a throne with two black women in traditional dress standing either side of her.” She quit when the photo got out.

It has been suggested that the black women’s clothes were similar to those worn by slaves, while the throne resembled a cadeira de sinhá – a chair for slave masters.

Other pictures from the party, in Salvador de Bahia in northeast Brazil, show traditionally-dressed black women welcoming and ushering guests.

Rita Batista, a TV presenter, posed the picture with an 1860 photo of a white woman sitting next to two slaves to make the implication clearer.

Instagram Photo

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2019/02/15/vogue-executive-quits-after.html

Culture

Niantic is tweaking Pokémon Go to settle a lawsuit with angry homeowners

Pokémon Go developer Niantic has agreed to settle a lawsuit with people who had PokéStops placed near their houses, and it’s making some minor game changes as part of the deal. The settlement appeared in court filings yesterday, and it’s still awaiting a judge’s approval. It won’t resolve some big legal questions about how augmented reality mixes with physical property laws — but it should make life easier for people who find unwanted Pokémon Go players around their homes.

Niantic agreed to implement several new features and policies under the settlement, which will be binding for the next three years. Homeowners can already have pokémon gyms or PokéStops removed from private property, but Niantic now promises to resolve complaints…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/15/18226604/niantic-pokemon-go-lawsuit-changes-settlement-private-property-pokestop-gym

Culture

YouTube’s algorithms demonitizes piano tutorial site for “Repetitious content”

When you’re learning to play a musical instrument, you have to play the same songs and scales over and over again. YouTube’s algorithm doesn’t seem to know this, and so it demonetized a piano tutorial channel for “Repetitious content.”

We just found out that our channel was demonetised for “Repetitious content” and we believe that this is an error, possibly decided by an algorithm, and now the biggest part of our livelihood has been taken away. Please help us by discussing this (tweeting and posting) if possible. We need to be heard by YouTube. It’s a risk for the piano and synthesia community as we all have similar-looking videos.

I hope they get this sorted out soon!

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2019/02/15/youtubes-algorithms-demoniti.html