6 Oct 2015

The 500 largest American companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid U.S. taxes and would collectively owe an estimated $620 billion in U.S. taxes if they repatriated the funds

The 500 largest American companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid U.S. taxes and would collectively owe an estimated $620 billion in U.S. taxes if they repatriated the funds, according to a study released on Tuesday.
The study, by two left-leaning non-profit groups, found that nearly three-quarters of the firms on the Fortune 500 list of biggest American companies by gross revenue operate tax haven subsidiaries in countries like Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The Citizens for Tax Justice and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund used the companies' own financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission to reach their conclusions.
Technology firm Apple was holding $181.1 billion offshore, more than any other U.S. company, and would owe an estimated $59.2 billion in U.S. taxes if it tried to bring the money back to the United States from its three overseas tax havens, the study said.
The conglomerate General Electric  has booked $119 billion offshore in 18 tax havens, software firm Microsoft   is holding $108.3 billion in five tax haven subsidiaries and drug company Pfizer  is holding $74 billion in 151 subsidiaries, the study said.
"At least 358 companies, nearly 72 percent of the Fortune 500, operate subsidiaries in tax haven jurisdictions as of the end of 2014," the study said. "All told these 358 companies maintain at least 7,622 tax haven subsidiaries."
Fortune 500 companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid taxes, with just 30 of the firms accounting for $1.4 trillion of that amount, or 65 percent, the study found.

Fifty-seven of the companies disclosed that they would expect to pay a combined $184.4 billion in additional U.S. taxes if their profits were not held offshore. Their filings indicated they were paying about 6 percent in taxes overseas, compared to a 35 percent U.S. corporate tax rate, it said.

The unemployment rate is falling, but the share of Americans working keeps falling too

If you judge by the unemployment rate, America's labor market seems pretty healthy. Today the Labor Department released new statistics showing that just 5.1 percent of Americans are unemployed. That's unchanged from the previous month and down from more than 10 percent in the depths of the last recession.
But the unemployment rate tells an incomplete story about the state of the labor market. It counts the number of people who are out actively looking for work and not finding it. But it does not include people who — for whatever reason — are not looking for work at all.
But another statistic, the labor force participation rate, gives a comprehensive sense for how many people are working. It shows the fraction of the population over age 16 that is working. And today we learned that this statistic fell to 62.4 percent — the lowest level since 1977.
One big factor driving this trend is that the American population is getting older, and older workers are less likely to be in the workforce. At the same time, the share of "prime age" adults — those between 25 and 54 — in the workforce has also been falling since the late 1990s.
The declining labor force participation represents a long-term trend that goes beyond the most recent recession. The LFPR rose in the 1970s and '80s because a lot of women were entering the workforce. But that trend has run its course, and as the US becomes a wealthier and older society, fewer and fewer of us are employed.

For 40 years, no one knew this woman discovered a malaria cure. Now she's won a Nobel.

Yesterday, Tu Youyou became one of three scientists to win this year's Nobel Prize for medicine for her discovery of what has become a standard antimalarial treatment, artemisinin. But, remarkably, the public had no idea about Tu's lifesaving achievement until just four years ago.
The backstory behind the 84-year-old Chinese pharmacologist's work is incredible: In 1967, Chairman Mao Zedong set up a secret mission ("Project 523") to find a cure for malaria. Hundreds of communist soldiers, fighting in the mosquito-infested jungles of Vietnam, were falling ill from malaria, and the disease was also killing thousands in southern China.
After Chinese scientists were initially unable to use synthetic chemicals to treat the mosquito-borne disease, Chairman Mao's government turned to traditional medicine. Tu, a researcher at the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing, had studied both Chinese and Western medicine, according to a New Scientist profile, and was hand-plucked to search for an herbal cure. 
"By the time I started my search [in 1969] over 240,000 compounds had been screened in the US and China without any positive results," she told the magazine. But, she added: "The work was the top priority, so I was certainly willing to sacrifice my personal life."
And the work was absolutely painstaking. Along with three assistants, she reviewed thousands of traditional Chinese remedies, testing them in mice. One compound — from the leaves of the Chinese wormwood plant, Artemisia annua, seemed to vanquish malaria parasites in the blood. But they didn't find their fix just yet, according to New Scientist:
The team carried out further tests, only to be baffled when the compound’s powers seemed to melt away. Tu reread the recipe, written more than 1600 years ago in a text appositely titled "Emergency Prescriptions Kept Up One’s Sleeve". The directions were to soak one bunch of wormwood in water and then drink the juice.
Tu realised that their method of preparation, boiling up the wormwood, might have damaged the active ingredient. So she made another preparation using an ether solvent, which boils at 35 °C. When tested on mice and monkeys, it proved 100 per cent effective. "We had just cured drug-resistant malaria," Tu says. "We were very excited."
Tu then had to test the treatment in humans — and tried it on herself first to make sure it was safe. After enduring no side effects, she organized clinical trials for people with malaria, and the participants were cleared of the disease within little more than a day. Tu's discovery remains the fastest acting antimalarial, and artemisinin-based combination therapies are recommended by the World Health Organization as the first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria.
"Tu was the first to show that this component, later called artemisinin, was highly effective against the malaria parasite, both in infected animals and humans," according to the Nobel Committee.
For years, Tu's role in unlocking artemisinin was shrouded in secret — until researchers at the National Institutes of Health looked into the drug’s history and realized that Tu deserved credit for her work. Only in 2011, when she won the prestigious Lasker prize for medical research, did the Chinese Communist Party move to preserve her childhood home.

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah has a weirdly bad piece about pro-lifers and guns

On Monday, The Daily Show's Trevor Noah asked why the pro-life movement won't support gun control measures that could save tens of thousands of lives.
"If pro-lifers would just redirect their powers toward gun violence, the amount of lives they could save would reach superhero levels," Noah said. "They just need to have a superhero's total dedication to life. Because right now, they're more like comic book collectors. Human life only holds value until you take it out of the package, and then it's worth nothing." 
This isn't the first time a "dedication to life" argument has been used against pro-life conservatives — a similar one is often made in public debates about capital punishment. In his recent visit to the US, for example, Pope Francis cited his pro-life beliefs to explain his opposition to the death penalty.
But such an argument is unfair to pro-life, pro-gun conservatives, because it misrepresents why they believe what they do.

Why Noah's pro-life argument is unfair to pro-gun conservatives

The facts on gun violence are, broadly speaking, on Noah's side: More restrictions on guns would save lives. The US has a higher gun death rate than other developed nations, because, according to the research, Americans have more guns, and more guns mean more gun deaths.
If the country reduced access to guns or otherwise cut the number of guns through measures like Australia's famous buyback program, it could reduce this uniquely American death toll. "Within the United States, a wide array of empirical evidence indicates that more guns in a community leads to more homicide," David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, wrote in Private Guns, Public Health.
The US has way more gun deaths than other developed nations.

The fault of Noah's critique of pro-life conservatives who oppose gun control lies in the fact that they don't believe gun control can save lives. In fact, many gun rights advocatesgenuinely believe that gun control can get people killed — since without guns, they won't be able to, for instance, defend themselves from home invaders.
The research doesn't support this, though, and it's clear that reducing the number of guns — and access to them — would save lives. (Just having a firearm in your houseincreases your odds of death.) But gun rights advocates don't believe this research, though it's possible they would change their minds on gun control if they did.
So it's disingenuous to suggest that there's some sort of hypocrisy in the pro-life movement. It's the kind of argument that might appeal to a liberal who believes abortion isn't murder and that gun control saves lives, but it fundamentally misunderstands the genuine beliefs that pro-life, pro-gun conservatives hold. That doesn't help change people's minds — it just confirms biases.

Unbelievably Detailed 3D Pavement Art (33 Pics)

Dad Creates First-Of-Its-Kind Magical Book For His Son

Nikola Raykov, an inspired father turned author, created a unique book to teach his son that the choices we all make are ultimately our own responsibility.

“The Big Adventure of the Little Gremlin allows kids to create their own fairytale,” says the writer. “It engages the little ones more than regular books and sparks their imagination.”
Although gamebooks exist since the eighties, Raykov’s GameTale seems to be the first original gamebook for little kids. In only a couple of years, the first two books in the series have become immensely popular in their home country – Bulgaria. They turned into an instant best-seller and won over 10 awards and nominations.
Raykov worries about the ever-thinning relationship between parents and children. “I have a strong bond with my son and I hope those books will inspire parents to read and play with their kids. I promise them stories filled with humor and adventures, but above all – empathy, kindness and understanding.” Now Nikola Raykov is releasing his GameTales worldwide for free, hoping to make a difference in the lives of children and parents alike.
Take a look into the magical world of a father and his little gremlin!

Dad Creates First-Of-Its-Kind Magical Book For His Son