November 7, 2017 Last Updated 9:24 am

Carter Page 243-page transcript has reporters giddy; Paradise Papers allows the NYT to take a bite out of Apple

Morning Brief: Journalists had lots of material to go over yesterday after the House Intelligence Committee released the transcripts of its hearing featuring the former Trump aide, while others we still digging though the massive dump of documents on the tax avoidance schemes of the rich and powerful

Monday felt like a slow news day,,, at least compared to Sunday, the day the Paradise Papers appeared implicating Wilbur Ross, when NBC News said that the special prosecutor had enough evidence to indict Michael Flynn, and when the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas took place.

But now, when compiling this morning’s brief, it is clear that it was another big day in news.

When we are finally through the Trump era we can, hopefully, look back on it and smile when we consider some of the characters in it. The goofiest is surely Carter Page, who yesterday testified for six hours before the House Intelligence Committee. His testimony runs 243 pages (see PDF here), and yesterday and this morning political reporters have gone over the transcript and come away amazed and amused.

Business Insider, Natasha Bertrand:

Carter Page’s testimony is filled with bombshells — and supports key portions of the Steele dossier

Page revealed during his testimony that he met with both members of Russia’s presidential administration and with the head of investor relations at the state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft during his trip to Moscow last July.

He also congratulated members of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team on July 14 for their “excellent work” on the “Ukraine amendment” — a reference to the Trump campaign’s decision to “intervene” to water down a proposed amendment to the GOP’s Ukraine platform.

Raw Story: Internet loses it after House intel panel releases 243-page transcript of ‘village idiot’ Carter Page’s testimony
Bloomberg: Page Tells Russia Probe He’s ‘Biggest Embarrassment’ to Trump

I’m glad to see that Automotive News has an article (see below) that is garnering attention. We B2B publishers rarely see our content getting much media attention.

The article if from auto industry veteran Bob Lutz is claims ‘Everyone will have 5 years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap.’ It’s a hell of a claim, and as I will tell you, wildly wrong.

But the general point, that we may be at the end of the line for the internal combustion engine used to power individual vehicles is probably accurate, even if his prediction will be, in the end, way premature.

In early 1999, I worked to acquire a trade magazine from Advanstar called ITS World. “ITS” stands for intelligent transportation systems, which mean just about any technology that is used in transportation — which could mean sexy things like self-driving cars, to the automated toll systems on many highways today. It also can simply mean better traffic lights that more efficiently allow traffic to flow.

Back 1999, there were demonstrations of self-driving cars taking place. But 18 years later all we have are a few cars that have driver assisted systems. Why?

The answers are obvious: we all know in what direction transportation is heading, but getting there requires money and determination. Donald Trump ran on the idea that America’s transportation systems were broken and outdated, but when he entered office be proposed new infrastructure spending but is instead pushing to give him and his family huge tax breaks. Everyone always thinks there are better ways to spend money, but those that have money generally determine who gets it and how it is spent.

Back in 1927 Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis described a futuristic cityscape, but 90 years later little of it can be seen today. We’ll get there (probably including its bleak vision of workers), but “progress” is very slow, even if technology is very fast.

As for that magazine I helped acquire, it was shuttered shortly after I left the company. Seems the owners didn’t believe much in the future of intelligent transportation systems. A decade later, the same company launched a similar product when they realized their error.

Automotive News, Bob Lutz:

Kiss the good times goodbye

It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era.

The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve. For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile. Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules.

The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you’ll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway. On the freeway, it will merge seamlessly into a stream of other modules traveling at 120, 150 mph. The speed doesn’t matter. You have a blending of rail-type with individual transportation.

One company that used to be thought of when talking about the future and technology was Apple. But today, when one things of the Cupertino company one probably thinks of obscene profits and tax avoidance schemes.

Thanks to the Paradise Papers, The New York Times was able to discover Apple’s effort to shift its profits to Jersey in the Channel Islands in order to avoid paying taxes on some of its overseas profits, a charge that Apple denies, though it is clear they have been playing this kind of game for years.

The real news here is that the Paradise Papers is going provide journalists and regulators with lots of targets, just as the Panama Papers did two years ago. The first scoop came when it was discovered that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had been less than honest in chronicling his investment holdings, but there will be more of this kind of discovery, and it will envelope many governments around the world

The New York Times, Jesse Drucker and Simon Bowers:

After a Tax Crackdown, Apple Found a New Shelter for Its Profits

Apple has accumulated more than $128 billion in profits offshore, and probably much more, that is untaxed by the United States and hardly touched by any other country. Nearly all of that was made over the past decade…

In building Apple’s new tax shelter, Appleby served as something of a general contractor. A key architect was Baker McKenzie, a huge law firm based in Chicago. The firm has a reputation for devising creative offshore structures for multinationals and defending them to tax regulators. It has also fought international proposals for tax avoidance crackdowns. Baker McKenzie wanted to use a local Appleby office to maintain an offshore arrangement for Apple. For Appleby, Mr. Adderley said, this assignment was “a tremendous opportunity for us to shine on a global basis with Baker McKenzie.”

…Apple decided that its new offshore tax structure should use Appleby’s office in Jersey, which is one of the Channel Islands and has strong links to the British banking system. Jersey makes its own laws and is not subject to most European Union legislation, making it a popular tax haven.

The Canadian Press, Jordan Press:

‘Paradise Papers’ strike another blow to Justin Trudeau’s middle-class brand

The Trudeau government‘s politically bruised promise to ensure “tax fairness” for the middle class took another beating Monday amid unfolding revelations about the widespread and perfectly legal practice among ultra-wealthy Canadians of harbouring cash in offshore tax havens.

Included among the 13.4 million leaked documents, dubbed the “Paradise Papers,” were the names of former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien and top party fundraiser Stephen Bronfman – the mere mention of whom gave fresh ammunition for the opposition to accuse Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of leading an ethically challenged government.

The Guardian, Jon Swaine:

Offshore cash helped fund Steve Bannon’s attacks on Hillary Clinton

eaked documents and newly obtained public filings show how the billionaire Mercer family built a $60m war chest for conservative causes inside their family foundation by using an offshore investment vehicle to avoid US tax.

The offshore vehicle was part of a network of companies in the Atlantic tax haven of Bermuda led by Robert Mercer, the wealthy hedge-fund executive and Bannon patron whose spending helped put Trump in the White House and aided a resurgence of the Republican right.

Comments are closed.