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Prediction #3 -- 2018 foreign profit repatriation is a $591.8 BILLION taxpayer ripoff

When I started this series of 2018 predictions I said the recently passed U.S. tax law was going to have a profound impact on upcoming events. Having had a chance to look closer at the issue I am even more convinced that this seismic financial event is, as I wrote above, a $591.8 billion taxpayer ripoff. This is not to say there aren’t some possible public benefits from the repatriation, but it’s fairly clear that the public loses more than it will ever gain.

In case you don’t follow these things, multinational U.S. companies have, since 2005, squirreled away about $2.5 TRILLION in profits overseas because U.S. tax law allowed those profits to go untaxed until they are returned to the USA. Understand that this $2.5 trillion is more than just the profit made on overseas business: many companies changed their ways of doing business to divert what would have been U.S. domestic profits, sending them overseas for parking to await a business-friendly U.S. Administration that would cut them a sweetheart deal to bring back all that moolah. The amount of U.S. corporate income tax that went unpaid during this 12 year period was 35 percent of $2.5 trillion or about $875 BILLION. That’s taxes of $73 billion annually for 12 years that went unpaid -- about five percent of the federal budget for those 12 years.

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KaOS 2018.01 KDE-focused Linux distro now available with Spectre and Meltdown fixes

It can be difficult to find a quality Linux distribution that meets your needs. This is partly because there are just too many operating systems from which to choose. My suggestion is to first find a desktop environment that you prefer, and then narrow down your distro search to one that focuses on that DE. For instance, if you like KDE, both Kubuntu and Netrunner are solid choices.

With all of that said, there is another KDE-focused Linux distro that I highly recommend. Called "KaOS," it is rolling release, meaning you can alway be confident that your computer is running modern packages. Today, KaOS gets its first updated ISO for 2018, and you should definitely use it to upgrade your install media. Why? Because version 2018.01 has fixes for Spectre and Meltdown thanks to Linux kernel 4.14.14 with both AMD and Intel ucode.

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OnePlus admits that up to 40,000 accounts were affected by a credit card breach

Back of a OnePlus phone

Last week it emerged that OnePlus was conducting an investigation after a number of customers complained about fraudulent credit card charges. Now the company has given an update on the matter, saying that its website was attacked and a malicious script stealing credit card details was injected, affecting up to 40,000 people.

The company has issued an apology for the incident and says that it has contacted those it feels may have been directly affected. In a statement, OnePlus explains that over a two-month period, customers who entered their credit card details at oneplus.net may be at risk.

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Amazon hikes monthly Prime fee by 18 percent

Ripping open an Amazon Prime box

Amazon has just given people another reason to pay for their Prime subscriptions on an annual rather than a monthly basis. The company has increased the cost of a monthly subscription by $2 per month.

This is the first rise in Amazon Prime subscription pricing for a few years now, and the fact that the annual fee remains unchanged is a clear indication that Amazon is eager to lock customers into year-long packages.

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Facebook to fight 'sensationalism, misinformation and polarization' with news trustworthiness surveys for users

Facebook header on smartphone

Facebook has said time and time again that it will do more to fight the problem of fake news on the social network, and the company's latest idea is to simply ask users which news sources they know and trust.

In a post on his own Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook will start to "ask people whether they're familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust that source." Seemingly blind to the idea that this could be open to abuse and manipulation, he says that this will shift the balance of the news that is displayed on the site.

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Twitter admits that 670,000 people interacted with Russian propaganda bots during US election

Twitter on Samsung Galaxy S8

Twitter has revealed that a total of 677,775 Americans followed accounts or liked tweets associated with Russian propaganda groups during the 2016 US election. The company does not reveal how many people saw the tweets posted by these accounts.

That Russia tried to use Twitter -- and other social networks -- to influence the outcome of the US election is hardly news, but there has been an ongoing investigation trying to determine the scale of the operation. In its latest announcement, Twitter also says that it closed 50,258 accounts with links to Russia.

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Italy launches investigation into Samsung and Apple for slowing down phones

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone X

Just a couple of weeks ago a French watchdog announced that it was investigating Apple about the "planned obsolescence" of iPhones. Now Italy is also looking into both Apple and Samsung after complaints that the companies are purposefully slowing down older phone models.

Apple has already admitted and defended the fact that it slows down older iPhones, saying that it is done to ensure the best performance from aging batteries -- later saying that an upcoming update will make the slowdown optional. In Italy, both Apple and Samsung stand accused of reducing handset performance to "induce consumers to buy new versions."

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Net Neutrality is over: Here are three things to know and do

net-neutrality-graffiti

On December 14, 2017 the United States Federal Communications voted to end Net Neutrality. In other words, they are reversing a 2015 FCC vote to classify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as "common carriers" rather than "information providers" according to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

As common carriers, ISPs must provide equal access to all consumers and all businesses on all devices. They cannot throttle traffic, or block certain web sites, or charge more for consumers to access specific URLs such as www.amazon.com, www.netflix.com, or www.washingtonpost.com.

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Get 'React -- Tools & Resources' ($29 value) FREE for a limited time

React -- Tools & Resources is a collection of in-depth guides to some of the tools and resources most used with React, such as Jest and React Router, a look at Preact, and much more.

It usually retails for $29, but BetaNews readers can get it entirely free for a limited time.

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New API sheds light on the dark web

Dark web hacker

Gaining threat intelligence from the dark web can be a difficult task for security providers due to its unstructured nature.

Similarly, when data breaches occur, companies often face the problem of knowing exactly which data has been exposed on underground marketplaces.

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Wine 3.0 is here to run Windows software on your Linux box

When people make the switch from Windows to Linux, they often experiment with Wine. If you aren’t familiar, it is a compatibility layer that can sometimes get Windows software to run on Linux and BSD. I say "sometimes" because it isn’t a flawless experience. In fact, it can be quite frustrating to use. I suggest using native Linux software as an alternative, but understandably, that isn’t always possible.

If you depend on Wine, or want to start trying it out, I am happy to say that version 3.0 is finally available. It is quite the significant update too, as it features over 6,000 changes!

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Best Windows 10 apps this week

fitbit

Two-hundred-and-sixty-six in a series. Welcome to this week's overview of the best apps, games and extensions released for Windows 10 on the Windows Store in the past seven days.

Microsoft plans to move Font management to the Settings application in the next feature update of Windows 10 (out March/April 2018). Users may download fonts from the Store.

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Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac gets major update with real-time collaborative editing, cloud saving

macbook_highsierra_hero_desktop

Since you can get Office on both Windows PCs and Macs, you may be lead to believe that the user experience is similar between the two suites. After all, they share the same name and major programs, like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But, when you look past the similarities, you will find that there are quite a few differences between the two.

Microsoft has been working on closing the gap, with the latest update for Office for Mac 2016 adding quite some powerful features. Among the highlights are real-time collaborative editing and the option to save your work directly to the cloud.

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Hackers gear up to target Winter Olympics

Olympic skiing

With the 24th Winter Olympics due to start in Pyeongchang, South Korea in a few weeks, athletes are not the only ones preparing for the event.

A report from security analytics platform Cybereason shows that hackers and cyber criminals are gearing up too, the scale and cost of the event making it a prime target.

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Microsoft releases Windows 10 Preview Build 17074.1002 with AMD boot fix related to Spectre and Meltdown

A week ago, Microsoft released a new Preview Build of Windows 10 -- 17074. It was chock-full of new features and fixes, making it a wise upgrade for anyone in the Insiders program.

Sadly, it was discovered that Build 17074 had a huge bug -- it made some AMD systems unbootable. Yikes! Apparently, this was related to fixes for Spectre and Meltdown. True, this is pre-release software, so bugs should be expected, but losing the ability to boot can really ruin a user's day. Today, that bug is fixed, as Microsoft pushes out Build 17074.1002. It also fixes an issue where some computers would hang.

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