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TITLE: Tech Corporate Welfare, 963GUEST CO-ANCHOR:

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It's Thursday, March 13, 2014 and this is Tech News Today.

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This episode of Tech News Today is brought to you by…
Gazelle, the fast and simple way to sell your used gadgets! Find out what your used Apple and Android carrier products are worth at gazelle.com.

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Welcome to Tech News Today, I'm Mike Elgan - I'm Jason Howell.

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On Tech News Today, we explore the most important stories of the day in conversation with the world's leading journalists.

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Our guest co-anchor today is Lance Ulanoff, Chief Correspondent and Editor-at-Large of Mashable. lanceulanoff.com

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BRIDGEURL LINK

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LATE-BREAKING STORYSHOWLINKS

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Two very interesting and credible leaks hit within the last hour or two. The first comes from Evan Blass, who posted to his EvLeaks Twitter account what he says are leaked specifications for the upcoming Google smartwatch, which will be made by LG: More Google (LG) smartwatch specs: He says it’ll have a 1.65-inch IPS LCD at a resolution of 280x280. Also: 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage. And he says the CPU hasn’t been determined yet. Some expect this at Google I/O in June.

An in another apparent leak, 9to5Mac is claiming iOS 8 screenshots that appeared on a Chinese Weibo account are legitimate, according to their sources. The screens show new apps called Preview and TextEdit, Healthbook and Tips. We’re also hearing reports of new iCloud enhancements coming soon from Apple.
https://twitter.com/evleaks/status/444146030360416257

http://9to5mac.com/2014/03/13/screenshots-of-ios-8-healthbook-preview-textedit-icons-leaked/

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CONVERSATION 1SHOWLINKS

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Apple, Microsoft, Google and Cisco collectively hold about $163 billion in US government debt, much of it offshore, which earns them tax-free interest paid for by American taxpayers, according to a report this morning by Nick Mathiason writing for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2014/03/12/apple-and-microsoft-among-us-tech-giants-reaping-interest-payments-on-offshore-cash/

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Nick Mathiason
Correspondent, Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Q: You wrote that the US government collects taxes from US taxpayers and transfers it to these companies in the form of interest payments. You called the amount “vast,” but how much is being transferred?

Q: Now this is legal, right?

Q: Is this corporate welfare?

Q: At least one of these companies says the problem is that US corporate taxes are too high. It seems to me that they’re high on paper, but the actual amount paid by US corporations is relatively low, isn’t it? Is that because of loopholes and offshoring like this?

Q: Senator Carl Levin says the money should be taxed. Are there others calling for this, and is this likely to happen?
Nick Mathiason
Correspondent, Bureau of Investigative Journalism @NickMathiason

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* The Bureau of Investigative Journalism is an independent not-for-profit organisation that conducts in-depth research into the governance of public, private and third sector organisations and their influence. They make their work freely available under a Creative Commons licence.

* $124bn in US Treasury securities – the remaining $39bn is held in US government agency debt

* From report = “The four leading US digital firms have accumulated cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities worth $255 billion in their foreign subsidiaries, which they state in SEC filings could be liable for corporation tax if repatriated to the United States.”

* From report = “If this cash was brought onshore and taxed at the current US corporation tax rate of 35%, it would produce a $89bn windfall for the US Treasury – equivalent to 17% of America’s projected $514bn budget deficit this year.”

* From report = “Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Cisco Systems hold cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities on their consolidated balance sheets totalling $333bn, making them America’s most cash-rich firms outside the financial sector.”

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thebureauinvestigates.com @NickMathiason

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CONVERSATION 2SHOWLINKS

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A new study found that people who click through to news sites from social networks tend to be less engaged. The report, published by the Pew Research Center today, found that it’s hard for content sites to maintain connections with people coming from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or even Search, for that matter. http://www.niemanlab.org/2014/03/readers-who-still-click-bookmarks-are-more-loyal-customers-for-news-sites-than-facebook-flybys/

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Nieman Journalism Lab staff writer Joseph Lichterman posted a really interesting analysis of the numbers this morning and he joins us to talk about it.

Q: Joseph, what was the big takeaway from this study?

Q: Why is social traffic so fickle?

Q: How much does bookmarking and subscription to RSS feeds affect readership?

Q: News sites lately have been gravitating toward link-baity headlines, influenced by the Buzzfeeds and the Upworthys. Is this a losing strategy, because it favors the un-engaged readers and angers the engaged ones?

Q: While the attraction of less-engaged readers through social is a downside, are these readers more likely to share, and doesn’t that increase traffic?

Q: In your piece, you contrasted the New York Times against Buzzfeed in terms of readership and engagement. How are they different?
Joseph Lichterman
Staff writer, Nieman Journalism Lab @ylichterman

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* Used Facebook as the only example social network

* Users who arrive at the 26 news sites studied directly spend about three times as long there as opposed to users who arrive via Facebook

* Direct visitors also view about five times as many pages per month and visit a news site about three times as often as users coming from Facebook or search.

* Pew compiled the study by examining three-months’ worth of comScore data for a group of 26 news sites, spanning both pre-web and online-native outlets (from NBC News to BuzzFeed)

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niemanlab.org @ylichterman

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CONVERSATION 3SHOWLINKS

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Emotions on social networks can spread like a virus, according to a new study that tracked 100 million Americans and a billion social messages. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303546204579435550002436002?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303546204579435550002436002.htmlhttp://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=1490

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Robert Lee Hotz is a science writer for The Wall Street Journal.

Q: First, can you tell us about the study? Who conducted it and how?

Q: The researchers found that rain in a city would change the emotions of people in that city, and that the rainy day emotions would then spread via social networks to other cities where it wasn’t raining.

Q: One of the researchers in this study told you that these contagious emotions can even affect financial markets, and also political activity. Did he have any proof?

Q: Previous studies have found addictive behaviors also spread online. Is that now generally accepted among researchers?

Robert Lee Hotz
Science writer, The Wall Street Journal @leHotz

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* "We wanted to see if emotional changes in one person caused emotional changes in another person and that's exactly what we found," said UC San Diego political scientist James Fowler, who was lead author on the research published online in the journal PLOS ONE.

* Dr. Fowler and his colleagues studied status updates posted by 100 million users in the 100 most populous U.S. cities between January 2009 and March 2012. To further protect confidentiality, the data were kept on Facebook's secure servers and handled by the company's data scientists, two of whom were co-authors on the research paper.

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wsj.com @leHotz

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CONVERSATION 4SHOWLINKS

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A report coming out of India says that Microsoft may give Windows Phone away free to two Indian phone makers. The Times of India Sources told him that Lava and Karbonn have convinced Microsoft to licence Windows Phone without charge, which would be a first for Microsoft. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/MS-offers-Windows-Phone-OS-free-to-Indian-players/articleshow/31924651.cms

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No Interview

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* These Windows Phone devices are likely to hit the market in the next few months.

* Microsoft reportedly charged Nokia between $20 to $30 for each Lumia

* Handset company executive: "Free Windows Phone is part of a strategic partnership. For both Microsoft and us, it is an experiment. Windows Phone still doesn't have lot of appeal in the market but now that it doesn't have any licence fee, it becomes easier for us to experiment with it," said another senior executive.

* According to the latest IDC figures, Windows Phone OS has less than 10% share in India's smartphone market, which is dominated by Android. An IDC analyst said the "free" Windows Phone will definitely help Microsoft.

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FOLLOW-UP

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We told you weeks ago that Amazon was thinking about raising the price of its Prime service. Today, the company made it official. The price of Prime has gone up from $79 to $99 per year. Prime gives Amazon customers unlimited free two-day shipping on many items, plus access to streaming movies and TV shows through Amazon Instant Video. The old price is in effect for one more week, so if you want to save twenty bucks, you’d better be quick about it. http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-prime-price-increase-2014-3

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IN OTHER NEWSSHOWLINKS

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In other news... MIT has built a better robot fish. Their swimming robot has a soft silicon body, and is controlled via WiFi. The fish uses air pressure for movement, which gives it the ability to swim like a real fish, and even execute what MIT robot geniuses say are “high performance maneuvers.” It’s also unusual in that it’s the only “high performance” robot fish with the brain built in. The group is working on an upgraded robot fish that uses water, rather than air, for movement -- that should give the fish about a half-hour of swimming.GO FULL SCREEN, START VIDEO AT 2:06
http://youtu.be/BSA_zb1ajes?t=2m6s

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And in other, other news, A new iPad game called Surgeon Simulator 2013 may be the most horrifying app ever. It takes a lot of control and practice to master the art of cutting open a patient and performing surgery using an iPad. So why bother? Why not just mutilate the patient in a kind of free-form, Grand-Theft Auto-style improvisation that, although sure to kill the patient, is at least vaguely entertaining. The game has been around awhile, but offers new controls, new features and new ways to commit medical malpractice. The app costs $5.99. FULL SCREEN - START AT 0:13:
http://youtu.be/17RY58OxS9w?t=13s

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* * * FIN * * *

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New leaks give details about Google’s smartwach and also iOS 8.
New details about Silicon Valley’s corporate welfare.
And science proves that emotions on social sites spread like a virus. Science!!
All that and more coming up next on Tech News Today!

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* * * END PROMPTER COPY * * *