Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Criticism of multinationals’ strategies for minimizing taxes comes to a head in the UK. Executives from Google, Starbucks, and Amazon are scheduled to face tough questions from a parliamentary committee about how they’ve kept their UK tax bills so low. They’re not alone, and the UK isn’t the only place wishing it could collect more from multinationals. Apple recently disclosed that it paid corporate taxes of less than 2% on its profits outside the US in its last fiscal year. But the issue is gaining steam in the UK: the Guardian reassured consumers in detail about how they could do their holiday shopping while boycotting Amazon over the tax issue. Quartz earlier outlined the legal ways multinationals avoid paying UK taxes.
News from the ongoing Communist Party congress in Beijing. Outgoing President Hu Jintao will step down as military chief at the end of the congress, unlike his predecessor Jiang Zemin who kept that post for more than two years after retiring as the party’s head, sources told the South China Morning Post. On the sidelines of the congress, China’s securities regulator announced new measures designed to improve access for foreign investors. And Zhou Xiaochuan provided only an opaque response to speculation that the long-serving central bank governor was set to retire.
More rhetoric around the “fiscal cliff” as the US legislature convenes again. With the Dec. 31 deadline approaching, businesses and investors have expressed major concerns that lawmakers won’t reach the compromises needed to avoid sharp tax hikes and spending cuts due to take effect at the end of this year. Both Republicans and Democrats expressed some optimism Sunday. Quartz analyzed the possible basis for a deal between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.
While you were sleeping
The latest James Bond film opened in the US to a bigger box office take than any of the earlier films in the 007 series. “Skyfall” has already grossed more than $500 million globally.
New details emerged surrounding the affair that unseated US spy chief David Petraeus. Petraeus’s extramarital relationship with biographer Paula Broadwell, which led to his resignation last week, was uncovered amid an FBI probe of emails she sent.
Other news from the weekend
Toyota said it would spend up to $2.7 billion to expand in Indonesia. The Japanese automaker, which already has a more than 60% share of passenger vehicles there, aims to further tap the growing middle class.
The BBC was engulfed in further controversy as Director General George Entwistle resigned after just 54 days. The UK-taxpayer-funded media organization had recently faced charges of covering up an internal sex abuse scandal. Entwistle stepped down amid new accusations of gross mismanagement, when its Newsnight television program wrongly leveled pedophila allegations against a UK politician.
Quartz obsession interludes
Christopher Mims on the Mobile Web and the $20 tablet from India that could educate billions, blindside PC makers and transform computing. “The Aakash 2 isn’t just the cheapest fully functional tablet PC on the planet because the Indian government has decided it should be—it’s the cheapest, period….Which means the Aakash, or something like it, could become the sole computer for hundreds of millions of people in India, not to mention elsewhere in the developing world.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Tax havens are essential and laudable.
US Republicans should support raising taxes on millionaires. It won’t kill the country, argues a prominent conservative editor.
It’s possible to learn a language with 22 hours of effort. The key is linking the sound of each word to an image representing its meaning.
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