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10.01.16 | 10:27 pm

Could the “New York Times” be sued for publishing details of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax return?

The short answer is yes, the New York Times could be sued for publishing part of Donald Trump's 1995 tax return, revealing that his loss that year was so large it could have allowed him to avoid paying taxes for up to 18 years. And one of Trump's lawyers, Marc E. Kasowitz, has already threatened the paper in a letter stating that disclosure of any of his returns would "prompt initiation of appropriate legal action." He has a potential case—federal law prohibits "any person" from printing and publishing tax return information without the permission of the taxpayer. Whoever leaked the returns to the Times is also in potential legal trouble, since leaking confidential returns is punishable by a $5,000 fine, up to five years in jail, or both.

But it's almost certain that the Times would make a First Amendment case, similar to what it did with the famous Pentagon Papers case, arguing that the publication of such information serves the public interest.

Back in 1924, the Times and other papers published front-page articles revealing how much some of the wealthiest Americans—including John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and J.P. Morgan—paid in federal taxes. The next day, the Chicago Tribune revealed details in the tax returns of prominent actors including Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Gloria Swanson. The disclosures promoted then-President Calvin Coolidge to push for a change in the law, which tightened the rules surrounding disclosure in 1926.

12.06.16 | 16 minutes ago

Former Googler Bill Maris is starting a health care fund (report)

Various reports have circulated today that Bill Maris, the former CEO of Google Ventures, is starting his own health care fund. Those who have seen the financials suggest that the fund will be in the realm of $230 million. The fund is said to be called "Section 32," in a nod to Star Trek (classic). 

Stay tuned for more updates. I've reached out to Google Ventures for more information. 

[Photo: Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm TECH]

12.06.16 | 35 minutes ago

Steel beams rise at Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin facility: photos 

Steel beams are going up at the construction site for Jeff Bezos's new rocket factory in New Glenn, Florida, as a part of his commercial spacecraft and flight venture Blue Origin. The factory will occupy 750,000 square feet once it's fully built. Below are pictures of the facility in progress and the mockup of what it will look like when construction finishes sometime before the end of 2017.


12.06.16 | 2 hours ago

U.S. students aspire to careers in science and technology—but their test scores are falling short

American teenagers are falling behind their international peers when it comes to "mathematics literacy," or the practical application of math skills, according to new data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Yet solving real-world problems, using math, is among the most important academic outcomes that students will need in order to be successful in 21st-century jobs. 

"Almost 40% of students aspire to careers in science and technology," says Jon Schnur, executive chairman of America Achieves, an advocacy organization. "There's real interest in this, our kids are hungry."

PISA measures competency in math, reading, and science every three years by testing 15-year-old students around the world. U.S. reading and science scores have been largely flat in recent years.

12.06.16 | 2 hours ago

Snap is hiring a bunch of 3D character creators 

Snapchat parent, Snap Inc., is hiring a rash of 3D animators, 3D engineers, character riggers, and character modeler positions for its research department. The move could  indicate a deeper push into augmented reality or gaming for the company, as Business Insider points out.  

Earlier this year, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel noted that rather than a social media company, Snap Inc. is primarily a camera company. The company further cemented its commitment to imagery with the launch of Spectacles, $130 sunglasses that record 10- seconds of video from the wearer's perspective. Spiegel has billed the sunglasses "a toy," but it's clear both from its dive into hardware and its new job listings, the company is looking to expand into new experiences on its platform. Development of 3D Snapchat characters (perhaps related to its acquisition of Bitstrips?) might require the company to create a whole new set of hardware for displaying either virtual worlds, or augmented reality. While other companies like Google have been less successful at scaling augmented reality devices, Snap's playful nature and its young following may be an advantage in selling such hardware.  

12.06.16 | 3 hours ago

Rebecca Minkoff blings out Chandon bottles for the holidays

Minkoff is having a busy year. In addition to keeping her booming clothing and accessories brand growing, she's creating state-of-the-art Fashion Week experiences, and serving as a judge on the Project Runway: Fashion Startup. To top it all off, she's now also a wine bottle designer for Chandon

She's created two limited edition bottles with her classic metallic stud pattern, retailing between $20 to $24. This collaboration will help Chandon with it's efforts to make sparkling wines more accessible to younger consumers. These bottles are designed to Instagram-ready during the holidays. 

12.06.16 | 3 hours ago

New Instagram features aim to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative

For many folks, Instagram is a warm, welcoming refuge from the harsh realities of life. But any community with more than half a billion members has to contend with instances of unpleasantness, harassment, or people simply seeing stuff they'd prefer not to see. Which is why the company is getting ready to roll out these tweaks:

• Just as on Facebook, users will be able to "like" a comment by tapping a heart next to it—which, according to Instagram, will make the general atmosphere on the site more positive and supportive.

• If you don't want comments at all on a particular photo you're posting, you will be able to turn them off.

• Users with private accounts that are viewable only by approved members can remove individual followers at will. (Currently you can only do that by blocking them altogether.)

12.06.16 | 4 hours ago

Glenfiddich creates an experimental beer-flavored scotch

The brand, which was founded in Speyside Scotland in 1886, recently launched the Experimental Series, where it formulates whiskies that break some of the traditions in the industry. 

First up: the very first single malt scotch whisky finished in India Pale Ale beer casks. The idea for the drink came about when Glenfiddich's malt master Brian Kinsman met brewer Seb Jones, and decided to collaborate on a new beverage. The experiment resulted in a scotch with hoppy and citrus notes, and a distinctive overall flavor. 

 

12.06.16 | 4 hours ago

Skin Laundry has quietly become the Drybar of facials

The laser and light therapy facial brand first opened in Santa Monica in 2013 with a concept much like Drybar's: customers can stop in for a relaxing 15-minute treatment in an airy beach house-inspired salon. It claims its technology provides a deep skin cleaning, while also reducing acne and wrinkles. 

Three years on, Skin Laundry has 15 locations around world, including London's West End and Tribeca, and is planning to continue growing in 2017. Much like Drybar, it has its own product line that allows customers to bring the experience home. Starting in January, the line will be available at Sephora and Anthropologie. 

12.06.16 | 4 hours ago

NASA’s recent spinoff tech included better golf clubs, winery mapping, and self-driving tractors

Every year, NASA releases Spinoff, a report that profiles newest commercial technologies that evolved from research for the agency's missions.  

Spinoff 2017 included technologies with applications in a wide range of industries, including self-driving tractors, rechargeable hearing aid batteries, winery mapping technology, and golf clubs with the lowest-ever center of gravity

The report is available to read in its entirety here

12.06.16 | 4 hours ago

Morning intel: Facebook struggles with fake news, Ikea ups its parental leave

A Republican presidential elector in Texas said he would not vote for Donald Trump, despite his pledge to follow his state's popular vote, because he says Trump "shows daily he is not qualified for the office."

Facebook is testing a reporting tool that will let users flag links to misleading or untrue articles. The social network has faced criticism in recent months over the proliferation of so-called fake news on its platform.

• The European Union's chief negotiator of Brexit said the United Kingdom must reach a deal to leave the EU by October 2018.

• Swedish furniture maker Ikea said it will offer its U.S. employees—including hourly workers—up to 4 months of paid parental leave.

12.06.16 | 4 hours ago

You can still get Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition—at Urban Outfitters’ flash sale today

UPDATE 9:05am: Nintendo's NES Classic Edition is sold out at Urban Outfitters, but it appears to still be available at Walmart's site.

Ever since Nintendo's NES Classic Edition, a version of its 1985 classic console, went on sale on November 11, gaming fanatics have snapped them up and they quickly sold out. Even Walmart sold out of the consoles when it did some flash sales last month. But don't despair—the NES Classic Edition is still available at Urban Outfitters, which is doing a flash sale on Tuesday but only online, where the consoles are selling for $60.

 [Photo: Nintendo]

12.06.16 | 8:41 am

Ikea to offer U.S. employees up to 4 months of paid parental leave

Starting on January 1, Ikea's U.S. employees will get up to four months of paid parental leave under a new policy that is unusually generous for chain retailers, reports the Wall Street Journal. Of the chain's 13,000 workers in the U.S., those who've worked there for at least a year will get their full base pay for the first 6 weeks and half of their base pay for the next 6 weeks of leave. And those who've worked at Ikea for three or more years will get 8 weeks of full pay and another 8 weeks for half their base pay. Sounds impressive—until you realize that back in Sweden, the chain's employees get 68 weeks of paid parental leave.