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Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigns amid scrutiny over Epstein deal; France plans to tax tech giants — many of which are American.


Acosta resigns

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  • Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has resigned amid growing criticism of his handling of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s case in 2008. [Washington Post / John Wagner, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey]
  • Calls for Acosta’s resignation had been mounting after Epstein was arrested on charges related to sex crimes involving minors. With Epstein’s indictment, people began to re-scrutinize the role Acosta, who was formerly US attorney for Miami, played in arranging a 2008 sweetheart deal for Epstein when he was convicted of similar crimes in Florida. [CNN / Maegan Vazquez and Jim Acosta]
  • Despite being accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen minors, Epstein served just 13 months in jail. In a press conference on Wednesday, Acosta defended his deal, saying that it was the best way to ensure Epstein would be put in jail and be labeled a sex offender. [Vox / Anna North]
  • The press conference didn’t do much to curb criticism, though, and on Friday, Acosta appeared in front of the press alongside President Donald Trump to publicly announce his resignation. He said he was leaving Trump’s Cabinet because he did not want the Epstein case to distract people from the administration’s achievements. [AP / Darlene Superville and Jill Colvin]
  • Trump made it clear that it was Acosta’s decision to resign and that there were no hard feelings between the two, saying, “I’m with him.” [CNBC / Kevin Breuninger and Valerie Block]
  • The president’s comments point to a larger, troubling pattern: Trump has continued to defend men in his administration who have been accused of serious misconduct against women. In the past, he’s stood up for former staff secretary Rob Porter, who was accused of domestic abuse, and current Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford. [Vox / Anna North]
  • With Acosta’s departure on July 19, the White House is facing another problem: a historic number of departments being led by acting officials, including Defense and Homeland Security — which simply makes it impossible for them to do their jobs consistently. [NPR / Arnie Seipel]

US tech giants to be taxed in France

  • France plans to implement a 3 percent tax on the revenue of companies that provide digital service, a move that will largely affect US tech giants. [CNBC / Elizabeth Schulze]
  • The tax would be applied to companies that provide digital services to French users and make a global revenue of more than €750 million (about $840 million) and a French revenue of €25 million (about $28 million). It’s expected to raise €500 million (about $563 million). [AP]
  • Until now, digital countries have mostly declared their profit from where they are headquartered, while paying low to no corporate taxes in countries where they have little physical presence. Although the European Union tried to change that — and failed — France is still moving forward with the tax on its own. [BBC]
  • Many of the companies that will be affected by the tax are American, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. The US has announced it will launch an investigation into whether these taxes unfairly target US companies. [The Verge / Colin Lecher]
  • This opens up the possibility of retaliatory tariffs if the US is unhappy with the results of the investigation. The Treasury Department has already announced it would review the option of doubling taxes on French companies and citizens in the US. [Politico EU / Nicholas Vinocur and Annabelle Dickson]
  • France, however, doesn’t look likely to back down — partially because it needs the money. The government has spent large sums to appease the “yellow vest” protesters, putting a strain on the country’s budget. [NYT / Liz Alderman]
  • As the BBC’s Dave Lee points out, no matter what people think of the tax, both sides can agree that a tax change that reflects our new modern, digital economy is long overdue. [BBC / Dave Lee]

Miscellaneous

  • “Let’s see them aliens”: 400,000-plus people have RSVPd to a Facebook event that’s organizing an Area 51 raid. The highly classified facility has been linked to alien conspiracy theories for decades. [Fox News / Paulina Dedaj]
  • News of a Facebook group in which Border Patrol members shared cruel and vulgar content about immigrants made headlines earlier this month. Turns out the current Border Patrol chief was also a member of the group. [The Intercept / Ryan Devereaux]
  • Hunter S. Thompson’s cabin is now offered as an Airbnb site. Perks include proximity to the pen that holds his beloved (and incredibly loud) peacocks, supervision by his widow, who “does own a weapons permit,” and a price tag of $550 per night. [Vice / Drew Schwartz]
  • Experts think there might be more tigers in US captivity than roaming free in the wild worldwide. Their living conditions, however, aren’t closely inspected by officials. [Washington Post / Karin Brulliard]
  • Detained migrant children drew pictures of what looks like people locked up in cages. These drawings could end up in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. [NYT / Jacey Fortin]

Verbatim

“I don’t think it is right and fair for this administration’s Labor Department to have Epstein as the focus rather than the incredible economy we have today. It would be selfish for me to stay in the position and continue talking about a case that is 12 years old.” [Labor Secretary Alex Acosta during his resignation speech on Friday]


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Catherine Kim

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