Web

Demonstrating the power of journalism, John Oliver may prompt IRS crackdown

Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption
If it is the role of journalists and journalism to provide a voice for those who cannot be heard, John Oliver and his hit show Last Week Tonight may have fulfilled that role in a hilarious yet poignant way. Following his impassioned segment regarding televangelists and the remarkable lack of oversight the Internal Revenue Service exercises over churches and religious institutions, the IRS is facing significant criticism and pressure to conduct a more thorough investigation of televangelists and their use of tax-exempt donations.

As Oliver pointed out in his segment, oftentimes, not only are donations solicited in seriously questionable ways, but they are then used quite frequently for non-religious, non-church purposes. Rather, a number of televangelists, Oliver suggests, appear to be wolves in sheep’s clothing, taking advantage of the naïveté of their herd for their own personal gain.

In a CBS News report released shortly after Oliver’s segment aired, it was revealed that the IRS, which has previously made headlines for conducting unnecessary audits, has done quite the opposite when it comes to the loosely defined “churches.” In fact, between 2009 and 2014, the IRS conducted a grand total of three audits of such organizations, all of which took place between 2013 and 2014, with no such investigations occurring etween the years of 2009 and 2013.

The problem with this leniency, Oliver and CBS point out, lies in the manner in which the term “church” is defined. Although there are officially 14 criterion used to identify a church, Oliver’s facetious establishment of his own religious institution,Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, proved just how laughably riddled with loopholes these requirements truly are. Indeed, so long as church doctrines are “truly and sincerely held” and “not illegal,” everything from proclaiming peanut butter superior to Nutella and climate change as gospel truth could be considered religions.

Now, the Trinity Foundation, an organization that concerns itself with religious fraud, is taking renewed hope that Oliver and the power of ridicule (and social media) will finally prompt some action from the IRS. Ole Anthony, the president of the Trinity Foundation, told CBS News that the “prosperity gospel,” or the belief that giving one’s church money will bring the giver riches and health, is draining some people (particularly those who cannot afford it) completely dry. “They keep trying to send more money, more money, more money so they can get healed,” Anthony said. And preachers can continue to accept money risk- and tax-free because of the complete absence of the IRS.

Neither the IRS nor any of the televangelists whom Oliver called out in his segment (who asked their donors to help them buy private jets or promised to cure illness if they received a donation) have responded to requests from numerous sources for comment. But it may just be the case that one 20-minute clip on YouTube will bring down the reign of the fraudulent televangelists.

Business

Marriott asking guests for data to see if they were victims of the Starwood hack

Marriott has created an online form to help you find out if your data was stolen in the massive Starwood hack that came to light toward the end of 2018. But take note, it requires you to submit a bunch of personal details.
Movies & TV

The best movies you’ll find on Hulu right now (February 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

New Chrome feature aimed at preventing websites from blocking Incognito Mode

A new Chrome feature will prevent websites from blocking Chrome users as they browse using Incognito Mode. The feature is supposed to fix a known loophole that allows websites to detect and block those using Incognito Mode.
Computing

Microsoft extension adds Google Chrome support for Windows Timeline

The Windows Timeline feature is now much more versatile thanks to the added support for Google's Chrome browser. All you need to do to increase its functionality is to download the official Chrome extension.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Computing

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Movies & TV

Here’s how to watch the 2019 Oscars livestream online

The 91st Academy Awards will air live on ABC, but there are also a number of ways to watch Hollywood's biggest night online using your mobile device, desktop, or set-top streamer. Here's how to catch the Oscars livestream.
Computing

YouTube changes its strikes system, offers softer first-offense penalty

YouTube announced changes to its strikes system for its content creators. The changes include a softer first-offense penalty for creators who violate YouTube's guidelines and more consistent penalties for further violations.
Computing

An experimental feature could help reduce memory usage in Google Chrome

Google Chrome might be the most popular web browser, but it also is a resource hog. Google is currently working on an experimental feature for Chrome which sets out to reduce its overall memory usage. 
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. The best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or OS.