Support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's action against predatory payday lenders

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The predatory payday lending industry -- "'legalized loan sharks collect 75 percent of their fees from people stuck in more than 10 loans a year by charging 300 percent APR" -- is lobbying hard to kill the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's proposed "debt trap" rule, "that would require lenders to determine whether borrowers can afford to pay back their loans and cut off repeated debit attempts that rack up fees and make it harder for consumers to get out of debt." Read the rest

Brigadier General: TPP is a threat to America's national security

Retired Brigadier General John Adams served for 30 years, including a stint as a military intelligence officer: in an op-ed in The Hill, he says that while he supports trade deals, the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership has almost nothing to do with trade, and will hasten America's de-industrialization, making it harder for the US military to source the materiel it needs, and making it vulnerable to price gouging by foreign powers, who might even go so far as to block America's ability to source certain vital items altogether. Read the rest

Hedge fund paid terminally ill people to sign up for "death puts"

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A "death put" on a certificate of deposit means that the bond matures immediately upon the bearer's death, rather than when its term runs out: they're used as a form of life-insurance, cushioning the blow to loved ones from unexpected death, and they can be held jointly, so that the bearer's heirs and a third party get a payoff on death. Read the rest

Starve #2: Brian Wood lands the tale in a screaming dive and a perfect touchdown

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Brian Wood's Starve, Volume One (collecting issues 1-5) was the best, meanest new graphic novel debut since Transmetropolitan; now, with Starve, Volume Two (issues 6-10), Wood brings the story in for a conclusion that is triumphant and wicked and eminently satisfying, without being pat.

Worst of McMansions: architectural criticism of inequality's most tangible evidence

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Between the Reagan years and the crash of 2008, developers absorbed the skyrocketing wealth of the 1% with monuments to bad taste and ostentation: the McMansion. Read the rest

Scalpers drive Harry Potter play prices from £140 to £8,327

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What do you get when you combine fantastic wealth-inequality with winner-take-all entertainment economics and high-speed trading algorithms? The Viagogo marketplace, where botmasters who've harvested every available ticket for the new Harry Potter play, Harry Potter & the Cursed Child are auctioning them off to the war-criminals and financiers who've colonized London since the Blair years -- with Viagogo trousering a healthy £1,772.53 transaction fee on each ticket. Read the rest

Monopoly power and the decline of small business: big business vs democracy, growth & equality

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In the 15 years between 1997 and 2012: 72,000 small US manufacturers shut down; as did 108,000 local retailers and 13,000 community banks (fully half of America's complement of small banks!). The number of US startups has dropped by 50% since 1970. These statistics are not the result of the changing times: they're due to massive, monopolistic corporations stacking the deck against small competitors through unfair and corrupt practices, to the detriment of American growth, equality and democracy. Read the rest

Foreign influence: how a Chinese businessman funneled $1.3M to Jeb Bush's campaign

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Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen -- Chinese nationals who live in Singapore -- own a global property speculation and development empire whose US branch is called American Pacific International Capital Inc. They followed a recipe set out in a memo by Charlie Spies, a top Republican lawyer, in order to funnel $1.3M to Jeb Bush's PAC, then Tang offered a reporter for the Intercept $200,000 not to mention that he had been investigated for smuggling, tax evasion and bribery by the Chinese government. Read the rest

Airport lounges will let anyone in, provided you can fake a QR code

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When computer security expert and hardcore traveller Przemek Jaroszewski found that he couldn't enter an airline lounge in Warsaw because the automated reader mistakenly rejected his boarding card, he wrote a 600-line Javascript program that generated a QR code for "Batholemew Simpson," a business-class traveller on a flight departing that day. Read the rest

Residents of Silicon Valley homeless camp clear 48,000 Lbs of garbage from creek, ask for housing

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Silicon Valley's legendary housing crisis -- now several decades old -- has led to the establishment of semi-permanent homeless camps on public lands, including a notable camp on the banks of Coyote Creek, on Santa Clara County Water District land. Read the rest

Burying the past in glass coffins: Victoria & Albert museum bans sketching in temporary exhibitions

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London's Victoria and Albert Museum, one of the world's great museums devoted to material culture and design, has joined a long line of museums who've allowed the owners of loaned items for temporary exhibitions to require them to ban photography and sketching of these items. Read the rest

Silicon Valley banks offer tech giants' new hires 100% mortgages on 24 hours' notice

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What to do if you've just signed up to work in one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the world, with almost all of your net worth tied up in illiquid shares in your employer's company? Just ask a Silicon Valley bank for a 100% mortgage, which they'll cheerfully supply on 24 hours' notice, with all the "white-glove service" trappings you could ask for. Read the rest

Highest-paid CEOs generate lowest shareholder returns

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In Are CEOs paid for performance? Evaluating the Effectiveness of Equity Incentives, a new study from MSCI, researchers compared the salaries of 800 US CEOs of large and medium-sized companies to the returns to their shareholders during their tenure. Read the rest

14% of Americans -- 48 million people -- are "food insecure," and it's about to get much worse

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People are "food insecure" if they lack access to "enough food for an active, healthy life." There are 48 million Americans who live in food insecurity, thanks to a combination of nearly all the economic benefits of the post-2008 recovery going to the wealthy; and the sustained attacks on America's social safety net, led by state-level Tea Party governments. Read the rest

London luxury property prices plummet after Brexit vote

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A Russian home-buyer pulled out of a "agreed offer" of £6.95m for a six bedroom Kensington flat, now it's listed for £6.75m; a three-bedroom in Swiss Cottage is down to £1.05m from £1.5m; a £1.1m 2-bedroom in Whitechapel is now £720,000; a 2bm maisonette in Notting Hill fell from £1.59m to £1.35mk; a £1.3m 5br in St. Reatham is down to £850,000 and estate agents have mutually agreed to go back to calling it Streatham. Read the rest

College of Arms issues rules for managing coats of arms in same-sex marriages

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If you believe that God has imbued your blood with special zoomph, thus ennobling you, and you marry someone of the same sex, the College of Arms has you covered! Read the rest

The last time there were this many unsold $100M+ homes on the market, the world economy imploded

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Depending on how much credence you give to "whisper listings," there are between 27 and 50 $100,000,000+ houses on the market; last year, only two houses in that bracket sold worldwide. Read the rest

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