Nebraska's billionaire governor couldn't preserve the death penalty through the law, so now he's buying a ballot initiative

Nebraska's hereditary billionaire GOP governor Pete Ricketts is furious that the state legislature keeps overriding his vetos -- that is, the elected lawmakers pass laws, he tries to block them, and they overturn him -- so he's made an election issue of the state's dormant death penalty, spending $400K to put it on the state ballot next week. Read the rest

Wells Fargo blackballed employees who refused to commit fraud, forcing them out of the industry forever

Earlier this month, Planet Money aired an interview with a Wells Fargo whistleblower who was fired for trying to alert the bank to the millions of criminal frauds being committed against its customers, and we learned that the whistleblower had been added to a confidential blacklist used by the finance industry, preventing her from ever getting work in the industry again. Read the rest

How Minnesota's governor performed an economic miracle by raising tax on the rich and increasing minimum wage

By every measure, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton's five year run as governor has been a stellar success: while Tim Pawlenty, his tax-slashing, "fiscally-conservative" Republican predecessor presided over a $6.2B deficit and a 7% unemployment rate (the mere 6,200 jobs added under Pawlenty's 7-year run barely registered), Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to the Minnesota economy, brought Minnesota down to the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the country, and brought the average Minnesotan income up to $8,000 more than the median US worker, while posting a $1B budget surplus. Read the rest

Donald Trump's super PAC promised a Chinese millionaire access, influence in exchange for a secret $2 million donation

Reporters posing as representatives of a Chinese tycoon approached Trump and Clinton PACs and offered them $2 million; only the Giuliani and Trump, Junior-backed Great America PAC agreed, and moreover, assured the fake Chinese benefactor that the origin of the contribution would be covered up and that he would have influence with Trump after the election. Read the rest

Al Franken and FCC commissioner Clyburn want limits on forced arbitration

Arbitration was conceived of as a way to allow giant corporations to avoid costly court battles by meeting with a mediator and talking things out: but since the Supreme Court ruled (in a series of mid-1980s cases) that companies could force their customers and employees into arbitration by adding "binding arbitration" clauses to the fine print in take-it-or-leave contracts, the US justice system has gone dark, which an ever-larger proportion of legal action disappearing into the opaque bowels of the arbitration system, where the richest participant usually wins. Read the rest

By stealing from innocents, Chicago PD amassed tens of millions in a secret black budget for surveillance gear

Since 2009, the Chicago Police Department has seized $72M worth of property from people who were not convicted of any crime, through the discredited civil forfeiture process, keeping $48M worth of the gains (the rest went to the Cook County prosecutor's office and the Illinois State Police) in an off-the-books, unreported slush fund that it used to buy secret surveillance gear. Read the rest

Rich people can afford to buy more sleep than poor people

In Rich do not rise early: spatio-temporal patterns in the mobility networks of different socio-economic classes, a group of transportation engineers analyze an open data-set about the commutes of people in the Colombian cities of MedellĂ­n and Manizales, concluding that the rich and the poor commute the furthest distances, but that the rich have much shorter commutes, thanks to private transport and superior routing, which translates to substantially more sleep for the wealthy. Read the rest

Billionaire tech investors back ballot initiative to purge homeless people from San Francisco

Sequoia Capital Chairman Michael Moritz and angel investor Ron Conway have donated to San Francisco's Proposition Q: if passed, "the city would give residents of tent encampments 24 hours’ notice to relocate to a shelter or accept a bus ticket out of town." Read the rest

Joi Ito interviews Barack Obama for Wired: machine learning, neurodiversity, basic research and Star Trek

Joi Ito (previously) -- director of MIT Media Lab, former Creative Commons chief, investor, entrepreneur, and happy mutant -- interviewed Barack Obama for a special, Obama-edited issue of Wired. Read the rest

Though crime happens everywhere, predictive policing tools send cops to poor/black neighborhoods

Researchers from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (previously) reimplemented the algorithm Predpol predictive policing system that police departments around America have spent a fortune on in order to find out where to set their patrols, and fed it Oakland's 2010 arrest data, then asked it to predict where the crime would be in 2011. Read the rest

Wells Fargo whistleblower describes bank's culture of blackballing threats and coerced corruption

On the latest Planet Money podcast (MP3), a former San Francisco Wells Fargo banker describes the bullying and coercion she faced from senior management while working at the bank's head office, and how the bank forced her out when she blew the whistle on fraud and then blacklisted her with other banks, forcing her out of the sector altogether. Read the rest

Merciless reporting on the Chicago Police Department's extortion racket, & the senior officials who covered it up

The more we learn about the Chicago Police Department, the worse it gets -- there's the sabotage of dashcams, the widespread corruption, the investigators fired for refusing to cover up police crimes, off-the-books "black site" where the CPD kidnaps and tortures suspects, the Accountability Task Force Report that called the force racist, corrupt and broken. Read the rest

Peasant meme

Doges are done; sneks are so September. What's next? @Hay_Man's Peasant Memes! Read the rest

California's 40-year-old ban on property tax raises has made the rich a lot richer

In 1978, California ballot initiative Proposition 13 capped property taxes at 1% of assessed value and increases at 2% per year, creating a massive hole in the ability of cities to fund their operations, which has only been partially plugged by hiking sales taxes and utility rates, regressive moves that disproportionately shift the burden of civic services to low-income households. Read the rest

The Wells Fargo fraud came to light because of union organizers

Though Wells Fargo had been pressuring its employees to commit fraud since 1998, firing those who couldn't make quota, as well as the whistleblowers who came forward to report the fraud, it wasn't until the Committee for Better Banks launched a unionization drive to organize retail banking workers against punitive sales quotas that the crimes came to light. Read the rest

Report paints UK as the sick man of Europe

The pro-Brexit narrative insisted that the UK was one of Europe's greatest, most vibrant economies, and that, unshackled from European regulation, the country would be able to soar to the heights it deserves. Read the rest

Austerity kills the last steam-powered loom in the world

Lancashire Council is shutting down five of its museums, including Burnley's Queen Street Mill Museum, widely known for its appearances in the King's Speech, home to the last steam-powered mill in the world. Read the rest

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