Litigation Finance predators: champerty loves company


Litigation Finance involves loaning people money in return for the right to finance a lawsuit in their names. On its face, there's lots to love about this: it's a financial jiu-jitsu that turns every abusive act from a giant company into a target for an investor. The bigger the bully -- the deeper its pockets -- the more financiers there'll be waiting to sue it on your behalf when it screws you over. Read the rest

Bitcoin Ponzi operator pleads guilty over $150M fraud


Bitcoin Savings & Trust founder Trendon Shavers pleaded guilty to fraud over his company's Ponzi scheme, whose victims believed they would earn one percent interest every three days -- an annual rate of 3,641 percent. Read the rest

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UK Labour Party elects its first left-wing leader in more than 20 years

After decades of Blairite, New Labour politics that catered to banks, built out mass surveillance and attacked unions and the working poor, the UK Labour Party has elected a genuine left-wing leader, by a landslide: democratic socialist Jeremy Corbyn. Read the rest

DoJ says it will consider jailing executives who order corporate crimes

The doctrine under former AG Eric Holder (documented in Matt Taibbi's brilliant The Divide) was to allow executives to pay fines that were less than the profits from their crimes. Read the rest

Record street-marches in Moldova against corrupt oligarchs

The impoverished, corrupt former Soviet state has erupted over a banking fraud that saw $1B disappear from the system, presumably into the offshore accounts of President Nicolae Timofti and his elite cronies. Read the rest

Suit: Wells Fargo sent contractors to break into our house, loot family treasures rescued from Nazis

David Adier missed two mortgage payments on his home in Morris Township, NJ, so Wells Fargo, his mortgage lender, sent contractors who illegally broke in and "trashed-out" his home as though it was abandoned, stealing the family treasures his father smuggled out of Nazi-occupied France. Read the rest

China: police detain financial reporter for “spreading false information” about stock market

Photo: Reuters
A respected journalist in China who reported an important story about that nation's stock market fluctuations was held by police, who say he was “spreading false information.”
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The (real) hard problem of AI

It's not making software that can solve our problems: it's figuring out how to pose those problems so that the software doesn't bite us in the ass. Read the rest

Lawrence Lessig on how to fix America's campaign finance corruption problem


“Real reform will require changing the way campaigns are funded — moving from large-dollar private funding to small-dollar public funding,” writes professor Lawrence Lessig in a New York Times op-ed today. Basically, what if elections relied more on lots of little contributions from lots of different regular working people, instead of relying on a small number of huge donations from the rich and powerful, or the big and powerful institutions that serve their interests.

Democrats, for example, have pushed for small-dollar public funding through matching systems, like New York City’s. Under a plan by Representative John Sarbanes, Democrat of Maryland, contributions could be matched up to nine to one, for candidates who agree to accept only small donations.

Republicans, too, are increasingly calling for small-dollar funding systems. The legal scholar Richard W. Painter, a former “ethics czar” for President George W. Bush, has proposed a $200 tax rebate to fund small-dollar campaigns. Likewise, Jim Rubens, a candidate in the Republican primary for Senate in New Hampshire last year, proposed a $50 tax rebate to fund congressional campaigns.

Either approach would radically increase the number of funders in campaigns, in that way reducing the concentration of large funders that especially typifies congressional and senatorial campaigns right now.

The Only Realistic Way to Fix Campaign Finance [] Read the rest

Molly Crabapple's dystopian take on The Great New York Stock Exchange Outage of July, 2015

What a bunch of bull.
“I was met by fires in the streets, the screams of the dying tourists and the shouts of former traders offering sacrifices to their new gods...”

Greek finance minister resigns

Yanis Varoufakis, a "libertarian Marxist" who played the heavy in Greece's negotiations with its creditors, has stepped down after helping to secure a historic popular mandate rejecting austerity. Read the rest

Anarchy in the UK Mastercards

Because irony is alive and well in the 21st century. I'm holding out for my Kill the Poor platinum Amex. Read the rest

IRS leaks 100K taxpayers' data to identity thieves

The IRS sent extensive dossiers on 100,000 US taxpayers to identity thieves who used weak "secret security" questions to trick the agency's "Get Transcript" service. Read the rest

Anti-austerity parties soar in Spanish elections as Greece threatens default

Two new, anti-establishment parties (including one that grew out of the indignados movement -- a kind of Spanish precedent to Occupy) took key seats in regional and municipal elections in yesterday's Spanish election, which is a kind of dress rehearsal for the upcoming national elections. Read the rest

Hedge funds buy swathes of foreclosed subprimes, force up rents, float rent-bonds

When a giant hedge fund is bidding on all the foreclosed houses in a poor neighborhood, living humans don't stand a chance -- but that's OK, because rapacious investors make great landlords. Read the rest

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