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.”

Universities' tax-exempt giga-endowments spend more on hedge fund managers than on education

Growing wealth disparity has produced a new financial hyper-elite who make eight-figure donations to major universities, who hand that money back over to more finance titans in the form of special commissions that are taxed at a ridiculously low rate (making more zillionaire donors). Read the rest

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

Today's terrifying Web security vulnerability, courtesy of the 1990s crypto wars

The Logjam bug allows attackers to break secure connections by tricking the browser and server to communicate using weak crypto -- but why do browsers and servers support weak crypto in the first place? Read the rest

Finance deserves its corrupt reputation

Harvard/Chicago economist Luigi Zingales published a sharply argued, searing paper about the finance industry's reputation for corruption and social uselessness, concluding that it's largely deserved and that academic economists have a role to play in reforming it. Read the rest

Class of 2015: most indebted in history

A report (issued by a college savings business, caveat lector) says that the US graduating college class of 2015 has more debt than any other class in history. Read the rest

Slack's CEO gives charmingly bullshit-free justification for $2.8B valuation

The delightful Stewart Butterfield: "Q So do you think Slack is worth $3 billion? A It is, because people say it is." Read the rest

Emma Thompson on tax-strike until HSBC tax evaders are jailed

The actor and her husband, Greg Wise, have vowed to withhold their tax until the UK tax authorities begin to imprison the tax-cheats who were revealed to be using HSBC's Swiss money-laundry, even if it means going to jail themselves. Read the rest

Billboards tell the stories of professionals who can't afford London anymore

The London is Changing project collects the personal stories of professional people who are leaving the city because it has been remade as a playground for the global rich. Read the rest

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