Lickspittle consigliere: how the super-rich abuse their wealth managers as loyalty tests

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Sociologist Brooke Harrington got her Trust and Estate Planning certification in order to study the super-secretive world of the wealth managers who are in charge of hiding the $21 trillion controlled by the world's super-rich from tax authorities, feckless descendants, religious leaders, tax justice activists, kidnappers and extortionists. Read the rest

Free trade lowers prices -- but not on things poor people need (and it pushes up housing prices)

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Part of the economic argument for free trade deals is that they benefit workers by producing cheaper goods -- even if you lose your manufacturing job, you can buy stuff a lot cheaper with the next job you get. Read the rest

What yesterday's hilariously awful testimony by Wells Fargo's CEO portends for his future

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Yesterday, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf addressed the Senate Banking Committee about his bank's years of fraud, driven by threats of firing for low-level employees if they didn't meet unrealistic sales-targets, overseen by an executive who was given a $125m retirement bonus when she quit last summer, just before the scandal broke (though the bank had known it was going on since 2011). Read the rest

Execs with long coporate crime rapsheets stand up for Apple's tax evasion and "the rule of law"

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The EU has ruled that Apple has to pay taxes on the billions it laundered through Ireland by pretending that an empty room with no employees was the company's "head office," a move that has enraged the Business Roundtable, which has sent a letter calling on the EU to respect the "rule of law," whose five signatories have all presided over acts of shameless lawbreaking. Read the rest

Leaked: damning Scott Walker dark money docs that judge ordered destroyed

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Again and again, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker flouted election laws to raise millions from some of the richest executives and biggest corporations in America, illegally laundering the money through the nominally independent, nonprofit Wisconsin Club for Growth -- and now we have all the details, thanks to an enormous leak of documents that a Wisconsin judge ordered destroyed. Read the rest

Five government contractors account for 80% of America's surveillance workforce

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When Edward Snowden came in from the cold, it catapulted his employer, Booz Allen Hamilton -- a giant military/intelligence contractor -- into the public eye, but Booz is small potatoes, one of the Big Five in the intelligence contractor industry, but it's dwarfed by Leidos Holdings, which recently merged with Lockheed's  Information Systems & Global Solutions to become the largest business in the $50B industry. Read the rest

UK inequality: top 1% owns more than bottom 20%

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Oxfam has released the latest version of its ongoing series of analyses of the relative net worth of the very richest when compared to the very poorest: in this case, they found that the top 1% of Britons own more wealth than the bottom 20% of Britons combined. Read the rest

Wells Fargo won't claw back $125m retirement bonus from exec who oversaw 2m frauds

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Carrie Tolstedt is the Wells Fargo executive who presided over a titanic, multi-year fraud through which at least 5,300 of the employees who reported to her opened up fake accounts in Wells' customers' names, racking up fees and fines, trashing the customers' credit ratings, and, incidentally, pulling in record revenues for Tolstedt's department, which Wells' management recognized by giving her a $125M parting gift when she left the company at the end of July, just weeks before the scandal broke. Read the rest

Indian workers staged one of the largest strikes in human history and no one in the USA noticed

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Tens of millions of unionized public sector workers walked off the job last Friday in a one-day strike against PM Modi's plan to privatise public industries and increase foreign investment. It was one of the largest strikes in human history, if not the largest, and took place over Labour Day weekend. Read the rest

Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives

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I've been writing about the work of Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil for years: she's a radical data-scientist with a Harvard PhD in mathematics, who coined the term "Weapons of Math Destruction" to describe the ways that sloppy statistical modeling is punishing millions of people every day, and in more and more cases, destroying lives. Today, O'Neil brings her argument to print, with a fantastic, plainspoken, call to arms called (what else?) Weapons of Math Destruction.

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.

Bill Gates' net worth hits $90B, proving Thomas Piketty's point

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When Thomas Piketty published his 2013 book Capital in the 21st Century, he said that capitalism's primary beneficiaries aren't those who make amazing things that improve the world (as its proponents claim) -- rather, it favors those who have a lot of money to begin with. Read the rest

Fiction: Sgt. Augmento, Bruce Sterling's robots-take-our-jobs story

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Bruce Sterling's new short story, "Sgt. Augmento," is an eyeball-kicky post-cyberpunk story full of Sterlingian zeitgeist: in the robots-took-our-jobs future, the narrator joins the army to augment his guaranteed minimum income, but finds that overseeing robot combat isn't to his liking, so he musters out into a precarious existence clinging to the side of the sharing economy. Read the rest

Hackers claim to have stolen NSA cyberweapons, auctioning them to highest bidder

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The Shadow Brokers, a previously unknown hacker group, has announced that it has stolen a trove of ready-to-use cyber weapons from The Equation Group (previously), an advanced cyberweapons dealer believed to be operating on behalf of, or within, the NSA. Read the rest

John Oliver on subprime auto-lending and its killswitches

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We've been following the trade in remote kill-switches for cars sold to subprime borrowers since 2009, and watched in dismay as they got worse and worse: though John Oliver's report on the billions inflating the subprime auto-lending bubble touches on these, he focuses on the economic factors -- sleaze, corruption, moral hazard -- driving the tech. Read the rest

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