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"

A_tombstone_with_Sue_Rangell's_name_on_it_(joke)

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

050 056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1175
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

-1x-1

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

dream_90332fb6ca

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

050 056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1185

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

animation (1)

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

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

050 056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1175

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

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1159

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

APIC-graphics-14

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

Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls Apple's tax strategy a "fraud"

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1145

2001 Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz has a long history of being on the right side of history. For example: pricing the Iraq war at $3T; raising the alarm about sovereign wealth funds acquiring US debt; nailing the double-standard on bailouts for debt crises (and the way that this destabilizes poor countries); sounding the alarm about austerity in times of recesssion; coming out early and strong over wealth concentration; calling for the imprisonment of the top executives at Barclays bank; and damning the TPP as "the worst trade deal ever." Read the rest

Highest-paid CEOs generate lowest shareholder returns

p1-by114-payper-16u-20160724183306

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

Brexit is a victory for mass surveillance; EU rules Snoopers Charter is illegal

pry-minister

Before Theresa May became Prime Minister of the UK, she was the Pry Minister of the UK, the principle proponent of the Snoopers Charter, a sweeping domestic surveillance bill that the European Court of Justice's Advocate General has just found to be excessive under EU law. Read the rest

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

MontrealSoupKitchen1931

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

GOP platform: repeal campaign finance laws, allow unlimited dark/offshore money in US politics

6681996931_16d58dfa8d_b

The newly adopted campaign finance reform section of the GOP platform for the 2016 election calls for "raising or repealing contribution limits" for private individuals and demands an end to "requiring private organizations to publicly disclose their donors to the government," which means that the identity of PAC financiers will be completely secret, opening up offshore financing of US political candidates; finally, the platform condemns "forced funding of political candidates," meaning public election financing. Read the rest

As sewbots threaten Asia's sweatshops, we need to decide who will benefit from automation

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1132

A new International Labour Organization report called ASEAN in transformation: How technology is changing jobs and enterprises predicts that "sewbots" -- sewing robots that can piece together garments with little or no human intervention -- will replace up to 90% of garment and footwear workers in Cambodia and Vietnam in the years to come. Read the rest

Why did some of the richest, most powerful people in the UK support Brexit?

It's true that the vote for Brexit was carried by working-class people in some of the poorest and most excluded regions in the UK; but the actual referendum question was put before the British public thanks to a small faction of some of the richest, most powerful people in the country -- people who rely on the finance sector (which overwhelmingly supported Remain) for their privilege. Why? Read the rest

More posts