Wells Fargo, who preyed on black borrowers, sponsors Black Lives Matter luncheon

Wells Fargo has been widely criticized for its predatory, deceptive practice of targeting black mortgage borrowers with subprime mortgages (whose teaser rates ballooned into unsustainable long-term rates after a few years), rather than offering those borrowers much cheaper and better mortgages that would not have led to widespread bankruptcy, foreclosure, and the destruction of hardworking families' live savings. Read the rest

Airbnb stealth-updates terms of service, says it's not an insurer and requires binding arbitration

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The March 29 edition of Airbnb's terms of service requires that people who rent out their homes acknowledge that despite the company's widely advertised Host Protection Insurance program, "you understand and agree that Airbnb does not act as an insurer." Read the rest

Clicking "Buy now" doesn't "buy" anything, but people think it does

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In What We Buy When We "Buy Now", a paper forthcoming in The University of Pennsylvania Law Review, respected copyright scholars Aaron Perzanowski and Chris Jay Hoofnagle report on an experiment they set up to test what people clicking the "buy now" button on stores selling digital things (ebooks, games, music, videos, etc) think they get for their money -- it's not what they think. Read the rest

Fantasy accounting: how the biggest companies in America turn real losses into paper profits

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Lax enforcement from the SEC has allowed the biggest companies in America -- 90 percent of the companies in the S&P 500, led by the faltering energy sector -- to ignore the "Generally Accepted Accounting Principles" (GAAP) in presenting their financial information to investors, manufacturing nonexistent profits in quarters where they suffer punishing losses. Read the rest

UK government warns people that copyright trolls are a scam

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The UK Intellectual Property Office has sent an official notice to Britons warning them that they don't have to pay the copyright trolls who send them threatening letters accusing them of copyright infringement. Read the rest

Google reaches into customers' homes and bricks their gadgets

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Revolv is a home automation hub that Google acquired 17 months ago; yesterday, Google announced that as of May 15, it will killswitch all the Revolvs in the field and render them inert. Section 1201 of the DMCA -- the law that prohibits breaking DRM -- means that anyone who tries to make a third-party OS for Revolv faces felony charges and up to 5 years in prison. Read the rest

Airlines celebrate record profits, having killed bereavement fares

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It's a good time to be a US airline: the 10 listed US carriers made $24.2B in profits last year, up from $7.3B the year before. Read the rest

Barnes & Noble wipes out Nook ebook, replaces it with off-brand "study guide"

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Chris writes, "I bought my first e-book in 1998, before my e-reading hardware had even arrived yet. Yesterday I discovered that Barnes & Noble has effectively stolen that book from me, mistakenly replacing it it in my Nook library with another title I never bought." Read the rest

Shortly after her death, Harper Lee's heirs kill cheap paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird

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A court upheld the sealing away of Lee's will from public view, so it's impossible to say for sure what prompted the move, but this much is clear: schools that assign "To Kill a Mockingbird" -- one of the most commonly assigned books in US classrooms -- will have to pay a lot more for their books, and that money will not, and cannot, benefit the author. Read the rest

Detoxing is (worse than) bullshit: high lead levels in "detox clay"

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"Bentonite Me Baby" is a brand of "detox clay" that you spread on your face, or eat, to rid your body of mysterious, nonspecific "toxins." It is full of lead. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's new 1%: the percentage of fraudulent profits companies pay in fines

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In Rigged Justice: 2016 How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy, a 12-page booklet, Senator Elizabeth Warren documents corporations that were caught undertaking grossly fraudulent, highly profitable actions, and were made to pay a trivial fraction of those profits in fines -- fines become a part of the cost of doing business, not a deterrent to criminal behavior. Read the rest

Menu at Toronto's "Azure" was a work of fictitious fine-dining fraud

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Azure is the posh restaurant Intercontinental Hotel Toronto Centre, where the menu boasts "BC salmon" (which turns out to mean "boned and cleaned" not "British Columbia"), "freshly squeezed" orange juice (comes out of a bottle that boasts that the oranges were freshly squeezed before bottling), and some out-and-out lies, like calling boxed Quaker Harvest Crunch granola "organic granola" and store-bought salad dressing "home made." Read the rest

Reminder: Don't put balls of tea leaves in your vagina

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Embrace Pangaea, a "holistic company that provides high-quality herbal detoxes and information to educate clients about natural living" wants you to buy its Herbal Womb Detox Pearls at costs ranging from $85 and $480 and stuff them up your vagina to flush out "toxins" and, depending on which ball you buy, to promote "vaginal tightening" by "tightening the womb" after which your "vaginal canal will shrink." Read the rest

3D Systems abandons its Cube printers, but DRM means you can't buy filament from anyone else

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3D printing giant 3D Systems has experienced a terrible year and a change in leadership, and seems to be backing away from consumer products, meaning that it's orphaned its Cube home 3D printers. Read the rest

Why didn't high-priced/pseudoscientific "behavioral profiling" work in San Bernardino?

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San Bernardino is ground zero for the bunkum industry that sells "behavioral detection" courses to law enforcement, the place where the most cops and government employees are taught to spot "lone wolf" "active shooters" before they snap -- but none of Syed Rizwan Farook's expensively trained co-workers noticed that he and his wife Tashfeen Malik were about to go on a shooting spree. Read the rest

$10 "bean to bar" chocolates were made from melted down Valrhona

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The Mast Brothers, a pair of bearded chocolatiers in Brooklyn, have built an empire on beautifully packaged "artisanal" chocolates that run $10/bar, billed as "bean to bar" confections. Read the rest

Lifelock admits it lied in its ads (again), agrees to $100M fine

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Lifelock, the tragicomically awful identity-theft protection service, has settled the FTC's suit against it, agreeing to pay a $100M fine for violating its 2010 promise to end its deceptive advertising practices. Read the rest

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