"naked capitalism"

"A piece of shit": Government report on Wells Fargo corruption shows top executives' direct complicity in millions of acts of fraud

Last week, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency handed down stiff penalties for John Stumpf (previously) who was CEO of Wells Fargo during its scandal-haunted decade, during which time it stole from rich people, poor people, veterans, active-service military personnel, homeowners, small businesses, etc, as well as 2,000,000 ordinary customers who had fraudulent accounts opened in their names in order to bleed them of transaction fees, sometimes at the expense of their good credit and even their financial solvency. Under the deal, Stumpf will have to pay $17.5m in fines and cannot ever work in finance again (don't worry, he's still a multi-multi-multi millionaire). Read the rest

Banks have returned to the pre-2008 world of automatic credit-limit increases for credit cards used by already indebted people

"Proactive credit line increases" (PCLIs) are when your credit card company increases your credit limit without your asking for it; it was very common prior to the 2008 crisis, but the post-crisis rules largely put a stop to it. Now, banks have figured out regulatory loopholes that allow them to throw PCLIs at their most vulnerable customers, leading to record-high national levels of credit-card debt of $880b as of last September, higher than the pre-crisis high. Read the rest

Chicago PD's predictive policing tool has been shut down after 8 years of catastrophically bad results

In 2012, Chicago PD collaborated with the RAND Corporation and the Illinois Institute of Technology to automatically generate "risk scores" for people they arrested, which were supposed to predict the likelihood that the person would be a "party to violence" in the future (this program was called "TRAP" -- Targeted Repeat-Offender Apprehension Program" -- seemingly without a shred of irony). Now, that program has been shut down, and the City of Chicago's Office of the Inspector General has published a damning report on its eight-year reign, revealing the ways in which the program discriminated against the people ensnared in it, without reducing violent crime. Read the rest

Jamie Dimon is a (highly selective) socialist

Jamie Dimon (previously) is the Jpmorganchase CEO who committed a $13b mortgage fraud and whose company received $25B in TARP bailout money, $500B in low-cost federal loans, and billions more through the bailout of their insurer, AIG. Read the rest

The case for replacing air travel with high-speed sleeper trains

One of the best work trips I ever took was the overnight train from London King's Cross to Edinburgh: I had a comfortable berth, went from city centre to city centre, arrived rested and refreshed, and did not have to endure the indignities and discomforts of air travel. Read the rest

White nationalists planned to murder cops and pro-gun protesters in Virginia

From the bail hearings of three men arrested on gun charges, whom police claim were members of the white nationalist group The Base: the men planned on using the gun rally in Virginia to start a civil war by gunning down their fellow pro-gun demonstrators, and they discussed murdering police officers in order to obtain arms and tactical equipment. Read the rest

Court case lays bare KPMG's crimes: poaching employees from its own regulators and making them steal government secrets

Capitalism has a foundational dependence on auditors -- outside entities who evaluate companies' claims about their financial state so that investors, suppliers and customers can understand whether to trust the companies with their money and business -- but those auditors are paid by the companies they're supposed to be keeping honest, and to make matters worse, 40 years of lax antitrust enforcement has allowed the auditing industry to contract to a four gigantic firms that openly practice fraud and abet corruption, with no real consequences. Read the rest

Kentucky's Whitefield Academy expels student for wearing a rainbow shirt in a Facebook photo

The Whitefield Academy is a "Christ-centered, college-preparatory school for grades PreK-12 fostering a passion for learning, others ahead of self, and the living and active Jesus." That is to say, it's a school for religious maniacs. Read the rest

Med-tech company repossess veteran's artificial legs because the VA won't cover them

Jerry Holliman received Bronze Stars for his military service in Iraq and Vietnam, where he was dosed with Agent Orange. Now 69, Hollman has survived multiple cancers, but lost both his legs to complications from diabetes. Read the rest

Olympics warns athletes that kneeling, fist-raising and other political actions will be banned at the Tokyo 2020 games

The International Olympic Committee -- long a swirling cesspool of corruption, censorship, and reputation-laundering for repressive regimes -- has attained a new low, issuing guidance to athletes competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that no political protests will be tolerated, specifically banning kneeling or raising fists. Read the rest

America's most popular governor: the lavishly corrupt Larry Hogan [R-MD]

Maryland's Larry Hogan -- a Republican who governs a blue state -- is the most popular governor in America, with a 73% approval among state Democrats. He is also a flagrant crook. Read the rest

Explaining the con that is private equity

Emily Stewart's private equity explainer for Vox is a great explainer on how the PE con works: buy up businesses, load them with debt, sell off their assets, slash their costs, then walk away as the house burns, leaving society to put out the fire -- all while enjoying special tax status on your gains. Read the rest

Despite 50 state AGs' antitrust investigations, Google stocks hit an all time high

50 states' Attorneys General are investigating Google for antitrust violations, doing the work that Federal regulators have shirked since the Reagan era. Read the rest

Kentucky's former GOP governor pardoned a bunch of rapists and murderers on his way out of office, including a child rapist

Former Republican Governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin pardoned 28 prisoners on his way out of office, including Micah Schoettle, convicted of repeatedly raping a nine year old girl over a two year period, often while her sister was present. Bevin told a conservative talk-show host that he believed Schoettle had been falsely accused and convicted, citing his understanding that child rape survivor's hymen was intact (a peer-reviewed study of girls who survive rape found that only 2.1% of them had visible damage to their hymens; Bevin told an interviewer "This is perhaps more specific than people would want, but trust me, if you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically"). Read the rest

Students at elite Shanghai university protest the removal of "freedom of thought" from the school charter

Fudan University, one of China's elite centers of higher learning, has had its charter altered to remove "freedom of thought" from its values. In its place, the charter now promotes "arming the minds of teachers and students with Xi Jinping's new era of socialist ideology with Chinese characteristics." In response, students have launched a protest in the form of performances of the school song, which touts "academic independence and freedom of thought." Read the rest

Bernie Sanders got the GAO to study the life chances of millennials, and the report concludes that debt is "crushing their dreams"

Bernie Sanders commissioned the Government Accountability Office to study the consequences of the high degree of indebtedness borne by Millennials; the GAO's report concludes that Millennials dreams are being "crushed" by debts -- primarily student loans -- which have limited their abilities to seek good employment, good housing, and to save for retirement. Read the rest

Insulin prices doubled between 2012 and 2016

The historical excuse for pharma monopolists who conspired to rig prices on insulin was that hardly anyone paid full price -- everyone got their life-saving, non-optional medicine through health plans that negotiated a knock-down price. Read the rest

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