"naked capitalism"

How can spies from democracies compete with spies from autocracies?

Economist international editor Edward Lucas devotes 4,000+ words in the new issue of Foreign Policy to the changing landscape of state espionage in the 21st century; it's not particularly well-organized (if there's a reason for the order in which his thoughts are laid out, I couldn't find it), but despite that, it's well worth a read, even if there's lots I don't agree with here. Read the rest

Naked Capitalism reviews Radicalized

Naked Captalism is one of my favorite sites, both for its radical political commentary and the vigorous discussions that follow from it; now, John Siman has posted a review of my latest book, Radicalized, which collects four intensely political science fiction stories about our present day and near future. Read the rest

Three years after the Umbrella Revolution, Hong Kong has its own Extinction Rebellion chapter

Three years ago, Hong Kong erupted as a youth-led anti-corruption movement called the Umbrella Revolution took to the streets; now, a chapter of the Extinction Rebellion movement has launched in HK. Read the rest

Vancouver's housing bubble was driven by billions in laundered criminal proceeds

The British Columbia government commissioned independent investigator Peter German to produce a report on the role of laundered criminal money in the province's white-hot real-estate bubble, centred on the city of Vancouver; German's report found that last year alone, CAD7b was laundered through BC, with much of that money going into property (as well as luxury cars and casino gambling). Read the rest

Amazon's monopsony power: the other antitrust white meat

In 2017, law student Lina Khan shifted the debate on Amazon and antitrust with a seminal paper called Amazon's Antitrust Paradox, which used Amazon's abusive market dominance to criticize the Reagan-era shift in antitrust enforcement, which rewrote the criteria for antitrust enforcement, so that antitrust no longer concerned itself with preventing monopoly, and only focused on "consumer harm" in the form of higher prices. Read the rest

British jury ignores judge and frees self-represented climate activists based on the "necessity defense"

In 2017, climate activists Roger Hallam and David Durant painted the words "divest from oil and gas" on a wall at King’s College London in chalk paint; they were facing £7,000 in fines and up to 18 months in prison, and did not qualify for a legal aid lawyer. Read the rest

Sanders and AOC team up for an anti-loansharking bill that will replace payday lenders with post-office banking

Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez jointly introduced The Loan Shark Prevention Act, which will cap credit card interest rates at 15% (and closes the loopholes that lets credit card issuers exceed their stated APRs with the use of hidden fees) and which re-establishes American post-office banking. Read the rest

Big Tech lobbyists and "open for business" Tories killed Ontario's Right-to-Repair legislation

In February, Liberal Party opposition MPP Michael Coteau introduced Right to Repair legislation after he was charged $400 to fix the cracked screen on his daughter's Samsung phone; that bill is now dead, as are dozens of Right to Repair bills introduced in US state houses, after Conservative MPs, heavily lobbied by US Big Tech firms, killed it before it could proceed to committee. Read the rest

In 2008 "synthetic CDOs" destroyed the global economy, and now they're back

"Collateralized Debt Obligations" (CDOs) are a financial derivative that is a kind of bond that pays out based on revenue generated by a pool of assets: for example, a giant hedge fund might buy thousands of homes whose owners went bankrupt and suffered through foreclosure, and then rent them out at the highest possible rent with the least possible maintenance, and this generates thousands of revenue streams. Small slices of the revenue streams from many properties are pooled together into individual CDOs and these are sold to investors: when you buy one of these, you get a little bit of the rent from each of the tenants in the hedge-fund's holdings (other assets can be pooled together too, like payments on car loans, student loans, etc etc). Read the rest

Chinese urbanization has left 25 million vacant homes in rural villages

China is undergoing the largest real-estate bubble in history, and things keep getting weirder and weirder, with the specter of a burst bubble looming overall. Read the rest

Assessing Occupy's legacy

In 2011, activists began an occupation of Zucotti Park near Wall Street, starting a movement that spread around the world and changed the discourse around wealth, inequality, corruption and justice. Read the rest

Avengers: Endgame made $1.2B last weekend and Bernie Sanders wants Disney to spend it on raises that will give all their employees a middle-class wage

Disney CEO Bob Iger made $65.6M last year, 1,424 times that of the median Disney employee (a situation that Walt Disney's grand niece called "insane") -- and last weekend, Disney's movie Avengers: Endgame broke all opening records, bringing in $1.2B. Read the rest

Serpent profiteers: how a summer camp snakebite turned into a $142,938 medical bill

Last July, a nine year old child named Oakley Yoder got bitten on the toe by a venomous snake while at summer camp in Jackson Falls, Illinois: the initial bill for her treatment came out to $142,938. Read the rest

Big Tech's addiction to illegal, overreaching NDAs protects wage discrimination, sexual harassment, and other evils by "terrorizing" employees

NDAs were once used exclusively to protect bona fide trade secrets, but today's Big Tech companies force new hires to sign far-ranging NDAs that exceed the law in many ways (for example, by banning employees from discussing illegal workplace conditions), as a means of "terrorizing" employees into keeping their mouths shut, lest they face threats from the company's high-powered lawyers. Read the rest

Chase's idiotic poverty-shaming "inspirational" tweet, and Twitter users' magnificent responses thereto

Every Monday, some poor "brand ambassador" at Chase has to post a "Monday motivation" tweet aimed at convincing people that one of America's largest, most rapacious banks is actually a cuddly, responsible business whose $12 billion bailout from Uncle Sam was perfectly justifiable and sure to be put to excellent use. Read the rest

Thanks to the 2008 foreclosure crisis, a Kuwaiti ponzi schemer was able to single-handedly blight cities across America

After the 2008 economic crash and the ensuing foreclosure crisis, AbdulAziz HouHou ran a ponzi scheme that bilked other Kuwaitis out of millions that were spent buying and flipping foreclosed houses across America, particularly in hard-hit rustbelt towns like Buffalo and Rochester. Read the rest

Nest's "ease of use" imperative plus poor integration with Google security has turned it into a hacker's playground

40 years ago, antitrust law put strict limits on mergers and acquisitions, but since the Reagan era, these firewalls have been dismantled, and now the biggest companies grow primarily by snapping up nascent competitors and merging with rivals; Google is a poster-child for this, having only ever created two successful products in-house (search and Gmail), with all other growth coming from acquisitions and mergers. Read the rest

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