Disgraced charter school exec pleads guilty to criminal money laundering, resigns from LA school board

Ref Rodriguez ran a big-money campaign to be the first representative of a charter school to be elected to LA's public school board; the money came from the deep-pocketed investors in charter schools, and was criminally laundered with Rodriguez's help and led to him being made president of LA's board of ed. Read the rest

The American Conservative: "The Dickensian Return of Debtors’ Prisons"

It's fascinating to read Dan King writing in The American Conservative to decry "Dickensian debtors' prisons" in the USA -- the practice of judges locking up poor people who can't pay fines for petty infractions like traffic tickets. Read the rest

Podcast: Zuck's Empire of Oily Rags

Here's my reading (MP3) of Zuck's Empire of Oily Rags, a Locus Magazine column about the corruption implicit in surveillance capitalism, which creates giant risks to users by collecting sensitive information about them in order to eke out tiny gains in the efficacy of targeted advertising. The commercial surveillance industry may not be very good at selling us fridges, but they're very good at locating racists and thugs and getting them to support violent political movements.

MP3 Read the rest

Scott Pruitt quits EPA after corruption exposed by staffers. His resignation letter to Trump is bonkers.

President Trump's corrupt EPA chief is out. The resignation letter is nuts, and mentions God's divine providence and other creepy surreal stuff that doesn't belong. Read the rest

California State lawmaker Miguel Santiago says he's a Democrat, but he's single-handedly killing state Net Neutrality

California Assembly member Miguel Santiago [D-83/@SantiagoAD53] is the chairman of the Communications and Conveyance Committee, where he is single-handedly sabotaging the state's outstanding proposed Net Neutrality bill. Read the rest

114 candidates in Mexico's upcoming elections have been murdered, so far

Alejandro Chavez Zavala was running for mayor of Tareta in the state of Michoacan when he was gunned down following a campaign event. Read the rest

Defense contractors already making millions off detention of immigrant kids in #TrumpsCamps

Defense contractors are making millions off the Trump administration's racist campaign to separate immigrant kids from their parents, and detain the kids separately --indefinitely-- in ad-hoc camps.

We already know Trump and his allies in government are amoral. We need to hold accountable these private sector enablers, too. Read the rest

Justice Dept. won't block AT&T purchase of Time Warner, mega-merger can proceed

Monopoly season is open, and Net Neutrality just died. The Justice Department will not try to stop AT&T from purchasing Time Warner, and the companies are now free to close their deal. The government may yet appeal a ruling on its antitrust lawsuit against the ultra-giga-mega-merger. Read the rest

Feds indict Florida police chief who framed a teen for burglaries so he could boast about perfect record

Raimundo Atesiano was chief of the Biscayne Park Police Department in 2013, and he was proud to boast about his department's 100% clearance rate for burglaries -- but according to federal prosecutors who just indicted him, Atesiano conspired with two of his officers to frame a 16-year-old child for unsolved burglaries so that they could impress local officials. Read the rest

Private equity bosses took $200m out of Toys R Us and crashed the company, lifetime employees got $0 in severance

Private equity's favorite shell game is to take over profitable businesses, sell off their assets, con banks into loaning them hundreds of millions of dollars, cash out in the form of bonuses and dividends, then let the businesses fail and default on their debts. Read the rest

Former Tory chancellor takes over newspaper, sells "money-can't buy" coverage to Uber, Google and others

George Osborne was David Cameron's Chancellor of the Exchequer, the architect of UK austerity; he was fired by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister and he did not run for re-election in the disastrous election of 2017, instead taking a job as editor-in-chief of the Evening Standard. Read the rest

Congressional staffers for Rep. Tom Garrett [R-VA] say they were used as "personal servants"

Politico spoke to four former congressional staffers who'd been assigned to Rep. Tom Garrett [R-VA] who say that the Congressman and his wife treated the staff as "personal servants," demanding that they run personal errands for the Congressman and his family (including handling his dog's feces), and that they were expected to do these things at all hours. Read the rest

Mining the Panama Papers and other leaks to reveal the hidden looting of West Africa by its corrupt elite

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists teamed up with the Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism (Cenozo) to delve deep into 27.5 million files from the Offshore Leaks, Swiss Leaks, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers to investigate how the super-rich in 15 West African countries have looted their countries' wealth and then smuggled it offshore through a network of tax-havens, even as their countries starve. Read the rest

Amazon has been quietly selling its facial recognition system to US police forces, marketing it for bodycam use

Amazon bills its Rekognition image classification system as a "deep learning-based image and video analysis" system; it markets the system to US police forces for use in analyzing security camera footage, including feeds from police officers' bodycams. Read the rest

A data-broker has been quietly selling realtime access to your cellphone's location, and they suck, so anyone could get it for free

Last week, the New York Times revealed that an obscure company called Securus was providing realtime location tracking to law enforcement, without checking the supposed "warrants" provided by cops, and that their system had been abused by a crooked sheriff to track his targets, including a judge (days later, a hacker showed that Securus's security was terrible, and their service would be trivial to hack and abuse). Read the rest

Comcast charges you $90 to "install" cable in houses that are already wired by Comcast

If you move into a new place and start service from Comcast -- increasingly the only way to get internet service in many places -- the company will often charge you a $90 installation fee, even if the previous occupants had already installed Comcast service, and even if you buy and set up your own modem. Read the rest

EFF has comprehensively killed the bullshit podcasting patent

Back in 2014, a patent troll called Personal Audio LLC embarked on a campaign to shake down podcasters large and small for millions, but then they made the mistake of tangling with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Read the rest

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