When Trump's #TaxScam meant that affluent people no longer had to use the paid version of Turbotax, Turbotax started charging poor people, disabled people, students and elderly people

In most countries, you don't have to pay an accountant to prepare your tax return: the government already knows how much you made, so every year they just send you a pre-filled in form to check over and sign. Read the rest

Ex-Fox & Friends host, accused of a Ponzi scheme that turned Indianapolis real-estate investors into slumlords, moves to Portugal

Clayton Morris -- a former host of Fox & Friends -- was part owner of Oceanpointe, a company that sold turnkey landlord services in Indianapolis to investors who could send Oceanpointe money, which the company would invest in properties that they would repair and rent out. Read the rest

Putting a price on our data won't make the platforms stop abusing our privacy

There are several proposals at the state and federal level to force the Big Tech platforms to disclose how much our data is worth to them -- with the hopes that this will curb their abuses of our privacy and even offer an income-stream that could benefit low-income users. Read the rest

Heirs' property: how southern states allow white land developers to steal reconstruction-era land from Black families

Back in 2017, The Nation ran a superb, in-depth story on "heirs' property," a legalized form of property theft that allows primarily rich white developers to expropriate land owned by the descendants' of Black slaves. Read the rest

MLMs are cults that prey on moms, Mormons and the military

Pyramid schemes are illegal, but "multi-level marketing" schemes are not; the difference is supposedly that pyramid schemes don't really sell anything -- they just sell the right to recruit people who will recruit people who will recruit people, each paying up the pyramid to their "uplines" -- while MLMs supposedly actually sell stuff. Read the rest

Understanding "transfer pricing": how corporations dodge taxes through financial colonialism

Every day, the world's poorest countries lose $3b in tax revenues as multinationals sluice their profits through their national boundaries in order to avoid taxes in rich countries, and then sluice the money out again, purged of tax obligations thanks to their exploitation of tax loopholes in poor nations. Read the rest

Voting machine companies: the names of our parent companies are trade secrets

When the North Carolina State Board of Elections asked the voting machine companies whose products were used in state elections who owned those companies, both Election Systems & Software and Hart Intercivic claimed that the answers to the question were proprietary, confidential trade secrets that would devalue their companies if they were divulged. Read the rest

Police cameras to be augmented with junk-science "microexpression" AI lie-detectors

The idea that you can detect lies by analyzing "microexpressions" has absorbed billions in spending by police forces and security services, despite the fact that it's junk science that performs worse than a coin-toss. Read the rest

Report: UK "Ransomware consultants" Red Mosquito promise to unlock your data, but they're just paying off the criminals (and charging you a markup!)

Last month, Propublica published a blockbuster investigative report on companies that claimed they could help you get your ransomware-locked data back, but who were secretly just paying off the criminals -- one company got so good at it that ransomware criminals started to refer their victims to them. Read the rest

Grifty "information security" companies promised they could decrypt ransomware-locked computers, but they were just quietly paying the ransoms

Ransomware has been around since the late 1980s, but it got a massive shot in the arm when leaked NSA cyberweapons were merged with existing strains of ransomware, with new payment mechanisms that used cryptocurrencies, leading to multiple ransomware epidemics that locked up businesses, hospitals, schools, and more (and then there are the state-level cyberattacks that pretend to be ransomware). Read the rest

Foxconn promised it would do something with the empty buildings it bought in Wisconsin, but they're still empty (still no factory, either)

The Verge's Josh Dzieza continues his outstanding coverage of Foxconn's shell-game in Wisconsin, where the company -- promised billions in subsidies and tax-breaks by former governor Scott Walker, a Koch darling, and by Trump, who used Foxconn's promise of a major new Wisconsin factory to claim his policies were working -- has lived up to its reputation for overpromising and underdelivering by absorbing billions in subsidies but never delivering on promised jobs. Read the rest

Fentanyl execs found guilty of racketeering, face 20 year prison sentences

Five senior execs at Insys Therapeutics (manufacturer of Subsys, a type of fentanyl), have been convicted of criminal racketeering and fraud charges stemming from the company's practice of bribing doctors to overprescribe their incredibly addictive and dangerous product, and for defrauding Medicare in the process. Read the rest

When Steve Bannon & co spent $1,000 on booze at Mar-a-Lago, taxpayers picked up the tab

On April 7th, 2017, a group of Trump advisors and co-conspirators converged on Mar-a-Lago (one of Trump's properties) for a night of drinking and dining, while Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping were having dinner in a separate room at the hotel. In attendance were Steve Bannon, Joe Hagin (then Trump's deputy chief-of-staff) and others. Read the rest

Notre Dame's new spire might be copyrighted and blocked by EU filters

There's a proposal in the works to replace Notre Dame's spire -- which was a relatively modern addition -- with a new, starchitect-designed "statement" spire, which will be copyrightable under the same French rules that prohibit commercial photos of the Eiffel Tower at night (and other French landmarks). 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

Pepsi is suing four Indian farmers for growing a proprietary "Lays" potato, seeking $150,000 each in damages

Pepsi has confirmed that it has files lawsuits against four farmers in India who grew a variety of potato that was registered as being for the exclusive production of the company's Lay's potato chips. Read the rest

The sovereign nation of Iceland has finally invalidated the European trademark on "Iceland," formerly held by a British discount grocery chain

In 2014, the British discount grocers Iceland Foods (so named for their pioneering role in selling frozen food) was granted an EU-wide trademark on the word "Iceland" by the EU Intellectual Property Organisation, which apparently saw no risk in giving a British grocer a monopoly over the use of the name of a sovereign nation that was also a member of the European Economic Area. Read the rest

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