A San Diego Republican operator ran a massive, multimillion-dollar Facebook scam that targeted boomers

Asher Burke died in March after a helicopter he'd chartered to visit the Kenyan ranch he'd invested in as an "entrepreneur playground" crashed in high winds; his stateside obits called the 27-year-old deputy political director of the Republican Party of San Diego as an entrepreneur, the founder and CEO of Ads, Inc, "on a mission to disrupt the lifestyle industry with our advanced approach to product creation and marketing." Read the rest

Trump's "China muse" advisor has been citing a made-up economist for years

Another one of Trump's close cabinet has been revealed as a lying con artist, surprising absolutely no one.

This time, it's Peter Navarro, a Harvard-educated economist and policy advisor who currently serves in the White House as the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy (OTMP). He's basically served as Trump's right-hand man for all things regarding Chinese trade, despite, erm, having very little experience with China to begin with.

Trump's legion of born-into-privilege cronies is of course full of people who lack lived experience and/or have a knack for exploiting people in their most vulnerable moments. But Navarro is still a pretty remarkable example. For more than a decade, he's been backing up his bullshit arguments by citing the expertise of a Harvard-educated economist named Ron Vara, the self-proclaimed "Dark Prince of Disaster," who made his money off stocks from companies profiting off of international crises.

"Ron Vara" is also an anagram for "Navarro." Which is convenient, because he is, in fact, Navarro, as the Chronicle uncovered:

Navarro has quoted Vara a dozen or so times in six books, usually as an epigraph before a chapter. In Death by China, published in 2011, Vara offers this sweeping assessment of the country's roughly 1.4 billion people: "Only the Chinese can turn a leather sofa into an acid bath, a baby crib into a lethal weapon, and a cellphone battery into heart-piercing shrapnel."

[…]

Those who know Navarro well, Autry says, were fully aware that Ron Vara was a phony source who often popped up in his books.

Read the rest

Whistleblowers out Falwell's Liberty University as a grifty, multibillion-dollar personality cult

Jerry Falwell, Sr founded the Moral Majority, brought evangelicals into the voting booth, elected Ronald Reagan, and changed the face of American politics forever; his son, Jerry Jr now commands the Falwell empire, including Liberty University, which now has $3b in assets. Read the rest

Debullshitifying Trump's get-out-of-jail statement for Medicaid scammer Ted Suhl

Ted Suhl was serving his third year of a seven-year sentence for bribery and Medicaid fraud when Trump commuted his sentence and sprung him, at the request of Mike Huckabee; the White House released a statement explaining Trump's reasoning for the commutation, and, as Propublica documents, it is full of "half-truths and omissions" about Trump's new grifter pal. Propublica did the hard work of annotating the Trump statement to remove the bullshit and tell the true tale. Read the rest

Schadenfreude watch: Porno copyright trolls' investors sue, say the grifters they backed stole their money (the grifters say their lawyer stole the money from them first!)

Malibu Media (previously) is the nom-de-lawsuit for Colette Pelissier and Brigham Feld, notorious copyright troll pornographers who send "speculative invoices" to people whom they accuse of downloading the pornography and B-movies they claim copyright over in the hopes that the people they ding will just send them a check rather than going to court. Read the rest

The NRA spent $70,000 on a consultant to help Wayne LaPierre choose which mansion to purchase

The NRA's internal finances have come under close scrutiny this past year, after Oliver North launched a failed coup intended to unseat longtime CEO/cult leader Wayne LaPierre, triggering so much internal strife that the organization's dirtiest laundry ended up getting aired in retaliatory strategic leaks by each camp. Read the rest

Billionaire who gave Jeffrey Epstein power of attorney in order to manage his finances says Epstein stole "vast sums of money"

One of the enduring mysteries of the super-wealthy pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is where, exactly, he got his money: a former math teacher, he styled himself a personal financial manager catering exclusively to billionaires, but had few-to-no clients, and did not own or trade assets that anyone could locate. Read the rest

Leaks reveal that disgraced, hacked surveillance company wrote Republican Congressman's border security talking-points

Remember Perceptics, the Border Patrol contractor whose facial recognition database was hacked, along with hundreds of gigs' worth of internal files? Read the rest

Grifty conservative PACs raised millions pushing racist Obama conspiracies to elderly, low-income supporters, then kept almost all of it

Propublica and Politico have teamed up for a long, beautifully reported expose on the Conservative Majority Fund and other PACs that senior Republican operators founded to solicit millions from donors (many of them elderly and on low, fixed incomes), allegedly to combat racist, far-fetched Obama plans they claimed were in the offing, but almost all of the money ended up in their own pockets. Read the rest

A deep dive into Elizabeth Warren's plan to tame private equity

Yesterday, I published a brief analysis of Elizabeth Warren's plan to close the loopholes that allows private equity to defraud investors, creditors and workers to make billions while destroying the real economy. Read the rest

FBI agent describes finding "Frankensteins" and a "cooler full of penises" at an unregulated Arizona body-donation center

Phoenix's Biological Resource Center advertised that it would collect your relatives' remains and dispose of their body parts for medical purposes, cremating the unused portions and returning them; it was founded by the aptly named Stephen Gore, whose highest level of educational attainment was a high school diploma and who learned the processes by which he dismembered and preserved the bodies in his care "from books or the internet." Read the rest

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

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