Wells Fargo is looking for a new CEO

Wells Fargo is America's largest bank and it also leads the nation's banks for scandals, having stolen 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. Read the rest

Slovakia's first woman president is an anti-corruption, pro-immigrant environmental campaigner

Zuzana Caputova has just been elected to the presidency of Slovakia with 58% of the vote; the political novice rose to prominence with her campaign against a toxic waste dump in her hometown of Pezinok, which earned her the nickname "Slovakia's Erin Brockovoch." Read the rest

The weird grift of "sovereign citizens": where UFOlogy meets antisemitism by way of Cliven Bundy and cat-breeding

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the "sovereign citizen" movement/conspiracy theory (previously) has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks to a combination of the rise of antisemitism (long a dogwhistle in the movement, now out in the open), an increase in financial desperation and a sense of betrayal, and the movement's ability to realize real cash for its members, who have systematically defrauded the underfunded and resource-strapped IRS of move than $1B. Read the rest

The Boston Globe on breaking up Big Tech falls into the trap of tech exceptionalism

The Boston Globe has published a giant weekend package of responses to Elizabeth Warren's proposal to break up the Big Tech monopolies. Read the rest

War criminal and snowflake Erik Prince cancels Beloit College talk after student protests, threatens lawsuit

Genie Ogden writes, "Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince (previously) was invited to speak at Beloit College last night, by the right wing group Young Americans for Freedom. A couple of weeks ago, a Beloit student who is Muslim posted on the internet that he was angry - about the shootings of fellow Muslims in New Zealand, and then about the YAF bringing Erik Prince to speak. He was suspended. Fellow students were upset about his suspension, and protested in the hall where Prince was scheduled to speak last night. They banged on drums, and some of them piled their chairs on the stage. Erik Prince cancelled his speech and has threatened to sue." (Image: Tess Lydon/The Round Table) Read the rest

UPDATE: New York State goes after the Sackler family's opioid fortune, claims they funneled their Oxy millions through offshore laundries

Update: We have received a legal letter from Thomas A. Clare, of Clare Locke LLP, writing on behalf of the Sacklers expressing the family's concern that the image of a guillotine and the "guillotine watch" tag originally accompanying this post would be interpreted as a call to violence against the Sackler family, who have, per Mr Clare, received such threats. For avoidance of doubt, the use of the guillotine image and "guillotine watch" tag is intended as hyperbole and should not be interpreted as a call for violence against anyone, including any member of the Sackler family. I apologize unreservedly for any distress Sacklers experienced due to my hyperbole, or any concern this raised on their part that violence would be forthcoming. I also apologize for my imprecise use of the word "criminal" to refer to the Sacklers' activities; I have amended the relevant passage to read "alleged criminal," as there have been no criminal convictions stemming from Purdue or its owners' activities in relation to the opioid epidemic or the marketing of Oxycontin. -Cory

The Sacklers (previously) are mostly known around the world as "philanthropists," with their names adorning the wings of galleries, museums and institutes of higher learning; but the Sackler family fortune came from their pharmaceutical company, Purdue, whose deceptive marketing and underhanded regulatory evasion for their highly addictive drug Oxycontin has contributed to the prescription opioid overdose deaths of 200,000 Americans so far, with another 200,000 overdoses from heroin and other opioids likely related to the addiction epidemic created by Purdue and the Sacklers. Read the rest

Study finds 95% of all Bitcoin trading volume is fake, designed to lure in ICOs

A report from Bitwise -- an investment firm lobbying for FEC approval for a cryptocurrency based exchange-traded fund -- found that 95% of the trading volume in Bitcoin was fake, ginned up through techniques like "wash trading" where a person buys and sells an asset at the same time. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's latest campaign plank is a national Right-to-Repair law for farm equipment

Senator Elizabeth Warren is hoping to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020; she distinguishes herself from other left-wing Democrats like Bernie Sanders in her belief that capitalism is a force for good, but must be reformed and subjected to democratic control, while Sanders and the DSA are skeptical of capitalism and its long-term future (Disclosure: I donated to both the Sanders and Warren 2020 campaigns). Read the rest

McDonald's will drop opposition to increases in the federal minimum wage

US federal law sets the national minimum wage at $7.25/hour, a number that hasn't budged for a decade and is in part responsible for the nation's wage stagnation, which has seen working peoples' earnings falling in real terms, while productivity grew, the stock market surged, and the richest grew much, much richer. Read the rest

An end-run around Citizens United: passing state laws that ban rewarding campaign donors with political favors

Ray Metcalfe ("two term Alaska state legislator, Alaska’s 2016 Democratic Party Nominee for U.S. Senate, and whistle-blower whose actions resulted in the indictment of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens") has published model legislation that builds on the 9-0 Supreme Court decision in the corruption case of Virginia Governor McDonnell, a precedent Metcalfe interprets to mean that "While Citizens United guaranteed corporations the right to exercise political speech through political spending, Citizens United did not guarantee corporations the right to receive political favors in return.." Read the rest

What's wrong with blaming "information" for political chaos

David Perell's 13,000 word essay, "What the Hell is Going On?" presents a reassuring -- and contrarian -- view on how our current dysfunction in politics, media, and business has come to pass, drawing on orthodox economic theories about "information asymmetry" in a way that makes the whole thing seem like a kind of adjustment period between a middling old world and a fine new one. Read the rest

Self-insurer Walmart flies its sick employees to out-of-state specialists to avoid local price-gougers

Walmart self-insures its workforce, rather than relying on an outside insurer like Cigna or Blue Cross; this means that it gets to make judgment calls that other firms cannot, and that has led the retail giant to a pretty weird place: for certain procedures that it believes to be overused by local hospitals, it flies its employees (even front-line, low-waged employees) to see the nation's top specialists in out-of-state facilities where they receive "concierge, white-glove care that was reserved at other companies only for highly paid executives." Read the rest

Facebook and Big Tech are monopsonies, even when they're not monopolies

Big Tech is often in a monopoly situation (for example, Amazon's Audible owns something like 90% of the audiobook market), but even where they aren't monopolies, they are often monopsonies: a single buyer that controls the whole market that a variety of sellers want to sell into. Read the rest

A detailed analysis of American ER bills reveals rampant, impossible-to-avoid price-gouging

For more than a year, Vox's Sarah Kliff has been investigating hospital price-gouging in America, collecting hospital bills from her readers and comparing them, chasing up anomalies and pulling on threads, producing a stream of outstanding reports on her findings. Read the rest

McMansion Hell tours the homes of the "meritocratic" one-percenters who allegedly bought their thickwitted kids' way into top universities in the college admissions scandal

Yesterday, federal authorities announced 50 indictments of college personnel, wealthy parents, and fixers who ran a multi-million-dollar bribery ring that ensured that the slow, plodding, undeserving fruit of wealthy grifters' loins could be admitted to the top universities in America. Read the rest

Schadenflying: the super-rich are getting ripped off like crazy on their private jet billings

Private jet companies generate a flurry of impenetrable invoices for their customers, with separate bills for crew, catering, fuel, airport fees, etc, and these represent a bonanza for scammy invoice-padding (like billing $5,300 to deliver 240 nonexistent sushi boxes to an empty plane). What's more, the gougers victims are so rich the often don't even notice the overbillings: a third of private jet owners are worth $500,000,000 and up. Read the rest

From prisons to factories to offices: the spread of workplace surveillance and monitoring tech

A new report from Data & Society (previously) goes into depth on the ways that employers are increasingly rolling out workplace surveillance and monitoring technologies that "exert greater control over large workforces, rapidly experiment with workflows, detect deviant behavior, evaluate performance, and automate tasks." Read the rest

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