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

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

Kleptocracy in America: Russian-style corruption, driven by global oligarchs, enabled by US elites

As Naomi Klein documents in her classic and seminal book The Shock Doctrine, disasters and upheavals are the bread-and-butter of global looters, who use the collapse of civil society or the default of debtor states to privatize state assets at pennies on the dollar, then milk them into further crises, which create more chances for looting -- but the collapse of the USSR was different, because the spies and strongmen who rode out that collapse ensured that public assets were only given to domestic looters, not off-shore oligarchs. Read the rest

The rent is too damned high because money-laundering oligarchs bought all the real-estate to clean their oil money

In an absolutely epic Twitter thread (unrolled here) author CZ Edwards lays out an incredibly compelling explanation of spiralling real-estate prices: oligarchs need to launder a lot of oil money -- think Russia, Iran, ex-Soviet basket-case states, Saudi -- and so they plow the money into offshore Real Estate Investment Trust that then cleans it by outbidding any actual real-estate investors or would-be homeowners, bidding up and snapping up all the property in desirable cities, and then realizing the rental income-flows as legitimate, clean money. Read the rest

No peace in Hungary as thousands fill the streets, risking police violence, to protest slave labor law

Last week, Viktor Orban's authoritarian government rammed through a pair of massively unpopular laws: the "slave labor" law (employers can require up to 400 hours/year of overtime, and take up to three years to pay for it); and a law creating a parallel system of "administrative courts" dealing with "government issues" like voter fraud, overseen by political appointees from within Orban's regime. Read the rest

Official UK investigation of $100 billion laundered through Scottish Limited Partnerships ignores all evidence

Scottish Limited Partnerships are notorious financial secrecy tools that have been used to launder an estimated $100 billion on behalf of ex-Soviet gangster-oligarchs. Read the rest

Mass protests and parliamentary chaos in Hungary over "slave labour" law

Hungary's far-right, xenophobic government rose to power by exploiting racism and economic anxiety, just like Trump -- and just like Trump, they've pursued an agenda that uses performative racist cruelty to distract people while they enact policies that make the rich much richer, at everyone else's expense. Read the rest

Ajit Pai killed Net Neutrality and Trump gave away a huge tax break; Verizon got billions and killed 10,000 jobs

When Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai killed Net Neutrality (by illegally ignoring legitimate comments in support of it in favor of millions of anti-Net Neutrality comments sent by identity-stealing bots), he promised that it would spur growth in the telcoms sector -- and of course, he should know, because he used to be a Verizon exec. Verizon agreed: they objected to Obama-era Neutrality orders by saying the measures would "severely curtail job growth." Read the rest

84% of stocks owned by richest 10% of Americans

Every time Trump reminds you that the stock market has experienced a feverish, tubercular bloom under his presidency, just recall that 84% of stocks are held by 10% of Americans. Read the rest

Labour report on executive pay proposes giving customers a vote on compensation, ending share-based compensation for execs

Ten years of austerity in the UK have produced a definitive answer to the question: does austerity drive economic growth? (Spoiler: No) Read the rest

A visual guide to America's concentrated, uncompetitive markets

Our New Gilded Age is defined by its oligarchic concentration of wealth and power: not just how much wealth is controlled by the 0.001%, but how many of our key markets are dominated by just a handful of players -- sometimes just a single company. Read the rest

Using information security to explain why disinformation makes autocracies stronger and democracies weaker

The same disinformation campaigns that epitomize the divisions in US society -- beliefs in voter fraud, vaccine conspiracies, and racist conspiracies about migrants, George Soros and Black Lives Matter, to name a few -- are a source of strength for autocracies like Russia, where the lack of a consensus on which groups and views are real and which are manufactured by the state strengthens the hand of Putin and his clutch of oligarchs. Read the rest

Using data-science to evaluate whether Xi Jinping's anti-corruption sweeps were really about consolidating power

China-watchers observed the rise-and-rise of Chinese premier Xi Jinping with caution and sometimes alarm, but also held out some hope that despite his authoritarian tendencies and thin skin, Xi was genuinely committed to rooting out the rampant corruption that has plagued the country since its rapid industrialization under Deng Xiaoping: the creation of an untouchable elite and a hereditary princeling class immune to civil justice; looting by respected members of the business community; and a sense that the looters are exfiltrating their money, bypassing currency controls, and stashing the booty in apartments overseas, fueling both the Bitcoin and real-estate bubbles worldwide. Read the rest

The Congressional Progressive Caucus is (still) awash in corporate money

The 78-member Congressional Progressive Caucus is meant to be the democracy-friendly, corporate-hostile wing of the Democratic Party, which is why the caucus announced a year ago that it would stop accepting corporate money -- but a year later, nearly every member is still accepting corporate money in their individual capacity. Read the rest

The world's richest families got MUCH richer, thanks to the stock market

As low interest rates and terrible bond yields have driven more everyday people into the stock market in the hopes of protecting their savings from inflation and building their pensions, the market has surged -- with the richest people on Earth surfing the wave. Read the rest

Britain is a money-launderer's paradise, Part LXII

Paul Manafort's money-laundering conviction makes a convenient peg to hang Buzzfeed's investigation into shell companies in the UK off of; and what their excellent reporting reveals is a playground for money-launderers who operate in the most brazen way, using a complex system of shell companies all over the world, but using the UK as the the lynchpin for their schemes. Read the rest

The paradox of good government: the best stuff works well and is thus unnoticeable (and therefore easy to sell off)

Susan Crawford (previously) identifies one of the great and deadly paradoxes of late-stage capitalism, where predatory oligarchs prowl for state assets that can be sold off to them on the cheap, and target vulnerable regulators that can be dismantled so that industry can run amok: the best-functioning, most vital, best-run state systems are invisible, because they do their jobs so well we never hear about them. Read the rest

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