Masters of the Universe category archive
Peter Whoriskey explains the hedge fund buy-out con and how it stiffs honest working persons. A snippet:
“It was a long, slow decline,” said Amy Gerken, formerly an assistant office manager at one of the stores. Sun Capital Partners, the private-equity firm that owned Marsh, “didn’t really know how grocery stores work. We’d joke about them being on a yacht without even knowing what a UPC code is. But they didn’t treat employees right, and since the bankruptcy, everyone is out for their blood.”
The anger arises because although the sell-off allowed Sun Capital and its investors to recover their money and then some, the company entered bankruptcy leaving unpaid more than $80 million in debts to workers’ severance and pensions.
For Sun Capital, this process of buying companies, seeking profits and leaving pensions unpaid is a familiar one. Over the past 10 years, it has taken five companies into bankruptcy while leaving behind debts of about $280 million owed to employee pensions.
Thom and David Dayen discuss the career of Treasury secretary Mnuchin, aka “The Foreclosure King,” who Dayen describes as “the fox that is guarding the hen house.”
Apparently, pretty damned far.
I used to bank at Wells-Fargo, because they gobbled up the honest bank that gobbled up the honest bank where I had an account. I must admit that I put off changing banks too long, because doing so is an annoying and laborious task, but, really, one can only take so much.
The straw that broke this camel’s back was the story about Wells employees’ creating phony accounts to meet draconian sales quotas. I remember that, when I called up the outfit that handles my pension to change my direct deposit, the fellow on the other end of the call said, “We’ve been getting lots of calls from persons who have changed from Wells-Fargo.”
I filled him in on the news. He was
aghast somewhat taken aback at Wells’s conduct.
I notice that, in the Sunday New York Times, Wells has been running full-page ads about how they have changed.
Color me skeptical.
My local rag reports that Ford is considering mining customer data for fun and profit. Here’s a bit from the article:
General Motors recently tracked the habits of 90,000 drivers in Chicago and Los Angeles who agreed to have their car-radio listening habits tracked to assess the potential relationship between what they listen to and what they buy.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett provided a glimpse into what sounds like a potentially massive data mining plan. His remarks were made during a Freakonomics Radio interview for a podcast released Nov. 8.
“We have 100 million people in vehicles today that are sitting in Ford blue-oval vehicles. That’s the case for monetizing opportunity versus an upstart who maybe has, I don’t know, what, they got 120, or 200,000 vehicles in place now. And so just compare the two stacks: Which one would you like to have the data from?” Hackett said, according to the podcast transcript.
A New Hampshire court wants Amazon’s Alexa digital
surveillance device assistant to testify in a murder trial. Here’s a bit from the story:
Now, a judge has ordered Amazon to turn over any recordings the Echo device may have made from Jan. 27, the day the women were killed, until Jan. 29, when police discovered them tucked beneath a tarp under the back porch.
“The court finds there is probable cause to believe the server(s) and/or records maintained for or by Amazon.com contain recordings made by the Echo smart speaker from the period of Jan. 27 to Jan. 29, 2017 … and that such information contains evidence of crimes committed against Ms. Sullivan, including the attack and possible removal of the body from the kitchen.”
The story goes on to say that Amazon is inclined not to cooperate “without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us”* in the interests its customers’ “privacy” (because, I reckon, that belongs to Amazon).
I will be curious to see how this turns out.
But this is certain: So long as persons unthinkingly invite Big Data into their personal spaces and willingly subject themselves to perpetual corporate surveillance, we will be seeing more like this.
Me, I can flip my own damn light switch.
*Like, maybe, just supposin’ here, a judge’s order?
From the website:
A new report, again, concludes that fracking is causing earthquakes, more and more earthquakes around the globe. And now lawsuits are helping hold the frackers liable for their action. Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins discuss the issue.
Robert Reich comments on the self-important snowflakes of our new Gilded Age and manages to find commonalities amongst a most disparate set of folks.
Thom and Wendell Potter discuss how Big Pharma and Big Insurance are trying to scare Americans from fixing the healthcare mess that feeds their bottom lines.
Apology, schmapology. What’s gone is gone.
Where are the criminal charg oh, never mind. They have impunity.
In yet another apology for the San Francisco-based bank, Wells said a calculation error involving a mortgage underwriting tool resulted in 625 customers being incorrectly denied or not offered modifications to make their loans more affordable. In about 400 of those cases, the homes were ultimately foreclosed on.
Follow the link for more responsible fiduciaries.
This should be interesting:
Bland, Carroll, Grayson and Smyth counties (Virginia–ed.) have filed federal lawsuits accusing 15 prescription opioid manufacturers and three distributors of aggressively persuading doctors to prescribe opioids and turning patients into drug addicts for their own profit.
The lawsuits also say that the companies falsely told doctors that patients would “only rarely succumb to drug addiction.”
The lawsuits accuse the manufacturers of:
- Falsely, deceptively and unfairly marketing opioids.
- Misrepresenting the risks and benefits of opioids.
- Grossly understating and misstating the dangerous addiction risks.
- Grossly overstating the benefits.
- Targeting susceptible prescribers and vulnerable patient populations.
- Making deceptive statements and concealing material facts.
- Fraudulently concealing their misconduct.
- And breaching their duties under federal and state law to prevent diversion and monitor, report and prevent suspicious orders.
More at the link.