Archive | Corporate Skeptics

When the Bank Robs You: Wells Fargo Contractors Allegedly Stole Family Heirlooms Rescued From Nazis

The Adier family home after Wells Fargo contractors broke in, Morris Township, New Jersey. Photo: Courtesy of David Adier

The Adier family home after Wells Fargo contractors broke in, Morris Township, New Jersey. Photo: Courtesy of David Adier

David Dayen via The Intercept:

The few remaining defenders of the Obama administration’s failure to prosecute the executives who helped cause the 2008 financial crisis argue that the bankers’ actions were unethical but not criminal. President Obama himself has made this claim: “Some of the most damaging behavior on Wall Street … wasn’t illegal,” he told Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes in December 2011.

The president might want to take this up with David Adier, who says he was victimized by Wells Fargo breaking and entering into his family’s home in Morris Township, New Jersey, and then committing property damage and theft. Burglary is a felony subject to prison time — if anybody but a bank does it.

Adier’s case is doubly disturbing because of what was taken: items his father retrieved from his family’s apartment in France before fleeing the Nazis in 1940, including a Kiddush cup, a Seder plate and a sewing machine used by his grandmother.

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Why Are There Any Jobs Still Left?

A Ghost In The Machine

Robert Bailey via Reason.com:

After two centuries of relentless automation, why are there more jobs than ever? Certainly, tens of millions of jobs have been lost. Whatever happened to the myriads of hostlers, blacksmiths, coopers, sucksmiths, millers, tallowmakers, wheelwrights, sicklemen, puddlers, telegraphers, stockingers, fellmongers, saddlers, ploughmen, knackers, bleacherers, weavers, thatchers, and scriveners? Most of these jobs have been either wiped out entirely or largely taken over by machines.

The advance of massively more productive machinery has clearly not led to mass unemployment. The number of people employed in advanced economies has never been higher. For example, since 1950 the number of Americans employed has nearly tripled, rising from about 58 million to nearly 149 million today. During that time the proportion of adults in the civilian workforce rose from 55 percent in 1950 to peak at 65 percent during the dot-com boom in 2000. The ratio has now dropped to 59 percent, but the lower rate is widely understood to reflect the fallout from the Great Recession, Baby Boomer cohort retirements, and younger individuals spending more time in school.

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It should be a capitalist flop, but Banksy’s Dismaland is pure magic

Banksy Releases Promo Video for Dismaland

It’s not easy being a superstar anti-establishment art celebrity. Back in the late 1990s I was one of a group of art students who, for a time, became mildly famous as art pranksters. Within the group we could never be sure – and this despite our most earnest efforts – that our work really was the stuff of revolution. But we were in the papers. We were on the Turner Prize programme. We were even offered a book deal. Nonetheless it’s hard to maintain revolutionary kudos once you’ve been interviewed by Timmy Mallett.

And so I feel for Banksy. In Bristol, his street-pieces are still powerful landmarks even if we know, and he knows, what a dichotomy he represents, caught somewhere between art and artifice; an anarchist in capitalist giftwrap.

This being so, I was not expecting much from his latest hyped-up creation, Dismaland. I assumed it would be trying too hard to recapture that lost edginess; that old sold-out soul.… Read the rest

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Windows 10 EULA: Microsoft can killswitch your unauthorized hardware and pirate games

windows_10_logo-t22Windows 10 can run authenticity tests on your games and shut them down if they prove to be pirated.

Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing:

When you click through the Windows 10 “agreement,” you agree to let Microsoft subject your games and hardware to authenticity tests and to shut down anything it doesn’t like the looks of.

As intended, this allows the company to impose extrajudicial punishments on you for offenses that it gets to make up on the fly. They’re banning “unauthorized” hardware — if it comes in a box that says “Compatible with Intel motherboards,” and then spoofs the board to trick it into operating with it, is it “unauthorized,” or just a third-party replacement part that does what every third-party printer cartridge does already?

But then there’s the unintentional consequences: Microsoft could get it wrong.

Continue reading.

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How To Navigate A Data Leak

r2hox (CC BY-SA 2.0)

r2hox (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Welcome to the 21st century. The age of the Data Leak and web security breaches galore. Virtually no website is secure from determined data-miners and hackers alike. On Tuesday, user info (including addresses and partial credit card numbers) was leaked from the site Ashley Madison and has left the web and real world in an uproar. The leak came in two parts. Another info drop was made yesterday and seems to be info from the website owners and internal site goings-on, supposedly including internal site emails.

Very little of our internet deeds or misdeeds are truly secure. This is the era of leaked celebrity nudes, internal email breaches, and security insecurity. For those in the know, it’s easy enough to “cover” your tracks online through a series of email accounts and a few pre-paid credit cards, but on the whole, most people do not go through that much trouble to hide their actions online.… Read the rest

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Noam Chomsky: Why America Is the Gravest Threat to World Peace

Jackie (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Jackie (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Noam Chomsky via Alternet/TomDispatch:

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Throughout the world there is great relief and optimism about the nuclear deal reached in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 nations, the five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Most of the world apparently shares the assessment of the U.S. Arms Control Association that “the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action establishes a strong and effective formula for blocking all of the pathways by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons for more than a generation and a verification system to promptly detect and deter possible efforts by Iran to covertly pursue nuclear weapons that will last indefinitely.”

There are, however, striking exceptions to the general enthusiasm: the United States and its closest regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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