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The economy - oops
And liberal arts degrees means something to the people that got them. Chastising and guilting them for pursuing their interests doesn't solve anything.
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I don't know what Ovie is talking about. $5-$10K per year in loans? Man, I knew I wanted to be an architect at the time. I went to Syracuse, one of the top schools of architecture in the world. Its a 5-yr program. $10K in loans per year is laughable. And that was in 1992 dollars.
If you're happy, you're not paying attention.

Originally Posted by JacknifeJohnny: 
Glad that you guys worked that out amongst yourselves.

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It's absurd. You can't find a state school that cheap these days.
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Liberal Arts should make anyone highly employable. It should be a real point of contention why employers would think someone is less worthy or qualified for having one over having rote learned some check box of things, unless we're talking about highly specialised and regulated fields.
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(05-05-2019, 06:09 PM)mike j Wrote:
(05-05-2019, 05:27 PM)Overlord Wrote: If you're taking out more than 5-10k a year in student loan debt, at most, and you aren't treating college as a vocational school for a very well thought out career path that you plan to work hard and excel in then you are making an enormous mistake.

And yeah, I've known waaaaaaaay too many folks in their 20s where I not only can't understand what they were thinking, I can't understand a system that allowed them to accumulate 100k+ in non-dischargeable student loan debt so they can obtain a liberal arts degree.

This is dumb. $5-10 grand a year in loans? What college is that cheap these days?

(05-05-2019, 08:11 PM)Neil Spurn Wrote: I don't know what Ovie is talking about.  $5-$10K per year in loans?  Man, I knew I wanted to be an architect at the time.  I went to Syracuse, one of the top schools of architecture in the world.  Its a 5-yr program.  $10K in loans per year is laughable.  And that was in 1992 dollars.


I didn't say "find a school that costs 5-10k a year."  I said "take out 10k a year in student loans."  Obviously, if the school costs more, you supplement that amount with either contributions from family (not something everyone is lucky enough to count on) or working (also not doable for some folks, although I will note that I worked 20-30 hours a week all through college and my first year of law school).

And I'll stand by my core premise that racking up 100k+ in student loan debt for unmarketable degrees is just setting a person up for a decade plus of misery.

**The exploding cost of tuition was entirely predictable when no caps were placed on what schools could charge students in exchange for federally guaranteed student loan dollars.

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Someone on Twitter had a good joke about how this poster looks like what a sunglasses-wearing Roddy Piper would see in They Live, and I can't disagree:

   
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(05-07-2019, 03:13 PM)Overlord Wrote:
(05-05-2019, 06:09 PM)mike j Wrote:
(05-05-2019, 05:27 PM)Overlord Wrote: If you're taking out more than 5-10k a year in student loan debt, at most, and you aren't treating college as a vocational school for a very well thought out career path that you plan to work hard and excel in then you are making an enormous mistake.

And yeah, I've known waaaaaaaay too many folks in their 20s where I not only can't understand what they were thinking, I can't understand a system that allowed them to accumulate 100k+ in non-dischargeable student loan debt so they can obtain a liberal arts degree.

This is dumb. $5-10 grand a year in loans? What college is that cheap these days?

(05-05-2019, 08:11 PM)Neil Spurn Wrote: I don't know what Ovie is talking about.  $5-$10K per year in loans?  Man, I knew I wanted to be an architect at the time.  I went to Syracuse, one of the top schools of architecture in the world.  Its a 5-yr program.  $10K in loans per year is laughable.  And that was in 1992 dollars.


I didn't say "find a school that costs 5-10k a year."  I said "take out 10k a year in student loans."  Obviously, if the school costs more, you supplement that amount with either contributions from family (not something everyone is lucky enough to count on) or working (also not doable for some folks, although I will note that I worked 20-30 hours a week all through college and my first year of law school).

And I'll stand by my core premise that racking up 100k+ in student loan debt for unmarketable degrees is just setting a person up for a decade plus of misery.

**The exploding cost of tuition was entirely predictable when no caps were placed on what schools could charge students in exchange for federally guaranteed student loan dollars.

But considering how competitive the job marked is and how stagnant wages are, what job can you work that's going to allow you to only take out 5-10K a year in loans?

I went to grad school with a guy who worked at Starbucks full-time. It was enough to offset his living expenses but he still had to take out a lot of loans to pay for school.

Whenever I see "This is what you should be doing, don't get an unmarketable degree!", it always comes from somebody older who didn't have a fraction of the tuition costs that people pay these days. I'm going to hazard a guess and say you got your law degree twenty years ago or at least close to it?

As for "unmarketable degrees", well, my Master's is in Film, which is about as "unmarketable" as it gets. Could I teach with it? Sure, but that's not why I enrolled. For the last two years, I've been working as a paid screenwriter. Those jobs have come from writing samples and referrals, the latter of which came from the connections I made at film school.

Hell, the first script I had optioned was by the chair of my department. It ultimately didn't sell, but it did get me a meeting with an executive.

Is debt fun? Of course not. But more often than not, pursuing a degree in the arts is more about building connections and a body of work, both of which are what ultimately pays off.
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The National Labor Relations Board has just released an opinion saying Uber employees are contractors - not legal employees - so they're not entitled to union membership, can't file complaints if Uber retaliates for organizing, etc.

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labo...top-lawyer

Quote:A group of Uber drivers aren’t legal “employees” for the purposes of federal labor laws, the federal labor board’s general counsel said in an opinion released May 14.

The National Labor Relations Board’s advice memo, dated April 16, means the agency will take the position that workers for companies such as Uber are excluded from federal protections for workplace organizing activities, like trying to form or join a union. In practice, that means Uber workers will have a much harder time trying to unionize or file what’s known as unfair labor practice charges with the federal government. 

The decision comes as Uber has struggled this week to meet expectations for its widely anticipated initial public offering. 

The Department of Labor has also previously concluded that so-called gig workers are independent contractors not entitled to minimum wages and overtime pay. 
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(05-14-2019, 02:19 PM)Iron Maiden Wrote: The National Labor Relations Board has just released an opinion saying Uber employees are contractors - not legal employees - so they're not entitled to union membership, can't file complaints if Uber retaliates for organizing, etc.

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labo...top-lawyer
Outlook 2018: Trump Appointees Usher in New Era at Labor Board
EVERYTHING
he
touches
DIES.

...or more specifically, all those under DJT are purposefully trying to KILL any and all federal bureaucracy that would benefit the average american. Calling them a 'death cult' is not hyperbolic.

How Trump's 'War' On The 'Deep State' Is Leading To The Dismantling Of Government

"Bannon framed much of Trump’s agenda with the phrase, “deconstruction of the administrative state,” meaning the system of taxes, regulations and trade pacts"
I used to be with "it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me.   -Grandpa Simpson
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Baby boomers have somehow figured out a way to get affordable college twice now:

https://twitter.com/NBCNightlyNews/statu...1060630528
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Oftentimes in this job I get a chance to see the "generational divide" in terms of opportunities in the United States.

Probably going to take on as a client a family member who's part of a massive legal wrangling over a 97 year old WW2 veteran's estate. Guy owned a big apartment building in a fairly upscale part of L.A. Owned several detached homes, also in nice parts of L.A., and significant seven figure liquid assets have accumulated.

What did he do for a living?

He spent something like 50 years as a skycap at LAX. His wife was a stay-at-home mom.

This isn't that unique. I had a client five or six years ago who died with an 18 unit apartment building in Glendale, three homes in Pasadena, and a Newport Beach house. His "high powered" career to afford all this? He sold insurance door-to-door after WW2. Had a stay at home wife.

This is where the mindset of "I put myself through college, raised a wife and kids, had a nice big house, and we had two cars and two vacations every year and I afforded all this by working part-time at the local cat food plant" mentality comes from.

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My wife and I managed a 40+ unit apartment complex for one of those guys.
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A second boss of an Ohio metal plant has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of trying to obstruct a federal investigation into workplace hazards that killed one worker and injured another:

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/safety/sec...bstruction

Quote:An Ohio aluminum plant safety coordinator pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of trying to obstruct a federal investigation into workplace hazards that killed one employee and injured another.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Aug. 7 allowed Paul Love to change his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty.” Love admittedly tried to interfere with an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation at Extrudex Aluminum Inc.'s plant in North Jackson, Ohio.
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Chase Bank is forgiving all credit card debt for Canadian customers:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/201...964419001/

Quote:Canadians who had credit cards with Chase Bank could breathe a sigh of relief Thursday when the company announced it would "forgive" all outstanding debt.

Chase Bank, part of the New York based JPMorgan Chase & Co., closed all credit card accounts in the country in March 2018, Reuters and CBC reported.

Originally, customers were told to continue paying their debt, but the company said Thursday the debt was now cancelled, Reuters reported.

It wasn't immediately clear when the decision was made, but CBC spoke with some Canadians who said they received a letter from Chase this week.

"I was sort of over the moon all last night, with a smile on my face," Douglas Turner of Coe Hill, Ontario, told the Canadian broadcaster. Turner said he still owed more than $4,500 on his card. "I couldn't believe it."

The bank had offered two rewards cards – with Amazon and Marriott – in Canada but declined to say how much debt was forgiven or how many customers were affected, CBC reported. USA TODAY has reached out to Chase for comment.

"It's crazy," Turner added. "This stuff doesn't happen with credit cards. Credit cards are horror stories." The 55-year-old trucker also told CBC that his most recent payment on the account would also be reimbursed. 
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The bottom half of all U.S. households, as measured by wealth, have only recently regained the wealth lost in the 2007-2009 recession and still have 32% less wealth, adjusted for inflation, than in 2003:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/historic-as...1567157400
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(08-31-2019, 12:33 PM)Iron Maiden Wrote: The bottom half of all U.S. households, as measured by wealth, have only recently regained the wealth lost in the 2007-2009 recession and still have 32% less wealth, adjusted for inflation, than in 2003:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/historic-as...1567157400


Almost all of the gains from technological and multinational outsourcing over the past 3-4 decades have been appropriated by the upper 1% ... or maybe even the upper .1%.  

This corresponds almost exactly with the Buckley v. Valeo (and later, Citizens United) Supreme Court decisions.  The power to vote is nothing compared to the power to bribe.

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Raj Rajaratnam, the mastermind of one of the largest hedge-fund insider-trading rings in U.S. history, is out of prison almost two years early:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/...ight-years

Quote:Raj Rajaratnam, the mastermind of what prosecutors said was one of the largest hedge-fund insider-trading rings in U.S. history, is out of prison -- almost two years early.

Rajaratnam, whose Galleon Group LLC once managed more than $7 billion, is back with his family on a quiet block of Manhattan’s East Side, where he’s mostly confined to his apartment for the remainder of his sentence. He’s free to work outside his home during the day.

Sentenced to 11 years behind bars after his 2011 conviction, he served his time at the Federal Medical Center Devens, a prison outside Boston. Rajaratnam, 62, is a beneficiary of the 2018 First Step Act, which allows some federal inmates who are over 60 years old, or who face terminal illnesses, to serve the end of their sentences at home.


The native of Sri Lanka applied for home detention and was released this summer, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named. Rajaratnam reported to Devens in December 2011, becoming inmate number 62785-054.
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California lawmakers passed a bill that would let college athletes collect endorsement money:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/sport...tw-nytimes
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Uber won’t comply with a new California law requiring contract workers to be reclassified as employees, saying drivers are not core to its business:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/busin...&smtyp=cur

Uber Chief Legal Officer is questioning the reporting:

https://twitter.com/tonywest/status/1171891871632592896

Quote:This is completely wrong. @Uber will absolutely comply with the law—but the law does not “require contract workers to be reclassified as employees.” I made that clear on a call today with your reporters.
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Federal investigators are probing the conduct and practices of Mithril Capital, a venture capital firm co-founded by Peter Thiel:

https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/9/12/208...ajay-royan

Quote:US officials — including the FBI — have in recent months questioned some people close to Mithril regarding concerns of possible financial misconduct at the firm, according to people familiar with the matter who insisted on anonymity given its sensitivity. Mithril confirmed in a statement that its lawyers are in touch with government authorities.

Mithril’s leader, Ajay Royan, has worked with Thiel for almost two decades and has used that relationship to raise over $1 billion. But in recent years, Royan has frustrated some of his investors by sitting on some of their money rather than investing it in startups — while almost certainly raking in millions of dollars in fees for himself. 

This federal probe is just the latest — but most significant — problem for the firm, which has increasingly struggled with internal tensions, declining morale, and employee departures. Not all federal investigations, of course, end with an indictment, and Mithril could eventually be cleared of wrongdoing.
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Kickstarter has fired two union organizers in eight days, but is alleging that performances issues were the reasons:

https://slate.com/technology/2019/09/kic...izing.html

Quote:On Thursday morning, Kickstarter fired Taylor Moore, an employee who was one of the organizers of a unionization effort within the company. This was the second firing of a union organizer since last week, when Clarissa Redwine was also fired. Moore had been at the company for six years and Redwine since 2016, and both worked on the outreach team. Both had been heavily involved in the union effort since it began earlier this year. Moore and Redwine, according to four sources who work at the company, were both fired for what management alleged were performance-related issues. 

Kickstarter would not specifically comment on Moore’s and Redwine’s firings and said it has not fired anyone for union activities. On Monday evening, Redwine and the Office and Professional Employees International Union (through which Kickstarter employees are organizing) filed an unfair labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that the severance agreement offered to her by Kickstarter contained an illegally phrased nondisparagement clause. Kickstarter told Slate it has not seen the filing and could not comment. 

The union effort became public in March. In May, CEO Aziz Hasan* told employees that the company would not voluntarily recognize the union if asked, but that it would respect the results of a secret staff vote. Multiple current and former employees told Slate that since March, the company has expressed to the staff that it does not believe a union is right for Kickstarter. 

If a union within the company is formed, Kickstarter will be the most prominent technology company with a unionized workforce. 
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Millions of small donor dollars raised by networks of scam PACs and nonprofits under the guise of helping leukemia-stricken kids, breast cancer survivors, military vets and more was funneled into the coffers of one man’s companies:

https://publicintegrity.org/federal-poli...ributions/

Quote:But virtually none of his money helped children with leukemia or their parents, who often face crippling medical expenses and crushing anxiety.  

About $84 of Thomas’ contribution landed with a network of companies run by a Las Vegas-based businessman, Richard Zeitlin. 

The remainder? Almost all of it funded Children’s Leukemia Support Network salaries, bank fees, payroll taxes and other overhead expenses.

“I feel cheated,” Thomas said in a recent interview at a cancer treatment center in Tampa. “Misused.”

Thomas is one of thousands of Americans who’ve opened their wallets to groups that sound like charities but actually are political action committees. The groups raise money in the name of leukemia-stricken children, breast cancer survivors, police officers, firefighters and struggling military veterans, among others. Little if any of the money donors provide goes toward the causes being championed. 
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A little about the UAW strike:

https://news.yahoo.com/talks-carry-no-de...QRzZWMDc3I-

Quote:Contract talks between General Motors and the United Auto Workers were set to resume Tuesday as a strike by more than 49,000 employees extended into a second day.

Negotiators took a break from bargaining around 9 p.m. Monday but were to be back at the tables on Tuesday.

"They are talking, they've made progress, we'll see how long it takes," Brian Rothenberg, spokesman for the UAW, said Tuesday.

The walkout has brought to a standstill more than 50 factories and parts warehouses in the union's first strike against the No. 1 U.S. automaker in over a decade.

Workers left factories and formed picket lines shortly after midnight Monday in the dispute over a new four-year contract. The union's top negotiator said in a letter to the company that the strike could have been averted had the company made its latest offer sooner.

The letter dated Sunday suggests that the company and union are not as far apart as the rhetoric leading up to the strike had indicated.

Company-paid health insurance for the workers ended on Monday, but the UAW's strike fund will pick up premiums for medical expenses and prescriptions, according to the union website.

Asked about the possibility of federal mediation, President Donald Trump said it's possible if the company and union want it.
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They never have to admit to wrongdoing, do they?

https://gizmodo.com/data-analytics-giant...1838429097

Quote:Data analytics firm Comscore and its former CEO, Serge Matta, was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations of widespread fraud at the company and have settled for over $5 million, the agency announced on Tuesday.

According to the SEC, Comscore and Matta stuffed its public revenue filings to overstate revenue by $50 million from 2014-2016. As the Los Angeles Times noted, that $50 million in revenue never existed but helped the company “beat Wall Street analysts’ sales estimates for seven quarters,” artificially inflating Comscore’s value. The SEC also found that “Comscore and Matta made false and misleading public disclosures regarding the company’s customer base and flagship product,” namely by misrepresenting its number of customers as increasing rather than decreasing, “and that Matta lied to Comscore’s internal accountants and external audit firm” as part of an effort to cover it up.

The SEC also said Comscore lied to investors about “sales of a flagship product that measured ad campaigns, saying it grew when it actually fell,” the Times wrote. Neither Comscore or Matta have to admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
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Elon Musk paid a private investigator to dig up dirt on the British cave diving hero in Indonesia.  The investigator is a convicted criminal from Dorset, England:

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/rya...t-pedo-guy

Quote:When Elon Musk publicly called a British cave rescuer who had insulted him a “pedo guy” last year, the billionaire entrepreneur had no evidence to back up his claims. And while he later apologized for the outburst, the Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO went on to hire a private investigator to dig up dirt that might support his unsubstantiated accusation.

BuzzFeed News has found that the self-proclaimed private investigator whom Musk hired was a convicted felon and scammer.

Public records and interviews reveal that the man Musk contracted, James Howard-Higgins, stole money from his business partners and was sentenced to three years in prison for fraud. Past associates of the man described the Englishman to BuzzFeed News as a “Walter Mitty character” who repeatedly defrauded a company he cofounded despite disciplinary actions that were meant to keep him in check.

Recently released court documents from a defamation case in US federal court show that Musk retained Howard-Higgins after the self-proclaimed investigator cold-emailed him offering to “dig deep” into Vernon Unsworth, a British expat who played a key role in the rescue of a boys soccer team from a Thailand cave system in July 2018. Unsworth, who had criticized Musk’s efforts to involve himself in the cave rescue, is now suing the billionaire for publicly calling him a pedophile and “child rapist,” an allegation partly based on unsubstantiated information given to him by Howard-Higgins.

Musk’s failure to effectively vet a private investigator he hired and his willingness to repeat serious and unfounded allegations against Unsworth are the latest in a series of public blunders for Tesla’s CEO, whose win-at-all-costs mentality has drawn him into a number of high-profile fights with regulators, former employees, and shareholders. And it has renewed the concerns of institutional investors, some of whom have sued to keep Musk from engaging in reputationally damaging arguments on Twitter.
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The Great Housing Reset has led to more than one-third of single-family homes being rentals, with a significant share controlled by large corporations:

https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/10/sin...%3A23%3A42

Quote:When most people think of housing, they separate it into two types: single-family suburban homes that people own, and apartments, largely in cities and urban centers, that people rent. Until recently, the popular image was more or less correct. Most single-family houses provided homes for the families that owned them.

But more than 12 million single-family homes are currently being rented in the United States. Those homes, valued at more than $2.3 trillion, make up 35 percent of all rental housing around the country. In the past, the great majority of single-family homes that were rented out were done so by their owners or small real-estate companies. But today, a large and growing share of single-family rental homes are owned and managed by large corporations, real-estate firms, and financial institutions. The percentage of home owners is at its lowest level since the 1960s.

Those are the big takeaways of a recent study by Andrea Eisfeldt of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and industry expert Andrew Demers, published as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

This is yet another of the economy-shifting consequences of the financial crisis of 2008. The crisis took a huge bite out of housing prices, and rising unemployment put large numbers of homeowners underwater in their mortgages. A good many fell victim to foreclosures, and plummeting housing values meant that they often had to sell their homes for a fraction of their value.

Into the breach stepped large corporations, real-estate investors, and financial institutions that saw a huge investment opportunity in these bargain-basement-priced single-family homes. According to a 2018 report in Curbed, a handful of large companies like Invitation Homes, American Homes 4 Rent, Progress Residential, Main Street Renewal, and Tricon American Homes own approximately 200,000 single-family rental homes and that number is growing. The Curbed story cites research finding that these homes tend to be concentrated in areas that were hit hard by the housing crisis; that many of their renters are low- and moderate-income families with children (including many minority families); and that these large companies frequently charge higher rents and are more likely to evict tenants.
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A biology undergrad at the University of Georgia ran a $1 million Ponzi scheme out of his fraternity house—tricking 117 people into investing in his fake hedge funds—and then spent the cash on alcohol, gambling, and strip clubs:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/syed-arham...ia=desktop

Quote:Syed Arham Arbab, a 22-year-old from Augusta, pleaded guilty on Friday in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Georgia to securities fraud.

Arbab confessed that from May 2018 to his graduation in May 2019, he lied to dozens of investors, including fellow students, in order to get them to partake in his purported “hedge funds,” which he called Artis Proficio Capital Management and Artis Proficio Capital Investments, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

Arbab said he raised $1 million by fabricating account statements, the nature of the investments, and the total number of funds invested. He also promised risk-free “guarantees” on rates of returns up to 22 percent or 56 percent, according to federal prosecutors.

“Arbab admitted that knew he did not have the liquid capital to make good on these guarantees when he made them, but he did not disclose this to his investors,” the DOJ press release states. 

Arbab also confessed to the court that he told investors he was getting his MBA at the school’s Terry College of Business and that a famous NFL player and UGA alum had put money into the fund. In reality, Arbab was rejected from UGA’s MBA program, and the football player had never invested in his fund.

He ultimately spent the money he’d bilked from investors on clothing, shoes, fine dining, alcohol, strip clubs, and three gambling trips to Las Vegas, prosecutors said.
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So a future Republican Congressman I reckon.
"You want a vision of the future?Imagine a boot stomping on a human face.....forever."
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What a sick joke this is:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companie...li=BBUPk4T

Quote:WeWork will narrowly avoid financial ruin and in the process, reward its former leader, Adam Neumann, with as much as $1.2 billion. The reaction from his ex-colleagues, who are still facing the prospect of mass job cuts and a corporate crisis: “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

That was one of the comments posted on WeWork’s staff-wide communications system Tuesday, reflecting a broader mood throughout its headquarters in New York. Dozens of employees expressed indignation in interviews and messages to colleagues on company Slack channels that were relayed to Bloomberg. They requested anonymity in a bid to protect their jobs, as management weighs the dismissal of thousands of employees.

WeWork’s board agreed Tuesday to take a bailout from SoftBank Group Corp., which will secure an 80% stake. The Japanese conglomerate will provide $6.5 billion to the business as it’s on the verge of running out of money. SoftBank will also buy as much as $3 billion in stock from shareholders at the lowest price since 2015. Almost a third of that offer may be allocated to Neumann, in addition to a consulting fee of about $185 million, a $500 million credit line and the ability to appoint two board members. In exchange, Neumann will step down from his role as chairman.

Most employees who sell their shares to SoftBank will do so for less than the paper value of their stakes when they were issued. Mike Adams, who sold a startup to WeWork, described the payout to Neumann as an “injustice.” Representatives for Neumann and WeWork declined to comment. A spokeswoman for SoftBank didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement announcing the deal, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son said he’s “committed” to WeWork and its employees. WeWork’s co-chief executive officers, Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, said the agreement with SoftBank will enable growth for the company and financial opportunities for employees and other shareholders.

Neumann, 40, built WeWork into a global real estate company fueled by relentless optimism and billions of dollars in investment capital and debt. His sermons about community and mission engendered fierce loyalty among staff and investors for years. But his aura vanished over the last couple months when public investors were given a closer look at the business ahead of an initial public offering. WeWork’s parent company, We Co., abandoned the IPO, and SoftBank helped oust Neumann as CEO.

In recent weeks, an executive exodus and cost-saving measures had already dampened morale. Especially in satellite offices, many workers had stopped coming into work. News of Neumann’s “platinum parachute,” as one former employee described it, made things a lot worse this week.
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(10-23-2019, 11:26 AM)Iron Maiden Wrote: What a sick joke this is:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companie...li=BBUPk4T

An interesting comment from Sen. Tom Cotton:

https://twitter.com/TomCottonAR/status/1...7955195905

Quote:Adam Neumann ruined WeWork, yet walks away with $1.7 BILLION, while thousands of employees get laid off. Neumann is a fraud & a good example of why some people support a socialist like ⁦@BernieSanders⁩. He ought to be sued & investigated.
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Stripe, the second most valuable U.S. startup, is leaving San Francisco:

https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/art...558067.php

Quote:San Francisco is losing one of its most valuable tech startups.

Stripe, the payment processing company valued at $35 billion, signed a lease Wednesday for a 421,000-square-foot headquarters in South San Francisco. The company will move more than 1,000 employees just 10 miles south of its current South of Market headquarters, which it plans to vacate.

The move, expected in the second half of 2021, will be one of San Francisco’s largest corporate departures and the largest by a tech company during the current boom. Stripe is the second-most valuable private U.S. startup behind Juul, which was last valued at $38 billion, according to data firm PitchBook. It’s raised over $1 billion from venture capitalists and has over 2,000 employees globally.
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I kind of like that a trip to my favorite music festival unearthed an Airbnb scam:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43k7z...etwitterus

Quote:The call came about 10 minutes before we were set to check into the Airbnb. I was sitting at a brewery just around the corner from the rental on North Wood Street in Chicago when the man on the other end of the line said that our planned visit wouldn’t be possible. A previous guest had flushed something down the toilet, which had left the unit flooded with water, he explained. Apologetic, he promised to let us stay in another property he managed until he could call a plumber.

I had flown with two friends to the city in hopes of a relaxing end-of-summer getaway. We had purchased tickets to attend the September music festival Riot Fest, where Blink-182 and Taking Back Sunday were scheduled to perform. The trip had gotten off to a rough start even before the call. Around a month before, a first Airbnb host had already canceled, leaving us with little time to figure out alternative housing. While scrambling to find something else, I stumbled upon a local Airbnb rental listed by a couple, Becky and Andrew. Sure, the house looked a little basic in the photos online, but it was nice enough, especially considering the time crunch—light-filled, spacious, and close to the Blue Line.

Now, we were facing our second potential disaster in 30 days, and I couldn’t help but feel slightly suspicious of the man on the phone, who had called me from a number with a Los Angeles area code. Hoping to talk in person, I asked him if he was in the area. He said that he was at work and didn’t really have time to chat. Then he added that I needed to decide immediately if I was willing to change my reservation.

As if he could hear me calculating in my head how much of a hassle it would be to find a hotel instead, he then added something else to his pitch. 

“It’s about three times bigger,” the man said. “That’s the good news.” 

The bad news, which went unstated, was that I had unknowingly stumbled into a nationwide web of deception that appeared to span eight cities and nearly 100 property listings—an undetected scam created by some person or organization that had figured out just how easy it is to exploit Airbnb’s poorly written rules in order to collect thousands of dollars through phony listings, fake reviews, and, when necessary, intimidation. Considering Airbnb’s lax enforcement of its own policies, who could blame the scammers for taking advantage of the new world of short-term rental platforms? They had every reason to believe they could do so with impunity. 

From what I could see on my phone, the photos he sent looked fine enough, and finding myself again in a last-minute pinch, I reluctantly agreed. My one condition was that he put in writing what we’d agreed to verbally: that I’d move back into the original listing as soon as possible, or be refunded for half of my trip if the plumbing issue couldn’t be resolved. He agreed, and I accepted a change to my reservation through Airbnb’s messaging app.

We popped the new address into Uber and took off, but when the driver approached the drop-off location, we noticed something odd: That exact address didn’t exist. After walking up and down North Kenmore Avenue, we were able to find a guest house hidden in a back alley that had a keypad on its front door. Once inside, we discovered what looked more like a flophouse than someone’s home. While, at three levels, it was quite big, almost everything else seemed off. The pantry housed a single bottle of soy sauce. The couch looked nothing like the one in the photos. The bedrooms were filled with a large number of bizarrely arranged beds. The whole place felt grimy, and there was a hole punched in a wall. The only decor was a giant wooden cross and a few pieces of generic Chicago-themed artwork, and the dining room's Overstock.com barstools looked as if they would turn into dust if you sat on them.

By then, it was already late in the afternoon. With the first day of my vacation basically gone, I decided to let the whole thing slide. But the next day, we got a text from the man, who said that the plumbing in the original rental hadn’t been fixed, but that new tenants were moving into our flophouse the next day. Not quite sure what to do, we booked a hotel and decided to deal with getting a refund later.

The last time I heard from Becky and Andrew, they sent me a strange message on Airbnb asking that I give them no less than a five-star review⁠—since Airbnb had “changed its algorithm”⁠—and that I communicate all concerns privately. 

“I respectfully request that you let me know about any challenges you faced with my property directly on this message thread rather than write a 4 star review [sic],” they wrote. 

When I asked about the status of my refund, they ghosted, which led me to contact Airbnb. Though I had been moved to a flophouse and then told to leave early, Airbnb only refunded me $399 of my $1,221.20, and only did so after I badgered a number of case managers over the course of several days. The $399 didn’t even include the service fees Airbnb charged me for the pleasure of being thrown out on the street. But my power was nothing compared to that of a company valued this year at $35 billion, and I figured it was probably the best I could do. 

I was thankful I’d gotten the last-minute agreement in writing, but I also started to wonder what had actually happened in Chicago. Unable to shake the sense that this was more than a run-of-the-mill bad host, I started to look for red flags I must have missed. It didn’t take long to find a few. For one, the phone number that the Airbnb host had called me with was a Google number that couldn’t be traced. Through a reverse image search, I also realized that the profile picture Becky and Andrew had used on Airbnb was a stock photo from a website that hosts surfing-themed desktop wallpapers. And when I started going through other people’s reviews of Becky and Andrew’s properties, I noticed some other renters had reported experiences that strangely mirrored my own. A woman said she was forced to switch up her itinerary three minutes before check-in due to alleged plumbing issues. A man said that he was promised a refund because his rental was “falling apart,” though it never materialized.

Even some of the positive reviews of Becky and Andrew’s Chicago rentals seemed odd, especially those left by other pairs of hosts. Kelsey and Jean, for example, said Becky and Andrew were “awesome and communicative guests.” But they themselves were based in Chicago, where it seemed they had at least two properties of their own. Why would they need to rent from someone else there? Even stranger, Kelsey and Jean’s photo also had been cribbed from a travel site, and the language they used to describe their home (“Westloop 6 Bed Getaway - Walk the City”) seemed similar to that of Becky and Andrew’s (“6 Bed Downtown / Wicker Park / Walk the City”). It wasn’t long before I found what looked an awful lot like the apartment I’d originally booked with Becky and Andrew—the one on North Wood Street—listed by Kelsey and Jean as well. There was no mistaking it: The couch, coffee table, dining room set, and wall art were all the same. 

I started to wonder whether “Becky and Andrew” and “Kelsey and Jean” existed at all. 

I also wanted to figure out if Becky and Andrew and Kelsey and Jean had the same unit as three other couples, or if they just had the same detailing around the windows and a bunch of the same furniture pieces in different arrangements. Kris and Becky’s unit looked identical, save for a coffee table that was rectangular instead of round. Alex and Brittany had an additional armchair in their living room. Rachel and Pete’s place showed the most variation, but was still eerily similar to the rest of the bunch. When I finally plugged the original address of the place that I’d booked from Becky and Andrew into Google Street View, I felt like I was losing my mind. Becky and Andrew’s photos had no floor-to-ceiling windows, but the building on Street View at the same address clearly did.

It seemed as if one person or group might have created numerous phony accounts to run a much larger Airbnb operation. If that proved true, it meant whoever ran the five accounts I’d located was controlling at least 94 properties in eight different cities. How many other people who had been scammed out of money like me? Feeling as if I was entering Pynchonian nightmare, I sent a message to Airbnb alerting them to what increasingly seemed like an elaborate scam. 

But Airbnb, which plans to go public next year, seemed to have little interest in rooting out the rot from within its own platform. When I didn’t hear back from the company after a few days, and saw that the suspicious accounts were still active, I took it upon myself to figure out who exactly had ruined my vacation.

Very little oversight at Airbnb:

Quote:Feeling I had all the evidence I needed to prove my point to Airbnb, I emailed the company’s press team a long note, asking them, among other things, how they make sure that people are accurately representing themselves on their profiles and how case managers are directed to deal with allegations of fraud. 

A little more than 24 hours later, a company flak responded in an emailed statement. 

“Engaging in deceptive behavior such as substituting one listing for another is a violation of our Community Standards,” the flak wrote. “We are suspending the listings while we investigate further.” 

That was it. No one at the company ever agreed to speak on the record about the specifics of what I uncovered. Nor would anyone answer any of my questions about Airbnb's verification process. As far as what obligation it has to people who have fallen victim to a scam on Airbnb's platform, the company only said in an email that it is "here 24/7 to support with rebooking assistance, full refunds and reimbursements" in cases of fraud or misrepresentation by hosts. Maybe Airbnb couldn't get more detailed about its verification process because it doesn't have much of one at all. I had asked the company about three accounts—Annie and Chase, Becky and Andrew, and Kris and Becky. Annie and Chase’s account has been deleted, and the two others no longer have any listings posted, which, due to Airbnb’s messaging constraints, means I could not message them for comment. Of the six other accounts I'd connected to the scheme, five are still active weeks later. Only Kelsey and Jean’s has disappeared from the site.

Even if my scammers had been slightly foiled, there was no guarantee that they couldn’t just start fresh with new profiles. The system was still in place. Airbnb has created a web of more than 7 million listings built largely on trust, easily exploitable by those willing to do so. Maybe it’s not so surprising that the company would rather play a half-assed game of whack-a-mole than answer basic questions about its verification process. For every person who doesn’t receive a complete refund, Airbnb makes money. 
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An Airbnb scam update:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vb58j...poses-scam

Quote:Airbnb is instituting a series of significant changes to its platform and operation in an effort to reclaim its users’ trust following a VICE report that uncovered a nationwide web of deception and led to questions about the company’s broader verification and refund process.

"Today, we are making the most significant steps in designing trust on our platform since our original design in 2008," Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said in an email to employees Wednesday.

Chesky said that the company would undertake a year-long project to ensure that every home listed on the platform is accurately advertised. As a stopgap measure, the company will “rebook the guest a new listing of equal or greater value” or completely refund them starting next month should the rental they booked not meet the company’s accuracy standards.

“Starting now, verification of all seven million listings on Airbnb will commence,” Chesky said. “We believe that trust on the Internet begins with verifying the accuracy of the information on Internet platforms, and we believe that this is an important step for our industry."

Following the mass shooting at an Airbnb rental in Orinda, California, last week, Airbnb plans to make other changes, including banning "party houses" and instituting a "24/7 Neighbor Hotline" that is run by a rapid response team, which Airbnb says will allow "anyone" to call the company "anytime, anywhere in the world and reach a real person at Airbnb." 

The company has additionally promise to expand "manual screening of high-risk reservations flagged by our risk detection models," Chesky said. "This will help identify suspicious reservations and stop unauthorized parties before they start."
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Well, this is shitty:

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/08...sue-068175

Quote:Passengers and their survivors won a $265 million court settlement with Amtrak after a 2015 derailment in Philadelphia killed eight people and injured hundreds more. 

But if such a crash happened today, the victims would not be able to sue. That’s because of a clause the passenger rail line quietly added to its ticket purchases in January, which forces disputes into arbitration with no right to go before a judge or jury. 

The change is bringing objections from consumer advocates, who note that it covers scenarios ranging from ordinary ticketing complaints up to wrongful death, and even includes minors who had the tickets purchased for them. And it could soon get Congress' attention. 

The language has flown under the radar so far, but may burst into view when the House Transportation Committee holds a hearing on Amtrak next week. 

"It is one of the most anti-consumer and passenger clauses I've ever seen,” said Julia Duncan, senior director for government affairs at the American Association for Justice, which represents trial lawyers. 

Duncan said Amtrak's arbitration clause is unusually broad and detailed, noting that the policy describes a wide array of possible incidents that would have to go to arbitration. "Most forced arbitration clauses do not go into much detail about what they cover," she said. 

Airlines are prohibited by law from using mandatory arbitration, but Duncan said it's prevalent across other transportation sectors including bus travel, rideshare and cruise lines. 

Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said the clause was added to resolve customer claims more efficiently. She said it won't affect most customer complaints, which are settled directly with the railroad. 
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Um, what?

https://twitter.com/BNONews/status/1193698590641860608

Quote:Uber CEO on Saudi Arabia's killing of Jamal Khashoggi: "It's a serious mistake. We've made mistakes too, right, with self-driving ... So I think that people make mistakes. It doesn't mean that they can never be forgiven"

Video at the link, which does include post-interview comments where the CEO clarifies his comments.
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