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Archive for the ‘Daily life’ Category

Elizabeth Warren is a national treasure: She now catches investment advisors lying

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David Dayen writes in The Intercept:

Companies that provide investment advice have been vigorously fighting a proposed Department of Labor rule that would formally require investment advisors for retirement plans to operate in the best interest of their clients — instead of ripping them off with products that earn bigger profits.

Investment advisors have claimed this would be disastrous for their businesses and would leave retail investors with no assistance in navigating the financial markets.

But behind the scenes, in earnings calls with their own shareholders, these same companies are downplaying the impact of the rule, reassuring that they could easily handle the changes.

This contradiction was revealed in a letter from Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Elijah Cummings made public Thursday. The letter highlights four companies with investment advisory units, contrasting their public and private statements, and implicitly raising the question: Are they lying to the Department of Labor, or to their shareholders?

For example, in a letter to the Labor Department last July, Jackson National Life Insurance Company president James Sopha called the proposal “bad for investors and for America,” and said that “it will be very difficult, if not impossible for financial professionals and firms to comply with the requirements.”

But in a call with shareholders, the CEO of Jackson’s parent company, Prudential U.K., said that the company would “build whatever product is appropriate… and adapt faster and more effectively than competitors.”

The lawmakers note in their letter that public companies are required by law to accurately report material information to shareholders. The Securities and Exchange Commission routinely charges companies with delivering misleading information on earnings calls. Pharmacy chain CVS Caremark, for example, paid $20 million for doing so in 2014. Citigroup paid $75 million for the offense in 2010.

Here’s another example: Dennis Glass, CEO of Lincoln National, told the Labor Department in a comment letter that their rule was “so burdensome and unworkable that financial advisors and firms would not be able to use it.”

But he told shareholders that “Lincoln, because of our scale, broad set of product offerings and strong and diverse distribution franchises with a proven ability to pivot in response to market or regulated changes… will therefore be able to navigate through whatever comes down the road.” He added, “we don’t see this as a significant hurdle for continuing to grow our business.”

Glass’s company and other are pouring millions of lobbying dollars into opposing the rule. President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisersestimates that “conflicted” advice costs individual investors $17 billion a year in retirement savings.

Warren and Cummings also include contradictory comments from the leaders of Prudential Financial and Transamerica Corporation. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 February 2016 at 10:11 am

Drones for racing and drones for piracy

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First, the racing. This video is from an interesting Motherboard article by Rachel Pick:

Second, using drones for and against piracy. Again from Motherboard, this time an article by Jordan Pearson:

Criminals at sea are already going high tech, using GPS and bootleg submarines to plan attacks and skirt around navy ships. According to a new report from a consultant to the Canadian military, the next technological frontier for oceanic crime could be drones.

The report, written by a strategic analyst for the Canadian military named David Rudd, notes that drones could be used for “surveillance” and “possibly weapons delivery,” which would give maritime non-state actors, or MNSAs, as they’re known, a long-range advantage. These actors could be pirates, smugglers, or traffickers. Rudd quotes one academic as saying, “For the first time, non-state adversaries would have an air force.”

Rudd notes that this kind of “super-empowerment” could occur through the transfer of military tech or with commercially available gadgets. Either way, drones could spell trouble for militaries policing the open water.

But drone technology cuts both ways, and Rudd notes that the Canadian military should consider using drones to their advantage against MNSAs, as well. Canadacurrently uses its navy to bust drug smuggling operations at sea, and conduct anti-piracy and anti-terror operations.

For example, Rudd suggests that drones could be outfitted with sensors to detect “low-acoustic signature swimmers” like the DIY subs used by the cartels circling military ships. Adding a mission bay under the helicopter deck on Canada’s warships could allow for drones to be deployed in order to “protect the ship by identifying and prosecuting threats at long range, exposing a swarm [of pirates] to a high level of attrition before any surviving constituents could bring their own weapons to bear.” In other words, annihilate them before they can fire off a round.

The use of drone tech to keep up with the capabilities of pirates could also be a cost-effective way to make Canada’s cash-strapped navy more capable, Rudd adds. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 February 2016 at 9:43 am

Scam? or not?

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Here’s the story. Note that it has a huge potential market as Baby Boomers hit the Golden Years, hard. So: scam? or not?

Written by LeisureGuy

10 February 2016 at 5:03 pm

Now it’s not keeping up with the Joneses, it’s simply keeping up: FOMO drives us all

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People keep inventing more and more things to keep up on because it’s structured so that your keeping up requires you to spend some sort of currency: dollars, personal information— something of value:.

YouTube has a new service: YouTube Red. Don’t you feel you should keep up?

Original movies and series from top creators now available with YouTube Red
Big news! YouTube Red Original movies and series are available starting today – and it’s all made possible by YouTube Red members.

We’re kicking things off with a brand new series from PewDiePie and three new movies from Lilly Singh, AwesomenessTV, and Rooster Teeth. With crazy fun ideas from top creators, we’re just getting started and can’t wait to share all the new shows coming throughout 2016.

Ready to check out YouTube Red Originals? All you need is a YouTube Red membership. Try it free.

YouTube has a new service. Keep up.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 February 2016 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

The struggle for control of the educational system: Shape the young and you shape the future

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Pretty clear struggle as corporations work to privatize education and thus create new profit centers with government-enforced participation—start slashing costs because every dollar of cost eliminated drops right to the bottom line. Obviously, some oppose this move, and many of them because they have devoted their lives to education and don’t want to see things happening like Mount St. Mary’s, blogged earlier today.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 February 2016 at 3:25 pm

Some of Radley Balko’s links today

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Just a selection from these links Radley Balko posted in the Washington Post:

  • The Guardian reviewed the leaked contracts between police unions and dozens of U.S. cities that promise to keep personnel files and disciplinary actions hidden from public view.
  • Botched police raid No. 1: Florida cops dispatched to the wrong house, still open fire on innocent man. Somehow, he wasn’t hit.
  • Botched police raid No. 2: Drug-raiding Chicago police break down door to apartment occupied by single mom, two kids ages 11 and 14. They were acting on a tip from an informant, who said they’d find a drug dealer and heroin. They didn’t find either.
  • Investigation finds dozens of immigrants have died under suspicious circumstances at private detention facilities. More here.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 February 2016 at 12:14 pm

Fascinating look at the trajectory of Michael Moore’s films, and trailer for “Where to Invade Next”

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Here’s the trailer (worth watching):

And in The Intercept Jon Schwartz writes:

I can’t claim this is a neutral review of Where to Invade Next, Michael Moore’s latest movie. Beyond the fact that I worked for Moore for six years, including on his previous documentary Capitalism: A Love Story, I may literally owe my life to the high-quality, zero-deductible health insurance he provides employees.

What I’ve lost in objectivity, I’ve gained in knowledge of Moore’s career. I even know his darkest, most closely guarded secret: the original name of the 1970s alternative newspaper he started in Flint, Michigan. So I can say this for sure: Where to Invade Next is the most profoundly subversive thing he’s ever done. It’s so sneaky that you may not even notice exactly what it’s subverting.

On its surface, Where to Invade Next seems to be a cheerful travelogue as Moore enjoys an extended vacation, “invading” a passel of European countries plus Tunisia to steal their best ideas and bring them back home to America. For instance, French public schools have chefs who serve students hour-long, multi-course lunches on china, featuring dishes like scallops in curry sauce. I haven’t laughed harder at any movie this year than when the French 8-year-olds stare in perplexed horror at photos of American school lunches.

It’s all so upbeat in such an un-Michael Moore way that he considered calling it Mike’s Happy Movie. Certainly it’s the only time I’ve walked out of one of his documentaries and said, “Wow, everything is fantastic!” But what made me feel this way is the secret message hidden in Where to Invade Next — and if you see it, you’ll feel that way too.

To understand what I’m talking about, look at the trajectory of Moore’s major films, and how he consistently became more ambitious. With every movie he’s raised the stakes, each time aiming at a bigger institution and its claims that it knows best and is totally serious and in control and definitely nobody should laugh at it. Here’s the progression: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 February 2016 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

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