Archive for the ‘crime’ tag
Browser scraps your humble blogger was too damn lazy to make an entire blog post out of. Refund checks are in the mail, promise…
I saw the traveling King Tut exhibit in Toronto as a kid, still remember how awed I was.
King Tut was buried with a dagger made of an iron that literally came from space, says a new study into the composition of the iron blade from the sarcophagus of the boy king.
Using non-invasive, portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, a team of Italian and Egyptian researchers confirmed that the iron of the dagger placed on the right thigh of King Tut’s mummified body a has meteoric origin.
The team, which include researchers from Milan Polytechnic, Pisa University and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, detailed their results in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.
(click here to continue reading King Tut’s Blade Made of Meteorite.)
Not at all surprised to find municipalities hiding their hands in the wet sand:
At least 33 cities across 17 US states have used water testing “cheats” that potentially conceal dangerous levels of lead, a Guardian investigation launched in the wake of the toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has found.
Chicago residents take action to be rid of lead pipes as fear of toxic water grows Read more Of these cities, 21 used the same water testing methods that prompted criminal charges against three government employees in Flint over their role in one of the worst public health disasters in US history.
The crisis that gripped Flint is an extreme case where a cost-cutting decision to divert the city’s water supply to a polluted river was compounded by a poor testing regime and delays by environmental officials to respond to the health emergency.
The Guardian’s investigation demonstrates that similar testing regimes were in place in cities including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee.
(click here to continue reading At least 33 US cities used water testing ‘cheats’ over lead concerns | Environment | The Guardian.)
Some Donald Trump supporters on 4chan–that time-honored bastion of gentility, courtesy, and sensibility– hatched a plan on the forum to use sockpuppet Twitter accounts to pit Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters against one other. The plan had a slogan: “Let’s troll Bernie and Hillary supporters systematically.”
Their scheme didn’t really work, and has been removed from 4chan. But something like this could be effective in the future–and who knows, another instance of this same political game may be working elsewhere, undetected, right now.
(click here to continue reading “Let’s troll Bernie and Hillary supporters systematically,” said Trump fans on 4chan / Boing Boing.)
If there was a hell, Ken Starr should be burning in it soon
Today it was Ken Starr—yes, that Ken Starr—taking his turn with his version of the truth. On Thursday, the regents said they were keeping him on as chancellor and as a tenured professor at the law school. That news, like so much else of what Baylor has said, got the Baptist university bad press. Today, Starr told ESPN’s Joe Schad that he has decided to step down as chancellor but stay on at the law school. Starr said the move was “a matter of conscience.” (He didn’t point out that June 1 also has in the past been a key date for his contract.)
At this point, Starr has decided he doesn’t even agree with the findings of fact released by the regents, which he can do because the finding of fact contained no facts.
Starr also has insisted that he had no idea there was a problem at Baylor until 2015, even though former Baylor football player Tevin Elliot was convicted of two counts of sexual assault in 2014. Several of his victims have spoken openly about how they reported their rapes to Baylor only to be met with indifference.
(click here to continue reading Baylor’s Ken Starr Is Full Of Shit.)
One of the world’s largest fast food chains, McDonald’s, is making plans to move to the former Harpo Studios campus in the West Loop, according to a report.
According to Crain’s Chicago, McDonald’s is in advanced negotiations with West Loop-based developer Sterling Bay to move its headquarters to a more-than 300,000-square-foot building the developer plans to build on Randolph Street at the former Harpo Studios in Fulton Market.
McDonald’s corporate employees are now located at a campus in suburban Oak Brook. The company was poised to take over 350,000-square-feet at One Prudential Plaza downtown last year before backing out of the deal, according to Crain’s Chicago, and also has office space in River North.
(click here to continue reading McDonald’s Plans To Move Headquarters To Old Harpo Studios Lot: Report – West Loop – DNAinfo Chicago.)
Suckers are born every moment, and anyone who votes for Trump is one. The world hopes there aren’t enough suckers to put Trump in the White House.
Before Donald Trump was the Republican nomination for president, he charged thousands of dollars for an education at “Trump University,” promising to share the secrets of his real estate investing success.
The only problem: Trump University wasn’t anything close to a university. It was a multilevel marketing scheme.
Students were lured in with a free 90-minute seminar. Trump University promised that the real insider knowledge, and even access to Trump himself, could be theirs if they could just commit to the next level of classes.
Representatives urged prospective students to charge the fees to their credit cards if they needed to, according to court documents — and promised that a few more thousand dollars would change their lives.
Instead, those students sued, saying Trump and his eponymous university defrauded them. The case has its final pretrial conference in May. When it goes to trial, Trump will almost certainly have to testify.
(click here to continue reading Trump University, explained – Vox.)
Not only are bookings at Trump Hotels way down, but there are also petitions for businesses to break ties with Trump. Like Starbucks:
Starbucks has suddenly found itself on the unfamiliar side of social activism: A petition is circulating online that demands the coffee chain, arguably among America’s most overtly political corporations, terminate any and all leases it holds on properties owned by Donald Trump. It’s racked up 7,000 supporters in less than a day and, at last glance, had already stretched that goal to 8,000.
On the page for the petition, posted to activist-networking site Care2, creator Kyle Brooks tries to clue CEO Howard Schultz and the rest of the company in to the paradox he sees:
Starbucks is a bold company that values belonging, inclusion, and diversity. They have continuously stood beside the LGBT community, African-Americans, and other minority communities. Unfortunately, Starbucks still has a business partner with a man who has called Mexicans rapists, stereotyped the Muslim community as terrorists, and disgraces women.
(click here to continue reading Petition Demands Starbucks Leave Trump Buildings — Grub Street.)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has taken out 16 loans from 11 different lenders, totaling at least $335 million, according to a Mother Jones analysis of Trump’s financial disclosure form.
His favorite lender, according to the forms, was Deutsche Bank, a major German institution with American subsidiaries that attempted to dodge new regulations instituted by the Dodd-Frank Act.
Deutsche Bank lent Trump at least $295 million between two major projects of his, Trump National Doral golf course and Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. Trump also has two outstanding loans worth at least $50 million from the German bank.
While this country has had wealthy presidents, none have been so deeply in debt as Trump. How much pressure could an institution like Deutsche Bank, upon which a sizable portion of Trump’s wealth is dependent, pile on the Republican nominee should he become president?
“They weren’t in a situation where someone could put pressure on them to do what they want,” said Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, to Mother Jones. “Whereas having a president who owes a lot of money to banks, particularly when it’s on negotiable terms—it puts them at the mercy of the banks and the banks are at the mercy of regulators.”
(click here to continue reading Trump Owes At Least $100 Million To Bank That Tried To Skirt Dodd-Frank.)
Speaking of health care practitioners who cannot manage to protect personal data, there is another reason to be skeptical when your dentist wants copies of your drivers license and so on…
The New York District Attorney’s Office says that a massive identity theft ring stems from a Manhattan dental receptionist who stole customers’ personal information.
Four people, including 27-year-old Annie Vuong, the alleged receptionist, now stand accused of 394 charges relating to theft of $700,000. All four say they’re not guilty.
The scheme centers around the fact that it’s actually quite easy, if you have enough of a person’s information, to create an Apple account, and with one of those, it only takes about 30 seconds to get approved for a program to buy an Apple-themed Barclays Visa card. With one of those, customers can instantly turn right back around and buy Apple gift cards, which can be redeemed in Apple’s physical stores.
(click here to continue reading Dental receptionist allegedly at the center of a massive identity theft scam.)
The next decade is going to be a continual escalation of these sorts of crimes. Many sectors of corporations have skimped on beefing up their security practices, making data theft easier for criminals to steal consumer data.
patient medical records typically include information not easily destroyed, including date of birth, Social Security numbers and even physical characteristics that make them more useful for things like identity theft, creation of visas or insurance fraud by falsely billing for expensive medical or dental procedures that were either never done or performed on someone else. Some criminals have also tried a form of so-called ransom ware in which they threaten to reveal medical information unless they are paid.
“The whole thing is evolving,” said Barbara Filkins, an analyst with the SANS Institute, which has studied the risk to the health care sector.
Hospital systems, for example, are increasingly asking for photo IDs and driver’s licenses in an effort to block patients who have stolen someone else’s medical identity, said John Barlament, a lawyer at Quarles & Brady in Milwaukee. The use of medical identity fraud is growing, he said. “It’s a one-way trend here,” he said.
(click here to continue reading Data Breach at Anthem May Lead to Others – NYTimes.com.)
From my perspective, I hate when health care providers make copies of my drivers license and write down my social security number and so on. Why? Because I don’t trust that they will keep my data safe. Especially as there is a push to digitize health records, health practitioners need to have stronger data management and destruction policies. Should a dentist I visited once several years ago be able to keep all my information for ever? I guess I need to get a fake ID for these sorts of situations.
The push to digitize patient health records in hospitals and doctors’ offices has also made medical records increasingly vulnerable, according to security experts. Moving medical records from paper to electronic form allows both patients and providers better access, but it has also made patient records susceptible to breaches, whether unintentionally or through a criminal attack.
About 90 percent of health care organizations reported they have had at least one data breach over the last two years, according to a survey of health care providers published last year by the Ponemon Institute, a privacy and data protection research firm. The founder, Larry Ponemon, a security expert, says most were because of employee negligence or system flaws, but a growing number are malicious or criminal.
Last year, 18 health care providers reported data breaches because of some form of hacking. Information at Centura Health was compromised last year after a phishing scheme obtained access to employee email accounts. The data included, in some instances, Social Security numbers, Medicare beneficiary numbers and clinical information for 12,000 patients of the facility, based in Englewood, Colo. In another case, a keystroke logger virus that infected three computers for a few weeks early last year at the student health center at the University of California, Irvine, may have captured patient’s health and dental insurance numbers and diagnoses.
Health care providers have sharply increased their spending on data security in the last year, but they remain technologically far behind other industries, say experts.
(click here to continue reading Data Breach at Anthem May Lead to Others – NYTimes.com.)
Something has to change, and soon.
It is a long-established and basic reality of law enforcement in America: Prosecutors who want an indictment get an indictment. In 2010 alone, federal prosecutors sought indictments in 162,000 cases. All but 11 times, they succeeded.
Yet the results are entirely different when police officers kill unarmed civilians. In those cases, the officers are almost never prosecuted either because district attorneys do not pursue charges in the first place or grand juries do not indict, as happened most recently in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island.
There are various explanations for this, but the most obvious is the inherent conflict of interest that exists for prosecutors, who rely heavily on the police every day. Cops arrest suspects; they investigate crimes; they gather evidence; and they testify in court, working essentially in partnership with prosecutors.
Whether or not bias can be proved in a given case, the public perception of it is real and must be addressed.
The best solution would be a law that automatically transfers to an independent prosecutor all cases in which a civilian is dead at the hands of the police. This would avoid the messy politics of singling out certain district attorneys and taking cases away from them.
The police should be among the strongest supporters of this arrangement because both their authority and their safety are undermined when the communities they work in neither trust them nor believe that they are bound by the same laws as everyone else.
(click here to continue reading A Crisis of Confidence in Prosecutors – NYTimes.com.)
The No. 2 official at the Justice Department delivered a blunt message last month to Apple Inc. executives: New encryption technology that renders locked iPhones impervious to law enforcement would lead to tragedy. A child would die, he said, because police wouldn’t be able to scour a suspect’s phone, according to people who attended the meeting.
Apple executives thought the dead-child scenario was inflammatory. They told the government officials law enforcement could obtain the same kind of information elsewhere, including from operators of telecommunications networks and from backup computers and other phones, according to the people who attended.
Technology companies are pushing back more against government requests for cooperation and beefing up their use of encryption. On Tuesday, WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook Inc., said it is now encrypting texts sent from one Android phone to another, and it won’t be able to decrypt the contents for law enforcement.
AT&T Inc. on Monday challenged the legal framework investigators have long used to collect call logs and location information about suspects.
In a filing to a federal appeals court in Atlanta, AT&T said it receives an “enormous volume” of government requests for information about customers, and argued Supreme Court decisions from the 1970s “apply poorly” to modern communications. The company urged the courts to provide new, clear rules on what data the government can take without a probable cause warrant.
(click here to continue reading Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff – WSJ.)
Law enforcement officials are clever, they can find ways to get data in other ways, like this, for instance…
And good for Tim Cook – he suggests that Apple Inc. should not be in the business of enabling the police in their quest to snoop on our phones without first getting warrants. You know, like if we were living in a constitutional Democracy with a Bill of Rights again?
In June 2013, Mr. Snowden provided reporters with documents describing a government program called Prism, which gathered huge amounts of data from tech companies. At first, tech-company executives said they hadn’t previously heard of Prism and denied participating. In fact, Prism was an NSA code word for data collection authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Tech companies routinely complied with such requests.
More than a year later, tech executives say consumers still mistrust them, and they need to take steps to demonstrate their independence from the government.
Customer trust is a big issue at Apple. The company generates 62% of its revenue outside the U.S., where it says encryption is even more important to customers concerned about snooping by their governments.
These days, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook stresses the company’s distance from the government.
“Look, if law enforcement wants something, they should go to the user and get it,” he said at The Wall Street Journal’s global technology conference in October. “It’s not for me to do that.”
In early September, Apple said the encryption on its latest iPhone software would prevent anyone other than the user from accessing user data stored on the phone when it is locked. Until then, Apple had helped police agencies—with a warrant—pull data off a phone. The process wasn’t quick. Investigators had to send the device to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, and backlogs occurred.
Devlin Barrett of the WSJ reports that the U.S. Justice Department is collecting data on phones through a novel approach: fake cellphone towers on airplanes that fly around the country. Warrants not necessary, of course, because when you clicked through the EULA terms on your new smartphone, you agreed that you gave up all rights to privacy. Well, probably, because who actually reads those things?
The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.
The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.
Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirt boxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them1—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.
The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.
(click here to continue reading Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program – WSJ – WSJ.)
Sounds great. Warrants are so old fashioned, so 20th Century.
Or as Digby adds:
But never fear, they’ve assured us that they are only using it to catch bad guys.They have no interest in anything you might be doing. Well, unless you’re doing something wrong. If you are an upstanding citizen there’s little reason to worry that the police might be re-routing your phone calls without your knowledge right? Why should you care?
In fact, we really need to re-think that whole 4th Amendment thing altogether. When you think about it, you shouldn’t object to the police ransacking your house and your car without any probable cause either. They could be looking for someone they know is in your neighborhood. If you have nothing to hide in your home why would you object? Sure, they might find something they think is suspicious in your house when they go on their fishing expedition but maybe you shouldn’t have suspicious things in your house if you don’t want the cops finding it, eh?
This is what we call liberty.
(click here to continue reading Hullabaloo- Secrets and more secrets .)
Mariella Moon of Engadget writes
These dirtboxes are also sophisticated enough to mimic a particular provider. If a drug dealer under surveillance uses Verizon, for instance, then the machine pretends to be a Verizon cell tower and connects only to all the carrier’s subscribers in the area. Once a target’s phone is identified (at which point, connections to other people’s phones are dropped), the box can pinpoint his location within 3 meters and down to a specific room. The WSJ’s sources wouldn’t reveal how often planes loaded with these boxes are deployed (they have a flying range that covers the whole country’s population, by the way), but they said the Cessnas fly out regularly to target a handful of criminals per flight.
Obviously, the more densely populated the target area is, the more data the boxes collect, but it’s unclear what steps are in place to safeguard innocent people’s information. It’s also unclear at this point if they’ve ever used the newer dirtboxes’ capabilities, which include jamming phones and extracting messages, photos and other data remotely. If you’re thinking, “Hmmm fake cell towers? Those sound ominously familiar,” it’s because this isn’t the first time authorities used them. In fact, this dirtbox project sounds like a larger, airborne version of a previous one, wherein feds placed fake towers called “stingrays” in moving cars.
(click here to continue reading Flying fake cell towers target fugitives, but can ID your phone too.)
- Boeing subsidiary Digital Recovery Technology Inc. or DRT [↩]
Remind me again why warrantless searching of personal information is a good thing again? Oh, right, TERROR, and that old shibboleth, kidnapping. Yeah, count me in the “Why not just get a warrant” camp…
The National Security Agency and the nation’s law enforcement agencies have a different concern: that the smartphone is the first of a post-Snowden generation of equipment that will disrupt their investigative abilities.
The phone encrypts emails, photos and contacts based on a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code created by, and unique to, the phone’s user — and that Apple says it will not possess.
The result, the company is essentially saying, is that if Apple is sent a court order demanding that the contents of an iPhone 6 be provided to intelligence agencies or law enforcement, it will turn over gibberish, along with a note saying that to decode the phone’s emails, contacts and photos, investigators will have to break the code or get the code from the phone’s owner.
Breaking the code, according to an Apple technical guide, could take “more than 5 1/2 years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers.” (Computer security experts question that figure, because Apple does not fully realize how quickly the N.S.A. supercomputers can crack codes.)
Already the new phone has led to an eruption from the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey.
(click here to continue reading Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Locks Out N.S.A. – NYTimes.com.)
If the NSA and related agencies hadn’t been so damn aggressive circumventing American law, perhaps Apple wouldn’t have had to taken this additional step.
Or as Vikas Bajaj writes:
But that’s not good enough for Mr. Comey and others. They want Apple (and Google, which makes the Android mobile phone software) to do the hacking for them.
Furthermore, investigators can often get information stored on phones and tablets through other means. For example, they could get the calling history from wireless phone companies like AT&T; same with text messages. And companies like Google and Yahoo would have to turnover messages on their servers if presented with a search warrant. Lastly, law enforcement agencies could also access any photos and videos stored on the phone have been backed up to Apple’s iCloud servers from the company.
(click here to continue reading Using Scare Tactics to Fight Apple – NYTimes.com.)
Plus there is the issue of a dysfunctional Congress, too mired in partisan bickering to actually update the laws for a modern age. Mostly on the Republican side, but not exclusively.
The move raises a critical issue, the intelligence officials say: Who decides what kind of data the government can access? Until now, those decisions have largely been a matter for Congress, which passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act in 1994, requiring telecommunications companies to build into their systems an ability to carry out a wiretap order if presented with one. But despite intense debate about whether the law should be expanded to cover email and other content, it has not been updated, and it does not cover content contained in a smartphone.
At Apple and Google, company executives say the United States government brought these changes on itself. The revelations by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden not only killed recent efforts to expand the law, but also made nations around the world suspicious that every piece of American hardware and software — from phones to servers made by Cisco Systems — have “back doors” for American intelligence and law enforcement.
Surviving in the global marketplace — especially in places like China, Brazil and Germany — depends on convincing consumers that their data is secure.
Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has emphasized that Apple’s core business is to sell devices to people. That distinguishes Apple from companies that make a profit from collecting and selling users’ personal data to advertisers, he has said.
and a bit of rationality:
Mr. Zdziarski (Jonathan Zdziarski, a security researcher who has taught forensics courses to law enforcement agencies on collecting data from iPhones) said that concerns about Apple’s new encryption to hinder law enforcement seemed overblown. He said there were still plenty of ways for the police to get customer data for investigations. In the example of a kidnapping victim, the police can still request information on call records and geolocation information from phone carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
“Eliminating the iPhone as one source I don’t think is going to wreck a lot of cases,” he said. “There is such a mountain of other evidence from call logs, email logs, iCloud, Gmail logs. They’re tapping the whole Internet.”
(click here to continue reading Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Locks Out N.S.A. – NYTimes.com.)
If I was in charge of tax policy, instead of lowering the estate tax as so many rich schmucks are constantly yammering about, I’d raise it to 90% on all estates valued at greater than $2,000,000. Why can’t these parasites make their own fortunes? and even being able to gift 10% of your multi-billion dollar estate is more than enough to live comfortably…
Here are some reasons why.
SC Johnson, the “family” company’s billionaire heir, Samuel Curtis Johnson III, who confessed to repeatedly sexually assaulting his teenage stepdaughter has received an outrageous prison sentence of only four months because the judge, Circuit Justice Eugene Gasiorkiewicz, feels that Johnson’s importance to the community is valued much higher than the dignity of his abused step-daughter.
Affluenza, as it has been dubbed, has struck again. This billionaire has officially plead guilty to mere misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct instead of receiving the maximum which is felony sexual assault on a minor child. These charges originally stem from 2011. Think Progress reported Johnson’s stepdaughter “initially told police Johnson was ‘a sex addict‘ and touched her inappropriately 15 to 20 times starting when she was 12 years old. She told her mother about the abuse in order to protect her younger sister, and Johnson confessed when the mother confronted him.” Because Johnson’s victim was unwilling to testify in the case, the prosecutors had to make a plea deal with Johnson and his legal team.
(click here to continue reading – Billionaire Gets 4 MONTHS For Sexually Assaulting 12-Year-Old Because He’s ‘Productive’.)
A Delaware man convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter only faced probation after a state Superior Court judge ruled he “will not fare well” in prison.
In her decision, Judge Jan Jurden suggested Robert H. Richards IV would benefit more from treatment. Richards, who was charged with fourth-degree rape in 2009, is an unemployed heir living off his trust fund. The light sentence has only became public as the result of a subsequent lawsuit filed by his ex-wife, which charges that he penetrated his daughter with his fingers while masturbating, and subsequently assaulted his son as well.
Richards is the great grandson of du Pont family patriarch Irenee du Pont, a chemical baron.
According to the lawsuit filed by Richards’ ex-wife, he admitted to assaulting his infant son in addition to his daughter between 2005 and 2007. Richards was initially indicted on two counts of second-degree child rape, felonies that translate to a 10-year mandatory jail sentence per count. He was released on $60,000 bail while awaiting his charges.
(click here to continue reading One Percenter Convicted Of Raping Child Dodges Jail Because He ‘Will Not Fare Well’.)
Ethan Couch, the Texas teen whose deadly drunk driving was excused by a lenient judge because of “affluenza,” is serving his time in rehab on mostly taxpayers’ money, RadarOnline reports. According to RadarOnline, it is largely the public who will be responsible for the now 17-year-old’s $438,000-per-year rehab treatment.
“Recently a judge ruled that the teen should be sent to North Texas State Hospital in Vernon. The hospital’s rehab program charges $700 a day, but since it is a partially state-funded institution, Couch’s parents would only be charged $38 per day for their son’s treatment,” Kenneth Webster, a contributor to Breitbart.com, said, according to the news site. “Thanks to taxpayers, Couch’s rehab bill has been dropped from $438,000 annually to only $13,870.”
That seems a small fee for the affluent family, who have been sued for millions of dollars by the families of those killed in the drunk-driving accident, as well as by those injured.
Last year Couch decided to take a drunken joy ride in his pickup truck after a party. He crashed into the car of Breanna Mitchell, whose car had stalled, killing her and three others who were trying to help her. Another teen boy who was in the pickup with him, Sergio Molina, was thrown from the vehicle. He landed on his head and was left paralyzed, with only the ability to smile and blink. Molina’s family settled with Couch’s family in early May.
(click here to continue reading Report: Taxpayers Footing Rehab Bill for ‘Affluenza’ Teen – The Root.)
and then there are these stains:
As it turns out, the first generation led by patriarch Sam Walton put $4.7 billion into the foundation, a figure that represents 98.8 percent of all family donations over the past 23 years. The six Scrooges of the second Walton generation ponied up only 1.2 percent. Alice Walton, one of the faces of Mitt Romney’s 2012 SuperPAC, has given zero. With over $2 billion in assets, the Walton Family Foundation distributed $325 million in 2013. Those dollars went overwhelmingly to their stomping grounds in northwest Arkansas, funding environmental improvements, pet education reforms including charters schools and vouchers and, as Forbes reports, “Alice Walton’s stunning Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.”
For starters, for decades the Waltons have relied on a tax dodge that now bears their name to keep billions of dollars from Uncle Sam. The Walton grantor-retained annuity trust, or Walton GRAT, has allowed billionaires like the Walmart heirs and casino mogul and GOP bag man Sheldon Adelson to shield $100 billion from the IRS since 2000. Named after the tactic lawyer Richard Covey, the dodge was developed for Sam Walton: GRATs work by rapidly shifting large volumes of stock into a trust fund that is legally required to return that initial investment after two years. The stocks in the trust gain enough value that when it comes time to repay the initial investment there is a substantial amount of stock left over that can be transferred on to some third party without triggering the gift tax.
(click here to continue reading The Walmart heirs should save Detroit.)
(click here to continue reading The Walmart heirs should save Detroit.)
In 2013 alone, the Foundation invested $325 million across three key areas: education reform, the environment and the family’s home region of northwest Arkansas. One of the Foundation’s major recipients has been Alice Walton’s stunning Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, funded to the tune of $1.2 billion.
However, almost none of this largesse is the result of donations from the Waltons themselves, according to a report released on Tuesday by Walmart 1 Percent, a project of union-backed Making Change at Walmart.
The central finding of this report is simple: Our analysis of 23 years’ worth of the Walton Family Foundation’s tax returns shows that Rob, Jim, Alice and Christy Walton—the second generation Walmart heirs—have contributed almost none of their personal fortune to the foundation which bears their family name.
– Rob and Alice Walton made zero individual contributions to the Foundation during the 23 years we examined;
– Jim Walton made a single personal contribution of $3 million to the Walton Family Foundation, more than 15 years ago;
– Rob, Jim, and Alice Walton and the family holding company they control (Walton Enterprises) have been responsible for only .13% of all contributions to the Walton Family Foundation ($6.4 million);
– Among the second generation Walton heirs, it is the in-law, Christy, who has been responsible for the largest share of contributions to the Foundation;
– The four Walmart heirs and Walton Enterprises combined have been responsible for only 1.2% of all contributions to the Walton Family Foundation.
The combined lifetime contributions of the second generation Walmart heirs and their family holding company to the Walton Family Foundation come to $58.49 million, or:
■■ About .04% of the Waltons’ net worth of $139.9 billion;
■■ About .34% of the estimated $17.1 Billion in Walmart dividends that Rob, Jim, Alice and Christy received during the years we analyzed;
■■ Less than one week’s worth of the Walmart dividends the Waltons will receive this year;
■■ Less than the estimated value of Rob Walton’s collection of vintage sports cars.
The report goes on to detail how the Foundation has been funded over the years, namely by tax-avoiding trusts established with assets provided by the late Sam, Helen and John Walton or their estates. The study found that 99% of the Foundation’s contributions since 2008 have been channeled through 21 Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts. These CLATs, as they’re known, are specifically designed to help ultra-wealthy families avoid estate and gift taxes.
If the rich keep using their wealth and power to take from the rest of us, when will it end? If entitled assholes like the ones mentioned here get their way, and Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs become insolvent because little S.C. Johnson the Third refuses to participate in our democracy, what then? Will a guillotine be required eventually?
My photo was used to illustrate this post
CHICAGO — A man who was arrested by police shortly after the robbery of a Loop bank Tuesday afternoon has been charged in connection with the incident. Jamal Genson, 28, appeared in federal court Wednesday and was charged with a count of felony bank robbery. A Fifth Third Bank was robbed about 3 p.m. Tuesday after a man demanded money from a teller using a note before running off, according to FBI Special Agent Joan Hyde, an agency spokeswoman.
click here to keep reading :
Man Charged in Connection with Loop Bank Robbery – The Loop
automatically created via Delicious and IFTTT
CHICAGO — Police destroyed a million-dollar racket when they trapped a powerful gang of counterfeiters dealing in American Express Company’s travelers’ checks. Working on information received from a stoolpigeon in the underworld of Pittsburgh and aided by the double-crossing of several of the gang’s Eastern distributors, police arrested nine men, including the notorious George H. (“Bugs”) Moran, once claimant to the throne of Chicago’s gangdom. The counterfeiting gang was organized on the ruins of the mob which once ruled Chicago’s North Side under the iron leadership of Moran. The thugs who made up the old mob were killed or scattered in gang warfare with the henchmen of Scarface Al Capone, the South Side mobster who is now serving an eleven-year term in Alcatraz for income-tax evasion. A remnant of the old gang carried on until the repeal of prohibition broke its back. Police heard little of Moran until about six weeks ago. …
1938 Al Capone’s Arch Foe is Arrested
There is no doubt that, in the broader sense, Swartz’s suicide was, in his family’s words, “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach”—a system that ought to be changed for everyone, not just loveable Ivy League nerds.
Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. The charges were wire fraud, computer fraud and unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer.
Thirty-five years! For stealing data!
The average rapist serves between five and six years.
The average first-degree murderer does 16.
And no one seriously thinks Swartz was trying to make money—as in, you know, commit fraud.
No wonder people are comparing DA Ortiz to Javert, the heartless and relentless prosecutor in Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables.”
Murder by Prosecutor | Ted Rall’s Rallblog
Defenders of the prosecution seem to think that anyone charged with a felony must somehow deserve punishment. That idea can only be sustained without actual exposure to the legal system. Yes, most of the time prosecutors do chase actual wrongdoers, but today our criminal laws are so expansive that most people of any vigor and spirit can be found to violate them in some way. Basically, under American law, anyone interesting is a felon. The prosecutors, not the law, decide who deserves punishment.
How the Legal System Failed Aaron Swartz–and Us – Tim Wu
1938 Beer Baron Seized
BARCELONA — “Kid Tiger” Sikowsky, fugitive American beer baron, who has sought in vain to find refuge in most European countries, was arrested here yesterday [Jan. 11]. Sikowsky says he not only was a member of Al Capone’s gang, but that Capone, Chicago hoodlum and vice racketeer, was under his orders. Undesirable because of his criminal activities in America, and wanted there for income-tax invasion, Sikowsky has been ordered out of one country after another. The arrested man was allegedly invited to Spain, where he attracted the attention of the police by the way he squandered money. He is expected to be expelled from Spain as he was from Andorra. “I’m no criminal. I only owe some income taxes, that’s all. And say — tell me anybody who doesn’t try to dodge his taxes, anyway.”
Beer Baron Seized – 75 Years Ago – NYTimes.com
Wow! Remember that guy Vitaly Borker? We blogged about his crazy case back in 2010, he figured out how to game Google search with the realization that even bad comments elevated his site in Google rankings. It sounds like it was even worse than we know. Four years, plus three years of probation is a stiff sentence, but it might not be enough.
A Brooklyn man who terrified customers of his online eyewear store with threats of violence, including rape, was sentenced on Thursday to four years in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $100,000 in restitution and fines.
Vitaly Borker, 36, who owned and operated DecorMyEyes from his home in Sheepshead Bay, pleaded guilty in May 2011 to charges of fraud and sending threatening communications. He admitted that he had scared dissatisfied customers with phone calls and e-mails, in some cases vowing rape, murder or dismemberment, according to prosecutors.
A handful of Mr. Borker’s victims were summoned to testify about calls and e-mails they had received, which turned out to include a threat to slice off the legs of one customer. Federal District Judge Richard J. Sullivan said, at the end of one day of testimony, that he found the victims credible and so disturbing that he revoked Mr. Borker’s bail, which had allowed him to live at home under restrictions.
In addition to four years in prison, Mr. Borker was told he would be on probation for three years after his release, during which he will not be allowed to use a computer. He was also told to receive psychiatric and substance-abuse counseling.
(click here to continue reading Vitaly Borker, Owner of DecorMyEyes, Sentenced for Threats to Customers – NYTimes.com.)
The U.S. needs to abolish the death penalty immediately. And yes, I realize this inmate wasn’t sentenced to death, but obviously the state often makes mistakes, consequently, wrongfully accused people shouldn’t have to lose their life.
Robert Dewey, a Colorado inmate sentenced to life without parole for murder, left jail today a free man after serving 18 years of his sentence. DNA testing, using a technology not available at the time of his conviction, proved he was innocent.
Dewey is the 290th person to be exonerated nationwide on the basis of DNA evidence proving factual innocence — meaning someone else committed the crime.
“I find that Mr. Dewey is factually innocent of the crimes of which he was accused of in this case,” the judge said, noting Dewey had spent more the 6,000 days behind bars. “Mr. Dewey is now again a free man.”
(click here to continue reading DNA Testing Clears Colorado Man After Serving 18 Years – TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime.)
Also, every defendant in capital cases should have access to DNA testing, at trial, not having to wait and fight for 18 years to clear their names…