Closing Thought–26Mar19

This post illustrates just how accurate the saying is…”You Can’t Fix Stupid!”

I read a great story about how some guy milked $122 million out of Google and Facebook….that is $122 million!

Last week, Evaldas Rimasauskas of Lithuania plead guilty to US wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering charges, admitting that he had stolen $99m from Facebook and $23m from Google between 2013 and 2015.

Rimasauskas’s grift was pretty bold. He merely sent Google and Facebook invoices for items they hadn’t purchased and that he hadn’t provided, which the companies paid anyway. The invoices were accompanied by “forged invoices, contracts, and letters that falsely appeared to have been executed and signed by executives and agents of the Victim Companies, and which bore false corporate stamps embossed with the Victim Companies’ names, to be submitted to banks in support of the large volume of funds that were fraudulently transmitted via wire transfer.” He also spoofed emails that appeared to come from corporate execs.

Apparently, no one checked first to see if these corresponded to invoices/POs that had been issued within the companies.

Rimasauskas was pretending to be the giant Taiwanese hardware manufacturer Quanta Computer Inc, and had registered a company in Latvia with the same name.

He’s agreed to forfeit about $50m. It’s not clear what’s happened to the other $73m, but Rimasauskas was a prolific and baroque money-launderer who squirreled cash away in Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Latvia. Google has said that “We detected this fraud and promptly alerted the authorities. We recouped the funds and we’re pleased this matter is resolved.”

Rimasauskas will be sentenced on July 29. He faces up to 30 years.

Say if Google and Facebook did not vet the bills they received then I say let the guy keep his ill-gotten gains…

But they is just me.

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Corporate Death Penalty

Think back to the 2008 collapse of the economic structure….it was the banks that lead the way and yet they were not punished for killing so many pensions….at best there was a slap on wrist and they promise not to do it again…..and if you will notice they are doing it again,

It is time for the government to bring the pain to these lousy players in our economy.

Bring back a corporate death penalty……

Let’s begin with a SCOTUS dissenting opinion from 1935…..

“The prevalence of the corporation in America has led men of this generation to act, at times, as if the privilege of doing business in corporate form were inherent in the citizen, and has led them to accept the evils attendant upon the free and unrestricted use of the corporate mechanism as if these evils were the inescapable price of civilized life, and, hence to be borne with resignation.

“Throughout the greater part of our history, a different view prevailed.

“Although the value of this instrumentality in commerce and industry was fully recognized, incorporation for business was commonly denied long after it had been freely granted for religious, educational, and charitable purposes.

“It was denied because of fear. Fear of encroachment upon the liberties and opportunities of the individual. Fear of the subjection of labor to capital. Fear of monopoly. Fear that the absorption of capital by corporations, and their perpetual life, might bring evils similar to those which attended mortmain [immortality]. There was a sense of some insidious menace inherent in large aggregations of capital, particularly when held by corporations.”

—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1933 dissent in Liggett v. Lee

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/01/08/its-time-bring-back-corporate-death-penalty

The limp wrist attempt to make corporations, especially the banks, was quickly pushed aside as soon as another corporate titan comes to power….time to make any penalties permanent…..time for the government to work for the people and not just the corporations.

This may be wishful thinking but I do feel the country is starting to realize just how bad corporations are acting and want accountability for their CRIMES.

2020 could be the beginning of the revolution to get the greed and corruption out of our society, especially from the corporations.

But first we must VOTE!

Closing Thought–12Mar19

I have listened to our Beloved Leader on many occasions and his use of simplistic language leads me believe that he has NO grasp on complex ideas or thoughts.

My daughter and I were discussing our Beloved Leader and I told her that he says he is a”really smart person” but I think that if he is a grad of Wharton, probably the 2nd best business school, then daddy bought his degree.

Then I read something his professor i marketing had to say about student Trump……

Donald J. Trump was an undergraduate student at Wharton for the latter two of his college years, having graduated in 1968

Professor Kelley told me 100 times over three decades that “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.” I remember his emphasis and inflection — it went like this: “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.” Kelley told me this after Trump had become a celebrity, but long before he was considered a political figure. Kelley often referred to Trump’s arrogance when he told the story that Trump came to Wharton thinking he already knew everything. 

https://www.alternet.org/2017/10/former-wharton-professor-trump-was-dumbest-gddam-student-i-ever-had/

I knew it!

Who needs to study hard to get ahead when Daddy has money and the school needs a new classroom?

 

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Take a moment and wax nostalgic…….a song from my youth…..ah the memories!

But in this case it is not some song from my past but rather a proposal from 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren……

She has a proposal to break-up giants like amazon, Google and Facebook……along the lines of the break-up of AT&T in the 1980s into regional entities……

Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled her plan for how to break up the nation’s technology behemoths on Friday. 

The Democratic senator from Massachusetts, who’s seeking the Democratic nomination for president, laid out her proposal in a Medium post entitled “Here’s How We Can Break Up Big Tech.” In the post, Warren argued that it’s essential to crack down on the unfair market advantage enjoyed by Amazon, Facebook, and Google in order to boost competition and fuel innovation.

Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout praised the plan, calling it as a sign that a “new anti-monopoly movement is happening, and Warren is coming out swinging at the right targets!” Agreeing with Warren, she added, “The big tech monsters are conglomerates with too much power that they use to extract wealth and data from all us of us as if we are subjects in their feudal regimes.”

 
Personally, I like the idea…..but if her consumer protection agency from the 2000s is any indication this will nit go very far…….if the Senate does not crap on the proposal then the big money donors will chip away at it until it is just a shadow of the original proposal.
 
Elizabeth Warren wants a fair playing field in the marketplace—and she’s going after Big Tech to make it happen. “To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our biggest tech companies,” she said in a statement Friday, per the New York Times. Her plan to bust up giants like Facebook, Google, and Amazon is a two-tiered one: First, large firms with annual global revenue of $25 billion or more that offer an online marketplace or other type of platform that connects third parties would have to “structurally separate” their products from that marketplace. What that means, for example, is that if you do a Google search for a restaurant, Google can’t give its own ratings priority over, say, Yelp’s, notes Vox.
 
The second tier—companies with annual revenue between $90 million and $25 billion—wouldn’t be subject to that same sort of product-marketplace separation, but they would have to adhere to certain fair-use regulations. Another big move Warren’s plan is pushing for: reversing some recent mergers that the 2020 presidential candidate says cut down down healthy competition, including Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, as well as Amazon scooping up Whole Foods. This move, Warren says, “will put pressure on big tech companies to be more responsive to user concerns, including about privacy.” Critics commenting on Warren’s proposal fear such a plan could lead to the “weaponizing” of antitrust laws (lawmakers could go after companies they don’t like), per the Times, or reduce convenience for consumers, Ars Technica notes
 
This is fascinating……I want to see where it will go……I like it, as I have said…..this should have been done years ago…..
 
Any thoughts out there?

The Eyes Have It!

It is difficult to find true FYI stuff for my weekend posts……but I try and some times I find great stuff other times not so much.

I have had to wear glasses, corrective lens, since I was in 3rd grade and in all that time glasses have been getting more expensive with each passing year.

I have almost always worn round frames or Ben Franklins as they were called in the “old days”…..when I was younger they were not hard to find but then the “designer” frames became popular and the prices skyrocketed and the round frames were not to most people’s liking.

The last time I used a local outlet I was aghast my frames were going to cost me $200 without the lens……in all it was going to be about $300…….just what about plastic was worth the $300?

An exec breaks it down……

Charles Dahan knows from first-hand experience how badly people get ripped off when buying eyeglasses.

He was once one of the leading suppliers of frames to LensCrafters, before the company was purchased by optical behemoth Luxottica. He also built machines that improved the lens-manufacturing process.

In other words, Dahan, 70, knows the eyewear business from start to finish. And he doesn’t like what’s happened.

“There is no competition in the industry, not any more,” he told me. “Luxottica bought everyone. They set whatever prices they please.”

Dahan, who lives in Potomac, Md., was responding to a column I recently wrote about why consumer prices for frames and lenses are so astronomically high, with markups often approaching 1,000%.

I noted that if you wear designer glasses, there’s a very good chance you’re wearing Luxottica frames.

https://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-glasses-lenscrafters-luxottica-monopoly-20190305-story.html

I found an outlet on-line where my round frames are $10 …..$15 bucks with lens….needless to say this is where I get my glasses.

So my FYI for this weekend…..go on-line and do some  research….do not pay the price these so-called outlets want…..

Repatriation Of The Dollar

When Trump was running as a GOP candidate he made a few promises that I thought I could get behind (that does not mean that I would have voted for him just that I thought they were good policies)……most of these policies were in the field of diplomacy and international relations….but there was one that I thought was excellent but did not think he could accomplish…..the promise of the return of funds held by American corporations in offshore accounts…..

But I was mistaken….there seems to be a bunch of cash returning to our shores……

U.S. companies have sent home over half a trillion dollars of cash they held overseas in 2018 to take advantage of tax changes, but data suggest the pace is slowing, potentially removing a key source of support for Wall Street.

Dollar repatriation in the July-September period fell to $93 billion, around half of second-quarter volumes and less than a third of the $300 billion or so sent home from January to March, U.S. current account data shows.

The repatriation bonanza followed new regulations that allowed the U.S. government to tax profits accumulated overseas, regardless of where the money was held. Prior rules allowed companies to “defer” U.S. tax on worldwide profits unless they repatriated the money.

The change offered a powerful incentive to bring home some of the $3 trillion U.S. firms were believed to hold in jurisdictions ranging from Ireland to Switzerland, either in cash or in securities such as U.S. Treasuries.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-us-repatriation-companies-idUSKCN1OU0ME

A good start but I still do not see all that offshore cash coming home……do you?  Plus I have not heard a plan to stop this practice, have you?

New Years Day News–2019

Before I shut it down for the day…..let us look into the year, 2019…..

First, you heard that GM was shutting down plants and laying off people, right?  Well 2019 will see the end of several models of cars that have become sort of iconic….

  • Cadillac ATS
  • Cadillac CTS
  • Cadillac XTS
  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Ford C-Max
  • Ford Focus
  • Ford Taurus
  • Honda CR-Z
  • Hyundai Azera
  • Nissan Juke
  • Toyota Prius V
  • Volkswagen Beetle
  • Volkswagen Touareg

See what other cars are leaving the production line here. (The “surprise” among GM’s discontinued vehicles.)

I own a Ford Focus and it is a great car it has been reliable for 15 years…..but I guess they are not profitable in the SUV generations….I hate fads and trends.

Since I am a international relations geek there are some conflicts that need watching so that the US will not be drawn in (some we are already ass deep)……

Instruments of collective action, such as the UN Security Council, are paralysed; those of collective accountability, including the International Criminal Court, are ignored and disparaged.

Nostalgia can be deceptive. Too fond a portrayal of the era of Western hegemony would be misleading. Iraq’s chemical weapons use against Iran in the 1980s; the 1990s bloodletting in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Somalia; the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; Sri Lanka’s brutal 2009 campaign against the Tamils; and the collapse of Libya and South Sudan: all these happened at a time of – in some cases because of – U.S. dominance and a reasonably coherent West. A liberal and nominally rules-based order hardly stopped those setting the rules from discarding them when they saw fit. The erosion of Western influence, in short, looks different from Moscow, Beijing, and the developing world than it does from Brussels, London, or Washington.

https://www.crisisgroup.org/global/10-conflicts-watch-2019

This will be overlooked I fear….but not to worry someone will pick up the coverage when it is too late to stop it.

Every American knows that National Security is primary to any president or Congress…..these are the 5 NatSec concerns for 2019…..

Trouble with Russia and China top the list.

Winston Churchill once wisecracked that the politician’s job is to predict what will happen—then explain why it didn’t. More to the point, George Orwell mocked “the unsinkable Military Expert” who keeps venturing strong predictions about martial affairs, keeps getting forecasts wrong, and keeps drawing “fat salaries” despite repeated failures as a soothsayer. Be humble when prophesying—lest the ghosts of wars past appear before you and terrify you!

In that spirit of humility, my Five National Security Predictions for 2019:

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/12/31/5_big_national_security_predictions_for_2019_114068.html

2019 will be an interesting year but more so on the international stage than any other…..we will be watching and reporting….

**********A parting thought……2019–the Dems take control of the House…and now DEFICITS will matter.*********

One more thing……

Have a day and a good day of rest and hangover remedies…..