New York prosecutors have given lawyers for Donald Trump 24 hours to respond with any last arguments as to why criminal charges should not be filed against his family business, according to a report on Sunday.
The deadline set for Monday was another strong signal that the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, and the New York attorney general, Letitia James, are considering criminal charges against the former president’s company as an entity, according to sources quoted by the Washington Post.
Any criminal charges would be the first in Vance’s probe into Trump and his business dealings.
Legal experts have said an indictment against the Trump Organization could bankrupt the company by undermining its relationships with banks and other business partners.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/28/new-york-prosecutors-set-deadline-for-trump-on-legal-action-report
Rudy Giuliani’s license to practice law in New York state was suspended on Thursday by a state appellate court. For those who have been following the antics of former President Donald Trump’s former lawyer for the past five years, this may not be shocking. But while in some ways it feels like the predictable culmination of years of questionable and offensive conduct, it’s still a big deal — and good news for anyone who cares about the integrity of the law profession.Rudy Giuliani’s New York suspension proves dangers of Trump’s lies [NBC]
Disbarment — a punishment meted out by a court for code violations — is always devastating to a lawyer. This punishment occurs when a lawyer commits an offense that directly relates to his or her fitness to practice law. Such offenses may include dishonesty and negligent representation. Giuliani, whose license is now suspended, is likely on his way to permanent disbarment, but he does have the opportunity to contest the court’s ruling in a post-suspension hearing. His lawyers indicate they will do this, claiming in a statement that they “believe that once the issues are fully explored at a hearing, Mr. Giuliani will be reinstated as a valued member of the legal profession that he has served so well in his many capacities for so many years.”
Giuliani’s suspension was unusual because the court ruled that his (rhetorical) offenses actually posed a danger to the public, and indeed, the nation itself. The court noted that:
The seriousness of respondent’s uncontroverted misconduct cannot be overstated. This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden. The hallmark of our democracy is predicated on free and fair elections. False statements intended to foment a loss of confidence in our elections and resulting loss of confidence in government generally damage the proper functioning of a free society. When those false statements are made by an attorney, it also erodes the public’s confidence in the integrity of attorneys admitted to our bar and damages the profession’s role as a crucial source of reliable information.
…seems sort of incredible that it’s taken this long & collude-y-rudy still isn’t all the way disbarred…but these things take awhile, apparently
…even in this age of technological marvels
Millions of independent contractors are at the whim of a system that Amazon knows is problematic, according to a new report by Bloomberg. While serious early glitches have been worked out, significant issues remain, according to the article. Amazon is reportedly unconcerned about the hiccups and bad press that result so long as sufficient numbers of drivers are available to replace those whose accounts are mistakenly terminated.
“Executives knew this was gonna shit the bed,” a former engineer who designed the system told Bloomberg. “That’s actually how they put it in meetings. The only question was how much poo we wanted there to be.”https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/06/amazon-is-firing-flex-workers-using-algorithms-with-little-human-intervention/
…intervention…it’s kind of a loaded term
An internet-enabled art installation that launched Wednesday offers a strange proposition: the chance to pilot a $75,000 four-legged robot named Spot that is armed with a paintball gun.https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/armed-dangerous-online-art-project-takes-aim-militarization-robotics
Greenberg’s project, “Spot’s Rampage,” isn’t meant to make the robot seem cute. It’s meant to be a statement about the militarization of robotics, complete with a digital portal to give people a firsthand view of what it’s like to be in control of an armed machine.
In response to internet buzz ahead of MSCHF’s Wednesday event, Boston Dynamics issued a statement on its Twitter account saying: “To be clear, we condemn the portrayal of our technology in any way that promotes violence, harm, or intimidation.”
Boston Dynamics robots are not weaponized, but continued adoption of various types of machines including drones and other types of robots by militaries and police forces have caused alarm among technology watchdogs. And while science fiction has offered any number of fantastical examples of armed robots, a growing number of real-world examples illustrate how questions about the use of robotics by military and police forces are not entirely hypothetical.
…although to be fair that’s from back in february…so it’s not exactly new news…but this is more recent
As more government agencies and private sector companies resort to robots to help fight crime, the verdict is out about how effective they are in actually reducing it. Knightscope, which experts say is the dominant player in this market, has cited little public evidence that its robots have reduced crime as the company deploys them everywhere from a Georgia shopping mall to an Arizona development to a Nevada casino. Knightscope’s clients also don’t know how much these security robots help.
“Are we seeing dramatic changes since we deployed the robot in January?” Lerner, the Westland spokesperson said. “No. But I do believe it is a great tool to keep a community as large as this, to keep it safer, to keep it controlled.”
Additionally, the company does not provide specific, detailed examples of crimes that have been thwarted due to the robots.
But the finances behind the police robot business is a difficult one. Last year, Knightscope lost more money than ever, with a $19.3 million net loss, nearly double from 2019. While some clients are buying more robots, the company’s overall number of clients fell to 23, from 30, in the past four years. Plus, the number of robots leased has plateaued at 52 from the end of 2018 through the end of last year. The pandemic certainly didn’t help things.
Just two months ago, Knightscope told investors that there was “substantial doubt regarding our ability to continue” given the company’s “accumulated deficit,” or debt, of over $69 million as of the end of 2020. Its operating expenses jumped by more than 50 percent, including a small increase on research, and a doubling of the company’s marketing budget. Knightscope itself recently told investors that absent additional fundraising efforts, it will “not be solvent after the third quarter of 2022.”https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/security-robots-expand-across-u-s-few-tangible-results
…& I guess I’m wondering how that’s supposed to be a good idea…for $70,000-$80,000 a year they don’t seem like great value…although…whether they’re worse value than some salaries might be another debate
Leaked membership data from the neo-Confederate Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) organization has revealed that the organization’s members include serving military officers, elected officials, public employees, and a national security expert whose CV boasts of “Department of Defense Secret Security Clearance”.
But alongside these members are others who participated in and committed acts of violence at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and others who hold overlapping membership in violent neo-Confederate groups such as the League of the South (LoS).
The national membership data was provided to the Guardian by a self-described hacktivist whose identity has been withheld for their safety.
The data reveals the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of almost 59,000 past and present members of the organization, including 91 who used addresses associated with government agencies for their contact email, and 74 who used addresses associated with various branches of the armed forces.
The Guardian identified members who were listed as active, and whose contact information included addresses associated with government agencies, the armed forces, educational institutions, and non-government organizations.
There was some previous reporting on an earlier version of the membership database, made public by Atlanta Antifa, which noted the presence of Georgia state legislators in the group’s data.
But the Guardian has found additional legislators, and active members who are in positions of influence and responsibility that stretch far beyond the walls of state legislatures.Revealed: neo-Confederate group includes military officers and politicians [Guardian]
…but either way I guess those big budgets ain’t gonna spend themselves?
Then two small companies came out of nowhere and, through an astute mix of technology and advertising — and the dogged pursuit of an opportunity that big banks missed — found a way to help those businesses. They also helped themselves. For their work, the companies stand to collect more than $3 billion in fees, according to a New York Times analysis — far more than any of the 5,200 participating lenders.
One of the companies, Blueacorn, didn’t exist before the pandemic. The other, Womply, founded a decade ago, sold marketing software. But this year, they became the breakout stars of the Paycheck Protection Program, the government’s $800 billion relief effort for small businesses. Between them, the two companies processed a third of all P.P.P. loans made this year, the Times analysis found.
Blueacorn and Womply aren’t banks, so they couldn’t actually lend any money. Rather, they acted as middlemen, charging into a gap between what big banks wouldn’t do and what small banks couldn’t do. First, they unleashed marketing blitzes encouraging freelancers, gig workers, sole proprietors and other small merchants to apply for loans through their websites. Next, they directed those applications to lenders. In return, they took a hefty cut of the fees that lenders made on each loan.
When the government started the Paycheck Protection Program in April 2020, it quickly found that banks, from national giants to regional players, gravitated to bigger loans to more established businesses because they were easier to make and more lucrative. The program’s largest lender, JPMorgan Chase, refused to even make loans of less than $1,000.
In December, Congress said that banks making Paycheck Protection Program loans below $50,000 would be paid 50 percent of the loan’s value, up to a maximum of $2,500. (Earlier, the maximum a lender could earn was 5 percent of a loan’s value.) So a $5,000 loan that previously made the lender $250 was now worth 10 times more. By making small-dollar loans more profitable for lenders, Congress was hoping to help the neediest.
When Blueacorn and Womply started their systems in late February, the volume of P.P.P. lending shot up. Largely because of the two companies’ efforts, lenders made 5.8 million loans of $50,000 or less this year, up from 3.6 million in 2020. The program’s average loan size dropped from just over $100,000 last year to $41,560 this year. And the six most active lenders this year each partnered with Blueacorn or Womply, or both.
Womply’s impact was even broader. It teamed with 17 lenders and processed 1.4 million loans, totaling more than $20 billion — about 7 percent of the total P.P.P. money given out this year.
The millions of tiny loans the two tech companies enabled, coupled with Congress’s decision to make small loans more lucrative, led to gigantic payouts for small lenders. Last year, Prestamos made $1.3 million for its lending. This year, it will collect nearly $1.2 billion, according to a New York Times calculation of lenders’ fees based on government data.
But because of the deals they struck with Blueacorn and Womply, the lenders will keep only a fraction of their earnings. Blueacorn will get a “significant” portion of the $1.2 billion that Prestamos is collecting, said José Martinez, the lender’s president. He declined to disclose the deal’s terms, but said they were “fair and aligned” with each partner’s contribution.
Blueacorn declined to comment on its fees. But an earnings report this month from Capital Plus Financial, the other lender that partnered with Blueacorn, provides some clues. This year, Capital Plus made 473,241 Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling $7.7 billion, for which it will collect $1.1 billion in fees. In the earnings report for the quarter that ended April 30, the publicly traded parent company of Capital Plus said that the lender earned $464 million in fees during the quarter for its loans. Of that amount, it kept just $150 million.
Through its two partners, Blueacorn will take in at least $1 billion this year on the loans it processed, according to a Times calculation and two people familiar with the matter.
Womply is poised for an even bigger haul. Seven lenders that partnered with Womply on Fast Lane agreed to pay the company at least half — and often much more — of what they collected on each loan, according to five people with knowledge of the financial arrangements. The company is likely to take in fees of $1.7 billion to $3 billion, according to a Times analysis.How Two Start-Ups Reaped Billions in Fees on Small Business Relief Loans [NYT]
…funny how things go when money’s involved
Three senior House Democrats have launched a new political group to defend incumbents facing primary challenges, according to the group’s founders.
The political action committee, called Team Blue, will fill a gap for members running for re-election who might not be able to get help from the official committees of the Democratic Party to fend off primary challenges.
Some of those primary challengers enjoy well-funded support from outside groups. Justice Democrats and Courage to Change, left-wing groups that enjoy support from well-known members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have been unafraid to pump money into races to oust Democratic incumbents.
Adding to the risk for incumbents is the coming redistricting process, when incumbent Democrats will find themselves making the case to new constituencies or possibly merged into a district with another member.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/house-democrats-launch-pac-protect-incumbents-attacks-within
…well…maybe not the good kind of funny…although I guess there really might be an exception that proves every rule?
“Let me push back on that a little bit,” Wallace said. “Because [this week] the president said that the central part in his anti-crime package is the $350bn in the American Rescue Plan, the Covid relief plan that was passed.”
Asked if that meant it was “you and the Republicans who are defunding the police”, Banks dodged the question.
Wallace said: “No, no, sir, respectfully – wait, sir, respectfully … I’m asking you, there’s $350bn in this package the president says can be used for policing …
“Congressman Banks, let me finish and I promise I will give you a chance to answer. The president is saying cities and states can use this money to hire more police officers, invest in new technologies and develop summer job training and recreation programs for young people. Respectfully, I’ve heard your point about the last year, but you and every other Republican voted against this $350bn.”‘Republicans are defunding the police’: Fox News anchor stumps congressman [Guardian]
…really there ought to be a lot more where that came from
Speaking on the House floor on Thursday to criticize the Biden administration’s handling of the economy, Cawthorn said, “It was Thomas Jefferson that said, ‘Facts are stubborn things. And whatever may be our wishes, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.’ “
This is a famous quote from John Adams, not Jefferson. (Cawthorn omitted two of Adams’ words in the quote.) Adams uttered it in 1770 while serving as defense lawyer for British soldiers who had been charged with murder in the Boston Massacre.Madison Cawthorn, self-described ‘big history buff,’ keeps getting historical facts wrong [CNN]
…there’s a bunch of examples of that particular idiot not knowing whereof he speaks…& he’s got company
Greene is a far-right congresswoman and controversialist who was stripped of committee assignments for comments including advocating violence against political opponents. This month, she apologised for comparing public health rules to combat the coronavirus to the Holocaust.
Greene was speaking on Saturday evening to supporters of Donald Trump at a rally outside Cleveland, staged to bring the former president back to the campaign trail and to target an Ohio Republican who voted for Trump’s second impeachment.
Referring to Ocasio-Cortez as “the little communist from New York City”, Greene responded to boos and remarks from the crowd when she said: “Right. Yeah, lock her up too, that’s a good idea.”https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/27/aoc-marjorie-taylor-greene
“She’s not an American,” Greene said of Ocasio-Cortez, who was born in the Bronx, to parents born in New York and Puerto Rico (Puerto Ricans are US citizens by birth). “She really doesn’t embrace our American ways. You want to know why? She has something called the Green New Deal.”
…& who are these idiots trying to reach with this bullshit
…do we really have to ask?
Authorities in Massachusetts are investigating whether a man who killed two people in the Boston suburb of Winthrop on Saturday targeted them because they were Black, after officials found “troubling white supremacist rhetoric” in the gunman’s handwriting, a prosecutor said.
The Suffolk county district attorney, Rachael Rollins, identified the gunman as 28-year-old Nathan Allen and said investigators uncovered writings that expressed “antisemitic and racist statements against Black individuals”.
Authorities said Allen shot and killed David Green, a retired Massachusetts state police trooper, and Romana Cooper, a US air force veteran, after crashing a stolen truck into a building on Saturday afternoon.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/27/massachusetts-winthrop-shooting-gunman-white-supremacist-rhetoric
The gunman “walked by several other people that were not Black and they are alive”, Rollins told reporters on Sunday. “They were not harmed. They are alive and these two visible people of color are not. We will continue to look and see.”
…but what has me wanting to irish-up my coffee this morning is…well…call it the fine print?
In Washington, the real insiders know that the true outrages are what’s perfectly legal and that it’s simply a gaffe when someone accidentally blurts out something honest.
And so it barely made a ripple last week when a Texas congressman (and Donald Trump’s former White House physician) said aloud what’s supposed to be kept to a backroom whisper: Republicans intend to retake the US House of Representatives in 2022 through gerrymandering.
“We have redistricting coming up and the Republicans control most of that process in most of the states around the country,” Representative Ronny Jackson told a conference of religious conservatives. “That alone should get us the majority back.”
He’s right. Republicans won’t have to win more votes next year to claim the US House.
In fact, everyone could vote the exact same way for Congress next year as they did in 2020 – when Democratic candidates nationwide won more than 4.7 million votes than Republicans and narrowly held the chamber – but under the new maps that will be in place, the Republican party would take control.Republicans can win the next elections through gerrymandering alone [Guardian]
…it’s tempting to ask how it is that they seem to have made such progress with this kind of shit…but it’s probably just that if you actually attempt to govern in any meaningful sense that tends to take up a bunch of your time
The Biden administration mounted an aggressive push reshaping national housing policy in a span of 48 hours this past week, replacing a key regulator and pushing a flurry of other changes to try to address growing concerns within and outside the White House about a housing crisis for millions of renters and vulnerable Americans.
Housing has emerged as one of the most unequal and consequential parts of the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Low interest rates, cheap mortgages and bidding wars are fueling a housing boom for wealthier Americans and making homeownership out of reach for many first-time buyers. Meanwhile, housing is a top expense and worry for millions of renters and unemployed workers, and advocates fear a wave of homelessness once the CDC’s final moratorium lifts July 31.
It remains to be seen whether this bucket of housing policy shifts develops into a clear road map for how President Biden plans to handle one of the largest parts of the economy. Housing is an area that Democrats have traditionally tried to backstop with government support to make it more accessible for more people.Housing crisis poses crucial test for Biden administration’s economic plans [WaPo]
…& even then…it doesn’t necessarily get people what they need
A vast judicial machine that evicted tenants at more than double the national average in the years before the pandemic is revving up after months of dormancy. Judges fly through a case a minute as they work their way through an estimated 20,000-case backlog while lawyers from Memphis Area Legal Services try to broker deals between troubled tenants and fed-up landlords.
The chaos is a preview of what will happen nationwide this summer after the CDC moratorium expires at the end of July. Experts are bracing for a pent-up wave of evictions at a time when 10 million Americans are still behind on their payments, a historic high, according to a recent analysis of census data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/interactive/2021/eviction-moratorium-lifts/
…but doubtless that’s a problem for another day…& I’m out of time…&…well…it’s been a rough few days & I guess I might as well call it a day at this point
Blackalicious rapper Gift of Gab dies at 50 [Guardian]
…take your laughs where you can find ’em, folks