Call it what you want. It’s still Fraud!

JPMorgan Chase (JPM, -1.2%) will pay a record fine of $920M and admits wrongdoing in a settlement over market manipulation of metals futures and Treasury securities over eight years.

In the biggest penalty over the practice known as spoofing, the bank will pay a $436.4M fine, $311.7M in restitution and more than $172M in disgorgement, according to the CFTC.

Spoofing usually entails flooding derivatives markets with orders that the traders don’t intend to execute to deceive others into moving prices in a desired direction.

In the financial crash of 2008, my 5-figure money market savings account lost 54% of its value. The “expert” charged with managing that fund was fired. That wasn’t sufficient for me to continue doing business with the upper/mid-level firm I had trusted with my retirement account.

I don’t pay lots of attention to the financial industry’s movers and shakers; but, JP Morgan certainly has had a hefty enough reputation that I would have nodded assent to any friend who was thinking of sinking their savings into one of their investment products.

Now, they’re just another critter slouching in that line of trolls ready to take your hard-earned income and return a piece of the action back to you…no matter how they go about working at the increase. When crooked becomes one of the methods, we already get enough of that from Congress…who Mark Twain called “America’s only native criminal class.”

Bum, Bum, Bumblebee Bum!

Christopher Lischewski, former Chief Executive Officer and President of Bumble Bee Foods LLC, was sentenced to serve 40 months in jail and pay a $100,000 criminal fine for his leadership role in a three-year antitrust conspiracy to fix prices of canned tuna…

…After a four-week trial in late 2019, he was convicted on the single count of participating in a conspiracy to fix prices of canned tuna. In imposing Lischewski’s 40-month prison sentence, the Court found that Lischewski was a leader or organizer of the conspiracy and that it affected over $600 million dollars of canned tuna sales.

Bumble Bee pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $25 million criminal fine. In September, StarKist Co. was sentenced to pay a statutory maximum $100 million criminal fine. In addition to Bumble Bee and StarKist, four executives, including Lischewski, were charged in the investigation. The other three executives pleaded guilty and testified in Lischewski’s trial.

Of course, the only words we’ve heard from the Fake President about any kind of tuna were bullshit about cans of tuna in protests against his incompetence. Predictable. Sad.

Your coffeemaker been hacked [yet]?

With the name Smarter, you might expect a network-connected kitchen appliance maker to be, well, smarter than companies selling conventional appliances. But in the case of the Smarter’s Internet-of-things coffee maker, you’d be wrong…

Security problems with Smarter products first came to light in 2015, when researchers at London-based security firm Pen Test partners found that they could recover a Wi-Fi encryption key used in the first version of the Smarter iKettle. The same researchers found that version 2 of the iKettle and the then-current version of the Smarter coffee maker had additional problems, including no firmware signing and no trusted enclave inside the ESP8266, the chipset that formed the brains of the devices. The result: the researchers showed a hacker could probably replace the factory firmware with a malicious one. The researcher EvilSocket also performed a complete reverse engineering of the device protocol, allowing reomote control of the device.

As a thought experiment, Martin Hron, a researcher at security company Avast, reverse engineered one of the older coffee makers to see what kinds of hacks he could do with it. After just a week of effort, the unqualified answer was: quite a lot. Specifically, he could trigger the coffee maker to turn on the burner, dispense water, spin the bean grinder, and display a ransom message, all while beeping repeatedly. Oh, and by the way, the only way to stop the chaos was to unplug the power cord…

The cautionary tale moves on and offers humor, corrective suggestions…and not a boatload of hope for up-to-date standards. Generally, firmware updates stop in a few years…even though beaucoup electronic products work for many more. As they should.

Pentagon used taxpayer dollar$ meant for masks and swabs to buy military hardware


Trump and his latest Pentagon errand boy

A $1 billion fund Congress gave the Pentagon in March to build up the country’s supplies of medical equipment has instead been mostly funneled to defense contractors and used to make things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms.

The change illustrates how one taxpayer-backed effort to battle the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans, was instead diverted toward patching up long-standing perceived gaps in military supplies…

The payments were made even though U.S. health officials think major funding gaps in pandemic response still remain. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in Senate testimony last week that states desperately need $6 billion to distribute vaccines to Americans early next year. Many U.S. hospitals still face a severe shortage of N95 masks. These are the types of problems that the money was originally intended to address.

Did you expect the Independent Duchy of Pentagonia to become responsive to democracy and the needs of the whole nation…just because our sleazy, outdated electoral college put a thug from Wall Street in charge of the national treasury?

In Mourning for Justice


Thanks, gocomics.org

Our hopes for justice, legitimate progress advancing human rights, equal opportunities and equal rights…also stand at half-mast.

No one expects any of these when our courts and government are controlled by fascists masquerading as conservatives in the GOUSA.

Robert Samuelson: Goodbye, readers…

As regular readers know, I write on the economy and its connection with society and politics. Over the years, I’ve explored dozens of subjects: recessions, inflation, executive pay, budget deficits, climate change, poverty, the welfare state, trade, taxes, aging, cybersecurity, China, the stock market — and many others. So far as I can tell, nothing that I have written has ever had the slightest effect on what actually happened. A long period of solid economic growth — labeled the Great Moderation by economists — fueled easy credit, shaky loans, defaults and insolvent lenders. Goodbye and good luck — you’ll need as much help as you can get.

Har!

Robert J. Samuelson wrote a twice-weekly economics column. Both appeared in the Washington Post online, and one usually ran in The Washington Post in print on Mondays.

Fox News shares the blame!

Throughout history, presidents have singled out particular reporters for special access …Donald Trump, however, has gone far beyond past practices to favor an entire news organization, Fox News. In return, Fox gives Trump fawning, obsequious coverage, according to a new book, Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of the Truth, by CNN’s media analyst Brian Stelter. In great detail, he shows how access to Trump can make or break careers at Fox, with millions upon millions of dollars in ratings-driven compensation at stake.

Special thanks to Barry Ritholtz for offering this article and link. I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise. Keeping ahead on economics and politics is his gig. He’s one of the best.

Apple is going to make it tougher for advertisers to track you. Facebook is pissed!


Michael Short/Getty

Sometime next month, iPhone users will start seeing a new question when they use many of the apps on their devices: Do they want the app to follow them around the internet, tracking their behavior?

It’s a simple query, with potentially significant consequences. Apple is trying to single-handedly change the way internet advertising works.

That will affect everyone, from Apple’s giant tech rivals — most notably, Facebook, which announced today that it’s fighting back against Apple’s move — to any developer or publisher that uses ad technology to monitor what their app users are doing on the internet.

And it affects you, the person reading this story. At stake is your online privacy — and the advertising system that underwrites an endless supply of free content.

Apple announced its plan in June at its annual developer’s conference. But it hasn’t generated much attention outside of ad tech circles yet.

That will likely change in mid-September when the company is expected to roll out its new operating system, iOS 14.

Looking forward to that introduction of iOS 14 for a few reasons. Their new privacy system being #1. From my perspective, it’s going to be fun.

Hard to find dumbbells in GOUSA

I know. I know. Just turn on the telly and watch the Republican Convention in action. This ain’t about that. 🙂


Even a $400 set like this from NordicTrack

Dumbbells, like Nintendo Switches, yeast, and bidets, are one of those things that have become extremely popular during the pandemic and extremely hard to find. People are spending more and more time at home, and they’re buying things they never needed or possibly wanted before. The sudden surge in demand has created shortages of the most seemingly disparate things.

For gym-goers, obtaining your own weights and working out from home had always been a possibility. But justifying the purchase was hard, especially with the rise of gyms and boutique fitness studios.

The pandemic swung the pendulum the other way — so much that it’s hard to rationalize going back before a vaccine is created. Depending on where you live, gyms may not be open (which has led to the rise of “speakeasy” gyms), and disconcerting research shows that they are looking more and more like coronavirus hot zones. Working out from home with dumbbells — for one reason or another — seems like the future of fitness. Just as soon as you can get your hands on some.

95% of the world’s dumbbells are manufactured in China. You better believe they’re working overtime to catch up with demand. They are weeks behind. They were months behind. And they’ll catch up; hopefully, before you take up speed crocheting or something equally arcane.

Trump / Cohen hush money trial proceeds – with immunity deal for National Inquirer publisher


Pecker, Trump, Cohen

David Pecker…head of the company that publishes the National Enquirer, was granted immunity in the federal investigation into President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen in exchange for providing information on hush money deals…

Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., told federal prosecutors that Trump had knowledge of Cohen’s payments to women who had alleged sexual encounters with him, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Pecker also provided investigators with details about payments Cohen made to the women…

In court Tuesday, Cohen said, “I and the CEO of a media company, at the request of the candidate, worked together” to squelch stories, effectively implicating Trump himself.

According to the court filing, Cohen and Pecker worked to suppress potentially damaging claims against candidate Trump, with AMI using a tabloid tactic called “catch and kill.”

So much for the constitutional value of our American “Free Press”. Once again, using contracts to hide and disguise payoffs, scandals and crimes. A net of deceit funded in this instance by the creep president put in office by the electoral college.