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Name: Dolores
Gender: Female
Hometown: California
Home country: USA
Current location: California
Member since: Thu Nov 30, 2017, 02:58 PM
Number of posts: 4,324

Journal Archives

In 'terrifying' indictment of for-profit system, 12.7 million Americans have lost insurance due to



“If we take anything away from this pandemic, it’s that health care should not be tied to employment.”

New research from the Economic Policy Institute reveals that the number of Americans who are losing their employer-based health insurance is growing rapidly, with more than 30 million people laid off or furloughed in the last six weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

EPI estimates that 12.7 million of the people who have lost their jobs since early March have lost their health insurance.

Posted by alwaysinasnit | Thu Apr 30, 2020, 05:28 PM (9 replies)

Millions of People Face Stimulus Check Delays for a Strange Reason: They Are Poor



The stimulus problems are part of a constellation of pain faced by the poor in accessing CARES Act money, from the possibility that banks could seize the money to pay off debts to advocates’ fear that, when paper checks arrive, the check-cashing industry will snatch a hefty chunk.

The tax prep business is built on a complex infrastructure designed to extract fees that many customers cannot afford. When the government tried to navigate that system to speedily get cash to its citizens, it ran into big problems.

The IRS estimates that it will send the $292 billion in CARES Act money to 171 million Americans. The first wave of payments sent out last week was targeted to less than half of those eligible: 80 million Americans whose 2018 or 2019 tax refunds had been directly deposited. To disburse most of the remaining payments, the agency is planning to mail 81 million paper checks bearing the president’s name, according to an IRS budget document.

But for a large portion of the 80 million people the IRS tried to reach last week, “direct deposit” is a bit of a misnomer. Each year, the tax refunds of more than 20 million Americans, including many of Citi Tax’s customers, take a detour. These customers don’t pay their tax preparation fees upfront, instead opting to have the fee taken out of their refund. Because regulations prohibit tax prep companies from receiving refunds directly, a special, temporary account is created at a bank that plays the middleman. The bank takes out whatever fees are owed and then passes the remainder on to the customer.

Posted by alwaysinasnit | Mon Apr 27, 2020, 05:48 PM (2 replies)

The Case for Professors of Stupidity



But what exactly is stupidity? David Krakauer, the President of the Santa Fe Institute, told interviewer Steve Paulson, for Nautilus, stupidity is not simply the opposite of intelligence. “Stupidity is using a rule where adding more data doesn’t improve your chances of getting [a problem] right,” Krakauer said. “In fact, it makes it more likely you’ll get it wrong.” Intelligence, on the other hand, is using a rule that allows you to solve complex problems with simple, elegant solutions. “Stupidity is a very interesting class of phenomena in human history, and it has to do with rule systems that have made it harder for us to arrive at the truth,” he said. “It’s an interesting fact that, whilst there are numerous individuals who study intelligence—there are whole departments that are interested in it—if you were to ask yourself what’s the greatest problem facing the world today, I would say it would be stupidity. So we should have professors of stupidity—it would just be embarrassing to be called the stupid professor.”

Interesting article and so very relevant.
Posted by alwaysinasnit | Thu Apr 23, 2020, 02:28 PM (3 replies)

'Beyond Predatory': Trump Treasury Department Gives Banks Green Light to Seize $1,200 Stimulus Check

Source: Common Dreams

President Donald Trump's Treasury Department has given U.S. banks a green light to seize a portion or all of the one-time $1,200 coronavirus relief payments meant to help Americans cope with financial hardship and instead use the money to pay off individuals' outstanding debts—a move consumer advocates decried as cruel and unacceptable.

"The Treasury Department effectively blessed this activity on a webinar with banking officials last Friday," The American Prospect's David Dayen reported Tuesday.

In an audio recording from the webinar obtained exclusively by the Prospect, Ronda Kent, chief disbursing officer at the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Fiscal Service, told bankers that "there's nothing in the law that precludes" financial institutions from seizing a person's payment and using it to pay off the individual's debts.


Read more: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/04/14/beyond-predatory-trump-treasury-department-gives-banks-green-light-seize-1200

Posted by alwaysinasnit | Wed Apr 15, 2020, 03:04 AM (45 replies)

A new DOJ report blows a huge hole in Trump's FBI conspiracy theories -- and exposes a much bigger




“While our review of these issues and follow-up with case agents is still ongoing—and we have not made materiality judgments for these or other errors or concerns we identified—at this time we have identified an average of about 20 issues per application reviewed, with a high of approximately 65 issues in one application and less than 5 issues in another application,” he wrote.

This suggests the Page application may not even be close to the most egregious misuse of the FISA process. And as Ben Wittes of Lawfare noted:

It’s worse even that that sounds. The reason is that Horowitz calls his “initial review . . . consisted solely of determining whether the contents of the FBI’s Woods File supported statements of fact in the associated FISA application; our review did not seek to determine whether support existed elsewhere for the factual assertion in the FISA application (such as in the case file), or if relevant information had been omitted from the application.” In other words, “our review was limited to assessing the FBI’s execution of its Woods Procedures, which are not focused on affirming the completeness of the information in the FISA applications.” In short, there are very likely errors that would not show up in this initial screen—including, for example, if the information in the Woods File were itself incorrect.

There were other problems too: “About half of the applications we reviewed contained facts attributed to CHSs [confidential human sources], and for many of them we found that the Woods File lacked documentation attesting to [key] requirements.”

As Wittes noted, it’s not clear yet how substantial these errors are to the case for surveillance. But given their ubiquity, there’s little reason yet for optimism. Sloppiness in law enforcement is rarely a sign of otherwise scrupulous actions. And FISA, in particular — given its encroachment on civil liberties and lack of transparency — is supposed to be the most pristine of all law enforcement work.

So while Republicans have been screaming for years about an anti-Trump cabal in the FBI, it appears they’ve been completely ignoring — along with the rest of the government — the potential of something much worse: A virtually unchecked federal surveillance authority running amok, regardless of the target.

Posted by alwaysinasnit | Tue Mar 31, 2020, 11:59 PM (2 replies)
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