CNN

How bad deal will make life worse in Puerto Rico

In essence, Wall Street profiteers are holding a huge sword over the heads of 3.5 million American citizens.

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Washington Post

Want to end corruption? Crack down on tax havens.

Excerpt: The U.S. conceals vast sums of foreign loot behind opaque shell companies in Delaware and Nevada and stands aloof from a new global transparency scheme led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to start sharing banking data beginning in 2017. The OECD’s “Common Reporting Standard” will include most major tax havens — but the United States has not signed on. A widely referenced Financial Secrecy Index (which I helped produce) ranks the U.S. as the third most important tax haven worldwide after Switzerland and Hong Kong, based on a secrecy score weighted for size. Britain only …

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Bernie Sanders easily wins the policy debate

Mainstream U.S. economists have criticized Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s proposals as unworkable, but these economists betray the status quo bias of their economic models and professional experience. It’s been decades since the United States had a progressive economic strategy, and mainstream economists have forgotten what one can deliver. In fact, Sanders’s recipes are supported by overwhelming evidence — notably from countries that already follow the policies he advocates. On health care, growth and income inequality, Sanders wins the policy debate hands down … Mainstream economists long ago lost the melody line … They have come to accept cruelly rising income inequality …

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Washington Post

The shocking number of Americans who can’t cover a $400 expense

Technically speaking, America’s economic recovery from the Great Recession is in its seventh year, making it one of the longest expansions on record. The unemployment rate is falling, businesses are hiring and there are finally some signs that wages are rising. But for so many households, that progress still feels painfully remote. The Federal Reserve surveyed more than 5,000 people to determine whether their personal situations were improving along with the economy. The results, released Wednesday afternoon, found that though households showed “mild improvement” overall, their perspective depended on their income, race and education. Take this one telling statistic: About 46 …

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New York Times

Citigroup Fined in Rate-Rigging Inquiry but Avoids Criminal Charges

Citigroup on Wednesday became the latest big bank accused of trying to manipulate global interest rates, a reminder of Wall Street’s wide-ranging abuse of power in these markets. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a federal regulator that oversees Wall Street, announced $425 million in penalties against Citigroup, covering two overlapping cases. And yet Citigroup faces no criminal charges. In an unexpected move, the Justice Department confirmed on Wednesday that it had closed its investigation into Citigroup and some of the other banks suspected of manipulating an interest rate benchmark commonly known as the Isdafix. (Read the rest here.)

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Campaign for America's Future

Republicans Demand Flint-Like Solution To Puerto Rico Debt

In 2008 Wall Street got in over its head, and the U.S. government and Federal Reserve stepped in with trillions of dollars to bail them out. Now Puerto Rico has debt that it cannot pay. Instead of helping, though, Republicans in Congress are demanding increased austerity and an unelected “oversight board” that sets aside democratic governance – the same way Republicans imposed unelected government on Michigan cities like Flint. (We know how that turned out.) (Read the rest here.)  

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Pro Publica

Machine Bias: The software used to predict future criminals is biased against blacks.

(Excerpt) Prater was the more seasoned criminal. He had already been convicted of armed robbery and attempted armed robbery, for which he served five years in prison, in addition to another armed robbery charge. Borden had a record, too, but it was for misdemeanors committed when she was a juvenile. Yet something odd happened when Borden and Prater were booked into jail: A computer program spat out a score predicting the likelihood of each committing a future crime. Borden — who is black — was rated a high risk. Prater — who is white — was rated a low risk. …

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The Nation

A Big Victory for Voting Rights in Ohio

During the 2004 election, Ohio had the longest lines to vote in the country, with five-hour waits in heavily Democratic cities like Cleveland and Columbus. A post-election report for the DNC estimated that 3 percent of Ohioans—174,000 people—left their polling places without voting, a larger number than George W. Bush’s 118,000 vote margin of victory in the Buckeye State. “The Election Day experience for most African American voters was starkly different from that of most white voters in Ohio,” the pollsters Cornell Belcher and Diane Feldman found. African Americans waited an average of 52 minutes to vote, while the wait …

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Washington Post

The poor are paying more and more for everyday purchases, a new study warns

The poor often spend more on all kinds of things. Households that have less money to spare in any given week, for example, are forced to buy toilet paper and similar goods in small packages, increasing the prices they pay. In addition, poor families must rely on a whole range of alternative financial services, which might charge exorbitant fees and expose customers to serious risks. New research suggests that these disparities might only be getting worse. Xavier Jaravel, a graduate student at Harvard University, has been studying the prices people pay in the retail sector — their everyday purchases at grocery and drug stores. He has found that prices are …

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Economic Policy Institute

4.5 million millennials will directly benefit from the new overtime rule

The Department of Labor has updated the rule that determines who is eligible for overtime pay, raising the salary threshold from the current $23,660 to $47,476 a year. That means any salaried worker who makes up to $47,476 is guaranteed time-and-a-half pay for all hours worked over 40 in a week, regardless of their job title or duties. The new rule will directly benefit 12.5 million salaried workers, most of whom will be newly eligible for overtime. Importantly, it will disproportionately affect young workers, who are just starting out in their careers. Only 2.0 million salaried millennials (age 16–34) were covered …

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prescription pills

Los Angeles Times

Your drug lobby at work: How did two witnesses come to submit identical testimony to Congress?

The internal mechanisms of the Washington lobbying game were inadvertently placed on public display Tuesday during a House committee hearing on an Obama Administration move to reduce prescription drug costs. Two witnesses opposing the proposal, ostensibly from two different interest groups, somehow submitted statements that contained identical passages. They were outed by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who said she found the similarities “very curious.” But it wasn’t such a mystery. Both groups are represented by the same Washington lobbying shop, Hart Health Strategies, which prepared their witness statements. Hart represents a passel of doctor and patient advocacy organizations in Washington as …

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CBS News

7 things to know about the new overtime rule for workers

Hard-working Americans have something to celebrate: Overtime pay will soon be a reality for millions of additional workers. The Department of Labor is changing the country’s overtime regulations to double the salary threshold to $47,476 a year, which the White House said will provide overtime pay to an additional 4.2 million workers. Some economists believe the rule change will actually help far more people than that. The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute estimates that 12.5 million salaried workers will see a direct benefit. (Read the rest here.)

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