Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures:
• Inside an International Tech-Support Scam: How a computer hacker infiltrated a phone scam operation — exposing fraudsters and their schemes The person who answered asked if he could access Jim’s computer to diagnose the problem. Jim granted access, but he was ready; he had created a “virtual computer” within his computer, a walled-off digital domain that kept Jim’s personal information and key operations safe and secure. As he played along with the caller, Jim recorded the conversation and activity on his Trojan horse setup to find out what he was up to. It took mere moments to confirm his hunch: It was a scam.(AARP)
• The Golden Age of Fraud is Upon Us Despite the fact that people have been getting duped by hucksters and charlatans for centuries, there was one period that kept coming up over and over again in my research — the 1920s. It was the golden age of financial fraud. The Roaring 20s had everything a con-artist looking to dupe people out of their money could ask for — innovation, new financial products, a booming economy, rising markets, new and exciting technologies, loose lending standards, new communication tools and people getting rich all over the place. (A Wealth of Common Sense)
• The Slander Industry: To get slander removed, many people hire a “reputation management” company. In my case, it was going to cost roughly $20,000. We soon discovered a secret, hidden behind a smokescreen of fake companies and false identities. The people facilitating slander and the self-proclaimed good guys who help remove it are often one and the same. (New York Times)
• Inside the ‘Tartarian Empire,’ the QAnon of Architecture A dedicated group of YouTubers and Reddit posters see the Singer Building and countless other discarded pre-modern beauties and extant Beaux-Arts landmarks as artifacts of a globe-spanning civilization called the Tartarian Empire, which was somehow erased from the history books. Adherents of this theory believe these buildings to be the keys to a hidden past, clandestinely obscured by malevolent actors. Adherents of this bizarre conspiracy theory argue that everything you know about the history of architecture is wrong. (CityLab)
• The U.S. Has the Shots It Needs, But Vaccine Doubt Is Prolonging the Pandemic The bigger problem for everyone, even in a now vaccine-rich country like the U.S., is that there are too many of these fence-sitters to bet on widespread immunity protecting the populace anytime soon. The fewer people who get vaccinated, the longer the pandemic will drag on and the more lives will be lost. America might have the technology and personnel to stamp out the disease, but not necessarily enough trust left in public-health efforts to get it done. (Businessweek) see also How Europe Sealed a Pfizer Vaccine Deal With Texts and Calls The deal will establish the European Union as Pfizer’s biggest single client by far; the company has so far sold 300 million doses to the United States. The contract will permit the European Union to resell or donate the vaccines to partners, empowering it to conduct vaccine diplomacy and support struggling efforts to immunize people in poorer countries. (New York Times)
• ‘We’re Coming for You’: For Public Health Officials, a Year of Threats and Menace Public servants like Newel have become the face of government authority in the pandemic. And, in turn, they have become targets for the same loose-knit militia and white nationalist groups that stormed the U.S. Capitol in January, smashing windows, bloodying officers and savagely chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” (Kaiser Health News)
• The White House can raise taxes on the wealthy without touching the tax code at all Rich people are good at cheating on their taxes. The White House wants to stop them. (Vox) see also America’s tax cheats Some “taxpayers with more complex sources of income, most of whom are in high-income brackets” are able to avoid paying what they owe. In recent testimony before Congress, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said that he believes the “tax gap” — the difference between what is paid to the IRS and what is owed — could exceed $1 trillion annually. (Popular Information)
• Republicans Say They Care About Election Fraud. Here’s How They Could Actually Prevent It. There are efforts underway outside of the state capitols to make upgrading election machines a priority. At the federal level, the expansive, House-passed voting rights bill would require universal use of paper ballots, while at the local level, some jurisdictions like Harris County in Texas are taking it upon themselves to update machines to include a paper trail. But amid the vocal concern for the security of U.S. elections, there’s been little political will to make some of the most impactful changes. (FiveThirtyEight)
• Details Of A Fateful Call Between Rudy Giuliani And The Ukrainians Have Been Secret For Years. Here’s The Full Transcript. The call, which happened three days before Trump’s infamous call with Volodymyr Zelensky, gained renewed relevance after federal authorities raided Giuliani’s home and offices this week. (BuzzFeed)
• The Crushing Contradictions of the American University What must one believe in to be willing to borrow tens of thousands of dollars in order to pursue a certification of completion — a B.A.? What would a college have to promise in order to compel someone to do that? What would a bank have to believe to extend this person credit? Or the U.S. government, to guarantee such loans en masse — now roughly $2 trillion? And what would a society have to believe to sustain the system that keeps it all going? Our blind faith in the transformative power of higher ed is slipping. What now? (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Jonathan Miller, co-founder of Miller Samuel. Miller is the go-to expert on real-estate appraisals and transactions, running one of the most prominent real-estate data analytics firm, and their data engine powers numerous real estate brokerage research nationally. He is also sought after as the go-to appraiser for many of the most expensive penthouses in Manhattan.
Lower-than-expected state population totals stoke concerns about the 2020 Census
Source: Washington Post
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.