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Film Role Importance by Gender

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Very interesting comparison: Source: 1843

The post Film Role Importance by Gender appeared first on The Big Picture.

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dougsmith
4 days ago
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Senate Votes To Make Sure You Can’t Sue Your Bank Or Credit Card Companies

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Lawmakers who regularly claim to love the Constitution and espouse their trust of the American consumer have done both a disservice, passing a resolution that makes sure that bank and credit card customers can be blocked from exercising their constitutional rights to a day in court.

In an unsurprising, but still highly disappointing move, the U.S. Senate voted late Tuesday evening 50-50 — with Vice-President Mike Pence breaking the tie — to approve a resolution that, when signed by President Trump, will repeal a recently finalized consumer protection rule intended to ensure that consumers are able to bring class-action lawsuits against financial services companies.

No Democrats voted to repeal the rule. Sens. John Kennedy (LA) and Lindsey Graham (SC) were the only two Republicans to cross party lines and vote against repeal.

“Today’s vote means that big financial companies can lock the courthouse doors and prevent consumers who’ve been mistreated from joining together to seek the relief they deserve under the law,” said George Slover, senior policy counsel for our colleagues at Consumers Union. “Forced arbitration unfairly tips the scales in favor of banks, credit card companies and other financial firms at the expense of consumers who’ve been harmed by widespread corporate wrongdoing.”

What is “forced arbitration,” you may ask? Let us explain (or you can skim ahead if you’ve been through this tutorial before).

If you have a bank account, credit card, or any other consumer financial product, there’s a good chance that you have signed away your right to sue at least one — and possibly all — of these companies, even if their bad behavior amount to criminal actions or human rights violations.

These forced arbitration clauses in customer contracts do two things. First, they block the customer from having any legal dispute heard in a court of law. Instead, it must be sorted out in private arbitration. Second, they bar the customer from joining their complaint with any other customer, even if the wronged customers all have exactly the same complaint. This doesn’t just bar traditional class-action lawsuits; it prevents customers from entering into arbitration as a group.

Why do companies do this? Because they know that customers won’t go the arbitration route once they realize that the cost and hassle of going through an individual arbitration process is simply not worth it.

“Who’s going to pay $200 [to file an arbitration dispute] just to challenge a $30 fee?” asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) on Tuesday evening shortly before the Senate voted on the resolution.

Federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner put this sentiment best in his 2004 opinion in Carnegie v. Household Int’l, when he noted that “only a lunatic or a fanatic sues for $30.”

But if one person who was harmed for only $30 can sue as a class representative on behalf of all wronged customers, then the lawsuit makes more sense. Only one plaintiff needs to stand in for all customers in a legal effort to hold the company accountable.

Supporters of forced arbitration like to point out that class-action settlements are typically small, on a per-defendant basis. But that’s because the damages are typically small on an individual basis. Should a bank be allowed to cheat customers out of $100 million just because it only comes out to $10 per customer?

Additionally, these supporters argue that arbitration cases result in larger payouts. Again, that’s because customers who choose to go through the expense and annoyance of entering the arbitration process are more likely to have suffered a more sizable harm.

The arbitration rule, as finalized by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in July 2017, would not have barred financial services companies from using arbitration. Instead, it sought to limit these companies’ use of arbitration to shut down class actions.

Sen. Mike Crapo (ID), whose campaign has received $2.23 million from financial services contributors in the current term, admitted during the debate on Tuesday that the CFPB rule still allows customers to enter into arbitration if they choose, as it may in some cases be the more expeditious way to resolve a dispute.

Yet Crapo repeatedly railed against the CFPB rule, claiming it “forces dispute resolution into class actions.” But that’s simply not true. The rule did not, in any way, require that customers enter file class-action lawsuits. It only tried to make sure that class-actions remained an option.

In a letter sent this week by Consumers Union to the Senate, CU’s Slover pointed out that the rule “in no way restricts the freedom of a lender and a consumer to agree to use arbitration as an alternative means for resolving a dispute – as long as they make that agreement after the dispute arises, when the consumer knows what is at stake and can decide whether the alternative being offered is fair and workable.”

Crapo, one of the few lawmakers to argue on Tuesday in favor of repealing the rule, also repeatedly made the false claim that the CFPB rule would wreak havoc on community banks and credit unions. But while trade groups representing small banks and credit unions have supported repeal of the bill, these small financial institutions would likely not be affected by the rule. Why? Because the overwhelming majority of them do not use forced arbitration.

In fact, according to the 2013 CFPB report on arbitration, only 8% of all banks offering checking accounts used forced arbitration clauses. However, those few banks are so large in size that they represented nearly 45% of checking account deposits.

Tuesday’s resolution uses the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows Congress to repeal new federal rules it disagrees with. Under the CRA, simple majorities in each chamber of Congress and the President must each sign off on a resolution of disapproval within a complicated 60-day window.

The House passed its resolution on a near party-line vote in July, only days after the rule was published in the Federal Register. The CRA repeal window was set to expire next week, and Senate Republican leadership had — as recently as only a few days ago — seemed resigned to not having the 50 votes it needed (with Vice President Pence breaking a tie). However, perhaps emboldened by a last-minute, unsolicited critique of the CFPB rule by the Treasury Department, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to move forward with a vote today.

The resolution now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign it.

Congressional Review Act resolutions can not be challenged in a court of law. Additionally, the law prevents the CFPB from issuing any new rule that is in any way similar to the one that is repealed.

“This vote marks a truly shameful moment in Congress. Just weeks after holding hearings on scandals of historic proportion, the Senate granted Equifax and Wells Fargo a Get Out of Jail Free card,” says Amanda Warner of Public Citizen (you may recognize Warner from her recent portrayal of Rich Uncle Pennybags). “Rather than pass meaningful legislation to help the the 145 million Americans harmed by the data breach, a slim Republican majority chose to take away our only chance at holding financial giants accountable. Surely, those 145 million voters will remember this betrayal.”





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dougsmith
29 days ago
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teh_g
29 days ago
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Nothing like taking away consumer protections!
Folsom, CA

Unpopular Delusions and the Madness of Elites

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What keeps the tax-cut zombie alive?
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dougsmith
54 days ago
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texnessa: mediamattersforamerica: WOW. Watch these 3 minutes...

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texnessa:

mediamattersforamerica:

WOW. Watch these 3 minutes from Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen talking about what Trump doesn’t understand about the national anthem and the right to protest. Compare this to any right-wing media whining and that’s why this is one to remember.

Dale Hansen is a fucking treasure.  He admitted he was a childhood victim of sexual abuse in the hopes that it would encourage others to come forward and seek help. He has been an ardent supporter of scholar-athletes and of gay players in the NFL and of trans athletes.

“I’m not always comfortable when a man tells me he is gay; I don’t understand his world. But I do understand that he is part of mine.”

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dougsmith
57 days ago
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popular
57 days ago
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tedder
31 days ago
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Didn't see this until it popped up in "The People Have Spoken" Bumping again because more need to see.
Uranus
torrentprime
46 days ago
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Didn't see this until it popped up in "The People Have Spoken" Bumping again because more need to see.
San Jose, CA
davelevy
57 days ago
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Didn't see this until it popped up in "The People Have Spoken" Bumping again because more need to see.
ÜT: 41.995898,-72.5841
ChrisDL
57 days ago
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this.
New York
darastar
58 days ago
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Things that people need to hear. Not that those people are reading my blurblog...

The ACA is a bipartisan solution to healthcare

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Arizona Senator John McCain has publicly come out against the latest Republican attempt to repeal the ACA. His statement begins:

As I have repeatedly stressed, health care reform legislation ought to be the product of regular order in the Senate. Committees of jurisdiction should mark up legislation with input from all committee members, and send their bill to the floor for debate and amendment. That is the only way we might achieve bipartisan consensus on lasting reform, without which a policy that affects one-fifth of our economy and every single American family will be subject to reversal with every change of administration and congressional majority.

I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.

Many opponents of the ACA repeal are hailing McCain as a hero for going against his party leadership on this issue. I don’t see it — he’d still support a bill like Graham-Cassidy that would take away healthcare coverage from millions of Americans if only it were the result of proper procedure — particularly because of what he says next (italics mine):

We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009.

This is false. The NY Times’ David Leonhardt explained back in March during another Republican repeal effort:

When Barack Obama ran for president, he faced a choice. He could continue moving the party to the center or tack back to the left. The second option would have focused on government programs, like expanding Medicare to start at age 55. But Obama and his team thought a plan that mixed government and markets — farther to the right of Clinton’s — could cover millions of people and had a realistic chance of passing.

They embarked on a bipartisan approach. They borrowed from Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts, gave a big role to a bipartisan Senate working group, incorporated conservative ideas and won initial support from some Republicans. The bill also won over groups that had long blocked reform, like the American Medical Association.

But congressional Republicans ultimately decided that opposing any bill, regardless of its substance, was in their political interest. The consultant Frank Luntz wrote an influential memo in 2009 advising Republicans to talk positively about “reform” while also opposing actual solutions. McConnell, the Senate leader, persuaded his colleagues that they could make Obama look bad by denying him bipartisan cover.

Adam Jentleson, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Harry Reid, said basically the same thing on Twitter:

The votes were party-line, but that was a front manufactured by McConnell. He bragged about it at the time. McConnell rarely gives much away but he let the mask slip here, saying he planned to oppose Obamacare regardless of what was in the bill. Those who worked on and covered the bill know there were GOP senators who wanted to support ACA — but McConnell twisted their arms. On Obamacare, Democrats spent months holding hearings and seeking GOP input — we accepted 200+ GOP amendments!

For reference, here was the Senate vote, straight down party lines. Hence the “ramming” charge…if you didn’t know any better. Luckily, Snopes does know better.

According to Mark Peterson, chair of the UCLA Department of Public Policy, one easy metric by which to judge transparency is the number of hearings held during the development of a bill, as well as the different voices heard during those hearings. So far, the GOP repeal efforts have been subject to zero public hearings.

In contrast, the ACA was debated in three House committees and two Senate committees, and subject to hours of bipartisan debate that allowed for the introduction of amendments. Peterson told us in an e-mail that he “can’t recall any major piece of legislation that was completely devoid of public forums of any kind, and that were crafted outside of the normal committee and subcommittee structure to this extent”.

The Wikipedia page about the ACA tells much the same story.

Tags: Adam Jentleson   David Leonhardt   healthcare   John McCain   politics
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dougsmith
58 days ago
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58 days ago
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jhamill
61 days ago
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In a 24 hour news cycle, memories are short, which is less than ideal.
California

On the Equifax Data Breach

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Last Thursday, Equifax reported a data breach that affects 143 million US customers, about 44% of the population. It's an extremely serious breach; hackers got access to full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver's license numbers -- exactly the sort of information criminals can use to impersonate victims to banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, and other businesses vulnerable to fraud.

Many sites posted guides to protecting yourself now that it's happened. But if you want to prevent this kind of thing from happening again, your only solution is government regulation (as unlikely as that may be at the moment).

The market can't fix this. Markets work because buyers choose between sellers, and sellers compete for buyers. In case you didn't notice, you're not Equifax's customer. You're its product.

This happened because your personal information is valuable, and Equifax is in the business of selling it. The company is much more than a credit reporting agency. It's a data broker. It collects information about all of us, analyzes it all, and then sells those insights.

Its customers are people and organizations who want to buy information: banks looking to lend you money, landlords deciding whether to rent you an apartment, employers deciding whether to hire you, companies trying to figure out whether you'd be a profitable customer -- everyone who wants to sell you something, even governments.

It's not just Equifax. It might be one of the biggest, but there are 2,500 to 4,000 other data brokers that are collecting, storing, and selling information about you -- almost all of them companies you've never heard of and have no business relationship with.

Surveillance capitalism fuels the Internet, and sometimes it seems that everyone is spying on you. You're secretly tracked on pretty much every commercial website you visit. Facebook is the largest surveillance organization mankind has created; collecting data on you is its business model. I don't have a Facebook account, but Facebook still keeps a surprisingly complete dossier on me and my associations -- just in case I ever decide to join.

I also don't have a Gmail account, because I don't want Google storing my e-mail. But my guess is that it has about half of my e-mail anyway, because so many people I correspond with have accounts. I can't even avoid it by choosing not to write to gmail.com addresses, because I have no way of knowing if newperson@company.com is hosted at Gmail.

And again, many companies that track us do so in secret, without our knowledge and consent. And most of the time we can't opt out. Sometimes it's a company like Equifax that doesn't answer to us in any way. Sometimes it's a company like Facebook, which is effectively a monopoly because of its sheer size. And sometimes it's our cell phone provider. All of them have decided to track us and not compete by offering consumers privacy. Sure, you can tell people not to have an e-mail account or cell phone, but that's not a realistic option for most people living in 21st-century America.

The companies that collect and sell our data don't need to keep it secure in order to maintain their market share. They don't have to answer to us, their products. They know it's more profitable to save money on security and weather the occasional bout of bad press after a data loss. Yes, we are the ones who suffer when criminals get our data, or when our private information is exposed to the public, but ultimately why should Equifax care?

Yes, it's a huge black eye for the company -- this week. Soon, another company will have suffered a massive data breach and few will remember Equifax's problem. Does anyone remember last year when Yahoo admitted that it exposed personal information of a billion users in 2013 and another half billion in 2014?

This market failure isn't unique to data security. There is little improvement in safety and security in any industry until government steps in. Think of food, pharmaceuticals, cars, airplanes, restaurants, workplace conditions, and flame-retardant pajamas.

Market failures like this can only be solved through government intervention. By regulating the security practices of companies that store our data, and fining companies that fail to comply, governments can raise the cost of insecurity high enough that security becomes a cheaper alternative. They can do the same thing by giving individuals affected by these breaches the ability to sue successfully, citing the exposure of personal data itself as a harm.

By all means, take the recommended steps to protect yourself from identity theft in the wake of Equifax's data breach, but recognize that these steps are only effective on the margins, and that most data security is out of your hands. Perhaps the Federal Trade Commission will get involved, but without evidence of "unfair and deceptive trade practices," there's nothing it can do. Perhaps there will be a class-action lawsuit, but because it's hard to draw a line between any of the many data breaches you're subjected to and a specific harm, courts are not likely to side with you.

If you don't like how careless Equifax was with your data, don't waste your breath complaining to Equifax. Complain to your government.

This essay previously appeared on CNN.com.

EDITED TO ADD: In the early hours of this breach, I did a radio interview where I minimized the ramifications of this. I didn't know the full extent of the breach, and thought it was just another in an endless string of breaches. I wondered why the press was covering this one and not many of the others. I don't remember which radio show interviewed me. I kind of hope it didn't air.

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dougsmith
70 days ago
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mxm23
70 days ago
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How can I force Equifax to delete all their data that they have about me?
San Rafael, CA
CrystalDave
70 days ago
Lobby Congress to require an opt-out, I'd imagine. As the article notes, we're products rather than customers. Something like the EU's General Data Protection Directive should do the trick
zippy72
68 days ago
I don't think the EU's GDPR will - they will just roll consent into the terms and conditions of the financial products, which is what they currently do now.
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