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Self-Driving Cars Might Kill Auto Insurance as We Know It: Without humans to cause accidents, 90% of risk is removed. Insurers are scrambling to prepare.

Dan Peate, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur in Southern California, was thinking of buying a Tesla Model X a few years ago—until he called his insurance company and found out how much his premiums would rise. “They quoted me $10,000 a year,” Peate recalled. For all the concern over accidents involving driverless cars, including Tesla’s troubles with its limited self-driving Autopilot mode, it’s easy to forget one of the supposed virtues of autonomous vehicles: They will make the roads safer. A sophisticated array of lidar, radar and cameras is expected to be more adept at detecting trouble than our mortal eyes and ears.…

‘Mass Riots’: Democratic 2020 Candidate Warns Driverless Trucks Will Lead To ‘Outbreak Of Violence’

The implementation of driverless trucks will lead to suicides and “an outbreak of violence,” according to Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Yang said he thinks it’s inevitable that some of America’s 3.5 million truck drivers will react violently to being replaced by driverless trucks. “There’s going to be a lot of passion, a lot of resistance to this. Anyone who thinks truck drivers are just going to shrug and say, ‘Alright, I had a good run. I’ll just go home and figure it out’ — that’s not going to be their response,” Yang said Tuesday in an interview with podcast…

Student-loan payment may soon come directly out of your paycheck

Your student loans Opens a New Window. could be automatically deducted from your paycheck each month if a new proposal from Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander Opens a New Window. becomes law. In a speech that he delivered earlier this month, Alexander, R-Tenn., laid out a broad blueprint to completely overhaul the system for financial aid and student loan repayments Opens a New Window. — a plan that, if approved, could ultimately affect up to 40 million borrowers, who owe a collective $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Alexander, who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Opens a New…

Major Cities Becoming Uninhabitable Hellholes…Rats, Public Defecation And Open Drug Use

Almost everyone that goes out to visit one of our major cities on the west coast has a similar reaction.  Those that must live among the escalating decay are often numb to it, but most of those that are just in town for a visit are absolutely shocked by all of the trash, human defecation, crime and public drug use that they encounter.  Once upon a time, our beautiful western cities were the envy of the rest of the world, but now they serve as shining examples of America’s accelerating decline.  The worst parts of our major western cities literally…

Amazon in Its Prime: Doubles Profits, Pays $0 in Federal Income Taxes

Amazon, the ubiquitous purveyor of two-day delivery of just about everything, nearly doubled its profits to $11.2 billion in 2018 from $5.6 billion the previous year and, once again, didn’t pay a single cent of federal income taxes. The company’s newest corporate filing reveals that, far from paying the statutory 21 percent income tax rate on its U.S. income in 2018, Amazon reported a federal income tax rebate of $129 million. For those who don’t have a pocket calculator handy, that works out to a tax rate of negative 1 percent. The fine print of Amazon’s income tax disclosure shows…

An explosion in auto debt threatens consumer finances, advocacy group warns

As Americans’ appetite for new cars continues unabated, an advocacy group is sounding the alarm over the growing level of auto debt carried by U.S. consumers. In a report issued Wednesday, U.S. PIRG warns that the continuing rise in auto debt is putting many consumers in a financially vulnerable position, which could worsen during an economic downturn. The report comes on the heels of data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showing that at least 7 million Americans were in serious delinquency on their car loan — 90 or more days behind — at the end…

Nearly one-third of Americans have more credit card debt than savings

Despite a thriving economy with historic low unemployment, an increasing number of Americans – 74 million, or nearly one-third of the population – have more credit card debt than savings. The number of American households with more emergency savings than credit card debt, 44 percent, is the lowest since 2011 when an annual survey of financial health by Bankrate.com began. The survey found that 29 percent of Americans have more credit card debt than emergency savings, the highest in the history of the survey. Of those surveyed, 18 percent have neither credit card debt nor emergency savings, up sharply from…

FAILED: Dick’s Sporting Goods ends efforts to lobby congress for gun control

Almost nine months after the Parkland shooting, Ed Stack — the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods — stood up in the audience of a New York Times conference. He got up to talk about restricting gun sales at his stores. He had done it many times before, but this time, he got personal. “I’m not embarrassed to say I’m viewed as a relatively tough guy,” Stack said. “I wouldn’t characterize myself as a crier. And that weekend, I watched those kids, and I watched those parents, and I hadn’t cried as much since my mother passed away.” His highly publicized…

A record 7 million Americans are 3 months behind on their car payments, a red flag for the economy

A record 7 million Americans are 90 days or more behind on their auto loan payments, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported Tuesday, even more than during the wake of the financial crisis. Economists warn that this is a red flag. Despite the strong economy and low unemployment rate, many Americans are struggling to pay their bills. “The substantial and growing number of distressed borrowers suggests that not all Americans have benefited from the strong labor market,” economists at the New York Fed wrote in a blog post. A car loan is typically the first payment people make…

Most Americans “just one serious illness away from bankruptcy.”

For many Americans, putting one’s health first can mean putting one’s financial status at risk. A study of bankruptcy filings in the United States showed that 66.5% were due, at least in part, to medical expenses. The study, led by Dr. David Himmelstein, Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Hunter College and Lecturer at Harvard Medical School, indicates that about 530,000 families each year are financially ruined by medical bills and sicknesses. It’s the first research of its kind to link medical expenses and bankruptcy since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. “Unless…

States that don’t tax your pension or Social Security

pension (a) 11 states that don’t tax public and qualified private pensions: The states that are not on this list tax at least a partial amount or the total amount of public and private pensions. Some states will only tax private pensions, but not public pensions earned in that state. Alabama Alaska Hawaii Illinois Kansas Louisiana Massachusetts Michigan Mississippi New York Pennsylvania (b) 5 states that tax both private and public pensions: California Indiana Nebraska Rhode Island Vermont Source: Financial Web Social Security Your Social Security benefits are taxable! Depending on your income, the federal government can tax up to…

Young People Are Doomed by Student Loans, Not the National Debt, Rich old people love to freak out about the budget deficit. They are ignoring a much bigger issue.

That America faces a mounting student loan problem is increasingly difficult to ignore. Coming across a youngish person or couple who own their home in the wild can feel like a spectacular find in a country where so many have to prioritize paying off college debt. Millennial home-ownership rates have been lagging behind those of other generations at the same age, and student loans are one of the many reasons behind that trend. According to numbers released by Federal Reserve economists last month, some 400,000 young people who might otherwise have owned a home in 2014 didn’t because they had…

Revenue Stream: Georgia might tax Netflix, downloads and just about everything else you can stream

Possibly coming soon to a screen near you: a tax on Netflix and just about everything else you download or stream. Georgia lawmakers, coaxed by dozens of lobbyists swarming the state Capitol, are pushing for a tax on digital video, books, music and video games. That means you’d pay more for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Kindle e-books, iTunes music, Spotify and internet phone services. Legislators and internet providers see it as a giant pool of untapped cash that could be used to subsidize construction of internet lines in economically depressed rural parts of the state. Those who are already connected would…

Apple iPhone Shipments Dive in China as Huawei Tightens Grip

Apple Inc.’s Chinese smartphone shipments plummeted an estimated 20 percent in 2018’s final quarter, underscoring the scale of the iPhone maker’s retreat in the world’s largest mobile device arena against local rivals like Huawei Technologies Co. The domestic market contracted 9.7 percent in the quarter, but Apple declined at about twice that pace, research firm IDC said in a report on Monday. A slowing economy, lengthening replacement times and the iPhone’s hefty price tag contributed to the U.S. giant’s decline, it said. Xiaomi Corp. fared even worse in the final months of last year, when shipments plunged almost 35 percent,…

Dollar Stores Feed More Americans Than Whole Foods

Dollar stores such as Dollar General and Dollar Tree (which also owns Family Dollar) are becoming a primary source of food for many families. The chains feed more Americans than Whole Foods,1 which isn’t surprising when you consider there are 30,000 Dollar General and Dollar Tree stores across the U.S. — outnumbering Walmart’s and McDonald’s’ combined — compared to 446 Whole Foods locations. The dollar store chains also claim to have their sights on yet another 20,000 locations. The problem with this trend is that dollar stores typically do not carry fresh food; it’s primarily ultra-processed packaged foods and canned…

Martin Armstrong: You can feel it in the air, we are heading into the collapse of government and a violent civil war because hatred is rising dramatically

You can feel it in the air. We are heading into the collapse of government and a violent civil war because hatred is rising dramatically. The government is no longer capable of even functioning. The State of the Union was just an example. It did not matter what Trump said. The Democrats will not break party rank and will refuse to comply with anything. The government never acted like this until Hillary lost. Neither side will accept the election in 2020. Western society will crumble by 2032. There is no going back. This is how all empires, nations, and city-states have…

Wealth concentration near ‘levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties,’ study finds

The shift is eroding security from families in the lower and middle classes, who rely on their small stores to finance retirement and to smooth over shocks like the loss of a job. And it’s consolidating power in the hands of billionaires, who are increasingly using their riches to purchase political influence. The 400 richest Americans – the top 0.00025 percent of the population – have tripled their share of the nation’s wealth since the early 1980s, according to a new working paper on wealth inequality by University of California at Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman. Those 400 Americans own more…

Payless ShoeSource prepares for SECOND bankruptcy that could come within weeks, plans store closures

Payless ShoeSource is preparing for its second bankruptcy, which could come as soon as within two weeks, a person familiar with the situation told CNBC. As part of the bankruptcy process, Payless is looking for buyers for its real estate, which could include selling large blocks of stores in certain areas of the country. If it cannot find buyers, it may need to shutter the majority, if not all, of its North American stores, the person said. The person cautioned that plans remain in flux and it is still possible that Payless could avoid a bankruptcy filing, potentially by finding…

This Company Will Pay Your Student Loans, But They Want Your Vacation Days…

Would you trade your vacation days in exchange for cash to help pay off your student loans? This Fortune 500 company is betting that you might. Here’s what you need to know. Student Loan Debt Statistics Student loan debt in the U.S. continues to soar. Today, student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt category, second only to mortgages. The latest student loan debt statistics from Make Lemonade peg outstanding student loan debt at $1.5 trillion, with more than 44 million Americans owing money on their student loans. According to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, student loan debt…

Raspberry Pi Opens Its First Official Retail Store

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has opened its first retail store in Cambridge, UK. In addition to offering Apple some local competition in the critical tech-stores-named-after-tasty-fruit market, the store aims to introduce consumers who may not have heard of the RBP to the homebrew capabilities and custom computing options that the diminutive system is capable of. The store, which you can see above, looks something like an Apple or Microsoft Store crossed with an old-fashioned Radio Shack. It’s easy to forget, given how long it has been, but the early homebrew computing kits and projects were themselves supported by a network…

GM- 14,000 layoffs

General Motors Opens a New Window. announced last year it would lay off Opens a New Window. 14,000 workers in the U.S. as it shifts its focus away from passenger cars Opens a New Window.  in favor of producing SUVs and pickups, as well as electric and self-driving vehicles. The decision elicited intense federal Opens a New Window. backlash. President Trump Opens a New Window. tweeted that he was “very disappointed” and said the administration would examine whether to cut subsidies for the Detroit carmaker. A White House spokeswoman did not immediately answer whether the administration is still considering it –…

What if Basic Income is a new Prison and a new form of Slavery?

In 2018, you are going to read a lot of studies. They will basically tell you that a Universal Basic Income is a great idea and more effective than any other method of combating technological unemployment, the death of the Middle Class and the automation of the future of work. They won’t discuss why these things came to pass or why governments and business leaders allowed this to happen. They will say Basic Income is the solution for all people, no matter their circumstances. How Wealth Inequality Destroys Lives They don’t propose a solution to wealth inequality, they only show a…

Another U.S. retailer files Ch. 11, plans to shutter nearly 100 stores

Charlotte Russe Holdings (and its subsidiaries) on Monday said on Feb. 3 it filed for relief under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The company intends to shutter 94 of its stores and pursue a going-concern sale of the business and its assets, according to a company press release. Charlotte Russe also said it has received a commitment for debtor-in-possession financing in the maximum amount of $50 million, which awaits court approval. Charlotte Russe and Peek stores and their online platforms are still open and serving customers, the company said. Customary motions are already on…

After #MeToo, whole industries have been blacklisted by insurers for sexual harassment liability coverage

A new report from Betterley Risk Consultants, shared with The Intercept, reveals that many of the world’s largest insureres will no longer conside whole industries for “employment practices liability insurance” (EPLI), which covers liability from “sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and other employee claims.” Ten of the 32 largest insurers will no longer write EPLI policies for financial firms (brokers, investment banks, VCs, etc); eight will no longer sell EPLI coverage to entertainment and media companies. Also blacklisted are law firms, car dealerships, and other industries where “superstars” or “celebrities” or “high-billing rainmakers” have historically been able to get away with…

Italy Starts Handing Out Free Money (nothing is ever free in life)

Italy’s Five Star Movement has risen to global prominence more for the colorful oddness of its founder, the comedian Beppe Grillo, than for the seriousness of its populist policies. But one of its proposals has attracted genuine interest from across the world: The idea of a “citizens’ income.” This concept (a less radical version of the “universal basic income” scheme tried out by Finland) could in theory appeal to both the left and the right; the former because it might reduce inequality, and the latter because it could simplify social security. After a long gestation, Five Star is rolling out its plan in…

H&M to shutter 160 stores amid profit slump

H&M on Thursday said that fourth quarter net sales rose 12% (or 6% in local currency) to SEK 56.4 billion ($50.4 billion). Online sales rose 24% in SEK and 20% in local currency. Gross profit in the quarter reached SEK 30.6 billion, with a gross margin of 54.2%, as the cost of markdowns declined by 0.6 percentage points, according to a company press release. Quarterly profit after financial items fell 11% to SEK 4.35 billion, as the development of new warehousing for online fulfillment took a SEK 560 million toll, the company said. For the full year, net sales rose…

More retail bankruptcies likely coming in 2019, top mall CEO warns

The battered U.S. retail Opens a New Window. market is likely to see more prominent bankruptcy Opens a New Window. filings and store closures in the first quarter of 2019, according to the top executive at America’s largest mall operator. “There are some retailers out there that we’re nervous about. … We are concerned about a few [bankruptcies] that should shake out in Q1,” Simon Property Group CEO David Simon said Friday during an earnings call. Some of the country’s top brick-and-mortar retailers have struggled to stay afloat in recent years amid dwindling customer traffic at stores and the rise…

AT&T Lost 267,000 Subscribers …

AT&T, a modern media company, announced on Wednesday that it had lost almost 267,000 DirecTV Now consumers in the fourth quarter after its release. It also reported a staggering net loss in subscribers on the same quarter. According to AT&T, its goal is to create the best entertainment and communications experiences to its consumers when it presented DirecTV Now in November 2016. It also did not miss out the fact that it wanted to lure out people from their traditional TV setting. After a positive start with loads of promotions, the company managed to attract 267,000 subscribers within a month…

GM to start laying off 4,000-plus salaried workers Monday

General Motors Co. will begin on Monday morning a weeks-long process of laying off roughly 4,250 salaried employees, The Detroit News has learned. As part of a larger restructuring effort, GM will start salaried workforce reductions in earnest Monday, with more involuntary separations continuing through February, according to a source familiar with the plans. It’s not clear yet which departments will see cuts first. The layoffs are the latest move in a sweeping restructuring of the automaker’s global operations. They include indefinitely idling five North American manufacturing plants later this year, expected to save the company up to $2.5 billion in…

Billionaire Bill Gates says poverty is decreasing. He couldn’t be more wrong

Last week, as world leaders and business elites arrived in Davos for the World Economic Forum, Bill Gates tweeted an infographic to his 46 million followers showing that the world has been getting better and better. “This is one of my favourite infographics,” he wrote. “A lot of people underestimate just how much life has improved over the past two centuries.” Of the six graphs – developed by Max Roser of Our World in Data – the first has attracted the most attention by far. It shows that the proportion of people living in poverty has declined from 94% in…

Iconic mall retailer, Things Remembered to close 400 stores, roughly 2,500 workers to lose jobs

Things keep getting tougher in retail. According to this Ohio.com report Things Remembered will be closing most stores and laying off almost 2,500 workers. Specialty gift retailer Things Remembered is reportedly planning to file for bankruptcy and close most of its stores. The shop that sells engraved gifts and keepsakes will file for bankruptcy in the coming days and close most of its nearly 400 stores, people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week. Stores at Summit Mall in Fairlawn, Belden Village Mall in Jackson Township and SouthPark Center in Strongsville are among those that would close if no…

Doctor ditches the system, charges patience a monthly fee and doesn’t take insurance

According to this interesting article from Business Insider, Dr. Bryan Hill is ditching the death care system and offering patients a new model that doesn’t take insurance and charges patients a monthly subscription fee. Dr. Bryan Hill spent his career working as a pediatrician, teaching at a university, and working at a hospital. But in March 2016, he decided he no longer wanted a boss. He took some time off, then one day he got a call asking if he’d be up for doing a house call for a woman whose son was sick. He agreed, and by the end…

The rent is too damned high because money-laundering oligarchs bought all the real-estate to clean their oil money

In an absolutely epic Twitter thread (unrolled here) author CZ Edwards lays out an incredibly compelling explanation of spiralling real-estate prices: oligarchs need to launder a lot of oil money — think Russia, Iran, ex-Soviet basket-case states, Saudi — and so they plow the money into offshore Real Estate Investment Trust that then cleans it by outbidding any actual real-estate investors or would-be homeowners, bidding up and snapping up all the property in desirable cities, and then realizing the rental income-flows as legitimate, clean money. It’s as neat and compelling a way of describing the link between oligarchy and spiraling…

Forever stamps to jump to 55 cents, biggest increase in USPS history. Priority mail prices are also increasing. A small flat rate box will now cost nearly $8, instead of $7.20.

The price of Forever stamps is increasing by 10 percent, and will go from 50 cents to 55 cents, according to a United States Postal Service press release. The First-Class Mail Forever stamp price will take effect Jan. 27, the federal agency said. NBC Bay Area reports that the change is the biggest jump in the history of the USPS. Although the price is increasing, old Forever stamps remain valid for mailing a letter regardless of how much the price changes. The price change will offset a $4 billion loss the federal agency experienced in 2018. According to NBC Bay…

‘Flex is dead’: Drivers claim Amazon Flex delivery jobs are disappearing

Delivery workers across the US say they are fearful that Amazon Flex jobs are disappearing. Some Flex drivers have been complaining that the holiday season, typically the busiest time of year for deliveries, was slower compared to previous years. Now that the holidays are over, some Flex drivers are getting desperate for work, according to interviews with 14 Amazon-affiliated delivery workers across seven states including Texas, Virginia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Illinois. “I think Flex is dead, to be honest,” said Austin Jones, who has delivered packages for Amazon’s Flex program for nearly two years, most recently in…

Media Pundits Declare That The American Middle Class Is Dead

Some observers, including Atlantic writer Caitlin Zaloom, now believe that the American middle class is dead. Zaloom, in fact, asserts that the work and jobs that define the middle class no longer exist. For instance, Zaloom thinks white-collar professionals in secure corporate or government jobs compose a middle class. Furthermore, she defines a middle-class job as a white-collar position that pays enough to support a family on one salary. Zaloom maintains that the American middle class is dead because such jobs no longer exist. The American Middle Class Is Dead: Nurses Drive Uber To Pay The Bills To illustrate, Uber is…

Jeff Bezos gives a pitiful amount of his $160B fortune to charity

For the world’s richest man, charity begins — and stays — at home. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has given only a tiny fraction of his $160 billion fortune to philanthropic causes, falling far behind fellow billionaires such as Bill and Melinda Gates and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, public records show. Although Bezos, 55, and his estranged wife MacKenzie recently pledged $2 billion to a new charitable initiative, their previous giving amounts to a total of just over $145 million or .0906 percent — far less than one percent — of their net worth. Out of $100,000,…

Walmart wants to hire 900 truckers and pay them nearly $90,000 a year

The 8,000 truckers who work for Walmart are getting a raise, with average pay soon approaching $90,000 a year, as the retailing heavyweight looks to hire hundreds more drivers amid an ongoing shortage of truck drivers. Walmart’s bid to recruit more truck drivers had it running national TV ads in the fall, shortening the hiring process and offering referral bonuses of as much as $1,500. The company hired 1,400 new drivers in 2018, and “hundreds more are slated to join in 2019,” according to Walmart. Starting next month, truck drivers will get a per-mile hike of one cent and an extra…

Google-Facebook duopoly now commands 80% of ad market

If you think the internet is under the control of Big Tech now, it’s going to get much worse this year, reports a State of Digital Media White Paper. Consolidation of revenue continues, with Amazon, Microsoft, Oath, Twitter and Snap spending $29 billion, compared to Google-Facebook spending a staggering $169 billion in 2018. With this blatantly left-leaning cartel totally dominating the digital advertising market with boycotts and blacklisting, it’s more bad news for free speech and the free press. And that’s not the end of the story, according to the report. Over the next five years, this cabal’s growth is…

The holiday season was a brutal one for U.S. retailers, especially department stores and companies that sell luxury products

The holiday season was a brutal one for U.S. retailers, especially department stores and companies that sell luxury products, and companies and investors alike didn’t see it coming. The U.S. economy has been growing at a steady pace, and unemployment is low and consumer confidence is high. That seemed to set the stage for strong sales over the holidays, but companies including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Signet all said they struggled badly over the critical December shopping period. The stock market itself may have been part of the problem: extreme volatility in December may have shaken up wealthy shoppers more than…