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LFC

Member Since 03 February 2012 - 03:42 PM
Offline Last Active Nov 10 2019 07:12 PM
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Topics I've Started

The Neocon Plans for the Middle East

06 November 2019 - 01:49 PM

This is a longish bashing of Gen. Patraeus which is fine (he deserved prison for giving out classified info in exchange for gettin' some) but I wanted to bring up this one little tidbit quoted below. Itshould scare the shit out of anybody with sense. This is the kind of world view that the likes of Pompeo and Bolton have. The neocons are at least down for a bit but they are in no way out.

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Lesson one: “Islamist extremists will exploit ungoverned spaces in the Muslim world. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when and how bad is it.”

If this is known, then why has the United States spent the entire war on terror creating as many ungoverned spaces in the Middle East as possible? The answer is that, as was recounted by General Wesley Clark in 2007, after the September 11 attacks, there was a “policy coup” in which “some hard-nosed people took over the direction of American foreign policy and they never bothered to inform the rest of us.” Clark says he was informed in October 2001 that the plan going forward was to strike seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.

You don’t need to whitewash the wickedness of Saddam Hussein or Bashar al-Assad or the Ayatollah to understand that none of them have supported the kind of Sunni jihadist terrorism that came to American shores. So what was the rationale behind this (ongoing) strategy?

National Scam in Airbnb Rentals

06 November 2019 - 12:23 PM

People have figured out how to play the rules that Airbnb put in place to scam people out of their money. The "people" renting some of these properties don't even exist, people are steered to higher cost properties due to "emergencies", the places are shitholes that don't match the pictures, and getting your money back in nearly impossible. It does not sound like Airbnb is doing much of anything to stop it or make things right. Maybe that's because they have plans to go public next year and are just hoping this stays quiet. You can't have a scandal or a drop in revenue so just sweep it under the rug.

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While searching for the person who grifted me in Chicago, I discovered just how easy it is for users of the short-term rental platform to get exploited.

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s it turned out, I had accidentally stumbled upon a larger, more metastasized version of what researchers at a Los Angeles-based advocacy organization uncovered themselves while researching Airbnb in the middle of the decade. In 2015, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy released a report that said large rental companies in Los Angeles had started to profit off Airbnb by creating pseudonyms that helped them appear to be normal homeowners. The most prolific host that LAANE identified in LA was “ghc,” or Globe Homes and Condos, a now-defunct company that at one time ran an Airbnb profile using the pseudonyms “Danielle and Lexi.”

Airbnb’s Community Standards state that no host should “provide inaccurate information,” but Airbnb does not rigorously police the request, according to the report. “In spite of the fact that Danielle and Lexi received a verified ID, badge on their profile page, we have no way of knowing if they had any role in the properties other than having their photo taken,” the report stated. “This case also undermines one of the cornerstones of AirBnB’s business model, namely that the company’s ratings and identity verification system are a viable means by which travelers can vet their prospective hosts.”

James Elmendorf, a senior policy analyst at LAANE, told me that Airbnb’s weak verification process created the opportunity for those who were willing to exploit the platform through the creation of “faux, just-like-you personas.”

“Airbnb does no checking up on this whatsoever,” said Elmendorf. “They’re one of the most sophisticated companies in the world, and you’re telling me they can’t come up with a system that prevents this? Airbnb is doing that hand-wavy thing that tech companies do where they say, ‘We can’t solve this.' If they wanted to solve it, they would figure it out.”

The problem extends beyond my own scammer and beyond Los Angeles. The Better Business Bureau has received around 200 complaints about Airbnb through its “Scam Tracker” in the past three years, and about half of those were regarding fake profiles, spokesperson Katherine Hutt told me. The use of fake profiles does not necessarily translate into a bad customer experience. Many people don’t care whose home they’re staying in—they just want something cheaper than a hotel. But by allowing hosts to easily operate under fake identities, Airbnb has set up a system that allows scammers like mine to thrive.

Feeling I had all the evidence I needed to prove my point to Airbnb, I emailed the company’s press team a long note, asking them, among other things, how they make sure that people are accurately representing themselves on their profiles and how case managers are directed to deal with allegations of fraud.

A little more than 24 hours later, a company flak responded in an emailed statement.

“Engaging in deceptive behavior such as substituting one listing for another is a violation of our Community Standards,” the flak wrote. “We are suspending the listings while we investigate further.”

That was it. No one at the company ever agreed to speak on the record about the specifics of what I uncovered. Nor would anyone answer any of my questions about Airbnb's verification process. As far as what obligation it has to people who have fallen victim to a scam on Airbnb's platform, the company only said in an email that it is "here 24/7 to support with rebooking assistance, full refunds and reimbursements" in cases of fraud or misrepresentation by hosts. Maybe Airbnb couldn't get more detailed about its verification process because it doesn't have much of one at all. I had asked the company about three accounts—Annie and Chase, Becky and Andrew, and Kris and Becky. Annie and Chase’s account has been deleted, and the two others no longer have any listings posted, which, due to Airbnb’s messaging constraints, means I could not message them for comment. Of the six other accounts I'd connected to the scheme, five are still active weeks later. Only Kelsey and Jean’s has disappeared from the site.

The 50s Called. They Want Their Gender Stereotypes Back.

31 October 2019 - 10:09 AM

Who the hell thought this was appropriate in 2018?

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When women speak, they shouldn’t be shrill. Clothing must flatter, but short skirts are a no-no. After all, “sexuality scrambles the mind.” Women should look healthy and fit, with a “good haircut” and “manicured nails.”

These were just a few pieces of advice that around 30 female executives at Ernst & Young received at a training held in the accounting giant’s gleaming new office in Hoboken, New Jersey, in June 2018.

The 55-page presentation, used during the day-and-a-half seminar on leadership and empowerment, was given to HuffPost by an attendee who was appalled by its contents. Full of out-of-touch advice, the presentation focused on how women need to fix themselves to fit into a male-dominated workplace.


Here's coverage of the article with a flurry of brutal tweets.

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The Rehabilitation of Generalissimo Francisco Franco

30 October 2019 - 03:42 PM

In case you missed it Spain decided to move Francisco Franco's remains. Here's some background on it and here's some reporting on the actual completion of the move.

Since then I've bumped into several pieces that seem designed to either rehabilitate his image in history or at least excuse some of the worst things that he did. This is a good example in TAC that doesn't go way too far but still tries to play the "it would have been worse if..." game. Why? Because Franco was a supposed Catholic and anything can be justified when religion is involved. As is so often the case at TAC the comments are the best part.

Lebanon In Economic Collapse

29 October 2019 - 12:33 PM

The Prime Minister of Lebanon is stepping down amidst turmoil and protests. Just what we need, another completely unstable nation in the Middle East.

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Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced he was resigning on Tuesday, succumbing to the demands of protesters who have staged nationwide demonstrations for nearly two weeks.

The three-time prime minister has led a national unity government, which included some of his political adversaries, for less than two years. In recent months, the country saw rapid economic deterioration, ballooning debt and rising prices.

On October 17, the government proposed imposing a tax on Whatsapp calls, along with other austerity measures, sparking nationwide protests that paralyzed the country.

Lebanon has been under lock-down since the protests began. Banks and schools have been closed for 12 days, while protesters blocked major routes throughout the tiny eastern Mediterranean nation.

"I can't hide this from you. I have reached a dead-end," Hariri said in his resignation speech.

"To all my political peers, our responsibility today is how to protect Lebanon and to uplift the economy," he added. "Today, there is a serious opportunity and we should not waste it."

Scores of protesters in downtown Beirut cheered as Hariri announced his departure. At their peak, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest government corruption on Sunday.

Over the last week, protests have dwindled in number, concentrating on road closures on the country's main routes as the economic crisis has deepened.