U.S. SEC sues Volkswagen, ex-CEO over alleged emissions fraud on investors | Reuters


The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is suing Volkswagen (VW) and its former chief executive Martin Winterkorn over the German automaker’s diesel emissions scandal, alleging a “massive fraud” on U.S. investors.

VW was caught using illegal software to cheat U.S. pollution tests in 2015, triggering a global backlash against diesel that and has so far cost it 29 billion euros (£24.78 billion).

Source: U.S. SEC sues Volkswagen, ex-CEO over alleged emissions fraud on investors | Reuters

Few Americans see savings from Trump’s tax reform: Reuters/Ipsos poll | Reuters


Only one in five U.S. taxpayers expect to pay less income tax this year as a result of the tax reform law passed in 2017 by Republicans who promised big savings for everyday Americans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Friday.

The poll suggested that the tax overhaul, mostly geared to helping businesses, may not be as strong a 2020 campaign talking point as Republicans and President Donald Trump had hoped.

Source: Few Americans see savings from Trump’s tax reform: Reuters/Ipsos poll | Reuters

Meritocracy is a myth invented by the rich | The Guardian

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The US college admissions scandal is fascinating, if not surprising.

Over 30 wealthy parents have been criminally charged over a scheme in which they allegedly paid a company large sums of money to get their children into top universities. The duplicity involved was extreme: everything from paying off university officials to inventing learning disabilities to facilitate cheating on standardized tests. One father even faked a photo of his son pole vaulting in order to convince admissions officers that the boy was a star athlete.

It’s no secret that wealthy people will do nearly anything to get their kids into good schools.

But this scandal only begins to reveal the lies that sustain the American idea of meritocracy.

Source: Meritocracy is a myth invented by the rich | Nathan Robinson | Opinion | The Guardian

Escalating battle with Huawei ensnares US allies | TheHill


The Trump administration’s standoff with Chinese tech giant Huawei is entering a new phase, one that could put existing intelligence-sharing agreements with U.S. allies at risk.

The U.S. has reportedly warned Germany that it would no longer fully share intelligence information with the European ally as it has in the past if the country works with Huawei to boost its domestic tech infrastructure, signaling American officials are willing to put long-standing relationships on the line as they raise concerns about the company’s alleged ties to Chinese intelligence agencies.

Source: Escalating battle with Huawei ensnares US allies | TheHill

12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  | TheHill

After years of watching power in Washington slowly shift from Congress to the White House, a trend accelerated by the gridlock that has characterized Capitol Hill over much of the last decade, Republican senators on Thursday said they had had enough.

In the end, the vote boiled down to an effort by GOP lawmakers to preserve their power of the purse, even though they agree with Trump’s desire to secure the border to halt the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants.

“One branch of government is asking another branch to give up power. Nobody gives up power around here. People want power, they don’t want to give it up,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), explaining why it was perhaps inevitable that Republican colleagues would rebel against Trump’s.

Source: 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  | TheHill

Wisconsin Emerges as the Top 2020 Battleground | US News


The 2020 presidential race is ushering in a new premiere battleground state: Wisconsin.

Democrats’ selection of Milwaukee as the site for the party’s national convention next year cements the Badger State as one of the most significant prizes on the electoral map and represents a burgeoning belief that the Rust Belt will factor more crucially than the Sun Belt in this campaign for the White House.

Source: Wisconsin Emerges as the Top 2020 Battleground | The Run | US News

White Privilege and the College Admissions Scandal | US News

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“What we do is we help the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school.”

William Rick Singer, a Newport Beach, California-based college admissions expert, wasted no time cutting to the chase in a conversation with a parent, which the FBI recorded last June.

“They want guarantees, they want this thing done. They don’t want to be messing around with this thing. And so they want in at certain schools. So I did 761 what I would call, ‘side doors.'”

He elaborated: “There is a front door which means you get in on your own. The back door is through institutional advancement, which is ten times as much money. And I’ve created this side door in.”

Singer then moved to close the deal: “Because the back door, when you go through institutional advancement, as you know, everybody’s got a friend of a friend, who knows somebody who knows somebody but there’s no guarantee, they’re just gonna give you a second look. My families want a guarantee.”

Source: White Privilege and the College Admissions Scandal | Education News | US News

Elizabeth Warren, Democrats Put Big Tech in the 2020 Spotlight | US News

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Major technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon are shaping up to be the Wall Streets of the 2020 election cycle as Democratic presidential hopefuls set their sights on tech in much the same way lawmakers targeted financial institutions following the crisis of the late 2000s.

The anti-tech rhetoric hasn’t reached the fever pitch that reverberated throughout much of the country as the Occupy Wall Street movement gathered steam and lawmakers passed legislation such as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

But some experts are starting to see parallels between tech and finance, especially after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., last week unveiled her most specific plan to date designed to curb technology companies’ power and influence in the U.S.

Source: Elizabeth Warren, Democrats Put Big Tech in the 2020 Spotlight | The Civic Report | US News

A Victim in the College Admissions Scandal: Students With Disabilities | US News

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When William Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the college admissions scandal that rocked the higher education industry this week, advised parents on how to game the system to get their children into elite schools, it often started with directing them to obtain certain allowances for how they take college entrance exams.

“I also need to tell [your daughter] when she gets tested, to be as, to be stupid, not to be as smart as she is,” Singer said to a parent last summer in a phone conversation recorded by the FBI.

“The goal is to be slow, to be not as bright, all that, so we show discrepancies.”

Source: A Victim in the College Admissions Scandal: Students With Disabilities | The Civic Report | US News

Between Brexit and a hard place


Today, Parliament is scheduled to vote to extend the Brexit deadline, so as to avoid the need to reconcile these two conflicting positions. But such an extension must be agreed by the EU itself, and European counterparts are fed up and unlikely to agree without conditions that will force the U.K. to finally choose between the only options left: the deal they don’t like or the no-deal scenario they (mostly) dread.

It has not been a good week in Westminster.

With the clock ticking, this week’s votes are starting to cut through the government’s political posturing, forcing recognition that the British played a weak hand badly. There are few options left for the U.K.

Source: Between Brexit and a hard place