Category Archives: Annals of Inequality

Quote of the Weekend: The Senate Saves the Billionaires (Again)

From, Farhad Manjoo, “Private Equity Doesn’t Want You to Read This” — New York Times — Aug. 4, 2022

One of private equity’s main plays is the leveraged buyout, which involves borrowing huge sums of money to gobble up companies in the hopes of restructuring them and one day selling them for a gain.

 

But the acquired companies — which range across just about every economic sector, from retailing to food to health care and housing — are often overloaded with debt to the point of unsustainability. They frequently slash jobs and benefits for employees, cut services and hike prices for consumers, and sometimes even endanger lives and undermine the social fabric.

It is a dismal record: Private equity firms presided over many of the largest retailer bankruptcies in the last decade — among them Toys “R” Us, Sears, RadioShack and Payless ShoeSource — resulting in nearly 600,000 lost jobs, according to a 2019 study by several left-leaning economic policy advocates.

Other investigations have shown that when private equity firms buy houses and apartments, rents and evictions soar. When they buy hospitals and doctors’ practices, the cost of care shoots up. When they buy nursing homes, patient mortality rises. When they buy newspapers, reporting on local governments dries up and participation in local elections declines. Continue reading Quote of the Weekend: The Senate Saves the Billionaires (Again)

The Saudi Blood Money Golf Tour: No Tiger In Their Tank!

Tiger Woods spurned offer in $800m range to join LIV Golf, Greg Norman says

  • Norman says Woods turned down massive offer from LIV Golf
  • Woods has been against Saudi-financed tour since last year
Associated Press — Tue 2 Aug 2022 

Tiger Woods turned down an offer that Greg Norman says was in the region of $700m to $800m to take part in the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series.

During an appearance on Fox News with Tucker Carlson that aired Monday night, Norman confirmed what he told the Washington Post in a story two months ago. Norman told the Post in June the offer was “mind-blowingly enormous; we’re talking about high nine digits.”

Woods has been opposed to LIV Golf since late last year, and he delivered his strongest comments at the British Open when he said players who took the money funded by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund had “turned their back” on the PGA Tour that made them famous.

OMFG! Thank you, Tiger!

When an offer was made to Woods was not clear.

“That number was out there before I became CEO. So that number has been out there, yes,” Norman said in the Fox News interview, which took place Sunday at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey, where the third LIV Golf Invitational was held.

“And, look, Tiger is a needle-mover and of course you have to look at the best of the best,” Norman said. “So they had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO. So, yes, that number was somewhere in that neighborhood.”

Various reports out of the United Kingdom have said Phil Mickelson received a $200m signing bonus, while Dustin Johnson received $150m. The 48-man fields, which play 54 holes with no cut, offer $25m in prize money at each event. Norman announced a 14-tournament schedule for next year.

LIV Golf currently has only one player – Johnson at No 18 – from the top 20 in the world.

The source of the funding has led to sharp criticism of the series and the players who have enlisted because it is viewed as an attempt to distract attention from its human rights record and links to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Asked why his rival tour has caused such an uproar among American golf fans, Norman responded plainly, “I don’t know.”

“I really don’t care,” Norman said. “I just love the game so much and I want to grow the game of golf and we at LIV see that opportunity not just for the men but for the women.”

The LIV Golf Invitational is off for a month during the FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour, returning over Labor Day weekend about an hour west of Boston, and then two weeks later plays in the Chicago suburbs.

Ex-Cops Sentenced in George Floyd Case

AP News: Floyd family, others see inequality in penalties for ex-cops

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Three former Minneapolis police officers went before a federal judge during the last week to be sentenced for violating George Floyd’s civil rights, and for each man, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson handed out penalties well below what prosecutors sought and below federal guidelines.

Tou Thao, who held back concerned bystanders as Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, got 3 1/2 years. J. Alexander Kueng, who pinned Floyds back, got three. And Thomas Lane, who held Floyds feet and asked twice about rolling the Black man on his side, got 2 1/2.

For some Floyd family members and activists, the penalties were too small — and a bitter reminder of a justice system they say does not treat all people equally.

“Once again, our judicial system favored people that should be locked up forever,Floyds uncle, Selwyn Jones, said Thursday. The officers, he said, “contributed to the most brutal, heinous killing in most of our lifetimes.”

Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd repeatedly said he couldnt breathe and eventually grew still. The killing, recorded by bystanders, sparked protests worldwide and a reckoning over racial injustice in policing.

DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD
Excops Kueng, Thao sentenced for violating Floyd’s rights
Ruling may mean less time for 2 who violated Floyds rights
EXPLAINER: Not unusual for excop to report later for prison
Excop Lane gets 2 1/2 years for violating Floyds rights
Chauvin, who pleaded guilty to a federal count in which he admitted willfully depriving Floyd of his right to be free from unreasonable seizure, was sentenced to 21 years for that and for an unrelated case involving a 14yearold boy.

Lane, Thao and Kueng were all convicted of depriving Floyd of medical care; Kueng and Thao were also convicted on a second count of failing to intervene. When issuing sentences in cases that include multiple defendants, judges have to look at each defendants level of culpability and issue sentences that are proportional. Legal experts who spoke to The Associated Press did not expect any of them to receive sentences as long as Chauvins.

Mark Osler, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and former federal prosecutor, called the sentences for the three “groundbreaking, saying its rare for officers who dont directly commit killings to be held accountable.

Paris Stevens, Floyds cousin and a cochair of the George Floyd Global Memorial, said she didnt think Lane, Kueng and Thao should have gotten the same penalty as Chauvin — but the sentences they got were too low. She said police officers should be punished more harshly because of the power they hold, and said the three men could have helped Floyd, but didnt.

“They stood by and kind of watched,” she said.

Stevens saw favoritism in Magnusons sentences.

“I think all officers get favoritism in the court of law. Because historically that’s the way it’s played out,” she said.

At their sentencing hearings, Magnuson said Lane, who is white, and Kueng, who is Black, were rookies. He called Thao, who is Hmong American, a “good police officer, father and husband.” While he said the officers were culpable for violating Floyd’s rights, Magnuson also mentioned numerous letters of support that each officer received.

And during Chauvins sentencing, Magnuson appeared to suggest that Chauvin bore the most blame in the case, telling him: “You absolutely destroyed the lives of three young officers by taking command of the scene.”

Toshira Garroway, an activist who attended the sentencing hearings on Wednesday to support Floyd’s girlfriend, took exception to Magnusons assessment of Thao as “a good police officer, father and husband.

“That was irrelevant to what he did on May 25, 2020,” Garroway said.

Ayesha Bell Hardaway, who directs the Social Justice Law Center at Case Western Reserve University, said the judge “seemed to really have lost track of what occurred during those 9 minutes and 30 seconds and what she called an “egregious” killing.

She said Floyd’s killing sparked widespread awareness of the harm that excessive force and tactics can have, but worried that the sentences will undermine momentum for police reform.

“When someone dies and we’re only talking about the potential of two years in prison, I think there’s a strong concern, a wellfounded concern, that this removes the motivation for police to be more mindful of the way they choose to use force against individuals on the street,” Hardaway said.

Osler said any prison time for a police officer would likely make other officers think twice about declining to intervene.

“We should hope that it has the impact of changing behavior and prodding them to intervene when a life can be saved,” he said.

Angela Harrelson, an aunt of Floyd’s, said the judge showed favoritism when he allowed the three men to remain free pending sentencing and afterward — although that is frequently done in federal cases. Still, she celebrated the guilty verdicts as progress toward holding police accountable for their actions.

There’s a lot of triumphs that have been made in pushing forward. We are on the right track and police officers are being held accountable,” Harrelson said. “For Black and brown people, we are dismantling the system. It is peeling away before our eyes.”

In separate proceedings in state court, Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and was sentenced to a 22 1/2 years, which is being served at the same time as his federal sentence. Lane pleaded guilty in state court to one count of aiding and abetting seconddegree manslaughter and is awaiting sentencing there. Kueng and Thao face an Oct. 24 trial on charges of aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter.
___

Groves reported from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Associated Press/Report for America reporter Trisha Ahmed contributed from Minneapolis.

Annals of Inequality: Bulletins on How the Other Half (of 001%) Gets By

What the Eco-Conscious Oligarch Will Soon Be Driving

CNBC: — AUTOS

Here’s what Cadillac’s new $300,000 electric sedan will look like

KEY POINTS
  • GM on Friday unveiled the Cadillac Celestiq, previewing an upcoming car that will cost $300,000 or more when it goes into production by late 2023.
  • The car marks a pivot for Cadillac into hand-built vehicles, which are typically reserved for high-end sports cars and uber-luxury models.
  • GM did not release any technical details about the Celestiq such as its electric range, performance or other metrics.

The Cadillac Celestiq show car previews an upcoming electric sedan for General Motors.
GM

DETROIT – General Motors on Friday previewed what its most expensive Cadillac ever will look like as the automaker attempts to redefine the quintessential American luxury brand into an electric vehicle leader.

The Detroit automaker unveiled a “show car” version of the Cadillac Celestiq, an upcoming hand-built sedan that will cost about $300,000 or more when it’s expected to go into production by late 2023. Cadillac is calling the vehicle its new “all-electric flagship sedan.”

Cadillac Celestiq show car
The Celestic show car

The car marks a pivot for Cadillac into hand-built vehicles, which are typically reserved for high-end sports cars and uber-luxury vehicles such as Rolls-Royce exclusive models. Cadillac aims to exclusively offer EVs by the end of this decade.

Cadillac Celestiq show car
The Cadillac Celestiq show car previews an upcoming electric sedan for General Motors.
GM

GM did not release any technical details about the Celestiq such as its electric range, performance or other metrics.

The vehicle will feature five LED interactive displays, including a 55-inch-diagonal screen spanning the front cabin of the car; a “smart glass roof” that includes customizable transparency options; and Ultra Cruise, GM’s next-generation advanced driver-assist system that the company has said will be capable of driving itself in most circumstances.

Cadillac Celestiq show car
The Cadillac Celestiq show car previews an upcoming electric sedan for General Motors.
GM

GM confirmed such technologies will be part of the production car, however declined to provide additional details. The Wall Street Journal first reported the expected price and production of the Celestiq, which CNBC also confirmed through a person familiar with the plans who spoke anonymously because they haven’t been made public.

A show car is meant to preview an upcoming production car. As opposed to a “concept car” that automakers typically use to preview certain elements or design direction of a car or brand that may or may not be produced. Cadillac leveraged a similar launch strategy with the electric Lyriq SUV, which recently went into production.

GM said designers drew inspiration from well-known cars such as the bespoke V-16 powered “coaches” of the era before World War II and the hand-built 1957 Eldorado Brougham.

Cadillac Celestiq show car
The Cadillac Celestiq show car previews an upcoming electric sedan for General Motors.
GM

“Those vehicles represented the pinnacle of luxury in their respective eras, and helped make Cadillac the standard of the world,” Tony Roma, chief engineer of the Celestiq, said in a release. “The Celestiq show car — also a sedan, because the configuration offers the very best luxury experience — builds on that pedigree and captures the spirt of arrival they expressed.”

GM is investing $81 million at its tech center in suburban Detroit to hand build the upcoming Cadillac Celestiq. It marks the first time GM will produce a vehicle for commercial sales at its massive tech campus in Warren, Michigan.