Comcast has been supported by many politicians in its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, but the testimonials from elected officials aren’t quite as organic as the cable company would have you believe.
A report today by The Verge, based on documents obtained through public records requests, shows that in August three politicians sent letters to the Federal Communications Commission that were ghostwritten by Comcast. We reported several months ago that letters from politicians closely mimicked Comcast talking points and re-used Comcast’s own statements without attribution, and the documents revealed today show just how Comcast was able to get politicians on board.
“For instance, a letter sent to the FCC by a town councilman from the small community of Jupiter, Florida was in fact largely orchestrated by some of the biggest players in corporate telecom,” The Verge wrote. “Not only do records show that a Comcast official sent the councilman the exact wording of the letter he would submit to the FCC, but also that finishing touches were put on the letter by a former FCC official named Rosemary Harold, who is now a partner at one of the nation’s foremost telecom law firms in Washington, DC. Comcast has enlisted Harold to help persuade her former agency to approve the proposed merger.”
Time Warner Cable (TWC) has mistreated its customers for decades and should face a wide-ranging investigation as part of its proposed merger with Comcast, a new complaint to the Federal Communications Commission says.
Telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick of New Networks Institute, who recently petitioned the FCC to investigate Verizon for perjury, is now taking aim at TWC’s billing practices and customer service.
“We call for the halt of the proposed Time Warner Cable-Comcast merger, but more importantly, this Petition for Investigation & Complaint calls for the immediate start of a series of investigations,” Kushnick and Audit Director Tom Allibone of telecom customer advocacy group Teletruth write in a complaint. It was filed with the FCC two weeks ago and is being filed today with New York state officials, who are also examining the merger.
Kushnick and Allibone point out that Comcast and TWC are two of the most hated companies in the US, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, and they lay out five areas the FCC should investigate. One of those is related to Kushnick’s own experience in which his Time Warner Cable service was advertised at $89.99 per month and shot up to $190.77 less than two years later.
One of America’s most prominent welfare queens is not very happy with the government who handed him Bear Stearns as a Christmas present shortly before he and the rest of his buddies broke most of the world economy and then stole what was left.
“We have five or six regulators or people coming after us on every different issue,” Dimon, 58, said today on a call with reporters after New York-based JPMorgan reported fourth-quarter results. “It’s a hard thing to deal with.” JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, posted a drop in fourth-quarter profit amid $990 million of legal expenses, about double what some analysts predicted. The legal costs, mostly tied to probes into currency rate-rigging, follow even bigger payments in 2013 related to mortgage bonds sold before the 2008 crisis by JPMorgan and two firms it acquired.
Yes, the amount you have to pay your lawyers to keep your well-tailored buns out of the federal prison system will put a crimp in the old profit margin. Maybe it’s time to take a look at where you can cut back. How about that line in the quarterly report labelled, “Cheating and Stealing”? Might be a good place to start.
Some new studies support our observations. A study by a Yale psychologist, Victoria L. Brescoll, found that male senators with more power (as measured by tenure, leadership positions and track record of legislation passed) spoke more on the Senate floor than their junior colleagues. But for female senators, power was not linked to significantly more speaking time.
Suspecting that powerful women stayed quiet because they feared a backlash, Professor Brescoll looked deeper. She asked professional men and women to evaluate the competence of chief executives who voiced their opinions more or less frequently. Male executives who spoke more often than their peers were rewarded with 10 percent higher ratings of competence. When female executives spoke more than their peers, both men and women punished them with 14 percent lower ratings. As this and other research shows, women who worry that talking “too much” will cause them to be disliked are not paranoid; they are often right.
One of us, Adam, was dismayed to find similar patterns when studying a health care company and advising an international bank. When male employees contributed ideas that brought in new revenue, they got significantly higher performance evaluations. But female employees who spoke up with equally valuable ideas did not improve their managers’ perception of their performance. Also, the more the men spoke up, the more helpful their managers believed them to be. But when women spoke up more, there was no increase in their perceived helpfulness.
Facebook has an incredibly high percentage of users - 71 percent of online adults use the platform, according to a recent Pew report.
That’s an amazing statistic that other social media platforms can’t even touch. But the real issue is how much can Facebook Inc. continue to grow? Can it grow past 100 percent?
Apparently not, as the Pew Report showed that Facebook Inc. had literally no year-over-year growth. Contrast this with lesser social media gods, all of whom still have virgin fields to plow.
Yet as more U.S. shoppers view free shipping as their right, retailers struggle to make a profit online. That struggle will become evident in coming weeks when companies report financial results for the holiday quarter, analysts said.
“For most companies, it is a very expensive proposition to try to offer fast and free,” Steve Osburn, director of supply chain for consulting firm Kurt Salmon, said in an interview. “It’s really eating away at the margin dollars at some of these retailers.”
Shipping remains a key battleground in the escalating war between brick-and-mortar retailers and amazon.com Inc, with both sides spending big on logistics. Offering free shipping has long been standard practice during the holidays, but in 2014, retailers leaned on it heavily all year long.
When does a break become not a break?
But what if the kitchen were also a place where you could work?
At CBRE’s new headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, employees do not have assigned desks and can set up a workstation wherever they choose. Legal assistant Nicholas Watson likes to drop anchor at the hand-carved, 18-feet-long wooden table in the kitchen. It’s a pleasant space that provides chance interactions.
“Ordinarily, you wouldn’t be encouraged to mingle with people,” he said. “You get to learn more about other departments in an informal way and I can have impromptu, informal meetings with my boss. It really has become sort of a favorite spot.”
Law firm Morrison & Foerster had the same goal in its downtown L.A. office, where it created a space big enough for 80 people that was dubbed the “loungebrary” for its combined function as lounge and library.
So do you ride the evil?
Generally speaking, the controversies are unfounded. Uber is a business, and markets are what they are, and in most circumstances surge pricing is a legitimate byproduct of those two things. Want an Uber at 11 p.m. on December 31? You can pay the surge fare, or you can do whatever you did before Uber came along: taxi or bike or bus or walk. “Surge pricing only kicks in in order to maximize the number of trips that happen and therefore reduce the number of people that are stranded,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told Wired.
What happened in Sydney today, however, is a reminder of the limits of that logic. As an armed hostage crisis played out in the city’s Central Business District, Uber increased its fares by up to four times the usual rate (leading to, in U.S. dollars, a minimum fare of $100).
This was not, apparently, a matter of an overly efficient algorithm. Uber gave, as an explicit justification for its surge pricing, the same explanation it always does: its desire to get more drivers on the road to help out, bringing supply and demand into happy alignment
First, everyone knows Burger King, unlike some of the more obscure pharmaceutical brands that have reincorporated abroad in what are known as corporate inversions. Second, Antonio Weiss, nominated by President Obama for a post in the Treasury Department, advised Burger King on the merger as a banker at Lazard.
In a speech last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) railed against the practice of appointing former bankers to regulate the financial sector, and suggested that appointing Weiss to the Treasury would just be to add one more official who shares Wall Street’s point of view. Weiss will receive a reported $21 million from Lazard on his departure.
One might be tempted to forgive the banksters for thinking they would be exempt from this law as well as all the ones they violated in wrecking the national economy a few years ago. Nevertheless, hubris and arrogance are not a defense and they have apparently found the limit of their immunity.
A stockbroker was awarded several million dollars in a wrongful termination lawsuit after a court determined that he was retaliated against for going on reserve duty.
A financial industry regulatory panel ruled Friday that Goldman Sachs must pay Chris Barra, a West Point graduate and lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, and his partner, Luis Sampedro, $7.6 million.
Barra and Sampedro worked as a team at Goldman Sachs Los Angeles for nine years until 2007 when they were fired.
The panel found not only wrongful termination, but discrimination against military personnel, because Barra was “chastised and retaliated” against by the LA offices’ Branch Manager because he went on reserve duty.