Normally local governments tax property based on “highest and best use.”In Texas, Lowe’s is arguing its stores should pay property tax as if the store were closed. Sometimes they win just because they can outspend the county on legal fees.
•A mother claims a for-profit college took out a loan in her name without her consent.
•Apparently the Texas prison system is a big business. One reason it generates huge profits is that it uses prisoners as slave labor.
•Long Island University tried to break the faculty union by locking out the unionized staff after they rejected a contract proposal (and advertising for replacements on Monster.com, according to this interview). Happily the lockout failed and negotiations are back on.
•Megan McArdle defends for-profit prisons.
•A judge has fined Verizon $3,750 for leaving an elderly couple without phone service for several days. And a woman claims the company charged her for a massive excess data use she couldn’t possibly be responsible for.
•Comcast insists its data usage meter isn’t at fault, even if it billed customers for data they couldn’t have used. The company is also freaking out over an FCC proposal that would allow competition in the market for providing TV set-top boxes. Comcast and AT&T are also protesting Nashville’s decision to let Google fiber use city utility poles alongside the other providers.
•The Department of Justice is looking into Wells Fargo employees’ alleged practice of opening added accounts without customers’ permission.
In other topics—
•A former Israeli politician says Israel is becoming increasingly divided.
•AirBnB says Santa Monica’s ban on short-term rentals violates federal and constitutional law. Curiously while it claims no responsibility for what people post on the site, it’s also setting requirements for rental-owners intended to reduce discrimination. Which is a good thing, but still seems inconsistent.
•Multiple tech companies have supported Microsoft’s lawsuit claiming customers have a right to know if the government has searched their electronic files.
•Thanks to Obamacare, fewer Americans are uninsured than ever before.
•Class action lawsuits are not an option for Uber drivers, an appeals court says.
•Lethal yellowing disease is wiping out coconut plantations.
•Right-wingers are using Hilary Clinton’s recent illness as proof she’s too sick to be president (and probably hiding worse illness!).
•Echidne looks at the sexism involved in the French burkini ban, both in the assumption women shouldn’t show skin and the pressure to do so.
•An anonymous reporter argues that we should vote Trump because the disaster will be more interesting to cover than a Clinton presidency. While this is a dreadful reason (as noted at the link) I was also struck by his argument that Trump might work out in the long run because “you just have to blow up shit to build it again.” Trouble is, I doubt in office Trump will blow up the government (the Middle East maybe). As many people have suggested, he’ll probably be happy to sign whatever right-wing bullshit the Republicans in Congress can bring to his desk. And as Echidne points out, the reporter might feel different if he thought his own shit was at risk of being blown up, rather than minorities and Muslims.