This Day in History – Jan 15, 2021

Bank by Phone? You Better Check Your Account

Researchers from IBM Trusteer say they’ve uncovered a massive fraud operation that used a network of mobile device emulators to drain millions of dollars from online bank accounts in a matter of days.

The scale of the operation was unlike anything the researchers have seen before. In one case, crooks used about 20 emulators to mimic more than 16,000 phones belonging to customers whose mobile bank accounts had been compromised.

The thieves then entered usernames and passwords into banking apps running on the emulators and initiated fraudulent money orders that siphoned funds out of the compromised accounts. Emulators are used by legitimate developers and researchers to test how apps run on a variety of different mobile devices.

To bypass protections banks use to block such attacks, the crooks used device identifiers corresponding to each compromised account holder and spoofed GPS locations the device was known to use. The device IDs were likely obtained from the holders’ hacked devices, although in some cases, the fraudsters gave the appearance that they were customers who were accessing their accounts from new phones. The attackers were also able to bypass multi-factor authentication by accessing SMS messages.

“Evil mobile emulator farms” used to steal millions from US and EU banks — https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2020/12/evil-mobile-emulator-farms-used-to-steal-millions-from-us-and-eu-banks/

I bank online but never use my phone. I check my accounts on a regular basis to see if anything looks odd (besides some of the websites you know who shops at).

Check your accounts. Now.

Taxpayers Face $435 Billion in Student-Loan Losses

Taxpayers face a loss of $435 billion on the $1.37 trillion in student loans on the government’s financial statement at the beginning of this year, even if no additional loans are issued going forward, according to an internal study by the Department of Education, reported by the Wall Street Journal which reviewed the documents. Most of the losses would come from the already established income-based repayment programs and the debt forgiveness at the end of their term.

But who ultimately got this money, since students were just the conduit? The educational-financial-industrial complex, of course, the entities that have lined up to clean out the taxpayer via these student loans. Billionaires have been printed in the process, enabled and encouraged by the government since 2009. Any solution to the student-loan crisis needs to include measures that shut down that money-transfer and return the government’s role in student loans to where it had been before 2009.

Taxpayers Face $435 Billion in Student-Loan Losses, Already Baked in: Leaked Education-Department Study — https://wolfstreet.com/2020/11/22/taxpayers-face-435-billion-in-student-loan-losses-already-baked-in-department-of-education-study/

And let’s not forget who The Great Enabler was behind the college leaders’ lack of caring for their students College Presidents Fail to Protect Students from Covid-19 – College Clusterfuck Update 11.22.20. Politicians, of course.

We. Are. Doomed.

College Presidents Fail to Protect Students from Covid-19 – College Clusterfuck Update 11.22.20

In fact, university Presidents — leaders, let us remember — did not mobilize to protect students from Covid. Frankly, I never thought they did, because I do try to pay attention to these things, but to prove it to myself, I went through 33 pages of headlines for the Coronavirus tag in the Chronicle of Higher Education, all the way back to the first entry on February 24 (“Coronavirus-Themed Party at Albany Draws Criticism“)…

As it turns out, protecting students from Covid was never a top priority for University Presidents. The American Council on Education (“a membership organization that mobilizes [ha] the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice”) has published periodic surveys on what University Presidents consider pressing issues.

College Presidents Fail to Mobilize to Protect Students from Covid-19https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/11/university-administrators-fail-to-mobilize-protect-students-covid-19.html

The author of this article doesn’t attempt to hide his bias or contempt for the so-called leaders of our colleges and universities. I’ve made no attempt to hide my disdain either (sharp eyed readers will note my title above deletes two words from the original article title). The college clusterfuck has been one of my recurring themes:

Colleges’ Opening Fueled 3,000 COVID Cases a Day (College Clusterfuck Update)

“I slept on the floor, and woke up to ants crawling on my bed.”

College Clusterfuck 2.0 – “It’s a Dystopian Hell” – Updated

College Town Clusterfuck

The full article contains some pretty sorrid stuff. Enjoy!

Online education will become the standard operating model for higher education. Thousands of colleges and universities will go belly up. Professor Galloway at NYU says it’s simple math. See Galloway’s comments here: Post Pandemic Changes in Consumer Behavior

There’s Nothing “Radical” About This WFH Plan

This is the latest in a series of major companies having made similar announcements, including Microsoft. But Synchrony’s proposal appears to be more radical in that it:

Allows all its US employees to work from home permanently.

Requires some employees to work from home all the time with no access to an office.

Requires all employees to work from home at least some of the time.

Requires even management with “assigned seats” to work from home at least 1-2 days a week.

In a memo to employees, reported by Bloomberg today, CEO Keane and Synchrony President Brian Doubles explained that Synchrony will have three types of offices:

Virtual offices: employees will work from home permanently, and there is no office they can go to.

Hoteling offices: employees work at home permanently, but if they need to, can book a desk at a nearby office location.

Hybrid offices: employees can work from home but they have an assigned seat at a nearby office where they can work at least three days a week.

Synchrony Financial Disclosed Radical Work-from-Home Plan, Layoffs, and “Office Footprint” Reduction — https://wolfstreet.com/2020/10/20/consumer-finance-giant-synchrony-disclosed-radical-permanent-work-from-home-plan/

I have been a WFH (work from home) warrior since 2006. There is absolutely nothing radical about the plan outlined above. I’ve been patiently waiting all these years for the business world to come around to my way of thinking. To be be clear, a lot of businesses would not adopt WFH without a nasty virus driving the agenda.

Too bad I’m currently a W2 worker. If I was still consulting I would make a MINT advising companies how to do the WFH thing effectively.

And what not to do when you’re on a Zoom call.

The Beginning of the End

Airlines want more from the government printing press.

American Airlines was also the airline that blew, incinerated, wasted, and trashed more than any other airline on share buybacks. Buybacks ceased in the second quarter, but from 2013 through Q1 2020, American Airlines incinerated $13.1 billion in cash on share buybacks. That cash would now come in very handy. 2013 was also the year Mr. Parker became CEO of American Airlines. Delta blew, wasted, and incinerated $11.7 billion in cash on share buybacks over the period; Southwest Airlines, $10.9 billion (starting in 2012); and United $8.9 billion. In total, the big four airlines blew, wasted, and incinerated $44.6 billion in cash on share buybacks from 2012 through Q1 2020, and now the airlines want an additional $25 billion bailout, for a total of $50 billion, much of it in forms of grants, from taxpayers (data via YCharts)

Facing Crappiest Recovery Ever, Airlines Demand New $25-Billion Bailout, for $50 Billion Total, after Having Burned $45 Billion on Share Buybacks — https://wolfstreet.com/2020/09/28/facing-crappiest-recovery-ever-airlines-demand-new-25-billion-bailout-for-50-billion-total-after-having-burned-45-billion-on-share-buybacks/

Just. Say. NO.

Quote for Today – 09.19.20

Higher education committed suicide with its dual racketeering model. First was the college loan racket, in which schools colluded with the federal government to jam too many “customers” through the pipeline who didn’t belong there, and who buried themselves under a lifetime debt obligation they could never escape. The second was the intellectual racket of creating sham fields of study that contaminated all the other “humanities” with poisonous bullshit theory, and eventually even invaded the STEM disciplines. Covid-19 screwed the pooch on all that, scotching the four-year party-hearty in-residence part of the deal. For now, who needs an online class in Contemporary Sexual Transgression ($2000-a-credit) when you can just click on Porn-hub for free? Hundreds of colleges and universities will be going out of business in the years ahead.

James Howard Kunstler — https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/things-going-by/#more-‘

A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression

In July, 52% of young adults resided with one or both of their parents, up from 47% in February, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of monthly Census Bureau data. The number living with parents grew to 26.6 million, an increase of 2.6 million from February. The number and share of young adults living with their parents grew across the board for all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions. Growth was sharpest for the youngest adults (ages 18 to 24) and for White young adults.

A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression — https://pewrsr.ch/351SVs1

And to think the number of young people living with their parents was based upon data from July. This percentage will go higher since a lot of kids are moving back home from college earlier than expected.

The problem with college during the coronavirus pandemic is not just what’s happening on campuses and in college towns. It’s also that colleges may end up spreading the virus to dozens of other communities. In recent weeks, as students have returned to campus, thousands have become infected. And some colleges have responded by sending students home, including those known to have the virus.

Last week, after hundreds of students came down with the virus, the State University of New York at Oneonta ended in-person classes and sent students home. Colorado College, North Carolina State, James Madison (in Virginia) and Chico State (in California) have taken similar steps. At Illinois State, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, administrators have encouraged some students who have tested positive to leave campus, so they don’t infect other students, and return home.

These decisions to scatter students — rather than quarantine them on campus — have led to widespread criticism. “It’s the worst thing you could do,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s leading infectious-disease expert, said on NBC. “When you send them home, particularly when you’re dealing with a university where people come from multiple different locations, you could be seeding the different places with infection.” – Zach Morin, a University of Georgia student, told WXIA, a local television station, “Once it is open and people are there and spreading it, it doesn’t make sense to send it across the nation.” Susan Dynarski, a University of Michigan economist, wrote on Twitter that “unloading students onto home communities” was “deeply unethical.”

There are no easy answers for colleges, because creating on-campus quarantines brings its own challenges. At the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, one student who tested positive — Brianna Hayes — said that no employee checked on her during her week in isolation. “Feverish and exhausted from the virus, she made four trips up and down staircases to move her bedding and other belongings to her isolation room,” The Times’s Natasha Singer writes, in a story about campus quarantines.

Still, many experts say that the colleges that chose to reopen their campuses despite the risks, often for financial reasons, have a moral responsibility to do better. “Universities are not taking responsibility for the risks they are creating,” Sarah Cobey, an epidemiologist at the University of Chicago, said.

Last spring, the meatpacking industry became a vector for spreading the disease, when it quickly reopened and caused hundreds of new infections. This fall, higher education may end up being a similar vector.

David Leonhardt – The New York Times The Morning newsletter email 09.09.20

Clusterfuck.

College Clusterfuck 2.0 – “It’s a Dystopian Hell” – Updated

Update 09.05.20

What could be worse than being stuck at home with Mom and Dad for months on end isolated from friends, activities restricted?

Going back to Mom and Dad to be stuck at home for even longer because you got expelled from college AND telling them they just paid for a year of college and housing for nothing.

The students were part of a special one-semester program for first-year students and according to Globe, the prepaid $US 36,500 cost for the semester won’t be refunded. Students won’t be able to take courses from home but are eligible to return in the fall.

11 freshmen at Northeastern were dismissed for violating COVID-19 rules. Their $35,000 tuition won’t be reimbursed. — https://www.businessinsider.com.au/11-northeastern-students-dismissed-breaking-covid-19-rules-party-2020-9

jordanschachtel.substack.com — America’s college students are returning to campus for the Fall semester, and many are finding themselves in an environment that no longer resembles an academic institution, but something closer to a correctional facility for young adults. It’s not just a handful of schools that are pursuing extreme restrictions and punitive measures in the name of “stopping the spread” of the coronavirus, but something that has become a nationwide norm.

Tales from America’s COVID college campuses — https://muckrack.com/jordan-schachtel/articles

College campuses have transformed into some of the most restrictive environments in America.  After hearing about these conditions, I sent out a post on social media asking for testimonials from students, parents, and educators. The responses below are some of the many replies I received discussing what students are experiencing in colleges and universities that have allowed for students to return to campus.

Tales from America’s COVID college campuses — https://jordanschachtel.substack.com/p/tales-from-americas-covid-college

From what I can tell Jordan Schachtel is an investigative journalist. If you follow the link in the second quote above you’ll find a bevy of quotes from both students and parents on college life 2020 pandemic edition. What you’ll read is absolutely jaw dropping. A lot of prison analogies…

This is not going well nor will it end well. Online education will become the new operating model for higher education sooner rather than later. See my earlier rant Post Pandemic Changes in Consumer Behavior for Professor Galloway’s opinion. He says it’s simple math.

Funny to think how colleges and universities will succeed now that they all have to focus on education and teaching their students. Not sports. No longer modern day fiefoms that exist solely to enrich the clueless intellectual elites. My Dad always told me the purpose of college was to teach you how to think, not what to think. High time to get back to what a “higher” education should be.