Cash Converters facing legal action over 100 high-interest loans to one woman

Consumer advocates launch court action against Cash Converters following 2015 investigation into payday loans scheme

Consumer advocates have launched court action against Cash Converters for allegedly allowing a vulnerable woman to take out almost 100 high-interest pawnbroking agreements and payday loans.

Cash Converters was last year investigated by the corporate regulator for unscrupulous and irresponsible lending through its payday loans scheme, which offers small amounts of credit over short periods of time at high interest.

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Trump Can’t Accept That His Allies Are Targeting Jews — So He Blames His Opponents

A wave of attacks on Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats against Jewish community centers might not be anti-Semitic acts but “the reverse,” Donald Trump hinted darkly on Tuesday, according to Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s attorney general.

Trump’s apparent embrace of a conspiracy theory popular on white supremacist websites — that the president’s political opponents might have staged the incidents to frame him or his supporters — came during a White House meeting with state attorneys general. At the meeting, Shapiro asked Trump about the spike in anti-Semitic acts during his presidency, including the vandalism of more than 100 tombstones at the Mount Carmel Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia on Saturday night. Shaprio found Trump’s response “a bit curious.”

Shapiro told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Trump said anti-Semitic attacks are “reprehensible” but sometimes “the reverse can be true.” According to Shapiro, Trump added, “Someone’s doing it to make others look bad.”

Shapiro, a Democrat, said that he and other officials from both parties “were a little bit surprised” to hear Trump suggest the incidents might be hoaxes.

As Michael Wilner, The Jerusalem Post’s Washington bureau chief, reports, the Anti-Defamation League has attributed the uptick in threats and attacks to white supremacists encouraged by Trump’s nativist political movement. Wilner also suggested that Trump’s attempt to posit an alternative explanation for the incidents looked like an effort to deflect blame away from from himself or his supporters.

While it is unclear where Trump got the idea that the threats against Jews might be staged, the false-flag theory has been proposed by white supremacists, including David Duke, the former Klan leader whose support Trump was slow to disavow during his campaign.

Some observers, including Allison Kaplan Sommer of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, took Trump’s use of the word “reverse” as a suggestion that the attacks on Jewish institutions might have been staged by Jews.

His reported comments were quickly condemned by the Anti-Defamation League and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader.

Earlier on Tuesday, as my colleague Zaid Jilani reported, one of Trump’s advisers, Anthony Scaramucci, suggested that Democrats might be behind the incidents.

When Trump was asked about his plans to address rising anti-Semitism at a news conference earlier this month, he berated the Orthodox Jewish reporter who raised the issue for asking “a very insulting question,” and described himself as “the least anti-Semitic person.”

At the same event, Trump claimed that some signs with anti-Semitic tropes or slogans held up at his rallies were created by his opponents, posing as supporters.

“Some of the signs you’ll see are not put up by the people that love or like Donald Trump, they’re put up by the other side,” Trump said. “They’ll do signs and drawing that are inappropriate.

“It won’t be my people,” Trump told a reporter. “It will be people on the other side to anger people like you.”

However, his presidential campaign was threaded with anti-Semitic incidents. In the most notorious one during the election campaign, a Trump supporter went into an anti-Semitic tirade during a rally in Phoenix — screaming “Jew!S!A!” as the crowd chanted “U!S!A!”

The post Trump Can’t Accept That His Allies Are Targeting Jews — So He Blames His Opponents appeared first on The Intercept.

Donald Trump’s Economic Policy Team Is Stacked With Lobbyists and Conflicts of Interest

Donald Trump’s personnel selections have made a complete mockery of his promise to “drain the swamp.” A newly-released list of White House staffers on his National Economic Council — which is helmed by former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn — is a case in point. Among them are lobbyists for the industries they are now supposed to advise the president on regulating. Here’s how various realms of economic-related policy will be overseen by lobbyists:

Net Neutrality Policy

In his first week as president, Trump elevated conservative Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Ajit Pai to the role of chair. Pai is a longstanding opponent of net neutrality, the principle that says that Internet Service Providers must give all content equal treatment — denying them the ability to, for example, speed up traffic to certain websites for a fee.

The administration continued this march against net neutrality on Monday, as Grace Koh was named as special assistant to the president for technology, telecom, and cybersecurity policy. Koh comes to the White House most recently from the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, where she served as deputy counsel. But prior to that, she was employed as policy counsel at the lobbying office for Cox Enterprises, the Atlanta-based cable and Internet-providing company.

Cox is a leading opponent of rules that protect the rights of internet consumers. When the Obama-era FCC voted to protect net neutrality in 2015, the company slammed the move as “unnecessary government overreach.”

Even after Koh became a congressional staffer, internet providers continued to appreciate her work: The industry group Women in Cable Telecommunications awarded her its Touchstones of Leadership Public Policy Award in 2015.

Retirement Policy

Another of Trump’s first moves as president was to sign an executive order to delay the implementation of the Obama administration’s “fiduciary rule,” and to allow his administration to examine and possibly alter it.

The fiduciary rule is designed to require retirement advisers to act in the interests of their clients — rather than their own interests. It’s estimated that conflicted advice costs Americans $17 billion a year.

In order to help advise him on how to deal with retirement security policy, Trump hired Shahira Knight, whose previous role was vice president in the public affairs and policy group at Fidelity Investments — in other words, a lobbyist for a major investment advice firm.

Congressional Republicans unsuccessfully tried to overturn the fiduciary rule last year, blocked by a veto from President Obama. During their policy push, they brought in a number of finance industry lobbyists to brief their staff — including Knight.

Environmental Policy

President Trump tapped an ally of fossil fuel companies to lead his Environmental Protection Agency. For his economic team, Trump is bringing in staffers who used to lobby for the energy industry.

George David Banks was named as the special assistant to the president for international energy and environment. He was a registered lobbyist for the Maryland-based natural gas and electric company Constellation, Ohio-based diversified energy company FirstEnergy, and the Nuclear Energy Institute, which promotes nuclear power.

More recently, he was the executive vice president at the American Council for Capital Formation, a trade association that has been financially backed by the Kochs among others. As a part of his role there, he lobbied Congress against putting a tax on carbon pollution.

The White House also appointed Michael Catanzaro as the special assistant to the president for domestic energy and environmental policy. Catanzaro was a lobbyist for the CGCN Group, where he lobbied for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, among others.

Top photo: Storm clouds fill the sky over the U.S. Capitol Building, June 13, 2013, in Washington.

The post Donald Trump’s Economic Policy Team Is Stacked With Lobbyists and Conflicts of Interest appeared first on The Intercept.

George Brandis does not recall conversation with WA attorney general on Bell – politics live

The federal attorney general tells a senate committee three times he did not recall a conversation with WA Liberal minister on the Bell litigation. Follow it live…

10.10pm GMT

Treasurer Scott Morrison was non-plussed by all the talk about changing 18c, an issue which exercises the conservative end of the Coalition.

As reported earlier, he said it would not create a single job.

They are fighting about an inquiry they pushed for.

They are hatin’ about hate speech.

10.03pm GMT

Today, senate estimates continue and the lower house sits at 9.30am.

Community affairs committee has the health department so I’m thinking Medicare freeze.

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Google pulls the plug on its Pixel laptops

Although its new flagship phones have been doing brisk sales, Google's high-end, $1,299 Pixel-branded Chromebooks won't be seeing much love from the search giant in the near future. According to TechCrunch, reporting from the Mobile World Congress in…