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Ben Hallman
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Entries by Ben Hallman

Here's What It's Like When Wall Street Is Your Landlord

(9) Comments | Posted July 21, 2014 | 1:00 PM

Renting a home is an exercise in trust. Tenants commit to a year's worth of payments with the expectation that the house is habitable: the toilets work, the roof keeps out the rain and marauding gangs of mice haven't laid claim to the attic.

But in two California communities...

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Law Enforcement Raids Law Firm Accused Of Scamming Desperate Homeowners

(5) Comments | Posted July 18, 2014 | 7:35 AM

It was a gut-level appeal to desperate people locked in a mortgage dispute with their bank.

For thousands of dollars upfront, plus an additional monthly fee, homeowners could piggyback onto one of more than a dozen lawsuits launched by the Hoffman Law Group, a Florida firm suing banks over...

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Bringing A Gun Into A Georgia Bar Just Got A Lot Easier

(422) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 2:12 PM

From this day forward, the only thing that can keep guns out of Georgia's bars are Georgia's bar owners.

Georgia's new gun-carry law, one of the nation's most permissive -- it's often derided as the "guns everywhere" law, if that tells you anything -- took effect on Tuesday....

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America's Growing Hospice Crisis, In 1 Map

(76) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 8:40 AM

The U.S. hospice industry is booming. Government data shows that in 2014, nearly half of all Medicare patients who die will do so as a hospice patient -- twice as many as a decade ago. Medicare will spend $15 billion on hospice care this year, four times more...

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Walgreen Ponders $4 Billion Tax Dodge

(103) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Walgreen, the biggest U.S. retail drugstore chain, is considering decamping to Switzerland in a quest for bigger tax breaks, just two years after reaping a hefty package of Illinois tax credits in exchange for keeping corporate jobs in the state.

Such a move, through a maneuver called an inversion,...

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Lawyers Are Now The Driving Force Behind Mortgage Scams

(63) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 7:39 AM

From the very first day she was allowed to speak with clients at her new law firm job, Michele Stephens wondered if she was doing something unethical. By the time she quit, nearly a year later, she no longer had any doubt about it. “I was told to lie again...

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Fortune 500 Has Thousands Of Tax Shelters Holding $2 Trillion Offshore

(17) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 4:21 PM

With all the U.S. corporate cash piling up on tiny Caribbean islands, it's a wonder the beaches can still accommodate sunbathers.

Apple, Nike, Citigroup and a few hundred other Fortune 500 companies have created a whopping 7,827 offshore shell companies to stash nearly $2 trillion in places like Bermuda...

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Sonic And Chili's Announce No-Gun Policies

(6350) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 3:39 PM

Chili’s and Sonic became the latest national chains to wade into the gun debate on Friday, announcing in apparently coordinated statements that firearms are no longer welcome in their restaurants.

In separate statements to The Huffington Post, the companies said that they were asking customers not to openly carry firearms...

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Pro-Gun Group Backs Down After Chipotle Rally Backfires

(4163) Comments | Posted May 23, 2014 | 2:24 PM

A Texas gun rights group has notified members that they are to "immediately cease" taking shotguns and rifles into private businesses unless invited to do so, backing down from a controversial strategy that has led several large restaurant chains to ask patrons to leave their guns at home....

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The Pro-Gun Invasion Of Chipotle Totally Backfired

(2273) Comments | Posted May 20, 2014 | 11:18 AM

Gun-rights activists have shot themselves in the foot, again, with a gun rally that caused another major American retail chain to declare firearms unwelcome.

Chipotle on Monday said it wanted customers to stop bringing guns to its restaurants, after photos of an open-carry rally at one of its...

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Congress Takes From The Poor, Gives To The Corporate Rich

(690) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 11:23 AM

The most dysfunctional Congress in U.S. history has finally found something that can attract bipartisan support: an expensive package of tax breaks that mostly benefit corporate interests.

By a vote of 96-3, the Senate this week advanced an $85 billion bundle of breaks known as "extenders," so...

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How Bank Watchdogs Killed Our Last Chance At Justice For Foreclosure Victims

(753) Comments | Posted April 29, 2014 | 7:38 AM

The results are in. The award for the sorriest chapter of the great American foreclosure crisis goes to the Independent Foreclosure Review, a billion-dollar sinkhole that produced nothing but heartache for aggrieved homeowners, and a big black eye for regulators.

The foreclosure review was supposed to uncover abuses in...

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Comcast Complaints Detail Nightmarish Customer Experience

(294) Comments | Posted April 10, 2014 | 7:31 AM

Andrew Stone is fed up with Comcast. For months, the 27-year-old web designer has begged the cable and Internet company to fix the slow and spotty broadband connection to his Murfreesboro, Tenn., home.

He has resorted to using his iPhone as a hotspot or visiting a local cafe in order...

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Here's Why Every Player In the Final Four Will Lose

(191) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 2:13 PM

The University of Kentucky's men's basketball team seems to be living the dream, earning a trip the NCAA Final Four after beating last year's champion and runner up in dramatic fashion. But in a fairer system, the freshman stars of the team would be watching the tournament...

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So Much for the Great GM Bailout

(214) Comments | Posted April 2, 2014 | 4:09 PM

Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.

That was Vice President Joe Biden's go-to applause line throughout the 2012 campaign. The slogan encapsulated President Barack Obama's greatest foreign policy success -- approving the raid that killed the terrorist mastermind -- and what was perceived...

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If GE Gets Its Way, The U.S. Government Could Lose $62.5 Billion

(134) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 7:34 AM

When it comes to squeezing big rewards from obscure provisions of the tax code, General Electric leaves nothing to chance.

Over the past two years, GE has deployed more lobbyists than any other company to argue for a tax loophole that lets businesses deduct interest earned from overseas lending,...

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Boeing Got $7,250 In Tax Breaks For Every $1 It Spent Lobbying

(245) Comments | Posted March 27, 2014 | 11:55 AM

When it comes to great investments, it's hard to beat collecting $7,250 for every $1 you spend.

That's the benefit Boeing Corp. will reap from a ramped-up lobbying push in Washington state that ended with a massive $8.7 billion tax subsidy, according to an analysis of lobbying data...

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GOP States Are The Most Dependent On Government

(3422) Comments | Posted March 26, 2014 | 12:15 PM

If we learned nothing else during the 2012 election, it is that some of us are makers, hard-working folk solely responsible for America's prosperity, and others are takers, who want the federal government to pay for luxuries like food and health care.

What may come as some surprise...

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A Fresh Reminder To Never, Ever Take Out A Payday Loan (In 1 Chart)

(23) Comments | Posted March 26, 2014 | 8:27 AM

There's never been much question as to whether taking out a payday loan is a sound financial decision. The short-term loans come with extremely high interest rates that accrue daily, leaving many borrowers facing another financial crunch when they must repay.

Yet many never ever repay and instead fall...

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Housing Watchdog Slams Massive Property Inspection Industry

(31) Comments | Posted March 25, 2014 | 1:49 PM

The inspectors who decide whether homes have been abandoned and are ready for foreclosure are doing such a terrible job that the whole system requires a major overhaul, and maybe should be scrapped altogether, a government watchdog warned on Tuesday.

Property inspectors hired by banks and other mortgage companies...

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