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Author: TriSec    Date: 03/26/2024 09:44:03

Good Morning.

Just a couple of quick hits for you today - things are still out of control around the ol' TriSec compound.

Let's start out in the banking industry today. A number of years ago, it was revealed that Wells Fargo used multiple questionable business practices to upsell customers to products they didn't want or need, or indeed, illegally sign them up for these things without their consent. It looks like that extended to our veteran community, too.

Wells Fargo is facing a lawsuit claiming the bank overcharged credit card interest rates and fees for thousands of American soldiers and their families, according to a complaint filed recently in federal court.

The lawsuit claims Wells Fargo failed to follow the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which allows loan debts to be cut to a 6% interest rate after soldiers are called to duty. The law also requires banks to forgive interest above 6%, according to the suit filed March 20 in U.S. District Court for Eastern North Carolina.

The suit also cited alleged violations of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act.

The San Francisco-based bank, which has its largest employment hub in Charlotte, marketed itself as an institution dedicated to military members, veterans and their families, the suit said. But the bank unlawfully increased the principal balance amounts due on credit cards and charged compound interest on inflated balances, the plaintiffs claim.

One plaintiff from Georgia said she had numerous interest-bearing accounts with the bank and credit cards during her three tours in Iraq and with the Inactive Ready Reserve, according to the suit. A few other plaintiffs listed by name said they had similar experiences with services offered by Wells Fargo, they stated in the suit.

The suit also claimed that Wells Fargo concealed overcharges, which were not discovered until 2022 when the bank sent misleading correspondence and payment checks to some military families. Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they are trying to get class-action certification for their lawsuit.

Wells Fargo “continued the nationwide practice of overcharging active military servicemembers for more than a decade,” the attorneys claimed in the suit.

The total claim for the proposed class members is more than $5 million, according to the suit. It involves military customers who received reduced interest and/or fee benefits from Wells Fargo on or after Jan. 1, 2006.

Plaintiffs in the case also claim Wells Fargo violated the Truth in Lending Act, which requires lenders to disclose information about all charges and fees associated with a loan; and the Military Lending Act, a federal law that provides special protections for active duty service members.

A Wells Fargo spokesman said the company is committed to supporting all military servicemembers and providing the benefits and protections required by SCRA. “We are still reviewing the details of this complaint.”

The clear takeaway from this is don't ever use Wells Fargo, or indeed any corporate bank, for any reason, ever. We've been happily served by good old Watertown Savings (a local, community bank) for more than 25 years here.

Moving quickly on, perhaps you saw "Oppenheimer" last year. Did you know that the Trinity Bomb Site in New Mexico is open just two days a year, in April and October, primarily because the site remains an active missile range. It appears that so many people visited on those days last year that the funding for this year has already been depleted.

The Army has canceled the April 6 open house for the public to visit the New Mexico site of the Trinity atomic bomb blast for lack of funds following a crowd surge last October brought on by the blockbuster movie "Oppenheimer."

In a January posting, the website of the Army's White Sands Missile Range, where the world's first atomic explosion went off on July 16, 1945, said that the April open house had been canceled and will not be rescheduled "due to unforeseen circumstances" related to the range's budget.

A White Sands spokesman said Monday that costs for accommodating the public for free at the site come from discretionary funds, and the funding will not be available for April 6.

The site of the world's first test of a nuclear weapon has been open to the public for only one day in April and one day in October annually, since White Sands is still an active missile range.

The White Sands spokesman said that the next open house in October is still on schedule, but the Army is looking at the possibility of making it a paid event for the public.

The last open house on Oct. 21, 2023, was the first since the release in July 2023 of the "Oppenheimer" movie. It received several Academy Awards, including best picture, and brought about renewed interest in the personal and political travails of the theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the eclectic band of scientists he oversaw in the top secret effort to produce the first atomic weapons.

Ahead of the open house last October, the Army put out an advisory warning that, "due to the release of the movie 'Oppenheimer' in July, we are expecting a larger than normal crowd. You may have wait times of up to two hours getting onto the site. If you are not one of the first 5,000 visitors, you might not get through the gate prior to its closure at 2 p.m."

The movie "Oppenheimer" is controversial in New Mexico for making no mention of the "downwinders" who may have been harmed by the fallout from the Trinity blast, which was estimated to have the force of more than 24 kilotons, or 24,000 tons of TNT.

The site where the Trinity bomb, dubbed the "Gadget" by the scientists, exploded is now marked by a 12-foot tall obelisk made of black lava rock put in place in 1965 and has a metal plaque bearing the inscription: "Trinity Site Where the World's First Nuclear Device Was Exploded on July 16, 1945."

I am well aware of the elephant in the room this morning; the BBC news alert woke me up a while ago. I have long admired that bridge - I very nearly drove over it two weeks ago, but chose not to. Now I never will.

7 comments (Latest Comment: 03/26/2024 16:15:21 by Will_in_Ca)
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