House Republicans just voted to defund the agency that fights election hacking

All of the GOP's bluster about election fraud couldn't save the budget for the Election Administration Commission, the federal agency that deals with software security risks in America's creating, Windows-2000-based voting machines. Read the rest

It used to take 3 years for a British family to save for a home down-payment; now it takes 20 years

The Resolution Foundation's Living Standards 2017 is an eye-opening look at the current state of the British experiment in allowing wealth inequality to expand without any check, to use a combination of austerity, the elimination of protection for tenants, reckless lending, offshore money-laundering and public subsidies for speculators to turn the human necessity of shelter into the nation's leading asset-class. Read the rest

The average FTSE 100 boss earns as much in 2.5 days as his (yes, his) median employee earns in a year

The great recession and austerity have been very good to the chief executives of Britain's biggest companies: according to the High Pay Center, the average compensation for FTSE 100 CEOs rose 10% in 2015, to £5.5m -- meanwhile, UK workers' wages have stagnated year on year, averaging £28,200. Read the rest

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's MIDAS program had a 93% error rate and falsely accused 20,000 workers of unemployment fraud

Under the cruel austerity of Michigan governor Rick Snyder -- whose policies led to the mass-poisonings of children in Flint -- any claims for unemployment insurance were vigorously investigated, with the state operating on the assumption that any worker who claimed a benefit was probably committing fraud. Read the rest

Italy's referendum: a vote against neoliberalism and authoritarianism

Soon-to-be-former Italian PM Matteo Renzi just lost a referendum he called on a set of reforms to Italy's constitution, promising to resign if he lost, which he did; many of Italy's far-right, trumpist and berlusconian elements latched onto the No side of the referendum and pitched it as a kind of Italian version of Brexit, a poll on whether Italy would be another stronghold of gamergate-inflected neo-fascism. Read the rest

Austerity kills the last steam-powered loom in the world

Lancashire Council is shutting down five of its museums, including Burnley's Queen Street Mill Museum, widely known for its appearances in the King's Speech, home to the last steam-powered mill in the world. Read the rest

Inside the "sweatshop" terminally ill Britons must call to get benefits

An anonymous phone-bank worker at Britain's Department of Work and Pensions describes the cruel system under which call are handled, designed to purge the faintest hint of sympathy and to likewise deny callers access to basic, vital information without which their benefits will not be approved, or can be terminated. The DWP is who you call if you've been widowed and need help caring for your children, or when you get a cancer diagnosis, or when your organs fail. Read the rest

Parking-ticket bot will now help homeless people get benefits

Stanford computer science student Joshua Browder, whose DoNotPay bot helps you fight parking tickets in London and New York (it's estimated to have overturned $4M in tickets to date) has a new bot in the offing: a chatbot that helps newly homeless people in the UK create and optimise their applications for benefits. Read the rest

The Ice Bucket Challenge did not fund a breakthrough in ALS treatment

Yesterday's science-by-press-release announcement that a research team had made a "breakthrough" in treating ALS thanks to funds raised in last year's viral ice-bucket challenge turns out to be vaporware: the gene identified was already known to be implicated in ALS, but only affects 3% of cases, and the new refinement in the research suggests some avenues for further work, but has no immediate therapeutic value. Read the rest

Brexit's other shoe drops: austerity, deregulation, climate nihilism

As Conservative grandees jostle each other in the looming contest to become Prime Minister of the UK, we're starting to learn more about their plans for governing UK without the constraint of the European Union's human rights, environmental and labour rules. Read the rest

UK Tories use Brexit as an excuse to slash corporate taxes to the lowest of any major economy

Nearly 2 weeks ago, 17 million Britons (mostly poor) voted to leave the EU in what amounted to a plebiscite on austerity, finance capitalism, and the widening gap between the increasingly wealthy and the increasingly poor. In response, the Conservative government says it will tempt corporations to come to the UK by making the rich get even richer and the poor even poorer. Read the rest

Scarfolk's lost 1970s budget announcement lays bare the modern Tory strategy

Scarfolk is a fictional English horror-town stuck in a perpetual loop, from 1970-1980, from which beautifully weathered artifacts escape onto our modern Web. Read the rest

NHS junior doctors show kids what's they do, kids demand better of Jeremy Hunt

Junior doctors in the UK National Health Service have been attempting to negotiate a decent wage and decent working conditions in their new contract with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is a terrible person, and who has been publicly libelling the hardworking doctors on the front lines of the UK health system. Read the rest

Keep your scythe, the real green future is high-tech, democratic, and radical

"Radical ecology" has come to mean a kind of left-wing back-to-the-landism that throws off consumer culture and mass production for a pastoral low-tech lifestyle. But as the brilliant science journalist and Marxist Leigh Phillips writes in Austerity Ecology & the Collapse-Porn Addicts: A Defence Of Growth, Progress, Industry And Stuff, if the left has a future, it has to reclaim its Promethean commitment to elevating every human being to a condition of luxurious, material abundance and leisure through technological progress.

Councillor who voted to close all public toilets gets a ticket for public urination

Last May, Jackie Burns, the deputy leader of the Labour Council in South Lanarkshire in Scotland, voted to close all public toilets as part of the Scottish government's £22 million cost-cutting programme; early last Saturday morning, police issued him a £40 ticket for pissing in public. (via Reddit) Read the rest

Voter suppression act two: closing driver's license offices in Alabama's Black Belt

A favored tactic of Tea Party governors this decade has been the imposition of a poll tax in the form of voter ID laws that required voters to present a state-issued ID (usually a driver's license) in order to exercise their franchise. Read the rest

Playful, pacifist IEDs

Sculptor Petros Eftstathiadiadis makes these "pacifist bombs" as a commentary on the Greek political/economic situation, constructing them from materials chosen to seem absurd, playful and harmless. Despite that, a few of these look somewhat alarming to me, possibly because of Eftstathiadiadis's (admirable) lack of knowledge about antipersonnel weaponry -- the soap immediately makes me think of jellied gasoline, for example. Read the rest

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