As sewbots threaten Asia's sweatshops, we need to decide who will benefit from automation

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A new International Labour Organization report called ASEAN in transformation: How technology is changing jobs and enterprises predicts that "sewbots" -- sewing robots that can piece together garments with little or no human intervention -- will replace up to 90% of garment and footwear workers in Cambodia and Vietnam in the years to come. Read the rest

Fox's employee contracts may mean Gretchen Carlson will never get her day in court

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Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment suit against her former boss, Roger Ailes, may be dead before its begun, because Fox News makes all its employees sign "binding arbitration" agreements that force them to use a system of private courts that let corporate America make up its own laws. Read the rest

Why did some of the richest, most powerful people in the UK support Brexit?

It's true that the vote for Brexit was carried by working-class people in some of the poorest and most excluded regions in the UK; but the actual referendum question was put before the British public thanks to a small faction of some of the richest, most powerful people in the country -- people who rely on the finance sector (which overwhelmingly supported Remain) for their privilege. Why? Read the rest

White House contends with AI's big social challenges, July 7/NYC

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Meredith from Simply Secure writes, "Artificial Intelligence is already with us, and the White House and New York University’s Information Law Institute are hosting a major public symposium to face what the social and economic impacts might be. AI Now, happening July 7th in New York City, will address the real world impacts of AI systems in the next next 5-10 years." Read the rest

London luxury property prices plummet after Brexit vote

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A Russian home-buyer pulled out of a "agreed offer" of £6.95m for a six bedroom Kensington flat, now it's listed for £6.75m; a three-bedroom in Swiss Cottage is down to £1.05m from £1.5m; a £1.1m 2-bedroom in Whitechapel is now £720,000; a 2bm maisonette in Notting Hill fell from £1.59m to £1.35mk; a £1.3m 5br in St. Reatham is down to £850,000 and estate agents have mutually agreed to go back to calling it Streatham. Read the rest

In Madagascar, pineapple jokes are a form of dangerous, soon-to-be-banned dissent

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Madagascar, one of the world's poorest nations, is led by president Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who infuriated his people by insisting that the economy was doing well and that naysayers couldn't "provide evidence that the country was getting poorer." Read the rest

Yes Men punk the NRA with "buy one gun, give one gun" program

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At "Share the Safety," you can buy one of three Smith & Wesson guns, and the good folks at the NRA will send another one just like it to a lucky person in a low income, inner-city neighborhood, "law-abiding urbanites who will for the first time be able to defend themselves against those who prey on the urban poor." It's just like Tom's shoes! Read the rest

The blacker a city is, the more it fines its residents (especially black ones)

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In the aftermath of the Ferguson uprising, much ink was spilled on the reliance of the predominantly black city on fines from its residents to pay its bills -- and on the use of what amounted to debtors' prisons that locked up those who wouldn't or couldn't pay the constant stream of fines and scared the rest into begging and borrowing to pay their own fines. Read the rest

The demographics of Brexit

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The Brexit vote wasn't mere xenophobia, it was self-destructive lashing out by people whom the political classes had written off for a generation. Read the rest

Undercover reporter spent four months as a prison guard in a Louisiana pen run by CCA

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Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is one of the world's largest private jailers; it runs prisons and immigration detention centers across the USA (and is diversifying into halfway houses, mental health center, and surveillance for poor neighborhoods). Mother Jones's Shane Bauer went undercover at CCA's Winn Prison in Louisiana, the state with the highest incarceration rate in the world, and spent four months meticulously documenting the way that CCA destroys the lives of the prisoners in its care and its own employees, while paying its CEO $3.4M/year. Read the rest

Unnamed Canadian telco sabotages' library's low-income internet service

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Toronto's public libraries have followed New York and Chicago's lead in offering wifi hotspot lending to low-income families, allowing them to "check out the internet" and take it home with them. Read the rest

Homeless in Seattle: five essays

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Peter Wieben's five-part series on homelessness in Seattle doesn't try to capture any kind of overarching truth or objective stock-taking of the problem (Seattle is now notorious for its tent cities). Rather, it consists of a series of sharply observed, dryly recounted personal stories from the people he meets, which range from heartbreaking to infuriating.

The conversion of shelter into an asset class has incentivized local governments to make it more expensive, which is a disaster for nearly everyone, except literal rentiers. Combine that with the recasting of poverty as a moral failing and the disappearance of stable employment opportunities and you're well on the way to turning cities into armed standoffs between the fingernail-clinging haves and the have-nots, whose misery only serves to spur the haves to cling harder.

Wieben beautifully captures the difficulty of confronting homelessness in all our lives: the combination of mistrust and sympathy, empathy and helplessness, frustration and affection.

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part I) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part II) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part III) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part IV) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part V) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

(via Metafilter) Read the rest

$40,000/year private school sues school for low-income kids for $2M over "Commonwealth"

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The Commonwealth School is a $40,000/year private school that occupies a couple of mansions in the Back Bay of Boston, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Commonwealth Academy is a pay-what-you-can school for underprivileged kids, located 90 miles away (also in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts). Read the rest

Wisconsin Congresswoman: mandatory drug tests for anyone claiming $150K in itemized tax-deductions

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After Governor Scott Walker [R-WI] and Congressman Paul Ryan [R-WI] both proposed expanding drug-testing for poor people on benefits, Congresswoman Gwen Moore [D-WI] introduced legislation requiring urine samples from anyone claiming over $150,000 in itemized tax-deductions -- households with gross incomes of about $1M. Read the rest

Not robots: youth unemployment caused by late retirement, driven by pension precarity

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If youth unemployment -- and the lack of good entry-level jobs for college grads -- was being driven by workplace automation, American productivity (value created per hour worked) would be soaring, rather than stagnating. Read the rest

The winners in today's economy work worse hours than yesterday's losers

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Last month's research report on work-hours for high-paid salaried workers from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth paints a picture of a nation where even the winners are losers. Read the rest

Massachusetts bill would force employers to pay half-salary to laid off employees for duration of noncompetes

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Massachusetts is one of the few places in high-tech America where non-compete agreements are enforceable, a factor that scholars have pointed to in explaining why the state's tech industry has stayed so small relative to California, where the best workers can always move to the best companies. Read the rest

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