Boing Boing 

New York City's worst landlords


The Village Voice rounds up the ten cruellest, most outright criminal landlords in the five boroughs for 2014, including voyeurs, arsonists, thugs and bullies -- and then there's Robin Shimoff:

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Toronto's public library under threat from Rob Ford's Library Board

The Toronto Library Board appointed by the disgraced former mayor Rob Ford has continued its programme of cutting library budgets, cutting way past the bone and threatening the Toronto public library system altogether.

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House of Lords demands its own caterer because Parliament's Champagne isn't good enough


A move to save money by merging the Lords' and Parliament's catering has come under fire because some Lords fear that the quality of the free Champagne will decline as a result.

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Corporate sovereignty: already costing the EU billions


"Corporate sovereignty" -- in which foreign companies get to sue the government to penalize it for passing environmental and labor laws that undercut profits -- is the one of the most controversial elements of the TAFTA/TTIP trade agreement the EU is negotiating with the US.

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The high cost of being poor

An excerpt from Linda Tirado's 2014 book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America lays out some of the ways that being poor costs more than having a comfortable income -- it's more than having to pay for high daily rents in a motel because you can't afford first-and-last.

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Pennsylvania passes a "Gag Mumia" law to silence prisoner's voices

The "Revictimization Relief Act" allows suits against offenders whose "conduct...perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim," but the fact that it was aimed at silencing jailed activist Mumia Abu-Jamal was never made a secret -- the governor signed it into law saying that it "was inspired by the excesses and pious hypocrisy of one particular killer."

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Why I wrote fiction about a Rob Ford-inspired mad mayor who settles grudges with knife fights

David Nickle is a horror writer and a working journalist who covered Toronto City Hall during the Rob Ford years, an era in which the two professions effectively merged. Here, Nickle explains the events that led to his new short story collection Knife Fight and Other Struggles, which includes a tale of a larger-than-life mayor who settles interpersonal friction with, well, knife-fights. Read the rest

Philadelphia schools have $5/student/year for supplies


"Education reform," the charter school movement (that siphons state funding for well-off kids into private hands), the racialized segregation of inner-city and suburban school districts, No Child Left Behind, and the scapegoating of teachers' unions has produced an education system that hardly even qualifies as a 12-year babysitting service.

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42 rich white people account for 1/3 of Super PAC spending


35 of them are old white men, the rest are women.

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David Graeber and Thomas Piketty on whether capitalism will destroy itself

Graeber wrote the magisterial Debt: The First 5,000 Years; Piketty, of course, wrote the essential Capital in the 21st Century -- in a must-read dialog, they discuss their differences and similarities and offer views on whether capitalism will collapse.

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100K Hungarians march against Internet tax


When Hungary's government announced a per-megabyte tax on Internet traffic, people were pissed; a week later, 100,000 people took to the streets to let Prime Minister Viktor Orbán know how they felt about the proposal.

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American businesses devour themselves to enrich the 1%


A Goldman Sachs report on stock buybacks shows a suspicious clustering in the fourth quarter, just when management bonuses are being calculated.

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Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Doubt Factory"

From one of science fiction's most versatile writers comes a caper novel about corporate sleaze and net-savvy guerrilla activists that is as thrilling as it is trenchant. Cory Doctorow reviews Paolo Bacigalupi's The Doubt Factory. Read the rest

HK police arrest "triad gangsters" who attacked Umbrella Revolution camps


The protesters accuse the police of working with the thugs, who wore masks as they attacked the encampments; the violence has led to postponement of the planned talks between the Umbrella Revolution leaders and the Hong Kong administration.

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Walmart heirs' net worth exceeds that of population of a city the size of Phoenix


It's grown 6,700% since 1983, to $144.7B in 2013 -- greater than the net worth of 1,782,020 average Americans.

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Consumer groups tell DoJ to block Comcast/Time Warner merger

If it goes through, Comcast will control an unimaginable swath of American Internet access -- that's a hell of a lot of power to give the Worst Company in America.

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Daughter of Hong Kong leader thanks "taxpayers" for diamonds on Facebook


Chai Yan Leung thanked the taxpayers who paid for it, and then dismissed her critics as non-taxpayers, since employed people wouldn't have time to comment on Facebook.

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Why the UK middle class should be rioting in the streets


Alex Proud, a lifestyle columnist for the right-of-centre UK daily The Telegraph, has an incendiary and essential column about the end-game of financialized capitalism, which, having destroyed the lives of working class people, has now set its sights on the middle class, as private equity firms buy up productive businesses, saddle them with debt, cash out huge dividends, and leave the businesses to collapse.

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World Intellectual Property Organization in shambolic chaos

Yesterday's WIPO General Assembly was the "worst ever," with rich and poor countries deadlocked over balanced copyright, fair use, and half a dozen other issues.

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Hong Kong protest: drone flyover

The throngs of Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators, captured by Nero Chan's drone.

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Eric Holder: creator of the "Too Big to Jail" bankster


While you contemplate Eric Holder's track record of surveilling, intimidating and indicting journalists, remember that he also invented the Too Big to Jail doctrine, the failed idea that the answer to breathtaking criminal activity by gigantic banks is big fines, not criminal prosecutions.

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Class war meets the War on General Purpose Computers


The subprime auto-lending business -- writing car-loans to people who can't afford them -- is fuelled by GPS-enabled immobilizers that let lenders track and shut down cars whose drivers violate terms of service, from missing payments to fleeing the tri-county area in order to move into a shelter for abused women.

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Jacob Appelbaum on Americans' false belief that the NSA isn't targeting them

Al Billings writes, "Jacob Appelbaum discusses the fallacy of Americans thinking that they won't be targeted, passive and active surveillance methods, AI and human analyst systems working together, satellite networks, deep packet inspection & injection, military contractors getting special access to surveillance programs, proprietary vs open source software, OTR messaging, hoarding exploits for self-gain."

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When all the jobs belong to robots, do we still need jobs?


Zeynep Tufekci's scathing response to the establishment consensus that tech will create new jobs to replace the ones we've automated away makes a lot of good points.

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Infamous SF "eviction" lawfirm abuses DMCA to censor video of protest

The offices of Bornstein and Bornstein are notorious for running "boot camps" advising San Francisco landlords on legal loopholes for evicting long-term tenants so they can rent to the high-flying tech sector.

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Realtors hire ruined millionaires to pretend to live in vacant megamansions


How do you imbue an empty mansion with the indefinable "energy" that comes from daily habitation? Find distressed rich people with nice furniture and precarious jobs at McDonald's to move in.

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Wall Street as cause and beneficiary of skyrocketing university tuition

A deep, carefully argued, carefully research report from Debt and Society makes a strong case that sky-high tuition (and brutal, lifelong student debt, up 1000% in 15 years) is not primarily caused by bloated administrations or high professors' salaries. The explanation is a lot more banker-y.

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Trans Pacific Partnership meeting switched from Vancouver to Ottawa, ducking critics


What could make the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership process even less legit?

Moving it at the last minute, under cover of darkness, from Vancouver to Ottawa, in order to avoid critics of the treaty and how it is being negotiated. The TPP is a secretive treaty that allows corporations to sue governments that enact environmental, health and governmental regulations that interfere with their profits. It also calls for vastly expanded Internet spying and censorship in the name of protecting copyright.

Only trade negotiators and corporate lobbyists are allowed to see the drafts of the agreement (though plenty of these drafts have leaked) -- often times, members of Congress and Parliament are denied access to them, even though the agreement will set out legal obligations that these elected officials will be expected to meet.

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How anti-slavery law created American corporate personhood


Jeff Reifman sez, "In light of this week's ruling that for-profit corporations should have protection for their religious beliefs, I thought I'd summarize the timeline of Supreme Court decisions that established corporate constitutional rights US law." tl;dr: most of it comes from the anti-slavery 14th Amendment.

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Dear fellow zillionaires: they're coming for us with pitchforks


Nick Hanauer, a hereditary millionaire who increased the family fortune with some shrewd early dotcom inventions has written an open letter to his fellow "zillionaires" warning that their corruption of the US political system has given rise to an unstable situation of wealth inequality that has turned their potential customers into impoverished pitchfork-wielding revolutionaries who are coming for their heads.

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