Monopoly power and the decline of small business: big business vs democracy, growth & equality

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In the 15 years between 1997 and 2012: 72,000 small US manufacturers shut down; as did 108,000 local retailers and 13,000 community banks (fully half of America's complement of small banks!). The number of US startups has dropped by 50% since 1970. These statistics are not the result of the changing times: they're due to massive, monopolistic corporations stacking the deck against small competitors through unfair and corrupt practices, to the detriment of American growth, equality and democracy. Read the rest

Foreign influence: how a Chinese businessman funneled $1.3M to Jeb Bush's campaign

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Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen -- Chinese nationals who live in Singapore -- own a global property speculation and development empire whose US branch is called American Pacific International Capital Inc. They followed a recipe set out in a memo by Charlie Spies, a top Republican lawyer, in order to funnel $1.3M to Jeb Bush's PAC, then Tang offered a reporter for the Intercept $200,000 not to mention that he had been investigated for smuggling, tax evasion and bribery by the Chinese government. Read the rest

Web companies can track you -- and price-gouge you -- based on your battery life

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In Online tracking: A 1-million-site measurement and analysis, eminent Princeton security researchers Steven Englehardt and Arvind Narayanan document the use of device battery levels -- accessible both through mobile platform APIs and HTML5 calls -- to track and identify users who are blocking cookies and other methods of tracking. Read the rest

Airport lounges will let anyone in, provided you can fake a QR code

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When computer security expert and hardcore traveller Przemek Jaroszewski found that he couldn't enter an airline lounge in Warsaw because the automated reader mistakenly rejected his boarding card, he wrote a 600-line Javascript program that generated a QR code for "Batholemew Simpson," a business-class traveller on a flight departing that day. Read the rest

After repeated budget cuts, Missouri's underfunded Public Defender drafts the Governor to work for him

Brother Phil writes, "The Public Defender's Office in Missouri is chronically underfunded by a governor who can always find money for his pet projects. However, they do have the power to draft any lawyer to serve as the defense in a case if they don't have one spare.Guess who just happens to be a lawyer..." Read the rest

Residents of Silicon Valley homeless camp clear 48,000 Lbs of garbage from creek, ask for housing

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Silicon Valley's legendary housing crisis -- now several decades old -- has led to the establishment of semi-permanent homeless camps on public lands, including a notable camp on the banks of Coyote Creek, on Santa Clara County Water District land. Read the rest

Silicon Valley banks offer tech giants' new hires 100% mortgages on 24 hours' notice

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What to do if you've just signed up to work in one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the world, with almost all of your net worth tied up in illiquid shares in your employer's company? Just ask a Silicon Valley bank for a 100% mortgage, which they'll cheerfully supply on 24 hours' notice, with all the "white-glove service" trappings you could ask for. Read the rest

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

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