Joi Ito interviews Barack Obama for Wired: machine learning, neurodiversity, basic research and Star Trek


Joi Ito (previously) -- director of MIT Media Lab, former Creative Commons chief, investor, entrepreneur, and happy mutant -- interviewed Barack Obama for a special, Obama-edited issue of Wired. Read the rest

Wells Fargo whistleblower describes bank's culture of blackballing threats and coerced corruption


On the latest Planet Money podcast (MP3), a former San Francisco Wells Fargo banker describes the bullying and coercion she faced from senior management while working at the bank's head office, and how the bank forced her out when she blew the whistle on fraud and then blacklisted her with other banks, forcing her out of the sector altogether. Read the rest

The Wells Fargo fraud came to light because of union organizers


Though Wells Fargo had been pressuring its employees to commit fraud since 1998, firing those who couldn't make quota, as well as the whistleblowers who came forward to report the fraud, it wasn't until the Committee for Better Banks launched a unionization drive to organize retail banking workers against punitive sales quotas that the crimes came to light. Read the rest

How many Wells Fargo employees were fired for NOT committing fraud?


When Wells Fargo fired 5,300 employees for opening 2,000,000 accounts in its customers name (stealing their cash and trashing their credit scores in the process), it wanted us all to know that it had cleaned house, because this was just 5,300 people who, without any help from senior management, all happened to coincidentally engage in the same fraud. Read the rest

Wells Fargo fired the whistleblowers who reported massive fraud, and that's a crime


CNN Money has found multiple whistleblowers from Wells Fargo who were willing to go on the record and report that they were fired in retaliation for coming forward to report the massive fraud in which Wells Fargo employees opened up 2,000,000 fake accounts in their customers' names, raiding their real accounts to open them, then racking up fees and penalties, and trashing their customers' credit ratings. Read the rest

Lickspittle consigliere: how the super-rich abuse their wealth managers as loyalty tests


Sociologist Brooke Harrington got her Trust and Estate Planning certification in order to study the super-secretive world of the wealth managers who are in charge of hiding the $21 trillion controlled by the world's super-rich from tax authorities, feckless descendants, religious leaders, tax justice activists, kidnappers and extortionists. Read the rest

Free trade lowers prices -- but not on things poor people need (and it pushes up housing prices)


Part of the economic argument for free trade deals is that they benefit workers by producing cheaper goods -- even if you lose your manufacturing job, you can buy stuff a lot cheaper with the next job you get. Read the rest

Week two for the largest prison strike in US history


As many as 20,000 US prisoners are going into their second week on strike against forced labor and inhumane prison conditions, though the US prison system has locked down the centers of the strike, denied all conduits for information, and put the leadership into solitary confinement. Read the rest

Cop fired and denied severance for not shooting suicidal man holding an unloaded gun

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Stephen Mader, a former police officer in Weirton, W.Va, was fired without severance because he decided not to shoot Ronald D. "R.J." Williams Jr, who had threatened to kill himself and was holding a gun that turned out to be unloaded. Read the rest

Tomorrow: largest prison strike in US history


America imprisons more people than any other country in history, in both absolute and relative terms. American prisoners -- disproportionately racialized and poor people -- are held in inhumane conditions that include long periods of solitary confinement, in violation of international protocols against torture. Read the rest

Indian workers staged one of the largest strikes in human history and no one in the USA noticed


Tens of millions of unionized public sector workers walked off the job last Friday in a one-day strike against PM Modi's plan to privatise public industries and increase foreign investment. It was one of the largest strikes in human history, if not the largest, and took place over Labour Day weekend. Read the rest

Blackballed by machine learning: how algorithms can destroy your chances of getting a job


The Guardian's published a long excerpt from Cathy O'Neil's essential new book, Weapons of Math Destruction, in which O'Neil describes the way that shoddy machine-learning companies have come to dominate waged employment hiring, selling their dubious products to giant companies that use them to decide who can and can't work. Read the rest

Universities fought unionization's 'one-size-fits-all' using identical arguments


The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that grad students working at private universities can form unions, something that the universities themselves have fought tooth-and-nail for years, with elite universities posted FAQs explaining why trade unionism was a bad match for academic institutions: that each academic institution was unique, and so unlike any other place, that collective bargaining just couldn't work. Read the rest

Fiction: Sgt. Augmento, Bruce Sterling's robots-take-our-jobs story


Bruce Sterling's new short story, "Sgt. Augmento," is an eyeball-kicky post-cyberpunk story full of Sterlingian zeitgeist: in the robots-took-our-jobs future, the narrator joins the army to augment his guaranteed minimum income, but finds that overseeing robot combat isn't to his liking, so he musters out into a precarious existence clinging to the side of the sharing economy. Read the rest

Las Vegas: high unionization rates mean smaller wage-gaps for women, especially older women


Las Vegas is one of America's most unionized cities, and importantly, the unionization rates are especially high in trades dominated by women, such as cocktail servers and hotel cleaners, making Vegas one of the most equal places in America in terms of wage-parity between women and men, and also between young workers and older workers. Read the rest

Kickstarting "The Founder": a dystopian business simulator

Francis Tseng's simulator game invites you to "grow your startup and please those investors until there’s nothing left to give" by building biotech, defense, machine learning, cloud computing, drone and space companies with a crew of employees whose low wages can be mitigated with bulletproof coffee and whose products can be sold with "causewashing" sponsorships of hip music festivals. Read the rest

#Slaveroo: Crowdsourcing a strike-fund for exploited gig economy workers


"Gig economy" scooter drivers for London's Deliveroo service earn £7/hour plus £1/delivery, and that's nowhere near a living wage: but rather than giving their a pay rise (£9.40/hour, plus £1/delivery, plus petrol, plus tips), Deliveroo wants to cut them all to zero-hours contracts with no hourly wage and £3.75/delivery and they fired all the drivers who asked for a living wage, so naturally, drivers are crowdfunding a strike-fund to fight back. Read the rest

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