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.

Read the rest

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


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

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

Umbrella Revolution protesters retake the streets


After the brutal eviction of protesters from the Mong Kok protest camp by Hong Kong police, the protesters came back strong, surging into the streets and beating back the police lines, preservering in the face of batons and pepper-spray.

Read the rest

Umbrella Revolution's projector guerrillas splash huge messages on public buildings


The Add Oil project lets anyone in the world write a message of support to Hong Kong's protesters, which is then beamed in 16' tall letters on the sides of buildings near the protests.

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

Hong Kong protest: drone flyover

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

Read the rest

Vicious crackdown on Hong Kong's pro-democracy students and Occupy movement


The rallying cry of the students who staged a mass walkout and the Occupy Central demonstrators is the right to choose an administrator for HK without Beijing's oversight; but underlying it all is rage about growing wealth disparity.

Read the rest

Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century is a bestselling economics tome whose combination of deep, careful presentation of centuries’ worth of data, along with an equally careful analysis of where capitalism is headed has ignited a global conversation about inequality, tax, and policy. Cory Doctorow summarizes the conversation without making you read 696 pages (though you should).

Read the rest

Oligopolistic America: anti-competitive, unequal, and deliberate


A brilliant, enraging op-ed in the Washington Post from analysts from the New America Foundation and the American Antitrust Institute shows how the Reagan-era policy of encouraging monopolistic corporate behavior has made America unequal and uncompetitive, creating a horror Gilded Age where the Congressional consensus is that laws cannot possibly put a check on bad corporate actors.

It's another look at the problems set out in Matt Taibbi's brilliant book The Divide, tracing the policies that created both the private prison industry and banks so big that even the most depraved criminality can't be punished lest the bank tremble and collapse on wider society.

Particularly galling and illuminating is a quote from a Goldman Sachs report that advises investors to seek out "oligopolistic market structure[s]" where there's "lower competitive intensity, greater stickiness and pricing power with customers due to reduced choice" as the ideal way to maximize your return on capital.

Read the rest

The more your job helps people, the less you're paid (and vice-versa)


In this spectacular, long interview with Salon, David "Debt" Graeber builds on his bullshit jobs hypothesis and points out the horror of modern American work: if your job does some good, you are paid less; jobs that actively hurt people are paid more; and no one seems to want a world where no one has to work anymore. But have no fear: it ends on a high note: a proposed "revolt of the caring classes."

Read the rest