A modest proposal for Wall Street's future


Michael "Flash Boys" Lewis gives us a wish-list of eight (implausible) steps that Wall Street could take to check its feckless, reckless, destructive lurch through the 21st century.

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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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Toys are more gendered now than they were 50 years ago


Before Reagan's FCC deregulated kids' TV and allowed toy-makers to produce 22-minute commercials disguised as cartoons, there had been major strides in de-gendering toys, grouping them by interest, rather than by constraining who was "supposed" to play with them.

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Modern slavery: the Mexican megafarms that supply America's top grocers


A four-part series in the LA Times explores the corrupt labor conditions in Mexico's biggest farms, where the produce, destined for American grocers like Walmart and Whole Foods, is treated with infinitely more care than the workers, who are subject to illegal, inhumane treatment, including indentured servitude.

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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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Angela Merkel calls for end to net neutrality


The German Chancellor -- whose party is closely aligned with the telcoms sector -- says she wants a two-tier Internet; on the "fast" Internet, carriers will be allowed to slow down access to services that haven't paid bribes for "premium" carriage; on the "regular" Internet, ISPs will just give you the data you ask for.

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Uberdystopian: the surge-priced nightmare future


Paul Ford's short story "One Day, I Will Die on Mars," depicts a chilling, all-too-believable dystopian world where Uber becomes a massive transhuman immortal colony-organism that treats its labor force as its gut-flora, to be continuously measured and perfected or discarded.

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Smart Pipe: a design fiction from the Internet of Things dystopia

11 minutes seems like a long ask for a gag video about an Internet-of-Things toilet-analyzer, but man, is it worth it.

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Luxury South African safari train where work is forbidden


The 3-day, $2750/person Rovos Rail train safari from Pretoria to Durban is pulled by 1930s steam trains; features giant, luxurious staterooms with their own bathtubs; offers high tea; and, true to its Edwardian time-warp, passengers are prohibited from working in public areas, lest this break the atmosphere of idle wealth and privilege.

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GOP set up Twitter "numbers stations" to get around Super PAC rules

Super PACs are allowed to raise unlimited funds to support election campaigns, but can't coordinate with those campaigns; this especially means that campaigns can't share expensive private poll data with PACs to help fine tune their campaigns -- which is exactly what Republicans did with their cryptic, unlabelled Twitter accounts that acted as dead-drops with messages like "CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52-->49/476-10s" to let affiliated PACs know what the polls had shown.

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Plutocrats' visual guide to rigging elections


From the Mayday.US super PAC (which backs candidates who promise to abolish super PACs).

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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Potato-chip surveillance: once you start, you just can't stop

The ongoing revelations about UK domestic spying on political activists, continued in some case for decades, and which included an incident in which an undercover police officer fathered a child with the woman he was spying on, illustrate an important point: once you decide someone is suspicious enough to follow around, there's no evidence that you can gather to dispel that suspicion.

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