AFL-CIO open letter to game devs: things won't get better until you unionize

In the wake of Blizzard/Activision's announcement of mass layoffs following record profits, Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO has published an open letter on Kotaku addressed to workers in the notoriously abusive video game industry, calling on them to unionize as the only path to a fair deal. Read the rest

India's e-waste recycling "markets" are toxic nightmares filled with child laborers

Millions of tons of e-waste -- much of it from rich countries like Australia -- are recycled in India, in "markets" with terrible, dangerous working conditions and equally awful environmental controls. Read the rest

LA Times demands that reporters sign away rights to books, movies and other works they create while working at the paper

The LA Times Guild has been negotiating a new contract with the newspaper, but has hit a wall thanks to an unprecedented demand from the paper's owners: they want writers to sign away the rights to nonfiction books, novels, movies and other works they create separate from their reporting for the paper. The newspaper is also demanding the right to use reporters "byline, biography and likeness" to market these works. Read the rest

Burning Man purges one-percenter camp that charged up to $100K, littered like crazy, and ripped off its attendees

Burning Man has long struggled with the tension between its commitment to "radical decommodification" and grifters and their ultra-high-net-worth marks who organize "turnkey camps" where you can pay giant sums to pretend to be a Burning Man "participant" while being looked after by paid "sherpas" (including, rumor has it, sex workers), in luxury settings designed to repel non-paying attendees (sometimes guarded by private security guards). Read the rest

Blizzard/Activision celebrates record revenues by laying off 800 employees

Blizzard/Activision posted $7.5b in net revenues for 2018, and announced that it would lay off 800 of the employees who made those revenues possible, but fear not! The last time the company did a mass layoff (600 people in 2012), it generously rehired those people as temps, doing the same jobs for less pay, with no security or benefits. Read the rest

Trump's properties routinely employed (and abused) undocumented Latinx workers, including dozens from a single Costa Rican town

The Washington Post tracked down workers from Santa Teresa de Cajon in Costa Rica, who say that they and their neighbors were part of a "pipeline" from Central America to Trump properties in New Jersey and elsewhere, where they worked doing construction, groundskeeping, and cleaning, with the full knowledge of their supervisors and Trump Organization managers (a claim verified by a police report detailing a warning from local officials to Trump Organization bosses about the number of undocumented workers on Trump's property). Read the rest

Swedes are entitled to six months' leave to start a business, look after a sick relative, or study

Sweden consistently ranks as one of Europe's most innovative and entrepreneurial nations, and one of the most obvious explanations for this is the country's generous leave policy, which entitles salaried, full-time workers to six months' unpaid leave to start a (noncompeting) business, look after a sick relative, or go back to school. Read the rest

Harvard Humanists troll the elites who fund the Harvard endowment by awarding Anand Giridharadas a prize

Anand Giridharadas (previously) is the Aspen Fellow/McKinsey consultant turned anticapitalist gadfly whose brilliant book Winners Take All exposes the "philanthrophy" of the ultra-rich as a form of reputation-laundering with the side benefit of allowing some of history's greatest monsters to look at themselves in the mirror. Read the rest

If you work for a living, America taxes you at double the rate of wealthy investors with "unearned income"

Starting in the early 1990s with a Democratic Congress (and continued by other congresses, Republican and Democrat, since), the rate of tax on "passive, unearned income" has been in decline, but someone has to pay to keep Uncle Sam's lights on, so the tax on workers' wages have diverged, until today, when the tax bite out of a worker's wage is double the tax taken on wealthy investor with the same amount in "passive income." Read the rest

Why charter schools are the flashpoint for the LA teachers' strike

When teachers from the largest school district in America walked off the job this week, they were not campaigning for wages: rather, they were demanding smaller classes; more librarians, counselors, aides and special-ed teachers; and to rein in the Charter school movement, and that last demand is the key to understanding the whole thing. Read the rest

In LA, the teachers of America's largest school district are on strike

LA teachers are on strike today, fighting against privatization, standardized tests, giant classes, and clawbacks of in-class teachers' aides. Read the rest

American towns survive by fining poor people, and use debtors' prisons to make them pay

The Ferguson uprising was triggered by the police assassination of Michael Brown, but even before that killing, the city was a powder-keg, thanks to the practice of financing the city government by levying fines on the poor and putting those who couldn't pay in debtors' prison to encourage the rest to cough up. Read the rest

Trump gave AT&T a $20B tax break and killed Net Neutrality, now they're prepping mass layoffs

The same year that Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai killed broadband privacy and cheated Network Neutrality to death, the Trump tax plan delivered a $20B windfall to AT&T -- both Trump and Pai claimed that the measures would stimulate the economy and trickle down to the rest of us. Read the rest

Tennessee doctors make a fortune kicking disabled people off Medicare

The state of Tennessee pays doctor-contractors by the case to review Medicare disability claims, leading to a situation in which doctors review four or more cases per hour -- and kick profoundly disabled and terminally ill people out of the program. Tennessee leads the nation in denied disability claims. Read the rest

Americans' happiness is correlated with spending on public goods

Baylor University political scientist Patrick Flavin's forthcoming study in Social Science Research finds that people in states with higher public goods spending (on "libraries, parks, highways, natural resources and police protection") report higher levels of happiness. Read the rest

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: abolish Columbus Day, replace it with Voting Day

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (previously), the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, has proposed abolishing Columbus Day (which honors a raping, murdering, enslaving, genocidal pedophile) and replacing it with a day off for voting (which most other developed democracies give their citizens). Read the rest

Terror as disappearances follow Chinese student communists' solidarity with striking workers

China's increasing inequality and rocky transition to market capitalism has created a rising tide of wildcat strikes from independent trade unions, who have found powerful allies in national student communist movements whose members were made to study Marxism in an effort to purge the country's intelligentsia of "bourgeois" ideologies of liberalism and democracy. Read the rest

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