Pew: 26% of US adults who earn under $30K/year are 'smartphone only' internet users

Americans who are poor increasingly use mobile phones as their primary way to go online.

Reverse mortgages: subprime's "stealth aftershock" that is costing elderly African-Americans their family homes

Reverse mortgages -- complex home loans -- are aggressively marketed to elderly people, especially in African-American neighborhoods, using deceptive tactics that offer false promised to "eliminate monthly payments permanently" with "a risk-free way of being able to access home equity." Read the rest

Remembering Velma Demerson: Grand soul, feminist, human rights advocate and writer

[Velma Demerson was jailed in 1939 and by the Ontario government for the "crime" of having a Chinese boyfriend; sixty years later, she began an ultimately successful legal challenge seeking reparations; I'm pleased to present this remembrance for Demerson by Harry Kopyto, the campaigning human rights lawyer, who served as one of her advisors -Cory]

On Monday May 13, 2019, Athena Mary Lakes, better known as Velma Demerson, died from old age in a Vancouver hospital at the age of 98. She is best known for her successful legal battle culminating in 2002 against the Ontario Government for incarcerating her in Toronto in 1939 for almost a year. The reason for her incarceration? She was found morally “incorrigible” under the Female Refuges Act for living with a Chinese man, Harry Yip, whom she married after her release. Their son, who was born while she was in jail, was taken away from her until after her release. Read the rest

Connecticut's racist NIMBYs have used zoning laws and dirty tricks to make it one of the most unequal, racially segregated states in the union

Racism and oligarchy aren't merely Blue/Red phenomena: Connecticut has had a Democratic legislature for 22 years and a Democratic governor for eight years, and it is one of the nation's most racially segregated, unequal states, divided into affluent, all-white cities and towns with virtually no affordable housing and poor, underserved towns primarily inhabited by racialized people, whose children are five times more likely to be imprisoned than the white children across the city line a few miles away. Read the rest

TOSsed out: EFF catalogs the perverse ways that platform moderation policies hurt the people they're supposed to protect

TOSsed Out is a new project from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that catalogs the myriad of ways in which Big Tech platforms' moderation policies backfire spectacularly, like the anti-terrorism policies that delete evidence of war-crimes needed by investigators and prosecutors. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders' "Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education" will desegregate schools, defund charters, pay teachers, end the school-to-prison pipeline

Bernie Sanders has released A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education, a detailed and bold suite of public education reforms reminiscent of the kinds of policy planks being laid down regularly by rival candidate Elizabeth Warren (I'm a donor to both Sanders' and Warren's campaigns). Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's bold, risky, well-intentioned plan to improve health outcomes for African-American mothers giving birth

African-American women suffer a much higher level of maternal mortality than the national average, and Elizabeth Warren has proposed a bold -- but high-risk -- plan to incentivize hospitals to root out the institutional, systemic racism that produces these terrible outcomes. Read the rest

A former college admissions dean explains the mundane reverse affirmative action that lets the rich send their kids to the front of the line

Thanks to the college admissions scandal the issue of inequality and access to postsecondary education is now in our national conversation, but despite the glitz of the bribery scandal, the real issue is a much more mundane form of reverse affirmative action that allows wealthy Americans to dominate college admissions, muscling out better candidates from poorer backgrounds, especially Black students. Read the rest

Amazon's staffing up a news vertical full of crime stories designed to scare you into buying a spying, snitching "smart" doorbell

Ring is a "smart" doorbell that Amazon bought for $1B in 2018, and proceeded to turn into an insecure, networked surveillance device, (possibly wired into Amazon's facial recognition system) and connected to law enforcement so that the company could advertise that owning a Ring made you a good citizen of your neighborhood, part of a mesh of relentless eyes-on-the-street that identified suspicious strangers and sicced the law on them, frontended by an app named with pitch-perfect creepiness: "Neighbors." Read the rest

To do in NYC next Sat, May 11: "The Bigot in the Machine," a panel on algorithmic bias from PEN and McSweeney's

Next weekend, PEN America is throwing its World Voices Festival, including a McSweeney's-sponsored panel on algorithmic bias called The Bigot in the Machine, featuring poet/media activist Malkia Cyril, and Equality Labs founder Thenmozhi Soundararajan, moderated by investigative journalist Adrianne Jeffries: it's on May 11 at 2:30 at Cooper Union's Frederick P. Rose Auditorium. Tickets are $20. Read the rest

Assessing Occupy's legacy

In 2011, activists began an occupation of Zucotti Park near Wall Street, starting a movement that spread around the world and changed the discourse around wealth, inequality, corruption and justice. Read the rest

Ghost warrants: US cops routinely arrest people for warrants that were canceled long ago, and lock them up for months before discovering the error

The US has a patchwork of systems for checking outstanding warrants -- it's worst in the south, where paper records and a system that is "labyrinthine and informal" exacerbates the problem -- which means that cops often mistakenly arrest people for having outstanding warrants that were canceled long before. Read the rest

Talking Radicalized with the LA Public Library: Trump derangement syndrome, engagement algorithms, and novellas as checked luggage

The LA Public Library's Daryl M interviewed me about my new book, Radicalized, specifically, about how my Trump anxiety (created, in part, by the platforms' relentless use of "engagement" tools to nonconsensually eyeball-fuck me with Trump headlines) led to the book's germination, as well as the specific inspirations for each of the four novellas, and the delights of working in novella form. Read the rest

Big Tech's addiction to illegal, overreaching NDAs protects wage discrimination, sexual harassment, and other evils by "terrorizing" employees

NDAs were once used exclusively to protect bona fide trade secrets, but today's Big Tech companies force new hires to sign far-ranging NDAs that exceed the law in many ways (for example, by banning employees from discussing illegal workplace conditions), as a means of "terrorizing" employees into keeping their mouths shut, lest they face threats from the company's high-powered lawyers. Read the rest

Lawyer for kid whose parents paid $1.2m bribe to get into Yale says the high price shows grifters' anti-Chinese bias

There are some mysteries in the court documents related to the college admissions scandal: a pair of mystery students whose parents paid $1.2m and $6.5m in bribes to get them into top US educational institutions. Read the rest

TSA admits that its pornoscanners flag Black women and others with curly hair for humiliating, invasive searches

Black women have long complained that they get flagged for secondary screening at TSA checkpoints after passing through a full-body scanner; after years of complaints, the TSA has admitted that its scanners struggle to with curled hair, and are prone to flagging anyone wearing an afro, twists, locks, braids, or other hairstyles predominantly found among Black travelers (though white travelers with long curly hair have also reported being flagged for secondary screening). Read the rest

What it's like to watch someone you love fall down the Fox News rabbit-hole

Luke O'Neil put a call out for his readers' stories of their loved ones' capture by Fox News, being overtake by its paranoid, racist conspiracy mindset: he got back a heartbreaking collection of tales of "funny, compassionate" older relatives turning into someone who was "increasingly angry, bigoted, and paranoid" -- some people even found their older relatives dead in front of a TV playing Fox. Read the rest

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