Life in Late Stage Capitalism
“It’s much easier to imagine the end of all life on earth than a much more modest radical change in capitalism.”
– Slavoj Žižek
- 42% of product reviews on Amazon may be fake:
About 42% of 720 million Amazon reviews assessed by the monitoring service Fakespot from March through September were unreliable, up from about 36% for the same period last year. The rise in fake reviews corresponded with the stampede online of millions of virus-avoiding shoppers.
- Chinese company installed timers over employees’ toilets in an effort to increase productivity.
- College students at university in Bali permitted to pay their tuition with coconuts.
- GameStop started company-wide contest that asked employees to perform a synchronised TikTok dance in exchange for prizes like extra work hours on Black Friday.
- Yahoo C.E.O. reveals work conditions at former employer Google:
The actual experience was more like, ‘Could you work 130 hours in a week?’
“The answer is yes, if you’re strategic about when you sleep, when you shower, and how often you go to the bathroom. The nap rooms at Google were there because it was safer to stay in the office than walk to your car at 3am. For my first five years, I did at least one all-nighter a week, except when I was on vacation—and the vacations were few and far between.”
- Electronic Arts (EA) earns nearly $1 billion from micro-transactions last quarter alone.
- U.K. women were married by undercover cops as part of covert operations:
The women outlined their experiences in an opening statement read out at the judge-led inquiry, which is looking at how 139 undercover officers spied on more than 1,000 political groups over more than four decades.
- E.U.’s border agency Frontex accused of illegal and dangerous “pushbacks” of asylum seekers:
The evidence has emerged from a joint investigation by Lighthouse Reports, Bellingcat, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi based on open source video and images, testimonies and internal documents. The findings appear to demonstrate a degree of complicity, ranging from direct participation by Frontex vessels to failure to rescue people from boats in distress and a systematic failure of the agency’s internal system for reporting human rights violations.
- Walmart pulls guns from display over “civil unrest” concerns in U.S.
- Australian banks complain they have too much money, more may be on the way:
Australia’s banking system has more money than it can use, a challenge that will likely grow next week with the central bank widely expected to trim interest rates to near zero and boost the amount of bonds it buys.
“There’s all this liquidity flushing around and I don’t have much productive use for it, because people don’t want it,” Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd ANZ.AX CEO Shayne Elliott said […].
Australia’s household debt-to-income ratio is at a record high of near 200% compared with a median level of less than 150% for 22 advanced economies […].
“Money is essentially free today. Making it more free doesn’t really change anything,” said Elliott, after announcing a 40% slump in profits.
- The 2020 U.S. election campaign is the most expensive ever: The total cost of the races for the White House, the Senate and the House is expected to hit nearly $14 billion.
- Elon Musk’s SpaceX will not recognise international law on Mars, according to the Terms of Service of its Starlink internet project.
- Facebook charged Biden a higher price than Trump for campaign ads.
- Only 3% of problem gamblers in U.K. get help.
- Therapy patients blackmailed for cash after clinic data breach:
Many patients of a large psychotherapy clinic in Finland have been contacted individually by a blackmailer, after their data was stolen.
The data appears to have included personal identification records and notes about what was discussed in therapy sessions.
About 300 records have already been published on the dark web […].
[The clinic] has set up a helpline and is offering all victims one free therapy session, the details of which will not be recorded.
- Owners of an “Oculus” VR headset will lose access to all games and apps if they delete Facebook accounts.
- Australian special forces reportedly shot and killed an Afghan prisoner after being told he would not fit on the U.S. aircraft coming to pick them up:
He says the commandos then called up the US aircraft to pick them and about seven prisoners up.
He says the Americans only had room on the aircraft for six.
“And the pilot said, ‘That’s too many people, we can’t carry that many passengers.’ And you just heard this silence and then we heard a pop. And then they said, ‘OK, we have six prisoners’.
- Female domestic workers in Qatar face widespread abuse.
- California insurers are dropping homeowners threatened by wildfires:
Insurance companies in California have stopped covering tens of thousands of homeowners in areas devastated by wildfires, even though the homeowners want to remain insured. […]
There were 235,250 policies discontinued last year, a 31% increase from 2018 […].
- Fourteen South Korean delivery workers die because of pandemic overwork.
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers allegedly used torture to make Africans sign own deportation orders.
- U.S. life expectancy sees no improvement in 10 years and progress made in health has reversed.
- Armed militia groups control more than half the territory of Rio de Janeiro.
- Video game company 2K added unskippable in-game ads to full-price game a month after release.
- Lawyers say they can't find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by U.S. administration. About two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central America without their children.
- Nigeria’s security forces have shot dead demonstrators protesting against police brutality.
- U.S. President paid more taxes in P.R. China than in U.S.A.:
Tax records reviewed by the New York Times showed a previously unreported bank account in China controlled by Trump International Hotels Management. The account paid $188,561 in taxes in China between 2013 and 2015 in connection to potential licensing deals, according the newspaper.
Earlier reporting by the Times showed he paid just $750 in US taxes in 2016 and 2017.
- In 2019, a total of 10,281 farmers and farm labourers died by suicide across India:
Taking one’s own life is still a crime in India, and experts have said for years that the actual numbers are far higher because most people fear the stigma of reporting.
- Proprietary grapes come with End User Licence Agreement (EULA) for consumers:
When you purchase a bag of delicious and sugary Carnival brand grapes, you enter into an agreement whereby you will consume the grapes and do nothing else with them. This kind of warning against reproduction is something we’re used to with digital products like video games, but is jarring to see spread to the world of consumer produce.
- Amid pandemic, democracy and human rights decline in 80 nations as governments have responded by abusing power, silencing critics, and weakening institutions:
Examples abound, across continents, from Sri Lanka to Cambodia to Belarus and beyond. In Egypt — a U.S. ally — the report reflects that “the military regime has used COVID-19 as an opportunity to further repress political activists, rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, and doctors, arresting dozens, denying them basic assistance in places of detention, and placing several on terrorist watch lists.”
- Apple tells secure messaging app Telegram to take down protestor channels in Belarus.
- Indigenous activists are killed in the Philippines for protesting Canadian mining.
- U.K. government missed 16,000 coronavirus cases because officials exceeded the data limit on their Excel spreadsheet.
- White House economic advisers warned investors about pandemic, but not American public.
- Texas billionaire charged with biggest tax evasion case in U.S. history, with an estimated $2 billion in losses.
- Between 2008 and 2019, 4,998 people died in U.S. jails before their day in court.
- U.S. student’s lease for her apartment was terminated by her landlord because she spoke to other tenants about her mental health.
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security used unmarked vehicles to transport migrants to border of Guatemala.
- French ex-president Sarkozy charged with “criminal conspiracy” for allegedly accepting Libyan cash to fund his 2007 presidential campaign.
- University of Miami used video surveillance to track down protesters.
- U.S. President has at least $1 billion in debt.
- Brazilian police catch senator hiding cash between his buttcheeks.
- 1.29 million pensioners in Germany go to work, 73% more than in 2005.
- U.S. students expose themselves to Covid-19 in hopes of getting paid more for blood plasma.
- New retail chain “Covid-19 Essentials” opens in U.S.:
[T]he owners of Covid-19 Essentials are betting that Americans are willing to put their money toward covering where their mouth is. Prices range from $19.99 for a simple children’s mask to $130 for the top-of-the-line face covering, with an N95 filter and a battery-powered fan.
- Virginia’s voter registration website went down on the final day for people in the state to register ahead of Election Day, due to a network outage caused by a cut cable.
- Nearly 100,000 New York City voters have been sent invalid absentee ballots, with wrong names or addresses.
- Fossil of Tyrannosaurus rex sold for $31.8 million to unknown bidder, the highest price ever paid at auction for a fossil:
“That’s an astronomical price that borders on absurdity, based on my knowledge of the market,” added paleontologist David Evans, the vertebrate paleontology chair at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, who suggested the anonymous buyer could have spent the same funds in a far more effective way to deepen humanity’s understanding of the prehistoric beasts. “If this kind of money [were] invested properly, it could easily fund 15 permanent dinosaur research positions, or about 80 full field expeditions per year, in perpetuity,” […].
- U.S. true unemployment rate at 26.1%:
Since the recession, only 46.1 per cent of white Americans over the age of 16 have a full-time job that pays more than $20,000 annually. Only 40.8 per cent of black Americans under that criteria have a full-time job making more than $20,000 annually.
- Uber, Lyft, and other gig economy companies have spent $185 million to back ballot proposition in California that would limit workers’ rights, masquerading political ads as “progressive”:
If it passes, however, gig corporations won’t have to contribute to Social Security, Medicare or unemployment insurance. They won’t have to offer paid sick leave, workers compensation or unemployment benefits to drivers. The proposition does make available some compensation to app-based drivers, provided they meet certain hourly requirements.
An analysis by the UC Berkeley Labor Center earlier this year found that had California’s gig economy law been in place between 2014 and 2019, Uber and Lyft would have paid $413 million in unemployment insurance alone.
- Sydney university professor who teaches law of protest arrested at student protest:
A University of Sydney law professor, who was observing a student protest […] as part of research into protest law, was thrown to the ground by police, then arrested and fined.
Multiple students and staff were arrested at the university as hundreds protested the government’s changes to higher education, university funding cuts and job losses.
[He] said he had been arrested and fined $1,000 for breaching the Covid-19 health restrictions.
- 37% of French nurses want to quit, 57% on the verge of burnout.
- One-fifth of the world’s countries are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing because of the destruction of wildlife and their habitats.
- Child labour on the rise in India:
Dhananjay Tingal, executive director of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan movement which rescues trafficked children, said that between April and September, it had rescued over 1,200 children who were being trafficked illegally to work in factories or farms, a spike unlike anything he had seen before. The children were usually aged between eight and 18, though some were as young as six. Their average salary was usually 1,000 rupees (£10.50) per month, around 40p per day.
- U.S. Republican Party placed more than 50 deceptively labeled “official” drop boxes for mail-in ballots in California:
The dark gray metal boxes have been popping up over the past two weeks near churches, gun shops and Republican Party offices, mostly in conservative areas of a deep-blue state, affixed with a white paper label identifying them as either an “Official Ballot Drop off Box” or a “Ballot Drop Box.”
To the average voter, they are virtually indistinguishable from drop-off sites sanctioned by the state, which are governed by strict regulations intended to prevent the partisan manipulation of ballots.
- Elon Musk’s SpaceX has won a contract to build satellites for the U.S. Department of Defense, its first contract to build satellites for the military.
- Facebook fires employee who shared proof of right wing favouritism.
- U.S. Senator wrote legislation that made millions for her husband’s lobbying firm.
- California kept prison factories open amid Covid-19 pandemic:
Hall was one of thousands of incarcerated workers who stayed on the job in high-risk positions during the pandemic, making wages that ranged from 8 cents to $1 an hour. They cooked the food. They walked from cell to cell delivering meals. They cleaned everything from communal showers to COVID-19 units in prison hospitals. And they labored in prison factories making products, such as masks, hand sanitizer and furniture, that were sold to state agencies for millions of dollars.
Factory staff, they said, warned that workers would lose their jobs — their only source of income — if they missed a day. Some said they were threatened with discipline that could jeopardize their chances for release from prison if they refused to work because of COVID-19 fears.
- More than 200 companies, special-interest groups and foreign governments have funneled millions of dollars to President Trump’s properties while reaping benefits from the president and his administration.
- Est. 29 million women and girls are victims of modern slavery, exploited by practices including forced labour, forced marriage, debt-bondage and domestic servitude.
- Apple forced monetisation of free app:
[O]ne app developer revealed to Congress that it — just like WordPress — had been forced to monetize a largely free app. That developer testified that Apple had demanded in-app purchases (IAP), even though Apple had approved its app without them two years earlier — and that when the dev dared send an email to customers notifying them of the change, Apple threatened to remove the app and blocked all updates.
- 68 percent of Americans say the upcoming presidential election is causing significant stress in their lives.
- Billionaire wealth hits $10 trillion for first time ever:
Between April and July, billionaires grew their wealth by 27% from $8 trillion at the beginning of April. This was largely thanks to government stimulus packages.
- Singapore will launch cruises again, but with no destinations:
Singapore announced cruises will start sailing next month — but in order to keep crew and passengers safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, the ships will make no stops and simply return to the port they came from.
- Disney is laying off 28,000 employees of its theme parks amid pandemic.
- Years after they fought in Afghanistan, U.S. troops watch as their children deploy to the same war.
- U.S. Army trials augmented reality goggles for dogs.
- Google is giving data to police based on search keywords.
- Amazon warehouse data suggests serious injuries have been on the rise for years and robots have made the job more dangerous.
- U.S. diabetes patients turn to underground insulin networks:
The struggle to afford insulin has forced many people into that underground network. Through social media and word-of-mouth, those in need of insulin connect with counterparts who have a supply to spare. […] Though it’s illegal to share a prescription medication, those involved say they simply don’t care: They’re out to save lives.
- Investors extracted $400 million from U.S. hospital chain that sometimes couldn’t pay for medical supplies or gas for ambulances.
- French bar and cafe owners arrested for operating free WiFi without logging:
In one of the weirdest arrests of the year, at least five bar and cafe managers from the French city of Grenoble were taken into custody last week for running open WiFi networks at their establishments and not keeping logs of past connected users.
According to French law number 2006-64, they now risk up to one year in prison, a personal fine of up to €75,000, and a business fine of up to €375,000.
- Amazon blocks access to “bought” ebooks on Kindle devices.
- U.S. employers spying on remote workers in their homes.
- Mexico’s “pirate ambulances” profiteering in the pandemic:
The poorly equipped, often broken-down rattletraps ply Mexico City streets listening to emergency radio dispatch frequencies and race to beat legitimate ambulance services to medical emergencies. They charge patients’ desperate relatives outrageous sums to take them to a hospital, and sometimes even divert them to poorly equipped private clinics from which they receive kickbacks for bringing in business.
- Austrian employer pours gasoline over employee and threatens to set him on fire because he is dissatisfied with his work performance.
- 61% of Americans are dreading the holidays due to increased spending, with 57% having angst over Christmas specifically.
- University of California wrongly admitted at least 64 wealthy students over the past six years as favours to donors, family, and friends.
- 58% of U.S. workers report burnout:
A July 2020 poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation on adults in the US found 53% reported their mental health was negatively affected by coronavirus related worry and stress, compared to 32% reported in March.
- Iowa fines beef plant $957 after huge coronavirus outbreak.
- Walmart cuts workers’ hours but increases workload as sales rise amid pandemic.
- 89-year-old Utah man has to deliver pizzas about 30 hours a week as he can’t live solely on social security.
- Tennessee Sheriff’s Office armed jail response team with electric pulse shields that are capable of delivering a pulsating shock of 210 – 320 volts.
- 52 Indian teachers accuse management of private school of secretly filming them in toilet for blackmailing over salary.
- Teaching material calling for end of capitalism banned from British schools as ministers brand it “extreme.”
- Donald Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.
- Texas deployed S.W.A.T. team and bomb robot to arrest woman for “anti-law enforcement rhetoric” on her car windows.
- 1 in 3 U.S. families with kids don’t have enough food:
One in three families with kids is experiencing food insecurity during the pandemic, double the rate since 2018, and a higher proportion than at the peak of the Great Recession, according to a new analysis from The Hamilton Project, which examined Census data. By comparison, about 1 in 4 households is food insecure, the analysis found.
- Wall Street is about to start trading futures contracts on California’s water supply amid record heat and wildfires.
- Illinois car dealership mailed advertisement that pretends to contain Covid-19 stimulus assistance.
- Between 1992 and 2009, the Russian population declined by almost seven million people:
In the seventeen years between 1992 and 2009, the Russian population declined by almost seven million people, or nearly 5 percent—a rate of loss unheard of in Europe since World War II. Moreover, much of this appears to be caused by rising mortality. By the mid-1990s, the average St. Petersburg man lived for seven fewer years than he did at the end of the Communist period; in Moscow, the dip was even greater, with death coming nearly eight years sooner.
- U.S. home sales surged to their highest level in nearly 14 years, median existing house price jumped 11.4% from a year ago.
- Americans have lost $145 million to scams linked to Covid-19.
- Used condoms cleaned and resold in southern Vietnam:
Market authorities in Binh Duong Province have seized 324,000 used condoms that were about to be cleaned and resold in the market.
Besides the used condoms weighing 360 kilos in total, inspectors also found thousands of condoms that had been packed and readied for sale, without brand names.
- Gucci sells grass-stained jeans and overalls for $1,200 and up.
- Pentagon used relief funds meant for masks and medical supplies to make jet engine parts and body armour:
A $1 billion fund Congress gave the Pentagon in March to build up the country’s supplies of medical equipment has instead been mostly funneled to defense contractors and used to make things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms.
- Protests against police brutality leave several dead, hundreds injured in Bogota, Colombia.
- U.S. start-up hires gig workers to help landloads evict people amid pandemic:
Civvl, a “property preservation” firm with reported branches in all 50 states, is hiring people to join its “eviction crew.” The company has posted job listings all over Craigslist seeking workers over the age of 18 to help it “secure foreclosed residential properties,” according to the ads.
- Surveillance cameras used to monitor U.K. school toilets:
In west Norfolk, public records show the cameras have been installed in toilets in Smithdon high school in Hunstanton, reportedly “to secure the health and personal safety of all students and to prevent vandalism and damage”.
- World’s richest 1% caused double CO2 emissions of poorest 50% from 1990 to 2015.
- U.S. nursing homes oust unwanted patients with claims of psychosis:
Across the United States, nursing homes are looking to get rid of unprofitable patients — primarily those who are poor and require extra care — and pouncing on minor outbursts to justify evicting them to emergency rooms or psychiatric hospitals. After the hospitals discharge the patients, often in a matter of hours, the nursing homes refuse them re-entry […].
- Walmart and Amazon among donors to Tennessee lawmaker who promoted QAnon.
- Global banks defy U.S. crackdowns by serving oligarchs, criminals, and terrorists:
In some cases the banks kept moving illicit funds even after U.S. officials warned them they’d face criminal prosecutions if they didn’t stop doing business with mobsters, fraudsters or corrupt regimes.
JPMorgan, the largest bank based in the United States, moved money for people and companies tied to the massive looting of public funds in Malaysia, Venezuela and Ukraine, the leaked documents reveal.
The bank moved more than $1 billion for the fugitive financier behind Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal, the records show, and more than $2 million for a young energy mogul’s company that has been accused of cheating Venezuela’s government and helping cause electrical blackouts that crippled large parts of the country.
HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon also continued to wave through suspect payments despite similar promises to government authorities, the secret documents show.
In all, an ICIJ analysis found, the documents identify more than $2 trillion in transactions between 1999 and 2017 that were flagged by financial institutions’ internal compliance officers as possible money laundering or other criminal activity — including $514 billion at JPMorgan and $1.3 trillion at Deutsche Bank.
- U.S. deported a key witness in an ongoing investigation into sexual abuse at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centre in El Paso.
- U.S. Senator accepted more than $20,000 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies within two weeks of sponsoring a bill related to drug prices.
- Louis Vuitton unveils full face shield with gold studs that reportedly will cost nearly $1,000.
- Canada’s 20 richest people saw their fortunes grow by $37 billion during Covid-19.
- Abandoned gas wells in California are left to leak Methane forever.
- Asian airlines started to offer flights to nowhere:
Qantas Airways Ltd. said a seven-hour scenic flight over Australia’s Outback and Great Barrier Reef had sold out in 10 minutes, as it joined a growing trend in Asia offering “flights to nowhere” that take off and land at the same airport.
Many frequent flyers miss getting on planes and airlines including Taiwan’s EVA Airways Corp. and ANA Holdings Inc., desperate for revenue and to keep their pilots’ licenses current, have offered special sightseeing flights.
- Three years after hurricane Maria, U.S. administration releases aid for Puerto Rico to rebuild electrical grid.
- U.S. president’s club charged Secret Service agents $500 a night for rentals even when it was closed for the pandemic. Government spendings for Trump Organization properties have surpassed $1.1 million.
- Woman died from abuse and neglect in Texas for-profit jail:
Since 2015, at least four detainees at Bi-State have died in custody […]. In 2016, Morgan Angerbauer died after staff failed to follow health protocols and check on the 20-year-old diabetic. A nurse at the jail later pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. The year prior, 35-year-old Michael Sabbie told jail guards he couldn’t breathe after he was pepper-sprayed and handcuffed. He was left in his cell unmonitored and found dead the next day.
- U.S. federal law enforcement were searching for crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones and had authorised the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition, amid protests over police killings:
Just before noon on June 1, the Defense Department’s top military police officer in the Washington region sent an email to officers in the D.C. National Guard. It asked whether the unit had a Long Range Acoustic Device, also known as an LRAD, or a microwave-like weapon called the Active Denial System, which was designed by the military to make people feel like their skin is burning when in range of its invisible rays.
The technology, also called a “heat ray,” was developed to disperse large crowds in the early 2000s but was shelved amid concerns about its effectiveness, safety and the ethics of using it on human beings.
- The world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade, according to U.N. report.
- After 200 meat plant workers in U.S. died of Covid-19, federal regulators issued financial penalties of just $29,000.
- U.S. drug company hiked prices on some of its biggest selling medicines after receiving $1 billion in government aid.
- High rate of hysterectomies and medical neglect at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility:
According to the new complaint, Wooten reported an alarmingly high rate of hysterectomies – a surgery in which part or all of the uterus is removed – being performed on Spanish-speaking immigrants, many of whom did not appear to understand why they had undergone the procedure.
The complaint also alleges health and safety violations related to the procedures. One woman said she was not properly anesthetized during a procedure and overheard the doctor say he had mistakenly removed the wrong ovary, rendering her unable to have children. Another went in to have a cyst drained and ultimately got a hysterectomy instead, the complaint said.
- More than 100,000 New York City public school students lack permanent housing:
Over the course of 2019, 132,660 people slept in the New York City municipal shelter system; over two-thirds were families, and almost 45,000 were children. […] A federal law, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, requires that public schools ask incoming students about their housing status; at the end of last year, families in New York City reported that 114,000 school-age children met the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness: lacking a “fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.”
- Widespread hate speech on Facebook fuels ethnic violence in Ethiopia.
- Austrian police uses facial recognition technology to identify protesters in demonstrations.
- Northern Hemisphere endures its hottest summer on record.
- IBM discriminated against older workers when making thousands of layoffs between 2013 and 2018 in the U.S.
- Amazon appointed former National Security Agency chief to its board of directors.
- Florida sheriff department uses predictive policing to monitor and harass citizens:
Deputies gave the mother of one teenage target a $2,500 fine because she had five chickens in her backyard. They arrested another target’s father after peering through a window in his house and noticing a 17-year-old friend of his son smoking a cigarette.
Criminal justice experts said they were stunned by the agency’s practices. They compared the tactics to child abuse, mafia harassment and surveillance that could be expected under an authoritarian regime.
- World animal populations fell by 68% in 50 years.
- Utah police shot a 13-year-old boy with autism during mental crisis. His mother started a GoFundMe page for his medical bills.
- Almost 60% of people in England are living in areas where levels of toxic air pollution exceeded legal limits.
- One in eight deaths in the European Union is linked to pollution.
- Amazon U.K. pays 3% more in tax despite 35% rise in profits:
The group’s warehouse and logistics operation, which employs more than two-thirds of its 30,000-plus UK workforce, Amazon UK Services, said its corporation tax contribution was £14.46m in 2019, up from £14.03m the year before. Pretax profits at the division soared 35% to nearly £102m as revenues rose by 29% to nearly £3bn […].
- The U.S. Federal Reserve now owns 30% of all outstanding mortgage bonds, nearly $7 trillion in securities and $2 trillion in mortgages.
- Poor broadband across the U.S. is making online education impossible for millions of students amid Covid-19 pandemic:
According to the Pew Research Center, about 15 percent of all households with school-age children lack a high-speed internet connection. Some of these families live in areas that broadband providers don’t service, but others simply can’t afford the broadband that runs right outside their doorstep. In fact, some estimates suggest that the majority of people who don’t have internet actually live in cities and suburbs, not in rural areas.
- New Zealand police setting up $9m facial recognition system which can identify people from CCTV feed.
- The Zimbabwean Government is handing out coal mining concessions in conservation areas.
- U.S. places sanctions on International Criminal Court prosecutor over the investigation of U.S. soldiers for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
- U.S. president suggests supporters vote twice on upcoming election.
- Minnesota law allows police to seize and sell cars of non-lawbreakers:
A controversial law that allows police in Minnesota to take and sell someone’s personal property is coming under more scrutiny after the state patrol seized a woman’s car during a drunk driving stop late last year, even though she was not driving or charged with a crime.
[S]even months after losing a car she had already paid off — Dietrich gave up her fight and instead agreed to buy back the vehicle from State Patrol for $4,000.
- Police across Canada are using predictive policing algorithms.
- Maltese anti-corruption journalist was killed over reporting on government-sponsored power station deal.
- Unable to pay medical bills, Indian couple “sells” newborn to hospital.
- Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott says some elderly Covid-19 patients could be left to die naturally:
He claimed it was costing the Australian government as much as $200,000 (£110,000) to give an elderly person an extra year’s life, substantially beyond what governments would usually pay for life-saving drugs.
- Suicides among teenage girls and young women in England and Wales have almost doubled in seven years.
- 50% of all U.S. adults are concerned that a major health event in their household could lead to bankruptcy, an increase from 45% measured in early 2019.
- Amazon drivers are hanging smartphones in trees to get more work:
Someone places several devices in a tree located close to the station where deliveries originate. Drivers in on the plot then sync their own phones with the ones in the tree and wait nearby for an order pickup. The reason for the odd placement, according to experts and people with direct knowledge of Amazon’s operations, is to take advantage of the handsets’ proximity to the station, combined with software that constantly monitors Amazon’s dispatch network, to get a split-second jump on competing drivers.
- Amazon relies on extensive worker surveillance to boost employee output and potentially limit unionisation efforts around the U.S.
- F.B.I. worried that Amazon’s Ring doorbells are spying on police.
- Australian Federal Court has ruled workers have a legal right to go to the toilet and drink water while at work.
- Elon Musk has unveiled a pig with a computer chip in its brain to demonstrate a brain-to-machine interface.
- Collapse of Wirecard AG revealed Germany’s biggest accounting scandal, with 3.2 billion euros ($3.8 billion) of debt lost.
- U.S. teen who held Black Lives Matter protest gets hit with $2,500 bill for police overtime.
- World’s most expensive sheep sold for £368,000.
- Belarusian officials shut down Internet with technology made by U.S. firm.
- Brazil’s plan to protect Amazon has opposite effect:
The Brazilian army appears to be focusing on dozens of small road-and-bridge-building projects that allow exports to flow faster to ports and ease access to protected areas, opening the rainforest to further exploitation.
- Canadian police forces have received millions of dollars from oil companies, banks and financiers, through shadowy charitable foundations that have little public oversight.
- U.K. is providing military training to most countries on its own human rights abusers list.
- Hong Kong Chief Secretary recomments university graduates to try dishwashing in order to gain work experience.
- German police uses tracking dogs and helicopter in large-scale manhunt to catch alleged shoplifter who stole a bottle of water from a supermarket.
- Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, increases his wealth to an estimated $202 billion amid Covid-19 pandemic:
In three months — a period in which US economy has contracted by 4.8 per cent and more than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment — his personal wealth has grown by of $34.2 billion, an overall growth rate of more than $15 million per hour. Were his wealth to grow at this rate for a year, Bezos would make more money in 2020 than Morocco, a country of almost 36 million people.
- New Tennessee law penalises protesters who camp on state property with up to six years in prison and loss of voting rights.
- Low-paid employees in England who test positive for Covid-19 will receive just £13 a day if they cannot work from home.
- U.S. cooperations have banned employees from alerting others to coronavirus outbreaks:
Hundreds of U.S. employers across a wide range of industries have told workers not to share information about Covid-19 cases or even raise concerns about the virus, or have retaliated against workers for doing those things, according to workplace complaints filed with the NLRB and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Arizona man dies after being restrained by police on hot asphalt for six minutes following his arrest for allegedly stealing a drink from a shop.
- 38% of Americans who have lost a job or had their income reduced due to Covid-19 couldn’t last more than a month off of savings of any kind.
- Facebook funnelling readers towards Covid-19 misinformation.
- U.S. Secret Service paid to get citizens’ location data without a warrant.
- British student who wrote an award-winning piece of speculative fiction about a biased algorithm that determines students’ grades had her own grades downgraded by an algorithm.
- Greek government secretly expelled more than 1,000 refugees from Europe’s borders in recent months, sailing many of them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and then abandoning them in inflatable and sometimes overburdened life rafts.
- U.K. landlords dodging an estimated £1.73 billion in tax.
- Scientists rename human genes to stop Microsoft Excel from misreading them as dates.
- U.S. to start charging asylum seekers application fees.
- Texas Covid-19 patients will be “sent home to die” if deemed too sick:
The county has been forced to form what is being compared to a so-called “death panel.” A county health board – which governs Starr Memorial – is set to authorize critical care guidelines Thursday that will help medical workers determine ways to allocate scarce medical resources on patients with the best chance to survive.
A committee will deem which COVID-19 patients are likely to die and send them home with family, Jose Vasquez, the county health authority, said during a news conference Tuesday.
- U.K. government gave £6.5 billion on emergency contracts to private firms during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Est. 57% of public school teachers across Japan worked over 80 hours of overtime in the month of July.
- Greenland’s ice sheet has melted past the point of no return.
- German Federal Constitutional Court declares taking food from a supermarket waste bin as illegal.
- While most of the U.S. waits seven to 14 days for coronavirus test results, a privileged few have access to rapid tests.
- At least 4,800 chicks shipped to farmers through the U.S. Postal Service have arrived dead in the recent weeks since rapid cuts hit the federal mail carrier’s operations.
- California facing a shortage of prison inmates to fight wildfires:
Inmates who participate in fire crews are required to go through the same training as the state’s seasonal firefighter employees and often must work on the front lines of the fires. However, people on the inmate fire crews are paid between $2 and $5 a day, with an additional $1 per hour when they are on a fire […].
- Low-wage workers in U.S. face retaliation for demanding Covid-19 safety measures at work.
- U.S. health insurers doubled profits in second quarter amid pandemic:
The country’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, reported its profits were $6.7bn in the second quarter of 2020 compared with $3.4bn in last year’s. Anthem’s profits rose to $2.3bn from $1.1bn for the same three-month period in 2019. Humana reported last week its earnings rose to $1.8bn, compared with $940m in 2019.
- Brazilian supermarket covers a deceased worker’s body with umbrellas to keep store open.
- Toyota and Amazon will develop cloud platform to monetise collected driving data:
Toyota said its Mobility Services Platform will enable it to process and analyze data that can be used to develop vehicle services from ride and car sharing to behavior-based insurance and maintenance notifications.
- S&P 500 hits all-time high despite Covid-19 pandemic.
- Houston mother received eviction notice with smiley-face emoji:
The single mother of two says she lost her job in March when the restaurant where she was working cut hours. She was denied unemployment and fell behind on rent for June, July and August.
The letter goes on to say, “Pay your outstanding balance, or release your apartment and turn in your keys to the leasing office by 6 p.m. today. Eviction will be filed promptly Tuesday morning.”
“The notice wasn’t there until 2 o’clock in the evening, and the time says 6 o’clock,” Lee said.
- U.K. government debt has risen above £2 trillion, 100% of G.D.P.
- Califonia hit by rolling blackouts:
As temperatures began to rise in California on Friday and again on Saturday, the manager of much of the state’s electric grid called on utilities to cut power to hundreds of thousands of customers.
- The California Department of Motor Vehicles is selling drivers’ data to private investigators and bail bondsmen.
- From 2008 to 2019, almost 110,000 Americans died while waiting for a Social Security disability hearing. Between 2014 and 2019, 50,000 people filed for bankruptcy waiting for their cases to be resolved.
- Facebook algorithm found to actively promote Holocaust denial:
An investigation by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a UK-based counter-extremist organisation, found that typing “holocaust” in the Facebook search function brought up suggestions for denial pages, which in turn recommended links to publishers which sell revisionist and denial literature, as well as pages dedicated to the notorious British Holocaust denier David Irving.
- At least 500 chicks died in one day in a shed at a U.K. farm supplying Tesco because they were considered too weak to be profitable.
- U.S. Postmaster General has $70 million invested in companies that compete with the United States Postal Service.
- 1 in 5 children in Germany grow up in poverty.
- TikTok exploited an Android privacy loophole to track users.
- U.S. president admits he is refusing to fund the U.S. Postal Service to sabotage mail-in voting:
“They want $25 billion — billion — for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said. “Now, in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. By the way, those are just two items. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting … because they’re not equipped.”
- Former clients of acting U.S. Homeland Security chief received millions in department contracts.
- In 2019, more than 140,000 people living in Germany had no health insurance, as opposed to 79,000 four years previously.
- U.S. diabetic man dies after taking cheaper insulin to pay for wedding.
- Portland protesters released from jail on condition they no longer attend protests.
- After lobbying, Catholic Church won $1.4 billion in coronavirus aid.
- Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is fined $4 million after its neglected power lines caused California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire, leaving 85 dead.
- Netgear has quietly decided not to patch more than 40 home routers to plug a remote code execution vulnerability – despite security researchers having published proof-of-concept exploit code.
- The U.S. military is using online gaming to recruit teens.
- Kodak C.E.O. got stock options day before news of $50 million loan sent stock soaring.
- Ireland removes unemployment benefits from people if they go on holiday abroad:
Both Garda officers and welfare officials are checking the details of holidaymakers leaving at the airport to check whether they are receiving unemployment benefits.
- Fast food company KFC admits a third of its chickens suffer painful inflammation.
- Drugstore chain Rite Aid deployed facial recognition systems in hundreds of U.S. stores, largely in lower-income, non-white neighbourhoods:
The cameras matched facial images of customers entering a store to those of people Rite Aid previously observed engaging in potential criminal activity, causing an alert to be sent to security agents’ smartphones. Agents then reviewed the match for accuracy and could tell the customer to leave.
- Icelandair to fire all flight attendants and make pilots do their jobs.
- U.S. federal law enforcement use unmarked vehicles to grab protesters off Portland streets.
- Full-time minimum wage workers cannot afford rent in any U.S. state.
- Almost £4.79 billion of coronavirus bailouts from the Bank of England – close to 30 per cent – handed out to firms based in tax havens.
- New records show Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have thousands of previously unreported military and law enforcement contracts.
- Ayn Rand Institute approved for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of up to $1 million.
- More than 170 jade miners killed in landslide in northern Myanmar:
Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Friday blamed the disaster on joblessness in the country, lamenting in a Facebook Live broadcast that informal workers had to go to the mines for lack of other employment.
- Romanian workers reveal dire conditions at German slaughterhouses:
Most workers interviewed, many of whom were very upset, have been either employed by the huge meat producer Tönnies or its subsidiaries. They have described extremely exhaustive work and aggressive language. The workers accused managers of not putting enough protective measures in place in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some have also said that the shared accommodation, in which they were forced to live, was cramped and inhumane.
- NBA and players’ union agree on 29 approved social justice messages for jerseys.
- BMW about to introduce charging subscriptions for car features:
BMW is still being fairly vague for now, and there has been no word at all on prices. But what it has said, is that features like advanced driver assistance systems, augmented sports exhaust sounds, adaptive M suspension and, yes, heated seats, could be offered on a subscription basis, with periods mentioned ranging from one month to three years.
- E-bike ad banned in France for criticising auto industry:
The company’s first TV advertisement was banned in France for its negative portrayal of car traffic and pollution. The commercial was rejected by France’s advertising regulatory authority, ARPP, because it “discredit[s] the automobile sector […] while creating a climate of anxiety.”
- Australia plans university fees hike for humanities students, in a bid to push people into more useful, “job-relevant” courses like maths and science.
- Home security camera company has gone out of business, leaving behind unpatched security flaws and essentially useless cameras.
- Google has fired a security engineer who updated a company tool to notify co-workers of their right to organise.
- More than 30% of civilian pilots in Pakistan have fake licenses and are not qualified to fly.
- Facebook creates fact-checking exemption for climate deniers.
- Over the past 3 months, 44 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment while billionaires got $637 billion richer.
- U.S. nursing homes evict old and disabled residents and sending them to homeless shelters and rundown motels.
- German police, intelligence agency, and counter-terrorism centre investigated ad-busting in public space.
- As of the end of 2019, U.S. non-financial business debt totaled $10 trillion, climbing 64% from the beginning of the decade:
According to a Forbes investigation, which analyzed 455 companies in the S&P 500 Index—excluding banks and cash-rich tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft—on average, businesses in the index nearly tripled their net debt over the past decade, adding some $2.5 trillion in leverage to their balance sheets. The analysis shows that for every dollar of revenue growth over the past decade, the companies added almost a dollar of debt.
- Facebook blocks and bans users for sharing newspaper article showing Aboriginal men in chains, on grounds of nudity.
- Global displacement reached 79.5 million people last year – almost double the number of people in crisis registered a decade ago – owing to war, violence, persecution and other emergencies.
- Private rents in England hit record high during coronavirus lockdown.
- Over 1,000 prison leavers in England and Wales left homeless amid pandemic. A further 1,209 men, women and young adults were released with unknown circumstances.
- Los Angeles county sees homelessness rise 13% to 66,433. The number of homeless seniors age 62 and older increased by 20%.
- Private Equity is entering health-care, buying up doctor’s offices, cutting costs, and putting pressure on physicians:
Over the past five years, the firms have invested more than $10 billion in medical practices, with a special focus on dermatology, which is seen as a hot industry because of the aging population. Baby boomers suffer from high rates of two potentially lucrative conditions: skin cancer and vanity. Some estimates suggest that private equity already owns more than 10% of the U.S dermatology market. And firms have started to expand into other specialties, including women’s health, urology, and gastroenterology.
- Cargo ship crews find their mental health under threat after stuck on board for months amid Covid-19 pandemic:
There are more than 50,000 merchant vessels in the world, including 5,150 container ships, each with an average crew of 22 persons – that makes for a workforce of well over one million people, responsible for delivering 90 per cent of the world’s goods stocking our shops. These men (and some women) are continuing to work seven days a week through the pandemic, their contracts extended because they are unable to disembark their ships.
- U.S. ranked worst for workers’ rights among major economies:
Globally, the ITUC said the situation has worsened for workers, with violations of rights at a seven-year high. The worst region is the Middle East and North Africa, and the organization noted a number of countries have impeded the registration of unions, as well as banned strikes and collective bargaining.
Excluding countries where there are no rights due to a breakdown of the rule of law, the 10 worst in the survey are Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Turkey, and Zimbabwe. All are rated 5, for “no guarantee of rights.”
- Google Chrome extensions downloaded more than 32 million times were used to spy on the popular browser’s users in a massive global surveillance campaign.
- The U.S. Federal Reserve is going to start buying up to $750 billion in individual corporate bonds.
- Two-thirds of jobless U.S. workers make more in unemployment than they did at work.
- At least 4 members of U.S. Congress benefited from loans under the $670 billion small business aid programme.
- Teleconferencing company Zoom acknowledged it shut down the accounts of several activists and online commemorations of the Tiananmen Square massacre at China’s request.
- New Facebook tool allows employers to suppress words like “unionise” in workplace chat.
- In 2019, combined subsidies for both consumption and production of fossil fuel totalled $478 billion in 77 economies.
- Novartis’ Sandoz unit, Teva Pharmaceuticals’ Actavis unit, Mylan, Pfizer Inc. and other drugmakers accused of conspiring to rig the market between 2009 and 2016 for more than 80 drugs.
- Tesla defied county orders so it could restart production. Days later, workers tested positive for the coronavirus.
- Los Angeles schools police will return grenade launchers but keep M-16 rifles, armored vehicle:
The Los Angeles School Police Department, which serves the nation’s second-largest school system, will return three grenade launchers but intends to keep 61 rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle it received through the program.
- More than 2,000 protesters in New York have been unnecessarily arrested and detained for as long as 48 hours in “abysmal” conditions without access to masks, food and water.
- ISP slows Internet speeds in entire neighbourhoods to punish any heavy users:
Cox, a cable company with about 5.2 million broadband customers in the United States, has been sending notices to some heavy Internet users warning them to use less data and notifying them of neighborhood-wide speed decreases. In the case we will describe in this article, a gigabit customer who was paying $50 extra per month for unlimited data was flagged by Cox because he was using 8TB to 12TB a month.
- Pentagon war game, called the 2018 Joint Land, Air and Sea Strategic Special Program (JLASS), includes scenario for military response to domestic Gen Z rebellion in America in the mid-2020s:
According to the scenario, many members of Gen Z — psychologically scarred in their youth by 9/11 and the Great Recession, crushed by college debt, and disenchanted with their employment options — have given up on their hopes for a good life and believe the system is rigged against them.
- U.S. law enforment officers slashed tires on parked vehicles of protesters and journalists amid Minneapolis demonstrations.
- More than 140 journalists have been arrested or attacked by law enforcement during U.S. protests.
- The U.K. government gave big data analytics company Palantir access to sensitive NHS patient data.
- Seattle police used tear gas against protesters despite city ban.
- U.S. protesters are being interrogated by F.B.I. agents about their political views.
- In Mumbai, Covid-19 patients are dying as they wait for ambulances and hospital beds:
In public hospitals, coronavirus patients have been asked to share beds, sleep on the floor, or share wards with corpses that have been left on beds for hours because families refuse to claim them.
With just under 100 vehicles in its fleet in Mumbai, the government’s 108 helpline for free ambulances is of little help for patients who need urgent hospital admission. “Patients have to wait for six to eight hours on an average for a 108 ambulance to show up” […].
- Florida plastic surgeon offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents.
- U.S. president says he hopes George Floyd “looking down” and seeing today’s jobs numbers as “a great day for him”:
His remarks follow Thursday’s memorial for Mr Floyd, who was killed by police on Memorial Day after an officer forced his knee on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes while facing the ground in handcuffs.
The president said: “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country. It’s a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day.’”
- A Twitter account that copies U.S. president’s tweets word for word got suspended within three days.
- I.R.S. fails to pursue thousands of rich tax cheats:
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that 879,415 high-income individuals who didn’t file returns cumulatively failed to pay $45.7 billion in taxes from 2014 to 2016 and that the agency hasn’t tried to collect from many of those taxpayers. The IRS didn’t put 326,579 of the cases into its enforcement system, and it closed 42,601 of the cases without ever working on them.
- U.S. spends twice as much on law and order as it does on cash welfare:
Up until about 1980, American governments spent roughly the same amount on criminal justice and cash welfare: a little over 1 percent of total national income for each. But those trend lines have steadily diverged ever since: Welfare spending has been on a long, uneven decline, while law and order spending ballooned almost unabated until about 2010, when it amounted to nearly 2.5 percent of national income. Since then, law and order spending has fallen to a hair under 2 percent, while welfare spending stands at about 0.8 percent of national income.
- The U.S. administration has deployed officers in riot gear and no identifiable markings to police demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
- More than 10,000 people have been arrested in protests decrying racism and police brutality in the U.S.
- More than 70 children killed in 10 airstrikes in Afghanistan in the last two years.
- New York City police officers forced two Associated Press journalists to stop covering protests.
- Minnesota is using Covid-19 contact tracing to track protesters amid demonstrations.
- Australian news crew has been assaulted by U.S. police while reporting on protests outside the White House.
- Police fire tear gas, deploy flash bangs to disperse peaceful protest near White House ahead of U.S. president speech.
- Of the 121 countries, 64 spent more money annually servicing their external debt payments than they did on healthcare.
- U.S. president made 19,127 false or misleading claims in 1,226 days.
- U.S. law enforcement are deliberately targeting journalists during protests against racism and police brutality.
- Thousands line up for hours for food aid in Geneva, one of the world’s richest cities.
- U.S. president vetoed a measure that would have made it easier for students defrauded by for-profit colleges to obtain the cancelation of their federal student loans.
- Microsoft replaces journalists with robots. News stories now generated by AI.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is flying an unarmed version of the Predator drone, military technology used for surveilling and killing terrorists abroad, over Minneapolis as protesters continue to demonstrate against police brutality.
- Minnesota governor calls National Guard troops to restore public order after police murdered Black man. On the same day, Kentucky governor calls National Guard after protests over the death of a Black woman who was fatally shot eight times by police at her home.
- White House won’t release formal economic projections this summer that would forecast extent of downturn.
- Australian mining corporation destroyed 46,000 years old Aboriginal site to expand iron ore mine.
- 20 large U.S. hospital chains received more than $5 billion in federal grants even while sitting on more than $100 billion in cash:
[…] It is the Providence Health System, one of the country’s largest and richest hospital chains. It is sitting on nearly $12 billion in cash, which it invests, Wall Street-style, in a good year generating more than $1 billion in profits.
And this spring, Providence received at least $509 million in government funds, one of many wealthy beneficiaries of a federal program that is supposed to prevent health care providers from capsizing during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Prison inmates made helmets for the U.S. military, and tens of thousands were defective.
- American Airlines is planning to cut 30% of its management and support staff, a reduction of about 5,000 jobs, after receiving parts of a $25 billion federal aid package set aside for airlines.
- Companies owned by Donald Trump’s campaign manager have received nearly $40 million from the president’s reelection committees.
- The Secret Service is paying $179,000 to rent golf carts at one of Trump’s courses this summer.
- 11,250 Facebook moderators who developed PTSD on the job receive a minimum of $1000 compensation:
In September 2018, former Facebook moderator Selena Scola sued Facebook, alleging that she developed PTSD after being placed in a role that required her to regularly view photos and images of rape, murder, and suicide. Scola developed symptoms of PTSD after nine months on the job.
- Thousands of perfectly fine electric bikes and scooters will be shredded after Uber-owned start-up was sold to competitor.
- New York governor gave immunity to nursing home executives after big campaign donations, amid higher nursing home death rates during the pandemic.
- Poorer parts of England, many of them Covid-19 hotspots, have lost out on more than £100m of emergency funding, after ministers diverted it to richer – mostly Tory-run – areas.
- U.S. local TV stations broadcasted news on Amazon – produced by Amazon.
- Alberta’s energy minister says it is a good time to build a pipeline because public-health restrictions limit protests against them.
- German companies hiring private investigators to spy on workers in home office during Covid-19 pandemic.
- The first fast-food franchisee to advise U.S. president on reopening restaurants has donated more than $400,000 to his reelection – including $200,000 in March.
- Colombian company creates hospital beds that can double as coffins.
- Canadian for-profit nursing homes have had far worse Covid-19 outcomes than public facilities – and three of the largest paid out $1.5 billion to shareholders.
- Report shows severe neglect inside several of Ontario’s long-term care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic:
The military report includes observations of understaffing, poor sanitation, neglect of residents and employee burnout at five care homes in the Toronto area […]. Cockroach infestations were observed in two of the centers. There are multiple reports of residents with untreated bed sores due to prolonged bed rest.
The report also notes serious hygiene problems, including patients being left in soiled diapers or on bare mattresses due to a lack of clean linen.
- Amazon is handing out “Thank you” t-shirts to warehouse workers as it cuts their hazard pay.
- One billion people will suffer from “unliveable” heat within 50 years, study finds.
- One in four U.S. workers claiming jobless benefits amid Covid-19 pandemic.
- U.S. national debt has increased $5.2 trillion during Trump’s 3 years as president.
- The price for a gene therapy drug to treat an intractable disease in toddlers was set at about 167 million yen ($1.56 million) per patient, Japan’s most expensive medicine covered by national health insurance.
- Private jet company founded by Trump donor gets $27 million bailout.
- A plastics factory in India where a chemical gas leak killed 12 people and sickened hundreds more last week lacked federal environmental clearance but had been issued state permits to operate anyway.
- Members of Venezuela’s opposition in October negotiated a $213 million deal with a small Florida security company to invade the country and overthrow President Nicolas Maduro.
- More than 12,000 Catholic churches in the U.S. applied for federal loans amid pandemic – and 9,000 got them.
- U.S. senator who dumped shares after coronavirus briefing reportedly got a $9 million payout as she left the publicly traded company run by her husband.
- Months into economic shutdown, millions of Americans still haven’t received unemployment checks.
- Drug traffickers hand out food and lend money without interest to families suffering from the coronavirus in Mexico.
- Louisiana lawmakers vote by mail to restrict vote by mail.
- Maryland National Guard protecting Covid-19 tests from seizure by U.S. federal government in undisclosed location.
- Oregon hospitals rely on prison labour to do their laundry during the pandemic.
- Hungary no longer a democracy according to report:
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s dismantling of checks and balances over the past decade, including a decision to indefinitely rule by decree triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, pushed the nation into the “hybrid regime” category between democracies and autocracies, according to a report published Wednesday by Freedom House […].
- Nearly 50 million Americans just had their credit card limits cut amid pandemic.
- Amazon makes nearly $10,000 per second, as many consumers stepped up their online purchases during coronavirus-fueled lockdowns.
- U.S. Senator urges high school principals to warn students about predatory for-profit colleges.
- U.S. government continues to garnish the wages of federal student loan borrowers who fall behind on payments amid pandemic.
- One in seven U.S. Americans, almost 35 million people, would not seek medical care for coronavirus symptoms due to fear of cost.
- Invoking the Korean War-era Defense Production Act, U.S. president signed an executive order mandating that American meat production keep running at all costs.
- State officials have stopped releasing the list of coronavirus deaths being compiled by Florida’s medical examiners, which has at times shown a higher death toll than the state’s published count.
- Despite Covid-19, employees in Texas and Iowa told to get back to work or lose unemployment benefits.
- U.S. farmers are destroying their products, as they aren’t able to adjust the distribution amid pandemic:
Dairy Farmers of America, the country’s biggest dairy co-op, has called many of its members and instructed them to dump their milk. The cooperative has estimated that farmers are now dumping up to 3.7 million gallons of milk per day. Sanderson Farms, a chicken processor, smashes 750,000 eggs each week.
- More than 40% of U.S. Americans whose work was affected by the pandemic said they weren’t able to pay the rent, mortgage or utility bills.
- Bleach manufacturers have warned people not to inject themselves with disinfectant after U.S. president falsely suggested it might cure the coronavirus.
- Oil prices dip below zero as producers forced to pay to dispose of excess.
- A chicken processing company based in Delaware killed nearly 2 million chickens after many of its workers were sidelined by illness or quarantine orders related to the coronavirus.
- Chinese tech giant Xiaomi is recording millions of people’s private web and phone use.
- Amazon-owned Whole Foods is quietly tracking its employees with a heat map tool that ranks which stores are most at risk of unionizing:
Some of the factors that contribute to external risk scores include local union membership size; distance in miles between the store and the closest union; number of charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board alleging labor-law violations; and a “labor incident tracker,” which logs incidents related to organizing and union activity.
- Amazon tried to shut down a virtual event for workers to speak out about the company’s coronavirus response by deleting employees’ calendar invites.
- Jared Kushner’s real estate company files eviction lawsuits amid coronavirus outbreak.
- Over 43,000 U.S. millionaires receive $1.7m in coronavirus relief as most taxpayers get $1,200 payments.
- Hungry South Africans clash with police over food aid in Cape Town.
- Wisconsin hospitals suing patients over debt amid pandemic.
- 1.5 million Britons reported not eating for a whole day because they had no money or access to food.
- Mafia distributes food to Italy’s struggling residents.
- A third of U.S. renters didn’t pay the rent on time in April.
- North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr sold off a significant portion of his portfolio after receiving classified briefings about the coronavirus.
- A huge bridge section has collapsed in Tuscany, the latest case of Italy’s infrastructure crumbling after years of neglect.
- U.S. Sen. David Perdue of Georgia bought stock in a company that produces protective medical equipment the same day senators received a classified briefing on the coronavirus.
- Two Mississippi doctors fired after speaking out about coronavirus safety.
- WWE to resume live TV tapings after being deemed “essential business” by Florida governor’s office amid coronavirus outbreak.
- Amazon fires three critics of warehouse conditions in pandemic.
- U.S. hospitals tell doctors they will be fired if they speak out about lack of gear.
- Las Vegas parking lot turned into outdoor shelter for the homeless during coronavirus crisis:
Photos of the vagrants at the temporary shelter show them close to each other lying on the concrete in the painted white boxes on the ground. Federal guidelines advise people to maintain a distance of six feet from others.
- Philadelphia hospital to stay closed after owner requests nearly $1 million a month. Hahnemann University Hospital could hold 500 patients with the coronavirus.
- U.S. administration saved Walmart from facing criminal charges over opioid sales.
- Celebrities and the ultrawealthy have better access to tests for the coronavirus than ordinary Americans.
- American arts and crafts stores chain refuses to give workers paid sick leave during coronavirus pandemic:
In a memo to Hobby Lobby store managers obtained by Business Insider, vice president of operations Randy Betts wrote that sick workers will be required to use personal paid time off and vacation pay, or else take an “unpaid leave of absence until further notice.”
- Wisconsin senator calls to reopen parts of the coronavirus-stricken economy because ”death is an unavoidable part of life”.
- U.S. president says Republicans would “never” be elected again if it was easier to vote.
- Georgia senator downplayed the coronavirus, simultaneously invested in maker of protective gear.
- U.S. states bid against each other for medical supplies.
- U.S. billionaires want people back to work amid coronavirus outbreak:
“The damages of keeping the economy closed as it is could be worse than losing a few more people,” said Golisano, founder and chairman of the payroll processor Paychex Inc. “I have a very large concern that if businesses keep going along the way they’re going then so many of them will have to fold.”
- New York state to produce hand sanitiser using prison labour.
- The Trump Organisation bribed New York City tax officials to pay lower taxes on multiple properties.
- AT&T C.E.O. pay rose to $32 million in 2019 while he cut 20,000 jobs.
- Whole Foods suggests that workers share paid time off during coronavirus:
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey sent out an email to grocery store employees with a list of benefits and options for those who fall sick during the coronavirus pandemic.
Among his six suggestions was an option for employees to “donate” their paid time off (PTO) to coworkers facing medical emergencies.
- U.S. airline industry seeks about $50 billion in federal help.
- U.K. private hospital sells 2,000 coronavirus test kits to wealthy.
- The Federal Reserve injects $1.5 trillion to prop up crashing markets.
- U.S. administration tried to buy German firm to get exclusive access to a coronavirus vaccine.
- Super-rich jet off to holiday homes and disaster bunkers amid coronavirus outbreak.
- Airlines are burning thousands of gallons of fuel flying empty planes so they can keep their flight slots during the coronavirus outbreak.
- The world is less free than a decade ago:
Countries like Indonesia, Hungary and Mali that were considered “free” in 2009 are now “partly free,” while the likes of Nicaragua, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela have joined the ranks of the “not free.”
Internet freedom is in decline around the world as governments increasingly use social media to monitor their citizens and spread disinformation. Countries from India to Iran to Zimbabwe shut down the internet this year to combat protests.
- A Canadian energy company bought an Oregon Sheriff’s Unit:
In addition to hosting the law enforcement training, the unit used Pembina’s funds to purchase riot control equipment, monitor the activities of Jordan Cove opponents, and coordinate intelligence-gathering operations with private security companies that also worked for Pembina.
- Amazon’s Ring logs every doorbell press and app action.
- Wealthy Indonesians use names of low-income people to avoid paying tax.
- Video of scientific panel discussing copyright law has been blocked by YouTube’s Content ID system for multiple claims of copyright infringement.
- Torture is prevalent and effective in popular films:
The majority of popular films, including those for children, have at least one torture scene, and the scenes are usually depicted as achieving the torturer’s goal, according to a study involving a researcher at The University of Alabama.
- Apple, Samsung and Sony among 83 global brands using Uighur Muslim “forced labour” in factories.
- Texas rapidly reduced number of polling sites in Black and Latino communities.
- Majority of retired NHS staff don’t want to return to tackle Covid-19 crisis,
say going back would threaten their mental and physical health:
“After the way I was treated I would rather shove a rusty six-inch nail up my backside than return to my old job,” said a 67-year-old former staff nurse from Manchester.
- Starbucks and Nestlé rely on child labour for their coffee.
- New cars producing more carbon dioxide than older models.
- 32% of U.S. workers run out of money before payday.
- Hong Kong government gives free “helicopter money” to residents: each will receive a cash handout of HK$10,000 (US$1,200) in an effort to fight recession.
- Homelessness five times worse in U.K. than government admits as figures reveal 28,000 now sleeping rough.
- Miami man has to pay $3,275 bill for coronavirus test, after showing symptoms:
Jackson Health officials say that there are more bills for Azcue on the way, but it’s unclear what those will total […].
- U.K. Department for Work and Pensions destroyed reports into people who killed themselves after benefits were stopped. Around 50 reviews into deaths following the loss of social security payments before 2015 have been shredded.
- As medical costs soar, more Americans turn to crowdfunding. Eight million Americans have started campaigns for themselves or a household member to cover a range of medical expenses.
- Alabama blocked a man from voting because he owed $4.
- Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010.
- New forms of facial recognition can now recognise not just people wearing masks over their mouths, but also people in scarves and even with fake beards.
- Airbnb is recommending surveillance devices to make sure guests behave:
Functionality varies: Whereas the Minut device “monitors noise, temperature, motion, humidity and alarms when your property is unoccupied,” the NoiseAware Indoor Sensor “will alert you within minutes of sustained noise levels, not instantaneous noises like doors slamming,” and is being marketed as “the best way to protect your home, your neighbors, and your reputation.”
- Indonesian minister calls on the rich to marry the poor as a way to cut country’s poverty rate.
- Confidential therapy notes are being used against migrant children in U.S.
- U.S. president pardoned a construction-company owner whose family donated over $200,000 to his campaign.
- India hides poor people ahead of U.S. president visit, by building a brick wall alongside a slum area containing 2,000 people.
- U.S. retailer Target raised wages, then cut workers’ hours and doubled their workload.
- Apple permits film productions to use its products onscreen, but bad characters can’t have an iPhone on camera.
- The typical U.S. worker can no longer afford a family on a year’s salary.
- Google redraws the borders on maps depending on who’s looking.
- Australian court ruled that a police raid on public broadcaster ABC’s offices in connection to stories it produced about alleged war crimes in Afghanistan was legal.
- A Pennsylvania elementary school called the police after a kindergartner with Down syndrome made a finger gun at her teacher.
- Secret Service has paid rates as high as $650 a night for rooms at U.S. president’s properties:
The records show more than $471,000 in payments from taxpayers to Trump’s companies. But — because these records cover only a fraction of Trump’s travel during a fraction of his term — the actual total is likely to be higher.
- California police shared data on the movements of millions of drivers without having policies in place, disregarding state law.
- The 17th inmate died in Mississippi’s prison system in less than two months:
At least 17 Mississippi inmates have died since late December, most of them in outbursts of violence. Most of the deaths occurred at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
- Earth just had hottest January since records began.
- More than half Malta’s traffic police, including its chief, have been arrested for fraud.
- U.S. school children terrified by active shooter drills:
“In Indiana they were shooting teachers with rubber pellets so they would feel the adrenaline of what a school shooting would feel like,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Everytown. “In California recently, a superintendent hired a stranger to wear a mask to rattle the doors of classrooms without letting faculty and students know. We’ve seen students asked to pretend to be victims and lie down using fake blood in the hallway.”
- U.K. universities are using “gagging” clauses to stop students from going public with complaints of sexual assault, bullying and poor teaching.
- Antivirus program Avast tracked users’ browsing habits, data sold to third parties.
- In Hungary, at least 122 people have frozen to death this winter. The majority died in their unheated apartments.
- Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has more than doubled in January compared with the previous year.
- The medical data of millions of NHS patients has been sold to American and other international drugs companies. The information can be traced back to individual medical records.
- The world spends nearly $3 trillion a year on military expenditures.
- Schools in England are equipping teachers with body cameras to monitor pupil behaviour and improve safeguarding.
- Tesla remotely disables Autopilot feature on used Model S after it was sold.
- After disasters, Puerto Ricans are left with $1.6 billion in unpaid insurance claims. Some insurers have gone out of business.
- TikTok reportedly waited nearly 3 hours to call police in Brazil after a teen’s death was livestreamed on the platform, but the company notified its own PR team almost immediately.
- U.S. private hospitals are now consulting a secret medical credit score before patients even see a doctor.
- One in four U.S. renters now spend more than half their incomes on housing.
- More than 1.51 million children in Germany depend on social security (Hartz IV).
- Jeff Bezos paid more than $16,000 in parking tickets while renovating his $23m, Washington, D.C. mansion.
- More than a third of U.K. workers risk health in low-quality jobs.
- Amazon workers condemn unsafe conditions at warehouse:
The petition called on Amazon to consolidate workers’ two 15-minute breaks into a 30-minute one. Workers say it can take up to 15 minutes just to walk to and from the warehouse break room. Workers also called for Amazon to provide more reliable public transit services to the warehouse. They also called attention to reports of high injury rates at the facility there, which were found to be three times the national average for warehouses, based on the company’s injury reports to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Homeless U.S. student population highest in more than a decade:
Most of the 1.5m homeless children stayed with other families or friends after losing their homes.
But 7% lived in abandoned buildings or cars […].
- German banks are hoarding so many Euros they need more vaults.
- On-going violence in Alabama prisons:
During a single week, the Justice Department chronicled at least four stabbings, one fatal; four beatings, one that involved a sock full of metal locks; a prisoner’s bed being set on fire while he slept; three sexual assaults, including a man being forced to perform oral sex on two men at knife point; and a death by drug overdose.
- Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, added $13.2 billion to his wealth of $129.5 billion in about 15 minutes, due to a price surge of his Amazon, Inc. shares.
- Airbus to pay €3.6bn in penalties for international bribery scheme.
- U.S. health-records company pushed opioids to doctors in secret deal with drugmaker, in an effort to boost prescriptions for addictive pain pills.
- London to deploy live facial recognition to find wanted faces in a crowd.
- 43 Republicans in U.S. Congress profited from tax cuts bill they passed.
- Clothing retailer H&M has kept detailed and systematic records about employees’ health, from bladder weakness to cancer, and about their private lives, such as family disputes or holiday experiences.
- Electronic Arts’ iOS Tetris games will be disappearing from the App Store and no longer be playable on iPhones and iPads – even if users paid for them.
- More than three in five Americans are lonely, with more and more people reporting feeling like they are left out, poorly understood and lacking companionship.
- Lottery underway for rare muscle-wasting disease gene therapy:
Pharmaceutical giant Novartis has begun accepting applications for a lottery-based program to give away 100 doses of a gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy, a sometimes-deadly muscle-wasting disease that affects about 1 in 10,000 births.
Zolgensma was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in May 2019 as the most expensive drug ever, with a cost of $2.1 million.
- U.S. farmers are buying 40-year-old tractors because they’re actually repairable:
John Deere makes it difficult to repair its new tractors without specialized software, so an increasing number of farmers are buying older models.
- U.S. military veteran who served in Vietnam and Iraq has claimed that his prosthetic legs were taken away after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would not cover the cost.
- Being wealthy adds nine years to healthy life expectancy, according to transatlantic research across the U.K. and the U.S.
- Woman arrested at Auckland International Airport over student loan debt:
The Government says arresting student loan debtors at airports is an “absolute last resort”, but it’s not a policy that will be changed any time soon.
- Approximately half of Manhattan’s luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still vacant. At the same time, about 79,000 people live in shelters or on the streets.
- Mississippi man gets 12 years in prison for possessing a cellphone in county jail.
- Ontario’s government wants to replace teachers with computers, for “cost saving and revenue generation.”
- As student loans are becoming harder to pay back in the U.S., students turn to “sugar dating”:
Texas State University in San Marcos came in at No. 25 with 945 students using the site to make extra cash, while Texas A&M University was No. 24. The College Station campus has 997 student members.
As far as Texas goes, the University of Texas at Austin has the most students using SeekingArrangement — 1,118 members to be exact.
- British gambling company owners make millions treating gambling addicts.
- Airline demands female passenger takes a pregnancy test before boarding flight from Hong Kong to U.S. island of Saipan over immigration concerns.
- College graduates in U.S. face AI-based assessments for entry-level jobs:
At schools such as Duke University, Purdue University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, career counselors are now working to find out which companies use AI and also speaking candidly with students about what, if anything, they can do to win over the algorithms. This shift in preparations comes as more businesses interested in filling internships and entry-level positions that may see a glut of applicants turn to outside companies such as HireVue to help them quickly conduct vast numbers of video interviews.
- Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s massive ad campaign hikes TV prices for other candidates.
- U.K. counter-terrorism police placed Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion (XR), and Peta on a list of extremist ideologies.
- Millions of Americans – as many as 25% of the population – are delaying getting medical help because of skyrocketing costs .
- In Japan, companies have begun to offer fold out beds that fit under the desks of their workers.
- Giving birth in America now costs more than a woman earns in a month. The average new mom spent $4,500 out-of-pocket to give birth in 2015, a 50% increase from 2007.
- 162 billionaires have the same wealth as half of humanity:
There are 2,153 billionaires globally, and, in 2019, they held more wealth combined than 4.6 billion people, according to the report, which uses data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report and Forbes’ billionaire rankings.
- Homeless man in hospital after Dublin council clean-up removes tent with him inside.
- 50% of Canadians face insolvency amid “debt hopelessness”.
- U.S. alcohol-related deaths have doubled over the past nearly 20 years. Nearly 73,000 people died in the U.S because of liver disease and other alcohol-related illnesses. That is up from just under 36,000 deaths in 1999.
- Facebook is forcing its moderators to log every second of their days – even in the bathroom.
- 82 protesters have been seriously wounded by less-than-lethal weapons of French police forces in the last months. One protestor died by tear gas, four people lost a hand by a grenade, and 18 were blinded by rubber bullets and grenades.
- Smart-home appliances will become useless overnight as manufacturer turns off Cloud service.
- Facial recognition start-up partners with 600 law enforcement agencies across the U.S. The F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security, and local police forces have access to a database of 3 billion images, taken from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo, and millions of other sites.
- In Illinois, hospital visits associated with homelessness have tripled since 2011.
- Physician burnout in U.S. is widespread, especially among those in midcareer.
- U.S. government-funded low-end Android phones come preinstalled with unremovable malware.
- Research suggests that raising the minimum wage by $1 may prevent thousands of suicides each year in U.S. An increase of $2 in each U.S. state’s minimum wage could have prevented more than 57,000 suicides.
- Las Vegas strip club hands out tents branded with its logo to the city’s homeless.
- U.K. based company offers new downward-tilting toilets that are designed to become unbearable to sit on after five minutes. Cutting down on the length of employee bathroom breaks is seen as a way to improve productivity.
- Three former executives of a French telecommunications giant have been found guilty of creating a corporate culture so toxic that 35 of their employees were driven to suicide in the mid-2000s.
- U.K.’s number of doctors per capita is one of lowest in Europe. Study says there are just 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people, with only Poland worse off.
- 95 environmental rules being rolled back under current U.S. president.
- Slavery continues, and even expands, in Pakistan due to a worsening economic crisis. About 3 million people remain stuck in debt bondage.
- At least ten police forces use face recognition in the E.U.
- Siemens demands that employees consume less coffee and cookies, cancels Christmas staff parties, while C.E.O. receives €14.25m in 2019, increase of 48.5% from last year.
- Americans take fish antibiotics because it’s cheaper than a visit to the doctor:
Unlike other antibiotics, fish antibiotics are readily available without a prescription online and are relatively inexpensive as anti-bacterial drugs for pet fish.Researchers analyzed reviews for fish antibiotics available online, and found a small but significant percentage of consumers reviewed the antibiotics for human use.
- I.C.E. uses social media to surveil and arrest immigrants in U.S.
- Australia’s democracy has been downgraded from “open” to “narrowed”. The country is now in line with the United States, Ghana, and Botswana in terms of civil freedoms.
- Human blood makes up well over 2 percent of total U.S. exports by value.
Exports increased by over 13 percent, to $28.6 billion, between 2016 and 2017:
One study found that the majority of donors in Cleveland generate more than a third of their income from “donating” blood. […] Desperate Americans are allowed to donate twice per week (104 times per year). But losing that much plasma could have serious health consequences […].
- Boeing’s fired C.E.O. got his $62 million payout confirmed the same day 2,800 people in the 737 Max supply chain were laid off.
- Fight broke out between lawyers and doctors in a hospital in Lahore, Pakistan:
Riot police used tear gas canisters, water cannons and batons to disperse the intruders. The melee at the hospital, the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, lasted for hours on Wednesday, shocking the country.
In the end, officials said, three patients died amid the chaos. […]
- Social network TikTok is hiding videos of obese and queer users.
- Middle-class Americans getting crushed by rising health insurance costs:
In 2008, middle-class workers spent about 7.8% of household income on premiums and deductibles. By 2018, that figure had climbed to 11.5%.
- U.S. non-profit health care conglomerate will sponsor NFL football team.
- Facebook gives workers a chatbot to appease critics. The “Liam Bot” teaches employees what to say if friends or family ask difficult questions about the company over the holidays.
- Baby denied life-saving drug by Louisiana Medicaid.
- Boston police tests “dog” robots.
- Fast casual restaurants chain Chipotle has nurses check whether employees who call in sick are genuinely unwell or just hungover:
We have nurses on call, so that if you say, ‘Hey, I’ve been sick,’ you get the call into the nurse,” CEO Brian Niccol said […]. “The nurse validates that it’s not a hangover — you’re really sick — and then we pay for the day off to get healthy again.”
- West Virgina prisoners will be charged 5 cents/minute to access electronic books on tablets. The books come entirely from Project Gutenberg’s free online library.
- Life expectancy for Americans ages 25 to 64 has not kept pace with other wealthy countries:
Death rates from suicide, drug overdoses, liver disease and dozens of other causes have been rising over the past decade for young and middle-aged adults, driving down overall life expectancy in the United States for three consecutive years, according to a strikingly bleak study published Tuesday that looked at the past six decades of mortality data.
- Bloomberg News says it will not investigate owner Michael Bloomberg or his Democratic rivals during the presidential campaign.
- Walmart offers Thanksgiving workers measly discount in place of holiday pay.
- In the 2017 U.S. fiscal year, FedEx owed more than $1.5 billion in taxes. The next year, it owed nothing due to a tax cut – for which the company had lobbied hard.
- U.S. has world’s highest rate of children in detention.
- The number of children growing up in poverty in working households in U.K. has increased by 800,000 since 2010:
In 2010, one in five children in working households were growing up in poverty, but by 2018 this had increased to one in four […].
- 530,000 bankruptcies filed annually in U.S. are because of medical debt.
- First German banks are imposing negative interest rates on the deposits of consumer clients.
- Nestlé admits slavery and coercion used in catching its seafood:
Nestlé SA, among the biggest food companies in the world, launched the investigation in December 2014, after reports from news outlets and nongovernmental organizations tied brutal and largely unregulated working conditions to their shrimp, prawns and Purina brand pet foods. Its findings echo those of The Associated Press in reports this year on slavery in the seafood industry that have resulted in the rescue of more than 2,000 fishermen.
- Australian fashion brands use foreign workers paid 62 cents an hour.
- Average temperature in Germany has already increased by 1.5 °C between 1881 and 2018.
- Carbon dioxide levels hit the highest recorded in human history.
- Homelessness in Germany on the rise. Some 678,000 people in 2018 did not have permanent accommodation. Of that number, 41,000 are out on the streets.
- Google has gained access to a huge trove of U.S. patient data – without the need to notify those patients due to a deal with a major health firm.
- More than 1,000 California police accessed background check database for personal use.
- London department store Harrods sets $2,500 minimum spend to visit Santa Claus for Christmas grotto:
Families had to spend at least 2,000 pounds ($2,500) in order to be eligible for 10 minutes with Santa under the Harrods Rewards membership plan […]. The 20-pound-per-child tickets for visits starting Nov. 15 have sold out.
- 45 richest Canadians are now wealthier than the economies of half of Canada’s provinces and territories.
- 6.9 million Germans can’t pay their invoices. One in ten German adults is debt-ridden.
- Italian council is flooded immediately after rejecting measures on climate change.
- Minnesota school threw out hot meals of students with over $15 lunch debt:
Richfield High School came under fire Monday after around 40 students had their hot lunches taken off their trays, thrown out, and replaced with a cold lunch when cafeteria staff saw they had lunch debt of more than $15 […].
- Student sets himself on fire in France over struggle of living on €450 a month.
- Slave markets found on Instagram and other apps.
- With medical bills skyrocketing, more U.S. hospitals are suing for payment:
Ballad, which operates the only hospital in Wise County and 20 others in Virginia and Tennessee, filed more than 6,700 medical debt lawsuits against patients last year. Ballad’s hospitals have brought at least 44,000 lawsuits since 2009, typically increasing the volume each year.
- Birth rate in U.S. falls to lowest level in 32 years.
- U.S. colleges buy student data to boost exclusivity:
Colleges rise in national rankings and reputation when they show data suggesting they are more selective. They can do that by rejecting more applicants, whether or not those candidates ever stood a chance. […]
Those rejection rates have amplified the perception of exclusivity that colleges are eager to reinforce, pushing students to invest more time and money in preparing for and retaking exams College Board sells.
- One in every 200 people in Britain is homeless – sleeping on the streets or stuck in temporary accommodation, including hostels and B&Bs. A small but significant proportion of people experiencing homelessness are even in paid employment.
- Las Vegas votes to make it a crime to sleep on city sidewalks:
In Las Vegas, a 2016 survey of over 400 homeless people found that 84% slept most often outside of a shelter, including 52% who slept on the street, sidewalk or doorway. In addition, 55% of people had not used any shelter services in the past year, and of those, 31% said it was because of bed bugs and 18% said it was because of dirty conditions. […]
The charge comes with up to a $1,000 fine or six months in jail […].
- Walmart, Toyota, Heineken, and other companies are testing a monitoring device for workplace safety, but tracking data is also used on how jobs could be automated.
- First oxygen bar opens in Delhi for people who want to breathe clean air.
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security will soon have face, fingerprint, and iris scans of nearly 260 million people.
- Over the past fifty years, the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by an area equal to the size of Turkey.
- Earth just experienced its hottest-ever October. After its hottest-ever September.
- Child suicides at highest rate ever in Japan:
A total of 332 Japanese elementary, junior high, and high school students died by suicide in 2018, according to research by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. This was an increase of 33% from the previous year and the highest number since 1988, when the data was first calculated with the current method. […]
[…] [T]he reason for nearly 60% of child suicides was unknown, so it is not clear what is driving young people to take their own lives.
- Withold documents show how I.R.S. agreed not to create its own tax filing system that would pose a threat to the U.S. tax filing industry’s profits.
- Delhi air right now is like smoking 50 cigarettes a day.
- Former Apple lawyer in charge of preventing insider trading is indicted on insider trading charges.
- While California fires rage, the rich hire private firefighters:
Ever-increasing wildfires are costing Californians hundreds of billions of dollars. Taxes in the state are already high, and insurance rates for homeowners in high-risk fire areas have soared.
On top of that, utility customers will soon be on the hook for over $10 billion in extra charges to help companies cover wildfire damages.
One of those companies, Pacific Gas & Electric, already charges some of the highest electricity rates in the country. The company has been harshly criticized for pre-emptive blackouts this month that have left millions without power for days
- Four years in a row, U.S. police fatally shoot nearly 1,000 people.
- The number of overnight workers in U.K. over the age of 50 has risen to almost 1 million. Jobs most likely to involve night shifts include care work, nursing, road transport and security.
- Kids who play Fortnite say they get bullied and shamed if they can’t afford paid skins.
- More than 1.5 million packages are delivered daily in New York City,
having a stark impact on gridlock, roadway safety and pollution:
Four delivery companies — FedEx, FreshDirect, Peapod and UPS — accumulated just over 515,000 summonses for parking violations in 2018, totaling $27 million in fines, according to the city. In 2013, those same companies received roughly 372,000 summonses and paid $21.8 million.
The immense changes in New York have been driven by tech giants, other private businesses and, increasingly, by independent couriers, often without the city’s involvement, oversight or even its awareness […]
From 1990 to 2017, carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles and trucks in the New York City area grew by 27 percent, making the region the largest contributor of driving-related carbon dioxide emissions in the country.
- Australian government has suggested using face scans to restrict access to online pornography and gambling sites.
- Microsoft-owned GitHub has blocked Spanish users from accessing an app designed to help Catalan independence protesters.
- British austerity pushing women into sex work, while criminalisation is endangering them.
- Insects and spiders are declining in forests and grasslands across Germany. Scientists have described the findings as “alarming”, saying the losses are driven by intensive agriculture.
- Nearly 40% of 2019 U.S. farm income will come from federal aid and insurance.
- Over a third of Americans battle job burnout every single week.
- U.S. insurance company UnitedHealthcare denied a wheelchair to a man whose legs were severed in an accident.
- The Chilean Government has estimated 18 fatalities in recent protests.
Police used teargas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition against demonstrators. Military curfew was ordered:
The movement started with anger at a small rise in subway fares, but blew up last week into protests demanding improvements in education, health care and wages in one of Latin America’s wealthiest, but most unequal nations.
Approximately 20,000 soldiers are patrolling the streets. Nearly 200 people have been injured, and some 5,000 have been arrested.
- World’s most expensive parking space in Hong Kong changes owners for US$969,000, triple the city’s median home price.
- The suicide rate of young people in U.S. rose 56% this decade.
- Hacked Google Nest cameras are used to threaten owners.
- Amazon workers forced to go back to work after fellow employee dies on shift.
- Chinese teen who sold kidney for an iPhone now bedridden for life.
- New Jersey school district introduces banning students with lunch debt from field trips and prom.
- Homeless U.S. mother sentenced to 5 years in prison for using friend’s address to enroll son in school.
- U.S. cities are designating parking lots for the homeless:
The city is looking to expand to five sites with a total capacity for 15 cars. “We see a lot of older men who maybe are on Social Security or have a fixed income that no longer are able to meet their rent,” she said. “We’re also seeing families that aren’t able to afford rent anymore, and we’re able to wrap several services around them to get back into housing.”
- Sallie Mae flew over 100 employees to Hawaii to celebrate record $5 billion in student loans.
- Qatar now so hot it has started air-conditioning the outdoors. Giant coolers in public areas are deployed, using electricity from fossil fuels.
- Former Nazi bunker to open as luxury hotel in Hamburg, Germany.
- Britons in their 30s are worse off than those born a decade earlier, with no improvement in living standards and falling rates of home ownership.
- One of U.S. president Donald Trump’s golf resorts in Florida will host the next G7 summit.
- Older Australians in aged care facilities are routinely being given medicines to control their behaviour:
A Human Rights Watch report released today found many facilities in Australia were using drugs as “chemical restraints” to control people with dementia and “knock them out”.
Many of the drugs used were antipsychotics not approved for older people with the degenerative brain disease.
The use of drugs can have disturbing consequences with family members reporting a dramatic deterioration in the condition of their loved ones.
- Young girl arrested at U.S. school, charged with a felony for pointing her finger like a gun.
- Catalan protest app requires Android phone, as Apple’s App Store has restrictive policies on applications used to organise demonstrations.
- Swedish police started using drones for video surveillance of Malmö neighbourhoods.
- OECD and Centre for Cities study indicates that U.K. unemployment figures should be 3m higher:
Millions more people in Britain are without a job than shown by official unemployment figures, according to a study that suggests the jobless rate should be almost three times higher.
It said the true unemployment rate should rise from 4.6% to 13.2% of the working-age population not in education. The OECD made the estimate by creating an adjusted economic activity rate, which removes students, retirees and people caring for family.
- Police in Swaziland (eSwatini) attacked striking public servants with live ammunition, rubber bullets, teargas and water cannon as economy collapses:
The kingdom continues in financial meltdown, with health and educational services crippled. Schools and hospitals have run out of supplies and staff have been sacked and other vacancies left unfilled. Up to 200 teachers had reportedly died from stress-related illness over the past two years as a result. Cancer patients have been refused treatment because the government has not paid hospital bills. At least 11 children died of diarrhoea because of drug shortages.
- Across the U.S., thousands of people are jailed each year over medical debt:
The sickest patients are often the most indebted, and they’re not exempt from arrest. In Indiana, a cancer patient was hauled away from home in her pajamas in front of her three children; too weak to climb the stairs to the women’s area of the jail, she spent the night in a men’s mental health unit where an inmate smeared feces on the wall. In Utah, a man who had ignored orders to appear over an unpaid ambulance bill told friends he would rather die than go to jail; the day he was arrested, he snuck poison into the cell and ended his life.
- French police teargas firefighters in Paris protesting working conditions.
- 21 bee species in Northern Ireland are at risk of extinction.
- I.M.F. warns that almost 40% of the corporate debt in eight leading countries – the U.S., China, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain – would be impossible to service if there was a recession half as serious as that of 2008.
- Farmed fish and seafood products sold by the U.K.’s top supermarkets have been subject to unsustainable farming practices which damage ecosystems and habitats and threaten the primary food sources of low income communities.
- Vatican launches €99 “click to pray” eRosary, a wearable device connected to a mobile app that is activated by making the sign of the cross.
- Critical chemotherapy drug that serves as the backbone of treatment for most childhood cancers, including leukemias, lymphomas and brain tumors, has become increasingly scarce, as Pfizer, the sole supplier, lately has experienced manufacturing troubles.
- Los Angeles relies on forced labourers – largely people of colour – threatened with debts and jail to do work that would otherwise be paid:
People in LA county are ordered to perform an estimated total of 8m hours of unpaid work over a year, the equivalent of 4,900 paid jobs. Government agencies receive an estimated 3m hours of free labor, replacing 1,800 jobs.
People struggle to complete their work by imposed deadlines, and in criminal court, nearly one in five people sentenced to community service ultimately face a probation violation or arrest warrant as a result.
- Police issued a ban on demonstrations of climate activists in London. The protests have seen more than 1,400 arrests so far.
- 281 lobbyists have worked in U.S. administration. President Trump had named more ex-lobbyists to his cabinet by September than Obama and Bush did in their eight years in the White House.
- Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground because the homeowner hadn’t paid a $75 fee:
Firefighters did eventually show up, but only to fight the fire on the neighboring property, whose owner had paid the fee.
- Two homeless people were denied shelter during Japan’s worst storm in decades.
- Facial recognition technology is being used in a London pub to create a digital queue and stop people from cutting in line.
- Lion unleashed on Pakistani man for demanding wages.
- U.K. bus passenger hit with £476 fine and a criminal record after her phone battery died and she couldn’t prove to ticket inspector that she had already paid.
- Groupon offers discount coupons for medical examinations in U.S., like CT scans, ultrasounds, or dental services.
- Flint schools receive water stations and filtration systems from billionaire Elon Musk. The drinking fountains have been out of service since the Flint water crisis in 2015.
- Google made large contributions to climate change deniers.
- Workers on farms and plantations that supply big U.K. supermarkets are being subjected to poverty and human rights abuses.
- Apple removes police-tracking app used in Hong Kong protests from its app store.
- Almost half of British children aged 11 to 16 say they have gambled recently.
- Blizzard suspends a professional player from an esports tournament and strips him of his earnings after he made a statement in support of protests in Hong Kong.
- Billionaires paid lower tax rate than working class for first time in U.S. history:
The wealthiest 400 families had a 23 percent tax rate, compared to the bottom half of households, which had a 24.2 percent tax rate.
The richest 400 families had a 47 percent tax rate in 1980 and a 56 percent tax rate in 1960, while the working class’s tax rate has remained relatively stable, according to the Post.
- U.S. administration tells agencies to restrict unions in the workplace:
Federal agencies have been told to carry out Trump administration directives aimed at restricting the role of unions in the federal workplace and giving agencies the maximum discretion in taking disciplinary actions against employees […].
- U.S. sheriffs release sick inmates to avoid paying their hospital bills:
Inmates suffering heart attacks, on the verge of diabetic comas and brutalized in jail beatings have been released so sheriffs wouldn’t have to pay for their medical care.
What’s more, once they recover, some inmates are quickly rearrested and booked back into the jail from which they were released.
- After German smart-home start-up Nello went bankrupt, Internet-enabled door bells stop working.
- Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration guarantee almost $7 trillion in mortgage-related debt, 33 percent more than before the housing crisis.
- General Electric freezing pension plan for 20,000 of its U.S. employees.
- The I.R.S. audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%.
- U.S. administration unveils more cuts to food stamp programme:
The Agriculture Department moved again this week to cut spending on food stamps, this time proposing changes that would slice $4.5 billion from the program over five years, trimming monthly benefits by as much as $75 for one in five struggling families on nutrition assistance.
- September 2019 was Earth’s hottest September on record.
- Baby dies in U.K. private prison after inmate gives birth alone in cell.
- U.S. president promised China’s president that he would stay quiet on Hong Kong protests as long as trade war talks progressed.
- Uber launches job app for gig economy workers. Cleaners, bar staff and warehouse workers will be allowed to compare pay rates and sign up for shifts.
- Three U.K. drug firms colluded to raise price of essential medicine by 1,800%.
- France set to roll out nationwide facial recognition ID programme.
- Homeless deaths in England and Wales rose by a record 22% last year, biggest increase since reporting began. Estimated 726 homeless people died in 2018.
- Hundreds of migrant workers dying of heat stress in Qatar each year.
- British workers are deliberately sabotaging robots amid fears they will take their jobs.
- Robots are not just replacing manual labour, but also decreasing pay.
U.S. workers become more reluctant to ask for significant pay hikes out of fear that their employer will turn to automation:
Despite the lowest unemployment rate in around 50 years, the so-called labor share has fallen to about 56% from 63% in 2000 and the increased use of robots and other technology has been an important driving factor […].
- YouTube moderation bots demonetise videos tagged as “gay” or “lesbian”.
- Wealth work jobs are the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. national labour market:
They are performed by workers who are disproportionately women and Latino, often don’t come with health insurance or retirement benefits or consistent hours, and don’t pay particularly well, averaging around $36,000 a year nationwide in 2017, well below the average wage for all occupations of nearly $51,000. Uber, Instacart, and other online platforms in the gig economy are also contributing to the rise of these jobs.
- Texas woman shamed by potential employer over bikini photo on Instagram:
[…] [A] company representative reached out to her and said the firm wanted to move ahead with the application process and recommended that she follow them on Instagram. Hoping to improve her chances of landing the position, she did.
But as she was scrolling through the company’s Instagram story, Clow said she saw a photo of herself in a red two-piece bathing suit with a warning message to potential applicants.
“PSA (because I know some of you applicants are looking at this) do not share your social media with a potential employer if this is the kind of content on it. I am looking for a professional marketer – not a bikini model,” it read.
- At least 22 killed in Congo gold mine collapse.
- Weight loss pill in France may has been responsible for as many as 2,000 deaths.
- Pharmaceutical firm Novartis denied a request from the federal government of Belgium to make the most expensive medicine in the world available for free to a toddler.
- U.S. Army beat its recruitment goals this year by targeting students in debt.
- China unveils 500 megapixel camera that can identify every face in a crowd of tens of thousands.
- Thousands of ships fitted with “cheat devices” to divert poisonous pollution into sea:
More than $12bn (£9.7bn) has been spent on the devices, known as open-loop scrubbers, which extract sulphur from the exhaust fumes of ships that run on heavy fuel oil.
[…] [T]he sulphur emitted by the ships is simply re-routed from the exhaust and expelled into the water around the ships […].
- French billionaire Bernard Arnault – the world’s second richest man – accuses teen climate activist Greta Thunberg of “demoralising” young people by embracing “catastrophism”.
- Income inequality in the U.S. last year reached its highest level ever recorded.
- After the collapse of Thomas Cook, customers face high bills to book replacement flights. In some cases, prices have tripled.
- U.S. companies posting discriminatory job ads on Facebook, using the social network’s targeting tools to keep older workers from seeing employment opportunities.
- North America lost a quarter of its birds in 50 years. About 19 species have each lost more than 50 million individuals.
- U.S. states require more training time to become a barber than a police officer.
- Genetically modified mosquitoes are breeding in Brazil, despite biotech firm’s assurances to the contrary.
- F.B.I. has used secret subpoenas to obtain personal data from more than 120 companies and other entities:
The demands can scoop up a variety of information, including usernames, locations, IP addresses and records of purchases. They don’t require a judge’s approval and usually come with a gag order, leaving them shrouded in secrecy.
- Kenyans struggle to repay debts to mobile loan apps:
People work hard to repay their loans, if not on the timelines dictated by lenders. Many report taking out loans with one mobile service to repay existing debts when the due dates come up with another lending service. This is a debt treadmill, and it is hard to escape.
- Florida high school student suspended for handing out climate change fliers:
South Broward High School senior Elijah Ruby had been handing out fliers advertising a climate change protest when a school administrator told him he would be suspended from campus for a day and barred from attending prom and other special class events.
- Australian universities are accused of suppressing anti-Chinese views to keep lucrative Chinese students happy.
- Orlando police arrested six-year old Black girl for “throwing a tantrum” in her first-grade class. She was handcuffed and hold in a juvenile detention facility, where fingerprints and a mugshot were taken.
- Home Depot and Lowe’s are secretly using facial recognition security cameras to track customer movements.
- U.S. emergency rooms confront a crisis of violence:
In response, health-care systems have instituted security measures to fortify hospitals. Metal detectors and armed guards are the new norms; the days of entering a hospital without security clearance will soon seem as quaint as walking a family member to an airport terminal. In the Cleveland Clinic, officials have confiscated thousands of weapons, including knives, guns, and pepper spray.
- Smart TVs sending private data to Netflix and Facebook:
The data were being sent whether or not the user had a Netflix account. The researchers also found that other smart devices including speakers and cameras were sending user data to dozens of third parties including Spotify and Microsoft.
[…] Tens of millions of these devices use content recognition technology that tracks everything you watch, to be able to target you better with TV advertising, which now accounts for about half of all digital ads.
- Body scanners used to screen passengers are deployed at a London railway station.
- Almost every major pharmaceutical company in the world has given up on research into new antibiotics, as they are not profitable enough.
- Rising numbers of children are being treated for “eco-anxiety”:
A group of psychologists working with the University of Bath says it is receiving a growing volume of enquiries from teachers, doctors and therapists unable to cope.
The Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) told The Daily Telegraph some children complaining of eco-anxiety have even been given psychiatric drugs.
The body is campaigning for anxiety specifically caused by fear for the future of the planet to be recognised as a psychological phenomenon.
- Fast food delivery “robots” on campus of UC Berkeley are remote controlled by Colombian workers, who make less than $2 an hour.
- Number of people depending on food banks in Germany increased by 10% to 1.65 million. About 20% of German pensioners visit food banks regularly.
- Australian state of Victoria uploaded all driver’s licence photos to a national facial recognition database.
- Turbulences on the financial markets forced New York Federal Reserve to inject $53 billion into the system.
- Number of people between 25 and 29 on welfare in Norway has increased 177% since 2010.
- U.K. firefighter who dealt with the Westminster terror attacks has been left homeless after struggling to survive on social security:
He fell further into a mire of depression and PTSD, at one point checking into hospital showing suicidal tendencies. Two years on he has been officially struck off and bumped off the Brigade’s payroll entirely. For months Mark had been relying on a meagre £782 a month in Universal Credit to pay his rent and a relative mountain of debt. Now he has had to leave his flat and move his possessions into his car.
- Number of minimum-wage workers has doubled in Canada since 1998.
- U.K. military research project of £3.2m will explore new electric drive systems for future combat tanks and robotic vehicles in an effort to become more environmentally friendly.
- Amazon-owned Whole Foods to cut health-care benefits for 1,900 part-time employees.
- U.K. Tesco worker killed himself after being sacked for leaving his till to chase shoplifter.
- Period-tracking apps share information about users’ sex live with Facebook.
- JPMorgan Chase & Co. have created an index to track impact of president Trump’s tweets on U.S. bond yields.
- A.I. professors in North American universities leave their posts for industry jobs:
In 2015, Uber hired 40 people from a Carnegie Mellon robotics lab, including research professors. Since then, industry interest in artificial intelligence of all kinds has increased, according to the study. Google and DeepMind, both owned by Alphabet, have hired 23 professors. Amazon has hired 17, Microsoft has hired 13, and Uber, Nvidia and Facebook have each hired seven.
Some experts worry that as top professors move into industry, the education of the next generation of students will suffer.
- Mental health websites in France, Germany and the U.K. sold user’s data to advertisers.
- Dutch student organisation sets up tent city for international students unable to find permanent accommodation due to housing crisis.
- U.S. police killings are the sixth leading cause of death among young men:
The risk of being killed by the police is more pronounced for black men, who are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police, while black women are 1.4 times more likely than white women to be killed by police.
- More Americans are falling way behind on credit card and student loan payments:
Payments on some 9.9 percent of student loan balances started being at least 90 days late during the three months ending in June, compared with 9.4 percent in the January-March period.
A comparable measure shows credit card users are struggling. Payments on about 5.2 percent of those balances were 90 days overdue in the latest quarter, up from 5.0 percent in the first quarter. The figure has been on the rise since 2017.
- Some Colorado schools are getting buckets and kitty litter so students can go to the bathroom during lockdowns if there’s an active shooter.
- Ukrainian employees connect nuclear plant to the internet so they can mine cryptocurrency.
- Americans say they can’t afford a vacation: 42 per cent of Americans decided not to take a vacation over the past year because of the cost.
- Doorbell-camera company has forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them potential access to homeowners’ camera footage.
- Schoolchildren in China work overnight to produce Amazon Alexa devices:
Hundreds of schoolchildren have been drafted in to make Amazon’s Alexa devices in China as part of a controversial and often illegal attempt to meet production targets […].
Interviews with workers and leaked documents from Amazon’s supplier Foxconn show that many of the children have been required to work nights and overtime to produce the smart-speaker devices, in breach of Chinese labour laws.
- Detroit police have been quietly utilising controversial and unreliable facial recognition technology to make arrests in the city:
Garvie conservatively estimates that a quarter of the nation’s 18,000 police agencies now use facial recognition technology, and over half of American adults’ photos are available for investigation.
- About 300.000 primary school children go hungry in Germany.
- Germany for first time sells 30-year bonds offering negative yields.
- U.S. elderly couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide, due high medical bills:
A 77-year-old man called 911 on Wednesday morning saying he planned to die by suicide […]
“Several notes were left citing severe ongoing medical problems with the wife and expressing concerns that the couple did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care,” the sheriff’s statement said.
- U.K. demonstrators with disabilities protesting against austerity cuts are having their personal information passed by police to the Department for Work and Pensions.
- A California police department’s new “RoboCop” stores pedestrians’ faces, scans license plates, and costs $8,000 a month to run.
- New Mexico Burger King employees fired after police officer served food with a pig drawn on it.
- Bulletproof backpacks see 300% spike in sales in U.S. after mass shootings:
“The backpack is designed first of all to be a very stylish and nice-looking backpack,” ArmorMe’s Gabi Siboni told the New York Times. “And it has panels that protect you against bullets. It will increase your survival chances.”
- Health insurance companies send American patients to foreign countries for surgery, due to high hospital costs in U.S.
- Facebook paid contractors to transcribe users’ audio chats.
- Colleges across the U.S. are closing at an unprecedented pace as they struggle to attract students and face revenue shortages.
- Between 1978 and 2018, the average pay of the bosses of the U.S.’s largest 350 companies has grown by 1,007.5%, adjusted for inflation.
- Private voice commands told to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa are being transcribed by agency workers.
- Parents giving up legal rights to their children to get more financial aid from U.S. government:
Dozens of parents in the suburbs of Chicago transferred guardianship of their high-school-age children to relatives or friends and then used the new legal status to declare their children as independent for purposes of qualifying for federal, state and institutional financial aid […].
- F.B.I. agents raided human body donor facility, found buckets full of heads, arms and legs, as well as refrigerated heaps of male genitalia and different people’s body parts sewn together:
They also described the sight of a small woman’s decapitated head which had been sewn onto a large male torso “like Frankenstein” and hung up on a wall. The creation is reportedly referred to as a “morbid joke” in the lawsuit.
- Nestle India Ltd. conducted clinical trials on 75 premature babies in five hospitals on substitutes for breast milk in complete contravention of regulations.
- French police in Nantes fired teargas and water cannon at hundreds of demonstrators protesting against police violence.
- U.K. government spends five times more on no-deal Brexit “propaganda” than on helping local councils prepare for the possibility of leaving the E.U. without a deal.
- Apple contractors are accused of regularly hearing confidential details on Siri recordings, including drug deals and people having sex.
- U.S. middle class households go deep in debt to keep standard of living:
Consumer debt, not counting mortgages, has climbed to $4 trillion—higher than it has ever been even after adjusting for inflation. Mortgage debt slid after the financial crisis a decade ago but is rebounding.
Student debt totaled about $1.5 trillion last year, exceeding all other forms of consumer debt except mortgages.
Auto debt is up nearly 40% adjusting for inflation in the last decade to $1.3 trillion. And the average loan for new cars is up an inflation-adjusted 11% in a decade, to $32,187, according to an analysis of data from credit-reporting firm Experian.
Unsecured personal loans are back in vogue, the result of competition between technology-savvy lenders and big banks for borrowers and loan volume.
- Prison riot in Brazil leaves 16 inmates decapitated and dozens more killed.
- A Chicago teen was murdered and her baby cut out of her. Then the hospital billed her family more than $300,000.
- New York teachers are boosting their incomes through liaisons with sugar daddies:
There are 1,489 sugar-baby teachers living in the state overall. That’s 14 percent of the total of 10,000 Seeking Arrangement’s sugar babies who identified themselves as educators.
- After the University of Alaska lost 41% of its state funding, scholarships for thousands of university students are defunded.
- Over 50% of families in Pakistan can’t afford two meals a day out of poverty.
- Amazon and Microsoft battle for $10bn “war cloud” contract with Pentagon:
Formally called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure plan, or Jedi, the military’s computing project would store and process vast amounts of classified data, allowing the Pentagon to use artificial intelligence to speed up its war planning and fighting capabilities.
- The American Red Cross offers $5 Amazon Gift Card during emergency blood shortage.
- Homelessness on the rise in Germany: in 2017, around 650,000 people in Germany are without a permanent home; 48,000 people live on the streets.
- Rockstar North, maker of Grand Theft Auto, has paid no U.K. corporation tax in 10 years, while claiming £42m in tax relief:
A report from the investigative thinktank TaxWatch UK estimates Rockstar Games’ operating profit at $5bn (£4bn) between 2013 and 2019, during which time the company released Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) and Red Dead Redemption 2. […]
But the company paid no corporation tax between 2009 and 2018. It received £42m in tax credits from the government’s video games tax relief scheme, which was set up in 2014 to bolster the UK’s £5bn games industry, much of which is made up of small and medium-sized developers.
- Florida city blasts Baby Shark song to drive away homeless from waterfront.
- World hunger is still not going down after three years and obesity is still growing. More than 820 million people are hungry globally.
- Pennsylvania school district tells parents to pay their lunch debt, or their kids will go into foster care.
- Corporate sponsorship of E.U. presidency to continue:
Romania’s presidency in the first half of 2019 was sponsored by Coca-Cola, with the US drinks giant’s logo plastered over banners and signs at meetings. One council summit in Bucharest featured Coca-Cola branded bean bag chairs, and a fridge of free drinks plastered with statistics about the company’s contribution to the economy.
Other sponsors of the council presidency have included car manufacturers, software companies and other firms with vested interests in influencing EU policy.
- 200th New York firefighter dies from 9/11 illness as funding is still debated.
- Low-income workers can’t afford rent in 91% of Canadian cities.
- Half of working Russians earn less than $550 a month.
- Uber and Lyft drivers were paid up to $100 to protest a bill that could make them employees.
- U.K. students struggle to support themselves as university rent costs rise:
Although most students receive a means-tested maintenance loan from the government to cover their living costs, nearly half of respondents (43%) said they had run out of money by the end of the semester, while one in three (32%) used their overdraft to cover their rent and household bills.
Over two-thirds of students rely on the loan – averaging at £509 per month – to finance themselves. However the value of that loan has fallen since it was introduced in 2012 following freezes and below inflation increases.
- 24 Yellow Vest protesters lost eyes due to rubber bullets and grenades of riot police:
In March France’s interior ministry put the number of Yellow Vests injured at 2,200 and put the number of police officers hurt in the clashes at 1,500.
- India’s mountain of trash is nearly as tall as the Taj Mahal.
- Amazon hits University of Delaware student with $3,800 fee after she failed to return rented textbook on time.
- U.K. nurses will be offered supermarket discounts and cheap gym membership to persuade them to stay in the NHS.
- Bitcoin’s energy consumption equals that of Switzerland. The crypto currency is using around seven gigawatts of electricity, equal to 0.21% of the world’s supply.
- Thousands of immigrant children said they were sexually abused in U.S. detention centers.
- Amazon confirms it keeps user’s Alexa recordings forever.
- 40% of Americans say they struggle to pay bills:
To get by, Americans have borrowed heavily in recent years. Total U.S. household debt is now $13.7 trillion, surpassing the 2008 peak in dollar terms, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The surge in debt this time around is for cars and college, not mortgages.
- Full-time minimum wage workers cannot afford a 2-bedroom rental anywhere in the U.S.
- U.K. Home Office has drawn up a secret programme using homelessness charities to acquire sensitive personal data to help deport non-U.K. rough sleepers.
- U.S. federal agents are scanning millions of Americans’ faces without their knowledge or consent:
Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent, newly released documents show.
- Around 18,000 of Chicago’s homeless had a college education in 2017 and more than 13,000 had jobs.
- Cartoonist loses job after image depicting U.S. president ignoring dead migrants to play golf.
- Brazilian president Bolsonaro defends child labour.
- Oregon public agency dropped boulders onto a former rose garden to prevent homeless from camping.
- Amazon will pay $0 in taxes on $11.2 billion in profit for 2018.
- U.S. suicide rates are at the highest level since World War II.
- Doctor compares conditions for unaccompanied children at U.S. immigrant holding centers to “torture facilities”:
After assessing 39 children under the age of 18, she described conditions for unaccompanied minors at the McAllen facility as including “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.”
All the children who were seen showed evidence of trauma, Lucio Sevier reported, and the teens spoke of having no access to hand washing during their entire time in custody. She compared it to being “tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease.”
- U.S. spend ten times more on fossil fuel subsidies than education.
- Irish airlines pressure female pilots to terminate their pregnancy:
He said women pilots were being told not to get pregnant, and that women pilots who present as pregnant were told: “you have a choice, you terminate your employment or you terminate your pregnancy“.
- Facebook content moderators expose desperate working conditions that lead to post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions.
- Two-thirds of American employees regret their college degrees:
Student loan debt, which has ballooned to nearly $1.6 trillion nationwide in 2019, was the No. 1 regret among workers with college degrees. About 27% of survey respondents listed student loans as their top misgiving.
- Indiana inmates found guilty will be charged $30 per day in jail.
- The U.S. Coast Guard will pay for mothers on duty to ship breast milk to their babies back home, due to limited maternity leave.
- Over 2,000 doctors worked without pay at 50 university hospitals in Japan.
- Parents of YouTube child stars say safety protections would hurt kids’ earning power.
- Tennessee Hospital sues its own employees when they can’t pay their medical bills.
- San Francisco food delivery company subsidises its driver wages with tips:
[T]he driver gets a relatively large tip, and that tip allegedly subsidizes all or most of the guaranteed minimum amount DoorDash is paying the worker.
In 85 percent of cases, the company uses tip money in combination with its own payments to pay the guaranteed amount it quotes workers per order.
- Yogurt company to pay off $85,000 in student lunch debt at an Idaho school district.
- Boeing’s 737 Max software outsourced to $9-an-hour engineers:
Increasingly, the iconic American planemaker and its subcontractors have relied on temporary workers making as little as $9 an hour to develop and test software, often from countries lacking a deep background in aerospace – notably India. […]
Multiple investigations – including a Justice Department criminal probe – are trying to unravel how and when critical decisions were made about the Max’s software. During the crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines planes that killed 346 people, investigators suspect, the MCAS system pushed the planes into uncontrollable dives because of bad data from a single sensor.
- Ford Motor Co. deprived salaried workers of retirement benefits by firing them based on their age and how close they are to obtaining full pensions.
- NASA is to allow tourists to visit the International Space Station (ISS) from 2020, priced at $35,000 (£27,500) per night.
- Microsoft is going to shut off its ebook DRM servers, which will make the books stop working.
- U.K. man facing homelessness robs bank to get place to stay in jail:
A man facing homelessness who held up a bank with a banana, stealing more than £1,000 before handing himself in to police, has been jailed for 14 months.
- U.S. youth suicide rate reaches 20-year high.
- Some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely-managed drinking water, while 4.2 billion go without safe sanitation services.
- More Americans were shot to death in the first three months of 2019 than died on D-Day.
- Nearly half of all child deaths in Africa stem from hunger.
Almost 60 million children deprived of food:
Nine out of 10 African children do not meet the criteria for minimum acceptable diet outlined by the World Health Organization, and two out of five don’t eat meals regularly.
- Hershey, Nestle and Mars won’t promise their chocolate is free of child labour.
- Firm charges law students £695 for a remote legal internship:
Virtual Internships claims that its programme, under which customers pay to work remotely for unnamed companies, offers “real-world, experience” to help “students & recent graduates kickstart their careers”. […]
For that, students get to work unpaid for up to 300 hours, as well as a “comprehensive professional development course”, mentoring and a reference. The company says that typical roles include “Legal Assistant, Legal Researcher, In House Legal Intern, Commercial Exec, Business Development”.
- One in five girls and young women in England aged 16 to 24 have cut, burned or poisend themselves:
The findings, published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, show that self-harm has risen across both sexes and all age groups since 2000. In the population as a whole it almost trebled from 2.4% then to 6.4% in 2014. […]
Growing numbers of people are harming themselves as a way of coping with feelings of anger, tension, anxiety or depression.
- U.K. inheritance tax rules save wealthiest families almost £700m a year:
In January, an analysis of figures by HMRC revealed the cost to taxpayers of all inheritance tax loopholes has risen to almost £2bn annually.
- Canadian life expectancy has stopped rising for the first time in over four decades because of the opioid crisis.
- U.S. Department of Energy is now calling fossil fuels “molecules of freedom” and “freedom gas”.
- New York school district is launching facial recognition system:
The system is designed to detect the faces of people barred from Lockport schools, sex offenders, suspended students and staff members, and others deemed to be a threat, and alert officials if they are found on school grounds. The system can also detect guns, the district says.
- Doctors in the U.S. experience symptoms of burnout at almost twice the rate of other workers, often citing as contributors the long hours, a fear of being sued, and having to deal with growing bureaucracy.
- At least 11 climbers have died summiting the Mount Everest due to overcrowding.
- 40% of India’s MPs face criminal charges, including rape and murder:
At least 233 of the 543 members named as winning seats on Thursday face criminal proceedings, according to the ADR, whose election chief Anil Verma said there is a “disturbing trend” in Parliament that “is bad for the democracy”.
- Chicago spent more than $113 million on police misconduct lawsuits in 2018.
- U.S. birthrate fell to a 32-year low in 2018:
Many current or would-be parents […] list a string of obstacles to having kids in the U.S., from the frustration of finding child care to high insurance costs and a lack of parental leave and other support systems. And they note that while the national economy has done well, workers’ paychecks haven’t been growing at the same pace.
- The U.K.’s social safety net has been “deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos”, a report commissioned by the UN has said:
The report cites independent experts saying that 14 million people in the UK – a fifth of the population – live in poverty, according to a new measure that takes into account costs such as housing and childcare.
- 97% of Amazon shareholders in favour of selling facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies.
- Miami bounty hunters armed with battering ram, stun guns, and crow bars storm home over $750 bond for driving with a suspended license.
- Young U.S. home buyers scramble as prices rise faster than income. The high cost of home ownership is putting pressure on millennials as they try to balance mortgage payments, student loans, child care, and careers.
- The richest 10% of U.S. households representing 70% of all U.S. wealth in 2018, compared with 60% in 1989. Experts say the financial crisis has played a significant part in this growing gap.
- Almost 40% of Americans would struggle to cover a $400 emergency.
- Children up for adoption paraded in Brazil shopping center:
“Adoption on the Catwalk” in the central-west state of Mato Grosso was designed to “give visibility to children and adolescents who are eligible for adoption,” according to an official statement […].
- Child homelessness in England has surged by 80% since the Conservatives came into government in 2010:
Newly published data reveals 124,490 minors were housed in temporary accommodation in England at the end of 2018, marking an increase of 55,440 since the same period in 2010 and a rise of 33 per cent in the last four years. […]
More than one in five (21 per cent) households found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness lost their last settled home due to the ending of a private rented tenancy.
- Amazon has rolled out “gamification” of low-skill work in some warehouses:
By fostering workplace competition through games, Amazon is also slyly pushing workers to raise the stakes among themselves to pack more boxes bound for customer homes.
- Uber and Lyft drivers manipulate fares at Reagan National Airport causing artificial price surges:
Every night, several times a night, Uber and Lyft drivers at Reagan National Airport simultaneously turn off their ride share apps for a minute or two to trick the app into thinking there are no drivers available—creating a price surge. When the fare goes high enough, the drivers turn their apps back on and lock into the higher fare. […]
“Uber doesn’t pay us enough, what the company is doing is defrauding all these people by taking 35–40 percent,” one driver told ABC 7. […]
These drivers tell ABC 7 they do have a sense of guilt. They say they don’t want to do this, but because Uber and Lyft keep reducing their pay, they tell us they have no choice. They can’t afford to pickup people at Reagan for $4 in rush hour traffic.
- Super-rich people barely bothered by I.R.S.. In 2015, about 35% of U.S. households earning more than $10 million dollars had their taxes audited. Three years later, that figure was 6.66%.
- Arizona prison officials won’t let inmates read book that critiques the criminal justice system.
- Cocaine use doubles in Britain in five years. Analysis suggests more than one in every 50 Londoners take drug every day.
- Texas mother denied food stamps shoots her two children, then kills herself in a state welfare office.
- N.Y.C. taxi medallion prices artificially inflated then sold to unwitting drivers:
Over the past year, a spate of suicides by taxi drivers in New York City has highlighted in brutal terms the overwhelming debt and financial plight of medallion owners. All along, officials have blamed the crisis on competition from ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.
But a New York Times investigation found much of the devastation can be traced to a handful of powerful industry leaders who steadily and artificially drove up the price of taxi medallions, creating a bubble that eventually burst.
- Homeless population jumps by thousands across the San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco saw a 17% jump in the number of homeless residents over the last two years. 8,011 homeless people living in shelters and on the streets in the city of roughly 880,000.
- Britain’s opioid crisis takes on U.S. dimension. The number of prescriptions in England and Wales had risen from 14 million in 2008 to 23 million last year. 113,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed by general practitioners every day.
- Private jails in England and Wales more violent than public ones.
- Monsanto compiled enemy list:
The list of some 200 people included politicians, journalists and scientists who had raised concerns about Monsanto’s activities, including French MEPs and the environment minister at the time, Ségolène Royal.
- Four million Britons in poverty despite having jobs.
- A San Francisco teacher on extended sick leave due to breast cancer has had to pay for her own substitute. The average cost for a substitute in the city is $200 (£150) per day, which gets deducted from the sick teacher’s salary.
- Heiress to German business behind Leibniz biscuits defends family’s Nazi-era slave labour:
Verena Bahlsen has come under fire over comments she made claiming the company treated forced labourers well during the Nazi era and “did nothing wrong”. […]
“I’m a capitalist. I stand to inherit a quarter of Bahlsen, and I’m looking forward to it,” she told the conference. “I want to make money and buy yachts.”
- German politicians outraged after Daimler announced to stop campaign donations:
- “Stopping party donations irresponsible.” – Thomas Bareiß (CDU)
- “Daimler contributes to weakening of democracy.” – Thomas Bauer (CSU)
- “Donations intended by constitution.” – Otto Solms (FDP)
- U.K. man is fined £90 for hiding face from police facial recognition cameras.
- U.S. school cafeteria worker fired for giving food to student who couldn’t pay.
- As suicides rise, insurers find ways to deny mental health coverage:
The U.S. is in the midst of a mental health crisis. In 2017, 47,000 Americans died by suicide and 70,000 from drug overdoses. And 17.3 million adults suffered at least one major depressive episode. […]
Failures of the mental health system contributed to trends that have lowered U.S. life expectancy over the past three years. From 2008, when Congress passed the parity act, to 2016, the rate at which Americans died by suicide increased 16%. The rate of fatal overdoses jumped 66% in the same period.
- Delta Air Lines told employees to buy video games instead of forming a union.
- Every year, Amazon destroys about three million unused products in France alone. Unsold goods that have spent too much time in the distribution centres are thrown away.
- Millions of people uploaded photos to cloud storage app, while the company behind it used them to develop facial recognition tools:
Ever AI promises prospective military clients that it can “enhance surveillance capabilities” and “identify and act on threats.” It offers law enforcement the ability to identify faces in body-cam recordings or live video feeds.
- Ethiopians are being paid world’s lowest wages to make clothes. Workers are being paid $26 a month, almost a quarter of the $95 a month minimum wage in Bangladesh.
- Leading U.S. drug companies conspired to inflate prices of common medicines by up to 1000%, according to lawsuit filed by 44 states.
- The mental health crisis among Canadian youth has seen an alarming increase in youth suicide in recent years:
Researchers found rates had doubled between 2007 and 2015.
[S]tress could be a reason rates are going up. “Kids are feeling more pressure to achieve, more pressure in school, and are more worried about making a living than in previous years”.
- Nearly half of U.S. college students are going hungry:
A survey […] indicated that 45 percent of student respondents from over 100 institutions said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days. […]
[E]fforts have recently expanded to include redistributing leftover food from dining halls and catered events, making students eligible for food stamps and other benefits.
- U.K. single mother was given an 81-day jail sentence for failing to pay her council tax of £4,742:
She is one of 305 people sent to prison in the past six years in England and Wales for failing to pay their council tax, according to government figures released following a freedom of information request by the Guardian.
- Boeing fires workers who organise, as an effort to prevent unionisation.
- Private Equity is turning public prisons into big profits,
after U.S. corporations have privatised almost every part
of the public prison system.
Today, a handful of privately held companies dominate the correctional-services market, many with troubling records of price gouging some of the poorest families and violating the human rights of prisoners. […] These companies are often controlled by private-equity firms, which through financial alchemy transform the prison-industrial complex into lavish returns for pensions, endowments, and charitable foundations.
- One French police officer commits suicide every four days.
Since the beginning of 2019, a total of 24 suicides committed by police officers […]
In 2000, 54 officers committed suicide, in 2005 50 police officers took their own lives, in 2008 there were 49 and in 2014 there were 55.
- More than 270 election workers in Indonesia have died, mostly of fatigue-related illnesses caused by long hours of work counting millions of ballot papers by hand.
- Medical bills and illness linked to nearly two-thirds of bankruptcies in U.S.: 50% increase from 2001. Most of those bankrupted were middle class and had insurance.
- Amazon’s automated system tracks warehouse worker productivity and automatically fires them.
- At least 21 Indian students commit suicide after exam results.
While the boy jumped in front of the train and ended his life in Warangal, another student—a girl from Mahabubnagar burnt herself to death in the past 24 hours.
According to the police and the parents, both the students were depressed after not performing well in the examination.
- Major Google outage prevented smart home users from unlocking doors or using AC.
- Uber charges more if customer’s phone battery is running low, as they can’t afford to wait to see if the price drops again.
- Typhus, tuberculosis, and other illnesses are infecting California’s homeless:
Infectious diseases—some that ravaged populations in the Middle Ages—are resurging in California and around the country, and are hitting homeless populations especially hard.
Los Angeles recently experienced an outbreak of typhus—a disease spread by infected fleas on rats and other animals—in downtown streets. […]
Hepatitis A, also spread primarily through feces, infected more than 1,000 people in Southern California in the past two years. The disease also has erupted in New Mexico, Ohio, and Kentucky, primarily among people who are homeless or use drugs.
- Potholes epidemic on U.K. roads. It would cost nearly £10 billion to restore the roads.
- More than 300 overworked NHS nurses have died by suicide in just seven years.
The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show 305 killed themselves over the seven-year period. Data revealed 32 suicides were recorded in 2017. This was down from 51 nurses aged from 20 to 64 in 2016.
But the highest total was 54, recorded in 2014. And a recent study has shown female nurses are more at risk of suicide than other professions.
“[E]mancipatory politics must always destroy the appearance of a ‘natural order’, must reveal what is presented as necessary and inevitable to be a mere contingency, just as it must make what was previously deemed to be impossible seem attainable.”
– Mark Fisher