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
- 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. Deparment 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.
- Saudi government recruited Twitter workers to spy on critics of Saudi regime.
- 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 UK 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.
- 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.
- 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 EU 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 EU 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 protestors 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“.
- One Facebook content moderator has died, others say they fear for their lives.
- 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 subsidizes 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.
- NYC 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.
- 4 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.
- 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