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
- 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.
- UK 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.
- UK 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.
- UK Home Office has drawn up a secret programme using homelessness charities to acquire sensitive personal data to help deport non-UK 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 labor.
- 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.
- UK 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.
- UK 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 UK’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 IRS. 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.
- English private jails 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)
- UK 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.
- 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 UK 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.