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
- New Delhi braces for emergency measures as toxic smog worsens:
A thick haze of toxic smog hung over the Indian capital, exacerbated by a spike in the burning of crop waste in surrounding farmlands.
It reduced visibility and the Air Quality Index (AQI) hit 470 on a scale of 500, according to the federal pollution control board. This level of pollution means the air will affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases.
- Natural gas customers in Texas get stuck with $3.4 billion surcharge:
Gas sellers made record profits in just a few days, together bringing in as much as $11 billion, about 70–100 times more than normal, based on spot prices at the time.
Meanwhile, many Texans suffered through blackouts and bitter cold, and 210 people died, according to the latest estimate from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
- Spotify co-founder invests €100 million in A.I. military start-up.
- Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna making combined profits of $1,000 every second from their Covid-19 vaccines while the world’s poorest countries remain largely unvaccinated.
- Brazil’s Amazon deforestation surges to highest level in 15 years.
- Syphilis is resurging in the U.S., a sign of public health’s funding crisis:
In the United States, more than 129,800 syphilis cases were recorded in 2019, double the case count of five years prior. In the same time period, cases of congenital syphilis quadrupled: 1,870 babies were born with the disease; 128 died. Case counts from 2020 are still being finalized, but the CDC has said that reported cases of congenital syphilis have already exceeded the prior year. Black, Hispanic and Native American babies are disproportionately at risk.
- Coal and oil investors are suing governments for several billions in compensation for lost profits over energy policy changes:
[…] [T]he German energy company RWE is suing the Netherlands for €1.4bn (£1.2bn) over its plans to phase out coal, while Rockhopper Exploration, based in the UK, is suing the Italian government after it banned new drilling near the coast.
- Chaotic and deadly conditions on Rikers Island prison complex in New York City:
New York’s Rikers Island, one of the largest and most notorious jails in the world, is reaching a breaking point after more than a dozen incarcerated people died this year alone, in what elected officials and advocates are calling a humanitarian crisis.
Most of the 5,700 people held in jail in New York City are held in Rikers, with the majority awaiting trial because they cannot afford the high bail set by the judges presiding over their case.
“People were relieving themselves into bags. They were sleeping on floors,” Cabán said. “These were the kinds of things you think about if they were happening in another country, you would believe without any hesitation that these were human rights violations. Nobody should ever be treated or kept in these conditions.”
Of the 11 people who officially died in custody at Rikers in 2021 so far, five were suicides and the remaining cases are under investigation […]. The deaths of two additional incarcerated men, Tomas Carlo Camacho and Victor Mercado, are not counted as “in-custody” since they were granted compassionate release before dying in hospital.
- 400 VIPs take private jets to climate summit.
- California court says drug companies aren’t liable for the state’s opioid crisis:
This state court ruling in California comes as drug overdose deaths have continued to soar nationwide, killing nearly 100,000 Americans in a 12-month period, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Elon Musk criticised the billionaire’s tax, would use the money to get to Mars instead.
- U.S. lawyer who won $9.5 billion settlement against Chevron reports to prison after being prosecuted by private law firm:
After the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute the case, Judge Kaplan took the rare step of appointing a private law firm, Seward & Kissel, to prosecute Mr. Donziger in the name of the U.S. government […].
Seward & Kissel has represented many oil and gas companies throughout the years, including Chevron in 2018.
- U.S. post-9/11 laws used to charge people guilty of an errant cough with “terroristic threats”:
While she was in custody, police said she coughed “in close proximity” to officers, and said she had Covid-19, though no dashboard, body or in-station videos exist to prove the assertion either way.
The allegation has landed Lewis, who otherwise has no criminal history, with a potentially ruinous terrorism charge – one that could land her in prison for 10 years and leave her with a $150,000 fine.
- Number of credit cards in U.S. hits all-time high:
The number of credit cards in America hit an all-time high of 520 million in the third quarter of this year […].
Household debt now totals more than $15 trillion, of which $800 billion is in credit cards, and another $1.4 trillion is in auto loans.
- Google sends anti-regulation propaganda to small businesses using Google Maps.
- Syrian refugee died at Belarus border:
It brings the death toll now to at least nine reported victims […].
Many of the migrants are from Syria, Iraq, or elsewhere in the Middle East, people seeking to flee conflict and hopelessness for the prospect of better lives in Europe.
Many of the reported incidents at the border are very hard to verify. Independent journalists face limits to their reporting in Belarus, and a state of emergency in Poland’s border zone prevents media from entering the area.
- Bitcoin mine opened in Navajo Nation where many residents live without basic utilities.
- Two dead, 450 arrested in Chile protest violence:
Two people died, 56 were injured and 450 arrested as clashes broke out in Chile during mass street protests to mark the second anniversary of a social uprising […].
Authorities detained 450 people throughout the country, 279 of those in Santiago, while 11 civilians and 45 police officers were injured.
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in 50 locations around the country to mark the anniversary of the street protests led by students and sparked by a hike in metro fares.
The unrest that followed left 34 dead and 460 people with eye injuries, including some that lost their sight, from pellets and tear gas fired by police.
- PhD student in U.K. had to live in a tent for two years due to low income.
- Minneapolis police used “drive-by” shooting tactics against civilians:
[H]e ordered his officers to shoot at the group with 40 mm marking rounds. The projectiles have a foam tip and are coated with green paint; they’re fired out of a launcher at 90 miles an hour, often from close range.
It was only after shooting at and pepper-spraying the group that the officers learned it included the gas station owner, his family and friends. […]
The officers continued driving west. […] The officers slid open the door of their unmarked van and fired 40 mm foam rounds at them. One of the civilians shot back with a handgun.
Even as Stallings complied with their commands, Bittell and officer Justin Stetson kicked and punched him before Bittell ordered a stop to it.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office would eventually charge Stallings with attempted murder and assault. […]
Stallings told the jury that he had a credible fear of white supremacist groups roaming Minneapolis to inflame tensions. Not knowing the shooters were police, Stallings said he fired in self-defense.
So far no officers have been disciplined for their actions in response to the riot.
- U.S. house prices are rising exponentially faster than income:
From 2019 to 2021, the average house-price-to-income ratio increased from 4.7 to 5.4 — a 14.9% increase that’s more than double the recommended ratio of 2.6. In other words, homes cost 5.4x what the average person earns in one year.
[S]ince 1965, average home values have skyrocketed from $171,942 to $374,900 — a 118% increase. Meanwhile, median household income crept up just 15%, from $59,920 to $69,178 in 2021-inflation-adjusted dollars.
- Black students in Georgia were suspended for planning a protest after white students waved a Confederate flag and allegedly used racial slurs.
- Microsoft becomes the world’s most valuable company, with nearly $2.49 trillion market cap.
- Meth overdose deaths in the U.S. almost tripled from 2015 to 2019:
During that time span, meth-related overdoses rose from 5,526 to 15,489. This was accompanied by a 43 percent increase in people reporting meth use. Researchers believe over 2 million adults used meth during the period, up from 1.4 million.
- Texas energy grid still unprepared for cold weather:
When the freak arctic blast hit Texas in February, it sent a shockwave through the U.S. energy capital, triggering a cascade of failures. At its peak, the storm took down nearly two-thirds of the power supply on the Texas grid, causing widespread blackouts and, ultimately, at least 210 deaths. […]
By opting not to winterize—a process the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas estimates costs between $20,000 and $50,000 per new oil and gas well—the gas sector would be saving cash […]. Operators are also betting that enough of their own wells will remain open even if rivals’ freeze, potentially reaping eye-wateringly high prices. Due to February’s storm, power companies lost billions of dollars and several went bankrupt; gas sellers, meanwhile, ended up with an $11 billion windfall as demand for limited gas supplies spiked.
- World is failing to make changes needed to avoid climate breakdown, report finds.
- 1 in 4 tenant households in Germany in danger of poverty.
- Crypto-currency “Shiba inu” has lifted its market value to $40 billion, increased more than 950% in the past month.
- 2% of Elon Musk’s wealth could solve world hunger, says director of U.N. food scarcity organization:
Tesla chief executive Musk has a net worth of nearly $289 billion […]. The net worth of US billionaires has almost doubled since the pandemic began, standing at $5.04 trillion in October, according to progressive groups Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness.
Half of the population of Afghanistan – 22.8 million people – face an acute hunger crisis […]. Rampant unemployment and a liquidity crisis means the country is teetering on the edge of a humanitarian crisis and 3.2 million children under the age of five are at risk, the report concluded.
- U.K. prime minister jokes about “feeding humans to animals” to “redress the sad imbalance” on the planet to children.
- U.K. faces bus driver shortage as heavy goods vehicle industry offers better pay due to lorry driver shortage:
It’s thought there are more than 4,000 vacancies for bus and coach drivers across the UK.
Some companies have been forced to cancel services because not enough drivers are available.
- Wisconsin lawmakers approved a bill that would expand labor laws, allowing 14-year-olds to work until 11 p.m.
- Amazon, Inc. given contract worth £500m to £1bn to store data for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
- Dozens of U.S. judges have reported share purchases and sales made while they presided in suits involving those companies:
The Wall Street Journal discovered this trading in a broad investigation that identified 131 federal judges who heard hundreds of cases between 2010 and 2018 involving companies in which they or a family member owned stock—in violation of federal law and judicial-ethics rules.
- Desperate Haitians suffocate under growing power of gangs:
Gangs control up to 40% of Port-au-Prince, a city of more than 2.8 million people where gangs fight over territory daily. The street that belonged to one group yesterday may belong to a rival group the next day. […]
In July, a gang opened fire on an ambulance and killed a nurse. The following month, gang violence forced Doctors Without Borders to close its Martissant clinic. On a recent Saturday, a group of armored police vehicles tried to cross the area and were shot at. The body of a dead civilian lay on the ground for the rest of the day.
Experts believe much of this activity is driven by extreme poverty in a country where 60% of the population makes less than $2 a day and millions of people go hungry.
- Only 14% of promised Covid vaccine doses reach poorest nations. Just 261m of the 1.8bn doses pledged by wealthy nations have arrived in low-income countries.
- Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, and other countries lobbying U.N. to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels.
- Rising number of Brazilians are trying to migrate to U.S.:
More than 46,000 Brazilians were detained at the US southern border between October 2020 and August 2021, […] compared with fewer than 18,000 in 2019 and 284 a decade earlier. The number of Ecuadorians has also soared, with nearly 89,000 apprehended over the same period, compared with about 13,000 in 2019.
- U.K. schools will use facial recognition to speed up lunch payments.
- Arthritis drug in U.S. cost $198 in 2008. Now it’s more than $10,000:
In 2008, a box of 30 anti-inflammatory rectal suppositories that treats arthritis, called Indocin, had a price tag of $198. As of Oct. 1, the price of that same box was 52 times higher, totaling $10,350.
- The wealthiest 10% of Americans own a record 89% of all U.S. stocks.
- Ecuador declares state of emergency over crime wave:
Authorities will have the power to restrict freedom of movement, assembly and association for two months in a bid to curb the growing number of homicides, home burglaries and robberies.
Ecuador has already registered almost 1,900 murders this year — more than the 1,400 registered in the whole of 2020.
The Andean nation is also dealing with a spate of prison riots that have left almost 240 people dead this year. The violence is often down to conflicts between rival drug gangs.
An armed insurrection at a prison in the southwestern city of Guayaquil […] led to one of the biggest prison massacres in Latin American history. Members of groups linked to Mexican and Colombian cartels made a bid to take control of the prison — 119 people were killed in the fighting.
- Hacker steals government I.D. database for Argentina’s entire population.
- U.S. border agents engaged in “shocking abuses” against asylum seekers:
A stash of redacted documents released to the human rights group after six years of legal tussles uncover more than 160 cases of misconduct and abuse by leading government agencies, notably Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Border Patrol. The papers record events between 2016 and 2021 that range from child sexual assault to enforced hunger, threats of rape and brutal detention conditions.
- Mass starvation occurring in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray.
- U.S. throws out millions of doses of Covid vaccine as world goes wanting.
- Canon printers disable included scanner when they run out of ink.
- U.K. spies incited mass murder of Indonesia’s communists in the 1960s, newly declassified papers reveal:
British officials secretly deployed black propaganda in the 1960s to urge prominent Indonesians to “cut out” the “communist cancer”.
It is estimated that at least 500,000 people – some estimates go to three million – linked to the Indonesia Communist party (PKI) were eliminated between 1965 and 1966.
As the massacres started in October 1965 British officials called for “the PKI and all communist organisations” to “be eliminated”. The nation, they warned, would be in danger “as long as the communist leaders are at large and their rank and file are allowed to go unpunished”.
- Researchers show Facebook’s ad tools can target a single user.
- British Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments suffer from dangerous levels of handover delays:
Doctors are warning that accident and emergency departments are on the “edge of a precipice”, with patients forced to wait in ambulances for up to 11 hours outside hospitals.
Paramedics across Britain have reported queues of up to 20 ambulances waiting outside hospitals to transfer patients into emergency departments operating at full capacity. Every ambulance service in the country is now at the highest level of alert, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) said this weekend.
- Tesla rolls out Safety Score-based insurance product in Texas:
The company says it will evaluate driving behavior in real-time using the “Safety Score” feature that it recently launched to screen drivers who want to join the beta test of the company’s “Full Self-Driving” beta software.
That means drivers might wind up paying less — or more — per month based on how many forward collision warnings they rack up, how hard they brake, how “aggressively” they turn, how much distance they leave to the car in front, and whether they keep their hands on the wheel when using Autopilot. Tesla used some driving behavior metrics to develop premiums in California, but they were not real-time and relied more on statistical evaluations.
- Most Canadians believe Facebook harms their mental health, survey suggests.
- Robot dog armed with sniper rifle unveiled at U.S. Army trade show.
- Amazon, Inc. copied products and rigged search results to promote its own brands, documents show.
- Best Buy requires $200/year membership in U.S. to order PlayStation 5 and other electronics:
If you’re still searching for a PS5 and are a Best Buy customer, your ship may have just come in—that is, if you’re willing to spend an extra $200 a year for access.
That’s because the big-box electronics retailer is locking stock of in-demand holiday items like Sony’s console behind membership of its new Totaltech program. The expensive customer service package was recently rolled out nationwide.
- Austrian chancellor under investigation for using government money in corrupt deal to influence media coverage:
A statement from prosecutors said raids had been carried out in several locations, including at two government ministries, as part of the investigation […].
Prosecutors say that Kurz and nine other individuals, as well as three organisations, are under investigation over the affair. The essence of the allegations is that between 2016 and 2018, “resources from the finance ministry were used to finance partially manipulated opinion polls that served an exclusively party political interest”.
- Italy: 74 cm of rain in 12 hours sets new European record as extreme weather lashes country.
- Brutal efforts to push back migrants along the border of Bosnia and Croatia uncovered:
[…] [S]pecial Croatian police units, called “intervention police” were involved in an illegal effort to force migrants back into Bosnia.
Video evidence and police sources said the beatings, delivered mostly by police batons, were ordered by the Croatian government, in what has been dubbed by officials as “Operation Corridor.”
The police units usually hide their identity by wearing unmarked uniforms and balaclavas over their faces […].
The Pakistanis and Afghans they met were soaking wet and some were barefoot or wearing only socks. They showed off their injuries, which included long purple welts covering their backs, along with bruises and bleeding gashes on their upper arms and elbows.
The team of reporters noted Operation Corridor was partly funded by the EU. Between 2014 and the present, approximately €177 million ($205 million) has been granted to Zagreb for “migration management”.
- Reports of physical and sexual violence as Libya arrests 5,000 migrants in a week. Raids by the security forces leave at least one man dead, as official observers decry “inhumane” detention conditions.
- Granddaughter of Mussolini wins seat in Rome municipal vote:
Rachele Mussolini said she wanted nothing to do with the “burden” of her surname. The far-right politician insisted her success was because of her hard work, not her family history.
- British dairy farmers forced to pour tens of thousands of litres of milk away due rising costs and labour shortages.
- British food banks warn of smaller parcels due to driver supply shortages.
- Tropical cyclone batters Oman and Iran.
- Video leak shows rampant torture at Russian prisons.
- Pipeline company paid Minnesota police for arresting and surveilling protesters:
[O]pponents, who identify as water protectors, attempted to stop the drilling, under skies that were thick with wildfire smoke from the west. “We were met with rubber bullets and Mace by a big line of police officers from multiple counties shooting at us at point blank range” […].
- Fossil fuel industry gets subsidies of $11m a minute, I.M.F. finds.
- Singapore introduces “patrol robots” to police “undesirable” behaviour such as smoking or breaching social-distancing rules.
- 14% of world’s coral lost in less than a decade, study shows.
- U.S. police mine Google for citizen’s location and search history.
- Facebook outage made Oculus Quest VR headset useless due to required online connection.
- One in six adults in Great Britain not able to buy essential foods.
- World food prices hit 10-year peak.
- U.S. schools gave kids laptops during the pandemic. Then they spied on them.
- Study reveals Android phones constantly snoop on their users.
- Boris Johnson’s holiday villa linked to offshore tax havens.
- Child suicides in Japan hit record high:
Japan’s education ministry says its latest annual survey shows the number of schoolchildren who killed themselves topped 400 for the first time. Also, a record high of over 190,000 students of elementary and junior high schools stopped attending.
- Self-Driving cars are mysteriously flocking to a dead-end street in San Francisco:
The Waymo cars purportedly come at all hours of the day, drive down the dead-end, make a multi-point turn and then return the way they came. […] A short while later, another Waymo car will come and do the exact same thing. Occasionally, […] there’ll be a queue of confused Waymo cars. One resident said there can be as many as 50 Waymo cars showing up during the day and that the odd parade of self-driving cars has been going on for at least six to eight weeks.
- McKinsey never told the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) it was working for opioid makers while also working for the agency.
- War crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, torture, enslavement, extrajudicial killings and rape have been committed in Libya since 2016, U.N. finds.
- Biggest ever leak of offshore data exposes financial secrets of rich and powerful.
Millions of documents reveal offshore deals and assets of more than 100 billionaires, 30 world leaders and 300 public officials,
including the King of Jordan, Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelenskiy:
Branded the Pandora papers, the cache includes 11.9m files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
They expose the secret offshore affairs of 35 world leaders, including current and former presidents, prime ministers and heads of state. They also shine a light on the secret finances of more than 300 other public officials such as government ministers, judges, mayors and military generals in more than 90 countries.
- Personal information of more than 1.5 billion Facebook users sold on hacker forum.
- People in Brazil scavenging through animal carcasses for food due to hunger crisis:
One 51-year-old scavenger, Denise da Silva, said she needed to feed her five children and 12 grandchildren having recently lost her partner. “It’s been so long since I saw a bit of meat, since before the pandemic … I’m so grateful for this,” Silva said of the fragments.
An estimated 19 million Brazilians have gone hungry since the start of a Covid outbreak that has killed 600,000 people. Elsewhere in the region the suffering is even more intense.
- 70% of U.S. millennials are living paycheck to paycheck, more than any other generation.
- C.I.A. planned to assassinate Julian Assange.
- U.S. identifies 12th Tesla Autopilot car crash involving emergency vehicle.
- Military leaders saw pandemic as unique opportunity to test propaganda techniques on Canadians.
- Cryptocurrency miners are striking deals with operators of struggling nuclear plants.
- Murders spiked in 2020 in cities across the United States. The year-to-year increase in homicides from 2019 was the largest since national record-keeping began in 1960.
- International Chess Federation (FIDE) agreed to deal with breast enlargement sponsor for women’s chess.
- U.S. utility companies raked in millions of dollars in taxpayer bailout funds last year—while continuing to shut off service for households across the U.S. during the pandemic:
In the 17 states where there was available data on shutoffs, the report found that the 16 utilities operating in those states cut off electric services for their customers nearly 1 million times between February 2020 and June 2021.
- Apple and Disney among companies backing groups against U.S. climate bill.
- Fuel pumps run dry in British cities, sowing supply chain chaos. U.K. government mobilises army to supply petrol stations.
- New craze for a drug derived from crushed vehicle exhaust filters alarms Kinshasa, Congo:
The brown powder is obtained from crushing the ceramic honeycomb core of automotive catalytic converters, the device that cuts the emission of toxic gases in vehicle exhaust pipes.
Users mix the crushed honeycomb with vitamin pills and typically add sleeping tablets, sedatives or smoke it with tobacco […].
- Pandemic behind biggest fall in life expectancy in western Europe since second world war.
- Unfinished Alabama nuclear power plant is given up 46 years after construction began, with $5 billion spent.
- U.S. federal agencies intensively use secret gag orders to obtain digital data of citizens:
In the last six months of 2020, Facebook received 61,262 government requests for user data in the United States […]. Most — 69 percent — came with secrecy orders. Meanwhile, Microsoft has received between 2,400 and 3,500 secrecy orders from federal law enforcement each year since 2016 — or seven to 10 per day […].
Google and Apple declined to disclose the number of gag orders they’ve received. But in the first half of 2020, Google said U.S. law enforcement made 39,536 requests for information about 84,662 accounts — with many of the requests targeting multiple accounts. Apple said it received 11,363 requests.
Some tech company officials have accused prosecutors of reflexively requesting gag orders for routine investigations, regardless of whether the cases actually require such secrecy.
- Chinese property giant Evergrande collapses:
[…] Evergrande – a Fortune Global 500 company – has become the country’s most indebted developer, with more than $300bn (£220bn) in liabilities, dozens of sprawling residential projects stalled and an estimated 1.5 million unfinished apartments that it needs to deliver to investors.
The rush to build has caused numerous problems, including risky finances, poor construction – dramatically demonstrated in viral footage of the mass demolition of 15 high-rises in the city of Kunming – and huge oversupply. Analysts have estimated 90 million people could be housed in the empty properties.
- German Bundeswehr orders remakes of 40 years old radio devices for €20,000 each, after years of stalled digitalisation.
- German federal government spent more than €1 billion for external consultants since 2017.
- More than 40 children with non-Haitian passports at U.S. border deported to Haiti:
Haiti is still reeling from the political fallout of its president's assassination this summer, and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August that left over 2,000 people dead. Capital city Port-au-Prince – where many migrants are arriving – is plagued with violent crime, arson and kidnappings for profit.
According to UNICEF, two out of three Haitian migrants who have been returned from the United States border to Port-au-Prince are women and children, including newborn babies with specific needs.
- U.S. company sold iPhone hacking tools to a group of mercenaries hired by the United Arab Emirates.
- Apple and Google remove voting app in Russia.
- Global internet freedom declined for the 11th consecutive year:
Officials suspended internet access in at least 20 countries, and 21 states blocked access to social media platforms. Authorities in at least 45 countries are suspected of obtaining sophisticated spyware or data-extraction technology from private vendors.
- German police raids home of Twitter user who called local minister Andy Grote a “willy”.
- Apple, Inc. blocked a Watch keyboard app, then announced a clone of it.
- G.M. recommended Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle owners to park 50 feets away from other cars, citing potential fire risks.
- Wikimedia lawsuit against N.S.A. dismissed on “state security” grounds:
A U.S. federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit by the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, that challenged the National Security Agency’s mass interception and searching of Americans’ international internet communications.
[…] [T]he 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the lawsuit must be dismissed after the government invoked the “state secrets privilege”, which meant that a full exploration of the issue in a court would damage national security.
- U.S. police mines Google for citizen’s location and search history.
- Greek coast guard regularly throws refugees from vessels, directly into the sea, and tells them they have to swim ashore:
This kind of inhuman and extreme behavior from the Hellenic Coast Guard is unfortunately not unusual, several have previously reported to have gotten the same treatment, left at sea and had to swim ashore, outside Lesvos, Samos and especially Chios.
- Facebook knows Instagram is toxic for teen girls, company documents show.
- Efood, Greece’s largest food delivery service, sent out a text message to 115 of their employees urging them to become freelancers, possibly accepting no benefits and less stable employment, or lose their jobs.
- Fossil fuel firms sue governments across the world for £13bn as climate policies threaten profits.
- Afghani humanitarian group worker killed “by mistake” in U.S. drone strike:
Times reporting has identified the driver as Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group. The evidence suggests that his travels that day actually involved transporting colleagues to and from work. And an analysis of video feeds showed that what the military may have seen was Mr. Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water into his trunk to bring home to his family.
While the U.S. military said the drone strike might have killed three civilians, Times reporting shows that it killed 10, including seven children, in a dense residential block.
- Almost 90% of the $540 billion in global farm subsidies harm people and planet, U.N. finds.
- Amazon’s A.I. cameras are punishing drivers for mistakes they didn’t make:
In February, Amazon announced that it would install cameras made by the AI-tech startup Netradyne in its Amazon-branded delivery vans as an “innovation” to “keep drivers safe.” As of this month, Amazon had fitted more than half of its delivery fleet nationwide with this technology […].
Amazon drivers believe that AI-powered surveillance cameras have served as a cost-saving measure for the company. Amazon delivery drivers and delivery companies, known as “delivery service partners,” which contract with Amazon and employ drivers, have reported losing income from erroneous citations registered by Netradyne.
- São Paulo (Brazil) is facing a homelessness crisis, as recent prices become too heavy of a burden for an increasingly impoverished population:
Across Brazil, at least 14,300 families were evicted from March 2020 to June 2021, and another 85,000 are threatened with eviction, according to the organisation Zero Evictions (Despejo Zero).
In São Paulo state alone, nearly 4,000 have been evicted, with 34,000 more threatened with eviction, it found.
A few blocks away, Marcio Machado of the Power of God World Church, a Brazilian Evangelical mega-church, oversees the handout of 800 free breakfasts for the poor – double what the church was distributing before the pandemic.
- Facebook says its rules apply to all. Company documents reveal a secret elite that’s exempt.
- L.A.P.D. officers told to collect social media data on every civilian they stop:
The Los Angeles police department (LAPD) has directed its officers to collect the social media information of every civilian they interview, including individuals who are not arrested or accused of a crime, according to records shared with the Guardian.
- Record number of environmental activists murdered:
227 people were killed around the world in 2020, the highest number recorded for a second consecutive year, the report from Global Witness said.
Almost a third of the murders were reportedly linked to resource exploitation – logging, mining, large-scale agribusiness, hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure.
- Protestors against the International Motor Show Germany in Munich are taken in preventive arrest by police.
- Germany’s federal police agency secretly purchased and used controversial spyware “Pegasus”:
Pegasus can also enable the microphone and video functions to spy in real-time. Operators can use it to record conversations, access settings, read location data, and even circumvent the encryption on text messages.
NSO claims it has only sold the spyware to government entities, but privacy advocates say that is no assurance that the software will not be abused. […] [V]arious news outlets had uncovered a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers of potential Pegasus targets. Among them were human rights activists, journalists, multiple heads of state, government ministers, and senior diplomats.
- Facebook and Ray-Ban are making camera glasses.
- Europe had its hottest summer on record.
- During the U.S. protests between 26 May and 27 July 2020, law enforcement officials shot 115 people in the head with “less lethal weapons”. Of these victims, at least 30 suffered permanent ocular.
- Wall Street is looking to Reddit for investment advice:
[…] Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley are tracking the retail trading frenzy, and hedge funds in New York and London have employees combing through the internet forum of Reddit, Twitter or chat startup Discord in search of trading opportunities. They turned to these sources following a period of market mayhem dominated by amateurs on Reddit’s WallStreetBets and the Robinhood Markets Inc. trading app who collectively boosted the shares of GameStop Corp. and other companies […].
- Google Play app store revenue hit $11.2 bln in 2019.
- U.S. consumer debt soared to $14.64 trillion in the first three months of the year. The amount of outstanding auto loans also reached a record.
- U.K. government rescued 173 cats and dogs out of Afghanistan.
- Wisconsin school board suggests kids might get “spoiled” by free lunch:
The Waukesha School District opted out of a federally funded program that provided free lunch to all kids regardless of income in June, arguing that it could leave families “addicted” to free food […].
- U.S. shared list of names of aides they want to evacuate from Afghanistan with Taliban.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is falsifying risk assessments for dangerous chemicals, according to whistleblowers.
- Military contractor Blackwater charges $6,500 to evacuate people from Afghanistan.
- Samsung South Africa has announced the implementation of a remote Television Block Function on all Samsung TV sets.
- Deforestation in Brazilian Amazon hits highest annual level in a decade.
- Amazon, Inc. accused of firing employee for taking too many bathroom breaks due to a medical condition.
- U.S. man spent a year in jail on a murder charge that hinged on disputed A.I. evidence:
A key piece of evidence against him came from ShotSpotter, a company that operates microphones spread across US cities including Chicago that, with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, detect and identify gunshot sounds to immediately alert the cops.
[R]ecords showed ShotSpotter actually initially picked up what sounded like a firework a mile away. This was later reclassified by ShotSpotter staff – one of whom used to work for the Chicago Police Department – to be a gunshot at the intersection where and when Williams was seen on camera.
- Greece extends border wall to deter Afghans trying to reach Europe.
- Apple defends iPhone photo scanning, calls it an “advancement” in privacy.
- Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. ran thousands of Clearview A.I. facial recognition searches – often without the knowledge of the public or even their own departments:
[…] [M]ore than 7,000 individuals from nearly 2,000 public agencies nationwide have used Clearview AI to search through millions of Americans’ faces, looking for people, including Black Lives Matter protesters, Capitol insurrectionists, petty criminals, and their own friends and family members.
- Tim Cook gets $750 million bonus on 10th anniversary as Apple C.E.O.
- U.K. Border Force to send boats carrying migrants back across Channel.
- Amazon, Inc. proposes “wish lists” for U.S. teachers:
By purchasing items from hundreds of teachers’ Wish Lists this back-to-school season, Amazon is working to ensure teachers can fill their classrooms with the items they need, from essential school supplies like pencils and markers to books to help stock up the classroom library.
- BlackBerry resisted announcing major flaw in software powering cars, hospital equipment.
- Western U.S. states face first federal water cuts.
- F.B.I. no-fly terrorist watchlist leaked, with 1.9 million records exposed, detailing individuals’ no-fly statuses, full names, citizenship, genders, passport numbers, and more:
Undoubtedly, a few of the names in that sea of records are going to belong to innocent people. The no-fly list is notorious for branding innocent individuals as potential threats to national security based on faulty data, and then making it near-impossible for them to get their names off. This past April, a Michigan man partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union to sue FBI Director Christopher Wray after the agency falsely accused him of being a Hezbollah agent and slapped him with the “no-fly” label.
- CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter used to evacuate the U.S. embassy in Saigon in 1975 used to evacuate the U.S. embassy in Kabul in 2021.
- More than 1,000 people have been killed by security forces in Myanmar since the military seized power about six months ago.
- U.K. house prices rise at fastest rate since 2004, 13.2% increase since last year:
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the average house price across the UK increased by £31,000 to £266,000 over the past year – or just over £2,500 a month.
- Taliban takes power in Afghanistan again within one week after U.S.-lead forces left country after 20 years. As women lose gains they made over the past two decades, burqa prices surge tenfold. People fall from plane as thousands attempt to flee Kabul at any cost, while German plane evacuated only seven people.
- U.S. asks Taliban to spare its embassy in coming fight for Kabul.
- At least 2,000 people died, 10,000 injured after Haiti earthquake, leaving 30,000 people homeless, while the country is struggling with the coronavirus, gang violence and the assassination of its President.
- Drivers for Elon Musk’s Loop system in Las Vegas get a script about what to say to passengers:
[…] [T]he script provides a number of replies to common Musk questions. Ask what Musk is like and you should expect the answer: “He’s awesome! Inspiring / motivating / etc.”
Follow up with: “Do you like working for him?” and you’ll get a response that could have come straight from North Korea: “Yup, he’s a great leader! He motivates us to do great work.”
- Data of more than 53 million people exposed in T-Mobile breach.
- Some 42 million people in the U.S. – about one in eight – receive foodstamps.
- Activist raided by U.K. police after downloading London property firm’s “confidential” documents from Google Search.
- Turkey expands its prison system to jail more opponents:
Satellite imagery reveals construction on 131 prisons beginning between July 2016 and March 2021, with Turkish Ministry of Justice documents and press reports indicating nearly 100 additional facilities under consideration by Erdogan’s government.
So far, the post-coup building spree is set to increase the total capacity of Turkey’s prisons by more than 70 percent, to at least 320,000 from around 180,000 in 2016.
Construction has marked a huge outlay for a struggling economy and cash-strapped government.
Government sources place the cost at between 11.2 billion and 13 billion Turkish lira ($1.3 billion to $1.5 billion).
- More than 212,000 migrants tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in one month, including nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children.
- Homeless encampment grows on Apple, Inc. property in Silicon Valley.
- Warner Bros. is using personalised deepfakes for its latest movie promotion.
- Private schools in England give pupils top grades in 70% of A-level entries.
- Elon Musk received $6.7 billion in compensation in 2020.
- Lebanon’s worsening fuel crisis spurs violence:
Lebanon has faced months of severe fuel shortages that have prompted long lines at petrol stations and plunged the small country — dependent on private generators for power — into long hours of darkness.
[…] The crisis worsened when the government reduced subsidies on fuel amid a deepening financial crisis unfolding since 2019.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said that in one incident, a gunfight erupted over a fuel-sale deal, apparently following a disagreement — and the encounter left two men dead.
[…] [T]he agency said the men exchanged fire and at one point, a hand grenade was thrown.
- Zoom to pay $85M for lying about encryption and sending data to Facebook and Google ($15 to $25 per user).
- Apple, Inc. removes queer social network app from AppStore Turkey.
- N.S.A. awards secret $10 billion contract to Amazon, Inc.
- Tax on billionaires’ Covid windfall could vaccinate every adult on Earth:
This one-time tax on the world’s 2,690 billionaires could also cover $20,000 in cash paid to all unemployed workers […].
That tax would still leave the billionaires with $55bn more than they had before the pandemic […].
- Parents of 337 children separated at border under last U.S. administration still not found.
- N.Y.P.D. secretly spent $159 million on surveillance tech.
- Fire at Bangladesh food processing factory leaves at least 52 people dead who were trapped by flames:
Fires are common in Bangladesh due to the lax enforcement of safety rules. In February 2019, 70 people died when an inferno ripped through several Dhaka apartment blocks.
- July was Earth’s hottest month on record.
- Facebook shut down German research on Instagram algorithm.
- At least 69 people die in devasting wildfires in Algeria.
- Wildfires rage in Greece, Italy, and Russia:
A Russian weather monitor said on Monday the forest fires ravaging Siberia were worsening as Nasa satellite images showed smoke from burning forests travelling 1,850 miles (3,000 km) to reach the north pole, calling it “a first in recorded history”.
- U.S. ranks last in healthcare among 11 wealthiest countries despite spending most.
- Scotland’s drug-related deaths are at the highest level since records began in 1996.
- Facebook bans researchers who were investigating Facebook ads.
- Instagram blocks Olympic sprint champion for posting videos of her own races, citing copyright violations.
- First A.I.-enabled drones are used in war zones:
The new Turkish-made Kargu-2 quadcopter drone can allegedly autonomously track and kill human targets on the basis of facial recognition and artificial intelligence—a big technological leap from the drone fleets requiring remote control by human operators. A United Nations Security Council report claims the Kargu-2 was used in Libya to mount autonomous attacks on human targets. According to the report, the Kargu-2 hunted down retreating logistics and military convoys, “attack[ing] targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition.”
- Amazon will pay customers $10 in credit for their palm print biometrics.
- Médecins sans Frontières closes hospital in Haiti due to rising gang violence.
- Colombia call centre staff pressured to sign a contract that lets their employer install cameras in their homes to monitor work performance.
- German waiter who depends on additional social security must have his benefits shortened because his employer provides free meals to him, court finds.
- Germany’s 30-year government borrowing costs fell below 0%:
Inflation-adjusted or “real” German 10-year bond yields meanwhile fell to a new record low of minus 1.878%.
- Uber requires non-disclosure agreement before helping car-jacked driver.
- U.S. wealth grew by $19 trillion during the pandemic — but mostly for the very rich.
- 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet:
Recent analysis of global food price data reveals that as of 2017, the latest available year, around 40% of the world’s population was already forced to consume poor-quality diets by a combination of high food prices and low incomes. When healthy items are unaffordable, it is impossible for people to avoid malnutrition and diet-related diseases like anemia or diabetes.
- New York City restaurant unveils $200 french fries.
- Hunger crisis forces even middle-class Indians to line up for rations:
All of that is leading to an increase in hunger, particularly in urban areas, in a nation that already accounts for nearly a third of the world’s malnourished people. While few statistics are available, migrants and workers at food distribution centers in major Indian cities say they can’t remember seeing lines this long of people yearning for something to eat.
[…] [T]he daily average wage for about 230 million Indians — enough to make the world’s fifth-largest nation — dropped below the 375-rupee ($5) threshold […].
The number of people living in households with daily incomes below $5 level spiked from 298.6 million, at the start of the outbreak in March 2020 to 529 million at the end of October […].
- Food prices in Lebanon have soared 700% in the last two years:
The Mediterranean country is battling what the World Bank has described as one of the planet’s worst financial crises since the 1850s, which has left more than half the population living below the poverty line.
The cash-strapped country is struggling to import enough fuel to keep its power plants online, sparking electricity cuts for up to 23 hours a day in most areas.
- U.S. construction firm allegedly stole more than $20 million from workers’ fringe benefits such as retirement and health insurance, using the money to pad its bottom line, undercut competitors, and fund internal projects and company bonuses.
- President of Haiti assasinated by death squad:
More than three weeks after assailants stormed Mr. Moïse’s residence and shot him 12 times in his bedroom, Haitian investigators have detained or are seeking more than 50 suspects. But none of the 44 detained — including the 18 retired Colombian commandos accused of taking part in the assault on the presidential residence and the more than a dozen security officers entrusted with protecting Mr. Moïse — have been charged or brought to court.
Run-of-the-mill corruption also seems to have marred the investigation. Court documents show that two Colombian former soldiers killed after the assassination were found with about $42,000 in cash on or near their bodies. In subsequent police reports, the money is not listed among the evidence found at the scene.
- U.S. home prices hit another all-time high, up 23% over last year.
- In U.S., more than 15 million people live in households that owe as much as $20 billion to their landlords.
- Dollar stores make up nearly half of all new store openings in U.S. this year:
Dollar store openings had been on the rise even before the pandemic, but economic fallout over the last year has exacerbated wealth inequality. […] [D]ollar stores proliferate in low-income neighborhoods where fresh produce and other healthy food access are scarce.
- No summer break: 35 million in E.U. can’t afford holidays.
- Pfizer and Moderna hiked their Covid-19 vaccine prices in the E.U. after AstraZeneca lost popularity there.
- Anti-Semitic social posts “not taken down” in 80% of cases.
- London Science Museum signed gagging order with Shell over climate change exhibition:
In a contract released […] under freedom of information laws, the museum said it would not “make any statement or issue any publicity or otherwise be involved in any conduct or matter that may reasonably be foreseen as discrediting or damaging the goodwill or reputation of the Sponsor.”
- San Francisco will spend $12,000 per trash can prototype designed to prevent people from searching them:
After struggling to deal with complaints about garbage piling up on the city’s sidewalks and streets, the Board of Supervisors agreed […] to let Public Works spend more than $400,000 […] on the program. That money will cover creating and testing 15 custom-made design prototypes […] that have been in the works for three years as well as other parts of the program.
The city wants new bins to be tamper-proof, compared to the current cans that have easily broken locks and a wide opening at the top that can lead to “scavenged trash dumped onto sidewalks,” she said.
- Inhumane working conditions in U.S. potato chips factory:
Hundreds of workers are on strike at the Frito-Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas. Many of them are working 12-hour days, seven days a week, and some haven’t had a day off in five months — conditions that are literally killing them.
As Mark McCarter, a fifty-nine-year-old palletizer and union steward at the plant who has worked there for thirty-seven years, told Vice, “It seems like I go to one funeral a year for someone who’s had a heart attack at work or someone who went home to their barn and shot themselves in the head or hung themselves.”
And workers’ mental health isn’t their only concern. “When a coworker collapsed and died, you had us move the body and put in another coworker to keep the line going,” writes Cherie Renfro, one of the striking workers, in an open letter to Frito-Lay.
The result for the workers was misery; for the company, it was more than $4.2 billion in sales, partially responsible for a 14 percent spike in revenue for its parent company, PepsiCo, a Fortune 500 company with a rising stock.
- First upmarket commercial toilets in Ireland open:
In fact it will cost you €3.50 to go to the loo. But the man who has invested in these high end toilets says the price is right.
- While most of the S&P 100 energy and utility companies have made statements supporting the need for ambitious climate policies, nearly all have lobbied against them in U.S. Congress.
- 20 million U.S. adults – 10% of all adults in the country – reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat:
Adults in households with children were likelier to report that the household didn’t get enough to eat: 14 percent, compared to 7 percent for households without children. […] And 9 to 14 percent of adults with children reported that their children sometimes or often didn’t eat enough in the last seven days because they couldn’t afford it […].
[T]he data indicate that millions are having difficulty paying rent. An estimated 11.4 million adults living in rental housing — 16 percent of adult renters — were not caught up on rent […].
In addition, 21 percent of renters who are parents or otherwise live with children reported that they were not caught up on rent […].
Children in renter households also face high rates of food hardship. One in 4 children living in rental housing live in a household that didn’t have enough to eat […]. And over 1 in 3 children living in rental housing live in a household that either isn’t getting enough to eat or is not caught up on rent.
Some 63 million adults — 27 percent of all adults in the country — reported it was somewhat or very difficult for their household to cover usual expenses […].
- Since 2015, U.S. police have fatally shot more than 6,400 people:
The yearly toll even reached a new high of 1,021 fatal shootings in 2020.
- More than 800 wildfires in Italy. Wildfires burn across Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey in heatwave bringing temperatures above 40 °C.
- U.S. dealers see ammunition shortage as sales surge:
Manufacturers say they are producing as much as they can but in many gun stores shelves are sparse and prices are concurrently rising.
The FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System database also documented an increase in sales. In 2010, there were 14.4m background checks for gun purchases. That jumped to almost 39.7m in 2020 and 22.2m through June 2021.
To make up for domestic-production shortages, imports of ammunition from Russia, South Korea, the European Union and other sources were up 225% over the past two years […].
- World’s richest person thanks Amazon employees and customers for paying for his space flight.
- Canadian drug firm increased thyroid drug price by 6,000%:
The regulator said the NHS had spent more than £34m on the drug last year, up from about £600,000 in 2006. The amount it paid per pack rose from £4.46 in 2007 to £258.19 by July 2017.
The price of a single pill went up from 16p to £9.22, even though production costs remained broadly stable during that period […].
For many patients there is no alternative and, until this year, Concordia was the only supplier.
- U.K. Home Office set up fake website to deter asylum seekers with “misleading” claims.
- Turkish fires sweeping through tourist areas are the hottest on record:
The heat intensity of wildfires in Turkey […] was four times higher than anything on record for the nation, according to satellite data […].
After deadly heatwaves in the Americas, floods in Europe and China, and fires in Siberia, the scenes of destruction in Turkey add to concerns about the growing ferocity of extreme weather in a climate-disrupted world.
- Amazon, Inc. delivery companies routinely tell drivers to bypass safety inspections and not report certain types of problems with their vans.
- Flooding and landslides have left more than 5,000 refugees in Bangladesh without shelter.
- At least 40 killed, many more missing in northern Afghanistan flash floods.
- Honolulu Police Department introduces “robotic dog”:
In Honolulu, the police department spent about $150,000 in federal pandemic relief money to buy their Spot from robotics firm Boston Dynamics for use at a government-run tent city near the airport.
[I]t has protected officers, shelter staff and residents by scanning body temperatures between meal times at a shelter where homeless people could quarantine and get tested for COVID-19. The robot is also used to remotely interview individuals who have tested positive.
- June heatwave was the “most extreme” on record for North America.
- 1 out of every 153 American workers is an Amazon employee.
- More than $1 trillion parked at Federal Reserve’s reverse repo:
An overabundance of cash in U.S. interest-rate markets has for the first time ever pushed the amount that investors are parking at a major central bank facility to more than $1 trillion.
- 52 people are being held in prison units in England and Wales in conditions that a U.N. human rights expert has said may amount to torture.
- U.S. consumers have reported losing more than $500 million to Covid-related fraud since the beginning of 2020.
- Migrant boat capsizes off Libya, killing 57, as regional toll for 2021 nears 1,000.
- Thousands of scientists warn climate tipping points “imminent”:
Thousands of scientists have repeated calls for urgent action to tackle the climate emergency, warning that several tipping points are now imminent.
The researchers, part of a group of more than 14,000 scientists who have signed on to an initiative declaring a worldwide climate emergency, said […] that governments had consistently failed to address “the overexploitation of the Earth”, which they described as the root cause of the crisis.
Since a similar assessment in 2019, they noted an “unprecedented surge” in climate-related disasters, including flooding in South America and Southeast Asia, record-shattering heatwaves and wildfires in Australia and the US, and devastating cyclones in Africa and South Asia.
- Peru hospital workers charged Covid-19 patients $21,000 per bed.
- Water thievery across California has increased to record levels.
- U.S. states require facial recognition to claim unemployment benefits.
- U.S. companies call for increased prison labour:
The restaurant industry in Michigan, Texas, Ohio and Delaware recently announced a prison work release program for the food service and hospitality industry.
In April, Russell Stover candy production facilities in Iola and Abilene, Kansas, began using prison labor through the Topeka correctional facility in response to staffing issues disrupting production lines.
About 150 prisoners work at the plant, making $14 an hour with no benefits or paid time off, while other workers start at higher wages with benefits and paid time off. Kansas also deducts 25% of prisoners’ pay for room and board, and another 5% goes toward a victim’s fund. The prisoners also must pay for gas for the nearly two-hour bus ride to and from the plant.
- Afghanistan civilian casualty figures at record high, U.N. says.
- New Zealand pandemic policies pushed 18,000 children into poverty.
- Nearly 40% of people in advanced economies have been fully vaccinated, compared to 11% in emerging market economies, and just 1% of people in low-income developing countries.
- Since the start of 2021, more than 70 people have been killed in South Africa “taxi wars”:
Taxi rivalries have sparked a guerrilla war that has been going on for decades in South Africa, after the deregulation of the taxi industry in 1987 made the field informal and at the mercy of corruption and competition.
An estimated 15 million people a day, or more than 60 percent of all public transport users, depend on these taxis in South Africa, preferred over buses and trains because of their availability and efficiency. Stoppages after attacks leave countless commuters stranded without transport, as entire taxi ranks shut down.
- New 120-mile ultra-marathon for the rich costs more than $20,000 to enter and comes with butlers and Michelin-starred chefs.
- Controversial neighborhood watch app pays New Yorkers $25 an hour to livestream crime scenes:
Citizen has raised $133 million from high-profile backers like Peter Thiel, as well as the Silicon Valley venture firms Sequoia Capital and Greycroft, by promising real-time safety alerts for users right where they live and work.
Citizen was first released in 2016 under the “Vigilante” moniker, but was kicked off Apple’s App Store one week after launch amid criticisms that it encouraged vigilantism.
- U.S. hospitals often charge uninsured people the highest prices:
Hospitals typically charge different customers different prices for the exact same service, with big discounts for some but not others.
- Tobacco group Philip Morris buys maker of breathing inhalers.
- Florida Sheriff’s Office uses predictive policing:
Last year, a Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed that the Sheriff’s Office creates lists of people it considers likely to break the law based on criminal histories, social networks and other unspecified intelligence. The agency sends deputies to their homes repeatedly, often without a search warrant or probable cause for an arrest.
[…] National policing experts drew comparisons to child abuse and surveillance that could be expected under an authoritarian regime.
The Times also found that the agency has a separate program that uses schoolchildren’s grades, attendance records and abuse histories to label them potential future criminals.
- Amazon asked Apple to remove an app that spots fake reviews, and Apple agreed.
- G20 states subsidised fossil fuels by $3 trillion since 2015.
- Minimum wage workers can’t afford average two bedroom rent anywhere in the U.S.
- India Covid-19 deaths cross four million, study shows – ten times higher than official records.
- Abuse and brutality in Naples prison, Italy:
More than 110 prison staff are under investigation, including eight in detention and 18 under house arrest. The regional director of prisons has been suspended.
- Devasting floods hit P.R. China:
Cleanup efforts were under way in Henan province and the capital city Zhengzhou on Thursday, after a record breaking rain storm flooded the city’s streets and subway, damaged dams and reservoirs, collapsed roads, cut power to at least one hospital and was linked to a massive explosion at a factory in Dengfeng city.
Authorities said 200,000 people were displaced by the floods and more than three million people were affected.
- 115 people died, nearly 90,000 evacuated, after India hit by floods.
- Extraordinary forest fires burned through 1.5 million hectares of land in north-east Siberia.
- More than 170 people die in devasting floods in southern Germany, 155 still missing.
- Thai police fire rubber bullets at protesters as Covid failures fuel anti-government anger.
- Rights activists, journalists and lawyers around the world have been targeted with phone malware sold to authoritarian governments by an Israeli surveillance firm:
Media outlets working on the investigation said they had identified more than 1,000 people spanning over 50 countries whose numbers were on the list.
They include politicians and heads of state, business executives, activists, and several Arab royal family members. More than 180 journalists were also found to be on the list, from organisations including CNN, the New York Times and Al Jazeera.
Many of the numbers were clustered in 10 countries: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the reports.
- Tesla is charging owners $1,500 for hardware they already paid for:
[…] Tesla started offering their long-awaited Full Self-Driving subscription package for $199/month. Along with the package, Tesla is offering a $1,500 hardware upgrade for early owners who have old hardware that is not capable of full self-driving tasks.
The problem is, Tesla previously told those same owners that their cars were capable of full self-driving tasks and isn’t allowing those owners to take advantage of the new subscription scheme without paying again for a hardware upgrade that they already paid for.
- At least 97 die in Florida condo collapse:
Records released by local authorities showed that an engineer […] warned in October 2018 that he had discovered “major structural damage” and a “major error” in the construction of the building.
- South Africa unrest leaves more than 200 dead:
South Africa has deployed 10,000 soldiers in addition to its police and expects to deploy 15,000 more in coming days even as the looting has lessened.
Youth unemployment is at a record 74 percent, according to government statistics. Hunger has risen sharply. And now businesses that employed and fed thousands of people have been ransacked or burned.
The damage from days of looting and arson is expected to run into billions of rands. KwaZulu-Natal Province already faces food and fuel shortages, a situation that some have warned could escalate into a humanitarian crisis. The price of a loaf of bread had doubled in KwaZulu-Natal since last week.
- Nearly 800 people believed to have died in U.S. and Canada heat wave.
- Samsung washing machine app requires access to smartphone contacts and location.
- Hunger death toll outpaces Covid-19 fatalities:
Oxfam reported that 11 people die of hunger each minute, outpacing the death toll of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed around seven people per minute.
The report said the number of people around the globe living with “extreme hunger” increased from last year by around 20 million to 155 million.
- A Facebook engineer abused access to user data to track down woman.
- “Heartbreaking” conditions in U.S. migrant child camp:
The tented camp in the Fort Bliss military base in El Paso, Texas, is the temporary home for over 2,000 teenaged children who have crossed the US-Mexico border alone and are now awaiting reunification with family in the US.
Findings from the BBC’s investigation include allegations of sexual abuse, Covid and lice outbreaks, a child waiting hours for medical attention, a lack of clean clothes and hungry children being served undercooked meat.
The Fort Bliss camp consists of at least 12 tents, some of which house hundreds of children at a time. The children spend most of their day in the tents, getting out for an hour or two of recreation, or to line up with hundreds of others for a meal.
“Hundreds of children have tested positive for Covid,” said one employee who asked to remain anonymous because staff are banned from speaking about the camp.
- German federal lawmakers generate €53 million in extra income.
- Amazon, Inc. has won U.S. permission to use radar to monitor consumers’ sleep habits.
- Germany introduces new surveillance laws, allowing intelligence services the use of spyware to hack into phones and computers:
But as several branches of the German police force and intelligence are facing allegations of infiltration by right wing extremists, privacy concerns are ever more sensitive. Since 2018 the contents of several racist chatgroups among officers have become public, which just this month led the state of Hesse to disband one of its most elite special units. From 2018 onward, private addresses of public figures speaking out against racism had been accessed from police computers in Hesse resulting in direct threats by right wing groups.
- Italy covers shrinking glacier to save it from summer heat.
- Extreme heat has killed an estimated 1 billion small sea creatures in Western U.S. and Canada over two weeks.
- Amazon, Inc. accused of inflating prices in U.K. during pandemic:
It claims to have uncovered 50 different items – including soap, antibacterial spray, face masks, and toilet paper – that were sold on Amazon “for at least double their usual price at the height of the pandemic last year.”
- U.S. gun maker sold kit that makes a real Glock pistol look like a children’s Lego toy.
- Twitter sees jump in government demands to remove content of reporters and news outlets:
In its transparency report published on Wednesday, Twitter said verified accounts of 199 journalists and news outlets on its platform faced 361 legal demands from governments to remove content in the second half of 2020, up 26% from the first half of the year.
- U.S. farm workers labour in deadly heat with only few protections:
California and Minnesota are the only two other states in the US with heat protections for workers, though Colorado has some limited protections.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 53 workers died in the US due to temperature extremes in 2019, and the climate crisis is creating more hazardous conditions for workers, as temperature extremes become more common.
- Thousands of flamingos die in drought in central Turkey.
- Hottest day on record measured in North Ireland.
- Amazon, Inc. tells managers to conceal when employees are on performance review.
- New York Bitcoin power plant is turning a 12,000-year-old glacial lake into a hot tub.
- Advertisers seek to plug into the dreams of consumers:
Coors encouraged people to watch a short online video before bed, then play an eight-hour “soundscape” through the night. If successful, this “targeted dream incubation” would trigger “refreshing dreams” of Coors, according to the company.
- Global retailers, including Uniqlo and the makers of Skechers shoes and Zara clothes, allegedly rely on forced labour of minorities in China’s Xinjiang region.
- North America endured hottest June on record:
At the start of the month, the record-breaking heatwave conditions were centred over the south-west of the US. They then moved over the north-west of the US and south-west Canada, causing more than 500 heat-related deaths and creating tinder for wildfires. The town of Lytton in British Columbia broke Canada’s heat record three days in a row. The latest hydrological bulletin shows many of the affected regions had unusually dry soil.
- Miami offers its nuclear power to Bitcoin miners as it aims to become crypto capital of the world.
- Argentina sees steep climb in poverty:
In the 31 large cities that were studied, the country’s poverty rate rose from 40.9 percent in the first half of the year to 42 percent in the second […].
This represented a steep climb of 6.5 percentage points from the last six months of 2019.
More than 57 percent of children up to age 14 lived in poverty, the data showed.
- Legislative staff of U.S. government make “poverty wages”.
- More than 230 people fatally shot in U.S. over the 4th of July weekend:
In New York, where gun violence has been rising to levels not seen in years, there were 35 victims -- two fatal -- from 29 shootings that occurred Friday to Monday, a decrease from the same period last year when 78 people were shot in 55 shootings […].
So far this year, gun violence incidents in New York have spiked almost 32% over the same period in 2020, with 773 shootings and 895 victims.
In Chicago […] 100 people were shot and 18 people were killed from 6 p.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Monday […]. There were 69 shooting incidents during that period, police said.
- Hungarian prime minister is the first European leader on Reporters Without Borders’ “enemy of press freedom” list.
- Thousands of people in India may have been scammed into getting fake Covid-19 vaccines:
More than 2,600 people went to camps in India to get COVID-19 vaccines but may have instead been scammed and given saltwater shots as part of a scheme […].
Authorities said they confiscated over $20,000 from the suspects. They said organizers of the sites, which included medical professionals, charged up to $17 per dose.
- Property price surge sparks bidding wars for homes globally:
From the U.S. to the U.K. to China, housing is riding an extended boom. Global valuations are soaring at the fastest pace since 2006, according to Knight Frank, with annual price increases in double digits. Frothy markets are flashing the kind of bubble warnings that haven’t been seen since the run up to the financial crisis […].
- U.S. police officers plays Taylor Swift to keep video of him off YouTube.
- Amazon contract drivers fired by A.I.
- 349 banks in Germany charging negative interest rates to private customers.
- U.S. summer camp is offering kids as young as 5 a crash course in cryptocurrencies.
- U.S. healthcare providers let computers decide who gets care:
The cuts have hit low income seniors and people with disabilities in Pennsylvania, Iowa, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Arkansas and other states, after algorithms became the arbiters of how their home health care was allocated – replacing judgments that used to be primarily made by nurses and social workers.
- Facebook is now worth $1 trillion:
Facebook’s market cap hit a 2020 low of $416.2 billion last March and the company has added more than $592 billion to its valuation since then, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
- Covid vaccines to reach poorest countries in 2023 – despite recent pledges.
- Indian families face high medical bills amid pandemic, pushing people back to poverty:
According to a research report published by the Azim Premji University, 230 million additional individuals had fallen below the national minimum wage poverty line between March and October last year.
- Mind reading and mind control technologies are coming.
- $20 billion meltdown of asset management company Archegos Capital led to more than $10 billion in losses for several banks:
Credit Suisse was most exposed to Archegos’ liquidation, having lost upwards of $5 billion from the fiasco. Nomura is thought to have lost at least $2 billion, while Morgan Stanley lost less than $1 billion.
- U.S. median existing house price accelerated a record 23.6% from a year ago.
- Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $263 million to settle opioid lawsuits filed in New York:
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by states, cities and counties against opioid makers, drug distributors and pharmacy chains over their roles in fueling the U.S. opioid epidemic, which has claimed the lives of almost 500,000 Americans over the last 20 years. Most of those claims are pending.
- U.S. life expectancy decreased by an “alarming” amount:
Between 2018 and 2020, the decrease in average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. was roughly 1.9 years — 8.5 times the average decrease in 16 comparable countries, which was about 2.5 months.
Life expectancy for Black men living in the U.S. fell to just under 68 years, its lowest level since 1998. As of 2020, Hispanic men have the second-lowest life expectancy at birth, at 74.5 years, which closely follows the 74.7 years for white men. Black women have a life expectancy at birth of 75.3 years, which is lower than white women at 80 years and Hispanic women at 81.4 years.
- One in five young adults is neither working nor studying in U.S.:
In the first three months of the year, about 3.8 million Americans age 20 to 24 were not in employment, education or training, known as the NEET rate, the Center for Economic Policy and Research said in a report. That’s up by 740,000, or 24%, from a year earlier, before many lost their jobs or opted to defer college enrollment as campuses shut down at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Fitness company Peloton forced all owners of $4,000 treadmill to pay $39 monthly fee to use the machine.
- 51% increase in suicide attempts among U.S. teenage girls:
Overall, the number of psychiatric-related hospital visits among young people increased 31 percent last year. […] Suspected suicide attempts in girls increased 50.6 percent, compared to a 3.7 percent increase in young men.
- Oil and gas donors gave over £400,000 to U.K. Conservative party in the past year, while the government mulled controversial new licences to explore the North Sea for fossil fuel production sites.
- The world’s 500 richest people added $1.8 trillion to their combined net worth last year.
- Ransomware attack payments might be tax deductible according to U.S. government.
- Facebook will start putting ads in Oculus virtual reality system.
- Toxic “forever chemicals” widespread in top makeup brands.
- Number of people forcibly displaced in the world has risen to a record 82.4 million, a further four per cent increase on top of the record-high 79.5 million displaced at the end of 2019. ,
- Amazon, Inc. is destroying millions of items of unsold stock in one of its U.K. warehouses every year:
In one week in April, a leaked document from inside the Dunfermline warehouse showed more than 124,000 items marked “destroy”. To repeat, that’s just for seven days. In contrast, just 28,000 items in the same period were labelled “donate”.
- Texas power companies automatically raised the temperature of customers’ smart thermostats in the middle of a heat wave.
- Utah governor urges residents to pray for rain, to combat a drought emergency.
- California declares state of emergency amid heatwave.
- South African crypto currency traders vanish with $3.6 billion in Bitcoin:
Following a surge in Bitcoin’s value in the past year, the disappearance of about 69,000 coins – worth more than $4 billion at their April peak – would represent the biggest-ever dollar loss in a cryptocurrency scam.
The saga is unfolding after last year’s collapse of another South African Bitcoin trader, Mirror Trading International. The losses there, involving about 23,000 digital coins, totaled about $1.2 billion in what was called the biggest crypto scam of 2020 […].
- Arizona wants to use Zyklon B to execute inmates on death row.
- U.S.-based CCTV company is paying remote workers in India to yell at armed robbers:
Apart from pointing out robberies, the remote human operator will also monitor the activities of the store’s employees. For example, if the cashier makes a mistake in the bill, the store clerks will be yelled at for the error.
- Scientists have successfully grown monkey embryos containing human cells for the first time:
Researchers hope that some human–animal hybrids — known as chimaeras — could provide better models in which to test drugs, and be used to grow human organs for transplants.
- Software developer community Stack Overflow sold for $1.8 billion to investor.
- Canon put A.I. cameras in its Chinese offices that only let smiling workers inside.
- New law allows Australian government to indefinitely detain refugees:
The law allows for the government, where it had cancelled the visa of a refugee but could not send them back to their country of origin because they would face persecution there, to detain them indefinitely.
- U.S. Federal Reserve continues to purchase $120 billion in bonds per month.
- Irish police to be given powers to make people hand over passwords:
Police in Ireland are to be handed new powers, including the right to issue a fine of up to €30,000 to anyone who refuses to surrender an electronic device’s password, according to new legislation in the Republic.
- Texas will spend $250 million to build its own wall at border with Mexico.
- Regular power shortages occur in Texas:
ERCOT data indicated that 11,000 megawatts of generation capacity is currently offline for repairs and maintenance, well above the 3,600 MW that is normally offline for this time of year.
The guidelines under which ERCOT operates force it to automatically approve offline requests if they are received from generators at least 45 days in advance, just one more feature of Texas’s de-regulated market system that effectively increases its level of instability.
- Famine in Ethiopia becomes worst hunger crisis in a decade, afflicting at least 350,000 people.
- Greek security forces use sound cannons at border to deter asylum seekers.
- U.S. billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in federal taxes:
The 25 richest Americans “saw their worth rise a collective $401bn from 2014 to 2018,” the publication reported. But collectively those Americans paid a total of $13.6bn in federal income taxes over those five years, which was a collective true tax rate of just 3.4 per cent.
Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Michael Bloomberg all held a true tax rate that was lower than 1.5 per cent, despite reporting income in the billions between 2014 and 2018.
- Widespread homelessness in California:
In 2018, a U.N. official visited San Francisco on a world tour examining housing conditions. She was shocked by what she saw. Her official report concluded that the city’s treatment of unhoused people "constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment and is a violation of multiple human rights, including rights to life, housing, health, water, and sanitation." The number of homeless San Franciscans has only grown since then to more than 8,000 people, most of whom sleep on the streets, not in shelters.
[…] Tent cities filled with poverty-stricken people have sprouted up from San Diego to Seattle. As of January 2020, California alone had about 151,000 inhabitants experiencing homelessness.
- U.S. administration backs Alaska drilling project set to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil each day for 30 years.
- Microsoft’s Irish subsidiary paid zero corporation tax on $315bn profit.
- Colombia deploys military against anti-government demonstrations.
- Nearly 600,000 Germans consult debt advice service.
- U.S. experiences fuel shortages after pipline operator hit by cyber attack:
About 70% of North Carolina’s gas stations were still without fuel amid panic-buying and about half the stations in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia were tapped out, GasBuddy.com reported. Washington, D.C., was among the hardest-hit locations, with 73% of stations out, the site’s tracking service showed.
- A growing number of people around the world are dying from heart disease and stroke because of overwork,
U.N. study shows:
In 2016, the data show 1 in 10 people around the world, or 450 million, worked excessively long hours, leading to 745,000 heart disease and stroke deaths.
- Germany rejects plans to waive Covid-19 vaccine patents:
The German government said while they support global vaccine supplies, “the protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and must remain so in the future.”
- Pharma industry funds media voices against sharing vaccine patents.
- Cost of policing G7 summit estimated at £70m, with around 6,500 police securing the event.
- U.S. pension funds and private-equity firms are snapping up single-family houses to rent out or flip:
The bubble has room to grow before it bursts, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. But it is inflating fast. The firm expects home prices to climb 12% this year—on top of last year’s 11% rise—and increase at least 6% in 2022, a period of appreciation reminiscent of 2004 and 2005.
- U.S. workers are among the most stressed in the world:
Some 57% of U.S. and Canadian workers reported feeling stress on a daily basis, up by eight percentage points from the year prior and compared with 43% of people who feel that way globally, according to Gallup’s 2021 report.
- About 40,000 children work in inhuman conditions in cobalt mines alone in the D.R. Congo.
- Internal Nestlé document says majority of its food portfolio is unhealthy.
- Without ID card, no vaccination in Indonesia:
Starting in 2011, the simple laminated document with a photo and fingerprints was to be replaced by a microchipped card backed up by a huge online database.
Applicants needed to bring their birth certificate and their Family Card, a document issued to the so-called “head of the family” — typically the eldest male — which lists all of their family members. They also had to get written permission from the head of their local neighborhood unit, take their documents to their sub-district office and then to the civil registry office, and then wait three months for their card to be issued. The card had to be renewed every five years, which meant starting the process all over again.
The cards were supposed to be free, but many people hired middlemen to avoid the process. The going rate was between $14 and $35 (200,000 and 500,000 rupiah) — a hefty sum in a country where 25 million of its population of 270 million still live on less than $1 per day.
- The U.S. Postal Service is running a “covert operations program” that monitors Americans’ social media posts.
- 39 U.K. postmasters wrongfully convicted for fraud due to a software bug.
- YouTube C.E.O. gets “Freedom Expression” award sponsored by YouTube.
- People in India are being cremated in parking lots, with so much demand that families have to take tickets and wait.
- Canadian school custodian got fired for refusing to download smartphone app that monitors location.
- German Federal Ministry of Agriculture admits social security (Hartz IV) too low to allow healthy nutrition, Federal Ministry of Labour vetoes.
- At least 15 journalists covering migrant stories were wiretapped in Italy:
According to daily newspaper Domani, hundreds of pages of phone conversation transcripts were part of the investigation led by prosecutors in Trapani, Sicily, into the activities of humanitarian rescue groups.
- Google blocks advertisers from targeting Black Lives Matter YouTube videos:
Google’s ad buying platform Google Ads also blocks the term “Black power,” a phrase associated with the African American civil rights movement but offered more than 100 million YouTube videos and channels it said were related to the White supremacist phrase “White power.”
- I.R.S. estimates tax cheats are costing the U.S. $1 trillion a year.
- Netflix made record profits of $2.8 billion in 2020, paid a tax rate of less than 1 percent.
- Florida declares state of emergency as reservoir with millions of gallons contamined, radioactive wastewater leaks:
In 1989, for instance, a 23,000-gallon leak of sulfuric acid from a holding tank forced the evacuation of hundreds of people.
After the owner went bankrupt, the Piney Point fertilizer plant was shut down in 2001. But the waste from more than three decades of phosphate mining still sits in massive piles at the site […].
About 223m gallons remained in the leaking pond at Piney Point on Friday, according to the Florida department of environmental regulation; so far, about 215m gallons of wastewater have been pumped into Tampa Bay.
- Russian President has signed legislation formally granting him the right to stay in power until 2036.
- Oklahoma Senate passes bill allowing drivers to hit protesters without being charged.
- New York 106-megawatt power plant produces electricity for Bitcoin mining only.
- Amazon prohibits German warehouse workers the use of FFP2 masks to prevent longer breaks.
- Google is saving over $1 billion a year due to remote work policy.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) flew a Predator drone over Minneapolis in an effort to surveil the ongoing protests against police brutality occurring there.
- U.K. call centre staff to be monitored via webcam for home-working “infractions”.
- 6-year-old boy from North Carolina arrested for picking flower at bus stop:
While the 6-year-old ending up before a judge may seem shocking, around 7,300 complaints were actually filed against 6- to 11-year-olds from 2015 to 2018, Juvenile State data showed […].
- Microsoft wins U.S. Army contract for augmented reality headsets, worth up to $21.9 billion over 10 years.
- U.S. hunger crisis persists, especially for children and older adults:
The food banks that agreed to let Feeding America publicly share their data, 180 out of 200 total, collectively distributed far more food — about 42% — during the last quarter of 2020 than in the same period of 2019.
Over $1.675 billion in emergency funding has gone to nutrition programs under the Older Americans Act to pay for food, gas and drivers to deliver meals, along with masks, gloves and sanitizer to protect staff.
- Weight-loss drug linked to death of up to 2,000 people in France, court finds.
- U.S. administration denies journalists access to border facilities amid a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.–Mexico border.
- IKEA France allegedly snooped on employees and customers by using private detectives and police officers.
- E.U. adopts €5 billion fund to train and equip foreign military forces.
- U.S. president says he won’t let P.R. China become most wealthy, powerful country:
“They have an overall goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world, and the most powerful country in the world. That’s not gonna happen on my watch,” Biden said.
- U.S. sinks below Mongolia and Argentina in global ranking for freedom.
- U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson says “greed” and “capitalism” behind Covid-19 vaccine success.
- Over 30 million people in more than 20 countries “one step away from starvation”, U.N. warns.
- Low-income families eligible for free cash under Oakland, California programme – if they are people of colour.
- Tesla violated U.S. federal labour law in its efforts to discourage workers from unionising.
- Covid-19 curfew violation tickets issued to Quebec homeless people.
- Indian lenders are turning to coercive loan apps that shut down smartphones if customers fall behind on payments:
Vendors are selling smartphones to first-time borrowers on high-interest payment plans financed by loan companies, but only after users install an undeletable app at the point of sale. The apps can then monitor repayment behavior throughout the duration of the loan. One late payment leads to instant blocking of the phone, rendering it useless. For loan providers and smartphone sellers, this form of lending opens their products to a new class of consumers. But users purchasing phones on loan are bearing the brunt of the coercive repayment tactics built into their devices.
- 533 million Facebook users’ phone numbers and personal data have been leaked online.
- Amazon U.S. delivery drivers have limited access to bathrooms, forced to urinate in bottles or elsewhere in public.
- German government paid external consultants €430 million in 2020.
- Several €100 million in losses for small German towns after Greensill bank declared insolvent:
A person familiar with the bank said it is currently estimated up to €700 million in deposits from a total of €3.6 billion won’t be covered by insurance. The majority likely will be from local governments.
- U.K. police warns students and universities against using “the Pirate Bay of science”:
Russia-based Sci-Hub describes itself as “the first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers”, and is run in support of the Open Access movement, responding to the increasingly large fees charged by publishers.
[T]he City of London Police’s detective inspector Kevin Ives said: “Students should be aware that accessing such websites is illegal, as it hosts stolen intellectual property.
- More than 4,000 people are arrested daily while trying to cross the U.S.–Mexico border.
- In Germany, the richest 5% own 51% of all wealth, 50% of the population own less than 4%, study shows.
- Roughly 160,000 people in Jackson, Mississippi, without safe drinking water for weeks.
- German private hospital gives €5 gift coupons to nursing staff struggling in the pandemic.
- Finland had a patent-free Covid-19 vaccine months ago, but struggled to attract $50 million funding required for Phase III clinical trial.
- Afghan refugee father faces up to 10 years in prison for child endangerment as his son died on the journey from Turkey to Greece.
- Elderly couple deported to Kosovo after living in Germany for 28 years. The husband died weeks later from untreated medical conditions.
- Global warming causes permafrost soil in Siberia to explode:
Methane gas builds in a cavity in the ice, causing a mound to appear at ground level. The mound grows in size before blowing out ice and other debris in an explosion and leaving behind the massive crater.
- Global middle class shrank for first time since the 1990s:
[…] [R]esearchers at the non-partisan Pew Research Center found that the ranks of the global middle class – those “middle income” and “upper-middle income” people earning $10-$20 and $20-$50 per day respectively – fell by 90 million people to almost 2.5 billion last year. That helped swell the ranks of the poor, or those living on less than $2 a day, by 131 million, Pew estimated.
- U.S. girl sells lemonade, raises more than $370,000 for brain surgeries.
- Record high killing of Philippine lawyers: 61 lawyers murdered during Duterte administration.
- Energy companies have left Colorado with billions of dollars in oil and gas cleanup:
Companies that drill wells in Colorado are legally required to pay for plugging them. They must also put forward financial assurances in the form of bonds, which the state can call on to pay for the plugging. These bonds are meant to incentivize cleanup and to protect the state, in case a company is unable to pay. But as it stands today, Colorado has only about $185 million in bonds from industry […]. But even using the state’s more conservative number, the overall cleanup would cost nearly $5 billion, of which the money currently available from energy companies would cover less than 5%.
- Facebook shows off mind-reading technology it hopes to use one day with smart glasses.
- Damaged Amazon rainforest is most likely now a net contributor to global warming, study shows.
- Junior bankers at Goldman Sachs Group beg to work only 80 hours per week.
- U.K. foreign secretary seeks trade deals with nations that violate human rights.
- U.K. couple whose business was awarded £1.8 billion in contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) by the government subsequently bought a £6 million mansion and a Bentley.
- Amazon expands gamification programme that encourages warehouse employees to work.
- About 30 million Africans were pushed into extreme poverty in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and even more could follow this year.
- Three in four South Sudanese in need of urgent food assistance:
“The greatest concern is that over 100,000 people are anticipated over the next several months to be in ‘catastrophic’ levels of food insecurity, at risk of dying from starvation, malnutrition and related disease,” […].
The situation is similar to 2017, when war raged and famine hit the northern Unity State leaving 100,000 people starving. That violence left 400,000 people dead, disrupted oil production and devastated the economy.
- Executives at Serco, one of the companies behind the U.K. government’s much-criticised £37bn test-and-trace scheme, were handed pay of £7.4m for 2020, including bonuses worth £5.5m.
- U.K. Test and Trace programme has “no clear impact” despite £37bn budget.
- German conservative lawmakers earned more than €14.5 million through additional income between October 2017 and July 2020.
- Amazon expands its palm recognition payment tech to more of its stores.
- Lebanon’s financial crisis has driven nearly half of the population of six million into poverty.
- Warren Buffett’s net worth exceeds $100bn:
Mr Buffett’s net worth comes almost entirely from owning about one-sixth of Berkshire Hathaway, a roughly $600bn company.
Its share price is up 15% this year, surpassing $400,000 a share. The investment firm had been struggling in recent years to find deals to spark its growth given its sheer size.
- Filipinos go hungry amid rising pork prices, inflation, and job losses :
At least 4.5 million Filipinos were unemployed last year, a 15-year high, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. On top of that, consumer prices are rising. Inflation in the country hit 4.7 per cent in February, the quickest pace in two years. The uptick was driven by higher prices of non-alcoholic drinks and food, particularly meat, which rose by 20.7 per cent.
- Illinois’ pension debt tops $300 billion:
As of June 30, 2020, the report stated, the total unfunded liabilities of the state’s five pension systems stood at $317 billion, a 19 percent increase from the prior year. That was largely due to historically low interest rates, which have depressed pension fund earnings throughout the country.
- TV manufacturers let smart TVs show additional ads based on watched content.
- Dozen police officers guarded dumpsters filled with perishable food outside a Portland, Oregon, super market as people attempted to take the items that were discarded when the store lost power.
- U.S. crypto currency exchange is valued $68 billion ahead of planned stock market listing.
- Food prices are soaring faster than inflation and incomes:
As the pandemic wrought havoc on the global economy, it ushered in new concerns about hunger and malnutrition, even in the world’s wealthiest countries. In the U.K., the Trussell Trust gave out a record 2,600 food parcels a day to children in the first six months of the pandemic. In the U.S., the Covid-19 crisis pushed an additional 13.2 million people into food insecurity, a 35% jump from 2018, according to estimates from Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.
[…] The poorest Americans already spend 36% of their income on food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and mass layoffs in lower-wage work like retail and transportation have increased the strain on household budgets.
Meanwhile, the price of staples like grains, sunflower seeds, soybeans and sugar have soared, pushing global food prices to a fresh six-year high in January.
- San Fransisco tent-camping spots for the homeless costs city $16.1 million per year ($61,000 per tent):
The cost boils down to $190 per tent per night, which includes 24-hour security, bathrooms, maintenance, and three meals per day. This is cheaper than the per-day cost for the hotel program, but the hotel program is getting 100% federal reimbursement.
Meanwhile, the tent program is giving temporary shelter to 314 people in 247 tents.
- Kroger opened America’s first automated warehouse:
The $55 million, 335,000-square-foot customer fulfillment center features digital and robotic capabilities that allow Kroger to assemble an order of approximately 50 items in six minutes with robotics instead of approximately 30 to 45 minutes with a Kroger employee picking them up from various areas of the store.
- 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since World Cup awarded.
- Facial recognition technology can expose political orientation from naturalistic facial images:
A facial recognition algorithm was applied to naturalistic images of 1,085,795 individuals to predict their political orientation by comparing their similarity to faces of liberal and conservative others. Political orientation was correctly classified in 72% of liberal–conservative face pairs, remarkably better than chance (50%), human accuracy (55%), or one afforded by a 100-item personality questionnaire (66%).
- U.K. Department for Education awards another £190m contract to a company blamed for the problems with a school meals voucher system that left families without food during the first lockdown.
- German conservative lawmakers earned hundreds of thousands of euros on deals to procure masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Samsung Electronics, Mastercard and Samsung Card develop fingerprint biometric payment card.
- Crime-fighting robot patrols Las Vegas apartment complex:
“It’s been very useful in several ways,” said complex manager Carmen Batiz. “It can advise people when they are out past the 10 p.m. curfew and the four video cameras tend to make people avoid it. When we have vandalism reports we can go through the video and get a time frame of when it happened. It has a button so people can get human help quick in an emergency.
“People don’t want to get caught on the cameras so they will avoid it,” Batiz said.
- Sidewalk robots get legal rights as “pedestrians” in several U.S. states.
- Spy pixels in emails have become endemic.
- Several employers in Kent, U.K., refused to let staff leave work to get Covid vaccines.
- U.S. customer spent $10,000 to buy an ad in The Wall Street Journal to tell AT&T’s C.E.O. he wasn’t happy with his internet service.
- People with learning disabilities in the U.K. have been given do-not-resuscitate orders during the second wave of the pandemic.
- Metallica’s online performance ruined by copyright filters, audio was replaced by some easy listening bell music, presumably to avoid having the event organiser banned for a false D.M.C.A. notice.
- Software bug keeping hundreds of inmates in Arizona prisons beyond release dates.
- Freshwater fish are in “catastrophic” decline with one-third facing extinction, report finds.
- Amazon rainforest plots sold via Facebook Marketplace ads.
- Texas electric bills were $28 billion higher under deregulation:
Those deregulated Texas residential consumers paid $28 billion more for their power since 2004 than they would have paid at the rates charged to the customers of the state’s traditional utilities, according to the Journal’s analysis of data from the federal Energy Information Administration.
- Cold temperatures caused catastrophic failure of Texas’ power grid, leaving millions of people without heat, electricity, and food. Meanwhile, the price of electricity skyrocketed: Texas’ largest and oldest electric power cooperative filed for bankruptcy, citing $1.8 billion grid debt.
- Global debt soars to 356% of G.D.P.
- Oracle sold the company’s data analytics for use by police and security industry contractors across China.
- Republicans in 33 U.S. states introduce 165 bills to restrict voting access.
- Fake Amazon reviews “being sold in bulk” online.
- Donald Trump made $1.6 billion while president, according to financial disclosures.
- Google scans Gmail for invoices & receipts to track what users buy online.
- New York Police Department is testing $74,000 “robotic dog”:
Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, said empowering a robot to do police work could have implications for bias, mobile surveillance, hacking and privacy. There is also concern that the robot could be paired with other technology and be weaponized.
- Brazil high-risk groups get “shot of air” instead of coronavirus vaccine:
Police in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation […] into reports that doses of the coronavirus vaccine may have been diverted after images emerged of healthcare workers sticking needles into elderly people without injecting them.
- The U.S. could have averted 40% of the deaths from Covid-19.
- U.S. life expectancy lower than in other rich countries, due to obesity, homicides, opioid overdoses, suicides, road accidents, access to healthcare, poverty and economic inequality.
- $35,000 robots introduced in Stop & Shop and other stores throughout the U.S.
- Nyan Cat GIF sold for more than $476,000.
- McKinsey to pay $573 million to settle claims over U.S. opioid crisis role.
- Bitcoin consumes more electricity annually than the whole of Argentina.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents can conduct in-depth searches of phones and laptops now.
- Hack exposes vulnerability of cash-strapped U.S. water plants.
- Counterfeit N95 protection masks sold in at least five U.S. states to hospitals, medical facilities and government agencies:
Officials in Washington state examined their mask supply, which had come from a different company, and discovered that 300,000 masks they had purchased for about $1.4 million were counterfeit. […]
Beth Zborowski of the Washington State Hospital Association said the fraud has the potential to affect 1.9 million masks but they are mostly in stockpile now rather than general circulation.
- U.S. company has 30 million N95 protection masks it can’t find buyers for:
In one of the more confounding disconnects between the laws of supply and demand, many of the nearly two dozen small American companies that recently jumped into the business of making N95s are facing the abyss — unable to crack the market, despite vows from both former President Donald Trump and President Biden to “Buy American” and buoy domestic production of essential medical gear.
These businesses must overcome the ingrained purchasing habits of hospital systems, medical supply distributors and state governments. Many buyers are loath to try the new crop of American-made masks, which are often a bit more expensive than those produced in China. Another obstacle comes from companies like Facebook and Google, which banned the sale and advertising of N95 masks in an effort to thwart profiteers from diverting vital medical gear needed by frontline medical workers.
- Beverly Hills cop is accused of playing music to avoid being livestreamed on Instagram by triggering the app’s copyright filters.
- Facebook knew calls for violence plagued “Groups”:
The researchers told executives that “enthusiastic calls for violence every day” filled one 58,000-member Group, according to an internal presentation. Another top Group claimed it was set up by fans of Donald Trump but it was actually run by “financially motivated Albanians” directing a million views daily to fake news stories and other provocative content.
Roughly “70% of the top 100 most active US Civic Groups are considered non-recommendable for issues such as hate, misinfo, bullying and harassment,” the presentation concluded.
- Corruption in U.S. at worst levels in almost a decade.
- First fully private astronaut crew paying $55 million each for a trip to the International Space Station (ISS).
- Austria deports children by night:
[I]n the middle of a raging global pandemic, Austria’s Interior Ministry chartered a plane to deport children back to the Eastern Caucasus. Among those to be deported are 12-years-old Tina and her sister 5-years-old Lea, who were both born in Austria.
- 84% of Mexican hand sanitisers toxic or flawed.
- 40 million Americans filed for unemployment during the pandemic, but billionaires saw their net worth increase by half a trillion dollars:
From March to June 2020, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos saw his wealth rise by an estimated $48 billion. The founder of the video-conferencing platform Zoom grew his nest egg by over $2.5 billion, and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s net worth increased by $15.7 billion.
[…] Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson saw his wealth increase by $5 billion, while Elon Musk saw an increase of $17.2 billion.
[…] From 2009 to 2012, the incomes of the bottom 99% grew by only 0.4%, but the income of the top 1% grew by a staggering 31.4% in the same time span.
[…] Taxes paid by billionaires have decreased 79% since 1980.
- U.S. hospital donors got special access to Covid-19 vaccine:
Molly Stearns, chief development officer at Overlake Medical Center & Clinics, emailed about 110 donors who gave more than $10,000 to the Eastside hospital system, informing them that highly coveted vaccine slots were available.
- Next “James Bond” movie to be partly re-shot, as sponsors fear that mobile phones and other gadgets shown in product placements are out-of-date after two years of production hold-ups.
- U.S. has “moral imperative” to develop A.I. weapons:
The US should not agree to ban the use or development of autonomous weapons powered by artificial intelligence (AI) software, a government-appointed panel has said in a draft report for Congress.
The panel, led by former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, […] concluded two days of public discussion about how the world’s biggest military power should consider AI for national security and technological advancement.
Its vice-chairman, Robert Work, a former deputy secretary of defense, said autonomous weapons are expected to make fewer mistakes than humans do in battle, leading to reduced casualties or skirmishes caused by target misidentification.
[…] A member from Microsoft for instance warned of pressure to build machines that react quickly, which could escalate conflicts.
The panel only wants humans to make decisions on launching nuclear warheads.
- U.S. law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year:
Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime — yes, really! — through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.
- U.S. police continues to use facial recognition, despite bans.
- Car makers may delay recalls of defective products in order to minimise damage to their stock prices, putting customers in unnecessary danger, according to a study based on 48 years of U.S. data:
Researchers found that automakers tend to issue recalls in “clusters,” meaning that a recall by General Motors makes it more likely that Ford will issue a recall shortly thereafter, for example.
The researchers also showed that the first automaker in a cluster to issue a recall experiences significantly larger damage to its stock price than firms that issue recalls shortly thereafter, incentivizing automakers that are aware of problems to sit on the information until a competitor reveals a defect.
- Workers around the world cumulatively lost $3.7 trillion in earnings during the coronavirus pandemic – an 8.3% decline, study shows.
- Italy failed to rescue over 200 migrants in 2013 Mediterranean disaster:
More than 200 people who had been on board drowned on 11 October 2013 after repeated requests for help were ignored, according to a ruling by the committee on a case brought by Syrian and Palestinian survivors who lost their relatives.
The boat was carrying 400 people, many of them Syrians, when it left Libya. It sent out a call for help after shots were fired at it from another boat.
More than 1,000 people died or went missing trying to reach Europe from north Africa in 2020 and another 480 died or went missing from the west African coast.
- U.S. suffers sharpest rise in poverty rate in more than 50 years.
- Sleeping pods for homeless people installed in German city:
The wood and steel cabins, which can fit up to two people, protect against the cold, wind, and humidity. They also guarantee fresh air circulation.
The pods were introduced to the city of Ulm, 75 miles west of Munich, on 8 January in parks and at other places where homeless people sleep, a city spokesman said.
- Facebook took down groups, pages and individuals involved in socialist politics without explanation.
- Amazon requests in-person union vote in Covid-hit Alabama:
Amazon.com Inc. is asking the National Labor Relations Board to consider having workers vote in person – rather than by mail – on a proposal to form a union at an Alabama warehouse.
The world’s largest online retailer said that a mail election raised the risk of fraud and the coercion of workers.
- Electronic wristband introduced that allows employers to track the emotional state of their employees.
- Departing C.E.O. paid $5.2 million “retention” bonus by one of America’s largest nursing home chain that lost 2,800 residents to Covid-19.
- Microsoft patent shows plans to revive dead loved ones as chatbots. The patent also mentions using 2D or 3D models of specific people.
- Michigan auto shop pays $2,033 to clear unpaid school lunch debts.
- Microsoft president Brad Smith confesses politics are pay-to-play in response to criticism over the company’s donations to lawmakers who objected to U.S. election results:
“It plays an important role. Not because the checks are big, but because the way the political process works,” Smith said, according to CNBC. “Politicians in the United States have events, they have weekend retreats, you have to write a check and then you’re invited and participate.”
Smith argued to employees […] that the contributions are still important because they get Microsoft’s lobbyists access to politicians, which helps them build relationships so the lawmakers are more receptive when Microsoft wants to lobby them on an issue.
- Missouri town started GoFundMe page to fund new emergency warning system.
- Indian billionaires increased their wealth by 35% during the lockdown.
- Doctors locked out from Houston hospital, treat patients in parking lot:
At the Heights Hospital, medical workers ready to open the on-site clinic discovered a notice on the door saying the hospital owed more than $1 million in back rent and fees.
“Please be advised that the door locks to the leased premises have been changed and tenant shall be excluded therefrom due to non-payment of rent,” the note read, adding that keys would be provided “upon payment of delinquent rent and other sums due under the lease.”
- Netflix paid £3.2m in tax on £940m of U.K. subscription revenue.
- Ontario’s for-profit nursing homes have 78% more Covid-19 deaths than non-profits:
[…] [T]he three largest publicly traded long-term care operators paid nearly $171 million in dividends to shareholders in the first three quarters of 2020 while receiving $138.5 million in provincial pandemic pay for front-line staff, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and other pandemic funding.
- World’s ice melting 57 percent faster than in 1990s, the rate of ice loss has increased from 0.8 trillion to 1.2 trillion tonnes per year.
- U.S. grocery delivery company Instacart is firing every employee who voted to unionise:
Instacart Inc. is cutting about 1,900 employees’ jobs, including 10 workers who recently formed a union, as the company seeks to boost its ranks of contract workers.
The grocery delivery company already classifies most of its workers as independent contractors, whose numbers have ballooned to more than 500,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Covid-19 “vaccine vacations“ offered to rich customers:
A package is being offered by Knightsbridge Circle, a £25,000-a-year private members club for those who can afford it. The trip can include first-class or private jet flights, accommodation for up to one month while you wait for your second dose, and a private vaccination. Trips can cost around $55,000 (£40,000). Currently, the options on offer are either Dubai, which now has private appointments for the Pfizer jab, or the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in India, which is being sold at 1,000 rupees (£10) on the private market. The club told The Telegraph it is also discussing using Marrakesh to fly supplies from India to get around Indian visa problems.
- Central African Republic is facing serious food shortages amid election violence.
- Malware found on laptops given out by U.K. government to support the home-schooling of vulnerable children during lockdown.
- Twitter bots are a major source of climate disinformation:
Researchers also categorized the 885,164 tweets those users had sent about climate change during the two-month study period. The most popular categories were tweets about climate research and news.
Marlow and the other researchers determined that nearly 9.5% of the users in their sample were likely bots. But those bots accounted for 25% of the total tweets about climate change on most days.
The researchers weren’t able to determine who deployed the bots. But they suspect the seemingly fake accounts could have been created by “fossil-fuel companies, petro-states or their surrogates,” all of which have a vested interest in preventing or delaying action on climate change.
- Rolling Stone magazine is offering “thought leaders” the chance to write for its website if they are willing to pay $2,000.
- Intelligence analysts use U.S. smartphone location data without warrants:
A military arm of the intelligence community buys commercially available databases containing location data from smartphone apps and searches it for Americans’ past movements without a warrant, according to an unclassified memo obtained by The New York Times.
Defense Intelligence Agency analysts have searched for the movements of Americans within a commercial database in five investigations over the past two and a half years, agency officials disclosed in a memo they wrote for Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.
- Trump allies have collected tens of thousands of dollars from pardon seekers.
- Bill Gates is now America’s biggest private-farmland owner.
- 2020 was joint hottest year ever recorded.
- Elon Musk is now the richest person in the world, with a net worth of more than $185 billion.
- All coronavirus patients in an intensive care unit in Egypt have died after the oxygen supply to the ward failed.
- Flawed facial recognition leads to arrest and jail for New Jersey man:
A New Jersey man was accused of shoplifting and trying to hit an officer with a car. He is the third known Black man to be wrongfully arrested based on face recognition.
Mr. Parks spent 10 days in jail and paid around $5,000 to defend himself. In November 2019, the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.
- Singapore police can access Covid-19 contact tracing data for criminal investigations.
- Nationwide power blackout plunges Pakistan into darkness. Second major incident in less than three years.
- Apple dropped plan for encrypting backups after F.B.I. complained.
- Facebook pushed users to join partisan political groups. The platform especially peppered Trump voters with political group recommendations.
- Landlocked Lesotho faces food crisis amid Covid border closures:
More than 580,000 people out of a population of 2.2 million are estimated to be food insecure, despite predictions of normal to above average rains this year and the potential for above average cereal production.
- Ticketmaster admits it hacked rival company before it went out of business. Ticketmaster used stolen passwords and URL guessing to access confidential data.
- Baltimore Police lied about almost every aspect of its spy plane program:
For six months this year, a spy plane flew over Baltimore for hours every day conducting aerial surveillance of everything that happened in 90 percent of the city—an area that encompasses 32 square miles.
The AIR program is a partnership between the BPD and Ohio-based company Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS), which owns the spy planes and employs the analysts that examine the footage when BPD makes a request. The $3.7 million initiative was paid for entirely by a nonprofit founded by John Arnold, a hedge fund billionaire who used to work for Enron.
- U.K. Department for Education handed £96m laptop contract without an open tender to Tory donor’s firm.
- U.S. asks Tesla to recall 158,000 vehicles for touchscreen failures.
- U.K. now free to make trade deals with genocidal regimes after Commons vote.
- L.A. County paramedics told not to transport some patients with low chance of survival:
Paramedics in Southern California are being told to conserve oxygen and not to bring patients to the hospital who have little chance of survival as Los Angeles County grapples with a new wave of COVID-19 patients that is expected to get worse in the coming days.
- Japanese company NEC launched facial-recognition system that identifies people wearing masks.
- Boeing to pay more than $2.5 billion to settle criminal conspiracy charge over 737 Max crashes.
- The U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. All of them were held by women.
- U.K. government breaks promise to maintain ban on bee-harming pesticide:
A pesticide believed to kill bees has been authorised for use in England despite an EU-wide ban on its use outdoors two years ago and an explicit government pledge to keep the restrictions.
- The world has lost tropical forest equivalent to the size of California over a 13-year period.
- Facebook has been showing military gear ads next to insurrection posts.
- U.S. police three times as likely to use force against leftwing protesters than rightwing protesters.
- U.S. Secret Service paid $3,000 a month for a bathroom near the home of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. The agents were instructed not to use any of the six bathrooms inside the couple’s house.
- Pro-Trump mob storms U.S. Capitol building. One person was shot dead at the Capitol and three others died in medical emergencies amid Washington, D.C. unrest.
“[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