US labor, unions, worker rights, pay, Starbucks, Amazon
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Unions Are Having a Moment. So Why Isn’t Union Membership Booming? (Maria)

The author writes, “It was the champagne pop heard around the economy. One year ago this week, a fired Amazon warehouse worker turned labor activist sprayed champagne and then drank from the bottle outside federal labor offices in New York City. Swarmed by supporters and media, Chris Smalls toasted a victory: the first Amazon union in the US. … Despite the buzz around what seemed like a labor resurgence — the historic win at Amazon, as well as spirited campaigns at Starbucks, on college campuses and retail stores across the country — the overall picture for unions remains bleak. This week, we may get a window into why.”

Push to Expand Voting Rights in US for Those Held in Jails (Reader Steve)

The authors write, “Voting rights for pretrial detainees and inmates serving sentences for misdemeanors were upheld in a U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1974, in a case from New York, O’Brien v. Skinner. Despite that ruling, voting rights advocates say a ‘de facto disenfranchisement’ exists because of mistakes over eligibility and the difficulties that detainees and prisoners face in registering or voting.”

The Death of Peter Thiel’s ‘Kept’ Romantic Partner Is Being Investigated as a Suicide (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Jeff Thomas, a model and social media influencer who was recently in a long-term relationship with billionaire Peter Thiel, said he spent much of his time with the tech mogul working to persuade him away from his increasingly aggressive pursuit of a culture war — a war that Thomas warned was blowing back on their community. … Thomas said that he felt like he had made strides with Thiel, though his effort was cut short earlier this month, on March 8, when he died tragically. His death is being investigated as a possible suicide, according to a Miami Police Department report and sources who have been contacted by the police for information. Miami police have been in contact with Thiel, and will interview him as part of the probe, two sources with knowledge of the investigation said.”

Putin’s Former Publicity Masterminds Air His Dirty Laundry (Russ)

From The Daily Beast: “Russian President Vladimir Putin is diving headfirst into an unprecedented — and irreversible — public image disaster over the war in Ukraine. Long gone are the days of carefully staged photoshoots of Putin riding a horse bare-chested, or diving into rivers to find ancient Greek urns. Now, images of Volodymyr Zelensky visiting Ukrainian soldiers in combat zones across the country stand in stark contrast with reports of the Russian president holding court in the Kremlin and meeting with ministers and generals at comically long tables.”

ChatGPT Is About to Revolutionize the Economy. We Need to Decide What That Looks Like. (Sean)

From MIT Technology Review: “Whether it’s based on hallucinatory beliefs or not, an artificial-intelligence gold rush has started over the last several months to mine the anticipated business opportunities from generative AI models like ChatGPT. App developers, venture-backed startups, and some of the world’s largest corporations are all scrambling to make sense of the sensational text-generating bot released by OpenAI last November. You can practically hear the shrieks from corner offices around the world: ‘What is our ChatGPT play? How do we make money off this?’ But while companies and executives see a clear chance to cash in, the likely impact of the technology on workers and the economy on the whole is far less obvious.” 

Study Into Global Daily Air Pollution Shows Almost Nowhere on Earth Is Safe (Mili)

The author writes, “In a new study of daily ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) across the globe, a new study has found that only 0.18% of the global land area and 0.001% of the global population are exposed to levels of PM2.5 — the world’s leading environmental health risk factor — below levels of safety recommended by World Health Organization (WHO). Importantly while daily levels have reduced in Europe and North America in the two decades to 2019, levels have increased in Southern Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America and the Caribbean, with more than 70% of days globally seeing levels above what is safe.”

Filippo Bernardini Gave the Publishing World Something to Write About (Michaela)

From Vulture: “On Thursday afternoon, a judge finally brought an end to the strange case of Filippo Bernardini, the Italian man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to impersonating hundreds of people in the book-publishing industry in order to steal unpublished manuscripts. While the government argued that Bernardini should spend a year in prison, Judge Colleen McMahon didn’t agree. Her verdict: no jail time.”

Amateur Australian Gold Digger Finds Massive Nugget (Dana)

The author writes, “An Australian man armed with a budget metal detector has hit the jackpot, finding a 4.6kg rock containing gold worth A$240,000 (£130,000; $160,000). The man, who doesn’t want to be named, made the discovery in Victoria’s goldfields — which were the heart of Australia’s gold rush in the 1800s. Darren Kamp, who valued and bought the specimen, said it is the biggest he’s seen in his 43-year career.”


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