Investigation Reveals Where Our E-Waste Ends Up and It Ain’t Good

People in front of a pile of e-waste. (photo: Discard Studies)
People in front of a pile of e-waste. (photo: Discard Studies)


Katie Herzog | Grist | Reader Supported News | May 14, 2016


ou probably know better than to dump your old electronics in the trash. TVs, printers, and laptops are full of harmful materials like arsenic, lead, and mercury — and when left in landfills, these toxins can leach into nearby land and water. Campaigns to recycle instead of trash have alerted the public to the dangers of e-waste, and so instead of throwing those old TVs in the dumpster behind the local elementary school, we donate them to e-waste recyclers or non-profits like Goodwill. And we donate a lot: About 50,000 dump trucks’ worth of electronics are sent to American recyclers each year.

But what happens to our old devices after we drop them off?

The Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based watchdog group, partnered with MIT to insert 200 GPS tracking devices in old computers, TVs, and printers. They dropped the goods off at donation centers and recyclers that advertise environmental responsibility, including Goodwill, and waited to see where those products actually ended up.

Read more


Many of Today’s Factory Workers Rely on Public Assistance

Workers at a factory. (photo: Bloomberg)
Workers at a factory. (photo: Bloomberg)


Bourree Lamn | The Atlantic | Reader Supported News | May 14, 2016

Nostalgia for manufacturing jobs is obscuring the fact that their 21st-century incarnation doesn’t tend to pay very well.

ince the peak of U.S. manufacturing in the late 1970s, over 7 million jobs in the sector have been lost. More specifically, employment in factories all but collapsed in the aughts, when the industry shed 5 million jobs.

Throughout these many years of decline, talk of the need for an industry revival was common the in Rust Belt cities where manufacturing had played a large economic role. Now, on the national stage, the same argument has emerged as a political touchpoint, with presidential candidates proposing the cancellation of international trade agreements so that manufacturing jobs can make a comeback America. Though employment in the manufacturing sector has rebounded significantly in recent years, the election-year spotlight begs a question: Are these manufacturing jobs built to last?

A new report from Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education takes aim at this question. Analyzing the five largest means-tested public-benefit programs for which good data was available, the report found that over a third of manufacturing workers rely on safety-net programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, or household-income assistance. The Center estimates that Americans who work in low-wage manufacturing jobs currently receive $10.2 billion a year in federal and local public assistance.

Read more

Trans Activist on Why Fights Over Bathrooms Are Just the Beginning

Cherno Biko. (photo: Emma Parker)
Cherno Biko. (photo: Emma Parker)


Tessa Stuart | Rolling Stone | Reader Supported News | May 14, 2016

“There are so many causes that we have to champion. We can’t just pick one,” says Cherno Biko

herno Biko was forced to grapple with the grave consequences of even the most basic decisions early on in life. “I come from Ohio, which is one of the worst states for trans rights,” says Biko, co-founder of Black Trans Lives Matter. As a 15-year-old, “I went into the men’s restroom and I was beat up, and so I went into the women’s restroom and someone called the police on me and I was arrested.”

On Friday, the Departments of Education and Justice together released a set of guidelines intended to keep young trans men and women from being forced into a similar situation. The guidelines guarantee trans students equal access to sex-segregated facilities — the right to use the bathroom that suits their gender identity. The Human Rights campaign hailed the move as “groundbreaking,” but Biko is, largely, unimpressed.

“I fear that it’s just too little too late,” Biko, who uses the pronoun “they,” says.

Of course it should be a priority to protect equal access to bathrooms, they say, and to housing, and to employment opportunities — but no one should be congratulating themselves for taking a step that is, in the grand scheme of things, very, very small. “We have to confront a society that can murder 25 black trans women in the span of a year, not say anything about it, not care, and then when white folks can’t use the bathroom, that’s when President Obama gets involved,” Biko says.

Read more

Proof That Koch-Backed Professors Are Using Universities to Spread Right-Wing Policies

Casey Quinlan | ThinkProgress | Reader Supported News | May 14, 2016

conomic freedom centers” — or institutes with conservative, libertarian missions that are backed by the Charles Koch Foundation — are tightly controlled by the interests of the conservative foundation, according to remarks from Koch-backed professors and executives at the Association of Private Enterprise Education’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The remarks were recorded by UnKoch My Campus, a group that focuses on the influence of powerful donors on research and coursework in universities, and shared by Greenpeace staff. At the event, Koch-backed professors and Charles Koch Foundation executives said that students act as “foot soldiers” for free enterprise ideals, deans will take money from anyone, and the slightest mention of the foundation’s legal team can bring universities back in line.

Koch-backed institutes made their way back into the news lately after recent reports that $5 million was earmarked for these centers at Arizona public universities. The American Association of University Professors is also unhappy about George Mason University’s relationship with Koch-backed academics. AAUP Associate Secretary Anita Levy recently sent a letter to the president of George Mason University and the chair of State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to express concern over renaming GMU’s law school the “Antonin Scalia Law School” after having received $30 million from the Charles Koch Foundation and an anonymous donor. GMU has received a lot of money from the Kochs over the years. Between 2011-2014, the university received almost $48 million from the Koch Foundation, according to the Associated Press.

Read more

Big Money and the Corruption of Democracy

Robert Reich | Robert Reich’s Facebook Page | Reader Supported News | May 14, 2016

he U.S. blames places around the world like the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man for giving corporations and billionaires secret havens to hide their loot. But the United States doesn’t require companies registered here to disclose their real owners. We thereby provide global corporations and billionaires one of the world’s easiest means of hiding their money. Yesterday the chief minister of the Isle of Man charged that nearly 10 times more shell companies were registered in one building in Delaware than in his entire territory. Researchers in the U.S. and Australia have concluded it’s “easier to obtain an untraceable shell company … in the U.S. than in any other country save Kenya.”

Last week the Obama Administration submitted legislation to Congress requiring companies registered in the U.S. to disclose their real owners, at least confidentially to the U.S. Treasury. But not even this mild proposal has any chance of passage. Almost all Republicans are opposed, as are many Democrats. There’s no justification for their opposition to this common-sense measure.

Yet another example of the corruption of our democracy by big money.

What do you think?

Read more