+ Tucked inside the massive highway bill moving through Congress is a huge benefit for employees at Uber and other private tech companies – the deregulation of trading of private shares, “making it easier for workers to sell their stock to wealthy investors, as long as their employers don’t block the transactions,” reports Bloomberg News.
+ Three prominent conservatives — including a top fundraiser for GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio — are linked to a “dark money” nonprofit that failed to disclose several million dollars spent on candidate-related TV ads, according to documents released Friday by the Federal Election Commission, reports the Center for Public Integrity.
+ Great lesson in how to make journalism work for readers: When the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released 200,000 pages of emails, memos and other files related to teachers and coaches conspiring to inflate grades and give preferential treatment to student-athletes, the documents were not searchable. But WRAL News staffers uploaded the emails to DocumentCloud and converted the PDFs into searchable text.
+ For at least a decade, the FBI conducted surveillance of School of Americas Watch, an activist group seeking to close the notorious US-backed institution that trains Latin American military officials who have been implicated in massacres of opposition groups.
+ One of ExxonMobil’s massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is illegally occupying land owned by the Tuguba tribe in Australia’s Southern Highlands province, says a tribal chief. Simon Ekanda claims that the tribe never gave its permission and that certain processes such as land identification and social mapping were ignored in the rush to complete the job.
+ Every journalist’s nightmare scenario: Shortly after the Miami Herald’s Michael Vasquez started reporting on questionable business practices at Dade Medical College, the for-profit school hired a private investigator to “follow” him and dig up information on him.
+ Now Hillary Clinton is jumping in to endorse a federal investigation of ExxonMobil, amid reports that the oil giant engaged in a cover-up to mislead the public about the risks of man-made climate change, which were discovered by its own scientists in the 1970s and 1980s. “Yes, yes, they should,” Clinton said, when asked about the issue at a town hall in New Hampshire on Thursday. “There’s a lot of evidence that they misled.”
+ The Michigan State Police used asset forfeiture funds to pay for controversial Stingray devices, which are used for cellphone tracking, to “fight terrorism” but instead are used to solve everyday crimes and infringe on the privacy of citizens, according to documents obtained by the ACLU.
+ Success Academy, New York City’s high-performing charter school network, is able to achieve great test results by weeding out weak or difficult students, according to documents obtained by the New York Times and interviews with employees.
+ The 6,000-foot-long multibillion-dollar surveillance blimp that broke loose on Wednesday afternoon and came down in pieces over Pennsylvania represents the last gasp of one of the Pentagon’s more bizarre boondoggles, reports the Intercept. It was one of only two airships in the 18-year, $2.7-billion-dollar Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, which was once supposed to include 36 blimps to protect the country from cruise missiles.
+ Deutsche Bank is close to settling a regulatory probe into alleged violations of U.S. sanctions laws against Iran and other rogue nations, probably paying about $200 million, reports Bloomberg News.
+ That shocking video of a black high-school student in South Carolina being tossed out of her desk, dragged across the floor and handcuffed is not an isolated case. Across the country, in less-publicized incidents, “thousands of students are also getting arrested, ticketed, interrogated and searched by police officers, often in connection with minor indiscretions or allegations they were disruptive,” reports the Center for Public Integrity. Just yesterday, an Oklahoma City police officer was criminally charged after video emerged of him punching a student in the face.
+ Many of the biggest donors to Republican presidential candidate John Kasich’s super PAC have longstanding business ties to the governor that prompted ethics complaints, which could revive “cronyism concern,” reports Politico’s Isaac Arnsdorf.
+ When Navin Rai, a top official at the World Bank, tried to defend the rights of a tribal group in Kenya, he says the bank shut him down, reports the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. When Rai attempt to prevent the Kenya Forest Service from using funds provided by a bank-supported conservation project to evict the Sengwer tribe from the forests they have lived in for centuries, he says bank officials told him to stop his efforts.
+ Americans are killing lions for sport in record numbers, in anticipation of tough new U.S. regulations on the practice. Last year, 745 African lions as trophies were imported into the country, up 70 percent since 2011 and more than double the total in 2000, according to data from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
+ It could be a movie (and probably will be soon): Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, George Clooney’s wife, is defending the deposed president of the Maldives currently facing prosecution on terrorism charges. She is facing off against Cherie Blair, the wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, who caused a firestorm in England when it was revealed that she is representing the autocratic regime.
+ A cyber attack on the Dutch agency that recently investigated the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 disaster is being traced to a group of Russian hackers linked to the Kremlin. Evidence of Pawn Storm’s activity was discovered during an analysis of the Dutch Safety Board’s computer system, according to cybersecurity company Trend Micro.
+ The Great Rip-off Map is helping root out corruption around the globe, whether fraudsters cheating the vulnerable, public officials stealing government funds or mobsters running criminal enterprises, via Global Witness.
+ John Oliver has received “thousands” of donations for Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, the televangelism ministry he established to expose how prosperity preachers abuse their tax-exempt status.
+ Twitter has shut down a network of sites known as Politiwoops dedicated to archiving deleted tweets from politicians around the world, explaining its decision by asking: “Imagine how nerve-racking — terrifying, even — tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?”
+ After almost a decade in jail in Canada, officials have finally confirmed the identity of an illegal immigrant known as the “Man with No Name.”
+ VW spent two years in the courts trying to suppress expert research showing that thousands of its cars are vulnerable to “keyless” car theft.
+ Etsy brags about “transparency,” then sets up secret offshore tax arrangement in Ireland, via Jesse Drucker.
+ Three years ago, temp worker Duquan “Day” Davis was crushed to death by a palletizer clogged with broken bottles at a Bacardi plant in Jacksonville, Florida. In his memory, worker health and safety advocates are calling for stronger protections for the surge of temporary employees who have entered the work force in recent years.
+ Photos have emerged of lion killer Walter Palmer posing with a massive black bear he illegally slaughtered nine years ago in Wisconsin, for which he was fined for lying to authorities and sentenced to a year of probation.
+ The scandal that ate Malaysia: How the near collapse of a state-owned company has rocked the government, rattled investors, and stirred public outrage.
+ The role of Rick Perry’s presidential campaign chairman, Kelcy Warren, in donating $6 million into a coalition of super PACs supporting Perry, is raising concerns about how closely such groups are coordinating with campaigns, which is not permitted by federal election law, notes the Center for Public Integrity.
+ Desperate for cash, North Korea has sent tens of thousands of its people to work in a far-east region of Russia, mainly in the construction industry – a form of slave labor, say human rights groups.
+ The crisis at Toshiba – resulting in the sudden resignation of chairman Hisao Tanaka – can be traced back to mid-level employees engaging in accounting irregularities to please company executives who set unrealistic targets and the failure of the tech giants’s in-house auditors to recognize this routine practice of padding profits.
+ A remote desert bridge in California that collapsed on Sunday, scrambling traffic on Interstate 10, was given an A rating last year and a “sufficiency rating” of 91.5 out of 100 by the Federal Highway Administration, prompting questions about the rating system’s accuracy.
+ It might as well be a holiday today in Silicon Valley, where the tech world eagerly anticipates the release of Apple’s second-quarter earnings amid expectations of record iPhone 6 sales due to demand in China. But what really goes into the making of those iPhones? A BBC documentary crew went undercover in a Chinese factory for the first time to find out and the results may be enough to burst your iPhone euphoria. The film captures life on the iPhone production line, with shocking scenes of exhausted workers falling asleep at their tables and children digging for tin at illegal mines. Watch “Apple’s Broken Promises”:
+ Aides to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback reached out to a top executive at an energy company for help paying down Brownback’s debt from his re-election campaign while Westar Energy lobbies the state for a $152 million rate increase.
+ Nigeria is rocked by accusations that the country’s director of food and drug safety awarded millions of dollars in public funds to media consulting firms that he owned, in addition to doling out Christmas gifts to prominent journalists and members of parliament.
+ How the three-headed hydra of agribusiness – commodities brokers, food processors, and giant multinational retailers – is producing too much food, and why it’s starving the planet.
+ The 48 lawmakers debating the size of the defense budget have each received on average $430,049 in donations from political action committees and employees of the top 75 defense contractors, per a Center for Public Integrity analysis.
+ JPMorgan Chase knew that the feds were investigating the nation’s biggest drug-testing lab… but they didn’t share that info with investors about to lend $1.8 billion to Millennium Health LLC, reports Bloomberg News.
+ You knew this was coming when Tim Hortons merged with Burger King last year – the Canadian coffee shop chain will be offering buyouts to 15 percent of its employees.
+ The new version of Alipay, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s payment service, has features that target rival Tencent’s social networking app WeChat and review site Dianping, according to the China Business News.
+ Get out your handkerchiefs! Though Goldman Sachs’s prop trading group generated $1.8 billion, the highest amount in a year, the firm’s employees saw their pay slide on average to $373, 181, according to the firm’s latest earnings. (Chart via Zero Hedge)
Some demoralized Apple employees who sued the company in 2013 to try to get paid for the time spent on the job having their bags and devices searched at lunch breaks and at the end of their shifts took dramatic action yesterday.
They asked a federal judge to allow them to add over 12,000 former coworkers from 52 stores across California to their suit. If they win class-action status, the case could become a publicity nightmare for Apple, which carefully guards its image and reputation.
Workers are particularly upset about cards they are required to carry which list the serial numbers of Apple devices they bring to work at the start of their shift and which are matched against the devices they take home when they leave the store.
“Managers are required to treat ‘valued’ employees as criminals,” one unnamed Apple Store staffer wrote to CEO Tim Cook in an email with the subject heading, “Fearless Feedback,” adding that the searches are “demoralizing.”
But Apple employees shouldn’t get their hopes up – the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Amazon workers in a very similar case last December. In that lawsuit, workers accused the online retailer of wage theft for not paying them for the 20-30 minutes they spend each day waiting to go through a security screening to leave work at Amazon warehouses.
In that unanimous decision, Justice Clarence Thomas noted that the workers didn’t deserve to get paid because the searches were not “integral” to their work. As examples of activities “intrinsic” to their jobs, he cited battery-plant workers paid for “time spent showering and changing clothes because the materials they worked with were toxic,” noted the New York Times. “And meatpackers had to be paid for the time it took to sharpen their knives because dull knives would slow production.”