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Everything I hate is on Twitter – how can the alternatives compete? | Zoe Williams 2023-07-12 - “And he couldn’t do it. He could not fucking die. How could he leave? How could he go? Everything he hated was here.” The end of Philip Roth’s Sabbath’s Theater is a perfect distillation of how many of us felt about Twitter when Elon Musk bought it last October. But I didn’t know that from reading it, even though I have; I knew that because someone faster, smarter, probably younger, with a better memory (@hayleycampbell), put it on Twitter. So even though everything I hate is there, so is a lot of what I love. My father never owned a TV, because he said every time you thought you were good at something – cooking, repartee, being alive – on the telly, there’d be someone who was better at it than you. I thought that was just an unlovely overhang of a 40s childhood: the whole point of repartee, and indeed cooking and being alive, is that the more people who can do it, the better. Also, I really wanted a TV. Quite soon after Musk’s purchase of the platform, more of what I hated was there. Donald Trump was readmitted, having been barred to avoid the risk of further incitement of violence after the ambush of the Capitol in 2021 – and the sheer brazenness of the free speech justification, the tedium of it, was depressing to witness. Blue ticks were monetised, destroying any trust in verification while generating not much revenue. Some staff walked, some were fired, and the endless pranks of the new owner – walking into HQ with a sink, sending a turd emoji as an auto response to journalist enquires – were, again, deadening to watch. A rich-enough man can erode workplace rights yet talk about the work ethic of his staff; he can drag the discourse into a mire and have you debating that as an inalienable freedom; he can engage the whole world in having the wrong conversation. And at the user level, Twitter was rubbish. Long conversations I wasn’t interested in, full of anti-trans prejudice and homespun ick about misremembered feminist lore, flooded my timeline. How could this possibly have been curated “for me”, when I blocked all that stuff years ago? Was it just a broad-brush algorithm for the middle-aged, or a more precisely targeted goading? My direct messages, meanwhile, were full of accounts with pretty avatars touting a scam that was quite novel to me. A young woman who wants to sell you some crypto, but has also just split up with her boyfriend and is drunk: fair play, I’m glad to know this exists as a genre. I’d hate to be the person who still thought internet scamming meant pretending to be a prince who just needs to quickly leave a million dollars in your bank account. As alternatives to Twitter sprang up, the question moved on: Mastodon, the so-called “fediverse”, was an early migration option and ticked all the right boxes politically. It can never be bought, is democratically moderated, and (with the caveat that I could probably be using it better) is also nothing like horrible enough. There are more mature faults to find – it is more sparsely populated, the timelines are quite repetitive – but the main void is of gleeful spite. Despite hating Twitter, there is something compelling about the horror of it all. Threads, Mark Zuckerberg’s rival network, tied to Instagram, overcame many of those early hurdles just by having more money and being part of an existing platform: almost overnight, it had 100 million users. People with large armies of followers mourned the fact that they would have to start from scratch, but rebuilding didn’t seem as unrealistic as it did on Mastodon. It was also gratifying to see the new platform work so well, having scooped up so many of Twitter’s disgruntled employees, and more pleasing still to see Musk’s half-hearted legal challenge to Zuckerberg on that basis. It turns out there are still kinks in the winner-takes-all capitalist model; your employees are still free to work for your competitors. Essentially, all these town-square platforms, the rivalries and differences between them, and more importantly the emotional and intellectual investments we make to build them, make questions that have been building for years more pressing. What makes Wikipedia Wikipedia – an astonishing display of human cooperation and expertise, of both unbelievable richness and winsome peculiarity – and Facebook Facebook – a place where people gather to drive each other into unlovely spasms of envy, delusion, triviality and extremism? What is it about the funding models, the governance and the vision that creates such very different experiences from the same raw material: people, participating? Is it as simple as profit motive; and if so, why aren’t all non-profit platforms naturally, atmospherically, better? In one way, Musk did everyone who cared about Twitter a favour, teaching us how vulnerable it was to the hooliganism of one ego; but we must figure out some solution better than “boycott and find a hobby”; we don’t need Zuckerberg to teach us that lesson twice.
The new world's largest cruise ship just hit the ocean — take a closer look at the gargantuan 7,600-guest vessel ahead of its 2024 debut 2023-07-12 - But no matter where you stay, the Icon of the Seas will have enough family-friendly activities to keep any passenger entertained for its week-long itinerary.
How Kim Kardashian built her business empire. She's now worth more than $1 billion. 2023-07-12 - She told Variety that she saw the opportunity to make money and capitalized on it Ethan Miller/Getty Images Kim said she called up a store, bought five pairs of the Manolos for $700 each, and resold them on eBay for $2,500. She said she became so "obsessed" with the return that she began to sell off her own clothes that she no longer wore. Source: Variety
We crowned these 8 standout products as 'best overall' in an Insider Reviews buying guide, and now they're on sale for Prime Day 2023-07-12 - When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Even though Prime Day 2023 is almost over, you still have time to find great deals on some of the best products we've ever reviewed. Make sure you take advantage of these sales before Prime Day ends tonight. In this guide, we've chosen a list of select top products that have achieved our 'best overall' distinction in their buying guides, meaning they really are the cream of the crop. All of these products are seeing sales during Prime Day, making it truly the perfect time to jump on what we've deemed as the best in class.
The 32 best Amazon Prime Day back-to-school deals 2023-07-12 - When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Back-to-school shopping on Amazon Prime Day is a convenient and efficient option for students and parents alike. Although Amazon Prime ends tonight at 12 p.m. PT, you can still access deals on a vast selection of school supplies, electronics, clothing, and more. If you're looking for a one-stop shopping experience for your school supplies this year, make sure to take advantage of our special savings on select products listed below before Prime Day comes to a close. Right now, Five-Star notebooks are a rare 59% off and you can get a great deal on an HP Chromebook for $221. Don't miss out on these great opportunities to save while preparing for the school year ahead. Top 5 back to school deals Deals on backpacks and lunch boxes Deal icon An icon in the shape of a lightning bolt. 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Deal IRIS USA 3-Drawer Desktop Organizer The IRIS USA 3-Drawer Desktop Organizer is available in a bundle of four via Amazon, so you can stock up on a convenient way to stack classroom supplies. Through Prime Day 2023, this bulk set of desktop drawers are priced below their online average cost at 15% off. $28.04 from Amazon Originally $32.99 Save 15% Deal icon An icon in the shape of a lightning bolt. Deal Univivi Office Desk Organizer The Univivi Office Desk Organizer has 8 slots for passing in papers and keeping assignments neat and tidy. It's an easy-assemble shelf meant to keep desktops clear of clutter. On July 11 of Prime Day 2023, this organizer is at its lowest price out of anywhere online. $26.39 from Amazon Originally $39.99 Save 34% Deal icon An icon in the shape of a lightning bolt. Great Price Bestinnkits Smart Coffee Cup Warmer Set If you know someone fond of hot coffee, tea, or other beverages, this warmer set is an excellent gift and a game changer. 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Twitter owes ex-employees $500 mln in severance, lawsuit claims 2023-07-12 - [1/2] Elon Musk's Twitter profile is seen on a smartphone placed on printed Twitter logos in this picture illustration taken April 28, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo July 12 (Reuters) - Twitter Inc on Wednesday was hit with a lawsuit accusing it of refusing to pay at least $500 million in promised severance to thousands of employees who were laid off after Elon Musk acquired the company. Courtney McMillian, who oversaw Twitter's employee benefits programs as its "head of total rewards" before she was laid off in January, filed the proposed class action in San Francisco federal court. McMillian claims that under a severance plan created by Twitter in 2019, most workers were promised two months of their base pay plus one week of pay for each full year of service if they were laid off. Senior employees such as McMillian were owed six months of base pay, according to the lawsuit. But Twitter only gave laid-off workers at most one month of severance pay, and many of them did not receive anything, McMillian claims. Twitter laid off more than half of its workforce as a cost-cutting measure after Musk acquired the company in October. Twitter no longer has a media relations department. The company responded to a request for comment with a poop emoji. The lawsuit accuses Twitter and Musk of violating a federal law regulating employee benefit plans. Twitter has already been sued for allegedly failing to pay severance, but those cases involve breach of contract claims and not the benefits law. The company has said it has paid ex-employees in full. A pending lawsuit filed last month accuses Twitter of also failing to pay millions of dollars in bonuses it owes to remaining employees. Twitter has said the claims lack merit. The company is also facing a series of other lawsuits stemming from the layoffs that began last year, including claims that it targeted women and workers with disabilities. Twitter has denied wrongdoing in the cases in which it has filed responses. Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Bill Berkrot Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
After GOP relies on accused operative, Dems press Comer for answers 2023-07-12 - We now know quite a bit about the elusive “informant” that Republicans have relied on to fuel some of their anti-Biden theories. We know, for example, that the man in question is Gal Luft, a director at a D.C.-area think tank who’s been charged with being an unregistered agent for China, trying to broker secret arms deals, violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, and lying to federal agents. We also know that a few too many congressional Republicans have responded to the indictment by incorporating the news into their partisan conspiracy theory and the GOP’s increasingly reflexive campaign against the U.S. justice system. What we don’t know is the extent to which Republicans on the House Oversight Committee relied on, and interacted with, the accused operative. As Politico reported this morning, this is the area that’s sparking some worthwhile questions from some Democrats on the panel. Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, and Rep. Dan Goldman sent a letter to Oversight Chair James Comer requesting that he hand over any information he has received from Gal Luft, who has claimed to have information about Hunter Biden. This is hardly unreasonable. After all, House Republicans on the Oversight Committee have spent months pointing to highly provocative and dubious allegations, based in large part on claims they received from a suspected felon. It’s not too surprising that Democrats on the same committee would want to know what, exactly, the accused operative gave the panel. “We are concerned that an official committee of the House of Representatives has been manipulated by an apparent con man who, while a fugitive from justice, attempted to fortify his defense by laundering unfounded and potentially false allegations through Congress,” Raskin and Goldman wrote in their correspondence to the committee’s GOP chairman. The letter added: “It appears as if Mr. Luft sought ‘whistleblower’ status from you in an effort to defend himself from criminal prosecution while a fugitive from justice. Worse yet, this latest episode also raises concerns that Mr. Luft may be manipulating your investigation not only for his own self-interest but perhaps also in furtherance of the [Chinese Communist Party’s] efforts to undermine U.S. security interests and the President of the United States. These recent revelations naturally raise broader concerns about the credibility and motivations of other purported whistleblowers that Congressional Republicans have relied on to support unfounded and baseless allegations. Sadly, the Luft episode severely undermines the credibility of the critical function of whistleblowers in this body.” Goldman and Raskin added that Comer, in addition to sharing relevant information with his colleagues, should also initiate an investigation into whether the GOP-led Oversight Committee “may have been unwittingly duped by Mr. Luft in furtherance of the [Chinese Communist Party’s] interests, as well as any potentially false statements made by Mr. Luft to Members of Congress or congressional staff.” In other words, as far as Raskin and Goldman are concerned, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee might’ve undermined U.S. national security interests by embracing an accused operative of the Chinese government. Given this possibility, and the available information, the call for greater scrutiny seems responsible. Stepping back, if Republicans kicked Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee because a suspected Chinese operative reportedly tried to make inroads into the Democratic congressman’s campaign, perhaps it’s time for a related conversation about kicking Comer off the House Oversight Committee?
This 100-year-old woman still works 4 days a week—her best advice for a long, happy career 2023-07-12 - Jayne Burns didn't always plan on working past 100. But most mornings, she drives herself 20 minutes from her house in Cincinnati to Mason, Ohio to clock into her shift as a part-time fabric cutter at Joann Fabric and Crafts store. She's been working at the store for 26 years — and it's still one of her favorite ways to spend time. "I enjoy what I do, so I want to keep doing it," she says. "I'll work for as long as I can or as long as they'll have me." Burns, who turns 101 on July 26, began working at the craft store in 1997, just a few months after her husband Dick died. Her daughter, Donna Burns, was working at the store part-time and recommended her for the role, thinking it might be a welcome distraction from the grief. The centenarian, who was a bookkeeper for most of her career, tried retiring several times throughout her 70s and 80s, but would "unretire" just a few months later because she missed the routine and lunches with her co-workers. "I enjoy talking to everybody I work with, and meeting the customers who are very nice," she says, "even if some of them are surprised to see me at the cutting table." Ultimately, there's no secret to living a longer, happier life, says Burns, but "working has helped."
‘I have not seen one cent’: billions stolen in wage theft from US workers 2023-06-15 - Jose Martinez worked for a construction contractor in New York City for six months in 2019 when he and his co-workers suddenly stopped getting paid. Martinez said the contractor, Star Builders, initially blamed the owners of the building for not dispersing money for the project. Martinez said he and his colleagues were eventually paid late, but the delays kept happening. The contractor came up with more excuses for the lack of payment. Eventually Martinez and several of his co-workers left after not getting paid for four weeks of work. “I have not seen one cent from that money that is owed yet,” added Martinez, who filed a wage theft claim with the New York state labor department in 2019 with assistance from the non-profit Make the Road New York. “It affected me a lot because at the time, I had to start finding other work, I had to pay bills and pay rent and I didn’t have money, so I had to get loans that I eventually had to pay back once I got another job.” The contractor, Star Builders, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Martinez is far from alone. Workers in the US have an estimated $50bn-plus stolen from them every year, according to the Economic Policy Institute, surpassing all robberies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts combined. The majority of these stolen wages are never recovered by workers. Between 2017 to 2020, $3.24bn in stolen wages were recovered by the US Department of Labor, state labor departments and attorney generals, and through class- and collective-action litigation. Wage theft disproportionately affects lower-wage workers, women, people of color and immigrant workers, and negatively affects local economies and tax revenues. There are numerous forms of wage theft, from employers not compensating workers for time worked, violating minimum wage and overtime laws, misclassifying employees as independent contractors, not providing legally required meal breaks, confiscating worker tips, or illegally taking deductions from worker wages. Wage-theft violators include some of the largest employers in the US; Amazon paid $18m in November 2022 to settle a wage-theft class-action lawsuit in Oregon, the largest in the state’s history, and paid a $61.7m fine in 2021 over allegations of stealing tips from Amazon Flex drivers. According to a 2018 report by Good Jobs, between January 2000 to 2018, Walmart paid over $1.4bn in fines and settlements over wage theft violations, FedEx paid over $500m during the same period, and Bank of America paid over $380m. Construction contractors have a notorious reputation for wage-theft violations, often affecting immigrant workers, and exploiting loopholes to avoid paying wage-theft claims, such as shutting down businesses and reopening under a different business filing. Martinez wants to warn others in the sector. “People need to be very careful with contractors, because they always say, ‘We have a lot of work for you to do’ to keep you there. They would say, ‘It’s just a matter of time, we just have to wait for the payment, it’s going to be OK,’ and so they’re always talking that way to keep people working there,” said Martinez. “Workers shouldn’t let more than one week go by without getting their payment because they’re always going to come up with some excuse.” Despite the state of New York’s worker protections and laws aimed at curtailing wage theft, the Center for Popular Democracy estimated in 2019 that wage theft may affect 2.1 million workers in New York every year, exceeding $3bn annually. Goma Yonjan Gurung has worked as a nail technician in the New York City area for 25 years, an industry where wage theft is rampant and scantily enforced. A February 2020 report by the New York Nail Salon Workers Association noted 82% of workers reported experiencing wage theft at an average amount of $181 per week. “Even though the government says the minimum wage is $15 an hour, what I know is it’s not happening for many nail technicians, including myself. In some places they pay as low as $10 an hour,” she said. “The government in the past has passed bills mandating minimum wage or time off, but what happens is it is not implemented or being practiced by employers.” Worker advocates have criticized the state’s labor department for lack of enforcement of wage-theft violations and not recovering stolen wages from employers. Other states, such as Florida, do not have a state labor department to oversee the third largest workforce in the US, leaving workers with fewer options to try to recover stolen wages. A bartender in Orlando, Florida who requested to remain anonymous because they still work in the industry, said they started a new bartending job in May and pushed back when they found out their hourly wage was just a daily rate of $30, despite working eight-hour shifts. “I reminded my manager that paying less than minimum wage was illegal, and added a link to a law firm’s page about it. He fired me,” the worker said. “Getting fired for not wanting to be paid below the already insanely low minimum wage after working in the industry for over 20 years was pretty rough.” The worker attempted to file a complaint with the US Department of Labor and the Florida attorney general’s office but was told they only prioritize higher wage violations and never heard back after being told someone would follow up. Rodrigo Camarena, director of the Justicia Lab, an advocacy group, said: “The process for filing a wage-theft complaint form is very onerous and cumbersome, so there’s an immediate obstacle in the process itself. But once that form is filed, it takes months if not years for the department of labor to even investigate it.” The Justicia Lab recently launched a digital tool, ¡Reclamo!, for workers to file wage-theft claims. Camarena said: “In the meantime, that person is going without that income that they earned potentially, and the employer isn’t being penalized in any way, so there’s a delay in enforcement and then the enforcement process also isn’t as thorough as it could be.” New York legislators and worker groups have been pushing to pass the Securing Wages Earned Against Theft (Sweat) Act to enforce New York’s wage-theft laws and make it more difficult for employers to avoid accountability for wage-theft violations. “There needs to be more work at the state level, that not just holds individual employers accountable but to really hold industries accountable that are problematic and root out the ways employers get out of paying wages owed,” added Camarena. “We need to ensure that worker rights are protected in all cases, because ultimately this issue is about the dignity of everyone.”