The Farmworkers’ Health Crisis

(Source) To date, there are approximately three million farmworkers employed throughout the United States. They feed the world through their labor, bringing fruits, vegetables, and other crops to homes across the nation. But despite how critical their work is to our well-being, farmworkers often labor under substandard conditions, earn poverty wages, and face a myriad of health and other issues due to their living and employment conditions. These issues have come to prominence following the Half Moon Bay shootings, in which seven farmworkers were killed and an eighth was critically injured at California Terra Garden and Concord Farms. In the wake of this incident, two California state agencies investigating the Half Moon Bay farms—the Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the Labor Commissioner’s Office—have unmasked that workers and their families “lived in trailers on the property, cooked outdoors in makeshift kitchens, used portable toilets, and had their rent deducted from their paychecks.” A San Mateo County supervisor has described the living conditions as “deplorable [and] heartbreaking.” Unfortunately, according to Director of Operations for Líderes Campesinas Irene de Barraicua, these living conditions are not an isolated incident, but rather “very typical images . . . for California.” To learn more [read more]

LMAO: Labor Movement Already Online, while the National Labor Relations Act is stuck in analog

                                                                                                                (Source) In 2018, two Apple repair technicians launched a server on Discord so that they could privately discuss Apple tech issues with their colleagues. Named “AppleConnect”, the Discord server hosted 600 workers by Oct. 2021 who used anonymous identities to discuss frustrations with work. They then organized a union. The recent union win at Apple exemplifies a small portion of the success that workers have had in organizing unions by using digital tools like email and social media. Workers from Amazon to Starbucks and Mcdonald’s have leveraged digital organizing strategies to disseminate information about the benefits of forming a union and to coordinate in-person meetings, events, and actions. Union organizers use many tools in executing a digital organizing strategy. For example, Mapbox employees used a combination of private Slack for private communication, Facebook Groups for crowdsourcing information, and Signal for confidential discussions to organize [read more]

The Epidemic of Incel Violence

                                                                                                           (Source) The Incel Problem “All I ever wanted was to love women, and in turn to be loved by them back. Their behavior towards me has only earned my hatred, and rightfully so! I am the true victim in all this. I am the good guy.” These words concluded 22-year-old Elliot Rodger’s 137-page manifesto. Rodger published the document one day before killing six people and himself at a sorority of the University of California Santa Barbara. In the manifesto, Rodger wrote about his inability to enter a romantic relationship and his resulting rage towards all women. He then laid out his plan for revenge: mass murder. The 2014 attack was the first to be linked to the “involuntary celibacy” or incel subculture. Designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, incels expressly advocate for the subjugation of women. The incel ideology is rooted in the [read more]

The FABRIC Act: Mending Workplace Protections in American Garment Manufacturing

                                                                                                               (Source) The global fashion industry produces more than 100 to 150 billion items of clothing per year. 400% more clothes are produced compared to 20 years ago. Today, fashion accounts for up to 10% of global carbon dioxide output and a fifth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year. In the United States alone, landfills receive 11.3 million tons of textiles and the nation throws away the equivalent of around 70 pairs of pants per person in clothing and footwear waste each year. If current practices continue, the United Nations Environment Programme believes that the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050. Some fashion brands and retailers are releasing sustainability reports and setting goals to use more recycled or organic materials. Zara, for example, made a commitment that 50% of items sold in 2022 [read more]

Partisan Gerrymandering: All or None         

                                                                                                      (Source) Each election in the 21st century has enormous political consequences.  But because of America’s increased polarization, partisan gerrymandering—the drawing of political boundaries to favor one party over the other—proliferates elections now more than ever.  Given the current political climate, the solution to achieve fairness in congressional redistricting is either for both parties to lean into gerrymandering or for Congress to introduce new legislation to curb the practice entirely. Partisan gerrymandering takes several forms, most notably cracking and packing.  Cracking a district means splitting up a solid group of voters for the opposing party and distributing those voters across several adjacent districts, so the formerly solid district becomes competitive.  On the other hand, packing is used to cram as many voters as possible from the opposing party into one district.  While the other party will likely win one seat, their power will be weakened in other districts.  The controlling [read more]

Toward a U.S.-Cuba Détente

(Source) The United States and Cuba share a long, complex history—from allies to enemies when, in 1959, Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista, President of Cuba’s then U.S.-backed government, in the establishment of a socialist state. During the half-century that followed, successive U.S. administrations economically and diplomatically isolated the island country, most notably through the imposition of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, effectively preventing American businesses from conducting trade with Cuban interests. Under the Obama administration, the alliance was finally renewed in what has become known as “the Cuban thaw.” Then, under the Trump administration, these initiatives were immediately undone. Now, under the Biden administration, it remains to be seen whether President Biden will follow through on his campaign promises to “reverse the failed Trump policies.” However, one thing is certain: “Cuba remains . . . a thorn in the side of US foreign policy.” Upon taking office, President Biden’s commitment to foreign policy was evident, but his commitment to U.S.-Cuba policy less so. Given then-Vice President Biden’s foreign policy achievements under the Cuban thaw and the subsequent “warm[ing] up [of] one of the Cold War’s last icy spots in the Western Hemisphere,” and given then-presidential candidate Biden’s aforementioned campaign promises, [read more]

Pay-per-read: The Cost of Revitalizing the Newspaper Industry

                                                                                                               (Source) The first published newspaper in the United States predated the founding of the nation itself. For more than two hundred centuries, news companies across the nation have printed timely, important updates and other information for their readers. However, starting in the 1980s, the estimated circulation of newspapers in the U.S. began declining. Coincidentally, the Internet was invented in 1983 and was destined to change the future of printed newspapers.  From 1984 to 2020, the circulation of newspapers decreased by nearly an estimated 40,000,000. From 2002 to 2020, newspaper publishers’ revenue dropped from $46.2 billion to $22.1 billion. In the decade spanning from 2008 to 2018, newspaper publishers’ advertising revenue declined by 62%, decreasing from $37.8 billion to $14.3 billion. Moreover, newspaper employment at U.S. newspapers dropped by 47% from 2008 to 2018. While revolutionary, the Internet did not single-handedly contribute to the decline of [read more]

Dust to Dust: Why We Should Legalize Human Composting

                                                                                                          (Source) What to do with our dead is a question that has plagued humanity for all of its history. Modern Americans most often choose to bury or cremate their dead, but other options are available. An emerging option is human composting, a fairly new alternative to traditional methods of disposition that has gained attention in recent years. A scientific process known as “natural organic reduction” or human composting makes it possible to turn human remains into compost. The process relies on the microbes already in the deceased person’s stomach, speeding up the natural decomposition process. During the human composting process the deceased’s remains are placed into a large steel cylinder (referred to as a vessel) with organic materials like wood chips and straw. The inside of the vessel is heated and oxygen is added to aid in the decomposition process. After some time, the bones are removed, [read more]

The Lingering Effects of Trump’s Family-Separation Policy

(Source) “They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands,” one Border Patrol agent told The Washington Post. The man, Marco Antonio Muñoz, was initially placed in a chain-link detention cell, but, so agitated over the separation of his family, was later taken to a local jail. “He yelled and kicked at the windows on the ride,” the agent said. The next morning, Muñoz was found dead in his cell, “a small pool of blood by his nose” and “a piece of clothing twisted around his neck.” This was May 13, 2018. Muñoz’s tragic death is not a standalone incident, but rather part of a long history of complex and escalating policies surrounding immigration. The genesis of family separation can be traced as far back as 9/11, with the Bush administration’s creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), tasked with, amongst its overarching missions, “ensuring the safety and security of our borders while managing a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.” The genesis of family separation as a way to deter migration to the United States can be traced to Tom Homan, who Caitlin Dickerson describes, in The Secret History of Family Separation, as [read more]

Decades-long waits for green card if you were born in the “wrong” country

                                                                                                                  (Source) The Immigration and Nationality Act (“the Act”) (8 U.S.C. §1152) promulgated that no country could receive more than 7% of the total number of green cards under each employment-based preference visa categories in a fiscal year, in addition to providing for an annual numerical worldwide limitation on permanent residency issuance. The original intent of the provision was to ensure a diverse immigrant pool. However, the per-country cap generated decades-long backlogs for immigrants born in countries like China and India. Legislation aiming to eliminate the per-country cap has been repeatedly introduced to Congress. The 116th Congress passed Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act in both chambers but could not reconcile the two chambers’ bills before the expiration of the 116th Congress. A similar EAGLE Act has now been introduced to the 117th Congress and cleared the House Judiciary committee. In this article, I will only explore [read more]