Tag Archives | Business

Can You Be An Anarchist And Business Owner?

Photo: revolution cycle (CC)

Photo: revolution cycle (CC)

This article in the Washington Post raises a very interesting question:

A meeting of anarchists, progressives, a self-described “surly feminist” and others on the far left of the political spectrum is underway. They’re young and radical. They’re organizing intently. The matter at hand could be oppression, or the police state, or revolution.

But it’s not. It’s walking dogs.

They sit in a circle in the living room of a Petworth group house and tick off their “route updates,” which mostly consist of details about the new canine clients they’ve signed up.

That’s because business is booming.

The seven people present belong to Brighter Days, a dog walkers’ collective founded on anarchist principles. Last year, the five-year-old business grossed more than $250,000. Its members have equal ownership and make business decisions by reaching consensus during weekly meetings such as this one. Any of them can block any decision.

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Wal-Mart Rolls Back Discrimination Law Suit

Photo: Joey Caputo (CC)

Photo: Joey Caputo (CC)

Is Wal-Mart too big to sue? How will this and previous law suits against Wal-Mart effect the future of how other businesses deal with discrimination? Via MSNBC:

If you’re part of a group of employees working for a major U.S. corporation with a gripe about unfair treatment, your collective voices were potentially muffled Monday.

A key attempt to tackle inequality in the U.S. workforce suffered a major blow when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Wal-Mart — with its thousands of stores and millions of employment decisions — was too massive for a group of employees to sue for discrimination using class-action status.

Wal-Mart, according to a 5-4 decision by the high court, is just too big to sue. The court’s decision is a direct hit to women seeking parity in particular. Women now make up about half the U.S. workforce and that means no other minority group seeking a class action would likely constitute such a big block of employees at any one employer.

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Blackwater Sued For Allegedly Failing To Pay Benefits

BlackwaterReports Agence France-Presse via the Raw Story:

WASHINGTON — Four former employees of Blackwater, the scandal-plagued security firm now called Xe, have filed a $60 million class action lawsuit claiming the firm failed to pay health and pension benefits to its employees.

Their lawyer, Scott Bloch, said Wednesday that Xe improperly classified thousands of its employees as independent contractors, allowing the company to avoid “millions of dollars in taxes, withholding and payments of benefits.”

“Blackwater made hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers and hired thousands of former veterans of military service and police officers,” said Bloch in a statement.

“It is a grave injustice to them who were mistreated and left without any health insurance or other benefits for their families, and left to fend for themselves in paying into Social Security and Medicare,” he said.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Washington, and hopes to recover Social Security, unemployment insurance, health and other benefits for the four plaintiffs, all of whom were injured while working for Blackwater.

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‘Ordered Fear’ Plays a Strong Role in Market Chaos

The ScreamFrom ScienceDaily:

When the current financial crisis hit, the failure of traditional economic doctrines to provide any sort of early warning shocked not only financial experts worldwide, but also governments and the general public, and we all began to question the effectiveness and validity of those doctrines.A research team based in Israel decided to investigate what went awry, searching for order in an apparently random system. They report their findings in the American Institute of Physics’ journal AIP Advances.

The novelty of their study is the incorporation of time variation of “human factors” into mathematical analysis. The team, led by Dr. Yoash Shapira, former head of the Atomic Energy Commission Research and currently a guest scientist at Tel Aviv University, along with Eshel Ben-Jacob, a professor of physics, Tel Aviv University School of Physics and Astronomy, and his doctoral student Dror Y. Kenett, hypothesized that temporal order (arrangement of events in time) should be hidden in variables associated with fear, such as volatility.

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10 Physical Gestures That Have Been Patented


Photo: Chris Kirkman (CC)

Interesting article from Annalee Newitz on io9.com:

If you’re making a flicking gesture with a pen near your computer, watch out. Microsoft may own the rights to the gesture you’re making. And if you like to draw letters of the alphabet using one penstroke per letter, you may one day find yourself paying a licensing fee to Xerox.

It sounds crazy, but tech companies have been patenting physical gestures for almost two decades now. In a world ruled by touchscreens, Kinect, and Guitar Hero, these businesses don’t want people making certain gestures without paying for it. Find out which gestures you’re making that may be infringing somebody’s patents.

People have been claiming exclusive ownership of physical moves for a while. Famous choreographer Martha Graham’s company copyrighted many of her iconic dances, and even sued a man who said the work was actually his. A few years ago, the guy who copyrighted the Electric Slide dance asked YouTube to remove a video of people dancing his copyrighted moves (YouTube complied, but after some legal negotiation the choreographer made his dance available under a more open Creative Commons license.)

More on Annalee Newitz on io9.com

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Bernie Sanders Reveals The Top Corporate Tax Avoiders

Why is Congress giving tax cuts and refunds to America's wealthiest corporations, whilst welfare families, low-income and middle class communities, teachers, children and the elderly are being asked to sacrifice basic rights and access to resources like education and medicaid? Did you get your tax refund? These companies certainly did. On the Senate floor, Bernie Sanders tears into the ten worst corporate tax avoiders, including Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, Citibank, and Goldman Sachs. The numbers are simply staggering.
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Alamo Drafthouse: She Texted During The Movie So We Kicked Her Out (And Here’s Her Stupid Response)

Via the Alamo Drafthouse:
Recently, we had a situation where a customer persisted in texting in the theater despite two warnings to stop. Our policy at that point is to eject the customer without a refund, which is exactly what went down that night. Luckily, this former patron was so incensed at being kicked out, she quickly called the office and left us the raw ingredients for our latest "Don't Talk or Text" PSA:
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McDonald’s Accounted For Half Of May’s Job Growth

3876843822_fc4d31ab52If you’re looking for a job, McDonald’s is the place to go. No really, it’s the only place for you to go. The Atlantic Wire writes:

We were joking when we wrote that McDonalds was singlehandedly reviving the U.S. economy by hiring 62,000 employees in a single day in April. At the time, it didn’t feel like the recovery hinged on the creation of low-paying, temporary McJobs. Well, on the heels of today’s pessimistic report saying that just 54,000 jobs were added in May, the fast food chain’s effect on the economy is looking impressive to MarketWatch.

Seasonal adjustment will reduce the Hamburglar impact on payrolls. (In simpler terms — restaurants always staff up for the summer; the Labor Department makes allowance for this effect.) Morgan Stanley estimates McDonald’s hiring will boost the overall number by 25,000 to 30,000.

Those 25,000 to 30,000 McJobs that Morgan Stanley estimated were the net additions that would amount to half of the jobs added in May.

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Can You Get Paid $100,000 To Not Go to College?

School's OutNadine Bells writes on Yahoo News:
It sounds like a teenager's dream and a parent's nightmare. Peter Thiel, PayPal's co-founder, is paying 24 college-aged students $100,000 to just say no — to college. For two years, winners of the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship have focused on developing business ideas instead of heading to class. The fellows will work in Silicon Valley with a network of more than 100 mentors where they "will pursue innovative scientific and technical projects, learn entrepreneurship and begin to build the technology companies of tomorrow," the press release states.
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7 Ways The Hedge Fund Industry Is Built On Fraud, Lying, And Stealing

matthew-tannin-in-handcuffs-accompanied-by-federal-agent-getting-placed-into-black-carCould the entire hedge fund industry rest upon tens of thousands of instances of lying, cheating, and stealing? Well, at least they’re immensely generous (with their political donations). Via Guernica:

1. Insider Trading. If the Feds could tape every hedge fund we’d get an earful of how hedge funds use “expert networks” to transfer bits of illegal information that provide hedge fund managers with knowledge of events that are sure to move markets and make them a bundle.

2. Ponzi Schemes. Madoff isn’t the only one. Hedge funds and Ponzi schemes are made for each other since the funds are designed to evade so many disclosure regulations. It’s virtually a sure thing that every new year will reveal another Ponzi scheme through which a hedge fund steals money from investors and then uses new investor money to pay returns to the old investors.

3. Tax Evasion. No surprise here. Wherever you find billionaire financiers, you’ll find schemes to move money around the globe to dodge taxes.

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