Remember the peace movement? Maybe we should bring that back. - Jacob
THE BIG NEWS
Child Labor Booming in the U.S.
2023 was the year that America rediscovered child labor. Or more precisely, we learned that we have a huge – and growing – problem of kids working in dangerous jobs that should be for trained, consenting adults. Children are being pressed into extremely hazardous jobs at meat-processing plants, construction sites, and sawmills. They're using dangerous tools and working around toxic chemicals, often without sufficient training and safeguards – and in violation of the law.
The Labor Department discovered 5,800 children working illegally over a 12-month period, and that almost certainly understates the problem. The Labor Department has issued public warnings and handed out millions in fines, but as CBS notes, "for larger employers such fines are often considered the cost of doing business." These big companies often blame outside staffing agencies for sending them underage workers.
A report from the Economic Policy Institute found 10 states where efforts have been made to weaken child labor laws. "The trend reflects a coordinated multi-industry push to expand employer access to low-wage labor and weaken state child labor laws in ways that contradict federal protections, in pursuit of longer-term industry-backed goals to rewrite federal child labor laws and other worker protections for the whole country," wrote the report's authors. Florida legislators are considering two bills that would roll back child labor laws.
The problem is particularly acute among migrant children, who sometimes arrive in the US alone, with limited English. One Southern California chicken processor employed indigenous Guatemalan children in risky jobs and used front companies and outside staffing agencies to conceal its practices. The company even hid its underage workers in closets during inspections.
There are multiple reasons for the child labor boom, including an overall labor shortage exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. But the main contributing factor is simple: these kids are cheaper to employ and easier to exploit. Let's hope the situation improves in 2024.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Global Warming Might Be Accelerating
This year is set to be the hottest year in recorded human history. Now some scientists think that the pace of Earth's temperature rise has increased. "While there is increasing evidence of an acceleration of warming, it’s not necessarily ‘worse than we thought’ because scientists largely expected something like this," one scientist told the Washington Post – which is hardly reassuring! Others have cautioned that, while things are very bad, it's too early to say that the global climate has its foot firmly on the accelerator. "The truth is bad enough!" wrote Michael Mann, a climate scientist, who said that ocean temperatures were rising but not at an accelerated rate. The takeaway: the Earth's climate is in dire shape and likely getting worse. But hey, people were jogging in t-shirts in Minnesota on Christmas, which, if you don't think about the impending climate apocalypse, almost seems pleasant.
- IDF Invades Palestinian Refugee Camps Israel's war in Gaza has reached a new phase, with the Israeli military now launching raids into refugee camps in central Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu, visiting Israeli soldiers in Gaza, promised that his government wouldn't slow its military campaign, which has displaced 85 percent of Gazans and killed more than 20,000 people. via Associated Press.
- "Parasite" Actor Found Dead in Apparent Suicide Lee Sun-kyun, who played the out-of-touch tech executive in the hit movie "Parasite," was found dead in his car in Seoul. He had been a target of an investigation into recreational drugs. South Korea has some of the world's strictest drug laws. via Reuters.
- Fears Grow of AI-Driven Disinformation in Elections The 2024 election is likely to be rife with disinformation, deep fakes, and other false information created by generative AI tools – and that's not counting the daily lies put out by former President Donald Trump. The impending flood of fake audio, craftily edited videos, and viral social media rumors has worried election experts. via Associated Press.
- Private Equity-Owned Hospitals Endanger Patients A new Harvard Medical School study has highlighted problems cropping up at hospitals owned by private-equity firms. The study found a 25 percent increase in "adverse events" like falls and blood infections. PE-owned hospitals have also increased costs while providing worse care. via UPI.
That's how many pages Becky Hill, the co-author of a book about convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh, plagiarized from a BBC article. Neil Gordon, a journalist who co-authored the book with Hill, who was a court clerk during Murdaugh's trial, discovered the plagiarism and pulled the book from online retailers. Murdaugh's team has accused Hill of jury tampering and abusing her position and is seeking a new trial for their client, who was convicted of murdering his wife and son. Hill, speaking through her lawyers, acknowledged the plagiarism, expressing contrition.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
12/27: It's Day 2 of the Majority Report's Best Clips of the year! First, the MR Crew revisit their interview with Clara Mattei, Assistant Professor of Economics at the New School for Social Research, to discuss her recent book The Capital Order: How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism. Then, Emma revisits her conversation with Noah Kulwin and Brendan James to discuss the most recent season of the Blowback podcast. And then, we visit with comedian Judy Gold, host of the Kill Me Now podcast!
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
Maybe Laura Ingraham was already mentally checked out for Christmas vacation, but this was a weird one.
Peter Beinart talks about how Israel's attempts to tamp down Palestinian resistance – without offering a path to political equality or a Palestinian state – have made the situation even worse.
"I sincerely apologize to the Jewish community for any unintended outburst caused by my words or actions."
-- From an apparent apology that Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, posted on Twitter and Instagram. The message, which was written in Hebrew, is another confusing episode in Ye's long history of fixating on Jews. It also comes just weeks after Ye held a listening party for his new album, "Vultures," which includes some antisemitic lyrics.
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