Sam Adler-Bell for the Century Foundation: Your car can now be used to track you, hack you, and coerce you into paying your bills.
New cars are designed with connectivity in mind. Nissan, Ford, Honda and GM have all opened new research and development offices in Silicon Valley in the past few years. Thanks to collaborations between carmakers and tech giants such as Google, Apple and Microsoft, all the conveniences of your smartphone or tablet will soon seamlessly integrate with your ride.
The catch? A report issued by Sen. Edward J. Markey's office found that most new cars collect vast amounts of data on their owners — where you go, how fast you drive, and so on — and many of them are transmitting that data to third-party companies. Just like your web browsing history, your driving habits are now scrutinized by big data companies, advertisers and sometimes even law enforcement.
More terrifyingly, Markey's report suggests that most new cars, which contain insufficiently secure wireless technology, are vulnerable to hackers who could monitor your behavior, steal your data, and even manipulate your car while it's in motion.
In another Orwellian turn, about two million cars belonging to owners with sub-prime auto loans have been equipped with so-called "starter-interrupt" devices. If you own one of these cars and miss a loan payment, lenders can remotely disable your car's ignition until you pay. If you miss a bunch of payments, dealers can use the device's GPS technology to track you down.
Ron Hira for the Economic Policy Institute:The outsourcing companies involved in the Southern California Edison scandal — where U.S. workers were replaced with H-1B guest workers — are Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services.
These two India-based IT firms specialize in outsourcing and offshoring, are major publicly traded companies with a combined market value of about $115 billion, and are the top two H-1B employers in the United States. In fiscal 2013, Infosys ranked first with 6,269 H-1B petitions approved by the government, and Tata ranked second with 6,193.
As with the Southern California Edison scandal, these leading offshore outsourcing firms use the H-1B program to replace American workers and to facilitate the offshoring of American jobs. Because of this, it's likely that Americans lost more than 12,000 jobs to H-1B workers in just one year. Fiscal 2013 H-1B data I've analyzed, acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveals new details about how firms like Infosys and Tata are using the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program. Spoiler alert: they don't use the H-1B visa as a way to alleviate a shortage of STEM-educated U.S. workers. they use it primarily to cut labor costs. ...
The principal reason that firms use H-1Bs to replace American workers is because H-1B nonimmigrant workers are much cheaper than locally recruited and hired U.S. workers. Infosys and Tata pay very low wages to their H-1B workers. The average wage for an H-1B employee at Infosys in FY13 was $70,882 and for Tata it was $65,565. Compare this to the average wage of a computer systems Aanalyst in Rosemead, Calif. (where Southern California Edison is located), which is $91,990, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That means Infosys and Tata save well over $20,000 per worker per year, by hiring an H-1B instead of a local U.S. worker earning the average wage.
BLURRED RACIAL LINES
William Frey for the Brookings Institution:Recently, a clear sign of the softening of racial boundaries was the 2010 Census report that persons identifying as black and white were the largest biracial population at 1.8 million — more than double those identified in the previous census. Moreover, for every 100 black toddlers under age 5, 15 toddlers were identified as white and black, again a sharp rise from 2000.
More significant is that the growth in persons identifying as white and black was highest in the South — a region where such identification was long discouraged and penalized. To be sure, the overall numbers of white-black identifying persons are small. But these shifts — incremental as they may seem — represent a major breakthrough in the blurring of the nation's racial boundaries, once indelibly etched in stone by laws, public and private institutions, and even the census.Compiled by Joseph Lawler from reports published by the various think tanks.