American Startup Creates Job Board for People with Criminal Records

happy workers in a factory

Americans like to think of themselves living in the land of the free, ironically the country has the highest incarceration rate on the planet (and the greatest number of people behind bars). The laws in the USA are quite strict with zero tolerance and minimum jail time for offenders, this leads to a lot of people having criminal records. Once a person has been labelled a criminal in the states it can be very hard to find work after being released from prison. A new website called 70 Million Jobs has launched to help people released from prison get employment opportunities.

The founder of the site explained why he built it on Hacker News:

I’m something of a domain expert in this area because I myself have a criminal record. In the early 1990s, I worked on Wall Street and some of what I did was illegal. For a time I was a partner at the infamous Wolf of Wall Street firm, Stratton Oakmont (Scorcese film). I ended up with a 2 year Federal prison sentence. I was guilty.

I experienced first hand how difficult it was to get on with life after going through the “system.” I served as Director at Defy Ventures, a great non-profit in the reentry space, but was interested in a scalable solution to ex-offender unemployment and resultant recidivism. I felt a new, for-profit, tech-based approach was necessary, so I launched 70MillionJobs. We’re seeking “double bottom-line” returns: make money and do social good.

Like most job boards, our business model is based upon employers paying to advertise their jobs. We expect additional revenue to come from municipalities, who spend tens of billions of dollars annually, when someone is rearrested.

You might not be surprised to learn that most formerly incarcerated men and women are petrified to discuss their background with prospective employers. So we created a “safe haven” where all parties knew the score, and applicants could relax knowing that jobs being offered were with companies that accepted their pasts.

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More information on America’s prison dilemma.

Even Massive Multinationals Support Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is what allows the internet to be what it is, and without it the internet would be pretty much useless. The Trump administration is presently trying to eliminate net neutrality to protect the profits of a very small group of companies. It’s worth noting that the Obama administration also tried this but didn’t go ahead with it

Without net neutrality the internet will undoubtedly suck, for a look at what that will be like check out this article. Net neutrality is awful for individual freedom and it’s also quite awful for profits, which is why today many popular websites and services are speaking out. For example, Netflix will basically be banned for some people and thus will lose their subscriber base.

If you’re an American then you ought to call your local representatives and talk to anybody who will listen about this issue. Today is the day of action. The repeal of net neutrality is censorship under a different name.

Sites across the web will display alerts on their homepages showing “blocked,” “upgrade,” and “spinning wheel of death” pop-ups to demonstrate what the internet would look like without net neutrality, according to advocacy group Battle for the Net. But most of the pop-ups The Verge has seen have been simple banners or static text with links offering more information.

Netflix, Spotify, and Airbnb have all placed banners at the top of their home pages, while Vimeo has an explainer video and graphics made available for download. Other websites, including Facebook and Amazon are participating, but haven’t yet disclosed what form their protests will take. Apple is not on the list of participants.

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In Venezuela Bus TV is the Free Press

bus

Venezuela has been witnessing a massive crackdown on journalism and public dissent under the current government (not that the previous government was much better). Mass protest happen daily throughout yet receive no media coverage due to government interference. This clampdown has led to frustration amongst media professionals who have decided to keep broadcasting, but on busses.

The process at Bus TV, for example, is incredibly simple: A producer steps onto the bus and asks the driver for permission to present the news. Two journalists hold the makeshift TV, while the host reads the four-minute news bulletin covering current events. They not only talk about the protests, but shortages or other daily hardships many here are experiencing. Each day the newscast is different, and although government sources are rarely made available for interviews, the reporters work to incorporate public statements from officials in order to make the newscast as balanced and professional as possible.

The idea came to reporter Claudia Lizardo in late April. The capital was overwhelmed by protests, but when she got on the bus she realized no one was talking about it. “I felt like I was in a parallel reality,” she says. “It seemed like nothing [out of the ordinary] was happening in the country.” She feared it was a matter of lack of information – or even misinformation. So she gathered a group of friends and launched Bus TV.

“This is not a protest, but it’s a form of resistance,” says Laura Castilllo, a journalist working with Bus TV. “It’s a way to counteract censorship.”

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Using a Blockchain to Rebuild Trust in Governments

computer screen

Cryptocurrencies have popularized the use of a digital concept called a blockchain. These blockchains can be used to track transactions and increase accountability of shared networks. If this sounds familiar, a few months ago we looked at how blockchain technology can be used to track physical items.

Citizens around the world have been losing trust in their in governments. Certain parties are getting elected that increase corruption, or at least, make it look like those in charge are running a kleptocracy. This leaves the average person distrusting of their government, maybe using blockchain technology this trend can be reversed.

Tillemann believes blockchain could play a big role in improving trust in government, improving bureaucratic efficiency, and maintaining integrity of public data, from vote counts to land registry titles. (We discussed several other social impact applications for blockchains here).

“The critical challenge facing society right now is the breakdown in trust in institutions,” he tells Fast Company. “Blockchain was designed from the ground up to address that, creating systems that are highly secure, highly transparent and resistant to corruption.”

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How Pressure from Pedestrians and Cyclists Make Better Cities

Depending on where you live you may think streets are for people or for cars. The correct answer is that streets are for moving people and not built for the need of inanimate objects. In an interesting series of videos the Toronto Star’s Christopher Hume examines the different urban design decisions between suburban and urban neighbourhoods. The urban areas that promote cycling and walking are understandably the most vibrant, interesting, and productive (economically and culturally). The impact non-car uses can have on streets is evident and something that every city can benefit from.

Unsurprisingly, Toronto’s most vibrant streets — Queen, College, Bloor — are generally narrow car-slowing thoroughfares lined with unspectacular buildings between two and six storeys tall — hardly the stuff of vehicular convenience. The major interruptions in these mostly intact streetscapes are largely the result of clumsy modern interventions beginning in the 1950s and ’60s. Decades later in what’s now Vertical City, we still have difficulty making buildings work at street level. Architects are slowly learning, but have yet to master the skills of contextualism. They prefer the silence of the vacuum and ignore the public realm whenever possible.

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