Long Reads: Beyond Gun Control, Walmart and SWATting internet pests

Rich Jackson’s Long Reads examines the problems facing gun control in the US, Walmart’s crackdown on unions and an Obnoxious internet pest.


Beyond Gun Control – Louis Beckett (The New Republic)

We can probably all rattle off a list of high-profile mass shootings that have occurred in America in recent years, Charlestown and Sandy Hook to name just two. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting incident, President Barack Obama tried and failed to pass gun legislation with increased background checks and a ban on assault rifles. All sensible steps you would think, but as this article explains, all essentially meaningless in the long term.  Mass shootings in the US account for “less than 1 percent of all gun homicides”; the majority of murders come from the deaths of black men. What really works, aside from a ban on guns, are community programs that target those at risk of gun crime, like the program showcased in this article.


How Walmart keeps an eye on its massive workforce – Susan Berfield (Bloomberg Businessweek)

It’s commonly known that Walmart does not pay staff a living wage. They have also been anti-union from their inception, which possibly explains why in the fiscal year ending January 31, 2011, Walmart reported a net income of $15.4 billion. Many employees have now formed a union called Our Walmart to protest unfair working conditions, asking for a larger wage and standardised shifts. To monitor staff (or the “enemy within”) and protect profits, Walmart hired an “intelligence-gathering service from Lockheed Martin, contacted the FBI, staffed up its labour hotline, ranked stores by labour activity and kept eyes on employees activists prominent in the group.”


The serial swatter – Jason Fagone (New York Times)

People on the Internet are usually assholes; in fact, the internet affords them the ability to anonymously be an asshole. This is the story of an asshole called Obnoxious, which is a pretty convenient name for writing this story. Obnoxious would target female (of course they’re always female) players on the website Twitch. Initially befriending them, he would then send threatening messages, which is one thing, but then he located their addresses and mobile numbers, where he would send them pizza orders, text their friends and sending a SWAT team to their houses.



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