Jaeah Lee

Associate Interactive Producer

Jaeah reports, writes, codes, and charts at Mother Jones. Her writings have appeared in The Atlantic, GuardianWiredChristian Science MonitorGlobal PostHuffington PostTalking Points Memo, and Grist. She is a 2013-14 Middlebury fellow in environmental journalism. Her work has been named a finalist in the Data Journalism Awards. In a former life, she researched and wrote about China at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Why Are Fast Food Workers Walking Out Again?

| Thu Aug. 29, 2013 5:00 AM EDT

On Thursday, fast food workers around the country will walk off their jobs in what is expected to be the largest strike the $200 billion industry has ever seen.

Workers at McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and KFC will strike in 50 cities—from Boston to Denver to Los Angeles—demanding a wage increase to $15 an hour. They will be joined by retail workers at stores like Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, and Walgreens, and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The strikes follow a massive walkout by fast-food workers in July, and are the latest in an escalating series of strikes hitting the industry.

As we noted last month:

Many fast-food workers are paid at, or just above, the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is $7.25, though it's higher in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Fast-food wages have fallen 36 cents an hour since 2010, even as the industry has raked in record profits.

This is part of an economy-wide problem; the bottom 20 percent of American workers—some 28 million employees—earn less than $9.89 an hour, or $20,570 a year for a full-time employee. Their income fell five percent between 2006 and 2012. Meanwhile, average pay for chief executives at the country's top corporations leaped 16 percent last year, averaging $15.1 million...

The mobilization of fast-food workers is a pretty new thing, because the industry has traditionally had high turnover. But the slow economic recovery, which has been characterized by growth in mostly low-wage service sector jobs, has resulted in a growing population of adult fast-food workers who can't find other work.

Many fast food workers are forced to rely on public assistance just to get by.

Use our calculator to get a better sense of what fast-food workers are up against.

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NSA Mad Libs: Choose Your Own [Redacted]

| Thu Aug. 22, 2013 5:00 AM EDT

On Wednesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a 2011 FISA Court ruling striking down a top-secret National Security Agency online-surveillance program. The court, whose opinions are normally classified, found that the agency had accessed as many as 56,000 electronic communications (such as emails) from American citizens and foreign nationals over a three-year period by tapping into fiber-optic cables.

The ruling is 86 pages long, but don't expect to read all of it: It's so heavily redacted that large portions of the text look like some sort of cubist Rorschach test. As a result, much of the declassified ruling's contents will still be unknown to the general public.

But don't let that stop you! Below, you can take your best guess at what the redacted opinions should say with our NSA Choose-Your-Own-[Redacted] Mad Libs:

Think the results of your NSA Mad Lib looked crazy? Check out some of the actual redactions on the newly released FISA rulings:

Page 1
The black marker was definitely working on page 1. Behold, a nearly perfect square, redacting the entire opening paragraph.

 

Page 4
Page 4 informs us that something is limited to the "the targeting of non-United States persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States." And that's about it.

 

Page 12
Hoping to find the bibliography information for citation No. 11 on page 12? Fuhgeddaboudit.

 

Page 27
Page 27 might not tell you much about the new provision, but this redaction does kind of resemble an American flag. So at least it's patriotic.

 

Page 58
It appears one lucky word on page 58 was not redacted for a brief, shining moment. But eventually, the black marker won. What do you think that word was? Leave your comments below.
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