This Week’s Under-reported News Summary – Dec. 30, 2020

Compiled by Bob Nixon

  • Women in Mexico reckon with high cost of migration
  • Africa's Kariba Dam faces disastrous hydroelectric power collapse
  • Big Tech's gig economy foreshadows Uber-like trouble

• For 11 years, Mexican migrant Jaime Solano worked in the low-wage food service industry in New York City. He delivered takeout for restaurants and worked as kitchen staff. He sent his savings to his family in the poor state of Guerrero in southern Mexico, until he died of COVID-19 over the summer.  His death left his wife and family with little means of support.

(“Women in Mexico Reckon With the High Cost of Migration,” The Nation, Dec. 17, 2020)

• African’s largest man-made dam, the Kariba Dam built by European colonial powers in the 1950s is in trouble. The dam located on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia has been struck by a destructive pattern of seasonal droughts which have cut off its 1,830 megawatt hydroelectric power supply to the region. Aging infrastructure is leading to the dam’s potential collapse. Over six decades of the waters’ rushing through it and tumbling over the dam have carved a pit at its base and erosion threatens its very foundation.

(“Learning from the Kariba Dam,” New York Times Magazine, July 22 2020; “President Lungu Tours Kariba Dam to Observe Water Situation,” Southern Times, May 19, 2020)

• The passage of California’s Proposition 22 on Election Day defined app-based rideshare and delivery drivers working for companies like Uber and Lyft as independent contractors, denying them the rights and protections as employees. These self-employed gig workers must now service their own equipment, pay their own payroll taxes and shop for their own high-priced individual health insurance plans. The gig companies behind Prop 22 — Uber, Lyft and DoorDash — spent $200 million to win the California measure and are now taking their anti-labor campaign to other states across the U.S.

(“If We Don’t Break Up Big Tech, We’ll All Be Uber Drivers Soon,” In These Times, Dec. 17, 2020)

This week’s News Summary was narrated by Anna Manzo.

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