Americans have been unwittingly signing away their right to join class-action lawsuits in recent years, even though it's “realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices,” according to the New York Times. The newspaper has a great two-part investigation into how two U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the past five years have allowed companies from American Express to funeral homes to ban class actions in the fine print of contracts, forcing disputes into private arbitration instead. It's made for an opaque, jury-free system that generally favors companies and hurts consumers, sometimes in outrageous ways.
BuzzFeed News has a great piece on how some businesses have been inserting non-disparagement clauses into their terms and conditions, then fining consumers thousands of dollars for bad reviews — legally! Congress is trying to pass a law banning the practice.
And the Tampa Bay Times and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune published an incredible and disturbing investigation into the rise of violent attacks at Florida's state-funded mental hospitals in the face of massive budget cuts. It is so eye-opening and shocking and will give you chills.
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