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Does Silicon Valley Have a Contract-Worker Problem?

Earlier this year, I hired a house cleaner. I wouldn't have done so normally, but my place was a mess, I was busy at work, and I saw an offer on Facebook that looked too good to be true — a San Francisco start-up called Homejoy was offering home cleanings in the Bay Area for $19. (Not $19 per room or $19 per hour. Just $19.) So I booked an appointment through Homejoy's website, and a day later, a young man showed up at my door.

As the cleaner laid out his tools, we made small talk, and I asked him where he lived. "Well, right now I'm staying in a shelter in Oakland," he said. I paused, unsure if I'd heard him right. A shelter? Was my house cleaner — the one I'd hired through a company that has raised $40 million in venture-capital funding from well-respected firms like Google Ventures, the one who was about to perform arduous manual labor in my house using potentially hazardous cleaning chemicals — homeless?


NYPD Officer Suspended for Kicking Street Vendor in Melee Video

The Fifth Avenue Festival in Sunset Park got entirely out of hand over the weekend when police attempted to end the fair and clear the street. Things were running about 30 minutes late, and the NYPD was not pleased. An argument with vendors erupted — all of it caught on video, because it’s 2014 and no one trusts the cops — and a man being subdued on the ground received a swift kick to the back from an officer with nothing better to do. No one from the department is even bothering to defend him.


House Approves Obama’s Plan to Arm Syrian Rebels, Still Doesn’t Like It

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives approved President Obama's plan to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels to aid in the fight against ISIS, but don't let that fool you: Few lawmakers are enthusiastic about the plan. The 2002 vote authorizing the Iraq War was on many people's minds during the six hours of debate on Tuesday and Wednesday, and even some supporters questioned the plan. "It’s the best choice of worse options," said Representative James P. Moran, a Virginia Democrat. "It’s because there are no better alternatives and I don’t think it’s responsible to do nothing." The authorization will expire in mid-December, along with the routine spending bill it was attached to. The Senate is expected to approve the bill on Thursday.

iOS 8’s One More Thing: It Prevents Apple from Complying With Search Warrants

Apple knows nobody read the new terms and conditions while they were installing iOS 8, so on Wednesday night they announced an important new feature we missed: Apple has changed the way its encryption works to make it technically impossible for the company to access customers' data — even if police obtain a search warrant. Apple used to be able to unlock some data stored on iPhones and iPads, but now it won't be able to access information like photos, email, messages, contacts, and call history. Now no one can obtain evidence of your nefarious deeds without your consent ... as long you run the latest operating system, keep everything out of the cloud, and choose a passcode that isn't your birthday.

Tim Cook took a jab at free services where "You're the product." »

Maureen Dowd Doesn’t Mind Being Edible Pot’s Literal Poster Girl

A Maureen Dowd–like figures appears on the Marijuana Policy Project's new billboard about consuming edible pot responsibly, and apparently, the New York Times columnist, who wrote about ingesting so much weed that she discovered the true meaning of green corduroy jeans, is fine with that. "I love it," Dowd told BuzzFeed News via email. "I’m going to make it my Christmas card." She added, "But some of my friends have pointed out that the hotel room looks way too tidy." When did she get so chill? Oh, right.

Arizona Cardinals’ Jonathan Dwyer Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges

Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer, 25, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of domestic violence. For non-football fans, yes, this is an entirely new incident, though it manages to combine elements of the various assault cases already plaguing the NFL (including Ray Rice knocking out his wife, Adrian Peterson's alleged child abuse, and slew of pending charges against other players). Dwyer was arrested at the team's training facility on suspicion of aggravated assault for two incidents involving his 27-year-old wife Kayla and their 18-month-old son.


Rob Ford Has Cancer

Embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with liposarcoma, a rare cancer of fatty tissue that doctors describe as "difficult." Ford was hospitalized last week for abdominal pain, at which point doctors noticed a tumor and Ford formally withdrew from his reelection race. According to Zane Cohen, a doctor on his treatment team, they're dealing with a "fairly aggressive tumor" that has spread to his buttock from his abdomen.


Is Scotland About to Break Away From Britain?

Tomorrow, Scotland heads to the polls to vote on whether to leave Britain or stay. We talked to Alex Massie, a prominent Scottish journalist, about the arguments from both sides and how it feels in Scotland on the brink. Though he has voted against secession, Massey says he sees the emotional appeal of the campaign, "clusterfuck" though it might be to implement. We talked to him on the eve of the historic vote that might sever Scotland from the United Kingdom. 

Where are we now? Does it look like Scotland’s going independent?
The result still hangs in the balance. We’ll have three or four new polls out tonight, but a couple came out yesterday which reported that 52 percent of voters intend to vote no and remain part of United Kingdom, and 48 percent are in favor of voting yes. That’s obviously within the familiar margin of error. 

Both sides are quietly confident.


Horny Old Racist Has Shockingly Disgusting Excuse for Posting Porn in His Window

Who still buys porn magazines? This vile harasser in Queens, for one.

"Jimmy," who seems to be channeling Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, isn't a fan of his new Indian neighbors and has taken to putting pornographic images in his window facing their house to express his disapproval, ABC 7 reports. The immigrant family has a 4-year-old son. But wait, it gets nastier!


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