Google workers walk out to protest office harassment, inequality

admin   •   November 2, 2018   •   7667

 

Aerial of employees walking out of Google | REUTERS

Hundreds of Google employees and contractors in New York and Washington, D.C. staged brief midday walkouts on Thursday, (November 1) with more expected to follow at offices worldwide, amid complaints of sexism, racism and unchecked executive power in their workplace.

In a statement late on Wednesday, the organizers called on Google parent Alphabet Inc to add an employee representative to its board of directors and internally share pay-equity data. They also asked for changes to Google’s human resources practices intended to make bringing harassment claims a fairer process.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in a statement that “employees have raised constructive ideas” and that the company was “taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”

The workers who filed out of its New York headquarters shortly after 1100 local time were hoping for “real change” and to be treated equally. — Reuters

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Remains of a man missing for 22 years found through Google Earth

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 16, 2019

The remains of a missing man who had been missing for 22 years was found by a former resident of the Grand Isles community in Wellington, Florida (United States) while checking his old neighborhood through Google Earth.

He then contacted the current owner of the house and used his personal drone to confirm the report. He immediately reported the incident to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBCSO).

Authorities conducted a retrieval operation and found skeletons inside the car. Upon investigation, they were able to confirm the identity of the remains.

“On September 10, 2019, the remains were positively identified as William Moldt, who was reported missing on November 8, 1997,” according to the post of the (PBCSO).—AAC

New York governor proposes ban on flavored e-cigarettes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

A man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporizer, also known as an e-cigarette, in Toronto, August 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation on Monday (September 9) to ban flavored e-cigarettes statewide in an effort to protect young people from the unknown consequences of vaping.

“Common sense says if you don’t know what you’re smoking, don’t smoke it,” Cuomo told reporters at a news conference. “And right now, we don’t know what you’re smoking in a lot of these vaping substances,” he said.

The governor’s announcement comes after a nationwide surge in mysterious, serious lung illnesses possibly related to vaping, which has also been linked to five deaths in the United States.

The decision is of a piece with how vaping is currently being viewed by many on the street in New York.

“You don’t know what the hell you’re smoking,” Brian, a construction worker, told Reuters. “You don’t know what they’re putting in that oil.”

U.S. public health officials on Friday announced that they are investigating about 450 cases of the illness across 33 states and one U.S. territory, including 41 cases in the state of New York. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they have not linked the illnesses to any specific e-cigarette product or ingredient.

If the proposed legislation were to become law, New York would become the second state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, following Michigan, which passed a ban on Wednesday.

While e-cigarettes are promoted as a product to help smokers cut down or quit, health officials have expressed concerns that many e-cigarette flavors are designed to get a new generation hooked on nicotine.

Many of the reported illnesses involved vaping products, including cannabis products, containing vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E that is potentially dangerous if inhaled,

Cuomo, sitting beside New York Commissioner of Health, Dr. Howard Zucker, also announced that the state’s Department of Health was issuing subpoenas to three e-cigarette companies, Honey Cut Labs LLC, Floraplex Terpenes and Mass Terpenes LLC. The Department of Health obtained samples from the three companies and found high levels of vitamin E acetate in their products.

Cuomo said stores that sell e-cigarettes will be required to disclose potential health consequences.

“It’s quite simple: Don’t do it,” Cuomo said. “Don’t do it because we don’t know if it’s safe.” (Reuters)

(Production by: Dan Fastenberg and Hussein al Waaile)

Big Tech faces broad U.S. Justice Department antitrust probe

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2019

The U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday (July 23) it was opening a broad investigation of major digital technology firms into whether they engage in anti-competitive practices, the strongest sign the Trump administration is stepping up its scrutiny of Big Tech.

The review will look into “whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

The Justice Department did not identify specific companies but said the review would consider concerns raised about “search, social media, and some retail services online” — an apparent reference to Alphabet Inc, Amazon.com Inc., and Facebook Inc., and potentially, Apple Inc.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to provide a list of companies that would be scrutinized.

Google and Apple declined to comment, referring to prior statements by executives, while Facebook and Amazon did not immediately comment.

Facebook fell 1.7% in after-hours trading, while Alphabet fell 1%, Amazon was down 1.2% and Apple was 0.4% lower.

The announcement comes a day before the Federal Trade Commission is set to announce a $5 billion penalty to Facebook for failing to properly protect user privacy.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said the Justice Department “must now be bold and fearless in stopping Big Tech’s misuse of its monopolistic power. Too long absent and apathetic, enforcers now must prevent privacy abuse, anti-competitive tactics, innovation roadblocks, and other hallmarks of excessive market power.”

In June, Reuters reported the Trump administration was gearing up to investigate whether Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet’s Google misuse their massive market power, setting up what could be an unprecedented, wide-ranging probe of some of the world’s largest companies.

A person briefed on the matter said the Justice review may also include some state attorneys general.

The Justice Department said the review “is to assess the competitive conditions in the online marketplace in an objective and fair-minded manner and to ensure Americans have access to free markets in which companies compete on the merits to provide services that users want.”

Reuters reported on May 31 that the Justice Department was preparing an investigation of Google to determine whether the tech giant broke antitrust law.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill alike are expressing growing concerns about the size of the largest tech firms and their market power. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has called for breaking up companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook and unwinding prior acquisitions.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel pressed executives from the four firms about their competitive practices and noted that Google, Facebook, Amazon had a rising share of key markets.

Congress held a series of hearings last year looking at the dominance of major tech companies and their role in displacing or swallowing up existing businesses. It is rare for the government to seek to undo a consummated deal. The most famous case in recent memory is the government’s effort to break up Microsoft Corp. The Justice Department won a preliminary victory in 2000 but was reversed on appeal. The case settled with Microsoft intact.

“There is growing consensus among venture capitalists and startups that there is a kill zone around Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple that prevents new startups from entering the market with innovative products and services to challenge these incumbents,” said Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat who heads the subcommittee.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told CBS News last month that scrutiny was fair but “if you look at any kind of measure about is Apple a monopoly or not, I don’t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion that Apple’s a monopoly. Our share is much more modest. We don’t have a dominant position in any market.”

Google’s Adam Cohen told the House Judiciary subcommittee last week that the company had “created new competition in many sectors, and new competitive pressures often lead to concerns from rivals.”

Technology companies face a backlash in the United States and across the world, fueled by concerns among competitors, lawmakers, and consumer groups that they have too much power and are harming users and business rivals.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called for closer scrutiny of social media companies and Google, accusing them of suppressing conservative voices online, without presenting any evidence. (REUTERS)

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