Amazon VP Resigns to Protest Poor Working Conditions

happy workers in a factory

Amazon has grown from an online book retailer to the seller of all things and destroyer of established businesses. It also treats humans like robots and gives them no respect while also dismissing human concerns like good working conditions and a breathable atmosphere. The lengths of which Amazon has gone to disrespect workers, the environment, and a decent of morals has led Tim Bray to resign from the company. This is exceptional.

In an open letter posted on his website he outlines all the reasons he left. He ranges from Amazon’s horrendous treatment of workers to the company’s disrespect of environmental concerns. It’s a scathing letter written by a highly respected individual. It’s quite rare for somebody at this level of a company to resign in this fashion and hopefully others will follow his lead.

Amazon’s strategy throughout the coronavirus crisis has been to fire dissenters and disparage them both in the press and behind closed doors. There have been dozens of confirmed coronavirus cases at warehouses around the country, and workers have repeatedly said the company isn’t doing enough to protect them. Last week, Amazon ended a program that allowed workers to take unlimited unpaid time off if they fear getting sick from the coronavirus. Last Friday, Amazon workers together with Target, FedEx, Instacart, and Whole Foods workers, went on strike to protest their working conditions.

In his resignation letter, Bray said that “firing whistleblowers isn’t just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets. It’s evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture. I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison.”

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Are you Creative? The UN Wants Your Help Fighting COVID-19

If you are a creative individual or work at a company that produces creative content then the United Nations wants your help. The UN has put out a call for creatives to produce engaging content to educate people about how to be safe during this pandemic. They are looking for anything from posters, marketing campaigns, songs, films, anything! This might be your opportunity to pick up painting again or whatever artistic hobby you’ve been neglecting. Submissions are open now and now’s your chance to help the UN help all of us.

Check out my Twitter bot Jam This Game if you’re in need of some creative inspiration.

The United Nations (UN) needs your help in translating critical public health messages, into work that will engage and inform people across different cultures, languages, communities and platforms. The shortlisted work will reach everyone, everywhere.

We need your submissions from day 1. The UN will continually review the submissions, and shortlist the most suitable work to become visible on a microsite, and accessible to everyone – supporting media, brands, influencers etc – around the world, who can download and use the work across their platforms in support of this cause.

It is not too late. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Together, we can save lives, protect resources and care for each other.

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Folding@Home now Faster Than Fastest Supercomputer

computer screen

Scientists can use your help folding. In particular they could use your computer to help understand how proteins fold. In order to understand viruses and ways to fight them it helps to run simulations to see how proteins interact with each other. You can get your computer to devote a percentage of it’s computational power to helping that research, and thanks to enough people doing that the Folding@Home network is now more powerful than the fastest supercomputer!

If you have access to multiple computers you can spin them up and get them computing towards helping researchers create more efficient and safer drugs.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has been taxing for a number of computational biology and chemistry projects. IBM recently formed its COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium that pools together major supercomputers run by various research institutions and technology companies in the USA to run research simulations in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling. Cumulative performance of supercomputers participating in IBM’s COVID-19 HPC Consortium is 330 PetaFLOPS.

Folding@home distributed computing project uses compute capabilities to run simulations of protein dynamics in a bid to better understand them and find cures for various diseases. Recently F@H started to run projects simulating theoretically druggable protein targets from SARS-CoV-2, which attracted a lot of attention as SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 are clearly the hottest topics these days.

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Grow a Garden to Alleviate Pressure on Food Supply Lines

People panic buying at grocery stores have messed up with the normal operations of industrial supply chains, including food. Not to worry though as toilet paper is still being made and crops are still growing around the world. Due to borders being closed and transportation being limited there is a coming issue around labour migration and farming. Over the last few decades migrant workers have been increasingly relied upon on farms to help with operation and now that labour pool won’t be able to help as they did in the past. There is something you can do this month (or even next month or the month after that…) is to plant a “victory garden”. If we need to keep the practice of social distancing going then having fresh food on hand will save trips to the grocery store.

“The warehouse is full and there are more containers arriving so we haven’t felt it,” she said.

“But I am not sure how we will go for the orders we are placing now because these containers are from orders we placed many months ago.

“We have to keep working and do our best; and hope that in a few months time things will be better and things will be back to normal.”

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Make & Wear Masks to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

homemade face mask

A mask shortage hit the Czech Republic early in their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and the people reacted swiftly by making their own masks. Indeed, people in the Czech Republic shared sewing plans and techniques while delivering the final product to hospitals and neighbours. Their joint efforts have proven to be effective when combined with social distancing.

To be clear, the homemade masks aren’t nearly as effective as proper surgical masks. The advantages of homemade masks has been explored by researchers in the past and concludes that homemade masks can help if there is a mask shortage since it lessens exposure.

Can’t make masks, please wear one when out in public even if you’re not sick (but you shouldn’t be in public spaces around other people anyway right now).

As the shortage of masks provided by the government continued, hospitals reached out on social media and asked if people may be able to sew a few masks for them because they were running low. In an unprecedented show of support, many people started making masks, not just for the hospitals but for everybody. The effort was both individual – people making masks by hand sewing or on a sewing machine at home, and organizational – theaters, non-profit organizations, small business and factories which normally produce clothes, linens, accessories redirected their efforts into full-time sewing. Local companies were sewing in bulk, supplying hospitals, senior citizen homes, the police or firemen. Masks were delivered to hospitals or to friends and neighbors who would often find them in their mailboxes. In some areas, people created “mask trees” where they would put available extra masks that were up for grabs for others.

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Sewing guide for making masks.

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