The problem with Amazon’s speedy shipping, in one graphic – Alexia Fernández CampbellOct 18, 2019, 3:40pm EDT


“The quota system pushes you to really not work at a pace that’s normal, but at a pace where you’re almost running for the entire 10 hours.”

A woman works at Amazon’s huge packing station warehouse in Staten Island, New York City.
A woman sorts packages at the Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York City, on February 5, 2019.
Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, New York, say they package about four online orders every minute. If they stop for a few seconds outside of their designated breaks, it hurts their performance evaluations.

So they’re bending, twisting, running, and lifting boxes for 10 to 12 hours a day — just to get a package to a customer’s door within a day or two.

That’s what Amazon warehouse employees in Staten Island who were surveyed earlier this year by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health had to say. The workers’ advocacy group is concerned that employees are developing musculoskeletal disorders from the intense work pace.

Sixty-six percent of the 145 workers surveyed (a total of about 2,500 employees prepare orders at Amazon’s warehouse in Staten Island) said they experience physical pain while performing their regular work duties and 42 percent said they continue experiencing pain when they aren’t working.

When asked to map where they feel pain, more than a quarter pointed to their feet, and nearly as many also felt pain in their lower backs and knees. This graphic shows the potential impact of Amazon’s speed-obsessed culture — injuries that will likely get worse since the company has started offering free one-day shipping to its Prime customers.

The percentage of surveyed Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island who reported pain in highlighted areas.
Source: New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health

The safety committee — made up of health experts, union leaders, and workers — said the pain workers described is likely a sign that they’re developing musculoskeletal disorders, which are injuries to the joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and tendons from repetitive strain and exertion.

“I feel pain in my back, in my waist, because I do a lot of bending,” one worker told the committee, according to the report. “Even if you squat, you still feel the pain in your waist. It’s a full-body workout all day every day.”

A large number of workers also said that their work conditions are psychologically distressing.

Source: New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health

A spokesperson for Amazon called the report “biased” and “unreliable” and pointed out that only about 3 percent of the workforce in Staten Island was surveyed.

“It is an example of selective data skewed to support false statements by an organization that’s sole business objective is to misinform the public on Amazon’s safety record,” wrote Amazon spokesperson Rachael Lighty in a statement to Vox. “The fact is that Amazon provides a safe, quality working environment for the over 250,000 hourly employees across the US, including over 4,500 full-time employees supporting customers at our Staten Island fulfillment center.”

Yet safety complaints about Amazon aren’t unusual. In 2016, the US Occupational Safety & Hazards Administration fined Amazon $7,000 for not recording about two dozen worker injuries at a warehouse in Robbinsville, New Jersey.

“The company exposed employees to ergonomic risk factors including stress from repeated bending at the waist and repeated exertions, and standing during entire shifts up to 10 hours, four days a week and sometimes including mandatory overtime shifts,” the agency wrote in a 2016 brief.

In 2018, the advocacy group National Council for Occupational Safety and Health listed Amazon as one of the most dangerous places to work in the US, based on its warehouse conditions. Amazon was included because of higher-than-average injury rates, unnecessary risks, and an unwillingness to address workers’ concerns, according to the report. The group also noted that seven Amazon warehouse workers have died since 2013 (mostly from accidents involving heavy machinery) and that the company’s “relentless demand” to fulfill orders leads to harsh working conditions.

Amazon workers want something to change

The latest report comes as Amazon workers in the Staten Island warehouse are trying to unionize. Some of them have said they’re afraid for their safety and only expect conditions to get worse with one-day shipping becoming more widespread.

The $800 billion online retailer launched one-day shipping in May as part of an effort to get an upper hand on competitors like Walmart and Target. But the plan outraged some warehouse employees. Such a quick turnaround, they say, will take a toll on their health and put their safety more at risk.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is helping Amazon workers unionize in New York City, put it this way in a statement about the change:

With two-day Prime shipping, Amazon fulfillment workers currently face speeds of 200-300 orders per hour in 12-hour shifts. They struggle already to maintain that pace. If Amazon plans to effectively double the speed, it must also address existing workforce needs and ensure its workers are safe. Increasing fulfillment speeds means they need to hire more workers, under more sustainable speeds that don’t put worker’s lives in jeopardy.

The online retailer is also dealing with serious complaints from employees who describe harrowing work conditions at Amazon’s warehouses in the United States and across the world. In July 2018, Amazon workers in the US and Europe went on strike to protest what they described as hot, windowless, soul-crushing work environments.

One of the warehouse workers surveyed in the New York study said Amazon’s strict quota system pressures workers to package 2,000 units in a day, four items per minute.

“The quota system pushes you to really not work at a pace that’s normal, but at a pace where you’re almost running for the entire 10 hours. … You’re constantly turning, bending, running. They say they make a big deal about safety, but when you’re working so fast, you’re not going to follow those mandates,” the worker said, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Amazon is expanding one-day shipping to more than 10,000 cities across the US and to Japan and the UK.

https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/10/18/20920717/amazon-shipping-workers-injuries

Boeing Pilot Raised Concerns About 737 MAX Years Before Deadly Crashes – By Andrew Tangel and Andy Pasztor Updated Oct. 18, 2019 8:48 pm ET


In messages with a colleague 2016, senior pilot said he had unintentionally misled regulators about aircraft’s flight-control system

The Federal Aviation Administration was in the process of certifying the 737 MAX as safe when the senior pilot wrote the message to a colleague in 2016. Photo: eric baradat/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

A senior Boeing Co. BA -6.79% pilot raised concerns about a 737 MAX flight-control system three years ago, but the company didn’t alert federal regulators until 2019, months after two deadly crashes involving the same system, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

In a 2016 instant-message exchange, Mark Forkner, then Boeing’s chief technical pilot for the MAX, and a colleague named Patrik Gustavsson appeared to discuss the plane maker’s modifications of the system, known as MCAS. The pilots compared notes on problems they had encountered in 737 MAX flight simulators, according to a transcript of the messages reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, and Mr. Forkner described some of the MAX’s simulated behavior as “egregious.”

Apparently referring to changes to the system, Mr. Forkner wrote: “So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).” At the time, FAA regulators were in the process of certifying the 737 MAX as safe to carry passengers.

Mr. Gustavsson replied: “it wasnt a lie, no one told us that was the case.”

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How Boeing’s 737 MAX Troubles Ripple Through the Industry

How Boeing’s 737 MAX Troubles Ripple Through the Industry

Two crashes and the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX commercial airliner led to extensive disruption in the international aerospace industry. WSJ’s Robert Wall explains the continuing effects of the plane’s grounding. Photo: Getty Images

According to a letter FAA head Steve Dickson sent to Boeing on Friday, the plane maker discovered the messages in February of this year, several months after a Lion Air 737 MAX crashed in Indonesia and around a month before another of the jets operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed, killing all on board. But Mr. Dickson’s letter said Boeing didn’t reveal their existence to the agency until this week and demanded the plane maker provide an immediate explanation for the delay.

The messages suggest Boeing’s pilots may have encountered some of the problems that eventually led to the two crashes, which together claimed 346 lives. MCAS has been implicated in both crashes.

David Gerger, an attorney for Mr. Forkner, said: “If you read the whole chat, it is obvious that there was no ‘lie’ and the simulator program was not operating properly. Based on what he was told, Mark thought the plane was safe, and the simulator would be fixed.”

The messages, coupled with questions about why they weren’t shared earlier with the FAA or congressional investigators, intensify scrutiny on Boeing’s management and safety culture. They also raise the stakes for Boeing at an Oct. 30 hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the Democratic chairman of the committee, has signaled that Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg will be grilled about whether the company misled regulators about MCAS and then withheld relevant documents from investigators.

Mr. DeFazio said the messages “show deliberate concealment” of a problematic system that was on the plane but not included in the training manual. “That’s just outrageous.”

Late Friday, Mr DeFazio sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao saying he was “deeply troubled” by the documents he received, because they reflected “improper coziness between the regulator and regulated.”

After months assessing the relative responsibility of federal regulators and the plane maker in creating the MAX crisis, Mr. DeFazio said now his probe’s focus “is shifting way over to the Boeing side.”

“You can’t pin this on just this guy,” he said, adding that “this was a cultural problem.”

The messages between Messrs. Forkner and Gustavsson, which were earlier reported by Reuters, highlight issues relating to Boeing’s efforts to get the MAX approved smoothly—as well as what pilots were told about MCAS—both topics that congressional investigators and federal prosecutors are focused on, according to people familiar with the probes.

The pilots appeared to discuss Mr. Forkner’s role in Boeing’s crafting pilot MAX manuals, which excluded references to MCAS. After describing the feature “running rampant” in the flight simulator, Mr. Forkner wrote: “Oh great, that means we have to update the speed trim description” in those documents. Speed trim is another flight-control system related to MCAS.

Investigators have been looking into whether such an update could have alerted FAA officials about the power of MCAS, or possibly prompted the agency to mandate additional simulator training for pilots on the new model. Boeing and airlines that bought the MAX, especially Southwest Airlines Co. , were determined to persuade the FAA that additional simulator training wasn’t required because MCAS was simply an offshoot of the long-standing speed-trim system previously approved by regulators.

At the end of the exchange, when the aviators complain that Boeing test pilots failed to alert them about the issues, Mr. Forkner responded: “They’re all so damn busy, and getting pressure from the program.”

A copy of the 2016 text exchange between Mark Forkner, then Boeing’s chief technical pilot for the MAX, and a colleague named Patrik Gustavsson. Source: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Boeing is also the subject of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, which is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Transportation Department’s inspector general’s office to delve into how the 737 MAX aircraft was developed and certified. Last week, the company stripped Mr. Muilenburg of his dual role as chairman. On Friday, Boeing shed $14 billion in market value, with its shares closing down 6.8% at $344.

Boeing said Mr. Muilenburg called the FAA chief on Friday to respond to the concerns raised in his letter, and the company reiterated it will continue to cooperate with the House panel.

A Boeing spokesman said the company didn’t believe it was appropriate to share the document with the FAA sooner because of the ongoing criminal investigation. The spokesman said Boeing shared it with the FAA’s parent agency on Thursday because it planned to turn the letter over to congressional investigators on Friday.

Separately, the FAA provided Mr. DeFazio’s committee with a batch of emails—covering the period from 2015 to 2018—between Mr. Forkner and unidentified FAA officials dealing with MAX issues.

In one dated Jan. 17, 2017, with the name of the agency recipient blacked out, Mr. Forkner wrote about deleting any mention of MCAS from certain manuals or computer-based training for pilots. “We decided we weren’t going to cover it,” the email said, “since it’s way outside the normal operating envelope” and therefore pilots wouldn’t be expected to experience it.

Ten months earlier, according to another email, Mr. Forkner raised the same issue, telling another unidentified FAA official the system was “completely transparent to the flight crew.”

Boeing provided the instant messages to the Justice Department in February after discovering them, and then to the Department of Transportation’s general counsel Thursday night, before giving the same information to congressional committees investigating the MAX, according to a person familiar with the matter. The FAA is part of the Transportation Department. The Justice Department was informed Boeing would hand over the information to other agencies, this person added.

“We will continue to follow the direction of the FAA and other global regulators, as we work to safely return the 737 MAX to service,” Boeing said, adding that the company shared the documents with the appropriate authorities in a timely manner. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment about why the agency didn’t notify aviation regulators about the exchange.

Mr. Forkner served as an important liaison among Boeing, FAA officials vetting the new model and managers at Southwest, the MAX’s lead customer, which was establishing training programs to serve as templates for the rest of the industry.

Mr. Forkner left Boeing in 2018 and now works at Southwest. An attorney for Mr. Gustavsson, who succeeded Mr. Forkner in his old role and is still at Boeing, couldn’t be reached.

A Senate panel is also likely to hold a hearing discussing MAX later this month. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), said he wanted to question Mr. Muilenburg and Boeing’s board of directors about the instant messages, which he said portrayed a “decrepit culture of corruption in safety.”

Write to Andrew Tangel at Andrew.Tangel@wsj.com and Andy Pasztor at andy.pasztor@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/faa-criticizes-boeing-over-737-max-messages-11571418548?mod=hp_lead_pos1

This Week’s Cartoons: October 14-18, 2019 – WIRED Cartoons 10.18.2019 07:00 AM


Just hear the lab rat out.

Cartoon of lab rat with ear transplant on back telling scientist I want to keep it.

Friday, October 18, 2019. By Jeremy Nguyen, with cartooncollections.com. It’s not all ears—bioengineers are closer than ever to lab-grown lungs.

Cartoon of two tourists going to a door with a keypad. One looks at phone and says It says we're genetically predisposed...

Thursday, October 17, 2019. By Drew Dernavich, with cartooncollections.com. Welcome to the age of “Airbnb for everything.”

Cartoon of woman covered by stock photo watermarks. Doctor says Do you want it removed for one year two years or in...

Wednesday, October 16, 2019. By Jeremy Nguyen, with cartooncollections.com. After Google showed off an algorithm capable of removing watermarks from photos a few years ago, stock photo companies randomized their marks to foil it.

Cartoon of person riding a dog sled holding cellphone. Caption reads Robocall of the wild.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019. By J. C. Duffy, with cartooncollections.com. An investigator set out to discover the source of one scammy robocall. Turns out, his target made them by the millions.

Cartoon of man selling his own data in tag sale

Monday, October 14, 2019. By Jeremy Nguyen, with cartooncollections.com. Information about you, what you buy, where you go, even where you look is the oil that fuels the digital economy. WIRED’s Guide to personal data collection explains it all.

Every weekday, WIRED publishes a new cartoon about the worlds of science and technology. Check back here for more laughs throughout the rest of the week. And if that’s still not enough, you can find all of WIRED’s cartoons in one place, right here. Plus, sign up for the Daily newsletter and never miss the best of WIRED.


More Great WIRED Stories

How Coca-Cola Undermines Plastic Recycling Efforts – Sharon Lerner October 18 2019, 9:45 a.m.


For decades, Coca-Cola has burnished its public image as an environmentally caring company with donations to recycling nonprofits. Meanwhile, as one of the world’s most polluting brands, Coke has quietly fought efforts to hold the company accountable for plastic waste.

Audio from a meeting of recycling leaders obtained by The Intercept reveals how the soda giant’s “green” philanthropy helped squelch what could have been an important tool in fighting the plastic crisis — and shines a light on the behind-the-scenes tactics beverage and plastics companies have quietly used for decades to evade responsibility for their waste. The meeting of the coalition group known as Atlanta Recycles took place in January at the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials in Atlanta’s south side.

Among the topics on the agenda for the recycling experts was a grant coming to Atlanta as part of a multimillion-dollar campaign Coke was launching “to boost recycling rates and help inspire a grassroots movement.” But it quickly became clear that one possible avenue for boosting recycling rates — a bottle bill — was off the table.

Here’s John Seydel, director of the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Resilience:

wanted to bring up here, just thinking, making sure to look at other cities as well as states for policies that would be pushing for more — or incentivize more recycling. And I think it’s been a very long time since the state of Georgia has even considered something like a bottle bill. I do think that’s something worth looking at.”

Seydel was right. If they were truly interested in increasing the recycling rate, a bottle bill or container deposit law, which requires beverage companies to tack a charge onto the price of their drink to be refunded after it’s returned, would be well worth looking at. People are far more likely to return their bottles if there’s a financial incentive. States with bottle bills recycle about 60 percent of their bottles and cans, as opposed to 24 percent in other states. And states that have bottle bills also have an average of 40 percent less beverage container litter on their coasts, according to a 2018 study of the U.S. and Australia published in the journal Marine Policy.

But bottle bills also put some of the responsibility — and cost — of recycling back on the companies that produce the waste, which may be why Coke and other soda companies have long fought against them.

that the answer is a big no.”

That’s Gloria Hardegree, executive director of the Georgia Recycling Coalition, an organization that receives funding from Coca-Cola. And she was sure that her organization’s longtime benefactor would be dead set against a bottle bill:

that Coke is getting ready to make in Atlanta and in other major cities across the U.S. with this World Without Waste, it is not going to be a part of that conversation.”

The World Without Waste program, which Hardegree mentioned, is what Coke calls its “holistic plan” to recycle every bottle and can it produces by 2030. It’s a lofty goal, and many would say it’s unrealistic, especially without state or national deposit laws. But Hardegree made it clear she didn’t expect Coke to budge — and that the money was contingent on not pushing for this effective recycling strategy.

do it their way, or we can drop out of participating, you know, in the funding that they’re getting ready to provide.”

Kanika Greenlee, executive director of the Keep Atlanta Beautiful Commission and the vice chair of Keep America Beautiful, which receives Coke funding, agreed that the Atlanta-based company would likely pull the funds if the group decided to support a bottle bill. Greenlee also serves as director of environmental programs for the city of Atlanta.

is that — not that the bottle bill is not like a worthy conversation, but I feel like it may jeopardize the funding that we have in place.”

Coke isn’t the only soda company that would likely oppose work on a bottle bill. Here’s Hardegree again, answering a question posed by Seydel:

on board, who else would be fighting it?”
“Everybody who’s in the bottling and beverage industry: Pepsi, Coke, Dr. Pepper.”

Asked about his comments in the meeting, Seydel said he stands by them. He also praised Coke’s recent efforts to make bottles from plastics found in the ocean. “It’s really cool that they’re thinking out of the box,” Seydel said. “Things are changing and they have to change.”

In an email, Gloria Hardegree wrote that the purpose of the January meeting was to review the group’s annual work plan. “The policy question was brought up out of context by another person present.” The discussion about bottle bills, Hardegree wrote in another email, “was a very small part of an annual planning meeting addressing goals + projects for the group supporting comprehensive recycling for the city.”

Kanika Greenlee did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Keep America Beautiful said that Greenlee was representing the city of Atlanta and the Keep Atlanta Beautiful Commission at the meeting.

In an emailed response to questions from The Intercept, a representative of Coca-Cola said that the company awarded a grant to the Recycling Partnership to support a community recycling program in Atlanta that was designed to increase curbside recycling rates, improve collection, expand recycling in multi-family residents and increase recycling on college campuses. The email noted that no one from the company was present at the meeting and that “company views on public policies are independent of the charitable giving by The Coca-Cola Foundation.”

Article continues:

Fox News leads cleanup job after Mick Mulvaney acknowledges Ukraine quid pro quo – Shira Tarlo OCTOBER 18, 2019 5:15PM (UTC)


Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Donald Trump (AP Photo/Salon)

“You don’t need a chief of staff’s idiotic interpretation of things,” Trump loyalist Sean Hannity said on the radio

Several Fox News hosts embarked on a large cleanup effort Thursday night in the hours after acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged that President Donald Trump withheld millions in military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure the country to launch an investigation that could benefit him politically.

“I just think half these people — Republicans, too. What is Mulvaney even talking about?” Fox News host Sean Hannity, who also acts as an informal adviser to the president, said on his radio show. “I just think he’s dumb. I really do. I don’t even think he knows what he’s talking about. That’s my take on it.”

“I guess the truth is complicated. This is what — you know, this is why, I think, some of these people are so stupid . . . You don’t need a chief of staff’s idiotic interpretation of things,” he added.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham also slammed Mulvaney’s admission when she took over the anchor desk later Thursday for her primetime show.

The “Ingraham Angle” host, who is also one of the president’s most outspoken media defenders, argued that Mulvaney’s remarks should not be taken seriously because he is not a lawyer. (In fact, Mulvaney is a lawyer.)

“I got to say, though, because we’re all lawyers here. There’s a reason [Attorney General] Bill Barr doesn’t do a lot of press conferences, but he — he would know how to answer those questions,” she said. “I’m not piling on Mulvaney, I don’t want to do that. I don’t think it’s helpful.”

“But when you have a legal issue before a lot of people who aren’t lawyers, the last thing you want to do is try to get out there and say a whole bunch of things really fast and then say, ‘Well, the context was, and going back and the reach back was,’ — and then there’s not enough of a pause between one thought and another, and then they could say, ‘Aha, see, you did,’ and then have to go back and clean it up afterward,” she continued.

Earlier on Thursday, Mulvaney told reporters that Trump sat on nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to pressure the government in Kyiv to investigate an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computer server during the 2016 election. The theory could bolster Trump’s claims that he clinched the presidency without Russia’s help.

“Did [Trump] also mention to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server?” Mulvaney said. “Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”

Mulvaney’s remarks, which he walked back later in the day, contradicted Trump’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo.

Article continues:

Judge hits Florida law limiting felon vote in limited ruling – GARY FINEOUT 10/18/2019 06:38 PM EDT


A person holds a voting sticker in Florida | Getty images

Hinkle did assert that the state can’t deny someone’s right to vote if they cannot afford to pay the fines, fees and restitution. | Getty

TALLAHASSEE — A federal judge on Friday blocked a Florida law that puts restrictions on ex-felons seeking to have their voting rights restored, but only as it applies to the 17 people who challenged the law in federal court.

The decision means that the legal battle will churn on in the months ahead of the 2020 election in which President Donald Trump is seeking a second term in office.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle said there are sharp questions about whether or not the new law is unconstitutional, but said some questions will be resolved by the Florida Supreme Court or in a future federal trial.

Hinkle rejected a motion by Secretary of State Laurel Lee and Gov. Ron DeSantis to toss the lawsuit outright.

Voters last November passed Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to certain felons who had completed their sentences. Supporters anticipated that the measure would lead to 1.4 million former prisoners being added to the rolls in a battleground state where elections are typically decided on razor-thin margins.

But the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature passed a law this year that requires offenders to pay restitution owed to victims, as well as fees or fines imposed by the court, in order to be eligible to vote. Lawmakers said they were clarifying the amendment, but it triggered a wave of lawsuits from ex-felons and groups such as the NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Florida.

A key part of the lawsuit was whether or not Amendment 4 required that felons pay all fines, fees and restitution before being allowed to vote. That’s a question that the state Supreme Court will soon decide and Hinkle said that courts would have the “last word” on the issue.

Hinkle, however, did assert that the state can’t deny someone’s right to vote if they cannot afford to pay the fines, fees and restitution. A study presented by groups suing the state estimated that as many as 80 percent of felons eligible to vote under Amendment 4 still owed money.

“The state of Florida cannot deny restoration of a felon’s right to vote solely because the felon does not have the financial resources necessary to pay restitution,” Hinkle wrote. “And because, for this purpose, there is no reason to treat restitution differently from other financial obligations included in a sentence, Florida also cannot deny restoration of a felon’s right to vote solely because the felon does not have the financial resources to pay the other financial obligations.”

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