Monday, November 30, 2020

Disney details plans to cut 32K jobs

Walt Disney plans to cut 32,000 jobs by March, it revealed in an SEC filing, as the pandemic forces it to shut or reduce capacity across its parks. The layoffs include 28,000 previously announced cuts, and will mostly take place in its Parks, Experiences and Resorts division, which covers domestic and international theme parks, as well as resorts, cruises and merchandise. An additional 37,000 employees who are not expected to lose their jobs were placed on furlough October 3rd. (Deadline)


WFH more prevalent in big US cities

Many continue to work from home as the U.S. grapples with the coronavirus. Census Bureau data reveal about 37% of employees were teleworking between late October and early November, with a higher concentration of remote workers in major cities. San Francisco, for example, had 56.2% of people aged 18 and older working remotely. Those making higher wages typically have more remote flexibility than lower-earners. Geography also impacts rates of remote work. The poorest state, Mississippi, has a low percentage of adults working remote part-time at just 21%. (Bloomberg)


College students rally to survive

As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on higher education, college students are rallying to help each other survive. Student-run mutual aid networks have cropped up on campuses across the country, raising tens of thousands of dollars and redistributing funds to help impacted students pay for housing, food, medical costs and other essentials. The health crisis has “exacerbated a lot of the inequalities that exist on college campuses,” triggering job losses, closing campuses and eating into university budgets. (The New York Times)


Pig intestines fly as Taiwan lawmakers engage in ham-fisted political attacks

On Friday, members of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party threw pig hearts, intestines, lungs and other innards, leaving the chamber’s crimson carpet streaked with ropy strands of intestine and milky viscera as they protested the ruling party’s decision to allow imports of U.S. pork that contains the additive ractopamine. More than 100 countries ban meat with the additive, which is used by U.S. pig farmers to promote leanness but frequently poses an obstacle when it comes to exporting abroad. Washington has pressed successive Taiwanese administrations to lift the ban on meat from pigs given ractopamine-laced feed, but the issue has been highly charged in Taiwan, where politicians and industry groups have warned about adverse health affects of the additive. Videos showed lawmakers throwing pig organs at each other, while others engaged in more conventional shoving and boxing. Some lawmakers donned rain jackets. Others brawled in business suits soiled by what appeared to be bits of pig fat. Parliamentary staffers pleaded in vain for calm. KMT aides blew whistles and airhorns to heighten the atmosphere. One young lawmaker was put in a headlock. (The Washington Post)


Hyundai, Kia Fined $137 Million For Delaying US Engine Failure Recalls

Hyundai and Kia must pay $137 million in fines and safety improvements because they moved too slowly to recall over 1 million vehicles with engines that can fail. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the penalties on Friday (11/27). They resolve a three-year government probe into the companies’ behavior involving recalls of multiple models dating to the 2011 model year. The agency says automakers have to recognize the urgency of safety recalls and be candid with the government. Under a federal order, Hyundai will pay $54 million and invest $40 million to improve safety operations under an agreement reached with the agency. The company must build a field test and inspection laboratory in the U.S. and put new computer systems in place to analyze data to identify safety issues. Another $46 million in penalties will be deferred as long as the Korean automaker meets safety conditions, NHTSA said in a prepared statement. Kia, which is affiliated with Hyundai, must pay $27 million and invest $16 million on safety performance measures. Another $27 million payment will be deferred as long as Kia behaves. (CBS News)


SantaCon NYC Is Canceled By Covid-19 Concerns

The annual riotous boozing in the streets by thousands of Santa Clauses will not be seen in New York City this year. Organizers of the annual SantaCon pub crawl said that the event scheduled for next month has been canceled. “All of the reindeer got the ‘rona,” a post on the event’s website says, “so the elves have advised Santa to hold off on the in-person merriment.” Although the event raises money for charity. Other cities have their own versions of SantaCon, but New York is the original and main event, attracting thousands of St. Nick lookalikes. (SantaCon)


New rule could allow poison gas, firing squads for US executions

The Justice Department is quietly amending its execution protocols, no longer requiring federal death sentences to be carried out by lethal injection and clearing the way to use other methods like firing squads and poison gas. The amended rule allows the U.S. government to conduct executions by lethal injection or use “any other manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence was imposed.” A number of states allow other methods of execution, including electrocution, inhaling nitrogen gas or death by firing squad. It remains unclear whether the Justice Department will seek to use any methods other than lethal injection for executions in the future. The rule goes into effect on December 24th. A Justice Department official said the change was made to account for the fact the Federal Death Penalty Act requires sentences be carried out in the “in the manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence is imposed,″ and some of those states use methods other than lethal injection. The official said the federal government “will never execute an inmate by firing squad or electrocution unless the relevant state has itself authorized that method of execution.”. (The New York Post)


Turns out WFH means more work

Employees around the world put in on average half an hour more each day while working from home during lockdowns, says a report. Out of the 65 countries studied, only Brazil and China logged shorter hours during the crisis. The study also found that people started to shift their workload from the afternoons to mornings and evenings, suggesting greater flexibility, but also a trend of work intruding on what is typically considered downtime. (The Economist)


Go ahead, ask awkward questions

When it comes to personal, sensitive questions, especially with coworkers, many of us simply avoid the matter out of fear of causing offense. But research suggests we may be missing out, both in learning valuable information and in developing closer relationships. In studies where participants asked questions like, “What is your salary?” or “Have you ever had financial problems?” recipients felt far less put upon than the askers anticipated. Of course, questioning requires care, respect and the right environmental context. But research suggests we need not hold back as much as we do. (Harvard Business Review)


‘Dead’ wife comes back to life, pleads for mercy for husband from police

A man in East China’s Jiangsu Province turned himself in to police, bringing along the “dead body” of his wife, whom he thought he had strangled to death, but was more than a little surprised when she came back to life at the police station. The man strangled his wife with a wire at the storage house of their home. A few seconds later, he found that his wife was no longer moving. He then brought her “corpse” to the police station on an electric tricycle to turn himself in. The wife, however, later woke up at the police station and pleaded with police to dismiss the case and not charge the husband, as she believed that he had not intended to kill her. His wife explained to the police that she passed out because of rage and severe hypoglycemia. She said she felt her husband was trying to hold her to prevent her falling down. The couple often had quarrels due to their tight financial situation, and he suffered long-term abuse and domestic violence from his wife, reports said. He was sentenced to two years in prison for the crime of intentional homicide. (Global Times)


Amazon and Chewy are the most popular online pet stores

More of us are shopping online for food these days, for ourselves and our pets. A nationwide survey done by Consumer Reports asked people who had purchased pet food and pet products online where they shopped most often. More than half said Amazon. Roughly a third said Chewy, well ahead of the Walmart, Petco, and PetSmart websites. When asked about overall satisfaction, Amazon and Chewy tied at 85. The survey shows Amazon and Chewy basically tied for price: Amazon scored 75 and Chewy 76. Of course, with online shopping, it’s easy to compare prices for the specific products you buy. (Consumer Reports)


Calls grow for more AI transparency

The scientific community is rising up to call for more transparency in artificial intelligence research. This comes after Nature published scientists’ rebuke of a Google Health breast cancer study involving AI that was featured in the same journal earlier this year. It faults Google for providing little information, arguing that “the lack of details of the methods and algorithm code undermines its scientific value” and amounts to a promotion of proprietary tech. They say others need to be able to independently replicate research in order to build trust, identify weaknesses and build on results. (MIT Technology Review)


Powering the world, from space

Researchers from several institutions across the globe are developing the means to extract solar energy from power stations based in space. Solar cells in space can shift so they face the sun 24 hours a day, a massive advantage over solar cells based on Earth. Such power stations could be assembled in space incrementally, with thousands of smaller solar cells adding up to one big power station. One possible way to transfer the power back to Earth? Converting the solar energy into energy waves, then transmitting that power via antenna back to Earth. (The Conversation)


Monday Cracks The Whip With:

  • Blue Beanie Day
  • Cider Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving)
  • Cities for Life Day
  • Computer Security Day
  • Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving)
  • Day of Remembrance of All Victims of Chemical Warfare
  • Mason Jar Day
  • Meth Awareness Day
  • Mississippi Day
  • Mousse Day
  • Personal Space Day
  • Stay Home Because You’re Well Day

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