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Businesses

Amazon Workers Strike In Germany As Christmas Orders Peak 606

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Washington Post reports that in Germany, Amazon's second-biggest market behind the United States, hundreds of Amazon.com workers went on strike just as pre-Christmas sales were set to peak, in a dispute over pay and conditions that has raged for months. Amazon, which employs 9,000 warehouse staff members in Germany plus 14,000 seasonal workers at nine distribution centers, says that 1,115 employees joined the strike at three sites. 'Amazon must realize it cannot export its anti-union labor model to European shores. We call on the company to come to the table and sign a global agreement that guarantees the rights of workers,' says Philip Jennings of the global trade union UNI. Verdi organized several short stoppages this year to try to force Amazon to accept collective-bargaining agreements ... The union says Amazon workers receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs and that other retailers pay overtime, but Amazon does not. 'What Amazon is doing is taking this American race-to-the-bottom roadshow to Germany and trying it out on our German brothers and sisters,' says David Freiboth. Amazon has defended its wage policies, saying that employees earn toward the upper end of the pay scale of logistics companies in Germany. Amazon also says it prefers to address employment issues with worker councils at individual sites rather than through negotiations with the union. Amazon says that there have been no delays to deliveries ... adding that Amazon uses its whole European logistics network during the Christmas period to ensure delivery times. A delegation of German workers was set to rally at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle along with U.S. unions. 'We're standing in solidarity with them. We are asking that Amazon respect the union there in Germany and negotiate in a way that is acceptable to Verdi,' says Kathy Cummings of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which was also attending the protest in Seattle."
Handhelds

Indian Government Mulls Giving Away Mobile Phones To the Poor 104

jalfreize writes "The Indian government is finalizing a $1.2 billion plan to hand out free mobile phones to the poorest Indian families (around six million households, according to some estimates). The Times of India reports: 'Top government managers involved in formulating the scheme want to sell it as a major empowerment initiative... While the move will ensure contact with the beneficiaries of welfare programmes (sic) ..., there is also a view the scheme will provide an opportunity for the (government) to open a direct line of communication with a sizable population that plays an active role in polls.'"
Medicine

Soda Ban May Hit the Big Apple 1141

An anonymous reader writes "NYC residents may soon be unable to buy big gulps. In an effort to curb obesity, New York City's Mayor Bloomberg is seeking a ban on oversized sodas in restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums officials said on Wednesday. 'Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the U.S., public health officials are wringing their hands saying, "Oh, this is terrible,"' Mayor Bloomberg said. 'New York City is not about wringing your hands; it's about doing something. I think that's what the public wants the mayor to do.'"
Government

Japan Imposes "Fine On Fat" 1271

An anonymous reader writes "A recently-introduced law in Japan requires all businesses to have mandatory obesity checks (video link) for all their employees and employees' family members over the age of 40, CNN reports. If the employee or family member is deemed obese, and does not lose the extra fat soon, their employer faces large fines. The legislated upper limit for the waistline is 33.5" for men, and 35.5" for women. Should America adopt universal health insurance, could we live to see the same kind of individual health regulations imposed on us by the government? By comparison, the average waistline in America in 2005 was 39 inches for men, 37 inches for women."
The Internet

Virginia Becomes First State to Mandate Internet Safety Lessons 262

kaufmanmoore writes "The Commonwealth of Virginia has become the first state in the nation to require that students in all grade levels receive a form of internet safety lessons. The story is scant on details about the lessons, but describes one recently at a high school where the presenter showed a social-networking profile of a convicted sex offender posing as a 15 year-old girl. "
PC Games (Games)

Computer Games Make Players Less Violent 192

Stony Stevenson writes "A new study of computer gamers has found that a session in front of World of Warcraft can make players less stressed and more calm. The study questioned 292 male and female online gamers aged between 12 and 83 about anger and stress. They then played the game for two hours and were retested. "There were actually higher levels of relaxation before and after playing the game as opposed to experiencing anger, but this very much depended on personality type," said team leader Jane Barnett from Middlesex University."

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