Covid 19

International coalition of activists launches protest against Amazon

An international group of climate activists and Amazon warehouse workers have launched an online campaign called “Make Amazon Pay,” calling on the tech giant to provide better working conditions for its employees and to reduce its expanding carbon footprint. The protests come just as the New York Times reports that the Seattle-based company has been on a hiring spree this year, expanding its global workforce.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon became a trillion dollar corporation, with CEO Jeff Bezos becoming the first person in history to amass $200 billion in personal wealth,” the campaign states on its website. “Meanwhile, Amazon warehouse workers risked their lives as essential workers, and faced threats and intimidation if they spoke out for their rights to a fair wage.”

Launched on Black Friday, the campaign provides a list of demands for Amazon, which include raising pay for workers in Amazon’s warehouses, extending paid sick leave, and allowing workers to organize in unions. The campaign also tasks Amazon with “committing to zero emissions by 2030” and paying back society by “ending partnerships with police forces and immigration authorities that are institutionally racist” and “paying taxes in full, in the countries where the real economic activity takes place.”

The campaign lists a wide variety of international partners, including Progressive International, Amazon Workers International,, Greenpeace, and more. And the organization has planned a number of demonstrations in countries around the world. “Today there’s a global day of action with strikes, protests, and stunts across five continents,” James Schneider, the communications director for Progressive International, tells The Verge.

The first demonstration got underway with a strike in Sydney, Australia, he says. Stunts — some in person and some online — are planned to take place in the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Germany, Poland, Spain, Luxembourg, France, Greece, the United Kingdom, the United States, and more. Organizers have projected the “Make Amazon Pay” slogan on Amazon buildings in London, Berlin, and Hyderabad. A hashtag of #MakeAmazonPay is listed on the campaign’s website, and those who support the initiative can sign a petition on the site to “tell Jeff Bezos directly.”

“We’re asking people to add their name to those common demands and to donate to the strike funds for Amazon workers,” Schneider says. “So, today is just the start of the campaign. We aim to build the strike fund to enable further strikes and protests following this day of action.”

The Make Amazon pay campaign comes at the end of a dynamic year for Amazon. The pandemic created an increased demand for Amazon’s online shopping services, pushing the company to greatly expand its workforce in 2020. Amazon now employees more than 1.2 million employees around the world, after adding 427,300 workers between January and October, according to the New York Times.

At the onset of the pandemic, Amazon workers staged protests in an attempt to get the company to take COVID-19 seriously. In October, Amazon revealed that 19,816 of its front-line workers have contracted the virus. On Thanksgiving, Amazon said it would provide holiday bonuses for its employees, with full-time workers receiving $300 and part-time workers receiving $150.

“The pandemic has exposed how Amazon places profits ahead of workers, society, and our planet,” the coalition says on its website. “Amazon takes too much and gives back too little. It is time to Make Amazon Pay.”

Covid 19

How to Talk to Someone Who Doesnt Want the COVID-19 Vaccine

Illustration for article titled How to Talk to Someone Who Doesnt Want the COVID-19 Vaccine

Photo: Drazen Zigic (Shutterstock)

As COVID-19 vaccines transition from the hypothetical to the actual, with Pfizer seeking an emergency use authorization from the Food & Drug Administration that could see the first Americans being inoculated against the disease as early as December, the discussion around actually taking a vaccine grows more personal.

Beyond the usual suspects—the hardcore anti-vaxxers and the COVID-19 deniers—are the family and friends who are weary of, if not wary of, the whole pandemic. They may not want to suffer through scheduling a series of shots for their whole household, assuming that “everyone else” will do it, and that will be good enough. Or maybe they don’t trust the record speed at which the vaccines have been developed and tested. Still, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have pointed out, in order to end the pandemic and return our lives to something approaching normal, vaccination is important.

So, how should we talk to our loved ones who may be considering not taking the vaccine at all? Here are some information and tools to help you begin the conversation.

Acknowledge their reasons to be hesitant

Before confronting this person with a stream of links, consider what may be going through their mind in regard to taking a COVID vaccine.

Some may be operating based on misunderstanding, rumor, or false information—or perhaps they just don’t know what the vaccination really entails or how critical it is. Some may believe the vaccine being administered is a prototype and has not been not properly tested. But while the process has been accelerated, no steps have been skipped, according to Ruth Karron, MD, a vaccine expert who has worked with the CDC and FDA, in an interview published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The vaccines have been undergoing trials for months and current data indicates several of them are highly effective. Any vaccine approved to be administered to the public is first approved by the FDA and appropriately tested for general use.

Let this hesitant friend or family member know that the vaccine they’ll receive won’t be part of a first-wave trial, and that extensive human trials will have already been completed by the time they themselves would receive the vaccine. But be clear about what the side effects could be: CNBC spoke with trial participants who reported side effects such as bad headaches and daylong exhaustion. Acknowledge that they may experience minor side effects, sure, but that it’s better than the severity of actually contracting COVID-19.

Address the history of vaccinations in marginalized communities

Many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) have been the victims of experimental vaccines and targets for cruelty in the U.S. For example, beginning in the 1930s Black men were the focus of the Tuskegee syphilis study, which was conducted without their formal consent. For 40 years the participants were denied knowledge of their diagnosis while being subject to medical tests without proper information and denied proper treatment and access to penicillin once it became available.

The history of people of color and medical malpractice created a distrust in the medical infrastructure in the United States, often leading to an apprehension or skepticism of medical professionals and vaccines. A survey by The Undefeated and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 27% of Black Americans said they “definitely won’t” take the vaccine, and 22% said they “probably won’t.” Acknowledge this part of history, and offer your confidence in the advances since then.

Discuss what it would take for our country and economy to recover from the pandemic: Herd immunity is necessary for people to go back to work, children to return to school, and life to return closer to normal. Perhaps refer them to accessible information you could watch together, like the documentary special Coronavirus Explained, which explains that at least 75% of a population would need to be vaccinated to stop the spread and begin eradicating the virus.

Give personal accounts

Currently there are over 12 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, but personal experience often outweigh large, inaccessible numbers. A 2015 study led by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) worked with a group of individuals who were against vaccinations, and found that individuals had a change of heart after viewing real accounts of children with measles. Share personal stories you have heard or experienced. Detail interactions you have had with the virus, or reference a true account that may resonate with them on a personal level.

Remind them of the vaccinations they already have

The majority of people today have not experienced a pandemic prior to this one, with the previous on being over 100 years ago. The reason we do not still see widespread mumps, rubella, or polio are because enough of the population received the proper vaccinations. (For example, as the World Health Organization explains: “herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated.”)

People may not realize that the only way to eradicate COVID-19, like previous pandemics, is to be vaccinated against the virus. It may be a difficult conversation, but acknowledging their resistance, sharing your confidence, and emphasizing the role of vaccines through past pandemics can help give them the tools to make a more sound and educated decision on taking a COVID-19 vaccination.

Covid 19

The Thanksgiving Foods Your Dog Can and Cant Eat

puppy longing for a pie

Photo: alexei_tm (Shutterstock)

Dogs are omnivores like us, so nearly everything on a Thanksgiving table may be appetizing to your pup. But a traditional turkey dinner includes things that can be harmful to dogs in large amounts. So if you plan to treat your pet to some leftovers, here’s what to be aware of.

Turkey meat is fine

Meat is an appropriate food for dogs, and that includes both white and dark meat from a turkey. Make sure you don’t give your pup any scraps with bones, though—cooked bones can easily splinter and pose a danger to their digestive tract.

Also avoid turkey skin. It’s fatty, and a large amount of fat in a meal or a single day can cause acute pancreatitis. Vets tend to see an increase in pancreatitis around the holidays for exactly this reason.

Onions and garlic should be off limits

Onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks are considered unsafe for dogs, since they can irritate dogs’ digestive systems and potentially cause anemia. A little bit of onion or garlic in a food may not cause any notable illness, but onions are one of those things that we tend to forget is in food. How much onion is in the stuffing, for example? How much garlic is in the gravy? Better to avoid these foods entirely.

Avoid sweets

Chocolate is toxic to dogs; you probably already knew that. Xylitol is a common sweetener, especially in sugar-free foods, and the American Kennel Club notes that it sometimes turns up in canned pumpkin pie filling.

Sugary foods aren’t toxic, but neither dogs nor humans should eat a ton of sugar all at once. Some dogs are lactose intolerant, so ice cream and other dairy desserts are probably not a great idea.

Plain potatoes and (some) vegetables are good

Besides turkey meat, the other dog-safe foods include plain potatoes, plain sweet potatoes, and other plain vegetables like peas. Once again, avoid anything that is seasoned with onions or garlic, and anything that’s full of butter, fat, or oil. So a helping of buttery garlic mashed potatoes should be considered purely human food, but a plain baked potato would be fine.

The dose makes the poison, as the saying goes, so a tiny amount isn’t an issue for most of the dangerous foods. At a busy family dinner though, it’s possible that each person incorrectly thinks they’re the only one sneaking the pup a small treat—so if you’re hosting, make it known that the dog is only allowed to have certain foods (or none at all). And if it’s not your dog, be aware that pets may have digestive or health issues you may not know about—so always ask before giving a treat.

Covid 19

Decisive days for UK trade pact, EU prepares for no-deal Brexit – chief executive – Reuters UK

FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen gives a news briefing at the end of a virtual conference with EU leaders about EU government’s measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID19) crisis, in Brussels, Belgium, October 29, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission cannot guarantee there will be a trade pact with Britain after its departure from the European Union and the coming days will be crucial, the EU’s chief executive said on Wednesday, adding the bloc was prepared for a no-deal.

“The next days are going to be decisive. The European Union is well prepared for a no-deal scenario,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament.

“With very little time ahead of us, we will do all in our power to reach an agreement. We are ready to be creative”, she said.

Reporting by Marine Strauss, Robin Emmott, Editing by Gabriela Baczynska

Covid 19

COVID-19 vaccine could fundamentally change pandemic direction – WHO – Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) – A COVID-19 vaccine may be rolled out by March 2021 to the most vulnerable, which along with other advances could fundamentally change the course of the pandemic, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured on the headquarters of the World Health Orgnaization (WHO) ahead of a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland, January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Bruce Aylward told the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly that interim results from Pfizer Inc’s PFE.N late-stage vaccine trial were “very positive”.

“There is still much work to be done, this is just interim results…but some very positive results coming today which should hold great promise hopefully for the entire world as we move forward,” Aylward told the 194-member state forum.

“By March as a result of the extraordinary work happening globally we could be in a position to fundamentally change the direction and the dynamic of this crisis,” he added.

Pfizer said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective, raising hope as the pandemic accelerates with over 50 million cases and 1.2 million deaths.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also welcomed the “encouraging vaccine news” in a tweet.

The Pfizer-BioNTech candidate was not among the original nine vaccines forming part of a WHO-run “COVAX” facility to finance and distribute them fairly around the world.

However, the companies have expressed interest in supplying the programme. The WHO has said more vaccines are under consideration.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they expected to seek U.S. authorization this month for emergency use of the vaccine, raising the possibility of a regulatory decision as soon as December.

Aylward gave an upbeat assessment of overall prospects.

“In diagnostics we are in a position to massively expand testing globally, in therapeutics we have sufficient tools right now to substantially reduce the risk of dying from this disease and in the area of vaccines – with the news of today especially – we are on the verge of having the readiness in place to roll out doses for high-risk populations in the late first quarter, early 2nd quarter.”

However, he warned that an “acute funding gap” of $4.5 billion could slow access to tests, medicines and vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.

Reporting by Emma Farge and Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Michael Shields and Nick Macfie

Covid 19

What to Do If Your Spotify Account Got Hacked

Thousands of Spotify users just learned the hard way why you shouldn’t reuse passwords.

Cybersecurity company VPNMentor has discovered an improperly-secured database containing email addresses, passwords, account names, and other personal information for thousands of Spotify accounts. Hackers compiled this data with help from other leaks, or via credential stuffing, rather than directly attacking Spotify itself; this mining operation nevertheless allowed them to successfully break into over 300,000 accounts.

In response to the leak, Spotify issued forced password resets to the 300,000 affected accounts back in July, but not everyone followed through. If you haven’t signed into Spotify in a while, it’s probably worth updating your password right now. So is turning on two-factor authentication and installing an encrypted password manager.

Don’t assume you’re safe if Spotify hasn’t made you reset your password yet, however: According to VPNMentor, the database is still actively used by hackers, so further attacks are possible. There are likely a lot more Spotify users who use the same email, username, and password on multiple apps or websites, and even more who use easily-accessible information as their passwords—stuff like their street address, name, birthdate, etc. Those details can also be compromised by data leaks, or with a little social engineering.

If a hacker got in, they could take over your Spotify account for themselves and siphon off your personal information for use elsewhere. This is even more problematic for Spotify users who log in using their Facebook, Google, or Apple accounts, since they store so much personal information and link up with dozens of other apps.

Take this as a canary-in-the-coal-mine situation and update your Spotify password to something stronger. It’s also important to routinely perform password checkups, and to check your accounts using HaveIBeenPwned. Many password managers include built-in password health checks as well.

Lastly, turn on two-factor authentication (2FA). I know, adding an extra login step is annoying, but it’s worth it. Even unique, hard-to-guess passwords securely stored in password managers can be compromised by data leaks, and 2FA can prevent and/or alert you of attempted account break-ins.


Covid 19

Nominate a Healthcare Worker For a 7-Day RV Getaway

Illustration for article titled Nominate a Healthcare Worker For a 7-Day RV Getaway

Image: Oliver Eitel/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Eight months into the global pandemic, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging at unprecedented levels. Healthcare workers have shouldered so much of the psychological and emotional burden wrought by this marathon plague, and you may be wondering how you can show a healthcare worker that you appreciate their sacrifices.

Luckily, El Monte RV wants to hear from you to make this a reality. The company is seeking nominations for a healthcare hero for a weeklong RV getaway, open to any doctors, nurses, technicians, medical researchers, general hospital workers, or pharmacists who work in the continental United States. A week’s reprieve from the chaos of treating COVID patients probably sounds like bliss to the prospective healthcare hero in your life.

How to nominate a healthcare worker

Unlike the thorny mess of the stanching the spread of this virus, the requirements for submitting nominations are very straightforward. All information for the nominator can be supplied within the contest’s form. Requirements for the nominee, however, are a bit more stringent:

To be eligible for this contest the nominee must (1) be a medical professional currently licensed in the United States or (2) be a member of an eligible branch of the medical profession. Eligible branches are listed in the ‘Official Rules’ accessible at the bottom of this page.

The application must include a written story about the nominee, in addition to a photo or video of the healthcare worker. All nominators must select a healthcare worker whom they know personally; no doctors you know exclusively through TV or social media. Medical residents are welcome to be nominated as well.

The winner will be selected by “popular vote,” according to the contest details, which ostensibly means a vote conducted online. You have until December 13 to make your nominations and the winner will be announced on December 16.

In a press release, Gordon Hewston, the Chief Operating Officer of El Monte RV’s parent company, Tourism Holdings Limited, said the winner will receive “a seven-day RV road trip to the most breathtaking outdoor sites the U.S. has to offer.” It remains to be seen what those “breathtaking outdoor sites” are, but you can trust that whoever wins the trip will relish the much-needed escape.

If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that focusing on what you’re able to control is key to maintaining a positive headspace. Nominating someone for a getaway who’s labored to keep people safe in this historic health crisis is a decision that’s decidedly within your control. It’s high time you take it.

Covid 19

Its Time for the Annual Romaine Recall

Illustration for article titled Its Time for the Annual Romaine Recall

Photo: GCapture (Shutterstock)

We’ve been warned about visiting family and friends, and asked to stay at home on Thanksgiving, but it appears that another threat to our health may already be lurking inside our homes: Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. has voluntarily recalled some of their romaine lettuce because of concern over possible E.coli contamination.

By now, the annual recalling of the romaine is almost as much a Thanksgiving tradition as the pardoning of the turkey and celebrating the false narrative of American mythology. In fact, this marks the third November in a row that Lifehacker has covered a romaine lettuce recall (interestingly, each between November 20—24), though the first during a pandemic. Here’s what to know about this year’s recall.

What is being recalled

Although Dole has a wide variety of lettuce products, the only two being recalled are the Dole Organic Romaine Hearts 3pk (UPC 0-71430-90061-1), combined English/French packaging, with Harvested-On dates of 10-23-20 and 10-26-20, and Wild Harvest Organic Romaine Hearts (UPC 7-11535-50201-2), with Harvested-On dates of 10-23-20 and 10-26-20, according to an announcement from the Food and Drug Administration.

To find the “Harvested-On” sticker, look on the upper-right corner of each bag. Meanwhile, the UPC code is located on the bottom-right corner of the back of each bag. Each package contains three organic romaine hearts, and the Wild Harvest product is packaged in a 12oz bag.

At this point, there have been no illnesses from E.coli reported, and given that it can cause diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, and vomiting, let’s keep it that way. Another thing to note is that because these products were harvested and packed almost a month ago, they really shouldn’t be in stores (or ideally, your fridge). Still, if you have either of the romaine products above, check the label, just to be safe.

The possibly contaminated romaine was sold in 15 states: Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Virginia.

If you have any lettuce with these UPC codes and Harvested-On dates, definitely throw it out. And if you have any questions, you can call the Dole Consumer Center at 1-800-356-3111, which is open 24 hours a day.

Covid 19

Is Credit Card Insurance Worth It?

Illustration for article titled Is Credit Card Insurance Worth It?

Photo: Boy_Anupong (Getty Images)

A payment protection plan is a form of insurance for your credit card, and it sounds tantalizing: in the event of hardship you can use it to pause minimum monthly payments for months on end, avoiding extra fees and leaving your credit score untouched. But is it worth the monthly fee it costs to sign up for it?

What is a payment protection plan? 

Payment protection (aka “credit card protection insurance,” “credit shield,” or “credit safeguard”) is an add-on service that typically costs you a few bucks in monthly fees, with the amount based on a small percentage of your overall balance. The service will pause payments (usually for up to 18 months) if a “triggering event” leads to unemployment or disability. Additionally, some payment protection plans will cancel credit card balances owed in the event of death. So far so good, right?

The downside 

Qualifying for payment protection isn’t straightforward even if you choose to pay for it in advance of experiencing a hardship, as many plans have a long list of conditions and exclusions buried in the fine print. A GAO report found that 24% of benefit claims were denied and that more than half of those denials were due to the cardholder’s inability to provide adequate documentation. This lack of transparency attracted the scrutiny of regulators in 2012, leading some major banks to ditch the product altogether (which also might explain why it’s currently marketed under so many different names).

The following is a list of reasons why you might not be able to claim full benefits or otherwise get the most out of your claim, according to Investopedia :

  • You have a preexisting health condition.
  • If you’re a seasonal worker, or a part-time worker, or self-employed, you might not qualify for unemployment benefits.
  • You hit a limit on the number of triggering events per year.
  • There might be caps on bigger payouts like debt cancellation.
  • You might need to be employed a few months prior to enrolling to qualify.
  • Inadequate documentation (as defined by your insurer) to prove your disability, job loss, or other condition exists.
  • You might have to be disabled for any job you’re qualified for, not just the job you have.

The list of loopholes goes on. You really have to read every detail of the policy carefully—and even if you think you’re going in with your eyes open, the interpretation of the terms can be a battle between you and your lender.

The bottom line

Payment protection plans offer limited benefits that typically only suspend your minimum payments and interest accrual for a short period of time, and these benefits may not cover all emergency situations. The money spent on monthly fees could instead be spent on life or disability insurance that will offer better coverage. Another option is to build up an emergency fund in anticipation of potential hardship down the road. Better yet, during the pandemic many credit cards are already offering forbearance programs; all you need to do is contact them directly to claim a hardship. After all, why pay for something you can get for free?

Covid 19

How to Safely Intervene in a Conflict

A white knight chess piece faces down a row of black pieces

Photo: Refat (Shutterstock)

For those of us who are conflict-averse, situations involving harassment or discrimination may feel easier to avoid or ignore in hopes that the threat will go away or someone else will intervene. But whether it’s casual racism or micro-aggressions within your friend group, street harassment toward a stranger, or police brutality during a protest, there are plenty of opportunities for you, as a bystander, to speak up or step in.

“Bystanders have power,” says Lani Shotlow-Rincon, a board member at Stop Street Harassment. “And this power can be utilized to prevent harassment, defuse harassment when it occurs, and help victims of harassment ultimately cope and heal from the harassment experience.”

Here’s how to decide when—and how—to step in.

Be observant

The first step to deciding whether and how to intervene in conflict is to notice what’s going on around you, says Jenna Templeton, assistant director of health education at the University of Utah’s Center for Student Wellness, adding that intervention depends on our ability and willingness to see potential harm.

Prioritize your own safety

Before you intervene, consider the risk to your physical and emotional well-being. For example, it’s not advisable to step directly into a violent altercation in which you could get hurt.

Similarly, avoid situations that would be triggering, unsafe, or simply exhausting—protect yourself first.

Become an active bystander

Shotlow-Rincon says that direct intervention using both words and body language can help diffuse conflict and censure unacceptable behavior. There is no “right” response for every situation, but there are a few basic tools you can use even if you don’t have formal active bystander training.

  • Ask if help is wanted or needed. A simple “Do you need help?” informs the person being harassed that you see the situation they are facing and empowers them to communicate what they need.
  • Respond verbally without escalating. Insulting a bully will likely make the situation worse. Call out the specific behavior rather than attacking the individual.
  • Deflect, distract, or disrupt. If you’re a bystander, you can redirect attention from the person being harassed or disrupt the normalization of bad behavior. For example, respond to the harasser directly with something like “How’d you know I’m…” to redirect insults onto yourself. Or call out supportive comments to the person being targeted.
  • Check in. If the conflict diffuses, check with the victim and ask if they’d like any additional support. Shotlow-Rincon says that simply acknowledging the experience can help people feel safer and less alone.
  • Report if appropriate. Not every situation requires a report to law enforcement (more on that in a minute), but you can reach out to various anti-harassment organizations for support, such as RAINN, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and Stop Street Harassment. If you are considering calling the police, try the strategies in this guide to reporting.

Check your privilege

Both Shotlow-Rincon and Templeton say that privilege, such as race or gender, plays into every decision to intervene. If you are a white person, for example, you may be able to leverage your privilege on behalf of a person of color.

However, just because you benefit from various privileges doesn’t mean you get to decide the best course of action for someone who is being harassed or victimized.

“Avoid stepping into a savior role,” Templeton says. “Check in with those who may be experiencing harm and ask how you can support.”

Finally, keep in mind that calling the police or reporting harassment is not the best choice or the only answer in every situation. Templeton says to think broadly about what kinds of support you can offer—and not to assume that the solution involves law enforcement. Individual and community actions can also help hold people accountable for harassment or stop it in its tracks.