In the face of multiple sexual misconduct accusations and the ouster of CEO Les Moonves, CBS on Friday announced that it would be giving $20 million to 18 women’s rights organizations. The money for the grants to the groups will reportedly be deducted from severance owed to Moonves under his contract.
CBS said its donation to the 18 groups would go toward helping expand their work and “ties into the company’s ongoing commitment to strengthening its own workplace culture.”
Among the recipients are Catalyst, a 56-year-old organization dedicated to empowering women in the workplace, and several groups that have emerged as prominent voices since the downfall last year of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, which triggered an avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations against powerful men across several industries.
The 18 organizations issued a joint statement praising the donations as a first step while calling on CBS to disclose the results of the Moonves investigation and the company’s efforts to rectify practices that may have enabled misconduct.
“We thank CBS for these donations. We also recognize these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behavior,” the groups said.
Moonves’ alleged actions were not the only ones the network had to deal with recently. Two other major figures at CBS have lost their jobs in the past year over misconduct allegations: “60 Minutes” top executive Jeff Fager, and star news anchor Charlie Rose.
The New York Times reported just this week that Moonves “destroyed evidence pointing to his own sexual misconduct when he was running the network,” that an actress on one of its highest-rated programs was paid $9.5 million after accusing “Bull” co-star Michael Weatherly of sexual harassment, and that the Tiffany Network reached a settlement with three women who accused CBS of turning a blind eye to Rose’s pervy behavior.
Fox News’ Brian Flood and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
If local headlines are to be believed, not much happens in Shakopee. But on Friday evening, this placid town of 40,000 on the outskirts of Minnesota’s Twin Cities became the epicenter of the fight for humane working conditions at one of the world’s most valuable companies.
For the last two years, Amazon has quietly expanded its presence in the suburb, and worker resentment towards conditions there has grown with it, culminating in today’s protest outside fulfillment center MSP1—a sprawling 850,000-square-foot structure abutting a heavy industrial zone—attended by local activists and joined by Amazon workers ending their shifts. It ended with approximately 250 people marching on the building’s main entrance.
The discontent primarily began as a reaction to allegations that the pace Amazon set for its workers, many of whom are practicing Muslims, was impacting their religious freedom. The United States is home to the largest population of Somalis besides Yemen—many of whom fled to the U.S. to escape genocide, civil war, and terrorism—and the overwhelming majority of them reside in Minnesota. As reported by Gizmodo in June, Amazon structures its performance metrics in such a way that makes basic necessities, like prayer or bathroom breaks, prohibitively difficult, sometimes leading to docked pay or termination for those who cannot meet the company’s arduous expectations.
Friday’s protest was intended to pressure Amazon to not only improve working conditions and allow for proper religious expression, but to create a fund that addresses racial disparities in the community and set up an independent review body for HR complaints.
Amazon has little room to plead ignorance to the calls of the workers in Shakopee: Similar labor actions took place in its home base of Seattle nearly two years ago when Muslim security workers held a “pray-in” to protest Amazon’s unwillingness to provide a prayer space. Bloomberg reported that activists within the Shakopee facilities previously brought demands to Amazon over the summer, when the Muslim holiday of Ramadan intersected with Prime Day, an annual celebration of consumerism.
“I toured this facility,” Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the crowd Friday evening, “and what I saw was a company that did not know who they were employing.”
The action outside MSP1 was organized in part by Awood Center (“awood” is Somali for “power”), a relatively new and lean group focused on workers’ rights in the East African community around Minneapolis. Though Amazon disagreed with the characterization, the New York Times previously reported that these workers and Awood Center were able to achieve the unprecedented in getting Amazon to come to the bargaining table. “We have now met twice with Amazon management, which hasn’t happened anywhere else as far as we know,” Abdirahman Muse, the executive director of Awood Center, told Gizmodo. While a victory in its own right, Amazon has not, according to Muse, offered any “acceptable changes” yet, necessitating Friday’s protest.
MSP1 is a fairly new and heavily-roboticized factory, much like the facility on Staten Island, New York, where workers recently announced their intention to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). One worker at the Staten Island facility, in a protest outside New York’s City Hall last week, expressed concern over long shifts, non-functioning smoke detectors and sprinkler systems, and inhumane temperatures. “We have asked the company to provide air conditioning,” she explained to the crowd, “but they told us that the robots inside can’t work in the cold weather.”
One worker getting off his shift at MSP1 (we were unable to get his name) told Gizmodo that the rate of the work continues to climb while the workers remain utterly expendable, toiling in poor conditions. “If you work with me,” he said, “you will be sick within a week.” Another MSP1 worker, Khadra Kassim, told the crowd through a translator that due to a workplace injury she nearly miscarried her unborn daughter.
We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment on the MSP1 workers’ demands and claims of unfair treatment and harsh working conditions. We will update when we receive a response.
Joining the group of protesters outside MSP1 was Representative-elect Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American representative in the U.S. Congress. “Amazon doesn’t work if you don’t work,” she said to wild cheers, “and it’s about time we make Amazon understand that.” Minnesota Lieutenant Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan also passed on words of encouragement to workers through an unlisted video on the governor-elect’s Youtube channel, stating, “Today, my hope for you is that you can organize in partnership to create jobs at Amazon that are fair, safe, and reliable.” She stressed the importance of collective bargaining, something Amazon has been widely viewed as hostile toward since Gizmodo obtained an internal anti-union training video in September.
Just before 5pm, the crowd of protesters moved from the sidewalk in front of MSP1—where they had set up a massive prayer rug as well as an amplification system from the bed of a pickup truck—and marched on the building itself.
Police officers, who had not been present earlier in the day, lay in wait in the parking lot and were joined by additional units including Minnesota State Patrol officers and the Scott County sheriff, approximately 16 vehicles in total. The Shakopee Police Department confirmed in a phone call with Gizmodo, “no arrests, no property damage, no injuries.” In the moment, officers seemed confused as to which individuals were protesters and which were simply leaving work.
The crowd, meanwhile, dispersed peacefully, chanting, “Amazon—we’ll be back.”
Update 12/14/18 8:42pm CST: Amazon are truly pulling out all stops in attempting to spin this action, going to far as to describe the protest as an affront to non-participating workers.
“The majority of the people participating in today’s events are not Amazon associates because most Amazon associates are at work today sending out thousands of holiday packages for customers. We are disappointed in today’s efforts to undermine the dedicated and hard-working people who are the life and soul of our business. For them, it was business as usual,” a spokesperson wrote in a statement to Gizmodo.
Amazon also pushed back against characterizations of working conditions, stating “We have a great safety record” and stating that “We employ 16 safety professionals in this building alone whose sole job is to ensure the welfare of our employees.”
With regard to community engagement, one of the goals of the protest, Amazon stated that, “Since we started employing people here in the region, we’ve paid more than $84 million just on compensation alone for employees identifying as East African.” Rare is the day a company acts so petty as to want kudos for paying wages for services rendered—but today is that day! “Just this week we held a recruitment event in the Cedar-Riverside community to meet with interested candidates for managerial positions,” the statement continued. “This type of ongoing community engagement is something we have been doing and are doing every day in every community where we work.”
Finally Amazon generously noted that: “Prayer breaks less than 20 minutes are paid, and productivity expectations are not adjusted for such breaks. Associates are welcome to request an unpaid prayer break for over 20 minutes for which productivity expectations would be adjusted.”
In emails with Gizmodo, Amazon claims to have dispatched a member of their public relations team to the protest to interact with media and provide statements as well as tours of the MSP1 facility. Despite being the first to arrive and last to leave, Gizmodo was not informed or approached.
Potential construction is still at least nearly a decade away, but if the project were completed today, it would be by far the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
The three leases offered for auction by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Thursday fetched $135 million apiece by the time bidding closed on Friday. The previous record for such a lease was $42.5 million, set in 2016 for the rights off New York’s coast.
Numbers from the Interior Department, which oversaw the process, showed the area could become the world’s most prolific offshore source of wind energy. It projected the area could generate up to 4.1 gigawatts, enough electricity to potentially power nearly 1.5 million homes.
Currently, the largest offshore wind farm in the world is what’s known as the “Walney Extension,” off the coast of the United Kingdom. It has a capacity of roughly 700 megawatts, less than one-sixth the maximum capacity the US government is estimating could result from the Massachusetts deal.
That prediction is a best-case scenario, not without its caveats. The 4.1 gigawatt figure comes from a 2016 Energy Department estimate of the potential wind power per square kilometer offshore, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management spokesman Stephen Boutwell said. It has not been adjusted based on the area’s geography and weather patterns, and the 2016 report notes the full “nameplate power capacity is not the best indicator of potential from an energy production or economic perspective.”
Nancy Sopko, director of offshore wind policy and siting for the American Wind Energy Association, said her organization is confident the three new leases would produce a minimum of 800 megawatts each, or 2.4 gigawatts total. That would still make the new Massachusetts wind farms the world’s largest offshore project.
“This is an unprecedented day for offshore energy development,” Sopko said. “It’s smashed every expectation.”
Wind power developers have long had an eye on Massachusetts but have not yet successfully brought a project to fruition. A 2001 proposal for 130 wind turbines off Cape Cod sunk under opposition from the fishing industry and the peninsula’s tony landowners, such as the Kennedys, who feared obstructed views. The developer called it quits on the project in 2017.
In the meantime, the nation’s first offshore wind farm opened near neighboring Rhode Island in 2016. It produces enough electricity to power the entire community of Block Island.
The leases auctioned off this week face a long road to development, Boutwell said. Over the next year, the winning bidders will develop plans to assess the area’s wind using meteorological towers and buoys. They’ll then have five years to conduct the testing, after which they will submit plans to federal officials, who will conduct an environmental review.
Sopko, the wind energy association executive, said the Massachusetts auctions show the desire of large oil and gas companies to get into offshore wind power. She said there are few firms with as much expertise in operating large offshore rigs.
“The marrying of these two industries is going to create a lot of opportunities,” Sopko said.
Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is a supporter of wind power.
President Donald Trump, however, has voiced opposition to wind turbines.
“The wind kills all your birds. All your birds, killed,” he said on the campaign trail. “You know, the environmentalists never talk about that.”
WASHINGTON (SBG) – A passenger has reportedly fallen overboard on a Carnival cruise ship off the coast of the Florida Keys.
It is not known at this time if the passenger fell or jumped.
The cruise ship has displayed images of the young man as crews and security conduct a search of rooms on the ship.
Carnival issued a statment to passengers aboard the ship saying that cameras on the ship confirmed that the passenger did fall overboard.
“We are continuing our search and rescue efforts for our missing gust. I am sorry to say that our ships camera system has confirmed that he went overboard. Our Care Team is currently assisting his family on board,” Carnival said.
The cruise line added that they are working in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard to search the area where he was last seen. Carnival was also working to assist passengers to reschedule their flights.
The cruise set sail from Miami, Florida Dec. 10 and returned to the same port Friday. An NBC news report states the U.S. Coast Guard believes the young man went overboard south of Islamorada, in the Florida Keys they also called the act “intentional.”
Others just wanted to post photos of their own favorite ramen meals, or offer restaurant or recipe recommendations (always get the egg).
Of course, some had to tease about ramen’s famous reputation as an inexpensive meal, considering Musk’s own bank balance. “Yeah, but how many years can you afford to splurge like that?” cracked one Twitter user.
Alabama is among 25 states where Del Monte Foods has announced a recall of canned corn.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the recall affects 64,242 cases of Fiesta Corn Seasoned with Red & Green Peppers.
The recall is taking place due to under-processing during the commercial sterilization process. There have been no reports of illness to date in association with eating the product.
The recall is for 15.25-ounce (432g) cans with the following UPC number printed on the label: 24000 02770. The product will also have one of the following “Best if Used By” dates stamped on the bottom of the can:
August 14, 2021
August 15, 2021
August 16, 2021
Sept 3, 2021
Sept 4, 2021
Sept 5, 2021
Sept 6, 2021
Sept 22, 2021
Sept 23, 2021
Other states included are Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, El Salvador, Haiti, Guyana, Uruguay, Aruba, Panama, Saint Lucia and Suriname are also included.
Affected products can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund or exchange. Consumers with questions may contact the company by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-800-779-7035, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m Eastern Time or through the company website.
Video shot from Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity as it soared towards the edge of space during its successful test mission Thursday shows a stunning view of the Earth from space — and the company’s founder Richard Branson overcome with emotion.
In it, VSS Unity, also known as SpaceShipTwo, flies high above the ground before its rocket motors are ignited, pushing the craft upward. As a large crowd cheers from the ground at Mojave Air and Space Port in California, Branson covers his face with his hands and appears to cry.
“Many of us cried tears of joy when we reached space, and the air really was filled with love as we celebrated the milestone flight,” Branson said in a blog post following the mission.
“I’m so proud of the Virgin family every day, but today I am prouder than ever,” he added.
VSS Unity reached an altitude of 271,268 feet (51.4 miles) during Thursday’s flight, past the 50-mile mark the government uses to define the edge of space. It was the first time out of the craft’s four test flights that it was able to reach space.
It’s also the first vehicle built for commercial use and piloted by humans to reach space, according to Branson.
Euphoria wasn’t the only emotion flowing through the crowd Thursday. Love was also in the air.
Following the flight, an engineer with Virgin Galactic’s aerospace-system manufacturing organization dropped to one knee to propose to his girlfriend.
“What better way to propose than with a ring that had just flown to space? Huge congratulations to the happy couple,” Branson wrote in his blog.
The next goal for Virgin Galactic is to fill VSS Unity with paying customers eager to catch a glimpse of the Earth from space. So far, about 800 people have paid $250,000 each for tickets.