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Jeff Bezos, World’s Richest Man, Wants Your Donations To Help Amazon Employees

Jeff Bezos is asking the public for donations to provide basic support to his 800,000 employees who are suffering in poverty in the wake of the pandemic.

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Jeff Bezos, World’s Richest Man, Wants Your Donations To Help Amazon Employees
Photo Credit: Mint Press News

Alan MacLeod, Mint Press News

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s first centibillionaire, a man who vies with Bill Gates for the title of the planet’s richest individual, is asking the public for donations to provide basic support to his 800,000 employees who are suffering in poverty in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bezos announced:

“We are establishing the Amazon Relief Fund with a $25 million initial contribution focused on supporting our independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex participants, and seasonal employees under financial distress during this challenging time.”

The fund will also support both employees and contractors around the world that face economic hardship due to natural disasters or unforeseen personal circumstances. Those who qualify can apply for a grant of up to $5,000.

“I’ve never been more proud of our teams around the world. People are supporting one another, taking care of themselves and others while also doing what we do best, which is serving customers,” said Beth Galetti, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Amazon.

A man worth over $100 billion, who makes, on average, $230,000 per minute calling on the public to help his own impoverished employees was not met well by many. Amazon itself is worth over $1 trillion, and some felt Bezos himself was in a better position than others, especially members of the public also economically hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, to help his own staff. Furthermore, the company is notorious as a bad employer. Forced to forego bathroom breaks, many company warehouse workers are effectively compelled to wear diapers during their shifts. Other employees report working in unsafe environments and being punished for injuries sustained on the job. The company also does not provide its employees with regular access to clean water.

Amazon workers are poor. Really poor! In Arizona, for example, the company’s own data suggests that one in three employees depend upon food stamps to put food on the table. It is the twenty-eighth largest employer in the state. However, it ranked fifth on the list for most employees enrolled in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Across the United States, it is a similar story. In Pennsylvania, for instance, Amazon is the nineteenth largest employer but is in fifth place on the SNAP employees list of corporations. And amidst the deadly COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, the job is one of the more dangerous around, as workers are constantly on the move, handling a great number of packages and in close proximity to others. Despite its poor pay, the job is considered essential to the upkeep of society.Formun Altı

Bezos’ charitable donations often garner him considerable praise in the media. His donation of one million Australian dollars to aid the bushfires in January generated headlines proclaiming his generosity. But as MintPress reported, that was equivalent to just three minutes’ income, as generous as a person making $20,000 per year donating a dime. Linsey McGoey, Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex, UK, told MintPress that, “philanthropy can and is being used deliberately to divert attention away from different forms of economic exploitation that underpin global inequality today.”

In other news, Amazon employees in Chicago announced yesterday that, through collective action, they had forced the company to agree to paid time off for all U.S. warehouse workers, something that will be especially useful in the current circumstances. “Almost a year ago, in the summer of 2019, a small crew of us got fed up with Amazon’s bullshit and met up outside of work because we felt we had to do something,” they said, proclaiming victory.

In the U.S., the company is currently increasing recruitment to deal with a sharp surge in sales. On the other hand, the government of France has suspended all non-essential Amazon deliveries in a bid to cut down on contagion rates. The company has also been forced to halt price gouging on its website of key products like hand sanitizer.

While Bezos asks for donations, he appears to genuinely not have considered using his own wealth to help those in need. In 2018 he lamented that “the only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it.” His employees might have other ideas about how he could use his fortune.

Alan MacLeod / Mint Press News / Creative Commons

The views in this article may not reflect editorial policy of Collective Spark.

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An Asteroid The Size Of A Football Stadium Is Flying Toward The Earth This Week: NASA

NASA is keeping watch on a humongous asteroid that is quickly approaching Earth every day.

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Photo Credit: Times Now

(TMU) – NASA is keeping watch on a humongous asteroid that is quickly approaching Earth every day. The NASA website’s Asteroid Watch Widget shows the next five asteroids and comets that are expected to make relatively close approaches to earth in the next few days.

Among these is a large comet that is expected to be 1,100 feet wide (335 meters), approximately the size of a football stadium or the Wilshire Grand Center skyscraper in Los Angeles and larger than New York’s Empire State Building.

The asteroid, which is named 2002 NN4, is expected to come closest to our planet on Saturday, June 6th, according to NASA. The space rock is categorized as an Aten-class Asteroid, but is also classified by the space agency as a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) and Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA), reports Tech Times.

Scientists are making it clear that any possibility of a collision here on Earth is EXTREMELY remote – in fact, its closest approach will be a distant 3,160,000 miles (over 5 million km.) away from home base.

While the asteroid is considered somewhat small in relation to the much larger rocks shooting across our galaxy, the 2002 NN4 is also 90% larger than the four others listed. These include three others about the size of a plane and another size of a house that are approaching the Earth. The closest one is expected to come within 1,830,000 miles of Earth today.

Researchers say that the asteroid completes its orbit around the sun every 0.82 years, or 300 days.

Scientists predict numerous “close approaches” of the asteroid to the Earth in the future. While only 30 close approaches are forecast at the moment, 2002 NN4 will return to our neighbourhood in nine years, on June 29 – so if you want to wave at this distant traveller, Saturday will be your only chance for some time.

Space.com has also reported that small asteroids pass by our planet on a monthly basis. One such small asteroid, 2020 HS7, safely passes near Earth several times each month, NASA Planetary Defence Officer Lindley Johnson said in an April 28 statement.

“It poses no threat to our planet, and even if it were on a collision path with Earth it is small enough that it would be disintegrated by our Earth’s atmosphere,” the planetary defence official added.

Yet 2020 HS7 was still came startlingly close to the planet, coming a mere 26,550 miles (42,735 km) within the Earth’s center and only 750 miles (1,200 km) from the closest satellite in geostationary orbit, which is one of the more distant satellite rings surrounding Earth. The space rock passed well below the satellite, however, leaving it unscathed.

The flybys are a good display of our planetary defence apparatus in action. Space authorities like NASA and the European Space Agency identify the asteroids in our galactic “neighbourhood” beginning with the largest, while tracking their orbital trajectory. As scientists compile more and more data on these space rocks, they are able to plot their orbits more accurately and calculate the probability – or lack thereof – of any impact with our planet.

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Swarm Of Earthquakes In Yellowstone Renews Fears Of Supervolcano Eruption

A swarm of earthquakes has caused renewed concern over the area’s underground supervolcano.

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Swarm Of Earthquakes In Yellowstone Renews Fears Of Supervolcano Eruption
Photo Credit: The Mind Unleashed

(TMU) – The US Geological Survey says it is monitoring the area near Yellowstone National Park where a swarm of earthquakes has caused renewed concern over the area’s underground supervolcano. Although statistically unlikely, a supervolcano eruption would release the equivalent of 1,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs and wreak unprecedented destruction.

The area, West Yellowstone in Montana, reported around eleven earthquakes on Friday and a total of 34 in the last month. Though considered low-magnitude quakes, the tremors extended three miles underground.

According to Yellowstone National Park’s website:

“Yellowstone is one of the most seismically active areas in the United States….Approximately 700 to 3,000 earthquakes occur each year in the Yellowstone area; most are not felt. They result from the extensive network of faults associated with the volcano and surrounding tectonic features.”

Situated in northwest Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park brings in millions of annual tourists, who marvel at the geysers, steam vents, and bubbling eddies of exothermally heated water.

Park officials say that earthquakes there are caused by volcanic fluids entering shallow rock fractures.

Yellowstone sits atop one of only two supervolcanos in the US. Contained within three overlapping calderas that represent past eruptions from hundreds of thousands and even millions of years ago, scientists say the Yellowstone volcano is roughly 34 by 45 miles wide and only three miles below the surface. Its last eruption was 640,000 years ago when it is estimated to have dumped over 2,000 times the amount of ash as the Mount St. Helens eruption.

Swarms of earthquakes are not unusual in the area. In 2018, the park recorded a swarm of 153 quakes. The US Geological Survey says the odds are only one in 730,000 that the Yellowstone supervolcano will erupt this year.

However, the supervolcano eruption threat has become a predictable meme in recent years, usually resurfacing during earthquakes swarms. The reason is that if the supervolcano did go off, it would definitely be a game-changer. A BBC feature on supervolcanos described the aftermath: “The sky will darken, black rain will fall, and the Earth will be plunged into the equivalent of a nuclear winter.

Volcanists insist there is no imminent threat of a supervolcano eruption at the moment but larger earthquakes and hydrothermal blasts could present a real danger to tourists. Over the years, over 300 people have died at Yellowstone, in accidents ranging from driving off of 800-foot cliffs to unknowingly diving into 200-degree boiling water and succumbing to the fumes emitted by hydrothermal vents.

In 2016, a 23-year-old man fell off a boardwalk overlooking the Norris Geyser Basin and was incinerated in the high-temperature, acidic geyser below.

So while this summer’s tourists probably don’t have to worry about the earthquakes representing the eruption of the supervolcano, Yellowstone National Park visitors should bring a healthy respect for the powers of nature.

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A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Is Happening During The Full Moon This June

On June 5th and 6th, the Strawberry Full Moon will also pass through the faint outer shadow of the Earth, known as a penumbral lunar eclipse.

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Penumbral Lunar bbc
Photo Credit: Truth Theory

(TMU) – On June 5th and 6th, the Strawberry Full Moon will pass through the faint outer shadow of the Earth, known as a penumbral lunar eclipse, the second of four penumbral lunar eclipses this year. Weather permitting, those of you in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and the South Eastern areas of South America might notice the Moon turn slightly darker, or seem less bright, during the maximum phase of the eclipse. A penumbral lunar eclipse can be subtle and sometimes difficult to distinguish from a normal full moon.

While June’s Strawberry Full Moon eclipse may be visible from start to finish from some areas – a total of 3 hours 18 minutes – other areas will only experience the Moon rise or set during the eclipse. Check the time of the Full Moon eclipse in your city or town by clicking here, and set that time aside to watch the event. Unfortunately, for North America and most of South America, this event will be happening below their horizon.

Image Credit: www.timeanddate.com

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth aligns between the Full Moon and the Sun, blocking the Sun’s rays from reaching the Full Moon.

A total eclipse occurs when Earths umbra – the central, dark part of its shadow – obscures all of the Moon’s surface. During a partial eclipse only a part of the Moon’s surface is obscured by Earth’s umbra. A penumbral lunar eclipse happens when Earth’s faint penumbral, outer shadow falls on the Moon, like the one we already experienced on January 10th and are what the remaining three lunar eclipses will be this year on June 5th, July 5th and November 31st.

The early Indigenous people of North America kept track of the seasons and lunar months by naming them according to events during that time. June’s Full Moon is either the last full moon of spring, or the first of the summer, and is called the “Strawberry Moon”. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the name originated with Algonquin tribes in eastern North America – and was used as a signal to gather the ripening wild strawberries. Colonial Americans adopted some of the indigenous moon names and applied them to their own calendar system – which is still used today.

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Trump To Sign Social Media Executive Order After Threatening To Shut Down Platforms

US President Donald Trump might be one of Twitter’s most active users, but he has had harsh words for the social media platform this week.

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Trump signs executive order threatening social-media companies after Twitter fact-checked his tweets
Photo Credit: Financial Times

(TMU) – US President Donald Trump might be one of Twitter’s most active users, but he has had harsh words for the social media platform this week, after the site fact-checked one of his claims about voting by mail.

Trump even went so far as to threaten to “strongly regulate” or even potentially shut down social media websites for attempting to interfere with political speech and election results.

This is the first time that Trump has been fact-checked on the site, as public figures are often given a pass in circumstances like this because their comments are a matter of public discourse, as offensive as they may be at times, but increased calls for the moderation of Trump’s tweets have led to increased scrutiny over his profile.

President Trump was so incensed by the actions against his profile that he is now promising to sign an executive order in regards to content moderation on social media sites.

“These platforms act like they are potted plants when [in reality] they are curators of user experiences, i.e. the man behind the curtain for everything we can see or hear,” an administration official familiar with the issue told Politico on Wednesday night.

While the content of the executive order is not entirely clear, some have speculated that it could be related to a 1996 statute that protects these companies from lawsuits. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives tech companies a limited legal liability for user-generated content, which is a great thing at face value, but it also protects these companies from any legal action for “taking good-faith efforts to curb illicit material.”

In the years since, frequent conflicts have arisen over content moderation, while “good faith efforts” and “illicit Material” are still poorly defined, allowing these companies to remove content based on arbitrary whims, which are often directed by personal politics, and the temperaments of advertisers.

Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey defended the site’s actions on Wednesday night, saying that he was not censoring Trump, but providing other sources so people could look deeper into the issue. He also said that the site will continue to fact check the information that they find to be incorrect or disputed, especially when it comes to elections.

“Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves,” he said.

He also says that he will be taking full responsibility for the company’s actions and will be willing to admit mistakes if any are made.

Last year, Twitter announced it would ban all political ads from its platform. At the time, Dorsey said that he believed online reach for political messages “should be earned, not bought.”

Mark Zuckerberg responded to the controversy this week also, saying that Twitter made the wrong call, and falsely claimed that Facebook takes a hands-off approach to moderating political content.

“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that,” Zuckerberg said.

While Twitter is traditionally less aggressive with content moderation than Facebook when it comes to issues like foreign policy, police brutality, or nudity, they have become very serious about policing hate speech and political misinformation.

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