With files from Samira Balsara
Google gets strict about vaccines, Amazon delivery drivers are overworking this holiday season, and the space journeys that billionaires took are making the environment worse.
That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Thursday, December 16, and I’m your host, Jori Negin-Shecter.
Google has announced that it will cut pay and eventually fire employees who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. According to CNBC, a note circulated by leadership said employees had until Dec. 3 to declare their vaccination status or to apply for medical or religious exemptions. Google said following that date, it would begin contacting employees who didn’t upload their vaccination status or were unvaccinated. Employees who don’t comply with vaccine mandates by January 18 will be placed on “paid administrative leave” for 30 days. Following that, unvaccinated employees will be put on “unpaid personal leave” for six months and then fired.
To meet holiday demand, Amazon drivers are working late hours to deliver packages on time before Christmas. Some drivers are delivering packages until 11 o’clock at night. Amazon’s peak season, between Black Friday and Christmas, continues to be a tough time for drivers as they work extreme hours. Several Amazon delivery drivers have said they’d seen their route stops shoot up significantly around this time, with shifts extending three to five hours later than usual. A Vice article reported that drivers have expressed concern for their health and safety around this time as the protracted hours and rush deliveries cause them to miss meals, miss rest, and overwork themselves.
Finally, a passage from this year’s World Inequality Report sparked debate after the report compared the carbon footprint of a short space joyride to a lifetime’s worth of emissions for the world’s poorest. This year billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson all took trips to outer space. In addition to the fiscal cost of these flights, the carbon costs have also been astronomical. As Gizmodo puts it, the report sums up the “unequal distribution between those who cause climate damage and those who suffer from it.” The report specifically says, an 11-minute flight to space emits 75 tonnes of carbon per passenger. For comparison, about one billion individuals emit less than one tonne per person per year. And in a lifetime, this group of one billion individuals does not emit more than 75 tonnes of carbon per person. To top it all off, the report also noted that even without the space flights, wealthy individuals still produce more carbon pollution in a year than the average individual does in a lifetime.
And now for something a little bit different. Some people will go to extremes to make money, and one individual is paying the proverbial price for taking the ultimate risk for some extra cash. A Chinese man has been jailed for lifting his ex-girlfriend’s eyelids while she slept to unlock her phone, so that he could steal money from her digital wallet. A Vice article reports that the man was sentenced to just over three and a half years in prison and fined for stealing roughly $24,000 from his ex-girlfriends mobile payment account. To steal the money, the man lifted her eyelids while she slept so he could pass the facial recognition protection check on the payment app Alipay. He then transferred money from her savings account and credit services to his own account, and used the funds on living expenses and to cover his gambling debts.
That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire Newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. If you have a suggestion or tip, please drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thanks for listening, I’m Jori Negin-Shecter.