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Weekly News Roundup: #MeToo Backlash, US-China Trade War, Facebook Working Conditions

United States restricts Chinese tech

While already engaged in a trade war against the world’s second largest economy, the United States placed sanctions on the Chinese tech giant Huawei, as the US Commerce Department announced restrictions to US companies, including Qualcomm, Intel, and Broadcom that sell Huawei microchips and other specific parts used in smartphones and telecom equipment. The measures come in response to the concern that China is engaging in industrial espionage.

If the Chinese company cannot sell to these suppliers, the economic impact would be catastrophic for both Huawei smartphones, and the mobile networks that rely on the company’s technology. A former Obama administration official likened the move to “the trade equivalent of a nuclear bomb,” and Huawei own statement claimed this will do “significant economic harm to the [US] companies with which Huawei does business…and affect tens of thousands of US jobs.”

European Union fines banks US$ 1billion over foreign currency

Regulators in the European Union fined five banks of more than US$1 billion for collusion in trading large quantities of foreign currency. The investigation revealed some bank employees exchanged sensitive information and trading plans. The banks, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup, MUFG, and JPMorgan, for collaboration in a foreign exchange spot trading cartel.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, “the behavior of these banks undermined the integrity of the sector at the expense of the European economy and consumers.” UBS revealed the cartels, and the fines were 10 percent lower due to the financial institutions acknowledging their involvement.

Facebook contractors complain about poor working conditions and lack of counseling

Facebook’s contractors, employed by outsourcing firms like Accenture, are quietly building a list of grievances regarding their experiences working with the social media giant. Because they are not actual Facebook employees, the contractors are not entitled to six-month maternity leave, cannot invite friends or family to the company cafeteria, and their starting wage is 14 percent of the median Facebook salary.

Many workers, specifically content moderators whose jobs are to keep the site free of suicides, public killings, and other graphic posts, work just as hard, if not harder, than their full-time counterparts. Tasks like preventing video deaths and other triggering or obscene posts can take a toll on the staff, putting them at risk of developing a form of post-traumatic stress disorder called “vicarious trauma.”

Brazil scheme results in investigation of US companies

Two Brazilian investigators revealed that US federal law enforcement is examining Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, General Electric, and Philips for illegal payoffs in order to secure contracts with public health programs across Brazil over the past two decades.

Brazilian authorities said more than 20 companies may be involved in a cartel that paid bribes and overcharged the government for medical equipment. The multinational companies are the largest foreign enterprises to be investigated in an unheard of anticorruption pursuit in Brazil in recent history.

Brazilian federal prosecutor Marisa Ferrari confirmed the cooperation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with Brazilian authorities.

#MeToo leads to fear in workplace — from men

Blowback from the #MeToo movement is on the rise, with men more hesitant to work one-on-one with women. According to a survey from LeanIn.org, 60 percent of male managers said they are uncomfortable performing common workplace activities with women such as mentoring, socializing or having one-on-one meetings. And senior-level male managers were nine times more likely to admit they’re reluctant to take work trips with junior women than men.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, founder of LeanIn.org, said she’s spoken to many male executives who were told by their HR department or senior leadership not to put themselves in situations when they’re alone with women. This new level of concern, according to Sandberg, can have its own backlash as it can be an obstacle to women in getting promoted.

Amazon competes in the grocery delivery field in United Kingdom

Amazon is investing in the UK food-delivery company Deliveroo, giving the ecommerce giant extra punch as it competes against Uber’s Uber Eats service in the battle to win consumer’s hearts for delivery meal service.

Deliveroo, whose delivery bikes roam the streets of London alongside double-decker buses and black cabs, raised US$575 million in a recent funding round, and has raised a total US$1.53 billion.

The company operates in various markets across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and parts of the Middle East, but has yet to gain a foothold in the United States, where online-food delivery is already a competitive business with companies like Grubhub, DoorDash, and UberEats vying for control.

About the Author

Scott Sharon is a freelance writer who has contributed to Conducive Chronicle and World Policy Journal.


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