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Amazon Germany Accused Of Using Neo-Nazis To Monitor Immigrant Workers



BERLIN – “Disgusting,” “inhuman,” “unbelievable” – that was the tenor of thousands of comments that have been left in recent hours on Amazon Germany's Facebook page. The outrage followed an incendiary documentary about the e-commerce giant aired on German Television ARD on Thursday night.

Customers also passed on info to other users on how to cancel their Amazon account, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Filmmakers Diana Löbl and Peter Onneken accused Amazon of hiring workers lured from all over Europe by false promises that they would get a work contract directly with the firm. The workers are allegedly monitored around-the-clock by guards from a security company accused of having links to Neo-Nazi groups.

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Thor Steinar is a favorite of Neo-Nazi groups in Germany (insight blog)

The immigrant workers earn a gross hourly wage of 8.52 euros but only learn this two days before they are scheduled to leave their country. Shifts can included up to 15 days in a row without a day off; and they are housed in crowded conditions in empty holiday camps. Room and board are deducted from their wages.

Selling everything from books to coffee pots to toilet paper, Amazon has a 25% share of the German mail-order market, with a 2012 turnover of 6.8 billion euros.

Löbl told Süddeutsche Zeitung that Amazon personnel is watched 24 hours a day – on the job and then in the housing compounds by a security firm suspected of ties to Neo-Nazi groups. The firm is called HESS Security, which the filmmakers suspect of being a reference to top Hitler deputy Rudolph Hess. The guards are shown dressed in Thor Steinar clothing, a brand so strongly associated with Germany's far-right scene that its products have been banned at soccer matches and the German parliament.

The guards allegedly threatened the filmmakers and destroyed some of their footage.

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The Problem With Always Blaming Climate Change For Natural Disasters

Climate change is real, but a closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters. It is important to raise awareness about the long-term impact of global warming, but there's a risk in overstating its role in the latest floods or fires.

People on foot, on bikes, motorcycles, scooters and cars navigate through a flooded street during the day time.

Karachi - People wade through flood water after heavy rain in a southern Pakistani city

Xinhua / ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

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