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Is Amazon Exploiting The Long-Term Unemployed In Germany?

Amazon is using free labor: unemployed Germans receiving state benefits. The German trade union Ver.di smells scandal while the American e-commerce giant and public job centers insist that the practice is the best way to match the unemployed with the righ

Is Amazon Exploiting The Long-Term Unemployed In Germany?
Stefan von Borstel

Some talk about a rip-off, an outrageous scandal. Others speak in terms of "perspectives for the long-term unemployed" and a "successful project." They are all sounding off on the same subject: some 1,500 unemployed people who, through job centers, found work as unpaid interns at the mail-order firm Amazon in the Nordrhein-Westfalen region of Germany.

The company wanted to trial-test the workers to see if they could be offered regular jobs. Most of the interns worked at the Unna logistics center, others in Rheinberg. However for the Ver.di trade union as well as Nordrhein-Westfalen's Social Democratic Minister of Labor, Guntram Schneider, the endeavor reeks of scandal.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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