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Walmart: No Longer A Saviour Of Physically Disabled People

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Walmart on greeters, a position for physically handicapped individuals

Every business has established its mission-vision, in hopes of giving value to the company’s image. These values are considered as the backbone of each establishment where owners, even the management and its employees, must strictly adhere to its principles. Any forms of breaking it will be used to question the company’s integrity.

However, this is not now the case for Walmart. The multinational retail company believes that it is a community-driven institution and inclusive for people who are physically handicapped. But just recently, it decided to phase out its familiar blue vested “greeters” in some of its 1,000 store chains in the US. The problem is, the majority of its employees who took the ‘greeters’ positions are disabled and are now most affected by the company’s choice.

The announcement was made last week, informing greeters around the country that their contracts will end on April 26 in favor of the expanded and more physically demanding ‘customer assistant’ role. In addition to the much heavier responsibility, the company created a set of requirement to qualify with the position. Now, the applicant should be able to lift 25-pound or 11-kilogram packages, climb ladders, and stand for a longer period of time.

These standards show how insensitive Walmart is in the condition of its present greeters with cerebral palsy, spina bifida (a condition in the spinal column), and other physical disabilities. The move disrespects the fact that these workers have been around working for decades. For them, a job at Walmart has provided extra earning to cope up with their daily needs, served as a source of pride and connection to the community where the physically incapacitated received acceptance.

A Walmart greeter was nationally implemented since the 1980s by Sam Walton. Before, the main role of this particular employee is to wait at the front door of the store and offer a warm ‘hello’ to all shoppers who enter. The position is considered to be a big part of the company’s identity and became one of its recognized hallmarks as the years went by. In 2016, Walmart redefined their roles, adding responsibilities such as helping with returns, checking receipts and maintaining the cleanliness of the store’s façade.

Although the company confirmed that it is striving to place greeters into other jobs in the company, still the disabled workers are worried. According to NBC news, a greeter named Donny Fagnano, 56, who has worked at Walmart for almost 21 years said he had cried after a manager at the store in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania called him into the office last week and informed him of the sad news that his job is over.

Fagnano who expressed that he likes working than sitting the whole day has spina bifida. He was one of the many employees who was being offered a severance package but wanted to stay on Walmart even if that meant cleaning bathrooms instead.  

Now Walmart, which claimed that it still adheres to its principle, received backlash from customers who rally around some of its mostly-visited chains around the country. The word spread first in social media then dominated local and national news outlets which resulted in numerous demands from customers who called the company to complain. Thousands of people signed a petition, and those who are in far areas of the country used Facebook to show support.

Facebook created groups such as “Team Adam” and “Save Lesley,” in hopes of giving the employees, especially those physically handicapped, a fair shake and will be offered a position in the company.

The ‘greeters’ issue prompted at least three complaints to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as, federal lawsuit in Utah indicating a violation of the state law by discriminating the disabled. Moreover, under federal law, employers must provide “reasonable” alternatives to workers with disabilities.

As of the moment, Walmart did not disclose how many disabled greeters could lose their job but confirmed that they would extend the deadline indefinitely until the company finds other positions well-suited for them.

However, some workers said that they had been discouraged from applying for other jobs which the company countered indicating that they have already made offers to some greeters including those with physical disabilities and will continue to do so in the coming weeks.

I've been contributing news since 2010, both online and print. Aside from Z6Mag, I manage independent news blogs that provide awareness on a diverse list of topics to every reader.

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Business

What’s The Next Move For Huawei?

Huawei assures users that they will still be receiving security updates and after-sales services amidst the Google/Android ban. Sources also revealed that company is poised to launch its own OS, Hongmeng, anytime soon. Click To Tweet

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Huawei assures users that they will still receive security updates and after-sales services following the Google/Android ban.
Sources revealed that Huawei is poised to release its own OS, Hongmeng. Photo: Open Grid Scheduler | Flickr | CC0 1.0

Following the decision of Google and Android to ban Huawei from contracting their services in conjunction of the government-led war against the Chinese tech giant and the executive order released by President Donald Trump, Huawei crumbles to assure users that current owners of both Huawei and Honor phones will still be receiving security updates and after-sales services.

In a short, unsubstantiated statement, Huawei highlight’s the company’s contribution to the growth of Android globally as Android phones from the company has seen unprecedented growth while other smartphone vendors are shrinking or stagnant. While the company promises the continuance of the services provided by Android to their smartphone users, and the promise extends to those units that were already shipped and in stock in stores globally, no additional guarantees were made beyond that.

“Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry,” said a statement from Huawei.

“Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally […] We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally,” they added.

The revocation of Huawei’s license follows after the heightened crackdown by the U.S. government on Chinese companies. Previously, the Trump administration has been lobbying to its allies to ban Huawei’s 5G technology citing that the Chinese government can use the company for espionage and economic sabotage.

The latest blow against Huawei is the decision of Google to revoke the Android license of Huawei, forcing the company to use only the open source version of the operating system. A Google spokesperson confirmed that “Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.”

Because of the ban, Huawei is now restricted from using the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), cutting the company off from critical Google apps and services that consumers outside of China expect on Android devices.

While existing phones from Huawei would probably be not affected by the decision, the future of updates and for those phones as well as any new phones Huawei would produce remains in question. But it seems like Huawei has prepared for the day that this would happen and already has a plan B in mind.

Earlier today, the China-based company released its very own operating system, Hongmeng. A source has confirmed that Huawei is set to officially launch Hongmeng, as the company has been working on it since 2012. The company has been testing the new OS on selected devices under closer door and closed environment. The source also said that the testing was accelerated for the new operating system to be ready for situations just like this.

Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether Hongmeng will be the official name of the OS from Huawei. Experts note that even if Huawei can successfully launch its operating system, the company will still be faced with the challenge of establishing an app ecosystem. It would take Huawei a lot of time to build apps that are compatible with the new operating system.

Huawei accounted for 19% of the worldwide smartphone market and became the second largest smartphone manufacturer, overtaking Apple, in Q1 2019.

The blunder faced by Huawei following the Google ban has caused severe market instability not only for Huawei but for the volatile US tech markets as stocks drop following the shocking decision. Huawei is dragging the entire tech industry with it as market uncertainty brought upon by the apparent tech trade wars. As Huawei’s future remains at the limbo, it brings with it the rest of the tech world.

“If this remains enforced, it’s going to create some opportunity, but companies are working with their compliance departments to get out of the way of this Huawei situation,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. That’s difficult because “Huawei has its tentacles in so many parts of the technology sector. That’s why this is not a one-day event.”

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Automotive

Nissan-Renault’s Ghosn: From Hero To Zero

The once-famed Nissan leader has fallen with allegations relating to financial misconduct and dragging the company along with him. Click To Tweet

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Renault-Nissan Alliance. Photo from: Nissan-Global.com

In a time when Nissan was on the brink of declaring bankruptcy, Carlos Ghosn stepped in not only to save the company but help it to rise back as one of the world’s top car manufacturers. Today, Nissan is facing a similar financial crisis, but this time around, the Japanese carmaker had Ghosn removed from the company.

Through Ghosn’s efforts of restructuring and eventually, reintroducing innovations to Nissan, the company rose significantly within the last two decades under Ghosn’s lead. He also made the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi agreement possible that made them one of the leading car companies in the world.

The company had a good track record. But, CNN reported last Tuesday, May 14, that Nissan posted a significant drop in profits where operating profits plunged to 45% at 318 billion yen ($2.9 billion) in the fiscal year that ended in March and revenue fell 3% to about 11.6 trillion yen ($105 billion), while vehicle sales were down 4.4% to 5.5 million.

This is “rock bottom,” Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said during the earnings presentation.

Moreover, analysts also expect Nissan to plunge at decade-low numbers in the coming year. Nissan forecasts operating profit for the fiscal year to March 2020 would fall to 230 billion ($2.1 billion). Also, Nissan shares closed down at 3% in Tokyo.

On Friday, May 17, the Japanese carmaker proposed plans to make changes within its executive board as a reaction to Ghosn’s fallout from the company.

The firm told shareholders that they would start implementing a new board structure composed of 11 members, which 6 of whom would be external.

“With the lessons from the recent executive misconduct still fresh, Nissan resolves to rigorously pursue the separation of supervisory and executive functions,” said the firm.

Thierry Bollore, Renault’s chief executive and chairman Jean-Dominique Senard will both be included in the proposed board.

Nissan conceded to allowing Senard into the board though Bollore’s urges. The Japanese firm isn’t too happy about Senard siding with Ghosn during his arrest.

On the other hand, Nissan’s current CEO Hiroto Saikawa has also been reported to be pressured from vacating his position in the company for doubts that he is capable of turning things around for the company and his close relations with Ghosn.

Saikawa responded that he wishes to stay on the company until he sees it return to profitability and will consider the idea of stepping down “at the appropriate time.”

Additionally, Saikawa told reporters that Renault chairman Senard “has one idea in mind, which is integration or merger.” He also added that “what we’ve told Mr. Senard is this is not the right timing to discuss this matter.”

Regarding the topic of a possible merger between Renault and Nissan, the Japanese company seems to be against the idea since Nissan brings in a lot more profitable compared to the two. But, ironically, Renault holds more stake in the company.

Obviously, the Japanese brand has been struggling to manage internal structures with Ghosn leaving its ranks for multiple cases alleging financial misconduct.

Allegedly, Ghosn is accused of abusing and taking advantage of his power and position in the company to meet personal gains. Specifically, Ghosn allegedly used a Nissan subsidiary to send millions of dollars of payments to a business partner of the company abroad, which then sent money to a third company that he controlled. The actions were taken for the purpose of obtaining a “personal profit,” The New York Times reports.

Prosecutors accused Ghosn of using the method on three occasions from December 2015 to July 2018, resulting in a total of $5 million in losses to Nissan.

As of date, Ghosn has been arrested on four separate occasions including the first arrest in November on charges of underreporting his compensation. The second when he was rearrested on related charges and then a third time on suspicion that he had shifted his personal financial losses onto Nissan’s books.

However, Ghosn and his team of lawyers have consistently denied all allegations about him. In a video Ghosn posted before his fourth arrest, he told that the allegations made against him “is about a plot, this is about conspiracy, this is about backstabbing.”

Meanwhile, the French carmaker, Renault also made new allegations against Ghosn, claiming that there were “questionable and concealed practices” regarding the expenses made under Ghosn. Moreover, Renault also announced Ghosn’s resignation from its board.

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Cryptocurreny

Facebook Opens A Swiss Company To Develop Own Virtual Currency, Report Suggests

Facebook may have its own currency soon but no confirmation has been made yet. Reports revealed that Facebook opened a Swiss company to focus on developing its own cryptocurrency. Click To Tweet

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Reports revealed that Facebook opened a Swiss company to focus on developing its own cryptocurrency.
Facebook may have its own currency soon but no confirmation has been made yet. Photo: Esther Vargas | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

There is no denying that cryptocurrency is slowly becoming the most used currency in the world. The future is bright for virtual money as people started to become a lot more dependent on the internet on almost all aspects of their daily lives. And when a technology thrives, Facebook does not falter to offer the same thing. Reports suggest that Facebook has set up a company overseas to develop its virtual currency that users can send to their friends and contacts.

The social networking giant reportedly opened up a company in Switzerland to focus on payment and blockchain technology, similar to the technology that powers bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.

According to a Swiss publication, Handelszeitung, the Facebook cryptocurrency would be tied to the US dollar and therefore will remain stable unlike bitcoin, which started crashing since 2017.

The report also revealed that Facebook has already set up a company called Libra Networks in Geneva several weeks ago. They noted that Libra is the tech giant’s internal project name for Facebook money.

Owned by Facebook Global Holding II in Ireland, the Swiss company will focus on developing the software and hardware for crypto-related functions like payments, blockchain, analytics, big data, and identity management.

Facebook is hesitant to comment regarding their plans for the digital currency and did not confirm nor denied the reports of its existence. Nonetheless, the news is consistent with an earlier report that Facebook created a team of 50 individuals to develop their cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to be used across the network and on its WhatsApp messaging services.

That design would be geared toward avoiding a speculative frenzy like the one that caused the value of the primary cryptocurrency, bitcoin, to soar and then crash. While Facebook also did not confirm anything related to the leaked project at the time, the California-based company confirmed that they are interested in blockchain technology.

“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology,” the company said in a statement. “This new small team is exploring many different applications.”

Blockchain technology serves as the virtual ledger for every transaction using a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, and it builds up a set of data blocks recording transactions and who made them.

Meanwhile, existing crypto companies still face a huge problem in the banking system, and Facebook may face a similar obstacle in case the reports on its own crypto money turns out to be true. Earlier reports suggest that crypto companies around the world are having trouble in opening bank accounts for their operations.

The report followed the complaint filed by Sam Bankman-Fried, Chief Executive Officer of the quantitative crypto company, Alameda Research that “the standard answer of ‘just go to your local Chase branch’ doesn’t work in crypto.” Bankman-Fried also added that it is not illegal for banks to serve crypto businesses, but “it’s a massive compliance headache that they don’t want to put the resources in to solve.’’

The report pointed out that while larger banks avoid getting into a transaction with crypto and blockchain corporations, smaller banks are getting hold of the unserved market.

Silver Bank in San Diego said in its November 2018 filing for an initial offering that cryptocurrencies companies have a total of $40 billion to deposit and larger banks are letting go of it.

Blockchain investment, trading, and advisory firm NKB group have also struggled with establishing banking relationships with a lot of major banks. According to NKB Group’s head of Brokerage Ben Sebley, “denying basic banking is madness, impedes sector growth and forces companies to get creative to solve the problem […] The banks are being overly prudent.”

The facilitation of cryptocurrency in banking has been an ongoing debate after major banking giants like JPM, and other American banks have banned the purchase of cryptocurrency using their debit and credit cards. However, supporters have argued that this ban is a step back for the banking industry.

“If they are policing digital currency transactions by de-risking the activity on the basis of protecting customers from market changes, they are going to be on the hook for market changes where their financial products are used where they did not intervene and de-risk to protect consumers,” said attorney Christine Duhaime, founder of the Digital Finance Institute.

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