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Protest succeeds: Apple seeks audit of Chinese labor conditions

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Technology giant Apple, Inc. said Monday it was asking the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to investigate working conditions at Chinese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, essentially caving to the demands of protesters who delivered over 250,000 petition signatures to the company last week.

Foxconn, which hires over 1 million Chinese workers, has been plagued over the years by reports of suicides, and in one instance last year, a group of about 300 people threatened to jump to their deaths if they weren’t given better pay and working conditions.

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Foxconn, which makes devices for companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Intel and others, has said it plans to replace most of its workers with robots in the coming years. Meanwhile, the company keeps its human workers in small bunks on site, works them in 12-24 hour shifts, provides little food or medical assistance, and oversees their daily duties with military-like precision using advance surveillance techniques.

Apple, for its part, joined the FLA in January as criticism against Foxconn was mounting. They became the first tech company to partner with the Washington, D.C. group, which is dedicated to stamping out sweat shops throughout the world. Other FLA partners include Nike, Barnes & Noble, Liz Blaiborne, Inc., Puma AG and American Eagle Outfitters, Inc.

After last week’s petitions, the company decided it was time to pull the trigger on their FLA membership rights, so Apple asked that the group to begin fair labor inspections of Foxconn’s facilities.

“We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,” Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, explained in a media advisory. “The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports.”

This is not the first time Apple has listened to its critics, either: after years of campaigning by environmental groups, Apple announced last year that it was initiating an e-waste recycling program that would accept any old Macs, PC, computer displays or mobile devices. They even offer to pick up the shipping tab, and if the company can turn a profit on any of the hardware turned in, customers receive gift cards for various amounts.

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Newly released emails show White House prepared to freeze Ukraine aid hours before Trump’s phone call

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White House budget officials were preparing to freeze aid to Ukraine the night before President Donald Trump's infamous July 25 phone call to the country's new president, according to newly released emails.

The Office of Management and Budget handed over nearly 200 pages of records related to the president's actions toward Ukraine to the transparency group American Oversight, and one of the heavily redacted emails from July 24 shows OMB officials shared a “Ukraine Prep Memo” with Michael Duffey, reported CNN.

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Ana Kasparian's #NoFilter

Trump impeachment trial: 4 stories from first day spell doom for Mitch McConnell

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If the score was kept for the first day of the impeachment trial, it would show hefty losses for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

As Former Special Counsel for the Department of Defense, Ryan Goodman, pointed out, four major headlines perfectly reflect the cracks in the strangle-hold McConnell has had on his party.

First, McConnell was forced to change the impeachment hearing rules. After a huge uprising by Americans demanding to be able to watch the impeachment trial during normal human hours, senators told McConnell he'd lost the votes to hold proceedings after midnight.

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‘Disease fanboy’: Internet slams NBC conservative for ‘rooting for pandemic’ to distract from Trump impeachment trial

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Hugh Hewitt is once again under fire, this time for almost appearing to be glad a deadly SARS-related virus has been diagnosed in a patient in Washington state – saying additional diagnoses will take the focus away from the Senate's historic impeachment trial. Hewitt is a conservative Washington Post columnist, radio host, MSNBC and NBC contributor, and law professor who went from being a "Never-Trumper" to all-in for President Donald Trump.

"People care much more for their health than theater," said Hewitt via Twitter, referring to Trump's impeachment trial. The SARS-related virus, known as the Wuhan coronavirus, is named for an area of China where it was first found. It "has infected more than 300 people and killed six in an outbreak that has struck China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and now the US," CNN reports.

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