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Sexism In Irvine Activision Blizzard Office Leads To Worker Walkout 

Workers at Activision Blizzard, one of the nation’s leading video game companies, staged a one-day walkout at the company’s Irvine office location over alleged sexism in the workplace. This walkout comes just one day after the company announced a number of steps to address this specific issues. 

“We are immediately evaluating managers and leaders across the company. Anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences will be terminated.”

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“We will continue to investigate each and every claim and will not hesitate to take decisive action. To strengthen our capabilities in this area we are adding additional senior staff and other resources to both the Compliance team and the Employee Relations team,” Activision continued in a letter addressed to all employees from company CEO Bobby Kotick. 

Activision Blizzard is responsible for launching games such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. The company is currently facing a lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleges a “frat boy workplace culture that includes sexual harassment of women by executives.”

Current and former employees published their own letter this week detailing the allegations, and calling for “official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault.” 

Kotick responded to this letter with his own, as mentioned above, which outlined new policies that would be put in place to better protect all employees from harassment. 

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“I want to recognize and thank all those who have come forward in the past and in recent days. I so appreciate your courage. Every voice matters and we will do a better job of listening now, and in the future,” Kotick said in a Twitter post.

“Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone-deaf. It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding,” he wrote.

“We are taking swift action to be the compassionate, caring company you came to work for and to ensure a safe environment. There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind,” the letter said.

“We know many of you have inspired ideas on how to improve our culture. We will be creating safe spaces, moderated by third parties, for you to speak out and share areas for improvement.”

The letter also detailed how the company will be improving on the way they hire employees as well: “Earlier this year I sent an email requiring all hiring managers to ensure they have diverse candidate slates for all open positions. We will be adding compliance resources to ensure that our hiring managers are in fact adhering to this directive.”

Snowstorm

Record Low Temperatures And Snowstorms Reported Across The U.S.

This Tuesday, November 12th, America is falling victim to one of the biggest nation-wide Arctic blasts we’ve seen in years. According to USA Today over 200 million Americans all across the country are struggling to face the freezing forecast and endure the giant mass of Arctic air moving across the states. It’s been reported that thousands of flights were canceled leaving many stranded, and other areas have seen more than a foot of snow in their neighborhoods already! It’s surely looking like it’s going to be a white Christmas if winter continues at this intense rate.

The Arctic Air mass began in the West and freezing cold temperatures have been reported from the Canadian border all the way down to the Southernmost tip of Texas, as the mass continues to move and hit the East Coast later Tuesday evening. Chicago saw the beginning of the blast when they woke up this morning to temperatures in the single digits and half a foot of snow. The National Weather Service first reported in Chicago and warned citizens that the combination of the freezing temperature and intense wind patterns will be causing wind chills to hit below zero, and to stay indoors as much as they can. 

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Detroit also made headlines in the morning with their record breaking cold temperatures for this time of year, and for a record 10 inches of snow blanketing the city. These extreme conditions have caused a massive spike in highway accidents to occur, and is delaying all flights a minimum of three hours, (USA Today). Other parts of the country that have seen record breaking winter conditions with this blast include Michigan, which some parts of reported over thirty inches of snow! Parts of Maine saw over two feet and Wisconsin has been cruising at a steady nine degrees for the past 12 days, and has beat its own record for amount of snow during this time of year three consecutive days in a row (USA). Overall, it’s looking like one of the coldest harshest winters the country has seen in awhile, is just beginning. 

These parts of America, however, are used to seeing pretty harsh winter conditions early in the season every year. What’s surprising is the areas of the South that are seeing the same type of conditions occurring. Areas of Texas just 60 miles from the Mexican border saw freezing temperatures and a few inches of snow this morning. 

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“Wednesday will be colder for many from the Great Lakes to the Northeast and down all the way into Florida. You are talking single digits in Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit. Atlanta will see the mid-20s. Low 20s in Birmingham, some other parts of Alabama. We will be challenging records everywhere. More snow and cold are on the way. More than 200 million people will be freezing between Tuesday through Thursday. The snow isn’t done yet, either. The cold will continue to shift south and east into Wednesday, finally encompassing more than half of the country,”  AccuWeather meteorologist Tyler Roys said to USA Today.

Accuweather predicts more than 300 daily temperature records can be broken by this Thursday, meaning for this time of the year, it will be the coldest it’s ever been in recorded history for parts of the country. The extreme weather is related to the polar vortex, that many are affected by every winter. The polar vortex is a large mass of freezing cold air that sits high in our atmosphere and typically spins over the northernmost part of the planet (The North Pole). However, in some specific cases the vortex drifts south and when it makes that journey it lowers in the atmosphere, distributing cold air and thus harsh winter conditions across the country. 

On phone

By Removing Police-Tracking App, Apple Sides with China Over Hong Kong Protestors

On Wednesday, Apple removed an app designed to track police officers called HKmap.live from its App Store in a controversial move that is raising questions about the company’s commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy. HKmap.live was available on the App Store for just days before it was removed on the basis that it violated local laws and enabled protestors to attack the police in Hong Kong. The move came in the wake of intense criticism from state-run Chinese media, as the People’s Daily, a flagship newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party, accused Apple of helping “rioters.” Apple gave a statement justifying its removal of the app, saying it had been used “to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.”

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As China forms one of the most important markets for Apple and other technology companies, navigating the politics of the pro-democracy protests which have only intensified over the past several months presents a difficult situation. Companies like Apple generally strive to avoid giving the appearance of supporting or opposing political causes, though the company notes that principles like enabling private communication and protecting the security of their users’ personal data are foundational in the design of their products. However, when operating in countries that impose restrictions on human rights as a matter of law like China, Apple and other companies are often forced to make decisions that have inherently political ramifications as they balance their profit motive against the fundamental rights of their customers. Given the unprecedented intensity of the ongoing Hong Kong protests, the reluctant political involvement of large corporations has perhaps never been as consequential as it is at this juncture.

Other companies have also been drawn into the political minefield that arises when operating in China during the Hong Kong protests. An executive of the Houston Rockets tweeted his support of the protests this week, for instance, leading to an apology by the Rockets and the cancellation of broadcasts of N.B.A. games in China, one of their largest markets. And the video game company Blizzard recently banned a professional gamer who expressed support of democracy in Hong Kong during a company-sponsored livestream, forcing him to forfeit $10,000 in prize money and leading to an outcry from the gaming community and an employee walkout at Blizzard offices. The ban was necessary in order for the company to comply with China’s censorship laws, even though it plainly contradicted the company’s core values. By continuing to operate in China under their strict anti-free-speech laws, companies like Blizzard tacitly support a totalitarian regime, as withdrawing their business in China would put economic and political pressure on the Chinese government to loosen restrictions on free speech.

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Of all the companies affected in this way by the ongoing political turmoil in China, perhaps none have a more direct and significant impact on policy than Apple. As one of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers which serves more than 243 million customers in China, Apple is uniquely positioned to impact the flow of information within the authoritarian regime, particularly at a moment when that information threatens the very foundation of the country’s rule over its citizens. Though the Chinese internet is heavily censored, with a variety of social media apps banned and replaced by alternatives managed by the government, Apple nevertheless has some degree of leverage in the form of its software offerings to the Chinese people. As such, the backlash against the company for its latest capitulation to the regime is hard for the company’s socially conscious customers around the world to ignore.

However, the Chinese market remains fairly critical to Apple’s success as a whole, as the company exploits cheap labor in the country to manufacture its products at a competitive price and the Chinese consumer base is the company’s second-largest market. Furthermore, Apple has only recently begun to make headway in the country, and its recent success in the stock market has been based on a belief in the success of continued expansion in this market. As such, it’s probably not reasonable to expect that Apple will sacrifice the economic opportunity presented in China by strengthening its support of human rights with its technology, despite the international outcry. That being said, the company’s PR efforts to depict itself as friendly to human rights is likely to ramp up in the coming weeks in response to the public damage to its image caused by its complacency in the ongoing political crisis. 

Snow Storms

Historic September Snow Storms Slam the West

It’s been one week since one of the hottest summers the planet has ever seen ended. What better way to celebrate the end of one extremely hot season than with a historically early snowstorm hitting the West? California, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah we’re all hit with record breaking low temperatures, extreme winds, heavy snowfall, and overall intense blizzard conditions. So much so that parts of Montana have already given their kids their first snow day of the school year less than a month after school came back into session. 

“Many daily record low maximum temperature records are possible through Tuesday, especially across the Northern Great Basin, Rockies, and Northern California, where we’re already seeing temperatures hit 30 degrees lower than their normal average for this time of year” according to the National Weather Service

The extreme weather began on Saturday the 28th and continued into Monday the 30th. Power Lines and large trees were knocked down all over the west states, closing multiple main roads and delaying many individual’s Monday morning commutes, a delay they weren’t expecting for at least another month. The National Weather Service reported that while September snowfall is not that uncommon for many of these areas, the massive volume of snow is, especially in areas with lower elevations and altitudes. For example, the town of Great Falls, Montana averages 1-2 inches of snow every September and by this past Sunday they reached 19 inches, breaking the town record that was held for nearly 70 years!

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Montana in general saw the worst of the early storms. The town of Browning, Montana saw the worst of it country wide, some areas receiving up to 48 inches, prompting all school districts to shut down for the day. Dupuyer, 40 miles southeast of Browning, saw 37 inches of snow. Dan Pydynowski, a senior meteorologist for Accuweather, in an interview with USA Today, said that “less populated areas all throughout Montana doubtlessly were slammed with more than 4 feet of snow, but it just won’t ever be officially measured.” 

Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock declared an official winter storm emergency for the state through until Tuesday, as the state along with Northern California, Nevada, and Colorado, is still expected to reach record breaking low temperatures through Monday night and into Tuesday morning. Browning School Districts are already debating cancelling classes for Tuesday the 1st because of how severe the weather continues to be, some areas in the town/state as a whole have been left without power and cell service due to downed power lines across the state.  

According to information from the National Weather Service also given to USA Today, “more than a foot of snow fell in parts of northeastern Washington. Spokane, Washington got much less, but it was the city’s first recorded September snowfall since 1926! Temperatures are forecast to dip below freezing by Monday Night, into Tuesday morning. This is prompting a huge expansion of the city’s homeless shelter capacity. In Oregon we reported wind damage from gusts up to 55 miles per hour in Portland, where hail was also reported. The Cascade Mountains also got up to 10 inches of snowfall.”

Experts are urging families to stay indoors and not use their vehicles unless the area they’re in hasn’t been hit that severely, as the conditions are expected to continue for the next 24 hours.