Cloud providers rush spare data centre capacity – Cloud- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Cloud providers are leading a rush on spare data centre power capacity as demand for their services skyrockets.
As citizens in many countries including Australia face the prospect of months of work from home, entrepreneur Bevan Slattery warned that a capacity grab is already underway.
“With the absolute rush of people moving to the cloud due to coronavirus, cloud providers are seeing 50-100 percent capacity spike already and are expecting 100-200 percent requirements [increase] in the near term,” Slattery said.
“Already major clouds are scrambling to grab every available Megawatt of data centre capacity available and locking up future builds. 
“All of a sudden demand is massively outstripping supply and with that comes pricing pressure on the upside. 
“If you want to serve this rush, you need gigawatts of capacity, stat. Once the existing capacity is absorbed, it will take 12-18 months for new capacity to be brought online.”
Slattery predicted that data centre operators may have to think about rationing available power capacity to their facilities to deal with the sudden increase in demand.
An Equinix Australia spokesperson told iTnews that it had “witnessed a more than 40 percent surge in internet exchange traffic in Sydney” since the beginning of January.
“The current shift in digital consumption patterns has never been so drastic in such a short span of time,” the spokesperson said.
“Network operators are reporting a surge in internet usage up 20-30 percent on average and more in the most adversely impacted markets. 
“For context, that type of growth seen in a 30 day period would have previously occurred under normal circumstances within a nine-month period.
“Unified communication vendors like WebEx, Zoom and Cisco are reporting more than 100 percent increases and we support a lot of those applications.”
Equinix said that while organisations were already deploying cloud-based tools like Zoom, Teams and Slack before the pandemic, “the current environment has created a surge in the uses of those tools along with document sharing and collaboration resources such as Box and OneDrive.
Microsoft said over the weekend that it had “seen a 775 percent increase of our cloud services in regions that have enforced social distancing or shelter in place orders.”
It clarified that astronomical figure on Tuesday as referring only to Teams use in Italy; however, other numbers, such as a tripling in Windows Virtual Desktop usage, still stand, and the vendor appeared to also stick to guidance for Azure customers in regions facing a demand surge.
“We are expediting the addition of significant new capacity that will be available in the weeks ahead,” Microsoft said.
“Concurrently, we monitor support requests and, if needed, encourage customers to consider alternative regions or alternative resource types, depending on their timeline and requirements. 
“If the implementation of these efforts to alleviate demand is not sufficient, customers may experience intermittent deployment related issues.”

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Trump to hold call with US internet, mobile phone providers – Cloud – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

President Donald Trump is holding a call with seven of the biggest US internet and mobile phone providers on Tuesday to talk about how the networks are holding up as tens of millions of Americans work from home.
The Federal Communications Commission has said US networks are performing well and has granted temporary access to additional spectrum blocks to help providers manage traffic.
AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, Charter Communications Inc, Comcast, Altice USA, T-Mobile and Sprint Corp are expected to take part in the call.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said last week “the data show that the recent surges in Internet traffic are well within the capacity of US networks.”
Major firms, including all those Trump is speaking to, agreed earlier this month not to terminate service for subscribers for 60 days if they are unable to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.
They also agreed to waive any late fees residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic and to open Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them.

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How top Indian hospitals are using technology to fight out COVID-19- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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COVID-19 pandemic has shoved a big spanner in the operations of businesses across industries. However, the technology readiness, which is realised during normal times has come to the fore with much more force in a super emergency situation like COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian healthcare sector is at the frontline, fighting the pandemic. Apollo Hospitals Group launched ‘Project Kavach’, which means ‘shield’ as a response plan to fight COVID-19. Shobana Kameneni, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “Apollo Hospitals has specially designed an AI-based Coronavirus Risk Assessment scan for screening and initial assessment, which is  available in the form of an app and on the website (https://covid.apollo247.com/). Over 6 million people have already gone through the screening on the Apollo 24 *7 app and website and it is expected that over 10 million Indians will use this scan to know their risk score.Medanta, one of the biggest hospital chains in the country has taken multiple steps to catch up to the healthcare crisis. For a hospital, there are two important stakeholders to cater to in the BCP situation – the patients and the hospital employees including doctors. “The Medanta hospital has ramped up resources to service the patients through whatsapp based chats, websites, dedicated call centre, etc. The video conferencing facility was in place since the inception. Now it certainly has more usage,” says Rajiv Sikka, CIO, Medanta Hospital.
Medanta has invested in an integrated telemedicine app, approx. 3 years back and is available on multiple platforms including iOS, android desktops, tablets and mobile etc. It’s not a typical zoom, whatsapp or a video call. The patient can use this App for booking an appointment (4 possible modes of video, in person, telephony or email based chat) and will receive a link which will take him on the session for consultation. Post the session, the patient will receive the prescription and the resultant records will be automatically saved in the employee health records (EHR) system. It’s a comprehensive telemedicine platform – in turn integrated with EHR, VC platforms like zoom as well. The payment gateways work seamlessly for multiple payment options like net-banking debit, credit cards or wallets. Even the senior lab doctors can remotely access various lab machines and review the results before approving it. Similarly radiologists can access any modalities scan over on the picture archiving and communication system (PACS) running on the VPN. Sitting at home, radiologists can prepare, review and discuss the reports with physicians before publishing.  In all cases, patients can access the final approved report from the portal without coming to hospital.
The IT infrastructure created in the last five years has proved critical for the hospital, now when anytime anywhere and secured access has been made possible for functions across the board. “The extra procurement has been done in the form of enhancing teleconferencing ports and channels, to enable more concurrent users to come on a common VC session or a conference call. This usually applies to the care team of doctors, who might want to congregate on a VC session to discuss emergency scenarios or where multi-speciality and highly specialized inputs are required,” says Sikka.From an IT perspective, work from home (WFH) and e-consultation are the top two priorities for hospitals. Thirdly, the helpline numbers with a chatbot option should also be made available to the patients. “We have made these facilities operational and scaled them up as per the requirements. More employees are now working from home,” says Girish Koppar, CIO, Wockhardt Hospital. For e-consultation, the hospital is using zoom. With no extra resources. Zoom facilitates sharing more data on the video call than a typical whatsapp video call. The call is connected by the customer care executive staff of the hospital and he can hide the identity of the doctor. It’s important to note, in the wake of the COVID-19 crises, the regulation has been relaxed to allow the doctors to prescribe and consult over the phone.Information security during work from home (WFH) is critical, especially when the patient’s health related information is concerned. “All the applications accessed on the internet are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, (HIPPA),” informs Sikka. Whether the information is accessed from the hospital or from a remote location – irrespective of any device, there are two levels of protection. One at firewall level and second at the user authentication. The user cannot access the applications without logging on to the secured VPN and secondly, the authentication / authorisation is integrated to the active directory (AD) as single sign-on. Additionally, all Apps have zero footprint which means nothing is stored on local mobile devices and information is always pulled from the server in line with information security norms of the hospital.
The digital Apollo 24X7 app, launched by Apollo Hospital offers virtual and telephony consultation with facility to tele-connect with all doctors at Apollo Hospitals enabling patients to seek healthcare while staying at home.
Preetha Reddy, Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “At the same time, we are also cognizant of the need to ensure continuity of care for its existing patients.
The One Apollo system with nearly 20 million patient records will enable identification of the most vulnerable patients who have undergone a transplant, need periodic dialysis, or are suffering from cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. The critical factor is continuous care of this vulnerable patient pool who are already under Apollo care, for this not only have our hospital facilities been maintained safe from Covid but reaching out and offering telemedicine, connects with their doctors, home sample collection and medical home delivery.Meanwhile at Wockhardt Hospitals, the employees, “in the lower rung in IT have now been given specific access to certain applications, to service issues and tickets. Hitherto it was limited only to system admin or IT head,” says Koppar. The finance department sans the billing staff usually works from the office but they have also been given a laptop and are working from home. The billing has to be done at the hospital. But with skeleton staff.The Medanta leadership is fully cognizant on harnessing IT in delivering better healthcare. The IT infrastructure has been regularly refreshed in the last 5 years which has helped to sail in this tough time.
To be updated…

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Huawei warns China will strike back against new US restrictions – Finance – Security – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Huawei warned on Tuesday that 2020 would be its most difficult year yet due to American trade restrictions which dealt a blow to its overseas sales in 2019, and predicted the Chinese government would retaliate against the United States.
The world’s largest maker of telecoms equipment issued the warning as it reported its weakest annual profit growth in three years. It said Beijing could hit back against US measures to restrict chip sales to Huawei, by restricting sales of American products in China and by shifting to alternative suppliers in China and South Korea.
“The Chinese government will not just stand by and watch Huawei be slaughtered on the chopping board,” Chairman Eric Xu told reporters at the launch of Huawei’s annual report.
“Why wouldn’t the Chinese government ban the use of 5G chips or 5G chip-powered base stations, smartphones and other smart devices provided by American companies, for cybersecurity reasons?”
The United States alleges the Chinese government could use Huawei’s equipment to spy, an accusation rejected by the company.
Washington placed Huawei on a blacklist in May last year, citing national security concerns, restricting sales of US-made goods to the company. US President Donald Trump’s administration is also preparing further measures that will seek to restrict the supply of chips to the company, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters this month.
One of the sources said the rule-change is aimed at curbing sales of chips to Huawei by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest contract chip maker and a major producer of chips for Huawei’s HiSilicon division.
“Even if this situation you mentioned happened, Huawei and also other Chinese companies can choose to buy chipsets from Samsung from Korea, MTK from Taiwan, and [Unisoc] in China, and use those companies to develop chips,” Huawei’s Xu said.
Xu, however, predicted 2020 would be the most difficult year yet for the company because of the US measures and warned that further export restrictions could destroy global tech supply chains.
Smartphones strong
Huawei Technologies said net profit for 2019 came in at 62.7 billion yuan (US$8.9 billion), up 5.6 percent – its weakest growth in three years, and down from 25 percent jump a year earlier.
Its carrier business, which includes 5G mobile network equipment, saw sales rise just 3.8 percent.
Liang Hua, chairman of the board, said the company would have to adapt to the US restrictions as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
Overall revenue rose 19 percent to 858.8 billion yuan, helped by a 34 percent jump in sales for its consumer business unit, which includes smartphones.
That was mainly driven by China, where sales surged 36.2 percent to 506.7 billion yuan. In contrast, revenue from the Asia-Pacific region excluding China fell 13.9 percent, while in Europe and the Middle East sales grew just 0.7 percent.
Huawei dominated smartphone sales in China, taking a 38.5 percent share of the market in 2019 compared with 27 percent a year earlier, according to research firm Canalys. This was in part due to a boost in nationalist sentiment after the company came under increasing pressure from the United States.
It spent 15.3 percent of its revenue, or 131.7 billion yuan, in research and development last year. Cash flow from operating activities jumped by more than one fifth to 91.4 billion yuan, thanks to a strong performance in its home market.
(US$1 = 7.0874 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Edwina Gibbs and Pravin Char)

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New York’s Northwell Health begins 3D printing nasal swabs for coronavirus testing – Strategy – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

New York-based hospital system Northwell Health said it has started to make its own nasal swabs using 3D printing, enabling it to produce thousands of swabs a day that can be used in testing for the coronavirus.
Northwell said its focus on swabs was part of an effort to avoid supply shortages related to the components for kits used in testing for COVID-19, the highly contagious, sometimes deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Health experts have said widespread testing is the best way to track and trace the spread of the virus.
Researchers at Northwell and three other institutions – the University of South Florida (USF), Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Florida, and privately-held, Massachusetts-based 3D printing company Formlabs – devised a way to print the swabs needed to collect mucous and cell samples, according to lead researcher Todd Goldstein, Northwell’s director of 3D design and innovation.
Pilot study results showed the devices are safe and effective, and it has begun printing them as needed, Northwell spokesman Matthew Libassi said on Tuesday. It can print up to 3,000 a day.
The four participants plan to share the prototype with other institutions. Any hospital with a 3D printer and the materials could make their own swabs, Northwell said.
With 23 hospitals, Northwell is the largest healthcare provider in New York state, which has by far the most cases in the United States. The new coronavirus has sickened more than 175,000 people in the United States and more than 3,400 people have died.
The swabs used in COVID-19 testing are 12.7 cm long with a tiny brush at the end to scoop up cells and mucous and have a hollow center to capture fluids, Goldstein said.
The devices must be made from a substance that does not interfere with the RNA, or genetic makeup, of the virus. “You can’t use cotton or wood,” Goldstein said.
As a test, Goldstein’s team swabbed 10 patients both with standard swabs and the new 3D printed swabs and compared the results to confirm they could effectively collect the cells needed to run the COVID-19 test and provide the same accurate results.
Northwell’s team opted for a nylon resin already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in dental implant procedures to create the swabs. Swabs do not require FDA approval, Libassi said.
Northwell and Formlabs have large supplies of the resin because they use it to print devices for other medical purposes, he said.
A Formlabs executive said the company plans to price the swabs comparably with traditional swabs.

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Australia Post cuts IT contractors due to coronavirus – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Australia Post has cut loose a number of IT contractors after pausing or stopping projects in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was taken by the government-owned corporation last week in a bid to reduce costs until the economic uncertainty comes to an end.
The labour reduction comes as the government scrambles to deliver its $130 billion ‘Jobkeeper’ wage subsidy to employers in a bid to curb mass layoffs triggered by COVID-19 control measures that have force mass business closures.  
Australia Post confirmed to iTnews that a “select number of programs of work” had been paused or ceased due to the uncertainty, though said only some IT contractors had been impacted.
“In light of current conditions and the uncertainty brought about due to COVID19, Australia Post has paused or stopped a select number of programs of work, and as a result, has had to give advance notice to some of our contractors in technology roles,” a spokesperson said.
But sources have told iTnews that the decision has impacted a large number of the postal corporation’s contractor workforce.
Over the course of the 2018-19 financial year, Australia Post employed 358 IT contractors at a cost of $65 million, according to documents provided to senate estimates last year.
Other sources have said the decision has stopped all IT project work, resulting in all contractors being stood down.
Australia Post has spent more than $500 million on IT contracts since 2013-14, including $136 million over the last two financial years (2017-18 to 2018-19).
The postal corporation is currently rebuilding its legacy core layer in a public cloud environment, building on earlier work to migrate off traditional on-premise hardware.
The decision to cull at least some of its IT contractor workforce comes despite government restrictions on non-essential activity not applying to postal operations.
And with much of the country’s workforce now confined to their homes, the number of parcels processed by Australia Post is only likely to increase.
The postal corporation has already stepped in to help Woolworths deliver groceries to vulnerable Australians to ease the strain on its delivery network. 
Contractors are not eligible for the government’s newly announced JobKeeper payment, which will see companies receive a $1500 fortnight subsidy for each staff member if turnover has fallen by 30 percent due to COVID-19.
Eligible employees are full-time and part-time staff or long-term casuals that have been employed on a regular basis for more than 12 months.
Know more? Contact [email protected]

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Exploring the Biggest Challenges for 5G Deployment- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

By Paul Miller

5G promises exciting advances for communications service providers (CSPs), but the 5G rollout is going to be challenging. CSPs must rapidly build out dense, low-latency edge networks in ways that are affordable, secure, and easily maintainable. CSPs are looking toward open-source, container-based network infrastructures that meet the 5G latency, reliability, and flexibility requirements while being inexpensive to deploy and maintain.
5G technology promises faster connections, more reliable data streaming, and a variety of new capabilities that can bring new opportunities.

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Solving 5G’s Biggest Challenges for Communications Service Providers

5G Challenges Facing Deployment
Deploying 5G will not be easy. While there is a lot of promising potential, CSPs must figure out ways to deal with the following 5G challenges:
•        Building complex and dense networks: 5G networks will be significantly more complex than current networks. One component of this increasing complexity is the need for denser networks. New 5G antennas and RAN hardware, although powerful, cover significantly less space compared with existing 4G macrocells. This means similar coverage requires more 5G hardware and supporting software – a number that multiplies further as traffic moves indoors.
•        Keeping operating and maintenance costs low: Adding the necessary hardware required for 5G networks can significantly increase operating expenses (OpEx). Of course, these costs go beyond the hardware itself. Networks must be configured, tested, managed, and regularly updated – all things that exponentially increase OpEx.
•        Meeting low-latency requirements: 5G networks require ultra-low deterministic latency to properly function. While not as critical for telecom applications, it is needed for an emerging market of devices that can only allow a single millisecond delay for one-way communications across the entire infrastructure. Legacy networks simply cannot handle this speed and volume of data.
•        Dealing with new security issues: Every new technology comes with new risks – and 5G is no exception. Given the highly distributed, connected, and sometimes remote nature of 5G networks, new consideration must be given to potential cybersecurity issues that arise.
New Opportunities for 5G Applications
The potential for 5G goes beyond traditional telecommunication applications. New industries will utilize 5G technology as the backbone to power intelligent edge devices. These groups will likely need to partner with CSPs that have more experience in the 5G space. However, this process will come with unfamiliar requirements and will present its own unique 5G challenges.
•        Industrial and robotics: The latest industrial and robotics technologies will want to use 5G at the edge for autonomous operations. Connected robots that can “see” require extremely low latency to react to visual inputs.
•        Automotive: 5G will be used to support autonomous vehicles. In the future, the automotive industry envisions level 4 (L4) autonomous vehicles that carry people around as if they were cargo – with no human driver. This requires a huge amount of computing power and connectivity to function safely.
•        Aerospace and defense: This industry largely views 5G as a way to improve global defense communications and to propel urban air mobility (UAM) technology.
Tempemail has been a leader in the embedded systems market for over 35 years and can help new industries understand how they can utilize 5G technology while meeting unique safety, security, and reliability requirements.

Why Choose Tempemail to Mitigate 5G Challenges?
Tempemail is currently engaged with CSPs and telecom equipment manufacturers (TEMs) making the 5G transition – and has been for decades. Our suite of products addresses the main 5G challenges, including network complexity, expense, latency, and security. Tempemail offers a variety of platforms to help mitigate even the most difficult 5G challenges, for both telecom and other industries.

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Download the eBook

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Amazon workers walk out over lack of protective gear amid coronavirus | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

Amazon workers walked out of a New York City facility on Monday, going on strike and demanding increased protective gear and hazard pay as they work through the coronavirus pandemic.
“Since the building won’t close by itself, we’re going to have to force their hand,” Chris Smalls, lead organizer of the Staten Island strike, told CNBC. He added that workers “will not return until the building gets sanitized”.
The strikers at the JFK8 warehouse demanded the company close down the large warehouse for thorough cleaning after reports of multiple employees testing positive for the coronavirus.
“How many cases we got? Ten!” went a call-and-response chant outside the fulfillment center, according to one report.
On Monday afternoon, Smalls said he had been told he would be dismissed from his position at the company.
He said in a statement: “Amazon would rather fire workers than face up to its total failure to do what it should to keep us, our families, and our communities safe. I am outraged and disappointed, but I’m not shocked. As usual, Amazon would rather sweep a problem under the rug than act to keep workers and working communities safe.”
Amazon said in a statement that Smalls received multiple warnings for violating physical distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk, and he had been asked to stay at home for 14 days with pay after having found to have had close contact with a person who had been diagnosed with Covid-19.
The company also disputed the allegations of the workers who had participated in the walkout and said it had taken measures to keep people safe, including by intensifying cleaning and procuring safety supplies.

Make the Road NY 🦋 (@MaketheRoadNY)
#BREAKING: Over 100 Amazon employees at JFK8 warehouse walk off the job over @amazon’s dangerous response to protect workers from COVID19 in Staten Island.
📦#AmazonStrike #WhatWeNeed pic.twitter.com/z0mrUWmPfw
March 30, 2020

Delivery workers for Instacart, a national delivery service also went on strike across the country on Monday, demanding disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and better pay to offset risks faced in bringing groceries to Americans confined to their homes.
They received support from the Massachusetts senator and recent presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren)
I’m supporting Instacart workers on strike today. They are providing an essential service to those who cannot leave their homes now. They deserve better pay, benefits, and protections. #InstacartStrike https://t.co/BVSA5W6SXW
March 30, 2020

Some Whole Foods workers are also expected to strike on Tuesday.
While much of the US navigates public gathering restrictions and mandatory stay-at-home orders, and as confirmed cases and deaths from the respiratory illness rise, Small alleged that Amazon employees have been exposed to multiple people who have been found to have Covid-19.
Employees at the New York facility accuse Amazon of poor communication about worker health. Small himself is in quarantine after coming in contact with an infected co-worker.
The management assistant alleges only “a select few of the general managers” and a handful of colleagues in close proximity were informed about the diagnosis. Another anonymous worker told CNBC gloves were being rationed.
Amazon confirmed an associate, who reported for work on 11 March, has since been diagnosed with Covid-19. The associate received medical care and is in quarantine, the company said.
“We are following all guidelines from local health officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site,” a spokeswoman told CNBC.
The company shot back at Small’s accusations, claiming he was “alleging many misleading things” while at home on quarantine and receiving full pay.
Amazon insisted it had “taken extreme measures” for safety, including deep cleaning and procuring safety supplies. The spokeswoman added the company permits unlimited unpaid leave for employees who feel uncomfortable working during the outbreak.
Amazon has had to balance a spike in demand for online deliveries with growing risks to its workers. Research indicates the coronavirus can survive on items like cardboard for 24 hours, and on plastic for up to three days.
The company instituted a 3ft distancing policy and distributed hand sanitizer throughout its facilities. Still, workers had already tested positive for the coronavirus at 11 warehouses. One warehouse in Kentucky was forced to close temporarily.
With Amazon employing nearly 800,000 people, some workers claim the measures don’t go far enough. Warehouses are still sometimes packed with thousands of employees confined to small spaces.
New York state has the most confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US. More than 60,000 cases have been confirmed across the state, resulting in more more than 1,000 deaths.
On Sunday, Instacart announced concessions to its delivery workers including new health and safety supplies and automatic tipping.
In a Medium post, Instacart workers and the Gig Workers Collective said the company’s response was “insulting for a number of reasons”.
“We are heartened by the outpouring of support we’ve received from Instacart customers, politicians, activists and everyday folks worried that they could be exposed to the virus due to Instacart’s craven profit-seeking,” the workers wrote.
“It goes to show that corporate greed is an issue that impacts us all, whether one is a shopper directly being affected, or not.”

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Profiteering and loss: Should you market your brand during coronavirus?- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Aside from the select few businesses that face an unusually favourable combination of circumstances in a pandemic, those who manufacture aspirin, face masks or provide home subscription services, for example, the situation as most now accept it is:
Every business is trying to survive.
Most ad or marketing budgets are going to suffer.
Opportunity for growth of any kind is sparse and brands are left with two options: cut costs or try to generate cash.
Inevitably, many will choose the first option; reduce spending, curb advertising and marketing and, at the very worst, cut jobs.
And then there’s the financially riskier second option. Spend in order to generate cash by putting the brand out there at this time to try and turn a profit.
The cost-benefit ratio
No one wants to spend more money than they expect to get back, and choosing to market a brand now means carefully considering the cost-benefit ratio. And at times like this, specific rules apply:

Brand perception is more precarious.
An increase in sales, no matter what you do, is less likely.

There isn’t much you can change about the unfortunate detail that fewer people are buying; when the public’s focus shifts to survival, consumption is reined in and there is less to be gained from ad or marketing spend. But carefully controlling brand perception can make a big difference to your chances of making a return.
The delicate balance of brand perception
While people expect to see brands advertise themselves, there are a few things to remember about the modern consumer.
They don’t like to believe that companies are profiting from their suffering.
If your brand is, or perceived to be, profiting directly from the global economic downturn, a winner among a world of sufferers, the consumer will see that you’re not playing the game fairly. This is the game where the consumer knows you want their money, accepts a level of persuasion, but doesn’t feel they’re at a disadvantage, such as being obligated to buy your goods or use your services.
They don’t like companies (Pepsi being a prime example) that cynically capitalise on issues affecting the global community, by hijacking the conversation.
If your marketing efforts involve trying to grab attention surrounding an issue that people are hyper-aware of, capitalising on their genuine concern – or panic, as would be the case today – consumer cynicism and, likely, outrage will kick in. And depending on how overt or shameless the act, it can last a long time in consumer memory.
They don’t take kindly to brands that disrupt access to crucial information by simply occupying space, often muddying the waters with inaccurate or irrelevant messaging.
This is possibly the worst strategy, yet the most common since it requires little effort, where brands pay lip service to the crisis for the sake of being part of the conversation, in a vague attempt to carve off a sliver of its audience share.
If brands choose to market themselves during this period, incurring the heightened risk of seeming cynical or greedy, it’s essential to know how to market responsibly. And under what circumstances it’s considered acceptable.
Acceptable circumstance #1: There’s a necessity among consumers right now for what you’re offering
If you’re going to ramp up advertising or marketing efforts, particularly with any sort of association with the pandemic, consumers will want to see a legitimate reason for your brand to do it.
Brands like Just Eat, for example, can safely and legitimately raise their profile at this time (within reason, so as not to seem like they’re exploiting the situation) as demand is clearly there for their services.
However, if you sell luxury products, where appetite for luxury items is naturally diminished, attempting to increase the hype around your brand will leave people asking “why you” and, especially, “why now?”
Acceptable circumstance #2: You have a valuable message for consumers
Consumers have been shown to favour brands with strong corporate social responsibility principles and are more alert than ever to those which only self-serve. But if you have a responsibility to, or perceive genuine value in, making people aware of your products, action or stance during this time, and your message considers the consumer’s reduced circumstances, then it could be appropriate for you to take up that marketing space.
However…
Consumers are also adept at spotting a brand’s perceived selflessness, activism or support, whether that’s advertising discounts, free trials and giveaways under the pretence of helping out, especially during a difficult time; or social media marketing that invites consumers to get involved with a brand via entertaining user-generated content campaigns, only with the ultimate intention of enhancing the brand’s visibility.
The public sees what’s going on and immediately asks: is that brand actually trying to help us? Or is it simply out for itself?
Acceptable circumstance #3: You’re not hurting anyone
None of this means that marketing is entirely off the table. If it’s done sensitively, skillfully and it’s not hurting anyone, then a brand has every right to promote itself.
Again, there is a level of public acceptance that brands will advertise themselves, and under normal circumstances, brands, particularly smaller ones, can improve their visibility and legitimacy in the eyes of the consumer just by being out there. The difference now, that all brands must consider, is that while consumers are handicapped by the current situation, they subconsciously make a stronger appeal for fair play.
So, with more at stake financially and reputationally, as a brand you have a decision to make: will you, given the decreased likelihood of a return, market your brand and, in doing so, will you be seen as greedy and opportunistic or will these efforts leave someone with a vision of your brand as an example of decency when all this is over?
Because, if the cost-benefit ratio adds up, brands can market themselves successfully in the eyes of the consumer, even in crisis.
As long as it’s considered.
As long as the product or message is beneficial at this time.
As long as you play fair.
Daisy Atkinson, content strategist at Croud.

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Johnson rehires election chief to sharpen coronavirus messaging | World news – Blog – 10 minute

Boris Johnson’s revamped communications strategy to combat coronavirus will be run like a “political campaign” after he drafted in a new team of advisers spearheaded by his Australian former elections chief, senior sources have said.
Following criticism over mixed messages and selective briefings in recent weeks, the prime minister and his key adviser Dominic Cummings recruited Isaac Levido, 36, who ran the Tory general election campaign in December.
Having already a “grid” of communications centred on the daily press conference, the government is now looking to bring in more experienced campaigners to sharpen the message – with the aim of boosting both public health and the prime minister’s standing.
Downing Street is pushing the simple three-part message of “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives” to the fore, in the same way that “Get Brexit Done” worked during the election and “Take Back Control” worked for Vote Leave.
Until recently the government’s communications strategy had faced criticism from senior Conservatives for giving selective briefings after an unnamed government source briefed ITN’s political editor, Robert Peston, about plans to quarantine the over 70s before they were announced.
Johnson has been criticised for making statements on camera that contradicted scientific advice. The prime minister claimed he would continue to shake hands with people he met, said the UK could send coronavirus “packing in 12 weeks” and proclaimed that he would see his mother on Mothering Sunday despite social distancing rules.
Problems with the strategy were addressed on Thursday by Cummings and his director of communications, Lee Cain. They held a virtual meeting with Levido at No 10 at which they invited him to take a major role in the government’s strategy.
There have already been some cosmetic changes. On Monday Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, unveiled new bright yellow branding on the Downing Street podium, which drew comparisons with the arresting colour scheme used by NCP car parks and the posters for Reading and Leeds music festivals.
At the same time, there has been a willingness to slap down ministers who step away from the agreed line, much as in a general election campaign. Transport secretary Grant Shapps was contradicted by Downing Street on Monday after he advised people to shop for food only once a week.
A raft of former advisers have been brought back to Whitehall to track public opinion and gauge whether the government’s key messages on handwashing and self-isolation are getting through, including Gabriel Milland, a former head of news at the Department for Education under Michael Gove who is known for his experience running focus groups to refine messaging.
Ben Guerin, a 25-year-old online campaigner from New Zealand, is also expected to reprise his role as a strategist from December’s successful election.
A source with knowledge of No 10 said Levido was part of an effort to move the operation into a “campaigning mode”, starting from last week, after a recognition that communication had not always been effective.
A Whitehall insider said that Johnson and Cummings, both of whom are self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms, have sought recruits who proved to be reliable operators in their victories at the general election and 2016 EU referendum.
“It is a campaign to win over the public to the government’s message. They have a proven track record,” the source said.
Cummings’ recent absence from Downing Street has cleared the way for the continued rise of Levido – a protege of Sir Lynton Crosby, and described by one friend as “the new Lynton”. A long-time campaign obsessive, Levido now finds himself at the heart of the British government, shaping how Boris Johnson’s handling of the crisis is perceived by the public.
Described as an intense, obsessive individual who is loyal to his team, he is known for pulling all-nighters and pushing rigid message discipline. He says he remains in close contact with Crosby, 63, according to individuals who worked on the Conservative election campaign. When the scale of the Tory victory was revealed, others in the office began singing “Oh Isaac Levido” to the tune of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army in recognition of his role.
Hailing from the New South Wales town of Port Macquarie, he previously worked on the 2015 and 2017 general election campaign, plus Zac Goldsmith’s 2016 bid to be mayor of London. He has also done messaging for the likes of mining giant Glencore, according to sources, plus political campaigns from the Caribbean to Asia.
“He hates the fiscal spending craziness,” said one individual who knows Levido. “He’s a proper conservative like Lynton.”
Guerin is one half of the Auckland-based social media campaigns business Topham Guerin, which has previously been exposed by the Guardian for its role helping to run Facebook astroturfing campaigns on behalf of major polluters. The pair are also former colleagues of Crosby and worked closely with Levido to re-elect Scott Morrison in Australia’s general election.
During the British general election campaign, Topham Guerin were in charge when the Conservatives deceptively rebranded their official press office account as FactCheck UK – while also taking particular delight in winding up those who reported on their online adverts creating “boomer memes” by issuing knowingly terrible parodies of their own work through official Conservative accounts. Their online activity is known for its blunt messages and shareability.

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