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Amazon working on home robot, report says

Amazon.com Inc. may be gearing up for its next big project: a home robot.

>> On AJC.com: Amazon in 2018: 6 things you should know about the e-commerce giant

The rumor comes from a Bloomberg report published Monday in which sources familiar with the plan revealed that the company has started work on the domestic robot under the code name Vesta.

>> Read more trending news 

According to the sources, Vesta has apparently been in the works for years, but new job listings for Lab126, Amazon’s hardware research and development division, have sprung up this year.

Lab126 engineers previously built Amazon’s Kindle, Fire Phone and Echo.

“People briefed on the plan say the company hopes to begin seeding the robots in employees’ homes by the end of this year, and potentially with consumers as early as 2019,” Bloomberg reported, noting that the timeline may change.

>> On AJC.com: 6 most impressive benefits offered to Amazon employees

The Vesta robot prototypes reportedly have computer vision software and advanced cameras for navigation. Think of a “mobile Alexa, accompanying customers in parts of their home where they don’t have Echo devices,” Bloomberg analysts wrote.

An Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg the company doesn’t comment on “rumors and speculation.” The AJC has reached out to Amazon for comment, as well. 

>> On AJC.com: Amazon tours Atlanta in its second headquarters search

Other companies have dabbled in domestic robots before, including iRobot and its Roomba vacuum and MobileRobots Inc.’s Jeeves home security robot.

Read the full report from Bloomberg.com.

Dream internship: Harley-Davidson seeks college students to ride across America

Harley-Davidson is seeking a select group of college students who are eager for an internship on two wheels.

>> Read more trending news 

The motorcycle company's #FindYourFreedom internship is going viral, and for good reason. The 12-week paid internship involves riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle across the country this summer. The best perk of all? Interns who complete the program get to keep the motorcycle.

Full requirements for the internship can be found on Harley-Davidson's website. In addition to riding across the country, interns will be expected to attend company events along the way, post scenes from the journey on social media and serve as  brand ambassadors, recruiting others into the sport of motorcycling.

Applicants who don't know how to ride a motorcycle will be required to take a course offered by Harley-Davidson Riding Academy.

The internship is open to college juniors and seniors who are at least 18 years old and are interested in marketing and public relations. Creative applications are encouraged.

Toys R Us rejects Bratz CEO’s buyout offer for being too low, report says

Toys R Us has rejected MGA Entertainment CEO Isaac Larian’s $675 million bid for about 30 percent of the remaining U.S. and Canada locations of the business.

CNN Money reported that the bid, which was made April 13, was too low, according to sources.

>> Read more trending news 

Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017 and announced store closings March 15.

“If this is true, it is very disappointing,” Larian said of the report. “We feel confident that we submitted a fair valuation of the company’s U.S. assets.” Larian added that he wants to keep working to save the business.

Larian’s company, MGA Entertainment, is known for making Bratz dolls and Little Tikes toys. 

Related: CEO of MGA Entertainment makes formal offer to buy Toys R Us

“The liquidation of Toys R Us is going to have a long-term effect on the toy business. The industry will truly suffer,” the billionaire said in a statement last week announcing the bid. “The prospect of bringing the Toys R Us experience to a new generation, my new grandson's generation, is enough to motivate me to Save Toys R Us.”

At the time, Larian said he would use his own money and financing from banks and other investors for the bid.

Toys R Us is considering other offers, CNN Money reported

Amazon warehouse culture like 'prison,' undercover author writes 

An undercover author said working in an Amazon fulfillment center is like "a prison," where workers were urinating in bottles because they did not have enough time to go to the bathroom. 

>> Read more trending news

James Bloodworth, as part of his book "Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain," spent almost a month in 2016 working as a "picker" at a fulfillment center in Rugeley, England, where he retrieved items for delivery.

In addition to his undercover work at Amazon, Bloodworth also took jobs in social care, at a call center, at a building site and even as an Uber driver to research how people cope at their workplace. 

According to Bloodworth, Amazon fulfillment workers had to meet high productivity targets that were feasible only if they ran around the warehouse. Running around the warehouse is something Amazon does not allow for safety reasons.

"The job itself is really bad," Bloodworth told Business Insider. "I've worked in warehouses before, but this was nothing like I had experienced. You don't have proper breaks — by the time you get to the canteen, you only have 15 or 20 minutes for lunch, in a 10½-hour working day. You don't have time to eat properly to get a drink.

"You have to go through security when you leave the warehouse, and that adds five minutes. It's like an airport — belt off, watch off. The atmosphere is what I imagine a prison feels like. You felt like you were walking on eggshells."

Bloodworth's claim that workers were so busy that they had to urinate in bottles sparked widespread outrage on social media on Monday.

Bloodworth told The Sun, a news company in the UK, that "workers often didn't take a break to go to the toilet because they were too sparse to get to quickly and they feared punishment for missing productivity targets. So they peed in bottles instead."

"If you're on the top floor, you know it will take five minutes to go the toilet, and all the time you're being admonished for taking too much idle time," Bloodworth said. 

Bloodworth explained how he came across a bottle of urine while searching for items on an upper floor of the warehouse.

"One day I'm walking down the aisle, and I go to pick up an item, and there's a bottle of straw-colored water on the shelf. And at first I thought, 'Oh, what's that?'" he said. "And then it was very obvious what it was. And there was a pool of water next to it. It struck me — it was so obvious why someone would do that."

According to Business Insider, Amazon said that it doesn't time warehouse workers' toilet breaks and that it ensures they can reach the bathrooms easily.

Amazon responded in a statement to Business Insider, saying that “We don't recognize these allegations as an accurate portrayal of activities in our buildings.”

The book can be found on Amazon’s website.

Starbucks closing over 8,000 stores for racial-bias training after controversial arrest

More than 8,000 Starbucks stores will be closed nationwide next month for a one-day training aimed at educating employees about racial bias.

The training was announced after two black men were arrested last week at a Philadelphia Starbucks, raising questions of racial bias and sparking criticism at the store and online.

>> Read more trending news

Company officials said more than 8,000 company-owned Starbucks locations will be closed on the afternoon of May 29 for racial-bias training. Nearly 175,000 employees across the country will receive the training, which will become a regular part of the company’s onboarding process, Starbucks officials said.

Two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia last week after an employee called 911 to say the men were trespassing.

>> Related: Starbucks CEO meets with 2 black men arrested in Philadelphia store

Employees told officers the men were denied the use of the coffee shop’s bathroom and refused to leave, police Commissioner Richard Ross said Saturday.

The men were not charged.

The incident gained national attention after video of the arrests appeared on social media.

>> Related: Video showing arrest of two black men at Starbucks sparks outrage

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized to the men in a private meeting with them Monday, a Starbucks spokesperson told CNN. The spokesperson declined to elaborate on what took place during the meeting.

Johnson apologized for the incident in a statement Saturday and pledged to investigate. He said Tuesday that the planned racial-bias training “is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local community.”

>> Related: Starbucks manager leaves company after controversial arrest of 2 black men

“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution,” he said.

Several national and local experts will help to form the curriculum for the training, Starbucks officials said, including NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Company officials said experts will also monitor and review whether the training is effective.

There are more than 28,000 Starbucks stores in 77 countries.

Starbucks CEO meets with 2 black men arrested in Philadelphia store

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson met Monday with two black men who were arrested after an employee at one of the company’s Philadelphia locations called 911 to say they were trespassing, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

A Starbucks spokesperson told CNN that Johnson apologized to the men, who were arrested Thursday at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce streets. The spokesperson declined to elaborate on what took place during the meeting.

Police arrested the men after employees said they were denied the use of the store’s bathroom and refused to leave, police Commissioner Richard Ross said Saturday. The incident raised questions of racial bias after video of the encounter was posted to social media.

>> Related: Video showing arrest of two black men at Starbucks sparks outrage

Johnson apologized for the incident in a statement Saturday and pledged to investigate. He said Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that hoped to meet with the men, who have not been identified.

"I'd like to have a dialogue with them so that I can ensure that we have opportunity to really understand the situation and show some compassion and empathy for the experience they went through," Johnson said. "Finally, as we're working to solve this, I'd like to invite them to join me in finding a constructive way to solve this issue."

A Starbucks spokesperson told CNN on Monday that the men had agreed to meet with Johnson.

>> Related: Starbucks' CEO wants to apologize 'face-to-face' to 2 black men arrested at Philly store

About two dozen people protested at the Starbucks location Monday morning, standing by the counter and chanting “Starbucks coffee is anti-black,” according to The Associated Press. More than 100 people protested outside the shop Sunday, calling for the manager’s dismissal.

>> Related: Starbucks manager leaves company after controversial arrest of 2 black men

The manager, who was not identified, has left the company, officials said Monday. A company spokeswoman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the decision was “mutual.”

6 most impressive benefits offered to Amazon employees

As 20 cities strive to become the site of Amazon's next headquarters, aka "HQ2," an important question needs answering: What's in it for potential employees?

After all, HQ2 could bring 50,000 new jobs to the chosen city.

According to business publications like Business Insider and Fairygodboss, those employees would be in good hands.

>> Read more trending news

Though Amazon does not appear on the ranks of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® 2017, it does offer premium benefits and perks to its full-time employees and it would extend the same or similar packages anywhere it chose as a second headquarters.

As its VP of HR John Olsen told Business Insider, the company provides uniform benefits across all levels of employees. "My benefits package is the same as a benefits package here at the fulfillment center," he said. "I think we've got an egalitarian process."

>> Related: 9 best- worst-paying jobs at Amazon

Here are six current Amazon employee perks or benefits:

Top-rate tuition reimbursement. Amazon corporate communications manager Nina Lindsey included this teaser on the full breakdown of Amazon benefits she shared with Business Insider: "Both full-time and part-time hourly employees are eligible for Amazon's innovative Career Choice program that prepays 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a future career at Amazon." Amazon even steers students to a few good bets in the future economy, though they don't match the company's hiring profile (at least not yet). "Career Choice allows employees to develop in-demand skills for professions of the future, including medical technicians, paralegals, robotics engineers and solar panel installation professionals," the website enthuses.

Some of those classes might even be held onsite at the HQ2 if the current headquarter continuing education strategy is duplicated.

>> Related: 5 things you didn’t know about Amazon

A "network of support" when it's a jungle out there. According to the Amazon jobs site benefits link (and with the caveat that these benefits apply to full-time employees and may vary by location), company benefits designed to "make life a little bit easier" include an extensive and free, employee assistance program. It provides confidential 24/7 support for multiple aspects of work and personal life. This assistance runs the gamut: from access to financial counseling and estate planning to online assistance with children's developmental disabilities.

Dental and vision insurance for part-timers. According to the Amazon jobs link, employees who work more than 20 hours per week still receive "funding towards medical insurance" and dental and vision insurance with "premiums paid in full by Amazon."

A bias-resistant interview process. Amazon's rating on the women's work website Fairygodboss isn't too rousing: Just 33 percent of its female employees who offered feedback would recommend it to other women. But Amazon did get a glowing review of its ongoing interview process improvements.

>> Related: Amazon announces final 20 cities in the running for second headquarters

"Amazon has even incorporated bias training into their interviewing practices so that every Hiring Manager and Interviewer considers subconscious biases they may have coming into the interview (an example would be women coming across as 'abrasive' in an interview whereas a man would come across as showing backbone)," one woman wrote. 

Enhanced ability to adopt. According to the Amazon jobs page, the company also gives full-time employees help with qualified domestic and international adoption expenses including attorney fees, court costs and travel. The adoption edge at Amazon also includes leave prior to, and following, the birth or adoption of a child. It taps into Amazon's industry unique "Leave Share" option, where an employee can share time off with a spouse or domestic partner whose workplace doesn't offer the option.

Bring your dog to work every day. Really devoted pet parents would adore working at Amazon, at least if HQ2 follows the current headquarters. Fairygodboss describes Amazon as "a dog owner's dream. On any given day, you can find hundreds of dogs roaming the company's campus, where they happily enjoy doggie water fountains, a dog park, and treats at the reception desk."

As solid as the Amazon's job benefits are, Atlanta would do well to also try to draw an Audible outpost for top worker perks. The Amazon-owned company, based in Newark, listed some of these perks for employees during a recent hiring spree, according to Business Insider: In-house gym, Happy Hour on Fridays, tuition assistance, transit reimbursement and a breakfast and juice bar on Mondays.

Woman sues Steve Harvey for harassment; says he made her dress more provocatively on show

A single mom and fitness model claims she felt sexually harassed as a guest on Steve Harvey's talk show.

The woman, Dominique Collier, was invited to a taping of an episode of "Steve Harvey" in 2016 after responding to a casting call for "single professional women who like to show off their looks" and claims she left there feeling sexually harassed, TMZ reported

She says that Harvey, 61, and the show's producers made her change out of her tasteful outfit and into a halter top and form-fitting skirt before asking the audience to vote on her looks. 

The audience's responses included the names: "whore," "slut," "ratchet" and "daddy issues," according to the suit obtained by TMZ. 

After the taping in front of a live audience, Collier fired off a cease and desist letter asking the poll to be removed before the show aired on television. 

Producers did oblige, but she claims the damage was already done.

Collier said in the suit that she felt humiliated and demeaned and was crying backstage when Harvey walked up to her and handed her the clothes she had arrived in — including her bra and undergarments, according to the gossip site. 

She is suing the show's production company Endemol Shine and NBC for at least $2 million. 

A spokesperson for "Steve Harvey" and NBC did not immediately respond to a Daily News request for comment.

22 reported illnesses prompt massive egg recall

More than 200 million eggs are part of a recall issued Friday because they have the potential of being contaminated with salmonella, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

>> Read more trending news 

Rose Acre Farms, of Seymour, Indiana, has issued a voluntary recall for 206,749,248 eggs distributed to restaurants and retail stores in the following states: Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the FDA news release.

The eggs that are part of the recall can be identified by the plant number, P-1065, with the Julian date range of 011 through 102 printed on either the side portion or the principal side of the carton or package, according to the FDA.

Related: Salmonella: What is it and how to avoid it

Twenty-two illnesses have been reported, according to the news release.

The eggs have the potential of being contaminated with salmonella braenderup. The organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in vulnerable populations, including young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems, according to the FDA. Symptoms can include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

This is the largest shell egg recall since 2010, Food Safety News reports.

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