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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.

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

The man who brought Bratz to the toy market said Friday that he entered a formal offer of $890 million to buy many of the Toys R Us stores in the United States and Canada, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Isaac Larian, the CEO of MGA Entertainment, said he entered a formal offer of $675 million to buy 274 Toys R Us stores in the United States and $215 million to acquire 82 stores in Canada, CNN reported.

Larian said he would use his own money for the bid, along with financing from banks and additional investors, according to a news release.

“The liquidation of Toys R Us is going to have a long-term effect on the toy business. The industry will truly suffer,” Larian said in the statement. "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 (sic) Toys R Us.”

Toys R Us declined to comment, CNN reported.

Larian already tried to buy the chain of toy stores through a GoFundMe campaign. Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy last fall and said in March that it would shut down or sell its U.S. stores, CNN reported.

According to his statement, Larian said he wants to transform Toys R Us stores into a “mini-Disneyland.”

"We will make Toys R Us an experience in and of itself; a fun and engaging place where families can spend an entire day," Larian said. "Imagine a mini-Disneyland in each neighborhood."

Dunkin’ Donuts hosting free 4-hour cold brew tasting event Friday

This is not about fake brews. In fact, it’s about new brews that are very real.

>> Read more trending news

Dunkin’ Donuts, as part of a special nationwide cold brew tasting event, is offering a complimentary sample Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time, the company said in a news release.

Patrons who stop by participating Dunkin’ Donuts franchises during that four-hour time frame can receive a complimentary 3.5-ounce sample while supplies last.

The cold brew is prepared with a special blend of coffee that is placed in cold water for 12 hours, the company said in its news release. The result is a “uniquely distinctive, inherently sweeter flavor,” Dunkin’ Donuts said.

Blue Moon’s former brewer to release marijuana-infused beer

Blue Moon’s former brewer is aiming for a higher market.

>> Read more trending news

Keith Villa, the creator and head brewmaster of Blue Moon since 1995, announced his retirement from MolsonCoors in January 2018 after 32 years of service.

Villa is still working with brews, however. He announced that he is releasing three-marijuana-infused beers through a company called Ceria Beverages started by himself and his wife, Jodi, that promise the same effects as the drink but without the hangover, KABC reported. 

The beers, which will be released this fall, will only be available in Colorado, but Villa said he plans to make the drinks available in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

The drinks will not contain alcohol, KABC said.

Heineken pulls ‘Sometimes lighter is better’ ad after racism claims

Heineken officials have removed an ad with the tagline “Sometimes lighter is better” after the 30-second spot was criticized as being racist, CNN reported.

> Read more trending news

The ad features a fair-skinned bartender sliding a bottle of Heineken Light to a woman. The bottle slides past three black people before arriving in front of the lighter-skinned woman as the tagline appears at the end of the commercial.

Critics on social media did not treat the ad lightly. Hip-hop singer Chance the Rapper called it "terribly racist" on Twitter on Sunday evening.

“I think some companies are purposely putting out noticeably racist ads so they can get more views,” he tweeted.

On Twitter, Helen Ehrenofer called for the firing of the person who allowed the ad to air.

"What idiots do they have approving this ad? Fire that person," she tweeted.

Heineken pulled the ad from television and the internet late Monday, CNN reported.

“While we feel the ad is referencing our Heineken Light beer, and that light beer is better than other high-calorie options -- we missed the mark, are taking the feedback to heart and will use this to influence future campaigns," Heineken USA spokesman Bjorn Trowery said.

Loyola-Chicago gets blessing to market Sister Jean's name, image

The 98-year-old nun who serves as chaplain for the University of Loyola-Chicago basketball team has given her blessing to license and market her name and image, ESPN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, the inspirational force behind the Ramblers’ unexpected run to the Final Four gave her approval to school officials to put her image on T-shirts, socks and even bobbleheads.

“We weren't going to do anything until she gave her blessing,” Tom Sorboro, a senior associate athletic director at the school, told ESPN.

"She didn't ask for anything for herself," including compensation, Sorboro said.

The school has approved more than 25 Sister Jean T-shirts from several companies. Fanatics has produced a Final Four shirt with the nun’s signature phrase, “Worship, Work and Win,” ESPN reported. The company has sold more Loyola products in the past 48 hours than it had during the rest of the season, Fanatics spokesman Meier Raivich told ESPN.

>> Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt: 5 things to know

The school gave away Sister Jean bobbleheads in 2011 and 2015. Loyola approved a new bobblehead, to be produced in June by the Milwaukee-based Bobblehead Hall of Fame. 

"Licensing rules prohibit the sale of bobbleheads of college players," Sklar told ESPN. "But Sister Jean's bobblehead really represents the entire team, school and the Loyola-Chicago community."

Rock 'Em Apparel was approved to license Sister Jean socks. It began selling them on its website on Sunday afternoon, ESPN reported.

"Usually it's an athlete or coach that captivates the attention of the sports world," said Steve Rollins, senior vice president for the company. "She brought Loyola's tournament run to the next level by letting the world see her passion for her team. Everyone wants to wear something with her image on it for good luck."

>> Coming soon: Another SIster Jean bobblehead

Licensing royalties for Sister Jean product, except for the bobblehead, are set up to support the Loyola Athletic Fund, which supports the funding of the program's athletes. The bobblehead splits the proceeds between the school's fund and Sister Jean's Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

That Sister Jean has become a sensation during the NCAA Tournament is an understatement. Media tracking company Apex Marketing Group said that there were 20,526 stories that mentioned Sister Jean, ESPN reported. By comparison, there were 5,681 stories that mentioned Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and 9,727 stories reference Kansas coach Bill Self. 

"Sister Jean has risen to the top of the sports world by becoming a must-see and must-mention for sports commentators and news organizations," Apex's Eric Smallwood told ESPN.

As the Ramblers prepare for Saturday’s Final Four game against Michigan in San Antonio, Sister Jean fever continues to rise.

"Sister Jean is the most famous religious licensing icon since the pope," Sorboro said. "She's captured the attention of the entire nation."

Coca-Cola launching alcoholic drink in Japan

Coca-Cola is the world’s most famous soft drink. Now, the venerable brand is going to introduce an alcoholic drink in Japan later this year, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Coca-Cola wants to cash in on Japan’s growing demand for “chu-hi” -- a canned, flavored drink made with sparkling water and shochu, a Japanese spirit that is distilled from grains, CNN reported.

Chu-hi contains between 3 percent and 8 percent alcohol by volume, the BBC reported.

Coca-Cola spokesman Yohko Okabe said the new drink is a “highly Japan-specific approach given the complexity and richness” of the company’s range of products in Japan.

No other details were released about the plans for the alcoholic drink, but in a recent blog post, Jorge Garduño, president of Coca-Cola Japan said the drink would be “unique” in Coke's history.

"We haven't experimented in the low alcohol category before," Garduño said in the post.

Coca-Cola fans outside Japan should not expect a worldwide release of a stiffer drink.

"I don't think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola," Garduño said.

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Magically delicious: Unicorns added to Lucky Charms lineup

Unicorns are now magically delicious as Lucky Charms has introduced the first permanent change to its product in 10 years.

>> Read more trending news

General Mills, the parent company for the cereal, announced in a news release that magical unicorn marshmallows will be a permanent part of the breakfast food. It replaces the hourglass marshmallow that was retired earlier this month.

General Mills went on social media and asked consumers to choose the newest design. After tapping “into the imagination and creativity of young minds,” the decision to choose the unicorn form was “unanimous.”

“Our goal is to not only create a cereal that families and cereal fans will love and enjoy, but to inspire magical possibilities and help spark imagination and fun no matter what the age,” Josh DeWitt, marketing manager of Lucky Charms, said in the release. “That's why, after 10 years, we decided to introduce a new charm with the help of the keepers of magic themselves – kids. They spoke, and after hearing their love for the magical unicorn, we listened.”

The Magical Unicorn product will join the original and chocolate brands of Lucky Charms on shelves and will be available in three different sizes, the company said: 11.5 ounces ($3.99), 16 ounces ($4.49) and 20.5 ounces ($4.99). It will be available more widely at major grocery retailers and big box stores in March, according to the news release.

The new unicorn charms already have been appearing in the original and chocolate brands of the cereal. They will join hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, rainbows and red balloons.

Here is a Lucky Charms commercial from the 1960s:

And here is one from 2017:

Ingvar Kamprad, who founded Ikea, dead at 91

Ingvar Kamprad, who founded furniture giant Ikea, died at his home in Sweden, the company said on its official Instagram account. He was 91.

>> Read more trending news

Kamprad sold ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories in his Ikea stores, which grew into 355 outlets in 29 countries, CNN reported. He founded Ikea in 1943, when he was 17.

“He will be immensely missed and warmly remembered by his family and Ikea employees around the world,” the company said in a statement.

Kamprad was born in 1926 in Småland, southern Sweden. According to Ikea’s website, Kamprad began selling matches to neighbors when he was 5, and then used his bicycle to find new customers. He later sold flower seeds, Christmas tree decorations, greeting cards, and even pencils and ballpoint pens to make money, according to the Ikea website.

Kamprad created products such as the Poang and Billy bookcase and fed customers by selling millions of Swedish meatballs.

The company’s big break came in 1956 with the introduction of flat-pack furniture, Reuters reported. Kamprad said his got the idea while watching an employee taking the legs off a table to fit it into a customer’s vehicle, Reuters reported.

Ikea’s global revenue was $45 billion in 2017, CNN reported. The company is now owned by the Dutch Stichting Ingka Foundation, but Kamprad was a senior adviser to the group's supervisory board until his death, CNN reported.

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