In the news … September 7, 2018

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Amazon follows Apple into US$1-trillion valuation club

NEW YORK — Amazon on Tuesday became the second publicly traded company to be worth US$1 trillion, hot on the heels of iPhone maker Apple.

Launched as an online bookstore in 1995, Amazon.com has changed the way people shop for toilet paper, TVs and just about anything else. In its two decades, the company has expanded far beyond those bookseller beginnings, combining its world-spanning retail operations with less flashy but very profitable advertising and cloud computing businesses. It’s now expanding into the health care industry and increasing its brick-and-mortar presence.

The company’s rise has boosted the fortunes of its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos: His 16 per cent stake in Amazon is now worth about US$160 billion. Forbes magazine placed him at the top of its 2018 billionaires list for the first time, surpassing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

CTV

When students arrive in Matthew Acheson’s high-school classroom this week, they’ll be allowed to take their phones to their desks, but only once they’ve tucked them inside a specialized pouch that then locks, blocking any access to WiFi and social media apps. Similar to an ink tag to prevent shoplifting, the cases can only be opened at an unlocking device controlled by their teacher. It’s just another attempt at the seemingly impossible: separating teens from their smartphones.

“This has been the one thing that has actually worked,” said Mr. Acheson, who teaches Grade 11 and 12 at St. Mary’s High School in Kitchener, Ont. Over the past few years, Mr. Acheson said he has been struggling with students’ distracting phone use in the classroom.

GLOBE AND MAIL

No NAFTA without cultural exemption and a dispute settlement clause, Trudeau vows

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is insisting that Canada will not sign a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement that doesn’t protect Canada’s cultural sectors — including the news media — or a dispute resolution mechanism.

As it stands, NAFTA includes a cultural exemption clause, which means cultural goods are not treated like other commercial products. But there have been growing concerns about what protections a new deal would have for cultural industries.

CBC

Improving Company Culture Is Not About Providing Free Snacks

What’s the difference between culture and employee engagement? It’s a good question. Many people use the two terms interchangeably. In their minds, the term company culture is synonymous with free food, foosball tables, and other workplace perks deemed to improve the employee experience, increase satisfaction, and drive greater commitment to the company. There is, of course, a lot more to employee engagement than workplace goodies. Employee engagement surveys typically ask about factors such as empowerment to make decisions, freedom to innovate, and work–life balance. There is some evidence to suggest that high scores on these issues make a difference to a company’s bottom line. According to Gallup’s 2016 Q12 Meta-Analysis report, business units in the top quartile in terms of employee engagement outperformed business units in the bottom quartile by 21 percent in profitability.

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