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Jun 14 10 9:35 PM

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Revealed: Inside the Chinese suicide sweatshop where workers toil in 34-hour shifts to make your iPod

By Andrew Malone and Richard Jones
Last updated at 11:14 PM on 11th June 2010
When Apple boss Steve Jobs unveiled his latest creation this week, the event was given quasi-religious significance. At a ceremony in San Francisco, more than 5,000 supplicants paid homage to a man hailed by some as a visionary.
Tickets to the event cost £1,000 - and guests watched in awe as Jobs, in his trademark black turtleneck jumper and blue jeans (he wears the same outfit seven days a week), held up the new Apple iPhone in front of a giant computer-generated image of himself.
With Apple now the biggest computing company on the planet, the 55-year-old could have been forgiven for looking smug. His latest iPhone, like the models before, is expected to generate billions in sales.


Steel wire meshes have been fitted to windows at Foxconn's factory to stop workers jumping after a rash of suicides believed to be due to harsh management practices

And with sales of his new iPad hitting one million in the U.S. within 28 days of its launch - one was sold every three seconds - Jobs has been credited with changing the way we live, introducing gadgets that keep us permanently connected.
They've also fuelled a massive sub-industry in phone applications or 'apps' which do everything from turning your phone into a virtual spirit level to timing pregnant women's contractions.
Given up for adoption as a baby, Jobs also likes to pose as a man of the California 'counter-culture' era, who made his fortune after taking LSD during a 'spiritual journey' in India, returning as a devout, shaven-headed Buddhist.

From those humble, supposedly spiritual beginnings, he is now a business behemoth, eclipsing Bill Gates at Microsoft as the most powerful man in computing. Apple's income currently approaches £10billion a year.
'I wish him [Bill Gates] the best, I really do,' Jobs once smirked. 'I just think he and Microsoft are a bit narrow. He'd be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.'

Yet, amid all the fanfare and celebrations this week, there was one sour, niggling note: reports of a spate of suicides at a secretive Chinese complex where Jobs's iPhone, iPod and iPad - Apple's new state-of-the-art slimline computer - are built and assembled.
With 11 workers taking their lives in sinister circumstances, Jobs acted swiftly to quell a potential public relations disaster.
Stressing that he found the deaths 'troubling' and that he was 'all over it', the billionaire brushed aside suggestions that the factory was a sweatshop.
'You go in this place and it's a factory but, my gosh, they've got restaurants and movie theatres and hospitals and swimming pools,' he said. 'For a factory, it's pretty nice.'
His definition of 'nice' is questionable and likely to have his American workers in uproar if such conditions were imposed upon them.

Foxconn employs 420,000 workers at its Shenzhen plant where conditions are very basic with no air-conditioning

For, as Apple's leader was taking a bow on the world stage, the Mail was under cover inside this Chinese complex. And we encountered a strange, disturbing world where new recruits are drilled along military lines, ordered to stand for the company song and kept in barracks like battery hens - all for little more than £20 a week.
In what's been dubbed the 'i-Nightmare factory', the scandal focuses on two sprawling complexes near Shenzhen, two decades ago a small fishing port and now a city of 17 million people.
This is the epicentre of operations for Foxconn, China's biggest exporter, which makes products under licence for Apple using a 420,000-strong workforce in Shenzhen. They have 800,000 workers country-wide.
And as Jobs was speaking in San Francisco, new measures were being secretly introduced at Foxconn to prevent the suicide scandal from worsening and damaging Apple sales globally.
Astonishingly, this involves forcing all Foxconn employees to sign a new legally binding document promising that they won't kill themselves.
The document, a copy of which has been obtained by the Mail, states that all employees (or their dependants) must promise not to sue the company as the result of 'any unexpected death or injury, including suicide or self torture'.
The owner of this massive, highly controlled iPad and iPhone factory has also decided to install something he's dubbed 'ai xin wang' - which translates literally as 'nets of a loving heart'
In reality, these 'loving hearts' are 10ft high wire fences on the roofs and 15ft wide nets at the base of all buildings. The human traps are to prevent people jumping to their deaths and smashing themselves on the pavements below.
Alongside such physical impediments to suicide, hundreds of monks have been flown in to the plant to exorcise evil spirits. Shaven-headed and wearing long robes, groups of monks have been seen chanting and praying amid baffled, exhausted workers.
More than 2,000 social workers are also being recruited and emergency helplines set up. Anyone appearing mentally ill or stressed is being identified by a special 'spotters' team set up to keep tabs on the workforce.
Workers who fail to respond to the chanting monks or the entreaties of social workers are secretly shipped to Shenzhen Mental Health Centre, a private facility where there are several wards crammed with Foxconn employees.
With the complex at peak production, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the global demand for Apple phones and computers, a typical day begins with the Chinese national anthem being played over loudspeakers, with the words: 'Arise, arise, arise, millions of hearts with one mind.'
As part of this Orwellian control, the public address system constantly relays propaganda, such as how many products have been made; how a new basketball court has been built for the workers; and why workers should 'value efficiency every minute, every second'.
With other company slogans painted on workshop walls - including exhortations to 'achieve goals unless the sun no longer rises' and to 'gather all of the elite and Foxconn will get stronger and stronger' - the employees work up to 15-hour shifts.
 Steve Jobs

Apple boss Steve Jobs brushed aside suggestions that the factory was a sweatshop

Down narrow, prison-like corridors, they sleep in cramped rooms in triple-decked bunk beds to save space, with simple bamboo mats for mattresses.
Despite summer temperatures hitting 35 degrees, with 90 per cent humidity, there is no air-conditioning. Workers say some dormitories house more than 40 people and are infested with ants and cockroaches, with the noise and stench making it difficult to sleep.
These workers answer to Terry Gou, an authoritarian figure whose contracts with Apple have helped make him, like his partner Jobs, one of the richest men in the world with a fortune estimated at £5.5billion.
While Jobs was away taking drugs in India, Gou - whose parents fled communist China to Taiwan - was starting Foxconn, employing ten workers to make television sets at his fledgling company.
But he quickly realised that there was a fortune to be made from China's booming population - a massive, cheap labour-force waiting to be exploited.
A workaholic, disciplinarian and perfectionist, Gou, 60, adopted a strict management style, inspired by his days in the private Taipei College of Maritime Technology followed by two years in the Taiwanese army.

Critics have dubbed iPhone maker Foxconn's complex an 'i-Nightmare factory'

New recruits at Foxconn are subjected to weeks of military-style drilling in order to build discipline. This is intended, as Gou puts it, to 'agglomerate them to act in unison and in concert' so that he can build a 'unique Foxconnian culture'.
As well as slogans on the walls, Gou orders staff to wear jackets bearing slogans such as: 'Together everyone achieves more.'
Strict discipline is enforced, with pay docked for any breaches under a bizarre points system. Points are deducted for crimes such as having long nails, being late, yawning, eating, sitting on the floor, talking or walking quickly.
During a week-long investigation, which involved dodging the security guards who constantly patrol the Foxconn complex and who beat up a Reuters photographer earlier this year, we spoke to dozens of workers on condition of anonymity.
On top of the living conditions, they all complained of intolerable pressure to hit targets for booming Apple sales, with managers exhorting what Gou calls his 'family' to work until they are ready to drop.
'There are just three points to your life when you work at Foxconn,' says Huang, 21, who finally quit last month because of the pressure. 'Going to work, coming-home from work and sleeping.' He added: 'You are totally isolated from the outside world. I walked the same path from dorm to factory and back to dorm. That was my world.
'There's no entertainment and no TV. There were 12 workers in my dorm, with some doing days, others nights and there was not a single person to talk to.'
Ma Xiangqian, 18, who killed himself earlier this year after just three months at Foxconn, was too scared to give up his job, despite the pressure, knowing poverty awaited as thousands compete for a single post.
He slowly cracked. First, he was 'fined' from his wages for breaking two tools by accident. After being exhorted to work harder, he was eventually taken off the production line and forced to wash toilets for several weeks as punishment.
He told his sister he was 'ashamed' of the way he was being treated. On January 23, he was found in a pool of blood at the foot of his dormitory block. His sister, who also worked at Foxconn, was told he had fainted and was recovering in hospital.
In reality, her brother was already in the morgue. She was then told that Ma was a victim of unexplained 'sudden death'.
After she took the highly unusual step of protesting and demanding a post mortem, Foxconn officials later changed the cause of death to 'falling from a great height'.
Like Jobs, Gou dismisses claims that working conditions at the complex are to blame, saying the spate of suicides were due to ' personal' reasons' such as broken relationships.


No smiles: Workers look on from a Foxconn logo near the gate of a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua, Guangdong province
To the fury of his dead employees' relatives, Gou also claimed that some people had killed themselves for the money - saying they wanted Foxconn's 'generous compensation' for their families.
That is not the view of Yao Ruoqin, one of three known survivors of Apple suicide attempts. We found her at a Shenzhen hospital, although her name was not on official ward records.
'Terry Gou couldn't care less about me,' she said, recovering from broken hips and a damaged liver after jumping from the seventh floor at Foxconn.
Two other survivors we found at a local hospital - one called Tian Yu, 17, who has been paralysed from the waist down - refused to speak, saying Foxconn had threatened to stop paying their medical bills if they went public.
Appearing to confirm claims of overwork, another worker, Yan Li, 27, collapsed and died last week from exhaustion, according to SACOM, (Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior), a Hong Kong pressure group that is monitoring the situation.
Yan collapsed having worked continuously for 34 hours. He was on the night shift for a month and had worked overtime every night, according to his wife.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one line manager told us that there is constant pressure among all workers. 'We must meet the quota every day at the maximum quality,' said the man. 'There are several layers of management with the pressure coming from above.'
Qing Tong, 28, a former manager at Foxconn, has written a book detailing her experiences at the company, saying all traces of individual personality among workers must be erased to achieve Gou's mantra that 'time is money and efficiency is life'.
After details of the Chinese suicides leaked out, and Jobs promised he was 'all over it', his Chinese partner announced that his workers would receive a generous-sounding 30 per cent pay rise, raising the basic wage from £90 to £120 a month.
Yet human r ights groups denounced this as a public relations sham, saying that the legal minimum wage was being raised by the Chinese authorities in any case.
Lu Bing Dong, 22, helps produce 21,000 iPhones daily in his workshop alone. 'The pay rise is actually stopping us making more money because now they are strictly controlling overtime,' he says.
'Foxconn are very smart - they say it's a pay rise, but we actually earn less. It's meaningless. They will increase the daily quotas [of products made] to make up for lost time.'
As we left the sprawling Foxconn complex, workers were putting cages on one dormitory block with balconies - yet another measure to keep workers from killing themselves.
'It looks even more like a prison now,' said a weary Lu, 27, returning from a 15-hour shift.
One can't help wondering how Steve Jobs, the billionaire Buddhist, manages to square Foxconn's activities with his belief in karma - that what you do in this life will be repaid in the next...

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#2 [url]

Oct 9 11 7:47 AM

Designed By Apple in California. Made in a sweat-shop in China.

“… who can consider working on Apple products ‘work’? Instead it is like Christmas play time every day. When you work on an Apple product, you are like an elf in Santa’s North Pole! Sure you only get 50 bucks a month, but you can go visit the marmalade forest and make bubblegum pie whenever you want! And furthermore, you get good karma, which ensures that you will go to heaven and receive 72 virgin PowerBooks with infinite Altivec and a double dual core. We should be envious of these lucky women. They are an inspiration to us all.”

Slashdot reader Ignignot
Apple is likely regretting its decision to outsource the manufacture of its iconic iPod media players to Tawainese subcontractor Foxconn, now that a report in the Mail on Sunday has revealed the Dickensian conditions under which its employees work. According to the paper, iPods are built primarily by women who typically put in 15-hour days and earn as little as $50 per month, about half of which is paid back to the company for housing and food. And that’s not the worst of it. “We have to work too hard and I am always tired,” said one Foxconn employee. “It’s like being in the army. They make us stand still for hours. If we move, we are punished by being made to stand still for longer. We have to work overtime if we are told to and can only go back to the dormitories when our boss gives us permission. If they ask for overtime we must do it. After working 15 hours until 11:30 p.m., we feel so tired.” Not the sort of dialogue you’d find in one of Apple’s new “Get a Mac” ads, is it?
Now, to be fair, Apple is one of many companies that outsources the manufacture of its products to China. The country’s low labor costs make it particularly attractive to consumer electronics outfits hoping to maintain profit margins while keeping prices competitive. And for all we know, the Foxconn facilities at which iPods are built, may well meet minimum global standards. That said, Apple has long portrayed itself as a progressive company; reports like this one don’t jive at all with its “Think Different” image. Writing in Wired, Leander Kahney says Apple needs to not only meet minimum standards, but set an example by exceeding them. “It’s the right thing to do of course, but it’s also smart business — something Jobs should surely understand,” he writes. “For Apple’s demographic — well-heeled urbanites — human rights and labor practices are, presumably, important matters. They buy fair-trade coffee, but iBooks and iPods are not an issue?”

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#3 [url]

Jan 27 12 5:58 PM

Factory Workers Die as Apple Profits Soar

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Hours after Apple released its first quarter earnings, which showed a mind-blowing 44.7 percent profit, the New York Times published another in a series of articles illustrating some of the reasons behind Apple’s profit margin. Describing the conditions in which Chinese workers assemble iPhones, iPads and a panoply of Apple products, the report states:
Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.
More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.
A separate article details a New York Times survey that found Apple consumers are less likely to worry about the conditions in which products are made.
Over all, 52 percent of the public said it was very important that the products they buy were made in the United States; only 42 percent of owners of Apple products agreed.
Earlier this month, the Fair Labor Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending sweatshop conditions in factories worldwide, announced Apple was admitted as a “Participating Company.” That means that Apple promises to clean its supply chains from labor abuses during the coming two years.
The International Metalworkers’ Foundation expresses skepticism that Apple will carry through on it promises.
In fact, if Apple and other companies that outsource their work corrected the massive abuses of workers at their factories overseas, their incentive for shipping jobs from the United States would be greatly reduced.

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#4 [url]

Jan 27 12 5:59 PM

In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad

The explosion ripped through Building A5 on a Friday evening last May, an eruption of fire and noise that twisted metal pipes as if they were discarded straws.

Color China Photo, via Associated Press

An explosion last May at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu, China, killed four people and injured 18. It built iPads.

The iEconomy

A Punishing System

Articles in this series are examining challenges posed by increasingly globalized high-tech industries.

Read the previous article >>

Ym Yik/European Pressphoto Agency

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS After a rash of apparent suicide attempts, a dormitory for Foxconn workers in Shenzhen, China, had safety netting installed last May. Foxconn said it acted quickly and comprehensively to address employee suicides.

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"These seductive products feed an egocentric population of must-have-the-latest-toy consumers who either ignore these stories or rationalize them away."
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When workers in the cafeteria ran outside, they saw black smoke pouring from shattered windows. It came from the area where employees polished thousands of iPad cases a day.

Two people were killed immediately, and over a dozen others hurt. As the injured were rushed into ambulances, one in particular stood out. His features had been smeared by the blast, scrubbed by heat and violence until a mat of red and black had replaced his mouth and nose.

“Are you Lai Xiaodong’s father?” a caller asked when the phone rang at Mr. Lai’s childhood home. Six months earlier, the 22-year-old had moved to Chengdu, in southwest China, to become one of the millions of human cogs powering the largest, fastest and most sophisticated manufacturing system on earth. That system has made it possible for Apple and hundreds of other companies to build devices almost as quickly as they can be dreamed up.

“He’s in trouble,” the caller told Mr. Lai’s father. “Get to the hospital as soon as possible.”

In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.

However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.

More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.

“If Apple was warned, and didn’t act, that’s reprehensible,” said Nicholas Ashford, a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a group that advises the United States Labor Department. “But what’s morally repugnant in one country is accepted business practices in another, and companies take advantage of that.”

Apple is not the only electronics company doing business within a troubling supply system. Bleak working conditions have been documented at factories manufacturing products for Dell, Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and others.

Current and former Apple executives, moreover, say the company has made significant strides in improving factories in recent years. Apple has a supplier code of conduct that details standards on labor issues, safety protections and other topics. The company has mounted a vigorous auditing campaign, and when abuses are discovered, Apple says, corrections are demanded.

And Apple’s annual supplier responsibility reports, in many cases, are the first to report abuses. This month, for the first time, the company released a list identifying many of its suppliers.

But significant problems remain. More than half of the suppliers audited by Apple have violated at least one aspect of the code of conduct every year since 2007, according to Apple’s reports, and in some instances have violated the law. While many violations involve working conditions, rather than safety hazards, troubling patterns persist.

“Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost,” said Li Mingqi, who until April worked in management at Foxconn Technology, one of Apple’s most important manufacturing partners. Mr. Li, who is suing Foxconn over his dismissal, helped manage the Chengdu factory where the explosion occurred.

“Workers’ welfare has nothing to do with their interests,” he said.

Some former Apple executives say there is an unresolved tension within the company: executives want to improve conditions within factories, but that dedication falters when it conflicts with crucial supplier relationships or the fast delivery of new products. Tuesday, Apple reported one of the most lucrative quarters of any corporation in history, with $13.06 billion in profits on $46.3 billion in sales. Its sales would have been even higher, executives said, if overseas factories had been able to produce more.

Executives at other corporations report similar internal pressures. This system may not be pretty, they argue, but a radical overhaul would slow innovation. Customers want amazing new electronics delivered every year.

“We’ve known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they’re still going on,” said one former Apple executive who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. “Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”

“If half of iPhones were malfunctioning, do you think Apple would let it go on for four years?” the executive asked.


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Oct 6 12 5:57 PM

Foxconn Workers Strike In China Over Poor Work Conditions: Reports

By DIDI TANG 10/06/12 07:21 AM ET EDT AP
BEIJING -- Foxconn Technology Group denied on Saturday that production was affected at a Chinese factory that makes Apple's iPhones, although both state media and an overseas labor watch group said some workers halted production lines on Friday, apparently over higher quality control standards.
New York-based China Labor Watch reported that 3,000 to 4,000 workers at the Foxconn plant in the central China's Zhengzhou city went on strike Friday over increased quality control demands and having to work during an extended national holiday.
The official Xinhua News Agency, quoting a spokesman for the management committee of the Xinzheng Comprehensive Bonded Area where the plant is located, said some production lines were halted Friday when workers persuaded quality inspectors to skip work to show their dissatisfaction over higher quality standards.
In a written statement issued Saturday, the Taiwan-based electronic manufacturer Foxconn said production at the Zhengzhou plant continued without interruption. It denied any strike or work stoppage.
Foxconn said there were two isolated, small-scale disputes between production line workers and quality assurance personnel on Monday and Tuesday, but it added that they were quickly addressed. It did not specify what issues had caused the disputes but said immediate measures were taken to resolve the problems, including adding production line workers.
Xinhua said some workers were unhappy when Apple strengthened quality inspections of the iPhone 5 following consumer complaints regarding aesthetic flaws in the phone. In the Xinhua report, the spokesman – who was not named – characterized the incident as a worker-management dispute instead of a strike and was unable to provide a specific number of workers involved.
China Labor Watch said several iPhone 5 production lines at the factory were paralyzed after the workers found the new quality control demands difficult to meet and went on strike. The group said the workers also were angry about being forced to work through China's National Day Golden Week holiday, which ends Sunday.
The iPhone 5, the latest in the line of the smartphones, debuted in September.
Foxconn said its employees in China who worked during the holiday did so voluntarily and were being paid three times their normal pay, in accordance with Chinese labor law.
China Labor Watch said workers also beat quality control inspectors, who carried out their own work stoppage after management ignored their complaints.
According to China Labor Watch, Apple and Foxconn had imposed stricter quality standards regarding indentations and scratches on the frames and back covers of the iPhones but did not provide workers with proper training to meet the new demands.
Apple could not be reached immediately for comment.
In late September, a brawl involving 2,000 workers broke out at Foxconn's factory in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan, highlighting chronic labor tensions in a country that prohibits independent unions.
Labor activists have said the rollout of the iPhone 5 has led to longer working hours and more pressure on workers.

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#6 [url]

Oct 6 12 6:42 PM

Preesi, I don't know how to embed this video. But this what Apple & Foxconn doesn't want the public know.

1) This latest strike happened because during this Golden Week where everyone in China as supposed to get the whole week off to go home to their families, workers at Foxconn were told they must work or they will be fired.  

2)  QC levels for iPhone 5 have been increased due to complaints from iPhone 4/4s.  Workers complained that they were not given proper training on how to do their jobs better. And their salaries docked if there were any dings, nicks & scratches on iPhones.

3) Complaints against the attitude of the Foxconn managers continues, workers complain that they do not feel like they are working for a billion dollar conglomerate. Instead they are often talked down to, forced to work long hours until they are too tired to go home and in constant surveillance by Foxconn's own private security staff. 

4) This private security force is as brutal as China's own People's Armed Police. If you remember the rash of suicides from the Foxconn factory in Guangdong 2 years ago, the 1st suicide actually happened on 7/16/2009, 25 year old Sun Dan-Yong was accused by security of stealing 1 of 6 prototypes of iPhone 2.  They locked him up inside a private cell for several days, kept him from sleeping & interrogated him with threats of physical harm.  They finally let him go after he stated, "if you really believe I stole that prototype, turn me over to the local police & let them investigate me, why am I being tried in your secret courtroom". That night,Sun went up to the roof of building across from the dormitory he was living in and jumped to his death.  The 18 suicides that happened to workers from the same factory happened during 2010 - 2011.

Human Rights Groups coined the phase "Bloody Apple" during this period.

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#8 [url]

Dec 21 12 11:26 PM

Steve Jobs' yacht impounded over pay dispute

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' yacht was unveiled in a Dutch shipyard in October and christened
Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' yacht was unveiled in a Dutch shipyard in October and christened "Venus."
  • Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' yacht impounded in pay dispute
  • Designer Philippe Starck says he's owed nearly $4 million
  • The Venus cost more than $137 million, is 260 feet long
(CNN) -- The megayacht that Steve Jobs commissioned in the final years of his life has been impounded in Amsterdam after a payment dispute involving the designer, Philippe Starck.

The Venus, a 100-million-euro ($137.5 million), 260-foot-long yacht, made its unofficial debut in late October. It's currently stuck in the Port of Amsterdam after Starck hired a debt-collection agency to attempt to remit the final payment for his design.

According to lawyers at Ubik -- Starck's design company -- speaking with Reuters, the designer has only received 6 million of the 9-million-euro commission and is seeking the rest of the payment before the Venus will be released.

"These guys [Jobs and Starck] trusted each other, so there wasn't a very detailed contract," Roelant Klaassen, a lawyer for Ubik, told Reuters.

The Venus is a floating ode to both Jobs and Starck's minimalist aesthetic. Made entirely out of aluminum, with 40-foot-long floor-to-ceiling windows lining the passenger compartment and seven 27-inch iMacs making up the command center.

In Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, the late Apple CEO is quoted as saying that, "I know that it's possible I will die and leave Laurene with a half-built boat, but I have to keep going on. If I don't, it's an admission that I'm about to die."

Copyright 2011

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