World briefs

My password is… • Benefits for same-sex couples • New rules for Russia's civil service • German labour angry

My password is...

— Ninety per cent of office workers will easily give up their computer passwords according to a recent survey conducted for Infosecurity Europe 2003. Workers were asked a series of questions which included “What is your password?”, to which 75 per cent immediately gave their password. If they initially refused they were asked which category their password fell into and then asked a further question to find out the password. Another 15 per cent then revealed their passwords.

Benefits for same-sex couples

Washington, D.C.
— Presidential hopeful and prominent senator Joe Lieberman wants to extend benefits to partners of gay federal employees. The legislation would give benefits to “domestic partners” of federal employees. Domestic partners could be gay or straight as long as they file an affidavit saying they are living together in a committed, intimate relationship but are not married. Lieberman said that if it doesn’t make it through Congress in the next two years, “I intend to introduce it and sign it as President of the United States.”

New rules for Russia's civil service

— Changes to Russia’s civil service will tie promotions to length of service instead of job performance, and give bureaucrats military-like ranks. The changes are meant to streamline the bureaucracy and shed thousands of jobs, but opposition groups decry the draft law for overlooking professionalism and competence in its rules of employment.

German labour angry

— German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is facing stiff opposition from labour groups over his proposals to make it easier for companies to fire workers, cut unemployment benefits, shorten entitlement for jobless pay and raise workers’ sick-pay outlays. Schroeder made an overhaul of social welfare systems and labour market rules the priority for his second four-year term. Unions also criticized a government proposal to raise the retirement age and lower pension payouts as a means to rescue Germany’s cash-strapped pension system.

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