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Amazon Employees Demand Change for Disproportionate Pollution in Communities of Color

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An internal petition signed by 640 Amazon tech and corporate employees requests the company raise its emissions goals. They also want Amazon to address the disproportionate environmental damage its warehouses leave on Black, Latino, Indigenous, and immigrant neighborhoods.

What We Know:

  • Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) organized the petition after the corporation persuaded the Securities and Exchange Commission to bar including a proposal from the group at a Wednesday shareholder meeting. A good portion of AEJC participants receives stocks with their job positions.
  • The AECJ wants Amazon to provide detailed research as to how its logistics and delivery operations “pose disproportionate environmental and health hazards for communities of color.” The faction also demands the institution prioritize those communities in its emissions reduction strategy. Moreover, the AECJ urges the company to push its zero-emissions goal to 2030, the time in which climate scientists estimate that global warming could result in the irreversible loss of fragile ecosystems. Furthermore, the 640 workers request that Amazon deploy their new electric vehicles in areas severely affected by Amazon’s delivery transportations pollution.

“An electric delivery truck in a Seattle suburb doesn’t help a kid developing asthma living and going to school near a major shipping center, like in the Inland Empire,” said Selene Xenia, an engineering manager at Amazon and Amazon Employees for Climate Justice member.

  • Climate change advocates and policymakers already expressed concern about Amazon’s diesel trucks, airplanes, and vans creating air pollution to deliver orders via their warehouse network. According to the Amazon employee group’s research and data collected by logistics consulting firm MWPVL International, around 80 percent of these warehouses are located in ZIP codes with high populations of Black, Latino, and Indigenous people.
  • Southern California’s Inland Empire encountered the brunt of the increased pollution, the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice reported last month. An increase in warehouses in the area correlated with an increase in poor air quality and health problems like asthma, bronchitis, and cancer.
  • Despite this, Amazon will extend its operations in the Inland Empire by creating a logistics hub at the San Bernardino Airport. The airport authority’s environmental assessment showed that the future facility’s 26 additional flights and 500 daily truck trips would emit 1 ton of air pollution a day. While the hub would meet federal requirements, California Attorney General sued the Federal Aviation Administration and the airport authority last year. He called the project unlawful and declared it would cause significant harm to the air quality. The 2020 Census shows that San Bernardino’s population contains 65 percent of Latinos.
  • The AECJ has been demanding Amazon to care about climate change for years. In 2019, alongside other workers from various tech enterprises like Google, Twitter, and Microsoft, the AECJ conducted a walkout. Even though a day before CEO Jeff Bezos announced his plans to send out electric vans by 2024 and to make Amazon carbon neutral by 2040, employees still walked out because “their demands called for stronger action.”
  • The employees’ climate activism already caught the eye of a few company executives. For example, Tim Bray, an Amazon former vice president, signed a 2019 petition asking the corporation to reduce its carbon footprint and sever any connections with the oil and gas industry. However, it also garnered negative attention; last year, Amazon fired two of the AECJ’s core organizers, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa. It cited company policy which prohibits employees from publicly discussing its business. Last month, the National Labor Relations Board determined their firings were illegal. Yet, Amazon disagreed with the ruling.

Brad Glasser, an Amazon spokesperson, stated that even though the business supports the employee’s right to critique their employer’s working conditions, “but that does not come with blanket immunity against our internal policies, all of which are lawful.” The AECJ will introduce its shareholder resolution to Amazon’s board on May 27. More details will be provided after the meeting.

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T-Mobile Data Breach Included Personal Information of Almost 50 Million Customers

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Fortunately, no phone numbers, account numbers, PINs, passwords, or financial information of the approximately 50 million customers’ records were compromised.

What We Know:

  • T-Mobile reported on Wednesday that the names, Social Security numbers, driver’s license information, and other identification data of over 40 million potential and current customers were exposed in a data breach. In addition, 7.8 million postpaid users were also affected. The company also confirmed that hackers obtained approximately 850,000 active T-Mobile prepaid customer names, phone numbers, and account PINs.
  • Despite T-Mobile users being affected by the breach, Metro by T-Mobile, Sprint prepaid, and Boost Mobile customers stayed protected. The phone tycoons declared no users from those departments had their names or PINs exposed.
  • Those who caused the breach accessed additional information from inactive prepaid accounts via prepaid billing files. Despite this, T-Mobile declared no customer financial information, credit card information, payment information, or Social Security numbers were in the inactive file.
  • In response, T-Mobile proactively reset the PINs on active prepaid accounts. Additionally, the company said it would immediately offer two years of free identity protection services. T-Mobile further recommended users change their PIN while they investigate the situation.

The announcement came two days after the corporation said they were reviewing a leak of data; officials stated someone went on an online forum and offered to sell users’ personal information.

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Judge Rules in Favor of Norwegian Cruise Line, Allows for Proof of Vaccination in Florida

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Judge Kathleen Williams ruled it unconstitutional for businesses to ban a customer requirement of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

What We Know:

  • The U.S. District judge also granted Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the “vaccine passport ban.” In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 2006 into action, which limited the government’s ability to impose mask requirements and other social distancing measures. Senate Bill 2006 also restricts businesses from asking customers for proof of vaccination.
  • Last month, NCL filed a case against the State of Florida. The company initially asserted that the ban jeopardized the health and safety of passengers and crew members. Norwegian Cruise Line company additionally mentioned one could consider the ban and infringement on the First Amendment free speech guarantee. Officials took it a step further on Aug. 6 by asking Williams to block the state law.
  • Williams said the “First Amendment, applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment,” does not allow states to create laws that abridge freedom of speech. In addition, she declared a state could not restrict expression because of its message, ideas, content, or subject matter.
  • Judge Williams even stated that Florida did not provide “a valid evidentiary, factual, or legal predicate” for prohibiting citizens from showing vaccination proof. Furthermore, she affirmed that NCL demonstrated that public health might be affected if it suspends a vaccination requirement.
  • In response to the Aug. 8 ruling, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Frank Del Rio, wrote in a statement that the company’s lengths to keep the vaccine requirement in place proves its dedication to safe sailings. He also reported that NCL believes that “the safest and most prudent way” to resume operations is with 100% fully vaccinates guests and workers, as the ruling declared.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Gem will depart from the Port of Miami on Aug. 15. It will be  NCL’s first ship to set sail from Florida since the cruise industry shut down in March 2020.

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Mercedes-Benz Says it will Go All-Electric in 2030, but with a Major Caveat

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Mercedes-Benz plans on selling all-electric cars by 2030, joining rival companies General Motors, Stellantis, and Renault.

What We Know:

  • Daimler, the makers of Mercedes-Benz, stated they would invest over $47 billion between 2022-2030 to create battery-electric cars…having only all-electric cars by 2030. They will build about eight battery plants and have the electric model of every car they make. There will be three battery plants in Europe, four in Asia, and one in the US.
  • The luxury car makers will produce eight electric vehicle models by 2022. They will be producing them on three continents in various locations. Chief Executive Ola Källenius said that the company’s “spending on traditional combustion-engine technology would be close to zero by 2025.” He truly sees the company being all-electric by the end of the decade and competitive with Tesla. Källenius believes that Mercedes-Benz’s initiative will allow them to get 600 miles to a charge, beating Tesla’s longest-running car by 50%.
  • As a part of the Paris Agreement, countries have made a pact to make changes to their carbon emission levels. The US and European Union both decided to target their international import ties. The EU declared that they would “effectively ban new cars with internal combustion engines in 2035,” while Britain and Norway both set expiration dates for any car that runs on fossil fuels.
  • The only caveat to Mercedes-Benz’s plan is that they will produce and sell their electric cars “where market conditions allow.” The automobile company understands that some countries may not have car charging capabilities by 2030, and thus they wouldn’t need an electric car. Because of this possibility, Mercedes-Benz will still make “combustion-engine vehicles” as long as demand is high and needed.

Daimler executives have yet to release the location for the US battery plant, but many suspect it will be near the company’s manufacturing plant in Tuscaloosa, AL. The company has yet to release any information regarding ending sales and production of their fossil fuel cars.

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