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First Bullet Train Line Approved to Enter Service

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High speed train using Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway to cross Yarlung Zangbo River in Tibet. (CFP)

On June 25, the first bullet train line entered China’s transportation line.

What We Know:

  • The capital of Tibet, Lhasa, now connects to the city of Nyingchi by bullet rail. It crosses over 31 regions of mainland China, giving residents access to the train. Six years of construction created the railway stretching 435 kilometers and containing 47 tunnels and 131 bridges.
  • The construction of a single railway from Sichuan to Tibet is divided into three segments. Segment one is the Chengdu-Ya’an Railway, completed in 2018 and fully operational. The second segment is the Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway, which opened this month for use by bullet train. Constructing segment three, the Ya’an-Nyingchi Railway, started in 2020 with projections of completion by 2030. The new Lhasa-Nyingchi route is part of the 1,740-kilometer Sichuan-Tibet Railway line.
  • Fuxing bullet trains used on the lines move at 160 kilometers per hour. The state operates the Fuxing trains through its China State Railway Group, spending $3.5 billion to build the Lhasa-Nyingchi line for its trains to utilize. Dual power engines in Fuxing bullet trains allow for both internal combustion and electric engines. Hence, these trains can operate on both electrified or non-electrified lines.
  • Dubbed “Roof of the World,” the train travels at high altitudes. Nearly the entire route is 3,000 meters or more above sea level, obliging special protocols for operators. Fuxing trains keep oxygen levels constant at 23.6 percent to ensure stabilized conditions. Additionally, high altitudes bring UV risks to customers. Special protective glass covers windows to shield from strong UV rays.

Jiao Hongtao/VCG/Getty Images. A Fuxing bullet train travels using the newly opened Lhasa-Nyingchi railway line.

  • In addition to convenience, the Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway makes political, economic, and social statements. It spans over disputed territory between China and India, where tensions remain high in recent months. In terms of economics, spending exuberant amounts on high-tech transportation indicates financial prosperity. By connecting regions, some disputed territories, the railway is an avenue for social cohesion and spreading Chinese political influence.

The completion of the railway shortens travel time, connects regions, and promotes domestic travel. Likewise, leader Xi Jinping makes a political statement by its completion.

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Business

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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