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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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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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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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Blue Origin’s Bezos Reaches Space on 1st Passenger Flight

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Billionaire Jeff Bezos successfully made it to space in his first-ever launch of New Shepard‘s rocket ship.

What We Know:

  • Bezos, along with his brother Mark, 82-year-old space race pioneer Wally Funk, and 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen launched into space on Tuesday. Daeman is considered the first paying customer, as his wealthy father purchased his ticket. The four-person crew took a rocket ship that was owned by Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin. The rocket had a smooth takeoff, made it to about 60 miles above Earth, experienced 3 to 4-minutes of weightlessness, and safely landed back on Earth. The flight lasted a little over 10 minutes.
  • Blue Origin is meant to be used for “space tourism” and is a part of the “billionaire space race”  that is happening between various billionaires. Bezos and other billionaires plan on capitalizing on the space market and make it like a “Disney park ride” for the rich.
  • Richard Branson, billionaire and founder of Virgin Galactic, was the first billionaire to launch into space, as his crew took flight nine days prior to Bezos’. Branson’s launch has been called into question since he didn’t reach the Kármán line- the international boundary of space. Many believe he did not reach space, as his spacecraft only reached a little over 50 miles above Earth and the Kármán line is 60. According to CNN, America states that “demarcation altitude” is above 50, and therefore Branson is the “first billionaire” in space.
  • Bezos believes the future is space and his environmental vision revolves around it. He stated that “we need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry and move it into space, and keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is.” The Amazon founder and former owner believe that his sub-orbital tourism mission will allow the country to achieve a world where people can eat, sleep, and work in space in order to clean Earth.
  • Some have criticized Bezos launched, as well as his comments made post-launch. In his post-interview, Bezos thanked Amazon employees and consumers for funding the $5.5 billion space launch. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted that Bezos needs to thank American workers who “actually paid taxes” and brought up the country’s need for a “wealth tax,” as Amazon pays nothing in taxes. Stars and Stripes journalist David Choi retweeted the post-interview video and stated his response to the billionaire.

Bezos has already sold close to $100 million worth of tickets for future Blue Origin launches, despite not releasing the prices for seats yet. Those interested in taking a trip to space are asked to email the company as demand is high. There will be at least two more human flights conducted by Blue Origin before the end of the year.

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