Posts

18-Year-Old To Become Youngest Person In Space Alongside Jeff Bezos On Blue Origin Trip 

Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, has announced its first paying customer. Oliver Daemen is an 18-year-old Dutch teenager who is about to be the youngest person to ever travel to space. 

Daemen will be joining Jeff and his brother Mark Bezos, as well as pilot Wally Funk on July 20th.

Embed from Getty Images

Funk will also be breaking the record for oldest individual to go to space at 82-years-old. Funk is famous for being a member of Mercury 13, a group of all female pilots who, in the 1960’s, underwent testing to determine whether women could handle space travel or not. Even though the group of women performed just as well as NASA’s Mercury 7, the male counterpart to Mercury 13, they were rejected for being women. 

Funk is breaking the age record previously set by astronaut and senator John Glenn who traveled to space in 1998 at the age of 77. Daemen will be breaking the record previously set by Ghermon Titov, who was just 25 when he went into space for a four month mission. 

The Federal Aviation Administration approved of the Blue Origin launch this Monday, just one say after billionaire Richard Branson flew to the edge of space aboard his rocket-powered vehicle developed by Virgin Galactic. 

Embed from Getty Images

Virgin Galactic, like Blue Origin, plans to start flying paying customers up to the edge of space. Daemen was able to secure his spot on Blue Origin after the individual who won an auction for a seat on the rocket had to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts. The original individual paid $28 million for the oppurtunity. 

“We thank the auction winner for their generous support of Club for the Future and are honored to welcome Oliver to fly with us on New Shepard. This marks the beginning of commercial operations for New Shepard, and Oliver represents a new generation of people who will help us build a road to space,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said.

“I am super excited to be going to space and joining Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, and Wally Funk on the first Blue Origin crewed flight.”

A Blue origin spokesperson told the media that Daemen “was a participant in the auction and had secured a seat on the second flight. We moved him up when this seat on the first flight became available,” the spokesperson said.

Abstract Outer Space

Bidder Pays $28 Million To Go To Space With Jeff Bezos 

Jeff Bezos made headlines last week when he announced that he would be going into space with his brother as a part of his space company’s first mission into the atmosphere. Now, one lucky bidder has paid their way to share a seat on the Blue Origin spacecraft set to launch into space on July 20th. 

The bidder, whose identity has not been announced, ended up paying $28 million for a seat on Blue Origin. Initially, 20 active bidders started fighting for the seat with an opening bid of $4.8 million, but bids didn’t really escalate until the final three minutes of the sale. 

Embed from Getty Images

Around 7,600 people from 159 different countries initially registered to bid for the seat. The automated flight is set to be 11-minutes and will be the company’s 16th flight into space. This is, however, the first time the Blue Origin craft will be carrying humans. The capsule will carry up to 6 passengers and will lift off from Van Horn, Texas in July. 

It has not yet been revealed who else would be on the flight besides Bezos and his brother Mark. Bezos made the announcement that he would be entering into space after he steps down as Amazon’s chief executive officer.

“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”

Embed from Getty Images

Bezos has spent approximately $1 billion a year to fund Blue Origin, which initially was founded in 2000. This most recent development in travel marks the first step in what is likely to become a major sector of our economy for the world’s wealthiest in the future; space tourism. 

Bezos has been competing with the likes of Elon Musk and his company SpaceX who has also made it clear that he would like to bring humans to the moon within the next decade. 

In order to take flight on the Blue Origin flight. Passengers must be between 5 foot and 6 foot 4 inches tall, and must weigh between 110 – 223 pounds. They need to be able to climb seven flights of stairs at the launch tower within 90 seconds and be able to stay strapped in the vehicle for up to 90 minutes without access to a bathroom. 

Blue Origin announced that the $28 million bid will be donated to the company’s charity foundation, Club For The Future, which has a mission to “inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and the help invent the future of life in space.”

Jeff Bezos Is Going To Space

Jeff Bezos announced this week that he would be joining the flight crew on their first mission using the New Shepard rocket ship from Bezos’s space company, Blue Origin, on a trip to space. The flight is currently scheduled for July 20th; 15 days after Bezos will resign as CEO of Amazon. 

“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”

Embed from Getty Images

Mark Bezos, Jeff’s brother, will be joining the flight, and if all goes to plan, Bezos will become the first billionaire tech space tycoons to experience a ride for themselves into space. Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX, hasn’t even mentioned the possibility of him joining one of his crews into space.

British billionaire Richard Branson owns Virgin Galactic, another space company which is planning on conducting flights to suborbital space for wealthy billionaires who want to take a trip out into the atmosphere. 

The six-seater 59-foot-long rocket is set to launch 60 miles above the Earth in an 11-minute flight this July. The New Shepard rocket has been undergoing extensive and secretive testing for the past six years, and although Blue Origin hasn’t announced yet when it will begin selling tickets for future space trips, it’s already rumored that tickets will cost close to $3 million. 

Embed from Getty Images

Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000, just one year after Amazon as a platform was initially valued at one billion dollars. While Bezos is resigning from his executive chair role,. He will still be involved in the company’s inner workings. 

Blue Origin is also currently working on a rocket called New Glenn, which the company is hoping will be able to send US government and commercial satellites into orbit and make easy trips to deep space. 

Bezos has called Blue Origin “the most important work [he’s]doing.”

“I’m interested in space because I’m passionate about it. I’ve been studying it and thinking about it since I was a five year old boy — but that is not why I’m pursuing this work. I’m pursuing this work because I believe if we don’t, we will eventually end up with a civilization of stasis, which I find very demoralizing,” he explained. 

Blue Origin initially was hoping to be involved in NASA’s personal mission of returning humans to the moon by 2024, however, SpaceX beat them to it when they landed a contract to build a lunar lander recently. NASA has claimed Blue Origin is still eligible to work on future lunar missions, but their focus on bringing regular people to space has diminished their chance of working with the space organization directly on lunar missions. 

Amazon Building

Amazon Closing In On Deal To Acquire MGM Studios For Almost $9 Billion 

Amazon is close to finalizing a deal to acquire MGM Studios, one of the largest studios in the entertainment industry. The studio is famously known for owning films such as the James Bond Franchise, and a multitude of popular TV series. The deal is currently estimated to be valued between $8.5 billion and $9 billion. 

The deal will likely be announced this week, and the individuals involved in the specific deal are choosing not to be named in order to keep the conversations private. 

Embed from Getty Images

This deal would mark Amazon’s biggest business acquisitions since it purchased Whole Foods back in 2017 for $13.7 billion. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the deal was close to being finalized and will be announced this week. 

Amazon is likely interested in acquiring more TV and film content for their Prime Video Service due to the fact that so many streaming services exist now, the competition has never been more intense. It also makes sense that a movie studio as large as MGM Studios would want to be acquired by a streaming service, as they are quickly making traditional cable and movie rental services obsolete. 

MGM has also been seeking a buyer for several years now. The private company has had numerous past owners including Anchorage Capital, Highland Capital Partners, Davidson, Kempner Capital Management, Solus Alternative Asset Management, and Owl Creek Investments, which took control of the studio and completely funded it when it emerged from bankruptcy back in 2010. 

Embed from Getty Images

MGM owns a ton of famous movie and TV franchises that range a wide variety of genres. Rocky, Legally Blonde, The Pink Panther, and Stargate are just a few of the most popular. 

The studio is also famously known for owning popular TV shows such as Shark Tank, Survivor, The Real Housewives franchise, and the Voice. Amazon’s acquisition of the studio likely means that all of these titles and then some will be available on Prime Video in the coming months. 

MGM also owns Epix, a premium pay-TV service that was valued at $1.3 billion back in 2017, however, as previously mentioned traditional cable is becoming less popular as time goes on, and that especially includes premium channels that cost an additional charge to your regular cable bill. 

While MGM and Amazon representatives haven’t yet commented on the deal, insiders claim that the companies could make the official announcement as early as Tuesday evening.

Amazon Using ‘Fake’ Twitter Accounts To Defend Working Conditions 

Amazon has received a slew of criticism within the past year of the pandemic due to the harsh working conditions their warehouse/lower level employees have had to endure at the sake of their own health and safety. Now, a surge of “fake” Twitter accounts have emerged to defend the corporation and push back on criticisms presented during the pandemic. 

Many of the accounts are meant to be Amazon warehouse employees who love working for the company and believe Unions aren’t actually helpful. A majority of the account handles begin with “AmazonFC” followed by the first name of the “employee” and warehouse designation. The accounts often only tweet about Amazon in response to criticism and refute any tweets claiming the company enforces “robotic” working conditions that lead to “high injury rates.” 

Embed from Getty Images

One account, which has since been suspended, tweeted: “Unions are good for some companies, but I don’t want to have to shell out hundreds a month just for lawyers!”

This is not the first time Amazon has used social media to try to combat criticism. Many Amazon employee accounts from 2018 and 2019 have since been deleted due to exposure. Amazon did confirm, however, that the latest tweets being spread online were fake. 

“Many of these are not Amazon FC Ambassadors – it appears they are fake accounts that violate Twitter’s terms. We’ve asked Twitter to investigate and take appropriate action.” 

The spokesperson for Amazon who released the statement above refused to acknowledge how many Twitter accounts were run by real Amazon ambassadors and how the company regulates fake accounts. Bellingcat is an investigative journalism site that compiled a list of at least 56 Amazon Ambassador Twitter accounts. 

Embed from Getty Images

Some of the accounts only recently became active and were almost immediately suspended by Twitter. Some Twitter users have even created their own parody accounts to make fun of the corporation’s attempt at combating criticism. 

Recently, Amazon CEO Dave Clark and the official Amazon News Twitter account criticized Senator Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Congressman Mark Pocan over certain policies. Those tweets backfired for Amazon after it was revealed that Amazon engineers flagged the tweets because they were concerned that they were “unnecessarily antagonistic which would risk Amazon’s brand reputation.” 

Other leaked memos that initially sparked these fake Twitter accounts cited complaints from Amazon managers over delivery truck drivers leaving bottles of their urine and bags of their feces in trucks, despite the fact that Amazon’s PR account claimed all reports of workers needing to urinate in bottles to keep up with their workload was false. 

The National Labor Relations Board is also currently determining “whether to consolidate multiple complaints from workers over the past year alleging interference from Amazon against workers’ attempts to organize or form a union,” according to the Guardian.

Parler Sues Amazon For Removing App From Cloud Services Following Capitol Riot

Amazon Web Services removed the Parler app from its cloud services this past Monday after the company claimed that the network wasn’t able to monitor the content on its platform, especially content that promoted or incited violence.

Deforestation

Deforestation In The Amazon Is At A 12-Year High 

Between August 2019 and July 2020 the Brazilian Amazon experienced a 12-year high in deforestation rates, according to the nation’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). During that one-year time period, 6,890 square miles of forest were completely destroyed, along with the thousands of wildlife habitats within them. 

The destruction that occurred within this year is 9.5% greater than the previous year-long period, and is the highest level of destruction the Amazon has endured since 2008, according to the INPE, who recently spoke at a news conference to discuss this major issue. 

In general, deforestation rates have skyrocketed in Brazil since current far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office back in January 2019. Bolsonaro has highly encouraged the commercial development of the Amazon and has defunded numerous agencies that are responsible for preventing illegal logging, ranching, and mining within the rainforest. 

Embed from Getty Images

Fires are often lit in the Amazon on purpose to clear vegetation from parts of the forest to make room for these illegal ranches. The surrounding forest area is typically already destroyed due to deforestation as well. Environmentalists have been outspoken about their disapproval of Bolsonaro and his policies that promote illegal logging and development in the Amazon. 

Back in August Bolsonaro was called out for referring to official data and news reports regarding fires in the Amazon “a lie.” Back in 2019 the president was faced with a threat from 34 international investors who all threatened to divest from Brazilian companies unless Bolsonaro made a genuine effort to slow the destruction of the forest as well as the illegal fires and ranching. 

While his government did take steps to curb that destruction by periodically banning fires and allocating military personnel to control them, the new data shows the opposite. NGO Greenpeace is an environmental group that’s been documenting the destruction of the Amazon throughout the past year.

Embed from Getty Images

NGO released photos from a flyover operation they completed in August. The images showed the southern portion of the forest located in Rondônia which included protected areas where commercial development and exploitation is prohibited, however, the images clearly showed the areas engulfed in flames and smoke. 

Back in September current president-elect Joe Biden even brought up the deforestation issue in the Amazon during a debate, claiming that the “rainforests in Brazil are being torn down but [he would] make sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion to say ‘here’s $20 billion, stop tearing down the forest and if you don’t, you are going to have significant economic consequences.’”

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and is now an integral player in the fight against global climate change. When the rainforest is healthy and thriving, it’s able to pull billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and thus defend the planet from further climate destruction. 

It’s also a biodiversity hotspot and home to numerous species, and according to NGO South America’s Pantanal region has been hit by the worst wildfires in decades. The fires have now consumed over 28% of the area, meaning the area that is typically responsible for absorbing carbon dioxide and maintaining a healthy ecosystem for the forest is struggling for survival now.

Black Friday Sale

Best Black Friday Deals You Can Find On Amazon Right Now

Now that Black Friday is finally here, shoppers are logging into as many online retailers as possible to avoid the crowds at the malls or stores, and shop safer this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the most popular retailers is of course Amazon, and this year they’re offering a multitude of deals on some of their most well-known products. 

Echo Flex: The Echo Flex is a small smart speaker that simply plugs into any outlet and will turn any room into a melodic space filled with your favorite tunes. The Flex is currently on sale for $9.99, originally $24.99.

Embed from Getty Images

Echo Dot: The fourth-generation Echo Dot is Amazon’s latest Dot model and features a new sleek spherical shape. The Echo Dot is on sale for the first time this Black Friday for just $28.99 for the base model, or for $10 more you could get the Echo Dot with Clock or the Kids Edition.

Ring Video Doorbells: Ring Video doorbells are some of the most popular video-security devices on the market now. The sleek design comes in both silver and bronze to match any homes aesthetic, and is now on sale for pricing starting at $70. The doorbells feature 1080p HD video and are super easy to install.

Echo Show 8: Originally $130 the Echo Show 8 is now on sale for the low price of $65! The smart display is now available at its lowest price ever and comes in both charcoal and sandstone color schemes. 

Embed from Getty Images

Kindle Paperwhite: The Kindle Paperwhite is one of the most popular e-readers on the market currently. Starting at just $85 this Black Friday, the paperwhite is the perfect gift for any reader in your life. It’s the thinnest model Amazon’s ever released, and it’s waterproof in case you accidentally spill anything on it.

Fire HD Tablet 8 Plus: Originally $110 the Fire HD Tablet 8 Plus is now on sale for just $75! This is also CNN’s budget pick for best tablet of the holiday season.

Fire TV Recast: On sale for $180, the Fire TV Recast is the perfect DVR device for any cable lover in your life. The Recast gives you the ability to watch and record over-the-air TV at home with your Fire TV or Echo Show! You can also record on-the-go with the mobile app. 

Echo Buds: Originally $130 the Echo Buds are now on sale for $80. These wireless earbuds bring Alexa on-the-go with you and offer an immersive sound experience, and a battery-life lasting up to 5 hours of continuous audio.  

Fire TV Cube: On sale for $80, the Fire TV Cube is Amazon’s most powerful Fire TV device that allows for easy Alexa-enabled entertainment. The Cube can also control any other Amazon smart home devices you have in the home.

U.S. Stocks Climbing Despite Uncertainty Surrounding Presidential Election

Tech-led stocks in the US began climbing when the market opened up on Wednesday morning, despite there being a lack of clarity in terms of who will win the 2020 presidential election. 

According to reports, The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 500 points, or 1.7%. The S&P 500 traded 2.3% higher while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite increased by 3.2%. Mike Lewis is the managing director of US equity cash trading at Barclays, and spoke with the press this morning about these surges. 

“I think that the outlook going forward for markets is this is going to be more about policy and the Fed than it’s going to be about politics, which is a good thing for markets.”

Embed from Getty Images

Key swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could take a while to fully determine how the votes will lean. Both candidates and their camps are confident in their paths to victory this week.

Amazon, Microsoft and Apple all saw spikes of at least 3% in their stocks while Facebook increased by 7%, and Google-parent company Alphabet jumped more than 5%. Traders on Wall Street attribute these spikes to a multitude of factors. The possibility that Republicans will maintain control of the Senate is a positive for the groups, as a Democrat congress could have weighed down on the high-growth sector, according to Barry Bannister, Stifel Head of Institutional Equity Strategy.

“It appears investors may be satisfied with at least half a Republican Senate and no tax increase, knowing they have a ‘Fed put’ if fiscal assistance is slower in coming. This favors Growth stocks over Value near-term.”

Embed from Getty Images

Traders are also still grappling with the idea of a contested election, as Wall Street strategists claim that could have major consequences for the stock market. “News of a contested election could cause a sharp drop in stocks in the very short term, but we do not see it as a bearish gamechanger,” Tom Essaye, founder of the Sevens Report, said.

Traders are also watching the Senate race closely as the result of that race will have major implications on the future of the market as a whole. A Democrat win in the Senate and a Biden presidency has a lot of traders worried about the higher tax rates that would impact technology shares especially. 

On the other hand, some traders think a blue wave in the Senate and White House could lead to a larger stimulus package for Americans as we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic; which would also boost stocks linked to the larger economy. 

“When this is all said and done, I still believe equities will move higher regardless of who wins the Oval Office. The coronavirus pandemic and U.S. monetary policy will be bigger market drivers over the long haul,” said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial intelligence.

Federal Judge Dismisses Amazon Warehouse Workers’ Covid-19 Lawsuit

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit in New York involving an Amazon warehouse employee who was claiming that the company was putting employee lives on the line with their mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The suit initially began after a slew of Amazon warehouse employees contracted the coronavirus due to a lack of proper health and safety procedures. 

The lawsuit was initially filed in June after workers accused Amazon of creating a “public nuisance by exacerbating Covid-19 risks.” These “exacerbations” took the form of a company culture that created “workplace fear” for the employees. According to the filing, workers were told to “work at dizzying speeds, even if doing so prevents them from socially distancing, washing their hands, and sanitizing their work spaces.”

Embed from Getty Images

This Sunday, US District judge Brian Cogan made a ruling in Brooklyn, NY, in which he decided that the warehouse employees should have brought the issues up with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) instead. Cogan claimed that the federal agency would better be able to “strike a balance between maintaining some level of operations in conjunction with some level of protective measures.” 

Given the federal courts lack of expertise on workplace health and safety issues during a global health crisis, Cogan feared bringing the lawsuit to the courts would only create a bunch of conflicting rulings from various judges who also lack experience in this type of legal issue. 

“Court-imposed workplace policies could subject the industry to vastly different, costly regulatory schemes in a time of economic crisis.”

Embed from Getty Images

The Amazon workers’ lawyers said that they were weighing an appeal of Cogan’s ruling, claiming that the judge’s redirection of the case to be further dealt with by the OSHA “should be very concerning to anyone who cares about the health of American workers, given that OSHA has been virtually AWOL throughout this crisis,” they said in a statement after the ruling was made. 

Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski recently released a statement after the ruling as well, denying any wrongdoing from the company, and calling the lawsuit an “effort to exploit the pandemic.”

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our employees, which is why at the onset of the pandemic we moved quickly to make more than 150 COVID-19 related process changes.” 

In general, worker advocate groups all throughout the nation have filed public nuisance suits due to the lack of effort from the OSHA, meaning they’ve looked into the options with the agency but as they claimed, the organization has been relatively absent throughout the past nine months. 

Towards Justice and Public Justice are two legal non-profits that helped bring the Amazon suit to the courts initially. Additionally, the two companies are separately suing OSHA in a federal court in Pennsylvania due to their lack of efforts to address the “imminent dangers” workers everywhere continue to face.