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prime

The New “A League of Their Own” Remake TV Show Doesn’t Shy Away From Strong Reputation

The recent Amazon Prime remake “A League of Their Own” demonstrated the highs and lows of what life was like in the 1940s as being a Black transgender man.

roomba

Amazon Acquires Roomba Maker iRobot For $1.7 Billion

On Friday, commerce titan Amazon announced it acquired iRobot, the maker of the Roomba vacuum, for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction that will equal a total of $1.7 billion.

“We know that saving time matters, and chores take precious time that can be better spent doing something that customers love,” Amazon Devices Senior Vice President Dave Limp said in a statement.

“Over many years, the iRobot team has proven its ability to reinvent how people clean with products that are incredibly practical and inventive – from cleaning when and where customers want while avoiding common obstacles in the home, to automatically emptying the collection bin.”

iRobot CEO and chairman Colin Angle, who will hold his position upon completion of the acquisition, explained he couldn’t think of a better way for the company to continue its work than Amazon, which promotes “building thoughtful innovations that empower people to do more at home.”

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iRobot is the latest — and fourth-heftiest price-wise — in a long line of big-money Amazon acquisitions. In 2017, it purchased grocer Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, while it acquired film studio MGM for $8.5 billion last year. Last month, the company announced a $3.9 billion deal for One Medical.

The deal will still need approval from regulators and iRobot shareholders in order to go through. Following the news, iRobot’s midday trading rose 19%, while Amazon was down 1.4%.

The circular, self-guiding Roomba became a household name after its debut in the early 2000s, selling more than 40 million units. Thanks to that level of success, iRobot continued to work the market by introducing its robot mop, in addition to other products like purifiers.

The company has planned to expand to lawn work by debuting its robot lawnmower — known as the Terra — though plans for it were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately for Roomba and its maker, sales prior to the Amazon deal had been significantly waning due to a variety of issues. Its third-quarter revenue saw a 30% drop to $255.4 million, with a net loss that jumped from 2.8 million a year ago to $43.4 million.

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Meanwhile, the company said it would be cutting 10% — 140 employees — from its workforce in order to combat rising costs.

For Amazon, Roomba adds to their impressive arsenal of smart home appliances that includes voice assistant Alexa and Ring security cameras. Perhaps the best companion for Roomba will be the $1000 Astro home monitoring robot, which Amazon brought into the fold last year.

The Roomba will likely be undergoing major changes in order to better connect with its new electronic relatives and the general smart household infrastructure Amazon has strived to build.

“It is easy to see how Amazon will integrate products like Roomba into the Alexa and Prime ecosystems, so that people have one central point of monitoring and control for many tasks and activities,” GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders told CNN.

Still, the deal isn’t free of concerns. With Amazon’s ever-evolving home device collection comes questions on data collection and privacy, especially since so many of their products are used by the daily consumer.  Additionally, the company’s hold over not just the smart home market, but several major commerce industries, has also faced frequent criticism from anti-monopoly advocates.

amazon

Illinois Amazon Warehouse Employees Allege Racially Hostile Work Environment 

Employees at an Amazon warehouse in Joliet, Illinois have filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company. The employees are alleging that they’ve experienced corporate abuse, racial discrimination, and retaliation. 

According to the official complaint, which was filed Tuesday, a group of Black employees have cited confederate imagery on coworkers clothing, racist death threats written in bathroom stalls, and an overall lack of security/accountability from management to combat the issue. The employees are stating that they’ve been in a racially hostile work environment since late 2021. 

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Tamra Holder is the institutional abuse and women’s rights attorney representing the group. Holder stated that the group is now seeking monetary compensation for emotional duress caused by stressful working conditions, in addition to a change in workplace and acknowledgement of the issue at hand. 

“We don’t know what that amount comes to at this point. But I can tell you that after working in a climate where it’s racially hostile, people are experiencing extreme emotional distress,” Holder said to the media. 

“Our message to Amazon is that their behavior after our cases come to light is only increasing our damages because people are becoming more afraid rather than less.”

Holder also explained that employees have become hesitant to speak out any more regarding these claims due to fear of retaliation from management, especially since the case is receiving media attention now. 

“They are allegedly telling their employees that if they speak out, they will be fired because they signed an agreement to remain silent,” Holder said.

Holder says “former MDW2 employee Tori Davis was the first to make contact with [her] about the warehouse’s work environment.”

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Davis claimed that the death threats were dismissed by Amazon, and she was fired earlier this month after raising concern over the racial issues her and other employees have been experiencing. 

“They were trying to sweep it under the rug. The way that this situation was handled, it was strange,” Davis stated. 

A spokesperson for Amazon, Richard Rocha, issued a statement:

“Amazon works hard to protect our employees from any form of discrimination and to provide an environment where employees feel safe. Hate or racism have no place in our society and are certainly not tolerated by Amazon,” the statement read.

Holder said she “plans to do everything in my power to see the complaint through and ensure that my clients’ voices are heard.”

“I think that they had an opportunity here to make it better. And instead they’re taking a very, very different aggressive stance to make it worse. They are not too big for me and they are not too big for the people that I represent…We are not going away,” she exclaimed.

drone

After Decades Of Work, Amazon Begins To Prepare Launching Of Delivery Drones

Amazon has announced the start of their “Air Prime” drone delivery service in Lockeford, California, a town that has a long history with aviation. The development is one that’s been decades in the making for Amazon, which saw over 5 billion packages delivered in 2021.

Amazon

Historic Union Vote For New York Amazon Workers Is Just The Beginning

In a recent interview, The Teamsters’ new president said that organizing Amazon is “vital,” as the company has “total disrespect” for its workers and their efforts to unionize to better protect their rights as employees. 

Amazon Opens Up First Cashierless Whole Foods 

Amazon has officially brought its cashierless Just Walk Out technology to a Whole Foods store for the first time. Customers can now shop and leave the store with all their items without having to interact with any cashier. 

The revamped Whole Foods opened up on February 23rd in Washington, DC’s Glover Park location, where there’s been a Whole Foods for over 20 years. 

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While Amazon has introduced this technology in Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh branded stores, this is the first time the cashierless technology is being fully implemented into a Whole Foods store. 

Amazon bought the Whole Foods grocery chain back in 2017 for $13.7 billion, but up until this point Amazon’s integration with the chain has been more minimal; offering discounts and free delivery services to Prime account holders. 

The Whole Foods is a 21,500 square foot location, however, the Amazon Fresh store in Washington is the largest Amazon location to implement Just Walk Out cashierless technology. Amazon’s implementation of this technology in a preexisting Whole Foods location with no additional Amazon branding being added to the overall design and aesthetic is proving to experts that the tech company is very confident in the cashierless technology.

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There’s no official word yet if Amazon plans to bring the technology to all Whole Foods stores, but it’s likely more Just Walk Out stores will begin to appear throughout the nation. 

According to a reporter who went to the DC Whole Foods location, the store features Amazon’s palm-recognition technology for entry, alongside with QR codes. The store still has employees staffing various counters who are also there to assist customers who may not fully understand the cashierless technology at first. 

The store is overall leaning into a more self-service model. Customers are able to cut their own loafs of bread and other features that promote independence. 

The cashierless technology is being met with mixed reactions, especially from DC residents who were used to shopping regularly at that specific Whole Foods location. 

The second Whole Foods store that’s set to open with cashierless Just Walk Out technology is located in Los Angeles. The brand announced that it will likely be opening later this year.

Building Amazon

Amazon Cloud Network Outage Sparks Outrage Amongst Customers

Amazon’s web services experienced a major outage — as well as other impairments — for over several hours Tuesday, leading to rippling effects in areas like streaming services, payment apps, and shipping. The outage primarily affected services in the eastern U.S., and sent the daily lives of millions spiraling.

Amazon’s network provides remote computing services to many companies, universities, and websites, the reason why so many frequently-used platforms and services were disrupted by Amazon’s technological issues.

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Among the Amazon products affected include Amazon Music, Kindle ebooks, voice assistant Alexa, and home security Ring. Bloomberg reported that many Ring users were frustrated due to having to redownload or reboot the Ring app before finding out about the shortage. Some users weren’t even able to get into their homes due to the app inaccessibility.

Video streaming such as Disney+ and Netflix experienced outages or slow speeds, as did other services like Robinhood, Ticketmaster, PUGB, and Slack. Delta and Southwest Airlines also saw problems with customers trying to book or change tickets, with Southwest switching over to West Coast servers.

Amazon sellers were unable to access Seller Central, while Amazon’s bread and butter, their delivery services, took heavy hits. Warehouse workers and delivery drivers were unable to access Amazon’s Flex app, preventing them from scanning packages and accessing delivery assignments and routes. NBC News noted the amount of warehouses and delivery stations that were impacted aren’t known.

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As the issues continued, many workers simply waited in break rooms or ended up being sent home for the day. The outage couldn’t have come at a worse time for Amazon, considering it’s in the middle of the holiday season, and the pressure is on for packages to arrive in a timely fashion. The potential backlogs created from this widespread incident could become more apparent in the coming weeks.

This incident is also giving many a new perspective on just how dependent their lives have become on the internet, as well as one company in particular. Speaking to the Associated Press, technologist and public data access activist Carl Malamud explained that the internet’s original goal of not being dependent on a singular factor has been undone by giants like Amazon.

“When we put everything in one place, be it Amazon’s cloud or Facebook’s monolith, we’re violating that fundamental principle. We saw that when Facebook became the instrument of a massive disinformation campaign, we just saw that today with the Amazon failure.”

Following multiple hours of the outage, Amazon reported they had mitigated the underlying issue that caused devices to be impaired, but were still working on a full recovery for additional services. Amazon has yet to comment further on the outage beyond giving repair updates on their status page.

Amazon Web Services is a major profit maker for the company. In the third quarter of 2021, AWS totaled $16.11 billion, up from 39% a year ago. It trumped the experts predictions of around $15.48 billion. AWS — which accounts for about 15% of Amazon’s total revenue — also leads the cloud infrastructure market with 41% of shares in 2020.

Black Friday

Companies Begin Black Friday Deals Early As Supply Chain Concerns Persist

This holiday season, major companies are getting ahead of the shopping curve. Amazon revealed their “Black Friday-Worthy Deals” event and have already starting promoting holiday gift guides and items on their website, while Target unveiled its “Deal Days” event which ran from Oct. 10 to Oct. 12.

Meanwhile, Best Buy announced its Black Friday deals would start on Oct. 19 and end on Oct. 22, and that their “true” Black Friday sale would start a week prior, on Nov. 19. Best Buy is also implementing a price guarantee, meaning prices won’t go lower prior to Black Friday.

These moves are being done in response to the shift in consumers’ preferences when it comes to the timing of their shopping. Speaking to NBC Nightly News’ Stephanie Rhule, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry explained that they saw “not just a willingness” from their customers, but a “want to try to start early” when it comes to holiday shopping.

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In a survey conducted by RetailMeNot — that polled 1,082 U.S. adults — it was found that 24% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping pre-Thanksgiving, while 22% plan to start in October. Additionally, 66% said they’d prefer to get holiday shopping out of the way as soon as possible, while 33% said they’re starting shopping earlier than they did in 2020.

According to Barry, Best Buy is going into the holiday season with 50% more inventory, which is 20% more than two years ago. Barry also said to expect inflation on certain products, such as appliances – although she did stress other products’ prices remain “competitive.”

Meanwhile, RetailMeNote found that shoppers plan to spend 15% more than they did last year, and that the average consumer holiday spending in 2021 would be at $885.76, up $119 from 2020. As the Washington Times Herald notes, experts are projecting that Black Friday sales will break for $12 billion, and Cyber Monday could hit for around $11.8 billion.

Both those numbers would be record-breaking, and it continues a trend that is seeing consumers spending insanely big for holidays (Halloween is projected to see $10.14 billion spent, another record).

Aside from consumer desires, one of the biggest reasons companies are pushing up their Black Friday sales is due to the supply-chain problems that have arisen. The Los Angeles Times says that labor, logistics, and transportation costs are up, capacity has been reduced, there’s a shortage of truck drivers, and resources have been thinned – all culprits of the expected inflations and late deliveries.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play a nasty part. Trading between countries has become a bare at borders and ports due to travel restrictions. Don’t expect much positive change in the meantime, either – Moody’s Analytics warned that supply chain problems will “get worse before they get better.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that experts say it might take six months to a whole year before the backlogs are sorted out, far beyond the upcoming seasonal rush.

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For consumers, shopping now might be the smart decision, whether it’s preferable to them or not. Continued supply chain problems could lead to shortages in popular products in the weeks leading up to major holidays – a reason companies like Best Buy are stocking up their inventory now.

Target gave updates on how it plans to overcome supply chain challenges, stating large investments put into operations, adding more facilities, sortation, and distribution centers, and integrating further stocking technology. Additionally, Target announced that it was hiring 30,000 positions in supply chain operations.

However, Target is also trimming the amount of seasonal workers they hire. This year, they plan to hire 100,000 seasonal roles, which is about 30,000 less than last year. Instead, they’ll opt to give more hours to the workers they currently have.

Climate Activists Call For Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro To Face Punishments For ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

A group of climate lawyers are calling for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for his reported attacks on the Amazon, which they refer to as “crimes against humanity.”

According to CNN, AllRise, an Austrian non – profit organization, filed a landmark complaint that consisted of 286 pages in court in The Hauge, Netherlands, stating that Bolsonaro’s attacks on the Amazon and its supporters resulted in “persecution, murder, and inhumane suffering” in not just Brazil, but on a global scale.

CNN included some of the filing’s statements, which says that Bolsonaro should be held responsible for the future consequences that could derive from his Amazon policies, which have been highly criticized in the past.

“Climate science demonstrates that consequent fatalities, devastation and insecurity will occur on a far greater scale regionally and globally, long into the future, through the attributable links between the rapid acceleration in deforestation, its contribution to climate change, and the frequency and intensification of extreme weather events.”

Climate Observatory, which is composed of dozens of Brazilian civil society groups, is standing with AllRise and told CNN that Bolsonaro “promotes environmental destruction” and that he is an obstacle in the way of efforts to prevent global warming.

AllRise founder Johannes Wesemann spoke to Agence France-Presse (AFP), saying that “what’s happening in Brazil — mass deforestation — we want to understand the causal link to the global climate.” As AFP notes, this would be the first case seeking to connect deforestation to the loss of life.

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Wesemann also stated the goal of the complaint was to show the impact of deforestation, rather than speak on behalf of any person.

According to a statement release by Climate Observatory, deforestation rates have grown for two consecutive years by almost 56% since Bolsonaro took office in January of 2019. Those rates are expected to remain at a level of 10,000km, which would increase Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions.

AllRise estimates that the emission caused from the increased deforestation could cause over 180,000 heat-related deaths.

Meanwhile, Climate Observatory states the destruction of wildlife has worsened under Bolsonaro due to a lack of punishments for environmental violations, while the fund dedicated to preserving the rainforest has staggered.

“Under Bolsonaro, fines imposed by Ibama [Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources] have dropped to the lowest level in two decades, field operations have dwindled and the Amazon Fund, with nearly R$3 billion earmarked for forest protection, has been paralyzed since 2019.”

Illegal activities and mining have also increased in towns that support the President. It’s not too hard to guess why thousands have called for Bolsonaro’s impeachment.

However, there’s also a possibility this filing stops in its tracks. According to the AFP, the ICC has no obligation to consider complaints from individuals or groups, and cannot comment on matters until a prosecutor announces a preliminary examination into a matter.

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As Vox explains, the U.S. has been among the countries that have previously pushed Brazil to better defend its precious rainforests. However, during Bolsonaro and Donald Trump’s overlapping tenures, protection efforts decreased by up to 20%.

Since Joe Biden has taken office, Bolsonaro sings a much different tune, advocating his concern for defense of the rainforest while also asking for money in order to progress environmental efforts. The two leaders were unable to reach a rainforest protection agreement during April’s climate summit.

Deforestation isn’t the only action Bolsonaro has been under a barrage of fire for in the past couple days. In a press conference, Bolsonaro said he didn’t want to be “bored” with questions about Brazil’s coronavirus death toll. Brazil currently has 601,266 total COVID deaths, the second-most of any country and right behind the U.S.

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.

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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. 

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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.