The complaint by the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, along with pension funds representing city teachers, police and firefighters, seeks to open up the books at Activision Blizzard to prove whether Kotick negotiated the company’s $68.7 billion sale to Microsoft as “a means to escape liability” stemming from allegations he turned a blind eye to years of staff harassment claims within the company. The funds are investors in Activision Blizzard, and claim that misconduct by Kotick and the company’s board have undercut shareholder value.On Wednesday, Activision Blizzard told CNN in a statement: “We disagree with the allegations made in this complaint and look forward to presenting our arguments to the Court.”CNN obtained a public version of the complaint dated May 2 from the Office of the New York City Comptroller. The original complaint, filed in the Court of Chancery in Delaware, was dated April 26. Asked for comment, the New York City comptroller’s office referred CNN to the New York City Law Department, which is handling the litigation. The department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The complaint was first reported by Axios.Thanks to the Microsoft deal, the complaint alleged, “Kotick will be able to escape liability and accountability entirely, and will instead continue to serve as an executive after the Merger closes. Worse, despite his potential liability for breaches of fiduciary duty, the Board allowed Kotick himself to negotiate the transaction with Microsoft. The Board’s decision to entrust Kotick with the negotiation process is inexcusable for the additional reason that Kotick stands to personally receive substantial material benefits whose value is not directly aligned with the Merger price.”Kotick stands to receive a $22 million bonus for meeting workplace culture goals that “almost identically track” the company’s settlement this year with the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, according to the complaint.The suit is the latest legal headache for Activision Blizzard, which faces an array of federal probes and investor suits tied to the allegations of workplace misconduct. The complaint follows multiple requests for Activision Blizzard records by NYC pension officials since October 2021, and it argues the company has been insufficiently responsive. Among the records now sought by the officials are board presentations, minutes, memos and other documents related to the Microsoft deal and specifically related to Kotick’s role in the matter.
The company said Wednesday it will be instituting “strict anti-party measures” for Memorial Day weekend for the first time and will reapply the same approach for July 4th weekend — something it did last year and said was effective.The added measures, which will apply to bookings in the US for users without a history of positive reviews, will prohibit users from booking a home for only one night. The company will also restrict some two-night reservations, such as those made locally or last-minute.Airbnb also said it will add something called “anti-party attestations,” which will require guests booking local reservations to confirm they understand its party rules and could be otherwise subject to legal action.The news comes as Airbnb’s business bounced back after being decimated in the early months of the pandemic. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told analysts on its first quarter earnings call Tuesday it is already seeing “strong demand for summer bookings and beyond.” However, Airbnb continues to grapple with preventing people from using its platform to book properties and host unauthorized parties — some of which have gotten severely out of hand and made headlines over the years. Last month, two teens were killed and several other people injured at a large party held at an Airbnb-rented property in Pittsburgh — many of the guests were minors. Airbnb, which said it banned the person who booked the property, told CNN at the time parties aren’t allowed, per its rental agreements, and the event was “thrown without the knowledge or consent of the host.”In 2019, Chesky announced a ban on “party houses” after five people were shot and killed at a Halloween party at an Airbnb rental house in Orinda, California. At the time, he said the company was “redoubling our efforts to combat unauthorized parties and get rid of abusive host and guest conduct.” Airbnb also launched a 24/7 support hotline to help enforce the ban and began restricting users under the age of 25 from booking home listings in their area if they didn’t have a history of positive reviews.In August 2020, Airbnb announced a global ban on parties and events on Airbnb listings amid the public health crisis, restricting gatherings to a maximum capacity of 16 people. In its latest announcement, Airbnb touted the effectiveness of its anti-party measures in weeding out questionable bookings around Independence Day weekend last year. It said more than 126,000 guests without histories of positive reviews were unable to book certain reservations during July 4 weekend last year. “The 4th of July weekend in 2021 was quiet and we saw a substantial decrease in reports of disruptive and unauthorized parties,” the company said.
Elon Musk said Twitter might soon charge fees for certain users, as the billionaire continues to tease how he might change the platform as its new owner.
Musk, who struck a roughly $44 billion deal to buy Twitter last week, said in a tweet the platform will “always be free for casual users,” but there might be a “slight cost for commercial/government users.” The Tesla and SpaceX chief executive announced the potential major update as a follow-up to a more cryptic tweet he shared earlier Tuesday, which stated, “Ultimately, the downfall of the Freemasons was giving away their stonecutting services for nothing.”
Musk’s suggestion that Twitter could start charging some business and government users comes as company staffers and millions of Twitter users await any clues for how the takeover will impact the platform he’s now seeking to take private. News of Musk’s takeover has left lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe with questions over the past week.
Musk referred to Twitter as “the digital town square” in his initial statement announcing that his bid to acquire the company was accepted, in which he first hinted at some changes to come.
“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans,” Musk said at the time.
Musk has also said, repeatedly, that he hopes to better promote “free speech” on Twitter – though details on how he would approach this have been vague. In addition, he shared with his 90 million Twitter followers that he is seeking to add end-to-end encryption to Twitter Direct Messages.
Deciphering the meaning of Musk’s tweets, however, has famously been difficult. In between announcing potential policy and product updates, Musk also tweeted an apparent joke that he is “buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in.” In another tweet, he said he will change Twitter also include removing the “w” from its name.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters reported late last week, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, that Musk told banks that agreed to help fund his acquisition that he would develop new ways to monetize tweets and crack down on executive and board pay to help slash costs.
In its latest filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission related to the takeover, Twitter said that, “Until the transaction closes, it is business as usual for us, including with respect to our products.”
“We are always iterating to make Twitter the best it can be for people on the service,” the company filing added. “When there are changes, we will be sure to communicate as we always have.”
During his appearance at the Met Gala earlier this week, Musk told reporters that he is seeking to make Twitter “as broadly inclusive as possible” and doubled down on his vows to rid the platform of “bots and trolls.” Musk, who brought his mother as his date to the event, continued to express his high hopes for unlocking Twitter’s potential.
Still, at one point he said, “Hopefully, my good intentions do not pave the road to hell.”
The meeting, which will take place at the White House, will also involve grassroots labor organizers representing employees from Starbucks (SBUX) and the outdoor equipment retailer REI, among others. The news of Christian Smalls’ meeting with key Biden administration officials marks the latest recognition of Amazon Labor Union and Smalls’ organizing, sharply contrasting with the light Amazon once tried to cast on him and his efforts. Smalls was fired two years ago from the New York City warehouse that he recently helped unionize following his participation in a walkout over the company’s pandemic response. An executive at Amazon once suggested undercutting his organizing efforts by painting him as “not smart, or articulate.”Asked for comment, Smalls said “there’s a lot of work we need to do to improve the labor laws in this country so that workers are protected while organizing.” He added that he “looks forward” to visiting the Senate, but he did not say whether he would be attending meetings or if so with whom. Amazon Labor Union has organized two union elections, both held in Staten Island in recent weeks. The first resulted in a milestone win at the company’s JFK8 warehouse, which employs more than 8,000 people. It was the first time a group of Amazon’s US workers have successfully unionized in its 27-year history. It was an achievement by many measures including that the effort wasn’t led by an established union but rather by a group of current and former warehouse employees in the area.In remarks last month at a trade union conference, President Joe Biden appeared to celebrate the vote, saying “Amazon, here we come.” Asked about the remarks, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later told reporters Biden was not suggesting the US government was about to get involved in worker organizing efforts. “What he was conveying is that — is his longtime support for collective bargaining, for the rights of workers to organize, and their decision to do exactly that in this case — something that he has long supported broadly over the course of his career,” Psaki said.On Tuesday, the White House official reiterated that the administration’s position is that workers should be free to decide for themselves whether to unionize and that they should not be intimidated, threatened or coerced during the decision. The second Amazon union election — held just weeks after the first at a smaller facility known as LDJ5, which is just across the street from JFK8 — resulted in workers voting against unionizing. The results were tallied Monday.Leaders of the Democratic party, including President Biden, had acknowledged an earlier attempt by an established labor union to organize Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, one year prior. (The results of the first Bessemer union election were tossed after an National Labor Relations Board regional director found Amazon illegally interfered; the results of the reelection remains too close to call.) In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said the company is “glad that our team at LDJ5 were able to have their voices heard. We look forward to continuing to work directly together as we strive to make every day better for our employees.” The White House invitation comes after Senator Bernie Sanders last week called on President Biden to sign an executive order to prohibit companies that violate labor laws from contracting with the government. “As you may know, Amazon, one of the largest and most profitable corporations in America, is the poster child as to why this anti-union busting Executive Order is needed now more than ever,” wrote Sanders, who two days earlier rallied with Amazon workers on Staten Island ahead of the LDJ5 vote. When ALU had collected enough signatures to hold its first union election, a spokesperson for Amazon cast doubt on the legitimacy of the signatures. One week after the ALU’s decisive victory, Amazon laid out a number of objections to the previous Staten Island union vote and called for the results to be tossed and a new election held. A hearing on the objections is scheduled for later this month.For its part, Amazon has repeatedly said in statements that its “employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union,” but, as Sanders pointed out in his letter last week, it also spent more than $4 million last year on anti-union consultants. In addition, Amazon used a combination of texting, on-site signage and mandatory meetings to urge workers to vote against unionizing. The latter, while a common tactic used by many employers, is the subject of a recently issued memo by NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo calling for the agency to reconsider its stance on mandatory meetings of this nature. (Amazon previously declined to comment on Abruzzo’s memo.)
The home-sharing platform posted revenue of $1.5 billion, up 70% compared to the year prior and exceeding the $1.45 billion expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. The revenue also marks an 80% increase from the same quarter in 2019, the last quarter before its business was hit by the pandemic. Airbnb posted a net loss of $19 million, down from a loss of $1.2 billion the same quarter in 2021.Airbnb said in a letter to shareholders that the revenue growth was driven by increased bookings, as well as “continued strength” in average daily rates. Airbnb said the average daily rates in the first quarter were $168, a 37% increase compared to the same quarter in 2019, pre-pandemic, and 5% compared to the first quarter of 2021.Shares in Airbnb rose more than 5% in after-hours trading, after dropping 5% during normal hours.Airbnb attributed the growth in rates compared to the pre-pandemic period partly to more bookings in “North America entire homes, and non-urban destinations,” which tend to have higher rates. It said the increase from last year “was entirely driven by price appreciation.”On a call Tuesday to discuss the earnings, CEO Brian Chesky noted that the platform has offerings “at all price points,” and CFO Dave Stephenson added that Airbnb is “just not seeing price appreciation impact our business negatively,” and similarly cited the “diversity” of its offerings.The company said the gains in its business come “despite the ongoing pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and macroeconomic headwinds.” Airbnb noted in its shareholder letter that more than 34,000 people have signed up to offer homes to refugees fleeing Ukraine through the company’s philanthropic arm, Airbnb.org. The company announced in late February that it would offer free, temporary housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.When Airbnb made its Wall Street debut in December 2020, it was the beginning of a remarkable comeback following the pandemic’s initial devastation to its business, which led it to cut a quarter of its workforce. The company’s revenue grew 25% in 2021 compared to the year before the pandemic. In its letter to shareholders, Airbnb said it expects to post revenue upwards of $2 billion in the second quarter, which includes the start of the summer travel season.On Tuesday’s call, Chesky said that while last year was “probably the travel rebound of the century … I think this year is going to be even bigger,” citing the emergence of new strains of the coronavirus towards the later part of 2021 that affected demand.Chesky said he’s focused on capturing “as much market share as possible,” including getting people who haven’t traveled since the start of the pandemic to book with Airbnb.The company has also teased changes to its product that it will announce at an event next Wednesday.In January, Chesky said he’d thought the biggest travel trend in 2022 will be “people spreading out to thousands of towns and cities, staying for weeks, months, or even entire seasons at a time.” The company said Tuesday that long-term stays of 28 days or more continued to be its fastest-growing category when compared to 2019 (however, such stays were down 24% compared to the first quarter of last year). Airbnb said that nearly half of all bookings were for at least seven nights.Last week, Chesky informed staffers that they won’t be required to return to the office -— ever — if they chose not to, freeing them up to live a more nomadic lifestyle. Chesky said on the earnings call that he thinks “flexibility is here to stay,” a trend he no doubt sees as beneficial to Airbnb. Chesky said he believes that, after compensation, flexibility is one of the most important ways companies will be able to attract talent.
Two passengers that flew on one of Blue Origin’s supersonic flights to the edge of space have shared footage of the 10-minute journey captured behind the scenes or inside the capsule during flight, giving a rare glimpse into the full experience.
Cameron Bess — who rode alongside their father, venture capitalist Lane Bess — filmed their journey from the time they arrived at Blue Origin’s Astronaut Village, an encampment of decked-out Airstream trailers where Blue Origin customers stay during their three-day training regimen. And Dylan Taylor, a lifelong space enthusiast-turned-investor in the burgeoning private space sector, shared almost the entirety of the journey as viewed from inside the capsule, from the time the passengers strapped in until they touched back down on terra firma.
Bess and Taylor flew alongside Good Morning America host Michael Strahan, and the daughter of the late NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, Laura Shepard Churchley, in a flight that took off on December 11, 2021. Strahan and Shepard Churchley both flew free of charge as honored guests, while Bess and Taylor were among four paying customers on the trip. They both declined to share how much their tickets cost.
Bess identifies as LGBTQ+ and a furry, which is the term used to refer to people who enjoy anthropomorphic versions of animals and “want to be part of a community about that,” as Bess describes it. They posted their footage, which includes an extensive Q&A about their experience, on their YouTube channel, which Bess named after their furry persona, “MeepsKitten.” Portions of Bess’ and Taylor’s videos are reposted here with their permission.
Much of their footage was captured by on-board cameras and edited by Blue Origin before being sent to the passengers as a momento, they said, revealing how the passengers reacted to various moments of the experience.
Bess notes, for example, that the sunshine from outside the window is blinding during ascent, and the group experiences more than 2.2 Gs pressing them into their reclined seats. As the rocket continues vaulting upward and the sky begins to fade from blue to black, Bess notes “my eyes are watering,” because they didn’t want to take their eyes off the view despite the blinding light.
CNN Business also conducted separate phone interviews with Bess and Taylor about their experiences. Additional comments that Bess made in their YouTube Q&A have been included below.
What happened while they were waiting for liftoff?
The footage Taylor shared from inside the capsule tells it all.
“I feel like a million bucks,” Taylor says.
Kevin Sproge, the Blue Origin employee who helped strap the passengers in before launch, tells Shepard Churchley, “Your dad would be so proud.”
“I know,” she responds.
Bezos also climbs aboard the capsule briefly to address Shepard Churchley as they await launch.
“When your father became the first American to go into space six decades ago, it took the entire resources of a nation state — a determined nation state — to do that. And today, you guys can do it in a completely different way. That, for humanity, is what’s called progress. Big things start small. This is how it starts,” Bezos said.
“I’m happy to be on it,” Shepard Churchley replies.
They wait about 40 minutes in their seats aboard the capsule, as Blue Origin finishes the necessary technical checks, before the rocket takes off.
“Let’s light this candle!” Shepard Churchley screams before adding, “My God,” as the capsule begins to soar upward.
How did training help them prepare?
In their video, Bess also shared details about the pre-flight training, noting that — because Blue Origin’s rocket and capsule system is fully autonomous — they only have to prepare for emergency scenarios. And, to get acquainted with the visceral experience of riding aboard a supersonic rocket, the passengers would sit inside their training capsule as the sound of a rocket engine firing blared at full volume.
At the end of the training regimen, the passengers took a multiple-choice test to ensure they’d retained the most important bits of information, which Bess described in their YouTube video as “easier than the written drivers’ test.”
Overall, the training was helpful, though “there’s a big difference between just playing the sounds and feeling it all,” they told CNN Business.
Taylor also told CNN Business “you are fitted with custom earplugs, so it’s not quite loud.”
What can you see from space?
The passengers enjoy weightlessness for only a few minutes, and they’re allowed to scramble from their seats, flipping and gazing out the window to soak in and the most sweeping views of the flight.
“This is heaven. Holy smokes,” Shepard Churchley says.
Taylor said he could recognize the Rocky Mountains below and see out to the Gulf of Mexico.
“My perception — and it was just a brief one — was that I could see pretty much the entire North American continent more or less,” Taylor told CNN Business.
Taylor noted that he looked for the moon, which he could see. And when asked whether stars were visible while the passengers were in space, Bess says they weren’t.
“It was just black, the blue line of atmosphere around the Earth — which is round,” Bess notes in their YouTube video, “and then just the clouds and the mountains and all of that below.”
What really stood out, as Bess, Taylor and numerous other passengers before them noted, is the thin blue line of atmosphere blanketing the Earth.
“It’s like that entire blue is what you look up and see for your entire life,” Bess told CNN Business. “And then now it’s below you — and you can see right right through it.”
How did it feel to experience nearly 6Gs on the way back down?
As the capsule begins to fall back toward Earth, the passengers scrambled back into their seats and braced for the most intense G-forces of the journey. Bess and Taylor note that they reached up to about 6 Gs — or the feeling of six times the force of Earth’s gravity — and the footage shows labored facial expressions spreading across the passengers’ faces.
“Your face literally gets pulled back [and] it was hard to breathe a little bit,” Bess told CNN Business. “I personally — nobody else in the crew had this — but I tend to have some blood circulation issues, and I actually started to get the tunnel vision, your vision going black…It wasn’t bad. But, you know, it was intense.”
They added that they imagined the sensation was similar to being stuffed under a “300 pound weighted blanket.”
The passengers could only feel all 6 Gs for about 10 seconds, Taylor added, but it was still intense.
Was any of it painful?
Bess noted they didn’t experience any issues with inner ear pressure during the rapid altitude change because the cabin was pressurized, though they did experience a bit of motion sickness near the end of their zero gravity experience.
“But it was manageable,” they said.
Bess also noted that the landing, while perhaps among the most visually jarring because of the large puff of desert sand the capsule sets off upon touch down, is actually “one of the least rough parts of the entire flight” because air jets that Blue Origin has installed on the bottom of the capsule provided a nice cushion.
But after the rocket engine then quits firing, and the cabin immediately shifts into zero gravity, there is a jolting thump as the crew capsule separates from the rocket.
“You’re essentially blowing the two vehicles apart,” Taylor told CNN Business. “It’s pretty violent. It kind of felt like a little bit of a slow motion car crash, maybe. Very, very jolting. So that was a bit of a surprise.”
What did this mission mean to you?
Bess shared their thoughts on what it meant to them to be representing the LGBTQ+ community and furries “in such a big first.”
“I can’t represent these groups perfectly because they’re such diverse groups, and that’s kind of what makes them special,” Bess said in their YouTube video. “But I’m just glad to be providing, you know, a vector of visibility because visibility really leads to normalization. It’s when you’re kept invisible that I think it can lead to a misunderstanding of character or what you stand for.”
They added that “it’s incredibly special that the book of history of the first parent and child in space is one of a queer child and that their parents are accepting of that and went on this journey with them.”
In a statement to CNN Business, Blue Origin said “it was an honor to fly Cameron and their father, Lane, on New Shepard. In addition to being the first parent-child in space, they’re also early pioneers in Blue Origin’s vision of millions of people living and working in space for the benefit of Earth.”
Would you go back to space?
Taylor is also a ticket holder on Virgin Galactic, the venture founded by British billionaire Richard Branson that uses a rocket-powered plane to brush the edge of space. That company hopes to begin regular commercial flights later this year, though Taylor expects a few hundred people who reserved their seats before him will get to go first.
“I would like to go orbital, and I’m actively considering that,” Taylor told CNN Business, referencing the type of flights currently offered by SpaceX. He declined to share details about those conversations.
Taylor, who also donated the equivalent of his Blue Origin ticket price to several philanthropies, is also advocating for other wealthy explorers to do the same. And he founded a nonprofit, called Space For Humanity, that will offer a trip to space for “exceptional leaders,” free of charge.
(Sorry, applications closed in February.)
“Hopefully we’ll be flying people soon,” Taylor said.
The additional 20 positions will result in almost a doubling in size of the agency’s Cyber Unit, which is also being renamed the Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit to reflect the group’s growing mission, the SEC said in a release. The Cyber Unit was first founded within the SEC’s enforcement division in 2017.”By nearly doubling the size of this key unit, the SEC will be better equipped to police wrongdoing in the crypto markets while continuing to identify disclosure and controls issues with respect to cybersecurity,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement.In addition to policing cryptocurrency exchanges and coin offerings, the SEC will also be monitoring NFTs, decentralized finance platforms and stablecoins, the release said.The list of open positions will include opportunities for fraud analysts, trial and investigative attorneys and supervisors, the SEC said.
In a mission labeled “There and Back Again,” the 25-year-old space company successfully performed a mid-air helicopter capture of a falling rocket booster after a launch for the first time.About 15 minutes after launch, cheers were heard on the livestream as the first-stage booster, which provides the initial thrust at liftoff but detaches after expending its fuel and deployed parachutes on its descent, appeared to be ensnared by the hook-wielding helicopter. It’s not yet clear if the rocket booster made it all the way back to dry land safely. The company said it would give further updates just before 8 pm ET. “It demands extreme precision. Several critical milestones need to align perfectly to ensure a successful capture,” Murielle Baker, senior communications advisorThe Electron rocket, Rocket Lab’s small rocket capable of launching objects into Earth’s orbit, took off at 6:50 pm ET (10:50 am local time) in New Zealand for a commercial mission. The mission deployed 34 satellite payloads for a number of commercial operators, bringing the total number of Electron-launched satellites in space to 146. Rocket Lab has conducted 25 launches with 3 failures since 2018.Rocket boosters are used to push payloads up through the Earth’s atmosphere and into orbit, and in this Rocket Lab launch, the booster was jettisoned after the first two and a half minutes of flight. After separating from the booster, the Electron rocket continued to orbit to fulfill the satellite deployment while the booster fell back to Earth at nearly 5150 miles per hour. Once near enough to the Earth’s surface, the booster deployed parachutes to slow its descent. A helicopter waited to snag the booster’s parachute with a hook.Catching the rocket booster mid-air is a big part of Electron’s eventual goal: reusable rockets. By reusing the Electron’s first-stage rocket booster, Rocket Lab (RKLB) aims to reduce the cost of rocket launches by eliminating the steep cost of building or purchasing new rocket components with every launch. Other companies have used reusable rockets as a way to make the space business more cost effective. In 2015, Blue Origin was the first company to land a reusable rocket on a landing pad. The company said that the future of space tourism and people living on other planets would depend on reusable transport after sending founder Jeff Bezos to space. Elon Musk’s SpaceX uses reusable boosters in its Falcon 9 rockets.Rocket Lab, however, says it has other reasons for focusing on reusability than just profit. “Our biggest problem is building rockets fast enough to support all our customers,” Beck told CNN Business in 2019. Rocket Lab wants to launch satellite payloads more frequently — 50 times or more a year. That kind of volume requires rocket reuse. NASA has retrieved spent rocket boosters from the Atlantic Ocean after a Space Shuttle launch. Rocket Lab plans to pursue the helicopter technique to recover its boosters. The company has said Electron is not large enough to carry the fuel supply needed for an upright landing, and a saltwater ocean landing can cause corrosion and physical damage.A customized Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, a large twin-engine chopper usually used for search and rescue missions and offshore oil and gas transportation, was used in Monday’s grab. After the successful capture of the booster, the company planned to fly the machinery to an at-sea recovery vessel before moving to the company’s production complex for assessment.The launch was postponed several times due to weather conditions. “For our first mid-air helicopter capture, we want ideal weather conditions so we can focus on the catch,” Rocket Lab tweeted on Monday. “Just like our weather tolerances for launch have increased over time, so will our tolerance for weather in the recovery zone. For this first one though, we want to eliminate weather as a consideration so we can focus solely on the catch and supporting operations.” The California-based company also released a video showing a successful practice run in the days leading up to launch, with a helicopter capturing a dummy booster as it fell to the ground.Rocket Lab has previously fished boosters from the ocean in three of Electron’s 25 earlier missions. This was the first attempt at a mid-air catch.This isn’t the first time humans have attempted to catch an object falling from space with aircraft. During the 1960s, the United States would use planes equipped with long hooks to grab film canisters containing film from spy satellites out of the sky. The Cold War-era technique was similar to the one attempted by Rocket Lab: the film canister fell to Earth from outer space and used parachutes to slow its descent so that planes could nab the intel. NASA also attempted in 2004 a mid-air grab of a capsule carrying samples of particles that had streamed off the sun, but the helicopter recovery attempt failed when the capsule’s parachutes failed to release, causing it to crash into the Utah desert. Since its start in 2006, Rocket Lab has deployed satellites to orbit for customers including NASA, the US Space Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and Canon.
The return to pre-pandemic sick leave policies means that all US employees will now get up to five days of excused, unpaid time off for a confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis. Under the previous policy that was last updated in January, workers with the virus got up to seven days of paid leave. The e-commerce giant cited the “sustained easing of the pandemic, ongoing availability of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, and updated guidance from public health authorities” as reasons for updating its policies. The memo to employees added that eligible workers can still use accrued time off for a Covid-19 related absence. Amazon also said it will no longer notify workers of positive cases in its facilities, unless required by law. This follows the decisions made by state governments across the country to reduce or end their own Covid-19 reporting, the company said.While Amazon continued to urge workers to get vaccinated against the virus in the memo, the company also said it was ending its vaccine incentives programs as vaccination rates across the country have plateaued. (The programs offered front-line employees cash or the chance to win prizes from a sweepstakes.)”We are monitoring conditions closely and will continue to adjust our response as appropriate,” the company told staffers. The easing of the company’s pandemic-era policies notably comes amid heightened workplace activism at Amazon and multiple high-profile unionization efforts. Just last month, workers at a Staten Island, New York, warehouse voted to form the e-commerce giant’s first-ever US labor union. Amazon has since filed an appeal, calling for a do-over of the entire vote. A separate union bid in Bessemer, Alabama, concluded last month with the results too close to call. Meanwhile, the vote count for another unionization effort at a facility in New York is slated to begin on Monday.
In a statement on Friday, India’s Enforcement Directorate — the country’s main financial investigation agency — accused the Indian subsidiary of smartphone maker Xiaomi of violating foreign exchange laws by making “illegal remittances.”The agency said Xiaomi India, acting on the instructions of its parent company, “had remitted foreign currency equivalent to [55.5 billion rupees, $726 million] to three foreign based entities which include one Xiaomi group entity in the guise of royalty.” Xiaomi started its operations in India in 2014 and started remitting money a year later, the agency added. The Indian authorities have now seized an equivalent amount of funds “lying in the bank accounts of the company.””Xiaomi India procures the completely manufactured mobile sets and other products from the manufacturers in India,” the Enforcement Directorate said. “Xiaomi India has not availed any service from the three foreign based entities to whom such amounts have been transferred,” the agency added.It also accused the company of providing “misleading information to the banks while remitting the money abroad.”Xiaomi India, which distributes Mi-branded smartphones, said in a statement that “all our operations are firmly compliant with local laws and regulations.” In a Twitter post on Saturday, the company said it believed that the royalty payments and statements it made to the bank were “all legit and truthful.”The payments were made for “in-licensed technologies and IPs used in our India version products.”India has been getting tough with Chinese companies since border tensions escalated between the world’s most populous countries two years ago. In 2020, India banned more than 200 apps — many of which were Chinese, including the wildly popular video platform TikTok. Earlier this year, India again banned several Chinese apps, belonging to tech companies such as Tencent (TCEHY), Alibaba (BABA) and NetEase (NTES). In response, Beijing had said that it was “seriously concerned” about actions India has taken against Chinese companies.