Dakota Access Pipeline Developer Now In Legal Battle With Greenpeace Activists

Dakota Access Pipeline protest

Tensions over the Dakota Access Pipeline are still brewing

The Dakota Access Pipeline development attracted several thousand environmentally-conscious activists to protest against the project. The tensions are still strong as the Energy Transfer Group, that is behind the pipeline project, filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace and affiliated nonprofits on Tuesday.

Energy Transfer Group accuses Greenpeace of “Criminal Activity”

Energy Transfer Group filed a racketeering lawsuit in the federal court over the claims that Greenpeace and other environmental groups involved in the protests have made damages of billions of dollars due to their “criminal activity”. Moreover, the group accuses Greenpeace of having spread false information about the project. EarthFirst! and BankTrack

EarthFirst! and BankTrack are the two other groups that have joined Greenpeace in protest of the pipeline. Energy Transfer Group believes they are “rogue eco-terrorist groups”. Moreover, they have engaged in campaigns of misinformation about the impact of the project on the environment and the sites of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Due to their racketeering and efforts at defamation, the costs of the project have increased by at least $300 million. The developer wants the federal court to establish the full extent of the damage.

Lawsuit “Meritless” according to Greenpeace

The law firm that has Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s attorney, as managing partner represents the Dakota Access Pipeline Developer. Tom Wetterer, General Counsel at Greenpeace USA, said that it is the second consecutive year that the Kasowitz law firm filed a “meritless” law suit against Greenpeace. Wetterer has harsh words about the suit:

It is yet another classic ‘Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation’ (SLAPP), not designed to seek justice but to silence free speech through expensive, time-consuming litigation. This has now become a pattern of harassment by corporate bullies, with Trump’s attorneys leading the way.

The controversy regarding this project is that it would disturb the sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota and threaten its water sources. The tribe managed to halt the construction of the pipeline during the last months of the Obama administration. However, President Trump quickly reversed the policy.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Uber Adds a New Feature. Requesting a Drive for Someone Else is Now Possible

request a drive for someone else

With the help of the Uber app, you can now hail a drive for someone else

Uber is adding a new feature to its hailing app. You can request a drive for someone else because this feature asks you if the ride is for you or for someone else.

Uber Adds a New Feature. Requesting a Drive for Someone Else is Now Possible

In order to request a ride for someone else, the feature lets you specify a person from your contact book as being the rider for the trip. When you call this action, a request dialog asks you if the ride is for you or someone else. Select the person for whom you’re hailing the ride. Then the driver will get the rider’s name while having the possibility to contact them directly. The rider gets the driver’s phone number and a link that shows where his ride is.

The increasing request of a drive for someone else has made this feature possible, Kyle Miller, Uber product manager, said. She said that the new feature will prove of use especially for the aging loved ones of those who request the ride on their behalf.

She stated that:

“On the product team, we’re focused on making Uber accessible to everyone in the family, and on making people’s lives easier around the world”.

Research done by the product team showed, according to Miller, that users were concerned for the mobility of their close relatives. And with this thing in mind, they have rolled out within the app the possibility to hail rides for someone else.

And, while Uber is facing many problems that go from top to the bottom structure of the company, and a vacancy in its senior leadership, the company must retain its market share and its market leadership. So this feature is also a means to expand their potential pool of customer via the proxy of the current riders.

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The Price Of Marijuana Has Decreased In Colorado

price decreases for legal marijuana in Colorado

The price of legal marijuana in Colorado has significantly decreased

One of the two U.S. states to legalize marijuana in 2012, Colorado, has excellent reports concerning the legalization of the drug. According to recent news, the sale of both recreational and medical marijuana has increased the state’s earnings by $1 billion of which $135 million consisted in licensing revenue and taxes.

Officials mentioned that most of the additional revenue would be allocated to drug abuse plans, law enforcement, and Colorado schools.

Colorado marijuana consumers will be pleased to find out that legal cannabis prices are now similar to the ones on the black market. The prices decreased from $2,600 per pound in 2015 to $1,600 today. The significant drop has made cannabis more accessible to average customers. Moreover, as consumers will buy the drug legally, this could be translated into more income for the state’s government.

The most simple reason for this decrease could be to enhance the conflict among modest licensed marijuana dispensaries which are appearing to expand in number. However, big businesses do not seem to be in sight of this decrease as the U.S. administration recently chose not to reclassify the drug. It is still an illegal substance or a Schedule 1.

Although the approval of the legalization of marijuana took place at the ballot box, municipalities throughout Colorado were less excited to adopt legal marijuana. Amendment 64 allowed private districts to determine whether to let the marijuana business take root.

168  of the  271 municipalities in Colorado have prohibited the cultivation and sale of retail cannabis. According to the Colorado Municipal League, eight more districts have moratoriums in the discussion.

The deputy manager of the Colorado Municipal League, Kevin Brommer, mentioned that his opinion is that officials established measures to prevent retail marijuana commerce because of the anxiety that it could rise in drug usage among teenagers. Moreover, officials fear that the legalization could lead to crime in neighborhoods adjacent to marijuana stores.

The state has allowed around 450 retail marijuana stores, not including producing facilities, cultivation sites, and examining locations. Denver has more than 200 such shops which could lead to saturation because of the prohibition in other states.

A spokeswoman for the city mentioned that Aurora, a Denver adjacent has implemented a moratorium in 2014 on retail stores to allow the city to create a regulatory system.

Image source: Flickr

British Airways Travelers Delayed By Computer Glitch

British Airways encountered computer glitch

Travelers were delayed on Tuesday due to an extensive computer glitch with British Airways overnight.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport encountered long lines on Tuesday due to an extensive computer glitch with British Airways overnight.

Passengers accused delays at check-in, at the luggage drop and waiting for take-off. Customers were invited to check-in online before reaching the airport because checking in at Heathrow and Gatwick Airports took longer that usual.

On Tuesday morning, one of the passengers, Dana Al-Qatami, who was traveling from Switzerland to London, was given a handwritten boarding pass. Dana alongside other social media users stated that the delays continued once they were on the plane.

A professional poker player from London indicated that she was queued for her flight in Las Vegas for more than two and a half hours. Although the check-in was slow and long she mentioned that the staff handled the situation thoroughly. Moreover, the staff completed the boarding passes and the baggage labels by hand and the pilot apologized for the inconveniences which were caused by a computer glitch, she added.

On Monday passengers in Canada and the US announced delays at several airports due to IT problems. On social media, other delays were reported from individuals traveling from Washington, San Francisco, DC, and Atlanta.

A financial analyst from London, Matthew Walker, waited for around two hours to board his flight to Heathrow.

Although he had managed his checked in online, he said that BA workers could not enter their computers to detect which passengers had passed through security.

Ewan Crawford, of Glasgow, was at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and twitted that it is never a good sign when water is brought to the gate and that it seemed to him like a worldwide computer outage.

The second issue with the service this year might damage the airline’s reliability. At London City Airport, several kilometers east of the Canary Wharf financial district, flights from and to its European destinations were suspended after nine protesters secured themselves together on the runway.

The protesters were holding up posters saying  ‘Climate Crisis is a Racist Crisis’ and ‘Black Lives Matter.’ They wanted to underline Britain’s environmental influence on the lives of black individuals globally and locally. It was a reaction to lethal shootings of black people by white U.S.cops.

Image source: Wikipedia

The Good Deeds of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola and the company's good deeds

Coca-Cola replenished about 192 billion liters of water

During its 248 community water cooperation projects, Coca-Cola returned about 192 billion liters of water, which is more than 115 percent of the water utilized in its beverages last year. This powerful act is in reply to a 2007 War on Want attack which instantly highlighted Coca-Cola’s massive water usage.

Coca-Cola then decided to replenish all water utilized by 2020, and thanks to its connections which scattered across 71 different nations, it has managed to do so five years early.

It is not the primary project that Coca-Cola has begun to become a more reliable and sustainable company. Moreover, the company has taken some recent steps to refund the societies all over the world.

The Coca-Cola scholarship program helps around 1,400 US college students per year by donating $10,000 or $20,000 towards their education. It provides possibilities for promising students who might not have the opportunity to attend the University.

Furthermore, Coke it Forward founded on the idea of ‘paying it forward’ is a method which gives customers the capacity to make a difference. The company added vending machines allowing customers to buy a drink and give one to someone in need.

The system gives the customer just one drink while paying for two. However, Coca-Cola pairs the donation with another two, indicating that three in total are given when just two are paid for.

In 2015, Coca-Cola provided $84.5 million to populations in over 70 nations through grants which helped 300 different companies. More than 95 percent of those donations are centered on the company’s top priorities of well-being, women, and water.

Around $26.5 million were given to environmental initiatives and water, $5.5 million went to women’s empowerment actions, $48 million to more extensive community initiatives like healthcare and education, and $4.3 million for community development, arts, humanitarian issues, and culture.

Nevertheless, some negative rumors have circled Coca-Cola in the early 1900s. An organization named Maywood Chemical Works presently called the Stepan Company, along with Coca-Cola began a partnership to introduce coca leaves to the Coke Company from Peru.

Reportedly, before selling to the soda company, Maywood extracted the cocaine alkaloid from the leaves. The alkaloid is an agent found in pure cocaine powder. The leftover essence is what persisted in the soda company’s goods.

What do you think of Coca-Cola’s good deed programs? Please let us know in the comment section below.

Image source: Wikipedia

5,500 Cisco Employees to Lose their Jobs amid Shifting Business Model

Cisco HQ

Former Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev with former CA Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger at Cisco headquarters.

The networking hardware giant Cisco Systems announced this week that 5,500 of its employees will be forced to seek another job as the company is transitioning to the cloud business.

It is the fourth time in six years that the tech company announces job cuts in the middle of summer. Experts noted that the regularity with which Cisco now announces its summer layoffs may signal that trimming the workforce has become business as usual for the company.

Other tech giants such as Intel have made a habit of downsizing workforce at regular intervals. The semiconductor chip maker announced earlier this year that it would lay off 11 percent of its workers.

And analysts expect other companies to soon follow suit as cloud computing is gaining steam worldwide. As a result, many hardware makers including server and storage device producers will be forced to face restructuring or die. Cisco is renowned for its routers and switches which could soon no longer be relevant.

Cloud technology expansion has added tremendous pressure on tech firms since the start of the year. For instance, Hewlett-Packard had to split up, while Dell is about to merge with EMC. Additionally, IBM is seeking new ways of remaining competitive against Microsoft and Amazon.

Cisco hasn’t sunk yet because its router and server business is doing fairly well. According to a company’s report, the business generates 45 percent of its revenue, which is a 7 percent decrease from a few years ago.

Despite the slight reduction in sales, its core business remained profitable due to a gross profit margin of about 60 percent, which hasn’t changed in years. The steady profit allowed the company to buy itself some time to rethink its business model.

Analysts are now curious to see whether the hardware giant has the will and resources to make the proper adjustments to survive in a cloud computing-based world. Currently, there is a huge demand for “hyperscale” hardware parts that are resilient to immense volumes of traffic. So, if Cisco moves quickly it may manage to hold off rivals in new markets as it has done before.

Plus, the San Jose, Calif.-based company faces other challenges such as the software defined networking (SDN) standard which could render the company’s integrated routers and switches irrelevant. Still, analysts noted that SDN is only at the beginning and has a long way ahead before it can revolutionize networking as we know it.

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America’s Largest Gun Maker Posts Record Sales, Worries about Clinton

Ruger pistolAmerica’s largest gun maker Sturm Ruger reported record sales in a second quarter earnings call but expressed its concerns over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s tactics to actively campaign against a “lawful commerce.”

The gun maker’s chief executive Michael Fifer was asked on Wednesday whether the politician’s campaign has spurred the rise in demand for guns. Clinton’s efforts to outlaw gun sales in the U.S. has recently led to numerous background checks.

Fifer declined that there was a link between Clinton and a growing demand. He added that the current situation cannot be traced back to the words or actions of a single politician. He did say that we live unique times when a presidential hopeful with “a real likelihood” of getting into the Oval Office publicly said that the nation’s highest court ruled wrongly in the Heller case.

In District of Columbia v Heller, the Supreme Court rejected the state’s ban on firearms arguing that it would violate the residents’ constitutional right to own a gun for self-defense. Dick Anthony Heller was a body guard who was allowed to carry a handgun at work, but was denied the same right at home.

A few months ago, Clinton said in an interview that the case was “wrongly decided.” She argued that municipalities and states should be allowed to draft “commonsense laws” to prevent unfortunate gun-related incidents from happening in America’s homes.

Fifer described Clinton’s comments as “unprecedented” and expressed his disbelief that her remarks haven’t impacted sales. Under the current administration, both Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger saw record demand for handguns and ammunition.

Stock prices reached record highs after each mass shooting as the resulting scandals have prompted gun owners to stockpile firearms in case they get banned. In the last quarter, the gun maker’s sales were $167.9 million. This represents a 19 percent or $27 million increase from last year’s same period.

Profit in the first half of the year soared 30 percent and by the end of the second quarter Sturm Ruger raked more than $115 million in gross profit, a consistent gain from last year’s $89.9 million.

Fifer zoomed in on gun sales in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub, where 49 people were slaughtered. He said that the impact on sales couldn’t be measured. He said that distributors got some calls but demand “quickly died down.”

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Tesla Driver Dies while Car in Autopilot Mode

Tesla Model S Wheel and dashboardOn May 7, a man from Williston, Florida, lost his life in a car crash when a large truck made a left turn in front of his Tesla model S car which was running on autopilot. Federal investigators are currently investigating the case.

Tesla, which unveiled the accident Thursday, said that a federal agency is now probing whether its cars’ autopilot feature is safe for the public roads. The car crash could now spark a lot of soul searching within the driverless car industry, some analysts suggest.

Though it is the first time a person dies while a car is in autopilot mode, there had been other reports of incidents related to the technology.

Tesla said that the Williston driver’s car ended up under the big rig whose bottom smashed the car’s windshield. The company said that the autopilot and driver were deceived by the bright lit sky which made it impossible for them to detect the white trailer truck moving in the car’s direction.

As a result the car failed to brake in time. Tesla, which reported the collision to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that very day, said that the autopilot mode was still in beta testing.

The firm noted that the feature is far from perfect and gets constantly improved. Furthermore, the feature is not turned on by default. A driver needs “explicit acknowledgement” before activating the system that he is aware that the mode is in a beta phase.

Additionally, the system prompts the driver to keep his or her hands on the wheel while autopilot is on. The driver is also prompted to stay alert and get ready to take control of the vehicle at any time.

Industry analysts believe that the recent fatal crash won’t make customers lose faith in Tesla but in the infallibility of the autopilot feature. Karl Brauer of the Kelley Blue Book believes that the tragic incident is an opportunity to educate customers before driverless cars become mainstream.

NHTSA announced that it would probe the “design and performance” of the autopilot in Tesla Model S cars while also investigating the fatal crash and the vehicle.

Other analysts think that the car crash won’t ruin the momentum of automated driving technology unless the agency finds that driverless driving is more dangerous than conventional driving.

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Gogo Drops as American Airlines Invites ViaSat On Board

alt= woman uses tablet on board of aircraft

American Airlines’ choice to split an order between ViaSat Inc. and Gogo Inc. for in-flight Wi-Fi services had a rough effect on Gogo.

The company’s stocks have tumbled the most in more than three months after the decision, which left unanswered the question of who will provide services for 400 aircraft.

American Airlines Group Inc. chose ViaSat for satellite-based connections on its upcoming Boeing Co. 737 Max fleet of roughly 100 jets; at the same time, Gogo’s new 2Ku service was selected for 134 Airbus Group SE A319s and A320s, according to Casey Norton, a spokesman for the airline.

It is also the company’s right to disrupt Gogo connections from 550 planes, including 150 that will soon be retired and won’t need the upgrades.

American Airlines has yet to decide which provider will be chosen for the remaining 400 planes as they switch from the current ground-based offerings to faster satellite systems.

Offering speedy internet for its customers in the air is quickly becoming the standard for airlines. In this all-connected era we live in, passengers want to remain connected even at flying altitudes, being able to chat through social media, and stream music.

This ability is often impaired by the frustrating malfunctions that come from being constrained to ground-based systems. So the rivalry between internet providers has increased significantly.

“Basically, American is telling Gogo, ‘You are going to have to compete with ViaSat,”’ explained Tim Farrar, founder of Telecom Media Finance Association in Menlo Park, California.

Gogo dropped 15 percent to $9.38 in New York, after a previous fall of 16 percent for the biggest intraday decline since February 16. Meanwhile, ViaSat rose 4.3 percent to $72.90.

“At the end of the day, worst-case scenarios are off the table, the downside is bracketed” to 550 planes at most; having Gogo’s 2Ku installing on 140 planes will also allow the company to compete head-to-head with ViaSat.

As the world’s largest airline, American is in a favored spot of being able to have “multiple suppliers” for broadband Wi-Fi; this practice helps them ensure that all planes are equipped as quickly as possible.

American’s decision to use the 2Ku technology for some planes is important for Gogo, as the company was at risk of losing the airline as a customer. Gogo’s new platform has been slow to roll out while it awaits regulatory certification for the new systems on various aircraft.
Image Source: Lufthansa

Apple Inks $1Bn Investment Deal with Chinese Rival of Uber

'BYD e6'

Taking a taxi is cheaper than driving your own car in China, and Uber’s toughest competitor in the country, Didi, owns 99 percent of the taxi-hailing market.

Apple Inc. has just poured $1 billion in Uber’s largest competitor in China, Didi Chuxing Technology Co. Analysts believe that the move is expected not only to help the U.S. company’s driverless car business grow, but also help Apple mend its tense relationships with Beijing.

The decision was announced a week after the Chinese government banned iTunes and iBooks from the country. The U.S. tech giant is directly interested in China as most of its manufacturing plants are based there. So, investing in the country’s largest home-grown ride-sharing business might be the best way to reduce the tensions.

Didi Chuxing is an important company for the Chinese government though the firm was nearly shut down when it started to offer ride-hailing services like Uber. Back then, Beijing said that Didi was putting fully licensed taxis out of business.

As a response, Didi agreed to allow taxi drivers to feature on the company’s e-hailing app and offer their services. Also, the company recently closed a deal with Shanghai-based taxi company Haibo to split revenues.

Didi network comprises 400 cities and 99 percent of the taxi-hailing market. In 200 cities the company makes profit. Furthermore, partnerships with local taxi companies also help Didi reduce traffic congestions, a growing problem in China’s urban areas.

Since up to 70 percent of Beijing residents own a car, it is very difficult to go by car to any area of the city. As a result, the government had to set some restrictions, deciding which days cars can be used. Furthermore, there’s a 100 percent tax on foreign vehicles brought to the country to discourage the Chinese from buying more cars.

So, Didi is now helping the government address the country’s ever growing fleet of vehicles. By offering cheap rides, the ride-hailing company helps both people who don’t have a car and those who seek a better alternative to public transportation. In China, it is cheaper to travel by taxi than by private car due to restrictions and taxes.

Didi is confident that with a fleet of 1 million taxis it can serve the entire population of China. At the moment, taxis are the key to solving transit issues and displacing car ownership.

Apple’s $1 billion bid is the same amount Uber is reportedly hemorrhaging in China. Plus, Didi is also interested in building a fleet of driverless cars just like Apple, which has now also the opportunity to build strong alliances with key Didi investors and partners such as Lyft, Tencent, Ali Baba, and Grab.

Image Source: Wikimedia