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Samsung Galaxy M22 Expected to Support 25W Fast Charging


Samsung Galaxy M22 will come with 25W fast charging support, a listing on the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) site has suggested. The unannounced Samsung phone has apparently received the FCC certification with the model number SM-M225FV/DS. Although there aren’t many new details to gather from the US FCC listing, the development suggests the Samsung Galaxy M22 could be Samsung’s most affordable phone with 25W charging support. The South Korean company is rumoured to launch the Galaxy M22 with a 6,000mAh battery.

As initially reported by MySmartPrice, the US FCC site shows that the Samsung phone with the model number SM-225FV/DS supports 9V/ 1.67A (15W) and 9V/ 2.77A (25W) charging capabilities. Since the model number appears to be associated with the Samsung Galaxy M22, the 25W charging could naturally be one of its key highlights.

It is, however, important to note that while the Samsung Galaxy M22 appears to have 25W charging support on the hardware side, it is not likely to deliver a faster charging experience out-of-the-box, as the phone is likely to come bundled with a 15W charger (EP-TA200). This could be a cost-saving move by the company.

Samsung Galaxy M22 specifications (expected)

The US FCC certification site also indicates that the Samsung Galaxy M22 would come with Bluetooth v5.0 (Bluetooth LE), NFC, and Wi-Fi 802.11ac connectivity. The phone also appears to have dual-SIM support along with 4G LTE.

If we look at the rumour mill, the Samsung Galaxy M22 could share similarities with the Galaxy A22 that debuted earlier this month alongside the Galaxy A22 5G. However, the upcoming M-series phone is said to have a larger 6,000mAh battery over the 5,000mAh one available on the Galaxy A22.

Other specifications of the Samsung Galaxy M22 may include a 6.4-inch AMOLED display, MediaTek Helio G80 SoC, and a 48-megapixel primary rear camera sensor. The smartphone could also run on Android 11 with the latest One UI on top.

The listing on the US FCC site shows that the Samsung Galaxy M22 received the certification from the regulator just Monday, June 21. It is, thus, safe to assume that Samsung may take some more time to make its new smartphone official.


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Jagmeet Singh writes about consumer technology for Gadgets 360, out of New Delhi. Jagmeet is a senior reporter for Gadgets 360, and has frequently written about apps, computer security, Internet services, and telecom developments. Jagmeet is available on Twitter at @JagmeetS13 or Email at jagmeets@ndtv.com. Please send in your leads and tips.
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Google Drops Engineering Residency After Protests Over ‘Systemic Pay Inequities’





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Google Drops Engineering Residency After Protests Over ‘Inequities’


Alphabet’s Google plans to shut down a long-running programme aimed at entry-level engineers from underrepresented backgrounds after participants said it enforced “systemic pay inequities,” according to internal correspondence seen by Reuters.

Google confirmed it was replacing the Engineering Residency with a new initiative, saying it is “always evaluating programmes to ensure they evolve and adapt over time to meet the needs of our employees.”

Google last year pledged to improve retention for underrepresented employee groups.

Critics have long argued that Google and its tech industry peers favour white, Asian and male workers in hiring, promotions and pay. Companies have grown more attuned to concerns about workforce diversity since the Black Lives Matter protests a year ago.

The Google residency, often referred to as “Eng Res,” has since 2014 given graduates from hundreds of schools a chance to work on different teams, receive training and prove themselves for a permanent job over the course of a year. It offered a cohort of peers for bonding, three former residents said.

Residents were Google’s “most diverse pool” of software engineers and came “primarily from underrepresented groups,” according to a June 2020 presentation and an accompanying letter to management that one source said over 500 current and former residents signed.

Compared with other software engineers, residents received the lowest possible pay for their employment level, a smaller year-end bonus and no stock, creating a compensation deficit “in the mid-tens of thousands of dollars,” the presentation said.

Nearly all residents converted to regular employees, according to the presentation. Many alumni years later have continued to feel the “negative effect” of their starting pay on their current salary, it said. Google said it worked to eliminate long-term disparities when hiring residents permanently.

The letter came after Google gave big donations to promote racial justice amid the global outcry over the police murder of George Floyd. Black, Latinx and female staff “deserve more than just ‘the opportunity to be at Google,'” the letter said.

“Google is willing to invest large sums of money in issues of racial inequity outside of the workplace, but still seems unwilling to address or even acknowledge the role that the Eng Res programme plays in enforcing systemic pay inequities,” it said.

Vice President Maggie Johnson emailed alumni on June 2 saying Google would replace the residency with a new programme it was devising for 2022, called Early Career Immersion (ECI). The message, seen by Reuters, did not explain reasons for the switch but said ECI would include mentoring and training.

The company said the program,e would provide permanent employment. Concerns about being offered a job made the engineering residency feel “probationary,” the Google employees’ presentation said.

The old programme tried to provide “a wide range of high potential engineers” a chance to “hone their skills and gain relevant experience as they start their careers,” Google said in a statement. “Our Early Career Immersion onboarding programme will provide a new approach.”

Google continues to run other fixed-term residencies, including 26-month roles working on internal technical systems and an 18-month programme for artificial intelligence researchers. The company said it had no updates on the other residencies.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


It’s Google I/O time this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, as we discuss Android 12, Wear OS, and more. Later (starting at 27:29), we jump over to Army of the Dead, Zack Snyder’s Netflix zombie heist movie. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.



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Google in EU Crosshairs Again With Advertising Antitrust Inquiry


Google was in the EU antitrust spotlight again on Tuesday as regulators opened an investigation into whether its digital advertising business gives the Alphabet unit an unfair advantage over rivals and advertisers.

The European Union competition enforcer’s move marks a new front against Google and follows more than EUR 8 billion (roughly Rs. 70,665.72 crores) in fines over the past decade for blocking rivals in online shopping, Android smartphones and online advertising.

The European Commission said it would investigate whether Google distorts competition by restricting third party access to user data for advertising purposes on websites and apps, while reserving such data for its own use.

“We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

Google generated $147 billion (roughly Rs. 10,92,740.31 crores) in revenue from online ads last year, more than any other company in the world, with ads including search, YouTube and Gmail accounting for the bulk of its overall sales and profits.

About 16 percent of its revenue came from the company’s display or network business, in which other media companies use Google technology to sell ads on their website and apps.

“We will also be looking at Google’s policies on user tracking to make sure they are in line with fair competition,” Vestager added.

Google said it would engage constructively with the Commission.

“Thousands of European businesses use our advertising products to reach new customers and fund their websites every single day. They choose them because they’re competitive and effective,” a Google spokesperson said.

The Commission said its investigation would span Google services, including Display & Video 360 (DV360) and Google Ads to buy online display advertisements on YouTube, Google Ad Manager which is used by publishers to auction ad space, and AdX which is one of several marketplaces which can manage auctions.

Google’s plan to remove browser cookies and also to stop tracking Android users via a tool known as an advertising identifier will also be looked at.

Reuters reported exclusively last week that the EU competition enforcer would investigate Google’s digital advertising business before the end of the year.

Google’s adtech business is also under fire in the United States, with the Justice Department, joined by some states, suing last year for abusing its dominance in search ads. A group of states led by Texas in a later lawsuit focused on anti-competitive behaviour on the network side of the house.

A new EU inquiry could end up targeting all of Google’s ad empire. According to market researcher eMarketer, Google could control 27 percent of global online ad spending this year, including 57 percent for search ads and 10 percent of display.

While the figures may not appear to represent a monopoly at first glance, advertisers and rivals contend that Google’s various software play a role in so many facets of the market that the company is impossible to avoid. 

© Thomson Reuters 2021


It’s Google I/O time this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, as we discuss Android 12, Wear OS, and more. Later (starting at 27:29), we jump over to Army of the Dead, Zack Snyder’s Netflix zombie heist movie. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.



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AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution Cross-Platform Upscaling Now Available


AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution upscaling feature for games will be available today, starting with seven games and expanding to another 12 in the near future. Fidelity FX Super Resolution (FSR) is AMD’s alternative to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Supersampling (DLSS) upscaling technology. Both work differently, but are intended to improve gaming performance by allowing games to be rendered at lower-than-native resolutions, reducing the strain on a GPU, and then upscaled to the desired native resolution without severely impacting visual quality. This is especially relevant when using hardware-intensive ray tracing visual effects.

According to AMD, its approach with FSR is based on open standards, and it will run on a wide range of hardware including desktop and laptop GPUs that are many generations old, and also GPUs integrated into CPUs. One interesting aspect of this technology is that it is vendor-agnostic and will run even on rival Nvidia’s current and previous-gen hardware. While DLSS is restricted to Nvidia’s premium GeForce RTX tier of GPUs, FSR is said to run even on older and lower-end GeForce GTX models. This could help extend the useful life of older hardware.

There are four FSR presets – Ultra Quality, Quality, Balanced, and Performance, each of which targets a different input resolution so that the target image is scaled by between 1.3X and 2X. AMD claims a 2.4X increase in frame rates on average at 4K in Performance mode. Game developers may tweak how FSR impacts sharpening in each game. AMD has also said it will continue to update and improve its algorithms.

amd fsr modes amd amd fsr

Native image quality vs claimed compromises in each FSR mode

 

The seven games that will support FSR at launch time are: Godfall, Anno 1800, Terminator: Resistance, Kingshunt, 22 Racing Series, The Riftbreaker, and Evil Genius 2. Upcoming titles and ones that will soon be updated to support FSR include Far Cry 6, DOTA 2, Resident Evil Village, Myst, Baldur’s Gate 3, and Farming Simulator 22. In addition, a huge number of game developers and studios are on board, including EA, Ubisoft, Capcom, Warner Bros Games, Valve, Nixxes, and Crystal Dynamics.

AMD’s platform-agnostic open source push is significant, since the AMD’s RDNA2 GPU architecture powers the current-gen as well as previous-gen Xbox and PlayStation game consoles. It was recently announced that Samsung’s next-gen flagship Exynos SoC will also have an integrated RDNA2 graphics component, and Tesla’s latest in-cabin entertainment system will include an RDNA2-powered gaming platform . It is not known yet whether or how AMD’s hardware customers will implement this new feature.

FSR can be used on Windows and Linux, and supports the DirectX 11 and 12 as well as Vulkan APIs. Unlike DLSS, scaling is completely spatial and not temporal, which means it detects and reconstructs edges and textures but does not need to extrapolate data from previously generated frames. It also does not require per-game neural network training. AMD touts its developer-friendly approach and says they will need only minimal effort to integrate FSR into games.

As of now, FSR is supported on the Radeon RX 6000 and 6000M series; RX 5000 and 5000M series; Radeon VII; Radeon Vega series; RX 600, RX 500, and select RX 400 models; as well as all desktop and mobile Ryzen APUs. On the green side, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 and 20 series as well as the GTX 16 series and GTX 10 series are supported.

AMD’s own performance figures show Godfall running at 59fps average at 4K on a Radeon RX 6800 XT GPU, and that increases to 87fps in Ultra Quality mode or up to 145fps in Performance mode. On a laptop with a Radeon RX 6800M GPU, the same game at 1440p ran at 66fps average without FSR, which jumped to between 84fps and 108fps depending on the FSR mode. As for the still-popular Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, Kingshunt running at 1440p scaled from 71fps average without FSR to between 93fps and 131fps with this feature enabled.



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Jio, Intel to Work Together on 5G Network Technology Development


Intel Corp on Monday said it will work with Reliance Jio to develop 5G networking technology.

Intel’s venture capital unit last year invested $250 million (roughly Rs. 1,857.42 crores) in [Reliance’s] Jio Platforms unit, saying the two companies would find areas of technology partnership. On Monday, Intel said it will work on “co-innovations” with Reliance Jio for its 5G radio-access network (RAN), among other things.

“This is the fruit of that partnership,” Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the data platforms group at Intel, told Reuters in an interview. “5G in India is going to be massive, and (Reliance Jio) are doing it in a non-legacy way.”

Reliance Jio is one of many carriers around the world using a new approach to build 5G networks. Rather than using gear primarily from telecommunications-specific firms such as Nokia, Ericsson or Huawei, carriers are shifting toward using software to handle more network functions and tapping the same kind of standard computing equipment used in data centers to run the networks.

Intel, for its part, has been losing share in its core data center and personal computing markets to rivals such as Advanced Micro Devices after years of manufacturing troubles. But networking chips have become an increasingly important part of its business, growing 20 percent in 2020 to account for $6 billion (roughly Rs. 44,577.27 crores) of its $77.9 billion (roughly Rs. 5,78,756.61 crores) in overall sales.

Dan Rodriguez, general manager of Intel’s network platforms group, said part of that growth has come from Intel’s decision nearly a decade ago to invest in software akin to an operating system for its network chips. The system, called FlexRAN, lets carriers or software firms write code for 5G networks.

Intel said Monday that software from Cohere Technologies could double utilization of some network spectrum using Intel’s chips, benefiting carriers that spend billions acquiring spectrum rights.

© Thomson Reuters 2021



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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold With Folding 2K Display Debuts in India


Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, the company’s first flagship laptop with a folding display, was launched in India on Tuesday. The ThinkPad X1 Fold features a multilink torque hinge that enables the folding design. Lenovo has also provided a Bluetooth Mini Fold Keyboard that nests inside the fold and wireless charges when it sits on top of the screen. The ThinkPad X1 Fold also doubles as a tablet when unfolded. The device can also be kept on a table using its built-in kickstand that’s meant to hold the display up.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold price in India, availability

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold price starts at Rs. 3,29,000. The laptop is currently available for purchase through the Lenovo India website and is listed there at an initial price tag of Rs. 2,48,508. Gadgets 360 has reached out to the company to seek clarity on the difference in listed price. This report will be updated when we hear back. Customers can also opt for a no-cost EMI option for up to six months.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold debuted in the US back in January last year at $2,499 (roughly Rs. 1,85,700).

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold specifications

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold laptop features a 13.3-inch 2K (2,048×1,536 pixels) pOLED display made by LG Display that can be folded to enable multiple use cases. There is a mechanical hinge between the display to enable the folding form factor. Users can use the ThinkPad X1 Fold in landscape mode to use as a regular laptop or move to portrait orientation to use it as a notebook and take notes or draw sketches using Lenovo’s Active Pen. Lenovo has also bundled its Easel Stand for easy portrait or landscape placement on a desk, and the Bluetooth Mini Fold Keyboard to make the ThinkPad X1 Fold work like a traditional laptop.

Running on up to Windows 10 Pro, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold comes preloaded with the Lenovo Mode Switcher app that allows the machine to change its orientation as per the requirement. Users can also split the screen into two or use it in full width. Further, the laptop automatically adjusts to display the on-screen keyboard when the Bluetooth one is not in use.

Unlike folding phones that are fragile and prone to be easily damaged, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold is touted to be a rugged and tough device. It is claimed to have passed the MIL-STD 810H certification. Further, Lenovo says the ThinkPad X1 Fold went through additional testing to make sure the screen could handle the stresses of being opened and closed thousands of times.

The ThinkPad X1 Fold is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, along with 11th-generation Intel UHD graphics, 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM, and up to 1TB of PCIe-NVMe M.2 2242 SSD. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.1, and two USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports (one of which can be used as a DisplayPort). There is also optional 5G/ 4G LTE support.

Lenovo has provided four microphones and Dolby Atmos speaker system for an enhanced multimedia experience. The ThinkPad X1 Fold also includes a Hybrid infrared (IR) and HD webcam for both Windows Hello facial recognition and video chat support.

The ThinkPad X1 Fold can deliver up to 10.4 hours of video playback on a single charge. There is also 50W Rapid Charge fast charging technology.




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Cyberpunk 2077 Returns to PlayStation Store, But With a Major Warning


Cyberpunk 2077 has been relisted on the PlayStation store on Monday, June 21, almost six months after its console version was review-bombed for being extremely buggy. CD Projekt Red, its developer, has released several updates, patches, and hotfixes to improve the performance of the game. Despite that, both the CDPR team and Sony have reintroduced Cyberpunk 2077 with a warning to users to play it on a PS4 Pro or a PS5 console, and not on a PS4. While Sony said that it recommends the beefier consoles for the “best experience”, CDPR plainly said the PS4 edition “performance issues” have not been resolved yet.

Sony sent out a tweet to welcome Cyberpunk 2077 back on its shelves across the world while issuing a clear warning in the same breath about the game only being compatible with PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation 5 (review). CDPR tweeted the same information while more clearly stating in the thread that PS4 users will continue facing “performance issues” with the game. The developer said the team would continue to work on improving the stability of the game across all platforms.

The open-world RPG, characterised by its dystopian theme, was subjected to several delays before it finally released in December last year. While its visuals, storyline, and game mechanics were written about fondly, users derided its PS4 version (review) for being buggy to an unplayable level. Sony in the month pulled Cyberpunk 2077 from the PlayStation store and issued refunds, while CDPR promised amends via major updates across platforms. The latest patch that brings stability improvements to the game across PC, consoles, and Stadia was released last week.

Despite the optics of its chaotic arrival, Cyberpunk 2077, reportedly one of the most expensive games ever made, had managed to sell 13 million copies — after adjusting for refunds — in a matter of days.






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Cryptocurrency Trading Faces Strict Crackdown in China


China’s central bank said on Monday it had urged some banks and payment firms to crack down harder on cryptocurrency trading, in the latest move by Chinese authorities to stem the use of digital coins.

The People’s Bank of China’s statement sent Bitcoin tumbling to a two-week low and Ether to a more than five-week low. On Tuesday, prices of major cryptocurrencies stabilised. As of June 22 (12:55pm IST), Bitcoin price in India stood at Rs. 24.23 lakhs.

What did the PBOC say?

The PBOC statement followed a meeting with banks and payment firms in which it urged them to thoroughly check client accounts, identify those involved in cryptocurrency transactions and promptly cut their payment channels.

China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Agricultural Bank of China (AgBank) and Postal Savings Bank of China attended the meeting, along with Alipay, the ubiquitous payment platform owned by fintech giant Ant Group.

Attendees vowed to comply. AgBank said that it would conduct due diligence to root out illegal crypto-related activities and shut down suspicious accounts, and Alipay said it would set up a monitoring system targeting key websites and accounts, and blacklist merchants involved in virtual currency transactions.

What is the impact of the crackdown?

The latest tightening makes it far more difficult for individuals in China to trade cryptocurrencies, even through channels that have avoided previous restrictions.

“The law hasn’t changed, it’s just the enforcement,” said Bobby Lee, founder and CEO of Ballet, a cryptocurrency wallet app, and formerly CEO of BTC China, China’s first Bitcoin exchange.

The PBOC statement also effectively cuts off payment channels through which mainland Chinese traders have acquired cryptocurrencies to trade offshore.

“Essentially this puts all the OTC platforms out of business…all the OTC platforms were skirting the last ban, which was to not have exchanges,” Lee said.

But banks and payment companies continue to face challenges of identifying money flows related to cryptocurrencies. For now, Beijing has not targeted the holding of digital coins.

“Bitcoin is still at this point a legal digital asset for people to own,” said Lee. “So maybe the final nail in the coffin, if it happens in a few years, is they literally declare Bitcoin illegal to possess.”

How has China sought to regulate crypto?

Last month, three industry associations banned crypto-related financial services, and a meeting of the State Council’s Financial Stability and Development Committee chaired by Vice Premier Liu He vowed a crackdown on Bitcoin mining and trading as part of efforts to fend off financial risks.

Bans on crypto mining have been issued in major Bitcoin mining hubs, including Sichuan, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia.

China’s crypto restrictions date to 2013, when financial regulators banned banks and payment companies from providing Bitcoin-related services.

In September 2017, China banned Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), barred financial firms and payment companies from providing services for ICOs and cryptocurrencies, and banned cryptocurrency trading platforms from converting between legal tender and cryptocurrencies.

The restrictions prompted most such platforms to shut down, with many moving offshore.

Why has China tightened regulation?

This year’s Bitcoin bull run revived cryptocurrency trading in China, prompting warnings from regulators over financial risks and money laundering.

With local exchanges shut down, many Chinese investors have switched to platforms owned by Chinese exchanges that had relocated overseas, including Huobi and OKEx, or trade over-the-counter through online platforms and social media trading chatrooms.

China-focused exchanges, which also include Binance and MXC, have allowed Chinese individuals to easily open accounts online. They have also facilitated peer-to-peer deals in OTC markets that help convert Chinese yuan into cryptocurrencies. Traders make such transactions through banks or online payment channels such as Alipay or WeChat Pay.

Retail investors have also been able to buy “computing power” from cryptocurrency miners, who design various investment schemes that promise quick and fat returns.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies’ potential threat to China’s fiat currency, the yuan, has spurred the PBOC to launch its own digital currency.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.



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What’s Happening With Tesla’s $7-Billion German ‘Gigafactory’?


Next Thursday, July 1, was supposed to be a day of celebration for Tesla: the opening of its self-styled “gigafactory” in the tranquil German municipality of Gruenheide, just outside Berlin.

But thanks to fierce environmental resistance, red tape and planning tweaks it is completely unclear when the first vehicles will roll off the production line of the electric carmaker’s first European factory.

Tesla has already pushed back the expected opening to late 2021. Yet the environmental agency in Brandenburg, the state where the EUR 5.8 billion (roughly Rs. 51,288.13 crores) plant is being built, has still not given final approval – meaning a further delay cannot be ruled out, even into 2022.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

It’s complicated.

Tesla and its billionaire boss Elon Musk unveiled plans in late 2019 to build the factory.

However, the site partly overlaps a drinking water protection zone and borders on a nature reserve, which has drawn heavy opposition from local residents and environmental groups.

Last year, Tesla had to suspend clearing of a forest at the site after environmentalists from local group Nabu highlighted the risk posed to a rare local snake species whose winter slumber could be disturbed by tree-cutting activity.

The snakes had to be rescued before Tesla could proceed but there have been numerous other efforts to stop work at the site on environmental grounds.

“Thousands of hectares of forest will be cleared to create the needed infrastructure and housing space,” said Manuela Hoyer, who lives about 9 km from the site and is a member of a local campaign opposed to it.

“To build such a plant in a protected drinking water area is actually a crime against the environment.”

Her comments reflects a broader trend in Germany that has also seen renewable projects, such as wind farms, coming under fire from residents that fear the impact on the local habitat.

IS THAT REALLY IT?

No.

Bureaucracy has been a headache for Tesla, too, pitting the company’s hands-on approach against Germany’s infamous red tape.

So far, Tesla is working based on preliminary construction permits, with large factory halls and structures already built on the 740 acres of land it bought for EUR 43.4 million (roughly Rs. 3.83,782.85 crores).

But only when Brandenburg’s State Environmental Agency provides the final permit can the plant be opened.

While it has previously said that it cannot say when that is every project that has obtained preliminary permits in Brandenburg eventually received the final ok.

But that’s not discouraging environmentalists from throwing spanners in the works.

Last week Gruene Liga and Nabu submitted an injunction to a German court against provisional building permits for site, in the latest attempt to ensure Tesla is adhering to environmental laws.

“I think there could be less bureaucracy, that would be better,” Musk said during his last visit to Gruenheide in May, markedly less enthusiastic than his “Deutschland rocks” verdict eight months earlier.

THE BATTERY CELL PLANT

Tesla’s construction plans had to be fully resubmitted earlier this month to reflect the addition of battery cell production to the site, costing valuable months.

The Gruenheide plant comprises several units to handle component manufacturing and final vehicle assembly, including a press shop, foundry and body production.

It also includes a water recycling facility, a local fire brigade as well as a depot to ensure more efficient transport of components and other goods. Under the plans, the site’s power needs are to be met via local renewable energy sources.

But adding battery cell production meant the company had to tweak and refile the whole application. Based on the most recent version, the plant will have the capacity to produce 500 million cells totalling 50 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year.

That’s more than the 40 GWh facility rival Volkswagen plans to set up about 300 kilometres west in Salzgitter near its home base.

DOES ANYONE SUPPORT THE FACTORY (APART FROM ELON)?

Yes.

Tesla’s move is seen as a major boost to eastern Germany, which has struggled with high unemployment rates and difficulties to attract large industrial firms.

Once fully up and running, the plant, which Tesla said will be the “most advanced high-volume electric vehicle production plant in the world”, is expected to create 12,000 jobs and have a capacity of up to 500,000 cars a year.

“We’re in favour of a shift towards emission-free mobility and the cars needed to achieve that must be built somewhere,” said Ralf Schmilewski, a member of the Greens Party in Gruenheide’s neighbouring town Erkner.

He said Tesla’s plans also address a demographical issue, which has seen younger generations to leave the structurally weak area in their desperate search for jobs.

“Now they have a perspective and don’t have to move.”

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

Until mid-July, members of the public can sift through the roughly 11,000 pages of Tesla’s application documents, including blueprints, tables and calculations, in the town hall of Gruenheide, the third time they have been put on display.

As part of the process, anyone can file objections until Aug. 16, before the Brandenburg environmental agency decides whether a public discussion should take place on Sept. 13.

When the documents were last made available publicly, in 2020, more than 400 objections were raised.

After that there is no clear timeline. At some point the agency is expected to grant final approval – but when is anyone’s guess.

© Thomson Reuters 2021




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Amazon UK Warehouses Found to Destroy Unsold Items Every Year


Amazon destroys millions of unsold items, including premium electronics, books, and now even face masks, every year, a new investigation has revealed. Footage gathered by Britain’s ITV from just one of the 24 Fulfilment Centers that Amazon has in the UK shows unsold items packed in boxes marked “destroy”. Not just that, the sheer amount of this waste has brought attention to why these goods — some never used — couldn’t have been distributed to charities or the needy. The reason these products are being destroyed on such a scale is due to the e-commerce giant’s business model, reported ITV News.

Many vendors house their products at Amazon’s vast warehouses, but once they remain unsold for a long time, disposing of them becomes cheaper than continuing to pay for their storage. Just to give a better perspective on the scale of the issue at hand, an ex-employee of Amazon told ITV that their target was to generally destroy 1.3 lakh items a week, from Friday to Friday.

“I used to gasp. There’s no rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed — Dyson fans, Hoovers, the occasional MacBook, and iPad. The other day, 20,000 COVID [face] masks still in their wrappers,” the former employee told ITV.

While the products to be scrapped were marked “destroy,” the ones to be donated had “donate” written on their boxes. The disparity between the two was vast. The same employee said that while the number of products to be destroyed was around 1.3 lakhs, those to be donated was were just 28,000 in the same period.

Meanwhile, miles away in the US, there is another matter concerning Amazon in New York. Natalie Monarrez, an Amazon warehouse worker lives out of her SUV. She works at Amazon’s huge Staten Island-based warehouse and has been homeless since 2019. She has a membership of a nearby gym where she takes shower and brushes her teeth.

Despite trying hard, Natalie has failed to secure an affordable house — neither shared nor studio — for herself. Things got really tough for her during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When businesses shut down, it became difficult to find a bathroom,” Vice quoted her as saying. “I ended up having to use anti-bacterial wipes and do the best in my car.”

Amazon regularly talks about its starting wages for warehouse workers — $15 (roughly Rs. 1,110) an hour, that goes up to $18.25 (roughly Rs. 1,360) at the warehouse where Natalie works. However, it’s evident that the remuneration is not enough for some workers to even afford and avail themselves proper housing facilities, especially in cities such as New York. Natalie further said that while Bezos donates to homeless shelters for tax write-offs and PR, he also needs to know that some of his workers — without family or a second income — can’t afford rent.

Many other workers in the city who Vice previously spoke to said that they either lived with their parents or extended families and worked second and third jobs. Besides, some also commuted three hours from Bronx and Queens to get to work.




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