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Bezos, under fire for 'you guys paid for all this' remark, donates US$200 million – CTV News

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NEW YORK —
The world’s richest man wanted to say thanks to the people who made his brief trip into space Tuesday possible.

But for some, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ expression of gratitude went over like a lead rocket.

“I want to thank every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all this,” the 57-year-old Bezos said during a news conference Tuesday after becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride in his own spacecraft.

Bezos built Amazon into a shopping and entertainment behemoth but has faced increasing activism within his own workforce and stepped up pressure from critics to improve working conditions.

Labour groups and Amazon workers have claimed that the company offers its hourly employees not enough break times, puts too much reliance on rigid productivity metrics and has unsafe working conditions. An effort to unionize workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama failed earlier this year.

Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton and a professor of public policy at University of California, Berkeley, wrote on Twitter that Bezos has crushed unionizing attempts for decades.

“Amazon workers don’t need Bezos to thank them. They need him to stop union busting — and pay them what they deserve,” Reich wrote.

Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO in July, allowing him more time for side projects including his space exploration company Blue Origin. He has said he finances the rocket company by selling $1 billion in Amazon stock each year.

After the spaceflight, Bezos awarded US$100 million donations through a new philanthropic initiative to both D.C. chef Jose Andres and CNN contributor Van Jones to put towards any charity or nonprofit of their choice. Jones has founded a number of nonprofit organizations and Andres’ nonprofit group World Central Kitchen provides meals to people following natural disasters.

Nevertheless, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who is on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, proposed on Tuesday legislation that would tax space travel for non-scientific research purposes.

“Space exploration isn’t a tax-free holiday for the wealthy,” said Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat. “Just as normal Americans pay taxes when they buy airline tickets, billionaires who fly into space to produce nothing of scientific value should do the same, and then some.”

Others tied his spaceflight to reports that Bezos hasn’t paid his fair share of taxes. According to the nonprofit investigative journalism organization ProPublica, Bezos paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011.

“Jeff Bezos forgot to thank all the hardworking Americans who actually paid taxes to keep this country running while he and Amazon paid nothing,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted.

Allen Adamson, co-founder of marketing consultancy Metaforce, says it’s challenging for Bezos to say where the money from the space trip is coming from without being offensive. He says he should have left out those comments and focused on thanking the Blue Origin team.

“For people who have an issue with inequality and his compensation versus the average employee compensation, this was rocket fuel,” Adamson said.

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Tencent Plummets as Chinese Crackdown Fears Persist – Bloomberg Markets and Finance

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COVID-19: Ontario reports 218 new cases on Sunday, Ottawa reports 5 – Ottawa Citizen

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Ontario reported 218 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths on Sunday, down from the 258 new cases reported on Saturday.

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Ontario reported 218 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths on Sunday, while Ottawa Public Health reported five new cases and no new deaths.

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The provincial numbers are down from the 258 new cases reported on Saturday, which was the highest one-day total in July.

Ottawa’s new case numbers edged up only slightly from four reported on Saturday.

There were currently 51 active cases in Ottawa, with no one in hospital or ICU.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been a total of 27,820 confirmed cases and 593 deaths on Ottawa.

Among the province’s hot spots on Sunday, there were 40 new cases in Toronto, 33 in Peel Region, 23 in York region, 16 in Middlesex-London and 14 in Hamilton.

There are currently 78 people in the province on a ventilator, down 27 from Saturday, with 110 in ICU and 78 in ICU on a ventilator.

(*Note: Ontario Public Health statistics of ICU hospitalizations and ventilator cases contain some patients who no longer test positive for COVID-19 but who are being treated for conditions caused by the virus.)

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In total, there have now been a total of 550,654 confirmed cases in Ontario and 9,347 deaths.

New case numbers will not be reported on Monday because of the Civic Holiday.

Meanwhile, Ontario pharmacists say thousands of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are set to expire soon and they warn the supply could go to waste if people don’t show up to get a shot.

The CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association said some Moderna shots are set to expire in early August, and generally, supply that arrives in bulk must be used up within 30 days.

Justin Bates said a slowdown in Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the public’s preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot have made it difficult for pharmacists to use up the Moderna doses.

“It’s an awful situation for them (pharmacists) to be in,” Bates said in an interview. “They’ve done everything they can to make sure there’s no wastage, but yet they’re coming to that place where they may have to, or have already.”

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Bates’ comments came after a health unit covering London, Ont., asked the public to roll up their sleeves for Moderna vaccines before more than 21,300 unallocated doses expire in two weeks’ time.

Pharmacies are now ordering vaccine based on scheduled appointments to cut down on possible waste, said Bates, but they still need to use the supply they have on hand.

“The next couple of weeks (are) critical,” he said. “It’s complicated because you have any number of scenarios that could waste the vaccine.”

On top of the expiration issue, Bates said it’s also been challenging for pharmacists to use up the larger dose quantities that come in Moderna vials currently being supplied in Ontario.

Vials include enough vaccine for 14 shots and once a vial is punctured, all the vaccine must be used within 12 hours. If a patient cancels their appointment for a Moderna shot, it can’t be filled by the end of the day, said Bates.

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Bates said his organization wants a province-wide program to help redirect doses at risk of being wasted to another site more likely to use them, though he noted that process would be complicated.

Latest COVID-19 news in Quebec

As of Sunday, patrons in Quebec’s bars and restaurants can drink alcohol until 1 a.m., an hour later than before.

he province is easing other COVID-19 restrictions. Starting Sunday, stadiums, concerts, and festivals can have up to 15,000 spectators outdoors, up from 5,000.

The Montreal Alouettes say individual tickets for their games go on sale Monday. The CFL team plays its first home game against Hamilton Aug. 27.

Despite the loosening of regulations, Tennis Canada says only 5,000 people will be permitted to attend each session of the National Bank Open, which takes place at the IGA tennis stadium in Jarry Park from Aug. 7 to 15.

Social distancing measures remain in place for indoor and outdoor events.

  1. Among young people, there is a feeling of invulnerability, says Max Lê, a project officer with Ottawa Public Health's communications team.

    About 83% of Ottawa residents have been vaccinated. Now comes the hard part

  2. Files: Dr. Anthony Fauci attends a coronavirus response meeting in April, 2020

    Fauci predicts U.S. will not return to lockdowns despite Delta variant risks

With files from Citizen news services

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Oil Starts August With A Loss – OilPrice.com

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Oil Starts August With A Loss | OilPrice.com


Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Oil prices fell early on Monday to start August with losses after posting a fourth consecutive month of gains in July.  

Oil settled higher on Friday to end the fourth straight month of gains but erased Friday gains on Monday on resurging COVID cases globally, weak Chinese economic data, and higher oil supply from the OPEC+ group.

As of 11:05 a.m. EDT on Monday, WTI Crude was down 2.31 percent at $72.24 and Brent Crude was trading at $73.89, down 2.02 percent.

“Crude futures had more than reversed Friday’s modest gains in the early hours of Monday’s trading in Asia as headlines over the weekend brought mostly discouraging news on the Delta variant-led Covid resurgence marching across the globe,” Vanda Insights said in a note early on Monday.

“Top-of-mind for the oil market was China, where the worst Covid outbreak in months has spread to two more parts of the country — Fujian province and the megacity of Chongqing — health authorities said on Saturday,” Vanda Insights added.

China also saw its weakest manufacturing sector expansion in 15 months, according to the Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).

The weaker economic data and resurgence of COVID cases combined with the higher production from the OPEC+ group to weigh on oil prices at the start of August.

OPEC alone is estimated to have pumped in July its highest oil volumes since April 2020—at 26.72 million barrels per day (bpd), up by up 610,000 bpd from June, the monthly Reuters survey found on Friday. As of August, the OPEC+ alliance is putting another 400,000 bpd on the market.

This week, the market will be watching the new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi taking office and the potential implications for the nuclear talks, especially in light of last week’s drone attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker offshore Oman, after which the U.S. and the UK joined Israel in blaming Iran for the attack.

“Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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