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The logo of car manufacturer Tesla is seen at a dealership in London

Fifteen Black former or current employees at Tesla filed a lawsuit against the electric car maker on Thursday, alleging they were subjected to racial abuse and harassment at its factories.

The workers said they were subjected to offensive racist comments and behaviour by colleagues, managers and human resources employees on a regular basis, according to the lawsuit filed in a California state court.

The harassment, which occurred mostly at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory, included using the n-word and such terms as “slavery” or “plantation” or making sexual comments such as “likes booty,” the lawsuit said, adding that the automaker’s “standard operating procedures include blatant, open and unmitigated race discrimination.”

The filing described one plaintiff, Teri Mitchell, as being regularly harassed by co-workers and managers who used racial slurs and made statements including, “It is rare for Blacks to work here. I don’t know how long you will be able to stay here.”

Another plaintiff, Nathaniel Aziel Gonsalves, described harassment by a supervisor. The complaint described the supervisor as saying that “Gonsalves ‘wasn’t like most black people,’ that he ‘didn’t act ghetto,’ and further called him a ‘zebra’ because he was ‘neither black nor white.'”

Some of the plaintiffs were assigned to the most physically demanding posts in Tesla or passed over for promotion, according to the lawsuit.

It said that Montieco Justice, a production associate at Tesla’s Fremont factory, was immediately demoted upon returning to Tesla after taking an authorized leave of absence as a result of contracting Covid-19.

Tesla did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on Thursday or Friday. The automaker is facing at least 10 lawsuits alleging widespread race discrimination or sexual harassment, including one by a California state civil rights agency.

Tesla in February responded to the expected lawsuit by the California state agency, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, saying it opposes discrimination and investigates all complaints.

“Tesla has always disciplined and terminated employees who engage in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways. We recently rolled out an additional training program that reinforces Tesla’s requirement that all employees must treat each other with respect and reminds employees about the numerous ways they can report concerns, including anonymously,” it said in a company blog.

On Monday, a federal judge in California ordered a new trial on the damages Tesla owes to a Black former factory worker who accused the company of race discrimination, after he turned down a $15 million award.

This month, a Tesla shareholder filed a lawsuit accusing CEO Elon Musk and the company’s board of directors of neglecting worker complaints and fostering a toxic workplace culture.

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Japan’s Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) on Tuesday rejected a shareholder proposal at its annual general meeting (AGM) that would have led to the disclosure of a decades-old agreement with 43 per cent stakeholder Renault SA (RENA.PA).

Ahead of the AGM, one investor proposed deeming Renault as Nissan’s parent company for disclosure purposes which by law would force the publication of the agreement which stipulates the automakers’ capital and business alliance.

Lack of publication prevents shareholders discussing the alliance which consequently remains “unequal”, the investor said. Nissan owns only a 15 per cent non-voting stake in Renault.

Observers expected opposition from the French automaker to scupper the proposal. Still, Nissan last month said it would disclose the agreement’s content in its annual securities report to the extent it does not violate a confidentiality obligation.

Full disclosure of the Restated Alliance Master Agreement would reveal the scope of the 23-year-old tie-up, formed when Renault rescued Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy. The deal has long been the source of tension as it allows Renault to increase its involvement in Nissan’s management.

The alliance, which in 2016 added Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T), was rocked by the 2018 ouster of alliance founder Carlos Ghosn amid a financial scandal. The automakers have since pledged to pool more resources and work closer to make electric vehicles (EVs).

Still, Renault in April said all options were on the table – including a possible public listing of its EV unit – when it comes to overhauling its business in response to the swift electrification of the auto industry.

For Nissan – an EV pioneer with its 2010 Leaf – it is too early to consider spinning off its EV division, its chief operating officer said last month.

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Toyota Motor Corp’s (7203.T) chief lobbied the Japanese government to make clear it supported hybrid vehicles as much as battery electrics or face losing the auto industry’s support, a senior lawmaker told a ruling party meeting.

The lobbying by Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota and chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) industry group, comes as the automaker has faced increased scrutiny from green investors who say it has been slow to embrace battery-electric vehicles and pressed governments to slow a transition to them.

Akira Amari, a former industry minister and a veteran member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), requested changes to the government’s annual economic policy roadmap at a June 3 meeting, saying he had spoken with Toyoda a day earlier, according to notes and audio of the meeting reviewed by Reuters.

The final version of the document included a reference to “so-called electric-powered vehicles” and appeared to put fossil-fuel burning hybrids on equal footing with zero-emission battery vehicles, even though environmentalists say there is a vast difference.

“I spoke with Chairman Toyoda yesterday and he said that JAMA cannot endorse a government that rejects hybrids,” Amari told the policy meeting of LDP lawmakers, according to the notes and audio.

Use of synthetic fuel, such as from hydrogen, would make hybrids “100 per cent clean energy” cars and the policy document should make that explicit, Amari said.

“If we don’t make that clear, JAMA will push back with all its might,” Amari said, according to the notes and audio.

“If we don’t say that hybrids are included in the category of electric vehicles, that won’t look good,” he said, adding that a reference to electric-powered vehicles should be changed to “so-called electric-powered vehicles”.

Amari confirmed to Reuters that he asked for the inclusion of “so-called” to make clear that electric vehicles were not limited to battery-electric vehicles and included hybrids. He said he asked for no other changes.

He confirmed that he had spoken to Toyoda.

“What Mr. Toyoda is trying to say is that hybrids running with synthetic fuels are good for the environment because they are extremely fuel efficient. He said he would be extremely unsatisfied if hybrids were rejected. That’s what he told me. He asked if the LDP were rejecting hybrids and I said that we were doing no such thing.”

Amari told Reuters that by developing synthetic fuels automakers would be able to produce zero-emission internal combustion engines. Such fuels could also be used in aircraft, which can’t run on battery power, he said.

In a statement to Reuters, JAMA said the auto industry was making every effort toward its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Since the goal was carbon neutrality, it was important to broaden options and not be limited to specific technologies, it said.

It was also necessary to respond to various situations and customer needs in each country and region, it said.

A Toyota spokesperson referred Reuters to JAMA.


The final version of the document, available online, refers to Japan’s 2035 target of all new domestic car sales being “so-called electric-powered vehicles,” and specifically mentions in the main text that such vehicles include hybrids.

An earlier draft from May 31, also available online, shows the reference to hybrids only in a footnote. The main text refers to the 2035 target as having all new car sales being “electric-powered vehicles”.

The annual policy document is of major importance for the government and serves as a framework for its future policy.

Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker by sales, has said fossil fuels, not internal combustion engines, are the problem. As well as the hybrids it popularised more than two decades ago with the Prius, it also champions hydrogen technology, although that has so far not caught on the way battery-electric cars have.

Hybrids, including plug-in hybrids, accounted for almost 44 per centof the new passenger cars sold in Japan last year, while battery electric vehicles accounted for less than 1 per cent, according to data from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

That doesn’t include mini cars, trucks or buses.

Energy and climate think-tank InfluenceMap has rated Toyota the worst among major automakers for its lobbying record on climate policy, which includes public statements and interaction with governments.

It has been criticised by its own investors, including pension funds, over its lobbying. Denmark’s AkademikerPension has sold down most of its stake in Toyota over the last year.

Toyota last year committed 8 trillion yen ($60 billion) to electrify its cars by 2030, with half of that slated to develop battery electric vehicles. Still, it expects annual sales of such cars to reach only 3.5 million vehicles by the end of the decade, or around a third of current sales.

On Thursday, Toyota said it recalled more than 2,000 of its first mass-produced electric vehicle, the bZ4X SUV, less than two months after rolling the vehicle out, because of a risk the wheel could come loose.

It says hybrids make sense in markets where infrastructure isn’t ready to support a faster move to battery vehicles, and that customers should have more choices for cleaner technology.

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Apple Inc (AAPL.O)accepts the outcome of a vote by Maryland store workers to become its first US employees to join a union and is ready to bargain with them, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

Apple is one of several major American companies whose workforces have moved to unionise, with workers at some Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) and Amazon Inc (AMZN.O) locations also voting to join a union in recent months.

Nearly two-thirds of the employees at the Apple store in Towson, Maryland who organized as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE), voted to join a union last week. The store is the first of Apple’s roughly 270 US outlets to do so.

The successful vote came after another planned vote in Georgia was called off earlier this year.

Apple intends to participate in the bargaining process in “good faith,” the person familiar with the matter said.

The Maryland employees voted to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

In a statement, David Sullivan, the union’s eastern territory vice president, said the members “look forward to bargaining with Apple and obtaining a strong first contract that makes positive changes for Apple workers and the customers they are proud to serve.”

Companies have responded to employee efforts to organize in different ways.

Amazon challenged the outcome of a plan to unionise at a warehouse in New York City, while Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O)President Brad Smith said in a blog post earlier this month that his company will not resist efforts by employees to organize.

Apple employees at a store in Georgia earlier this year had plans to vote on unionisation but canceled the vote, with union officers later filing a complaint alleging Apple intimidated its employees. Employees at two other Apple stores in New York are also considering unionisation.

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Microsoft announced this week a collaborative initiative with the World Bank to help bridge the disability divide through the use of digital technologies.

According to a report by the World Bank, many people with disabilities remain unidentified and thus absent from programmes, action plans and agendas.

This is primarily attributed to discrepancies in both the accessibility and usage of disability-disaggregated data, both across organisations and countries.

Estimates place the number of people with a disability at approximately one billion people, roughly 15 per cent of the global population.

This necessitates a better understanding and utilisation of population data to improve how disabled people are identified and thus improve the help and access to resources they require.

“The World Bank’s partnership with Microsoft aims to bring higher visibility to the development outcomes and living conditions of persons with disabilities,” World Bank Global Disability Advisor Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo said.

“This effort will ensure that more policymakers, development practitioners, civil society and academia use a disability lens and evidence to inform new financial investments, policy reforms and service delivery,” she added.

The collaboration between Microsoft and the World Bank, which also involves a partnership with Fordham University, entails improved access to demographics and statistics data to ensure disabled people are better represented, especially in low and middle-income nations.

“The goal of this effort is to develop a public-facing, online ‘disability data hub’ to offer information on persons with disabilities across populations, geographies and development indicators,” Microsoft said.

Among the core principles for the development of the hub are an alignment with the UN’s sustainable development goals, requiring countries to disaggregate data by disability by 2030, as well as adopting a holistic approach to collecting disability data.

Moreover, the company said that it will engage with the disabled community, with the resulting dialogue set to influence the design and creation of the hub and its related services.

“The new disability data hub aims to provide a clearer picture of disability prevalence, representation and inclusion globally,” Microsoft explained.

“This will help make it more possible than ever for governments, development practitioners, organisations of persons with disabilities, employers and civil society to understand the varying intersectional barriers for individuals with disabilities based on factors such as age, gender or socioeconomic background,” the company concluded.
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Australia’s competition regulator said on Thursday a court ordered the local unit of Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) to pay a A$14 million ($9.65 million) penalty for nine misleading advertisements about a water-resistance feature in some of its smartphones.

Samsung Australia admitted to misleading buyers of some of its ‘Galaxy’ phones about the water-resistance level, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) said. The regulator had first sued the company in July 2019.

Samsung Australia said in a statement that this was not an issue in its newer, current models.

The regulator said between March 2016 and October 2018, the company ran in-store and social media advertisements that claimed the phones could be used in pools or seawater.

The ACCC, however, received hundreds of complaints from users saying the smartphones did not function properly or even stopped working entirely after being exposed to water.

The claims “promoted an important selling point for these Galaxy phones. Many consumers who purchased a Galaxy phone may have been exposed to the misleading ads before they made their decision to purchase a new phone,” said ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb.

Samsung and the ACCC agreed that changes the company had made to newer models of the smartphones launched in Australia from March 2018 did not face such risks from water exposure, the company said.
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NASA will launch a rocket from the remote wilderness of northern Australia on Sunday evening, the first commercial space launch in Australia and the agency’s first from a commercial spaceport.

The suborbital rocket will be briefly visible seconds after the launch, scheduled for 10:44 p.m. (1344 GMT) Australian Central Standard Time, and will travel 300 kilometres (186 miles) into space.

The dry Australian landscape and its closeness to the equator offer optimal conditions for space launches, said Australian National University astrophysicist Brad Tucker, who will be 400 metres from the launch pad at the Arnhem Space Centre.

“At 12 degrees in Arnhem you don’t get many places closer to the equator. Particularly you don’t get places close to the equator where you can get dry, stable air. Florida, where Cape Canaveral is, is kind of a swamp,” he said, referring to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The U.S. space agency, formally the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has said three launches from Arnhem Space Centre in June and July will help it explore how a star’s light can influence a planet’s habitability.

Sunday’s mission will carry detectors to measure X-rays produced by hot gases that fill the space between stars to help study how they influence the evolution of galaxies, NASA said in a statement.

The second and third missions in July will observe Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to Earth, and the nearest to the Southern Cross constellation that features on the Australian flag, said Tucker. The constellation and Alpha Centauri can only be seen in the Southern skies.

“The big goal is to see if there is potentially Earth-like planets around it,” he said, adding scientists have been waiting a decade to launch a rocket from the Southern Hemisphere. It will be visible for 10-50 seconds.

“100 seconds after launch the science teams will be active and they will be controlling the telescope on board… They will know in real time how successful it is.”

NASA is the first client for the commercial space port operated by Equatorial Launch Australia, and 70 NASA staff have travelled to Australia for the three missions.

The payload and rocket will return to Earth the same evening.

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Russia has restricted access to Meta's flagship platforms Facebook and Instagram, as well as fellow social network Twitter

A Moscow court on Monday rejected an appeal brought by Meta Platforms Inc META.O after it was found guilty of “extremist activity” in Russia in March, the TASS news agency reported.

Russia restricted access to Meta’s flagship platforms Facebook and Instagram, as well as fellow social network Twitter, in the wake of Moscow sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, a move critics have cast as an effort by Russia to exert greater control over information flows.

Back in March, Russia said its extremism ruling would not affect Meta’s WhatsApp messenger service, focusing instead on Facebook and Instagram. Read full story

Meta did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Lawyer Victoria Shakina in March told a court that Meta was not carrying out extremist activity and was against Russophobia.

Russia initially banned Facebook for restricting access to Russian media while Instagram was then targeted after Meta said it would allow social media users in Ukraine to post messages urging violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and troops Moscow sent there.

Meta subsequently narrowed its guidance to prohibit calls for the death of a head of state and said its guidance should never be interpreted as condoning violence against Russians in general.

Russia has also objected to foreign platforms’ treatment of its own media, some of which carry labels of being ‘state-controlled’. State communications regulator Roskomnadzor has also regularly fined social media companies that fail to delete content Russia deems illegal.

A lawyer representing Meta on Monday told the court that refusing to block access to content and labelling state-controlled media were not activities that qualified as extremist, according to a Kommersant reporter in the courtroom.

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Electric and hybrid models should make up 80 per cent of Ferrari’s (RACE.MI) sales by 2030, the luxury carmaker told investors on Thursday, vowing to produce “even more unique” cars as it makes the expensive shift to zero-emission driving.

“We believe we can use the electric engine to enhance the performance of our cars,” Chief Executive Benedetto Vigna said on Thursday as he unveiled the company’s long-awaited new business plan.

Like other sports carmakers, Ferrari’s challenge goes beyond just the huge capital investments needed to develop electric models that can match the high performance of their fossil-fuel forebears – today’s electric vehicle (EV) batteries cannot deliver the sustained power of a combustion engine sports car.

Ferrari and its rivals also sell an emotional experience to wealthy customers currently centred on the throaty roar of that powerful engine. So as it goes electric, Ferrari must ensure its high-net worth customers and investors are along for the ride.

“Everything we do will always focus on being distinctively Ferrari,” company chairman John Elkann said in opening remarks. “The opportunity set of electrification and electronics will allow us to make even more unique cars.”

In the meantime, Ferrari said it would unveil its first ever sport-utility vehicle – powered by its hefty, gas-guzzling trademark 12-cylinder engine – this September.

Vigna confirmed the Italian carmaker’s plans to launch its first electric model in 2025, and Ferrari said it would launch 15 new models from 2023 to 2026.

The company expects fully-electric cars will make up 5 per cent of sales in 2025 and 40 per cent in 2030, Vigna said. Hybrid models should rise to 55 per cent of sales in 2025 from 20 per cent in 2021, before dropping to 40 per cent in 2030.

Vigna said Ferrari would develop and build its own electric motors, inverters and battery modules for its electric models on a new assembly line at its plant in Maranello, Italy, while outsourcing non-core components to partners.

He said the carmaker is working with battery makers to research the next generation of solid state batteries, could store more energy than conventional batteries today, for its electric models.

Faced with looming bans on fossil-fuel vehicles in Europe and China, major automakers have committed to spend more than $250 billion through 2025 on the shift to electrification, according to industry estimates.

Ferrari said it expects to invest 4.4 billion euros ($4.58 billion) by 2026, most of that on product development, while delivering EBITDA (core earnings) of 2.5-2.7 billion euros by that year. Ferrari’s current guidance for 2022 is for adjusted EBITDA of 1.65-1.70 billion euros.

The carmaker expects cumulated free cash flow of 4.6-4.9 billion euros from 2022 to 2026.

Customers and investors both like what Ferrari does today, with a long order book for cars that start from over 200,000 euros.

Shares in Ferrari have been almost flat in the past 12 months, versus an 18 per cent drop for the European auto index (.SXAP) and a 13 per cent drop for the luxury index (.STXLUXP).

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Republican senators on Friday asked TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew about reports the social media site had allowed Russian state-approved media content but barred other videos.

“Recent reports indicate TikTok… has allowed Russian state media to flood the platform with dangerous pro-war propaganda. No company should find itself in the position of amplifying the Kremlin’s lies, which fuel public support for Russia’s war of choice in Ukraine,” said the letter, led by Steve Daines and signed by John Cornyn, Roger Wicker, John Barrasso, James Lankford and Cynthia Lummis.

The senators wrote they were “deeply concerned” that TikTok “is enabling the spread of pro-war propaganda to the Russian public, which risks adding to an already devastating human toll for both Ukrainians and Russians.”

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment. TikTok said in a statement to Reuters that the company was looking forward to continuing to engage with members on these issues and answer their questions.

Reuters reported in March the Chinese-owned video app said it would suspend live-streaming and the uploading of videos to its platform in Russia as it reviewed the implications of a new media law signed by President Vladimir Putin.

The senators said TikTok has failed “to equally enforce this

policy” and cited a news report that said it “appears TikTok belatedly closed this loophole on March 25.”

The letter added the “misleading, pro-regime content that flooded the service has not been taken down, creating an easily-accessible archive of pro-war propaganda” and asked TikTok to answer a series of questions.

TikTok, owned by Beijing-based internet technology company ByteDance, has been under mounting U.S. scrutiny over the personal data it handles. At a U.S. congressional hearing last October, the company faced tough questions from U.S. lawmakers.L1N2RM26T

Senator Marsha Blackburn, the panel’s top Republican, said she was concerned about TikTok’s data collection, including audio and a user’s location, and the potential for the Chinese government to gain access to the information. Blackburn questioned TikTok on whether the company could resist giving data to China’s government if material were to be demanded.

TikTok is one of the world’s most popular social media apps, with more than 1 billion active users globally.