Amazon has banned a total of approximately 600 Chinese third-party brands and 3,000 related third-party seller accounts in a crackdown this year, Cindy Tai, the company's Vice President of Asia Global Selling, told Chinese media on Friday.
Tai made the comments at a local event in Hangzhou, China where Amazon announced it would work with the local government to train Chinese sellers.
Since early 2021, Amazon has banned many Chinese third-party sellers, causing a wave of panic in China's lucrative cross-border ecommerce industry. These 3,000 accounts are permanently terminated, Tai said, as they have repeatedly abused the reviews function after Amazon issued several warnings, according to Chinese publication Sina Tech.
Tai emphasized that Amazon's actions aren't targeting Chinese sellers. "Regardless of the size or nationality of the seller, we are treating them in the same way. The treatment of these accounts is not influenced by any external factors, including political factors," she said.
It's the first time an Amazon executive has publicly talked about the details of this year's crackdown. But the numbers given by Amazon are much smaller than earlier industry estimates. Previously, a local trade group in Shenzhen, China estimated that
The report details how SpaceX can address environmental concerns about its facility in the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge, meaning that the FAA will likely allow the company to obtain licenses to launch the largest rocket ever built.
Elon Musk and SpaceX have described the Cameron County, Texas, facility as a future "Starbase" which the company and its leader envision as a portal for interplanetary travel. The development of a rocket that could eventually carry people to the Moon and Mars has divided the citizens and leaders of the area, known locally as Boca Chica Beach, who are both eager for economic investment in one of the poorest regions in the United States and afraid of the environmental and social consequences of testing a massive rocket in an exceptionally rare habitat. The FAA is the lead regulatory authority over the project, and this environmental review process is the only regulatory hurdle between the company and its ambitions for the area.
Before the draft report becomes a final proposal, the FAA will host two virtual community meetings in October. The final FAA product, called a Programmatic Environmental Assessment, will conclude one of three options: that the Starship testing and launches will have no significant impact, that SpaceX needs to take measures to address the impact, or that the project requires an additional and broader environmental assessment because of the potential for measurable negative effects.
The current draft, while it does not include the results of environmental assessments by Texas or federal wildlife officials, appears to indicate that SpaceX could sufficiently address environmental concerns in a way that will allow the testing and launches to proceed under federal law. The company will likely be required to hire a biologist to monitor wildlife during construction and testing, as well as other measures that could reduce the environmental effects of construction, testing, and launches. The draft does not directly address the main fears from environmental groups that SpaceX is risking the habitat of endangered bird and invertebrate species, or the complaints of community groups that the company has failed to abide by its promises with regard to road closures and beach access.
"At first glance, it looks like a private company subsidized by millions in Texas taxpayer dollars is asking the public to sacrifice a National Wildlife Refuge," said David Newstead, director of the coastal bird program at the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, which monitors and researches wildlife activity around the facility.
Niantic, the creator of Pokémon Go, is shutting down Catan: World Explorers, one of its more high-profile augmented reality follow-ups, before it even fully launches. The game will be gone for good on Nov. 18, the developer announced on the dedicated Catan: World Explorers website early Friday morning.
"After a year of exploring the world together, we are announcing today that CATAN – World Explorers will not be rolling out to more countries and instead we will be winding down the game over the coming months. The team thanks all of you, our dedicated players, for your feedback and your fun," the development team wrote in the blog post. It's not entirely clear what went wrong, but the post goes on to say that the project "got a little too complicated."
"We had a vision for trading, harvesting, and building up the world in seasonal play and resetting the board each month, just like you do for each new game you play at home. But trying to adapt such a well-designed board game to a global, location-based Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game was a tough challenge," the team said. "We're so proud of the game we made, however we got a little too complicated and a little too far from the original CATAN game. The work and knowledge that we learned working on this game is not lost and we're already working hard on more games for the future."
The shutdown marks a rare failure for Niantic, which became a gaming juggernaut and AR pioneer off the global success of Pokémon Go starting in 2016. The popularity of that title helped Niantic land a series of licensing deals with iconic brand names, such as Harry Potter and Transformers. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is still active, and Niantic is currently developing the Transformers title, as well as an AR game in Nintendo's Pikmin series.
Catan: World Explorers was announced the fall of 2019 and it promised to translate the German board game's iconic settler theme into the real world, using all the AR tricks that have made Pokémon Go such a hit. The game soft launched in an early access stage in various territories over the past 18 months, but never officially launched on either the App Store or Google Play for players in the U.S. or any other major markets. Current players have roughly two more months to enjoy the game, but real money purchases are being turned off and those with currency on their account will have the option to transfer it over to Pokémon Go.
Apple employees will have to get tested regularly for COVID-19, according to
The company confirmed to Protocol that it was mandating testing for all employees going to an Apple office or store. Unvaccinated employees will need to get tested more frequently than vaccinated employees.
reported earlier this month that Apple had asked its U.S. employees to report their vaccination status. The company has told employees that it does not plan to reopen its offices until January at the earliest.
Apple, along with other giants like Amazon and Intel, has not announced a vaccine mandate for its employees. A forthcoming rule from the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will require companies with 100 or more employees to mandate either vaccination or weekly testing.
Google, Facebook, Uber, Lyft and Twitter are some of the tech giants that have already mandated vaccines.
Apple and Google removed an app created by allies of opposition leader Alexei Navalny from their app stores on Friday, under pressure from the Russian government. The Smart Voting app is part of Navalny's strategy to promote candidates running against those backed by the Kremlin.
Russian officials made it clear that if Apple and Google failed to remove the app from their online stores, they could be met with fines. Ultimately, according to the Associated Press, Apple agreed to remove the app after meeting with Russia's Parliament on Thursday, and Google removed the app due to what one source said was the possibility of criminal prosecution.
In a Facebook post reported by the Associated Press, Leonid Volkov, a strategist for Navalny accused the companies of having "bent to the Kremlin's blackmail."
This is not the first time Russian authorities have accused tech giants such as Twitter, Facebook, Google and others of stoking opposition via their platforms, and it likely won't be the last. For Apple and Google, two companies that often promote the value of free expression, such government requests are fast becoming the cost of doing business in countries where that freedom isn't always respected.