Apple has eliminated over 11,000 video games from its Chinese language App Retailer within the wake of modifications to Chinese language licensing guidelines, and there is extra the place that got here from.
Earlier this month Apple was pressured to take away hundreds of video games from its App Retailer in China following modifications to licensing restrictions in China. From that report:
All app builders want an official license from regulators in China to place their video games on Apple’s App Retailer. Beforehand, builders have been allowed to have their video games go stay while they have been ready for his or her license to be accredited. A rule change earlier this 12 months implies that builders will now must safe a license earlier than submitting their apps. The change got here into pressure on June 30, and Apple’s preliminary response was to freeze updates for “tens of hundreds” of cellular video games from unlicensed builders.
Over four,500 video games have been eliminated in simply three days, and the most recent AppInChina knowledge exhibits greater than 11,000 video games have now been eliminated.
The one reprieve for builders was that Apple was solely eradicating video games in the event that they have been up to date, which means video games might sit on the App Retailer with out being actively eliminated. This, nevertheless, is all about to vary.
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In an email sent to developers, Apple has said that if builders need to preserve any paid video games, or video games with in-app purchases obtainable on the App Retailer in China, then they have to enter their approval quantity and supporting documentation within the App data web page of App Retailer Join, earlier than submitting an replace to App Overview. This should be finished earlier than July 31. After that, video games will now not be obtainable on the China mainland App Retailer till an approval quantity is offered. Which means there will likely be a mass cull of paid video games, or video games that provide IAPs that do not need licenses from August 1.
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Reliance Industries (RIL) on Wednesday held its first-ever virtual annual general meeting (AGM). Unlike other years, this time there is no festival-like, magnificent atmosphere at Birla Matushree hall of Mumbai but with Jio’s technology the AGM has showcased multiple firsts on real-time basis including a chat bot, two-way live streaming, and a brand-new virtual platform that enables more than 100,000 shareholders from 500 locations, in India and overseas.
Here’s the full text of RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani:
My Dear Shareowners,
A very warm good afternoon to each and every one of you.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 43 Annual General Meeting of Reliance Industries Limited.
The corona crisis is the most disruptive event in modern human history.
The resultant economic crisis has compounded the global community’s hardships.
However, I have no doubt India and the world will achieve faster progress, greater prosperity and a new quality of development post the Covid crisis. And, I also strongly believe that every adversity presents multiple new opportunities. Take this AGM itself. All of us are participating in it through our brand-new digital product – called JIOMEET.
JIOMEET, since its release a few days ago has already been downloaded by more than 5 million users.
It is India’s first and only cloud-based video-conferencing app. And you will be proud to know that it has been built by a young Jio Platforms team in just two months.
1. Business & Financial Performance
The Company’s accounts for the year ended March 31, 2020 have already been circulated to you.
With your permission, I would like to take them as read. Reliance had yet another year of record performance.
Reliance became the first Indian company to exceed market capitalisation of $150 billion.
Reliance is also the first Indian company to cross ₹ 1,00,000 crore in consolidated EBITDA.
The earnings from our O2C and Upstream businesses declined due to the challenging market environment.
Yet, the consolidated performance was up 10% over the last year due to strong growth in Organized Retail and Digital Services businesses.
Our consumer businesses continued to deliver hyper growth with an EBITDAgrowth of 49% this year.
Consumer businesses today contribute about 35% of our consolidated EBITDA.
Just five years ago, nearly all of our EBITDAwas from our energy and materials business.
Since then, our consumer and technology businesses have rapidly achieved scale by their exponential growth.
Reliance’s seminal contribution to the Indian economy remains unmatched.
Here are a few snapshots:
At ₹ 202,830 crore, we continue to be India’s largest exporter accounting for 9.1% of India’s total merchandise exports
across 109 countries.
We are India’s highest payer of customs and excise duty in the private sector with payments of over ₹ 21,660 crore.
We are amongst the highest payers of GSTand VATat ₹ 69,372 crore.
We are amongst the highest payers of Income Tax in the private sector paying ₹ 8,386 crore.
In last year’s AGM speech, I had shared my goals of growing our businesses through partnerships and achieving a Net Debt Free Balance Sheet.
I am happy to report that we have fulfilled this promise well ahead of the timelines that we had set ourselves.
In a short span of a few months, we have raised a record amount of capital and forged several new strategic partnerships.
We completed India’s largest-ever ₹ 53,124 crore Rights Issue. This was also the world’s largest Rights Issue by a non-financial institution in a decade.
This was over-subscribed 1.59 times, setting another record in the Indian capital markets. A unique feature of RIL’s Rights Issue was that it was completed entirely on a digital platform during the lockdown
None of the stakeholders – regulators, bankers, financial institutions, retail investors and others – had to step out of their offices or homes for it. This showcased India’s potential to be a pioneer and an innovator in this Digital Age.
Dear Shareholders – Thank you for making the Rights Issue a phenomenal success.
Let me take a few minutes to warmly welcome our new and esteemed partners in Jio.
First, Facebook, a global technology powerhouse and a leading social media and internet company as our premier strategic partner.
After Facebook, we have investments from some of the most admired technology and financial investors – Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, KKR, TPG and LCatterton.
All of them have a long history of successfully investing in the best of technology and growth enterprises in the world.
Intel and Qualcomm, who have shaped the semi-conductor industry, are at the heart of the digital ecosystems.
We will work with them to develop new products for India and Indians.
I look forward to working with each of them in a collaborative way to build on Jio Platforms’ portfolio of technology and solutions.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome three of the world’s largest Sovereign Wealth Funds – ADIAand Mubadala of the UAE, and PIF of Saudi Arabia – as our valued partners.
We are grateful to all our partners. What they bring is more than money. They bring faith in the Indian economy’s immense growth potential.
They also bring a strong vote of confidence in our bold mission, and our ability to execute it. We look forward to working with all of them and generating value to all our stakeholders.
As we end our current cycle of capital raising, we are delighted to welcome another strategic partner into Jio. Acompany that needs no introduction, because it is a household name in India and globally.
A company that has pioneered search engine and operating systems that are used across the world.
Let me welcome, Google to be our strategic investor in Jio Platforms.
Today, we have signed a binding partnership and an investment agreement with GOOGLE… under which Google will invest ₹ 33,737 crores for a 7.7% stake in Jio Platforms.
This transaction is subject to regulatory and other customary approvals.
With this investment by Google, strategic and financial investors have committed a total of ₹ 152,056 crore in the last few months.
We have also concluded our JV with BPin our existing fuel retailing business.
BPhas invested ₹ 7,629 crore for their 49% stake in the JV. Cumulatively, we have raised a total of ₹ 212,809 crore through our Rights Issue, the combined investments in Jio
Platforms, and investment by BP. This is unprecedented in the history of capital markets in India. Indeed, there would be very few parallels globally.
This capital raise is significantly in excess of our Net Debt of ₹ 161,035 crore at the end of FY19-20. Reliance is now truly a zero Net Debt company, well ahead of my goal of March 2021.
We now have an extremely strong Balance Sheet that will support all our growth plans for our three Hyper-Growth Engines.
Jio, Retail and O2C.
Our target for capital raise is now complete and we now look forward to only adding strategic partners who share our vision in each of our current and future businesses.
2. Jio/ Digital Services
Let me start with our first Hyper-Growth Engine – JIO… our digital service initiative.
I would like to first share with you the philosophy that animates Jio’s current and future initiatives.
The Digital Revolution marks the greatest disruptive transformation in the history of mankind.
Comparable only to the appearance of human beings with intelligence capabilities on our planet about 50,000 years
It is comparable because man is now beginning to infuse almost limitless intelligence into the world around him.
We are today at the initial stages of the evolution of an INTELLIGENTPLANET. Unlike in the past, this evolution will proceed with a revolutionary speed. Our world will change more unrecognizably in just the eight remaining decades of the 21st century than today’s world has changed from what it was 20 centuries ago.
For the first time in history, mankind has an opportunity to solve big problems inherited from the past. This will create a world of prosperity, beauty and happiness for all.
India must lead this change to create a better world. For this, all our people and all our enterprises have to be enabled and empowered with the necessary technology infrastructure and capabilities.
This is Jio’s purpose.
This is Jio’s ambition.
JIO is now the undisputed leader in India…
With the largest customer base… the largest share of data and voice traffic…
and a world-class next-generation broadband network that covers the length and breadth of our country.
We are deeply thankful and appreciative to all our customers… for their trust… and for giving us the privilege to serve and delight them every single day.
This year… 2020… will forever be etched in human consciousness because of COVID-19…
Almost overnight… all of us became reliant on DIGITAL CONNECTIVITY… to stay connected… to stay healthy… and to stay productive.
I can say with pride, that during these past months… JIO has become the digital lifeline for Indians.
Despite the huge surge in data traffic, JIO’s network has held firm…
and we continue to deliver on our promise of being an essential service provider to the nation.
Jio’s vision stands on two solid pillars.
One is Digital Connectivity.
The other is Digital Platforms.
We have now fully kickstarted all the FIVE ACCELERATORS of growth of
JIOFIBER… our optical-fiber based, Gigabit-speed HOME BROADBAND service.
We have already connected over a million homes on JIOFIBER…
And our growth will accelerate as we gear up to connect millions more over the coming months in the post-COVID period.
JIO’s ENTERPRISE BROADBAND service…
In combination with powerful cloud solutions, this is enabling Indian enterprises to make rapid strides towards digital transformation… and global competitiveness.
BROADBAND for SMALLAND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES…
Jio’s enterprise-grade voice and data services… and cloud-based solutions… are bringing Indian SMEs from zero connectivity and zero technology… to operating with the same efficiency as large connected enterprises.
Jio’s Narrowband Internet-of-Things – or NBIoT– service…
We use our pan-India 4G network to connect billions of smart sensors… with the highest reliability and lowest cost.
In the next THREE years, I can see a strong path for Jio to connect
Over a HALF ABILLION mobile customers;
Over a BILLION smart sensors; and
Over 50 million HOMES and BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENTS.
But, what is perhaps not so well known is that JIO’s global-scale 4G and FIBER network is powered by several core software technologies and components…
that have been developed by young Jio engineers, right here in India.
And this capability and know-how that JIO has developed, positions JIO on the cutting edge of another exciting frontier – 5G.
TODAY, Friends, I have great pride in announcing…
That JIO has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch.
This will enable us to launch a world-class 5G service in India… using 100% home grown technologies and solutions.
This Made-in-India 5G solution will be ready for trials as soon as 5G spectrum is available… and can be ready for field deployment next year.
And because of JIO’s converged, all-IPnetwork architecture… we can easily upgrade our 4G network to 5G.
Once Jio’s 5G solution is proven at India-scale, Jio Platforms would be well positioned to be an exporter of 5G solutions to other telecom operators globally, as a complete managed service.
I dedicate Jio’s 5G solution to our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s highly motivating vision of ‘ATMANIRBHAR
JIO PLATFORMS is conceived with this vision… of developing original, captive
INTELLECTUALPROPERTY… using which we can demonstrate the transformative power of technology across multiple Industry ecosystems …
First in India…
And then confidently offering these Made-in-India solutions to the rest of the world.
Applications like MyJio and Jio SAAVN have already become household names and are used by hundreds of millions of loyal customers each month.
JIO PLATFORMS, along with its over 20 start-up partners who are now part of our family, has built significant worldclass capabilities in several cutting-edge technologies…
ONE… 4G and 5G technologies
TWO… Cloud Computing
THREE… Devices and Operating Systems
FOUR… Big Data Analytics
FIVE… Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
SIX… Virtual and Mixed Reality
SEVEN… Block Chain
EIGHT… Natural Language Understanding
NINE… Computer Vision…
Using these technologies, we can create compelling solutions that span multiple Industry verticals and ecosystems…
These are the technologies and ecosystem solutions that hold the power to achieve 360-degree digital transformation of India.
Our start-up partners have contributed significantly to our strengths across many of these areas…
And we are inviting even more start-ups to join forces with us.
With its 100% owned Intellectual Property… total solutions approach… and the opportunity to serve a global audience…
Over the years, Reliance has built deep domain knowledge in most of the Industry verticals that are key to the Indian economy… and JIO PLATFORMS can combine this domain expertise with its technology strengths to create multiple innovative ecosystem solutions and managed services for our country.
Each of these solutions, once proven in India, has the potential to be a global solution… that can be used to serve the rest of the world.
I am setting a goal for JIO PLATFORMS to pursue this global opportunity and to create a significant source of revenue from both the domestic and global markets.
I believe that the time has come for a truly global digital product and services company to emerge from India, and to be counted among the best in the world.
At this point, let me pause… and invite Isha, Akash and Kiran on to our virtual stage… to demonstrate a few of the magical solutions that JIO has
been working on recently…
Thank you Isha, Akash and Kiran… for that sampling of the exciting solutions that Jio is developing.
Given Jio’s ambitions to be a global technology, platforms and solutions company,
It is important that we keep the company of the best technology enterprises in the world.
Last year, we announced our partnership with MICROSOFT…
And I am happy to report that we are making rapid progress in our Azure cloud partnership.
As I mentioned to you earlier, we are privileged to enter into another strategic partnership with FACEBOOK, one of the very best technology companies in the world.
We had announced our partnership in April of this year, and we have now received all the necessary regulatory approvals.
Both Facebook and Jio share a strong vision for digitally empowering consumers as well as small businesses and entrepreneurs across India.
And now… I want to share with all of you… a message from the CEO of FACEBOOK – MARK ZUCKERBERG.
Which he made at the time of the announcement of our partnership.
Transcript of Mark Zuckerberg
“Hi everyone. I know there’s a lot going on around the world right now, and I hope you are all staying healthy and safe. I want to share an important update. Facebook is joining forces with a new partner in India – we’re making a major
financial investment, and we will become the largest minority shareholder in Jio Platforms. More than that, we’re also committing to work together on some critical projects that we think will open up a lot of opportunities for commerce in India.
India is a special place for us, it’s home to the largest communities around the world on Facebook and WhatsApp, and there are a lot of talented entrepreneurs. It is also in the middle of a major digital transformation that’s being led by organizations like Jio that over the last four years have put hundreds of millions of Indians on to the internet. And that’s a big deal, because when people get access to the internet, digital tools, they are powered to do a whole lot of new things – learning, teaching, finding communities, people they care about, and of course starting all kinds of new businesses.
This is really important especially right now, because small businesses are at the core of every country’s economy, and they need our support. India has more than 60 million small businesses and millions of people rely on them for their jobs and livelihoods. Lot of entrepreneurs now need tools they can rely on to help them find and communicate with their customers and to grow their businesses. Now, with a lot of communities around the world in lockdown, it’s even more important now than ever that people have the tools to connect with each other, and their businesses can find ways to operate online. This is something that we think we can help with, which is why we are proud to be partnering with Jio to help people and businesses in India create a lot of new opportunities. We are going to share more on this soon.
So I want to thank Mukesh Ambani and the entire Jio team for your partnership. I think we are going to build a lot of great things that people find valuable in their daily lives, and importantly that make it easier to live and easier to do business.
This is an important moment for all of us, and I want to personally extend a welcome to all others who want to get involved and help in this effort. We’re looking forward to getting started. So, thank you and I hope you all continue
staying healthy and safe.”
Thank you, MARK.
WhatsApp… which is a FACEBOOK product… is already the platform of choice for Indians and Indian businesses to
connect with each other.
Over 400 million WhatsApp users in India bring unique value to our partnership.
Jio’s New Commerce platform… JioMart… and Whatsapp will be working closely to create growth opportunities for millions of Indian small merchants and kirana shops…
And to ensure that consumers are able to transact seamlessly with nearby kiranas using JioMart and WhatsApp.
Let me now talk about our partnership with Google.
From day one… it has been Jio’s commitment to provide affordable 4G devices to more than 450 million feature phone users in India.
It was with this intention… that a couple of years back… we developed the JIOPHONE… which still remains the world’s most affordable 4G phone.
Now… even though we have sold over 100 million JIOPHONES till date…
there are many featurephone users who are waiting… to upgrade to a conventional SMARTPHONE… if only it were somehow more affordable.
So, we have decided to address this challenge head-on. We believe we can design entry-level 4G… or even 5G SMARTPHONE… for a fraction of its current cost.
But, to power such a value engineered smartphone, we also need an equally value-engineered smartphone operating system…and such an operating system must be designed with India in mind.
Google and Jio are partnering to build an Android-based smartphone operating system.
Through this partnership, we are confident that we can accelerate the national mission of putting a smart device in the hands of every Indian.
As India is standing at the doorsteps of the 5G era, we should accelerate the migration of 350 million Indians, who currently use a 2G feature phone, to an affordable smart phone.
They should not be deprived of the benefits of the digital and data revolution.
Jio is determined to make India 2G-mukt.
On this occasion… we have with us a special guest to talk about this partnership…… the CEO of GOOGLE
And a proud Indian icon…
– SUNDAR PICHAI.
Transcript of Sundar Pichai Video:
“Thanks, Mukesh, and to the entire team at Reliance Industries, for all the work you do to give millions of Indians the
power to shape their destiny through technology. And thank you for the opportunity to share a few words about what our
new partnership means to Google.
Getting technology into the hands of more people is a big part of Google’s mission to organize the world’s information
and make it universally accessible and useful. Through this partnership with Jio Platforms we see the chance to have
an even greater impact than either company could have alone.
This partnership is a key part of the next chapter of investment in India. Earlier this week we announced our Google for
India Digitization Fund, an effort to invest 75,000 crore rupees or approximately $10 billion — to accelerate India’s
digital economy over the next 5 to 7 years.
Our investment of $4.5 billion in Jio is the first — and the biggest — investment we will make through this fund. I am
excited that our joint collaboration will focus on increasing access for hundreds of millions of Indians who don’t
currently own a smartphone…while improving the mobile experience for all.
Growing up I remember how the arrival of each new technology improved the lives of my family. Today, people in India
no longer have to wait for technology to come to you. Awhole new generation of technologies are happening here, first.
At the same time, smartphones and affordable data have made it possible for a billion Indians to come online.
Reliance, and Jio in particular, deserves a good deal of credit for this progress.
But there is more work to do to connect every Indian to the opportunities that technology creates.This goal is especially
important at a time of enormous challenge for India and the world. I’ve never been more hopeful about India’s future –
it’s a future we can help shape by partnering together.
Thank you for having me. I wish you strength and good health in the months to come.”
Thank you, Sundar, for your wonderful words.
We are truly blessed to have world-class partners like Facebook, Google and Microsoft.
In their company, we are even more confident of reaching the ambitious goals that we have currently identified.
And in a large market like India, I am sure we will find even more areas where we can work together.
Our journey thus far… and our road ahead… is possible… most of all… because of the talented and passionate people who are part of the Jio Family.
And in this family, we count our employees, our strategic partners, our technology partners, our channel partners… and the many start-ups who have partnered with us.
Just a few decades back, Reliance itself was a start-up… And as a less-than 4 years old company, JIO is still very much a start-up.
As such… we have a very special place in our heart for start-ups… whom we consider our brothers-in-arms.
I believe that there is no better partner for Indian start-ups than JIO. We are well positioned to help Indian start-ups in a number of ways…
Whether it be in technology development… product development… distribution… market access… or even scale-up
We are ready to integrate them into our roadmap and to help them reach their full potential.
We believe that this would be the true measure of success for Jio… to create a mighty Knowledge Coalition that solves
Indian problems… and opens the doors for many more companies from India to step successfully on to the global stage.
Together, I am confident that Jio, and this extended Jio Family… will play a leading role in India’s transformation into a DIGITALSOCIETY… and one of the leading digitally-enabled economies in the world.
Let me now present the success of our media and entertainment.
Our Network18 Group’s 72 channel-strong TV broadcast network across News and Entertainment reaches more than 800 million Indians.
Our digital properties are now used by almost 200 million people every month. We are amongst the top 10 digital news players across sectors.
We are consolidating our media and distribution businesses. Den and Hathway are being merged with Network18 and TV18, subject to regulatory approvals.
This will make the Network18 group the largest listed media and distribution company in the country.
3. Organised Retail
Reliance Retail has been at the forefront of bringing about the Organized Retail Revolution in India.
At the heart of our business is our relentless commitment to serve customers at scale to meet their everyday needs by providing extreme value and convenience.
We do this by partnering with farmers, small and medium-scale manufacturers, merchants, vendors, start-ups and global companies.
Last year, Reliance Retail revenues were ₹ 162,936 crore and EBITDAwas ₹ 9,654 crore.
We are India’s largest and most profitable retail business.
Reliance Retail is the fastest growing retailer in the world, and the only Indian Retailer to feature in the Top 100 global retailers.
And we continue to be a partner of choice for marquee international brands. I applaud the Retail team for ensuring the supply of essentials to our consumers, despite enormous constraints during the lockdown.
In the last five years, our revenues in the retail business have grown 8 times and our profits 11 times.
This positions us well in the years ahead to continue delivering on our promise of exponential growth.
Four things that give me huge satisfaction are:
First, more than two-thirds of our nearly 12,000 stores are operated in Tier II,
Tier III and Tier IV towns.
Second, the deep-rooted bond with tens of thousands of farmers that has helped us source over 80% of our fresh
fruits and vegetable directly from farmers.
We sell more fruits and vegetables than any other organised retailer in the country.
Third, we continue to provide large employment and development opportunities for lakhs of people across India.
Fourth, our growth model is based on partnership with small merchants and shopkeepers.
Last year, I spoke about our New Commerce initiative, JioMart.
JioMart is a tech-enabled partnership that will link producers, traders, small merchants, consumer brands and consumers.
And will reduce inefficiencies thereby creating more value for everyone in the retail ecosystem.
Connecting farmers and delivering their fresh produce directly to homes is a key part of our grocery strategy.
This will significantly improve farmer income and incentivise higher productivity
New Commerce will transfer significant new value to consumers, producers and merchants.
I am happy to report that we are accelerating the rollout of JioMart.
Currently, we have successfully piloted our JioMart grocery model with kirana partners.
We are also piloting the beta version of the JioMart grocery customer online platform in 200 cities.
Within a few weeks of launch, we have reached over 250,000 orders a day and the numbers continue to grow each day.
JioMart is now focused on scaling its geographical reach and delivery capabilities.
JioMart is obsessed with providing convenience and a superior shopping experience to consumers.
In addition to grocery, we will expand JioMart to cover electronics, fashion, pharmaceutical and healthcare in the days ahead.
In the coming years, we will cover many more cities, serve many more customers across India, and expand to many more categories.
Today the world recognizes our hyper-growth inclusive model.
We have received strong interest from strategic and financial investors in Reliance Retail.
We will induct global partners and investors in Reliance Retail in the next few quarters.
I will keep you informed about the progress of Reliance Retail, which is at the doorsteps of continued exponential growth.
4. Oil to Chemicals And Oil and Gas
Now I will present our plans to transform our energy and materials businesses into a new growth engine.
The year gone by, was the most challenging for global refining and petrochemical industries.
Even in this uncertain and volatile environment, our O2C business outperformed the sector and delivered an EBITDA
of ₹ 55,394 crore.
Globally this year, business and consumer activity had come to a halt leading to unprecedented demand destruction
and dislocation of margins.
Despite that, I am glad to report that all our manufacturing facilities continued to operate at over 90% capacity utilisation.
During India’s lock-down, we leveraged our deep understanding of global markets and successfully enhanced our petrochemical and fuel exports by over 2.5 times in just two weeks.
I am proud to share with you that in April 2020, our O2C business accounted for nearly 50% of India’s exports. I applaud the entire O2C Business and Manufacturing Teams for their agility and focus.
We have commissioned India’s first Butyl Rubber plant, which places us amongst the world’s top ten producers of Butyl Rubber.
Our O2C business has competitive feedstock streams that are the building blocks for specialty and new value chains of Acetyls, Acrylates, Phenols and Polyurethanes.
Reliance has been approached by global companies for strategic partnerships in its petrochemical business, including in utilizing these feedstocks.
These potential partnerships will help us build competitive manufacturing capacity at our existing sites to serve the deficit Indian market that still depends on large-scale imports of chemicals.
With this we will have an integrated and competitive Oil to Chemicals portfolio which is valuable to global companies as it provides access to the large and growing Indian market.
Last year, I shared with you the basis of equity investment by Saudi Aramco in our O2C business.
Due to unforeseen circumstances in the energy market and the Covid-19 situation, the deal has not progressed as per the original timeline.
Our equity requirements have already been met.
Nevertheless, we at Reliance value our over two-decade long relationship with Saudi Aramco and are committed to a long-term partnership.
We will approach NCLT with our proposal to spin off our O2C business into a separate subsidiary to facilitate this partnership opportunity.
We expect to complete this process by early 2021.
BPis our valued partner in the Upstream Energy Business.
We expect to restart the KG-D6 towards the end of the year and provide India with Natural Gas, which is one of the cleanest fossil fuels.
We have further strengthened our relationship with BP, who have invested into our existing Fuel Retailing business
under a new brand of Jio-bp.
Based on our combined strengths, Jio-bp will provide new age mobility solutions to Indian consumers.
Let me now share with you Reliance’s long-term vision, beyond O2C and how we are re-imagining our entire energy platform.
Our guiding purpose is prosperity for all people and prosperity for our planet, before prosperity for energy companies.
The catastrophic impact of Climate Change calls for the legacy energy industry to reinvent itself on a war footing.
Furthermore, the world needs access to clean and affordable energy and this must be met, as it is a pre-requisite to ensuring quality of life for all people.
To meet these twin challenges, the energy industry must understand that fossil fuels and renewables are not mutually exclusive or contradictory.
The first three Industrial Revolutions based on fossil fuels disturbed the natural Carbon Cycle on Planet Earth.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has the opportunity to repair and restore the Carbon Cycle.
Here, Mother Nature is our best teacher.
She wastes nothing and recycles everything.
So it is imperative that the energy industry adopts a clean, circular, sustainable and planet-friendly model that delivers green and affordable energy to all the 7.8 billion people on the planet.
This is what will drive our progress towards a cleaner planet for a safer humanity.
This can be achieved by making CO as a recyclable resource, rather than treating it as an emitted waste.
While Reliance will remain a user of crude oil and natural gas, we are committed to embracing new technologies to
convert our CO into useful products and chemicals.
We have already made substantial progress on photosynthetic biological pathways to convert our CO emissions at Jamnagar into high value proteins, nutraceuticals, advanced materials and fuels.
We will develop next-gen carbon capture and storage technologies.
We are evaluating novel catalytic and electrochemical transformations to use CO as a valuable feedstock.
Reliance also has proprietary technology to convert transportation fuels to valuable petrochemical and material building blocks.
And at the same time, we will replace transportation fuels with clean electricity and hydrogen.
We will combine our strengths in digital, power electronics, advanced materials and electrochemistry to build full stack electrolyser and fuel cell solutions in India.
We will build an optimal mix of reliable, clean and affordable energy with hydrogen, wind, solar, fuel cells and battery.
Transforming our energy business to tackle one of the biggest challenges before India and the World is our new growth opportunity.
On successful implementation of this strategy, we target to become net carbon-zero by 2035.
We have a 15-year vision to build Reliance as one of the world’s leading NEW
ENERGY and NEW MATERIALS
It will be a platform company which will execute our vision in a worldwide collaborative model.
This model envisages a large coalition of global financial investors, reputed technology partners, and start-ups working on futuristic solutions.
The New Energy business based on the principle of Carbon Recycle and Circular Economy is a multi-trillion opportunity for India and the world.
It is also an opportunity to make clean and green energy abundantly available at an affordable price to every Indian, every Indian enterprise and every Indian utility.
More than a business, this is our seva to save Planet Earth from the ravages of Climate Change.
We shall spare no effort in realising this dream.
From time to time, I shall apprise you of our progress in this business
5. Reliance Foundation and Reliance Family’s Crusade Against Covid-19
Let me now welcome Nita to talk about Reliance Foundation.
Thank you, Mukesh.
As I speak to you for the first time ever in a Reliance AGM, I feel a profound sense of humility and gratitude.
All of us have witnessed the unprecedented pain, uncertainty, and suffering that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing.
That is why, Mukesh and I decided that we should do all that we can, in performing our humanitarian, patriotic, and collective duty in this hour of national need.
It is my privilege to share with you some of the work that the Reliance Family has done in the past four months – and continues to do so, each day and every hour:
First: Within days of the Coronavirus outbreak, we set up India’s first 100-bed exclusive COVID-19 Hospital in Mumbai, in just two weeks.
Today, this facility has 250 beds.
Our brave-heart doctors and nurses have been working selflessly and tirelessly in service of our fellow Indians.
In your work, humanity has placed their hope and faith.
With folded hands, I express my deep gratitude to all healthcare workers who have dedicated themselves to fighting
I would like to share with you a few glimpses of the exemplary efforts of our front-line warriors…
When the pandemic broke out, one of the earliest challenges was the shortage of PPEs.
It was critical to protect our healthcare workers and provide them with the right armour so that they could fight valiantly at the forefront!
In record time, we turned around our manufacturing facility to produce over 1 lakh PPEs and N95 masks every single day.
And that too at one third the price of imported PPEs, as we remain committed to the “Make In India” mission.
That’s not all. Every business in the Reliance Family has done their bit and contributed to India’s fight against COVID-19.
The team at Reliance Retail is working overtime to provide essential supplies daily to millions of Indian families across 200 cities.
Jio is providing digital connectivity to over 40 crore individuals, empowering over 30,000 organizations to work from home……… and lacs of students to learn from home.
Reliance has also been providing free fuel to Emergency Service vehicles across the country.
This is not just business for us.
It is our duty, our dharma, our seva to the nation.
That brings me to another form of Seva, which is closest to my heart.
Reliance Foundation’s Mission Anna Seva – our pledge to feed needy Indians.
In our culture, Anna Daan is Maha Daan.
Through Mission Anna Seva, we have provided more than 5 crore meals to marginalised communities, daily-wage earners, and frontline workers across the country.
We are humbled that our Mission Anna Seva has become the largest meal distribution programme undertaken by a corporate foundation anywhere in the world.
This would not have been possible without the untiring efforts and dedication of the entire team of Reliance Foundation, and all our volunteers and partner organizations.
We are also grateful to our two lakh employees of Reliance who have gone beyond their call of duty, to serve our fellow citizens.
This has been a deeply fulfilling journey for all of us.
The war against coronavirus is far from over.
Reliance Foundation is gearing up to partner with the government and local municipalities, for mega-scale COVID testing across India, with the help of Jio’s digital infrastructure.
And I assure you, as soon as the corona vaccine becomes available, we will volunteer by using the same digital distribution and supply chain, to ensure that the vaccine reaches every nook and corner of our country…….
For Mukesh and me, being of service to our nation has given us a deep sense of satisfaction.
We are so proud of our Reliance Family’s contribution to India’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and their efforts to help alleviate the suffering of our brothers and sisters.
Please join me in applauding and saluting…
All our doctors, nurses, medical personnel and staff of Sir H. N. Reliance
Foundation Hospital and other Reliance
All scientists and researchers at Reliance Life Sciences;
All teams at Reliance Foundation;
And all our colleagues at Reliance Retail and Jio;
You have made RELIANCE proud, INDIAproud.
This year, Reliance Foundation is celebrating its 10th year of ‘Transforming Lives’ across India.
Over the last decade, our Foundation has touched the lives of over 36 million people, in the remotest corners of our country.
As the Foundation enters its next decade, my daughter Isha and her young team are determined to enhance our scale and impact – more than ten times.
Using Jio’s digital power, we aim to make affordable healthcare and quality education accessible to every Indian.
Along with education, sport forms the bedrock of any society, especially a young society like ours.
Children have a special place in my heart. When children learn and play, communities grow and countries prosper.
Through our Education and Sports for All initiative, Reliance Foundation has so far reached out to over 21.5 million children.
Right from grassroots level – we are working tirelessly to develop a holistic sporting ecosystem in the country.
An ecosystem that will scout, nurture, train, and develop future champions!
It is my dream to see our athletes excel at the pinnacle of global sport – The Olympics.
It is also my dream to bring the Olympics to India.
I believe in our youth.
And I have no doubt that if we encourage and empower them,
they will make these dreams come true and make our country proud.
For all of us at Reliance, the work of Reliance Foundation is a source of tremendous joy, pride, and fulfilment.
For us, the ability to make a difference – big or small – to touch someone’s life for the better, is more precious than anything else.
Whenever India has faced any adversity, we Indians have always overcome it with absolute unity and determination.
This crisis will be no different.
Together, we can and we will win this fight.
And come out stronger as a nation.
Keep well. Keep safe. Jai Hind!
Thank you, Nita for highlighting how Reliance Foundation is a caring and compassionate institution always ready to serve the nation.
6. Value Creation and Conclusion
Let me now share with you Reliance’s future Value Creation Roadmap.
Our Founder Dhirubhai Ambani gave us a mantra that continues to guide us in our value creation journey.
He said “GROWTH IS LIFE”, which we have adopted as our motto.
He also constantly reminded us that, for happiness, growth should be holistic, enriching the life of every Indian and developing every aspect of human life.
Walking in his footsteps, Reliance has constantly reinvented itself to pursue ever higher growth goals.
And with each new growth cycle, we have demonstrated our commitment to create more prosperity for India and benefit more Indians.
In 2020, we all can be proud that today Reliance stands stronger than ever before.
This is because, as a Technology and Consumer Company, Reliance has built three Hyper-Growth Engines…
Jio Platforms business.
Reliance Retail’s New Commerce business.
Reliance’s O2C business.
In the years to come, Reliance will create more growth engines for accelerating its diversified growth.
Among them, as I have already mentioned, is our vision to make Reliance a New Energy and New Materials Company.
Our growth strategy is aimed at meeting the needs of all the 1.3 billion Indians.
Especially, the millions of under-privileged people, who are at the Bottom of the Economic and Social Pyramid.
So far, India’s growth has been sustained by the demands of a small part of our enviable demographic strength.
But when ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ start growing together, the whole world will be astonished.
When we create value for our nation’s inclusive future, its automatic by-product is value accretion for Reliance.
We are well aware that we cannot realise this vision on our own.
Indeed, no single company can.
Therefore, we are adopting a strategy of two Ps –
Partnerships with millions of small merchants, kisans, SMEs, teachers, healthcare workers, helping them become more productive and profitable.
Also, Partnerships with promising Indian start-ups and globally renowned technology and energy companies.
Intellectual property is going to be an important pillar of our value creation journey.
Therefore, Reliance will continue to strengthen its in-house capabilities in cutting-edge technological innovations.
Towards this end, we will work more aggressively to attract the best young Indian talent.
Reliance will work with other Indian companies, including start-ups, to vigorously promote “Made-in-India”,
“Made-for-India” and “Made-for-the-World” products.
As Reliance grows bigger, we have demonstrated our ability to raise necessary investments to fire our growth engines.
Now, on the back of our robust balance sheet, and taking advantage of the favourable conditions in global debt markets, we shall confidently pursue all future growth opportunities across our businesses.
Our track record of value creation so far will itself open future tracks of investment on a sustainable basis.
Reliance has travelled three years into its Golden Decade.
What an incredible journey it has been since our IPO in 1977.
Our market capitalization has increased at a CAGR of 31%.
Reliance is now ranked among the World’s 60 largest companies by market capitalization.
And when Reliance scales still higher summits of success, our employees and shareholders will surely reap its rewards.
Reliance’s 50 anniversary in 2027 coincides with the 80 anniversary of India’s Independence.
This is not a coincidence.
It shows the intrinsic relationship between New Reliance and New India.
Today I want to solemnly pledge that we are ever more committed to maximising our contribution to solving the big
problems facing our Nation and also our Planet.
Before I conclude, I must share my deepest emotion with you.
These are difficult times, no doubt, for India and the world because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, never have I felt more optimistic in my life about a bright future for India, and for Reliance.
When I interact with young entrepreneurs, engineers and innovators, both in Reliance and in other enterprises, I clearly
see in them a level of ambition and self-confidence far higher than in people of my generation.
They surely are going to make the Indian Dream come true.
They strengthen my conviction that INDIA’S TIME HAS WELLAND TRULY COME!
Our visionary Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has rightly predicted that, beyond the hardships of the corona crisis,
India will emerge as a stronger, more inclusively prosperous, more resilient and more self-confident nation.
Let us work together to realise this noble goal.
For all of us at Reliance, the source of inspiration is Swami Vivekananda, who said: “Arise, awake, and stop not till
the goal is reached.”
In this mission to serve India and the world, we seek the blessings of all of you dear shareowners, of our Elders, and
I would like to thank the Central and State Governments, shareholders, investors, lenders, suppliers and customers for
their consistent and resolute support.
I thank all my colleagues on the Board for their oversight in this crucial phase of our growth, their support and immense
I have special words to acknowledge the collective efforts of the entire Reliance team, working tirelessly to create and
sustain a world-class enterprise.
Hey look, former Gov. Chris Christie is saying he might run for president again in 2024.
The latest dispatch comes from an interview with The Hill, helpfully transcribed by NJ Advance Media’s Brent Johnson.
“I would certainly, you know, look at the race in 2024 and I would not back off from that at all. I feel like there are a lot of atmospheric things that happened in the lead up to the ’16 race, especially the Bridgegate matter, which now has been dismissed by the United States Supreme Court in a 9-0 vote that there was no crime committed there,” Christie said. “And yet the media and others convicted people before they even had a trial, and it materially affected my ability to run for president. Now that we’ve had that cleared away and it’s no longer a controversy, you know, from my perspective, maybe 2024 is time to try to go after that job again.”
This is a slightly stronger statement than Christie has previously given on the topic, but it’s really nothing new. See here, here and here for a few examples.
It’s always seemed that the Acela intelligentsia has put more stock in Christie’s future than others. The evidence? Well, he ran for president in 2016 and he barely registered. But they keep asking.
Christie said the Bridgegate scandal has now been “cleared away” by the Supreme Court. But it hasn’t been. Bridgegate damaged Christie’s prospects — and it wasn’t the only thing that damaged him — because his aides orchestrated a traffic jam for petty political revenge. That’s what the media focused on, and there’s no dispute that that’s what happened. Things don’t look any better to the public just because the Supreme Court ruled that federal law against that conduct doesn’t exist. Saying you’ve been vindicated doesn’t make it so.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Please do not pander to the LGBTQ community when you want votes. We need people in Washington who will stand up for us and you have proven you are not one of them. Oct 21 will be 7 years since the Supreme Court granted legal marriage in NJ for same sex couples. You are too late.” — Marsha Shapiro and Louise Walpin on Tom Kean Jr.’s gay marriage evolution
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, TapInto’s Michael Shapiro, Dem Pollster Tom Bonier
WHERE’S MURPHY? — In Trenton for a coronavirus press conference at 1 p.m. Media: CNBC at 4:10 p.m., 1010 WINS at 5 p.m.
CORONAVIRUS TRACKER — 423 newly-diagnosed cases for a total of 175,915. 28 more deaths for a total of 13,635 (and 1,947 probable deaths)
PROGRAMMING NOTE — NJ Playbook will be on hiatus next week, but I’ll still be writing articles, so don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
MORE LIKE BURROWING BILL, AM I RIGHT? BECAUSE DEBT — Senate panel advances borrowing bill as legal challenge looms, by POLITICO’s Katherine Landergan: The Senate budget committee advanced legislation Tuesday that authorizes state officials to borrow up to $9.9 billion to plug budget holes that are anticipated as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. … Sweeney says a bailout from Washington could mitigate the need for borrowing. Murphy has long advocated for a millionaires tax and could push the idea again when he releases his updated budget next month. Sweeney, however, said Tuesday that tax increases are a “last resort,” and that he’d like to see some reforms he’s pushed in the past — like school consolidation — to save money. That said, he didn’t entirely shut the door to the possibility of taxes… Republicans and business organizations also warned that the burden of this borrowing will be felt for decades. Moreover, Republicans on the budget committee slammed Democrats for rushing the bill and say they will file a lawsuit for circumventing the voters.
TEACHERS TO RECEIVE ONE APPLE PER DAY — NJEA may demand Covid-19 testing, mandatory masks and more before schools reopen, by POLITICO’s Carly Sitrin: New Jersey’s largest teachers union may demand that school districts provide Covid-19 tests for all students and staff, require masks and other strict social distancing standards before schools reopen in the fall. A draft proposal from the New Jersey Education Association, which represents more than 125,000 teachers statewide, indicates the union is considering demanding more rigorous reopening standards than those put out by the state Department of Education. According to the document, the union wants — at minimum — district-provided Covid-19 tests for all teachers and students a week prior to reopening, that cloth masks be worn “door-to-door” from the time a student leaves their house to the time they return home, weekly on-site Covid testing, thrice-daily screenings for students and staff and other social distancing and disinfection requirements.
MIGHTY FINE OF YA — “N.J. won’t fine travelers from coronavirus hotspots who don’t provide info, unlike N.Y., Murphy says,” by NJ Advance Media’s Brent Johnson: “New York is now requiring travelers arriving at its airports from states on a quarantine list to fill out a form with contact information and details about their trip — or receive a $2,000 fine — to help make sure they’re following a regional quarantine advisory to protect against the coronavirus. So will neighboring New Jersey — which is also asking for out-of-state travelers to quarantine — follow suit with a similar fine? Gov. Phil Murphy said no Tuesday morning, though he stressed he’s ‘very concerned’ about surging cases across the U.S. ‘New York and New Jersey do things a little bit differently,” Murphy said during a radio interview’”
—New York and New Jersey add 4 more states to travel quarantine list
EVICTIONS —“NJ could face ‘tidal wave’ of evictions if rent relief stalls,” by WNYC’s Karen Yi: “Although Gov. Phil Murphy has issued an indefinite moratorium on evictions, and the housing courts have suspended trials, landlords have still filed more than 15,000 eviction cases in the last three months, Gothamist/WNYC found. While the number of cases filed between April and June is 55% lower than the cases filed during the same time period in 2019, housing attorneys say it’s indicative of what’s to come: a surge of evictions once the moratorium lifts and courts reopen. ‘It will explode into a tidal wave if we don’t do something,’ said Staci Berger … Housing advocates are asking lawmakers to pass what they call the “people’s bill” that would give tenants up to six months to pay back each month of owed rent”
MURPHYCARE —New Jersey looking to replace expiring federal tax on health premiums with state fee, by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: New Jersey lawmakers are moving quickly to replace an expiring federal tax on health plans with a state tax. State Senate health committee Chair Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex) and Assemblymember John McKeon (D-Essex) have introduced a bill that would charge insurers a 2.75 percent assessment on “net written premiums. » Vitale said the bill, NJ S2676 (20R), is designed to replace an identical federal assessment — aimed at making health plans for individuals and small businesses more affordable — when its repeal takes effect at the end of the year. He said that if those plans become too expensive, more people could drop health coverage, creating a “death spiral.”
—“NJ hospitals say insurance companies have denied more than 1,000 claims for COVID-19 care”
PREDISTRICTING — “N.J. Census data expected to be certified by June 17,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “The U.S. Census Bureau expects to certify New Jersey’s population no later than June 17. New Jersey was informed of the new target date on Monday on a call with census officials organized by the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL), the New Jersey Globe has learned. The state Office of Legislative Services participated on the call.”
—“Murphy says legalizing weed is ‘incredibly smart’ to offset budget woes triggered by coronavirus”
—“Possible unintended consequences in redistricting constitutional amendment”
—“Let’s not forget ‘the forgotten ones’ still locked down in nursing homes | Opinion”
—“’Freeholder’ title is a feudal anachronism that confuses voters | D’Amico”
—“Lawmakers want to comp restaurant owners who lost money on indoor dining prep”
GUNSMITH — Giffords, the gun control group founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, has endorsed a New Jersey Republican for reelection, for the second cycle in a row. The group is backing U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, who supported the Background Checks Act of 2019, along with Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitpzatrick — their first Republican endorsements in this election. Gabrielle Giffords: “When an overwhelming majority of Americans demanded universal background checks, they answered the call to protect our communities from the epidemic of gun violence. At a time when Washington seems more divided than ever, these champions proved it’s still possible to pass real, bipartisan reform to build a stronger, safer America. Giffords is proud to support these leaders in their fight for meaningful change.” The group has already endorsed Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Democratic Reps. Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill and Tom Malinowski.
ENVIRONMENT — Judge poised to side with New Jersey, other states in ozone case, by POLITICO’s Alex Guillén: A federal judge said on Tuesday that he is likely to side with New Jersey and other states that sued EPA to force the agency to take action on pollution from upwind states. Background: The states previously won a lawsuit against EPA over interstate ozone pollution, arguing that EPA had a duty to issue federal plans to curb emissions from seven upwind states. EPA fulfilled that duty by issuing two implementing rules related to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule — the CSAPR update of 2016 and the CSAPR close-out of 2018. But both rules were faulted by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last year and remanded to EPA. New Jersey subsequently sued, arguing that the rules’ remand meant EPA was once again in violation of its requirements to act on emissions from the seven upwind states. Also on this new lawsuit are New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware and New York City.
—Trump administration drops plan to deport international students in online-only classes
—Steinberg: “Tom Moran derides a winning political reformer (Amy Kennedy) and acts as an apologist for a losing political boss (George Norcross III)”
—“Family of girl killed in Paramus bus crash secures seat belt measure in infrastructure bill”
MURPHY THREATENED TO SEND IN THE SANDWORMS — “Shore town sees political revenge in dune destruction flap,” by The AP’s Wayne Parry: “New Jersey’s threat to make a shore town rip out a sea wall and other oceanfront structures feels like political retribution, North Wildwood officials say. North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello, a Republican, said Tuesday it’s more than a coincidence that shortly after he criticized Democratic Governor Phil Murphy’s reopening of the shore economy amid the coronavirus outbreak, the state Department of Environmental Protection hit his town with numerous violations notices and threats of costly repair work. North Wildwood officials say the sea wall was built without a required coastal construction permit — but with full knowledge of state officials — only after years of requests for storm protection were ignored by state and federal authorities, which the city says ultimately led to storms wrecking the dunes and wetlands.”
HENCEFORTH TO BE KNOWN AS BURLINGTON VOTE FACTORY — “Burlington County to end ‘freeholder’ title,” by The Burlington County Times’ Lisa Brodt: “Burlington County’s top elected officials will no longer be known as freeholders, an antiquated term that has come under fire in recent weeks as a symbol of racial injustice. Burlington County Freeholder Director Felicia Hopson announced the change Tuesday afternoon and said the county would immediately begin phasing out the term ‘freeholder’ from county materials and communications. ‘Continuing our work to end systemic racism must be everyone’s objective and eliminating an antiquated title from an era when slavery and racism was tolerated is one step we can take right away,’ Hopson said in a news release”
—Levinson: “‘Freeholder’: So unique to N.J., so inclusive (for a while)”
POST-TRIAL INTERVENTION — “Parsippany residents demand council fire town clerk after domestic abuse allegations,” by The Record’s Svetlana Shkolnikova: “A group of township residents are calling for the firing of Parsippany’s municipal clerk after he was placed under court supervision stemming from an arrest on domestic violence charges. Nearly 50 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding that the township oust Khaled Madin over allegations that he beat and choked his wife, Monica Madin, Parsippany’s municipal prosecutor and his partner in a Morristown law firm. Khaled Madin, 37, entered a court program for first-time offenders in Juneafter being charged with owning a prohibited weapon.”
MOVIN’ ON UP — “Jefferson Republicans elect transgender municipal chairwoman,” by New Jersey Globe’s Nikita Biryukov: “Republicans in a Morris County conservative stronghold elected a 27-year-old transgender woman to chair their Municipal Committee on Monday. Republicans in Jefferson… have voted to award Jade Kohut another term as municipal chair. Kohut had served as the local party’s chairperson for two years before revealing to Jefferson Republicans that she was undergoing sex reassignment therapy. She was re-elected unanimously Monday night. ‘You’re never quite sure how people will react, but the Jefferson Republicans told me frankly that if I continued to do a good job, they would continue to vote for me,’ Kohut said.”
—“Freeholder Hertzberg said he’ll run for Sparta Council seat to fix issues”
— “Old Bridge schools sued over teacher using N-word in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ lesson”
—“Asbury Park Black Lives Matter protesters recount arrests, Antifa questions. ‘I got punched in the face’”
—“Paterson cop arrested in FBI corruption probe accused of assaulting man in 2018, lawsuit says”
—“There’s a growing trust between Newark police and the community | Opinion”
—“Judge temporarily halts [Penns Grove] councilman from his appointed seat”
—“Wildwood officer under investigation after video shows him punching male on the ground”
—“Lawsuit: Jersey City BOE clerk was cyber bullied, harassed during ‘unfair’ union election”
—“Borgata set to reopen July 26”
—“South Jersey real estate market has come ‘roaring back’ in recent months, agents say”
PIPELINES — “Public resistance and high costs are canceling pipelines across the country,” by The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Andrew Maykuth: “Not long ago, builders of fossil fuel pipelines in the U.S. followed a standard pattern: The operator made a business case for the project, lining up committed shippers, customers, and investors. Regulators obliged by granting a certificate of public need, which includes the power to acquire easements from property owners even if they object. But building a pipeline these days has become increasingly more challenging and expensive, as aggrieved property owners and climate activists have joined to rally political opposition to energy infrastructure projects as never before, and have scored a series of major legal victories … And New Jersey last week suspended permits for New Jersey Natural Gas’ Southern Reliability Link after a drilling accident damaged a Monmouth County home … The political landscape has changed dramatically in New Jersey since PennEast was announced in 2014, and was supported by former Gov. Chris Christie … Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat elected in 2017, has taken a hostile position toward the project, challenging PennEast in court.”
FRAMPTON STILL ALIVE — “Classic rocker Peter Frampton can’t believe the beach crowds at the Jersey Shore,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Chris Jordan: “Classic rocker Peter Frampton came alive when he saw the crowds on the Long Branch beach on Sunday, July 12. Frampton, whose hits include the album ‘Frampton Comes Alive,’ could not believe what he saw as he shared a photo of the scene late on Sunday. ‘Are we sure this is today? Is it photoshopped? Are people really this stupid?, asked Frampton when he retweeted an nj.com picture of the beach.”
—“Rowan University is among first in the region to hold in-person commencement”
Cat-branded smartphones, that are designed and manufactured by the Bullitt Group, vary from absolutely rugged, feature-laden units just like the flagship 5.2-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the 5.65-inch S52 (£380), which whereas nonetheless impressively strong, affords a sleeker and extra consumer-friendly design.
Filling a niche between these units comes the brand new 5.5-inch Cat S42, an enterprise-ready rugged smartphone geared toward discipline employees, first responders, hospital workers and anybody else who wants a tricky, easy-to-clean gadget that may deal with mainstream workloads.
With the buyer sector quickly saturating, the enterprise and ‘firstline’ sectors are getting growing consideration, with Samsung, for instance, lately providing its first rugged telephone for a while within the form of the Galaxy XCover Professional.
The Cat S42’s enterprise credentials embrace three years of safety patch cowl and at the least one Android model replace throughout its lifetime. It helps the Android Enterprise characteristic set, together with Google’s Zero-touch enrolment program, and has been examined in opposition to a variety of enrolment and coverage deployment take a look at circumstances with main EMM answer suppliers (VMware Workspace ONE, IBM MaaS 360, SOTI, Cell Iron).
The Cat S42, which succeeds the late-2017 Cat S41, prices £229 and is listed as ‘coming quickly’ on Cat telephones’ UK web site on the time of writing.
The Cat S42 seems to be like a correct rugged telephone: it is chunky and comparatively heavy for a 5.5-inch handset, measuring 77.2mm huge by 161.3mm deep by 12.7mm thick and weighing 220g. It has a grippy, ribbed matte-black rubberised again plate, protecting bumpers on the corners, plus hinged covers for the (legacy) Micro-USB cost/connection port on the backside, the three.5mm headset jack on the highest, and the SIM/MicroSD card tray on the left facet.
High ZDNET Critiques
There are massive bezels surrounding the 5.5-inch display, which give the Cat S42 one thing of an old school look — the screen-to-body ratio is simply 62.7%, in comparison with fashionable minimal-bezel telephones with ratios over 90%.
The display itself is an IPS panel with average HD+ decision (1,440 x 720 pixels, 293ppi), good most brightness and huge viewing angles. It is usable with moist fingers and when sporting gloves, is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and in addition barely recessed, with the encircling ridge giving further safety. Picture high quality is okay for comparatively static photos, however scrolling may very well be smoother and the sluggish adaptive brightness characteristic did not work effectively for me: I needed to change to guide and switch up the brightness to get first rate outside readability, and even then the reflective display meant I typically needed to search a shady spot.
There is no fingerprint sensor or face recognition: you unlock this telephone with a standard 6-digit PIN. In the event you do not wish to hold coming into your PIN all through the day, you should utilize Android’s Sensible Lock characteristic to maintain the handset unlocked when it is about your individual, in sure trusted locations and when related to trusted units like a Bluetooth watch or your automotive’s infotainment system.
The Cat S42 has an IP68 score, which suggests it might probably resist the ingress of sand, mud and filth, and might deal with immersion in water to 1.5m depth for as much as 35 minutes. It is also MIL-STD 810H compliant and might subsequently address specified ranges of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and salt mist. The handset has additionally been drop-tested on each facet and nook a number of instances from 1.eight metres (6 toes) onto a metal floor.
There are ports and controls on all sides of the Cat S42. The appropriate facet has a textured energy button and quantity up/down controls, whereas the SIM/MicroSD card tray is behind a canopy on the left, subsequent to copper-coloured Programmable Key, which might additionally provoke PTT (Push To Discuss) mode with appropriate app help. The twin-SIM variant of the S42 reviewed right here can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card on the identical time, which is beneficial. There is a three.5mm headphone jack beneath a canopy on the prime, and a speaker grille on the backside, subsequent to the lined Micro-USB charging/connection port. Audio high quality from the speaker is cheap, however you will wish to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for the very best audio expertise.
On the entrance, the highest bezel homes the 5MP entrance digital camera, earpiece and ambient mild sensor, whereas the again has the primary 13MP digital camera and an LED flash unit.
The Cat S42 is powered by an entry-level MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU working at as much as 1.8GHz and a 550MHz IMG PowerVR GE8300 GPU. There’s a modest 3GB of RAM and a miserly 32GB of inner storage — though as famous above, this may be augmented with exterior MicroSD storage (as much as 128GB).
The Cat S42’s 4G LTE modem helps 9 LTE bands, which is lower than the S61’s 14, so take be aware if you happen to’re planning to journey broadly. For different wi-fi connections, you get wi-fi (2.four/5GHz 802.11ac), Bluetooth (5), NFC and GPS (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo). There’s additionally an FM radio, plus a e-compass, proximity, ambient mild and accelerometer sensors.
The Cat S42’s major 13MP digital camera has an f/2.zero lens and might finest be described as enough (see photos under) — an outline that additionally applies to the 5MP entrance digital camera. Images is not a precedence for this rugged telephone, nevertheless it delivers acceptable point-and-shoot photos.
Android 10 was put in on our overview unit; There is no OS overlay, however a good quantity of pre-installed software program together with Toolbox, which presents a curated choice of apps beneath numerous headings — Enterprise Instruments, Cat Apps, Development, Farming, Outdoor, Rugged Instruments. In the event you discover that the 32GB of inner storage is filling up quick, you may all the time uninstall among the third-party apps (or purchase a MicroSD card).
The battery is a sizeable four,200mAh unit with quick charging help (though it isn’t as sizeable because the 5,000mAh battery within the Cat S41). There is no help for wi-fi charging.
Efficiency & battery life
Efficiency is the Cat S42’s weakest space, due to its entry-level Helio A20 chipset and 3GB of RAM. It delivered common scores of 132 (single core) and 483 (multi core) within the Geekbench 5 CPU take a look at, however didn’t run the Compute GPU take a look at. Leading scores for Android telephones within the CPU checks method 900 (single core) and 3300 (multi core) on the time of writing.
We additionally ran the PCMark for Android Work 2.0 suite, which covers internet shopping, video enhancing, writing, photograph enhancing and knowledge manipulation. The general Work 2.zero rating was 4915, which is on the low facet — class-leading handsets at the moment are available at over 13000.
Underneath the PCMark Work 2.zero battery take a look at, the Cat S42 took 18 hours 37 minutes to go from 100% to 20% of the four,200mAh battery’s capability. On this foundation, you must get at the least two working days of battery life earlier than requiring a recharge, which is spectacular. This additionally beats the reported 13h 16m end result for its predecessor, the Cat S41, regardless of the latter’s greater 5,000mAh battery.
The Cat S42 is one thing of a blended bag. It is correctly rugged, reasonably priced at £229, affords good enterprise options, and the battery life is superb. Then again, the mix of the Helio A20 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inner storage is distinctly entry-level, and there are display points (scrolling, adaptive brightness, reflectivity), restricted 4G frequency help, plus a legacy Micro-USB port to cope with.
Organisations with budgetary constraints might discover the Cat S42 enough for his or her wants, however Samsung’s renewed push into the enterprise rugged smartphone area with the $499.99/£529 Galaxy XCover Professional will probably be tempting if value is much less of a problem.
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A key tenet of the circular economy movement is to do more with less, such as by making products last longer — through durability, maintainability and upgradability. The ability to repair products is therefore a powerful tool towards achieving this aspect of a circular economy.
The « right to repair » movement seeks to expand product repair options from manufacturers to product owners and/or their preferred repair shops. Advocates are using the challenges imposed by COVID-19 to reenergize the call for right to repair legislation. This convergence of the right to repair and circular economy movements was illustrated in GreenBiz’s recent article featuring perspectives from Dell and Levi Strauss, sharing an array of drivers and challenges for manufacturers seeking to enable repair.
Enabling repair is doubtlessly difficult for manufacturers, but by understanding the obstacles and considering a framework for getting started, manufacturers can access opportunities to reinvent the way that consumers engage with products and to create a more sustainable and circular economy in the process.
Context and concerns
Right to repair advocates challenge manufacturers that prohibit or otherwise impede repair by other than authorized third parties. The movement seeks access to the quality parts, specialized tools, repair manuals and diagnostics required to repair products.
In the age of COVID-19 and a stifled economy, a customer’s drive to repair products may be amplified, be it to avoid unessential services or the need to omit expenses. Allowing more shops to provide repair increases competition thereby reducing repair costs. If the manufacturer has discontinued servicing the product or even if it has entered insolvency, product maintenance and repair can go on.
The value to manufacturers in enabling repair … includes prospects for new market opportunities and revenue channels, deepened customer connection, more effective supply chain engagement and lower environmental impact.
For manufacturers that offer repair through their in-house or affiliate network, the challenge of accommodating repairs by others includes concern over protecting trade secrets and ensuring practices that support the safe, secure, reliable product operation.
There is concern that sharing individual product details outside of authorized users may compromise the security of user data, networks and antitheft devices. By requiring the use of authorized service providers, manufacturers can mandate that repairs are made with parts and equipment that have been tested to meet safety and reliability requirements.
A heavy lift for manufacturers
In addition to these concerns for manufacturers, the practical steps for repairability are not always clear and are certainly not easy. Information dissemination must consider formats, frequency and the detail appropriate for a wider audience. Making parts, diagnostics and specialized tools more available requires new supply chain management efforts. Aged technology hampers a cost-effective inventory. Safety and data security liabilities must be managed.
Furthermore, designing repairable products at times competes with alternative pro-consumer design decisions around functionality, safety, security, convenience and quality.
Consider, for example, when consumers seek a slimmer or lighter device, designers may choose to glue a component in place rather than accommodating repair through the use of fasteners.
Microsoft estimates, for example, that to use a battery design that can be secured with screws rather than adhesive, thereby improving repairability, would necessitate use of a smaller battery resulting in a reduction of battery life of 1.4 hours. Despite the challenge, Microsoft has succeeded in addressing design for repairability in the new Surface Laptop 3 and the Surface Pro X with accessible modular design, removable SSD and other features, proving that it is possible to overcome these challenges.
The manufacturer’s framework for a repairability program
The value to manufacturers in enabling repair is broad and includes prospects for new market opportunities and revenue channels, deepened customer connection, more effective supply chain engagement and lower environmental impacts. Key to securing value in enabling repair is an effective program addressing:
Design for repairability by factoring non-destructive access to components and modular upgradeability into design specifications. Look to use standard components across product ranges and generations, anticipate user or third-party installation with common tools.
Enhanced parts management by determining priority parts (based on failure rates, opportunity to enhance functionality, upgrade need) and anticipate component demand, feeding this into inventory management and distribution. Work with the supply chain to ensure timely availability.
Extended customer engagement with aftercare programs that facilitate self-repair, view new warranty requirements as opportunities for customer connection, link repair with takeback programs to cycle products and components.
Shared information by extended availability of repair manuals, online diagnostic tools, software and firmware updates.
Deepened partnerships with your supply chain, the sales channel and third-party repair organizations to build shared value, ensure quality and business continuity.
New business models that recognize that repair-based models represent new offers to customers, through leasing, device as a service supplying parts and upgrades, opening new markets and furthering the reach of your brand.
Enabling more repair is doubtlessly challenging, but there are opportunities to reinvent the way that consumers engage with products and to create a more sustainable and circular economy in the process.
For manufacturers who haven’t yet developed a repairability program and find it daunting to begin, the good news is that certain companies already have put the time and effort into their journey in ways that can be leveraged by other industry peers.
Planning for repairability now will help manufacturers to capture win-win value and benefit from long-term rewards.
For example, HP has collaborated with eBay and iFixit to identify barriers and solutions to enable repair in non-commercial settings. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation supported the collaboration. The findings included: Make repair information more available; make spare parts and accessories more available; and design repairable products.
Companies such as HP and Apple are recognizing the circular economy value of enabling repair. Until 2019, repairing an iPhone at a shop that was not Apple-authorized meant you wouldn’t get official Apple parts.
Apple has a new program that allows any shop in the United States with an Apple certified technician to access genuine parts and tools, and the same documentation as authorized repair shops for out of warranty repairs. In 2019, HP established a customer support YouTube channel with hundreds of instructional videos for repairing and maintaining products.
We know that the drive towards a more circular economy isn’t going away, and the organizations that can plan for more circular business models will be more resilient in the face of climate change and other disruptions.
Repairability is a key part of the circularity business model, and planning for repairability now will help manufacturers to capture win-win value and benefit from long-term rewards.
EU court backs Apple in case over $15 billion in back taxes – NEWS 1130
by The Associated Press
Posted Jul 15, 2020 2:13 am PDT
Last Updated Jul 15, 2020 at 2:18 am PDT
BRUSSELS — A European Union high court on Wednesday ruled in favour of technology giant Apple and Ireland in its dispute with the EU over 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in back taxes.
The Luxembourg-based General Court said that the multinational does not need to pay the 13 billion euros that the EU Commission called for. The EU Commission had claimed that Apple had an illegal sweetheart tax deal with Irish authorities.
The ruling from the EU’s second-highest court on the 2016 decision can only be appealed on points of law.
The court said that “”the Commission did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage.””
The Associated Press
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Whenever I try to sum up my time with our long-term Audi A4 I can’t help but feel like a bit of a failure.
I pride myself on my forensic approach to analysing all things motorised and I seldom come across many cars that wouldn’t have benefitted from some additional component investment or a lengthier bout of development time.
As I’ve stated previously, the A4 has its imperfections, but given these shortcomings have such a negligible impact on its driving enjoyment or its day-to-day practicality, I’m left with very little scope for criticism.
Of course, if you spend enough time with a motor you inevitably learn more of its secrets, and given the extended period I’ve spent with the A4 during the pandemic I’ve happened upon a couple of things that I may not have otherwise noticed.
Things like the envelope-sized storage locker lid located to the right of the steering wheel, which I’d previously presumed was big enough to accommodate a mobile phone and some loose change, but have since discovered is an elbow-deep cavern, ideal for storing a litre-sized water bottle.
Speaking of bottles, this leads me to the mysterious case of the missing windscreen fluid filler cap. Imagining it would be a quick pit stop to check tyre pressures and extinguish the low windscreen washer fluid light, I found myself scratching my head and rooting around under the bonnet in a forlorn quest to locate the filler spout. Finally, after what seemed like about 20 minutes, and with a palpable sense of relief, I realise the little tinker was obscured by the elevated bonnet lid and squirrelled away in a rather unusual position, sited between the nearside wing and the engine bay’s firewall. Phew!
Given I’ve had so little to moan about – and trust me, I love a good moan – my focus has inevitably returned to what I consider to be the A4’s two major black spots. I’ve never lost sight of the high levels of road noise that filters into the cabin or the brutal stop-start operation, which irritates the life out of me every time the starter motor wallops the engine back into life. What’s more, I’ve become increasingly aware of another vexing aspect of this facet to peeve me.
Once everything is warmed through, the A4’s driveline will usually actively disconnect from the engine when heading downhill, which allows the car to freewheel as the engine revs fall to idle speeds. On some occasions, however, the engine will stop completely. This is all well and good in a quest to maximise efficiency from every drop of fuel, but I’d question the wisdom of this methodology as every time the starter motor kicks the engine back into life it causes the engine to rock on its mountings, which can be quite startling at motorway speeds. OK, so it’s not the end of the world, especially as it doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, it invariably catches me off guard, so much so that I inevitably end up checking the rear-view mirror to ensure I haven’t inadvertently run over some unfortunate furry mammal.
Ultimately, I probably would have preferred the additional practically of an Avant opposed to the A4’s saloon format. Mainly because of the substantial amount of goods and chattels I regularly haul about with me and because I always feel my old bones creaking whenever I have to bend over to slot my golf clubs into the boot.
Other than that, nothing has changed to alter my overall admiration of the A4. Its super-smooth 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine remains a high point, while the feeling of wellbeing provided by the supportive seats, excellent fit and finish, and Audi’s hallmark quality cabin materials all combine to make the A4 one of the finest business exec models currently available.
7th Report: Taking a shine to the A4
By Pete Tullin
For obvious reasons, I have spent very little time in our long-term Audi A4 of late. Like the rest of the country, I am only venturing out for essentials, but every time I do pop out I am reminded of how much pleasure there is to be derived simply from going for a drive. This is an especially pleasurable experience in our A4, which, the more I have driven, the more I have come to enjoy.
Certainly, it has its shortcomings, such as the higher than ideal levels of road noise it produces, the abruptness of its start-stop activations, and the dead throttle response, which sometimes occurs when the gearbox re-establishes its connection with the engine after a period of downhill freewheel coasting.
The one thing that really does annoy me though, is the imprecise nature of the right-angled gear selector, which can be particularly frustrating to operate, especially when trying to enact a three-point turn. Attempting to coax the lever between drive and reverse without staring down at it to studiously ensure I haven’t inadvertently popped it into neutral or pulled it too vociferously through into ‘Sport’ mode, is all too much of faff for my liking.
Ok, I know I am being a bit picky now, and overall the A4 is a cracking motor.
The cabin’s extravagant appointment never fails to impress, thanks to lashings of premium-quality facias and precisely executed brushed aluminium trim – and of course, the virtual cockpit displays always raise an ‘Oooh!’ from anyone encountering it for the first time. That said, after 9,000 or so miles, the driver’s door has developed an annoying vibration, which, try as I might, evades my best efforts to identify the exact source of the problem.
You could argue that the latest BMW 3 Series is a more engaging car to drive, but if you prefer a more cossetting experience, then you would do well to arrange a test drive of the latest A4 before signing on the dotted line, especially if you can find one in the same specification as ours.
Despite its Sport moniker, our car is fitted with a grand’s worth of comfort suspension and adaptive damping control – and it definitely is money well spent.
Its ability to soothe matters at low speeds and its capacity to waft along a dual carriageway with just the appropriate amount of easing vertical travel, then seamlessly apply a dab of additional support to keep the body flat as it turns into a corner, are truly impressive attributes.
If the A4’s chassis is right on the money, then the engine is the jewel in the crown. It is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, which in essence has been around since Adam was a lad, but because it has years of development behind it and is married to the latest incarnation of Audi’s seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic, it is a supremely hushed and impressively refined powertrain.
Yes, you can rev it if you need to blow away some cobwebs, but to my mind, it is at its best when I utilise the full breadth of its muscular mid-range pulling power. By applying judicious amounts of throttle pressure and encouraging it to short-shift through the gears, it reacts in much the same way as a strong diesel engine. Not that it ever sounds like a diesel, as it is one of the quietest engines I have known. Of course, in some respects I wish it were a diesel, because at motorway speeds the fuel gauge has a tendency to fall far quicker than I like. Overall though, I am averaging around 40-odd mpg, so my fuel bills aren’t excessively punitive.
As is always the case when assessing any car, I inevitably end up asking myself two questions; is the car fit for purpose, and would I spend my own money on one? In the case of the A4, the answer to both questions is a resounding yes.
6th Report: When style clashes with substance
By Pete Tullin
There are few certainties in this life, but when it comes to Audis you can pretty much bank on getting a glamorous cabin environment. This is certainly true of our long-term test A4.
Replete with a dense dashboard moulding, plush carpeting, substantial door trims and precisely-operating switchgear – all tied together by flowing lines and punctuated by subtle mood lighting – the A4 is certainly not short of wow factor.
If anything, things look even more spectacular at night, with the augmented reality cockpit and the large central display screen vying for top billing against the glowing red, white and blue LED hues bouncing off the chromed climate control dials.
All this bling is not without its downside, however. Chances are you will never notice or take issue with the full glare of the dashboard lighting refracted into the upper tier of the windscreen unless you happen to look towards the heavens. However, a more significant distraction is created by the rotary lighting control and offside air-vent illumination, as these are reflected in the driver’s side window and blot out about 50% of the view that can normally be gleaned through the door-mounted mirror in daylight.
While I am on the subject of quibbles – it’s my job – I am one of those pedants who happens to think replacing the press button and rotary control simplicity of the previous-generation MMi infotainment system with a touchscreen is a retrograde step. I am often told, ‘we all know how to use touchscreens on our phones, so these systems are more intuitive’. My response to that is, ‘I am not driving a car when I’m scrutinising my phone, and if I were I would be a danger to myself and others; plus, I would likely end up with a big fat fine from PC Selby.’
Thankfully, the A4’s screen is one of the better items I have encountered. Its high-definition screen and large icons make the various menus easy to identify, while every prod of the screen is defined by haptic and aural feedback via a defined pulse through the finger and a pronounced audible click. Pretty snappy!
5th Report: Back down to earth
By Pete Tullin
When editor Simon Harris suggested I take over the Audi A4 35TSI for the remainder of its tenure on the Business Car fleet, I have to admit, I felt pretty stoked.
I have driven more than my fair share of chubby-club motors over the last few years, and as much as I appreciate the commanding driving position and the ability to float over our dilapidated road surfaces with minimal impact on my aging bones, I have never been a fan of the dynamic tardiness associated with SUVs.
Consequently, the opportunity to move my derriere closer to terra firma, and pilot something that goes where I point it and responds to my right foot without pausing for breath… well, be still my beating heart.
Climbing aboard for the first time and setting up my preferred driving position couldn’t have been simpler, thanks to the A4’s vast range of seat and steering wheel adjustments – although, like every German exec, the A4 is blighted by a protruding transmission tunnel, which has a certain fondness for my left kneecap.
This may seem like a bit of an anomaly, given our A4 is a front-wheel drive model, but because the A4’s engine is laid out North-to-South rather than the more typical transverse arrangement favoured by most front axle-driven cars, a large transmission tunnel is required to accommodate the gearbox housing.
Speaking of drivelines, I can’t begin to stress just how smooth and quiet the A4’s 2.0-litre engine is. With barely a murmur when idling, and delivering creamy, linear power when revved, it is an absolute pearler. Despite its relatively modest 150hp, it whisks the A4 along at a healthy lick, thanks in no small part to its progressive turbocharged torque delivery.
Unfortunately, this ultra-refinement contrasts somewhat starkly with the amount of road noise that filters into the A4’s cabin as well as the jolting abruptness of the stop-start function, which shakes the car quite abruptly as it fires the engine back to life post emissions-saving pause.
Overall though, my early impressions of the A4 are extremely positive and I am certainly looking forward to spending the next few months exploring its attributes in far greater depth.
4th Report: The sound of silence
By Simon Harris
Since our last report, the A4 has made a visit to Audi hospital, courtesy of the Peterborough retailer.
You might remember I had complained about a repetitive, high-pitched noise from under the bonnet, which was less bothersome for the cabin occupants than for anyone outside the car (the A4’s interior is certainly well-insulated!).
Fearful of complaints from neighbours and breaching environmental health regulations for noise, finally a mutually agreeable appointment time was made for the car to be inspected.
Peterborough Audi’s diagnosis was relatively quick, pinpointing the noise to a tight spot on a tensioner for the ribbed belt, and they allowed me to take the car away for a weekend while replacement parts were ordered, and return it to them for the work to be done.
I was given the option of borrowing a courtesy car, but could manage my travel around the problem, so declined.
Both tensioner and belt were replaced under warranty, and since then the A4 has been purring away without incident. Peterborough Audi also had the car valeted both times it was left with them (for diagnosis and later for repair), which all helps with the premium experience.
Although I wonder whether the cleansing is done before the work to ensure the pristine workshops (have you seen them these days?) aren’t soiled by dirty cars.
The A4 got quickly back into its stride, and once again proved why it is a popular choice as a company car.
Our Sport derivative offers a less intense drive than an S Line on larger wheels and with firmer, lower suspension as standard, but it is a perfect all-rounder, agile enough to enjoy driving it on country roads, spacious enough to carry a family and their weekly shopping, or holiday luggage, and accomplished on those long motorway runs for meetings.
3rd Report: No poor relation
By Simon Harris
A recent stint in our BMW 320d (my first chance behind the wheel of our 2019 New Company Car of the Year) allowed me to evaluate one of the class benchmark models that the Audi A4 is aiming to beat.
Thinking of the latest versions of all the premium-badge saloons in this sector, perhaps the only one I have missed out on has been the Lexus IS 300h.
But it means I have tried the 2019 iterations of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Jaguar XE (2020 model year), and the new Volvo S60, as well as the Audi A4.
The BMW and Volvo have an advantage in terms of their point in the life cycle, with the opportunity for the manufacturer to change the car from the ground up.
With the Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Audi, nothing fundamental changes, although they contain some important updates.
The BMW 3 Series won the premium car category in the recent Business Car Awards, and you, our readers, voted it the overall winner of new cars introduced in 2019.
However, the more time I spend in the Audi A4, the more I feel it is not so far behind, despite being half a life cycle out of sync with the BMW.
Perhaps the 3 Series is more rewarding to drive with its rear-wheel drive balance and more even weight distribution over the front and rear axles, but the front-wheel drive A4 doesn’t feel much less enjoyable when tackling a series of bends.
One irritant we reported on last month that hasn’t yet been resolved is the persistent squeaking from under the bonnet, which is particularly noticeable when the engine is cold.
Although I had to wait two weeks for a convenient appointment at my local Audi dealer, I ended up cancelling because work got in the way. It is rescheduled and we should have news in the next issue.
The tiniest of problems has arisen with our A4, and it is perhaps testament to the leaps forward in noise suppression technology that I lived with it for a few weeks without the inclination to resolve it.
A high-pitched noise, not dissimilar to a bird chirping, occurs in the engine bay. It is probably more noticeable when cold, and when the engine is warm and at low revs – maybe a steady 65-70mph on the motorway in seventh gear – it disappears.
I have used a number of remedies to make the noise inaudible, including Spotify, Apple Music and the radio, and wouldn’t have given it much more thought if a colleague hadn’t pointed out how loud the noise was from outside the car.
This is where Audi’s noise, vibration and harshness experts have excelled, because after parking the car and lifting up the bonnet with the engine running, I agreed it needed attention.
The twittering is coming from one of the moving components in the pulley assembly around the fan belt, so we will book an appointment with an Audi Centre to see if they can rectify the problem, which, despite its volume, would still appear to be extremely minor.
We are getting used to some of the A4’s functions – which have been enhanced compared with the pre-update model we ran earlier in the year – including more detailed map imagery in the navigation system, which can, of course, be displayed directly in front of the driver in the instrument binnacle.
Zooming in close gives the impression of being able to spy on activity in the gardens of nearby properties, were it not the case that the pictures were really taken too far away (and some time ago).
Not that the car’s presence in the vicinity would have been particularly stealthy given the noise. Next time we update you, we hope to have been enjoying the experience of driving in silence once again.
1st Report: Plus ça change . . .
By Simon Harris
Yes, this is a new Audi A4 (I am sure many of you would guess by looking), but our test car falls within a narrow window in the production cycle.
It is a 2.0 TFSI in mid-grade Sport specification. A reasonable assumption for a variant suited to a company car driver with an aversion to diesel.
However, it is a 2019 model year car in the recently facelifted iteration, of which there are relatively few. These cars arrived in the UK in August ahead of the 2020 model year introduction just a few weeks later.
While it is ostensibly the same as the model you could take delivery of now, there are some specification quirks that are no longer available in the latest versions.
Its 18in, five-spoke ‘star’ design alloy wheels are no longer available on UK Sport models, as are the (optional on our car) S-Line high LED lights, and tow bar preparation.
We also have comfort suspension with damping control, which is now only offered on the high-end Vorsprung grade.
The Audi phonebox, with wireless charging, is a £260 option on our car, but for the 2020 model year it is only available as part of the ‘comfort and sound pack’.
So there is a lot of detail to wade through to understand why this particular variant isn’t quite like the cars available to order now.
One key factor that is particularly important to you and your drivers is that the 2020 model year cars are fitted with low-rolling-resistance tyres, bringing the CO2 emissions figure down from 135g/km on our 35 TFSI Sport S-tronic, to 127g/km.
That brings down the BIK tax band to 29% from 31%, with lower monthly payments for drivers and lower national insurance contributions for employers.
So we will treat this A4 as if we were driving a 2020 model year car. The 35 TFSI badge on the boot refers to its position in the range rather than any specific engine size or power output.
Its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine produces 150hp, while if you choose a 35 TDI it means 163hp and a 2.0-litre diesel engine. Confusing, isn’t it?
There are some changes to the interior, including the addition of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit configurable instrument display as standard across the range.
Previously it would have been an option on some models costing the thick end of £500. Plus, the rotary controller from the centre console found in previous versions, which selected functions on the dashboard screen, is gone.
In its place is a small storage cubby, while the dashboard screen (now called Audi Touchscreen MMI) is larger. Some people will prefer the intuitiveness of a touchscreen, although it is more difficult to use when driving, and potentially hazardous.
In fact some functions are prohibited on the move, even preventing front-seat passengers using them.
I had got used to the rotary controller in the A4 I had been running up to the delivery of this car. But so far, overall, I am not unhappy with the change and, 2,000 miles in, the petrol engine is in its element on motorway cruises, regularly showing an indicated 50mpg-plus on the trip computer.
We have a new hero in the COVID-19 saga, and it’s some hacker in Poland. Whoever this person is, they are making bootleg dongles that let ventilator refurbishers circumvent lockdown software so they can repair broken ventilators bought from the secondhand market.
The dongle is a DIY copy of one that Medtronic makes, which of course they don’t sell to anyone. It makes a three-way connection between the patient’s monitor, a breath delivery system, and a computer, and lets technicians sync software between two broken machines so they can be Frankensteined into a single working ventilator. The company open-sourced an older model at the end of March, but this was widely viewed as a PR stunt.
This is not just the latest chapter in the right-to-repair saga. What began with locked-down tractors and phones has taken a serious turn as hospitals are filled to capacity with COVID-19 patients, many of whom will die without access to a ventilator. Not only is there a shortage of ventilators, but many of the companies that make them are refusing outside repair techs’ access to manuals and parts.
These companies insist that their own in-house technicians be the only ones who touch the machines, and many are not afraid to admit that they consider the ventilators to be their property long after the sale has been made. The ridiculousness of that aside, they don’t have the manpower to fix all the broken ventilators, and the people don’t have the time to wait on them.
We wish we could share the dongle schematic with our readers, but alas we do not have it. Hopefully it will show up on iFixit soon alongside all the ventilator manuals and schematics that have been compiled and centralized since the pandemic took off. In the meantime, you can take Ventilators 101 from our own [Bob Baddeley], and then find out what kind of engineering goes into them.
Early this month, former Telstra boss David Thodey released a draft review of the NSW revenue system as it relates to federal funding. The review was commissioned by the NSW Treasurer, and the centrepiece of its recommendations was an increase in the GST.
The rationale is clear: It’s far easier to raise the GST than undertake politically-difficult reforms to corporate taxation and incentives targeting renewable industries and R&D.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull devoted considerable time to a lower corporate tax regime, arguing Australia’s company tax was internationally uncompetitive. He was right – tax competition is a global sport. The winners reap rivers of gold. The losers – you and I – merely pay more tax.
Read more:Australia needs a GST holiday
If Amazon shares hit US$5000, CEO Jeff Bezos becomes the world’s eighth-largest economy. And he owes it all to you. Because Amazon pays very little tax. Veteran investor Warren Buffet knew the tax code was slanted against income taxes versus capital gains when he discovered his secretary paid more tax than he did, leading to the « Buffet rule » – upper and high-income earners should not pay less tax than lower-income workers.
That hasn’t happened. Instead, corporations stash revenues in off-balance-sheet special purpose entities (SPEs), by using special tax jurisdictions and trusts located in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland, among others.
In 2016, the EU Commission ordered Apple that pay €13 billion ($A19.2 billion) in taxes to Ireland on the basis that the EU arm of the company, headquartered in Ireland, had received « state aid » (that is, untaxed benefits), which is unlawful in the EU single market. Apple appealed the decision in 2019. I asked some G20 sherpas’ staff about SPE reform during the 2014 Brisbane G20 summit; they refused to even discuss it.
The Bush administration introduced a tax holiday for US firms in 2004, allowing multinational corporations to repatriate overseas earnings, but the scheme was abruptly abandoned once it was realised it raised little federal revenue. The Trump administration also bowed to the pressure of a corporate tax holiday, permitting Apple, Google and Amazon, among many others, to repatriate more than US$1 trillion held in foreign jurisdictions and SPEs. Nevertheless, the Trump tax repatriation still fell well short of the US$4 trillion the administration predicted.
… the GST is a lazy, regressive, blunt instrument that operates as a substitute for taxation reform across the spectrum, instead of reforming vested interests targeting financial and property speculation, as well as resources profits.
What did US corporations do with this windfall? In many cases, they undertook share buybacks, which boosted their stock prices, thus further enriching both investors and corporate executives with stock options. This does little to repair fiscal imbalances.
The bottom line is that there are only three ways to raise taxes: income, corporate and indirect. Corporations pay the least by far, and few governments have made serious inroads into increasing corporate contributions to the taxation base. Indeed, under Trump, business tax repatriation is a retrograde step, while Trump’s tax cuts have also eroded the US fiscal base.
Despite myriad promises during successive G20 summits, one-third of Australian corporations pay zero tax. But at least we have stopped giving drug dealers a tax deduction.
A tax regime for a post-COVID economy
Globally, slow or low growth in the post-COVID economy will result in cuts in government services and subsidies as taxation revenues decline. In the absence of stable economic growth, governments will be compelled to either print money, go further into debt, or raise taxes to maintain services provision.
The first two options are not long-term revenue strategies. Consequently, governments will rely on taxation to repair the fiscal damage wrought by the pandemic. As ABS data shows, Australian tax per capita has increased every year since the 2008 GFC, rising 4.4 per cent overall in 2018-19.
GST is frequently regarded as a regressive tax. It places considerable imposts upon low-income-earners, who are given little compensation and save little of their income; thus, virtually all their expenditures are taxed. For higher-income classes, the GST isn’t a barrier to consumption, whereas a 10% tax added to replacing a house roof or to dental work represents a considerable financial burden. But even if Australia introduced a universal basic income (UBI), governments would immediately claw back at least 10% in consumption taxes.
Australia has high income taxes compared to the OECD average, but a relatively low GST rate. However, indirect taxes, excluding GST, exceed those of comparable countries on average (below).
The rent-seekers cometh
The NSW Treasurer’s campaign to increase the GST is backed by a carefully-orchestrated PR campaign to soften the voters. Inevitably, this brought the usual suspects out of the wood – rent-seekers.
Unsurprisingly, business campaigns for GST increases because it doesn’t pay for it; the consumer does. More to the point, this takes the heat off corporate taxation as well.
States campaign for GST increases because indirect taxes give them a bigger share of the national tax cake. Moreover, the political damage associated with GST rate increases are borne predominantly by federal governments. The author of the 2008 tax review, former treasury secretary Ken Henry, also supports a higher GST rate.
GST increases are a distraction from the main game – corporate and resources taxes.
My argument is that the GST is a lazy, regressive, blunt instrument that operates as a substitute for taxation reform across the spectrum, instead of reforming vested interests targeting financial and property speculation, as well as resources profits. The GST base could be expanded to hit, say, basic food or private school education, or this list. GST hikes allow governments to eschew carefully-targeted tax incentives directed at future key employment sectors, such as green jobs, carbon pricing, digital economy, and manufacturing and innovation R&D.
Here’s what we should be doing:
1. Tax the digital economy
The digital economy has proven notoriously difficult to tax. The rise of the gig economy is also hard to police. Workers may fall below the GST reporting threshold; the informal or « shadow » economy leads to regulatory avoidance, while workers use cash and cryptocurrencies. Unregulated digital services allow international labour to displace domestic workers across borders (I could pay offshore Indian graduates to grade papers – but I don’t). The EU shadow economy is valued at €2.4 trillion ($A3.89 trillion), while the global informal economy is estimated at nearly $US10 trillion – bigger than China’s GDP.
The French government has sought to deal with both corporate tax evasion and the digital economy by imposing a 3% tax on revenues. In 2020, Paris postponed the tax, as Trump threatened tariffs on French exports, due to allegations of harm to the US tech sector. Verdict: It’s complicated.
2. Create sovereign wealth funds
Kevin Rudd tried, and failed, to implement a Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT). An aggressive campaign waged by the resources industry – 83% foreign-owned – cost Rudd his job. The Gillard government implemented the tepid Mining Resources Rent Tax, which collected virtually no revenue until it was repealed by the Abbott government.
In contrast, the UK introduced a petroleum super profits tax in 1975, until the Cameron-Clegg government abandoned the tax in 2016. For 40 years, North Sea oil revenues funded everything from the NHS to mortgage tax relief. The UK deserves plaudits for reducing VAT to zero under COVID-19 for eBooks and online journals. It also charges no VAT on food, except for junk foods and alcohol.
Sensibly, Norway has locked oil and gas tax revenue into a sovereign wealth fund worth more than US$1 trillion. The Australian state and federal governments should be doing precisely this, with taxes on resources super profits, including iron ore, coal and gas.
3. Financial transactions levy
If you’re an investor on the domestic or foreign exchanges, you pay GST to your broker, but you can claim it back as an expense. Your broker pays zero GST on every trade. The ASX already collects a small levy on transactions, but this could easily be extended to a « Tobin tax », as the Australia Institute has argued, without imposing a significant burden on business.
4. Land taxes or stamp duty?
State governments saw the writing on the wall in 2018-19, when property prices slumped, despite a pre-COVID recovery. Inflated real estate prices meant Victoria alone expected state coffers to swell by $6 billion annually. A substitute land tax would require an estimated $4000 impost on every household.
Inevitably, the states will transition to land taxes to avoid the peaks and troughs of real estate booms and busts. Moreover, land taxes guarantee revenue in perpetuity. But the longer the national cabinet delays reforms to the tax revenue base, the longer states will depend upon duties, licensing fees and royalties. Impoverished state revenues from a shrunken GST cake in a recessed post-COVID economy will place further financial pressure on essential services, such as health, social services and education.
As for negative gearing and the capital gains concession, neither major party wants to revisit this, given the ALP’s reforms have twice been rejected in federal elections.
There’s no such thing as a neutral tax policy; revenue-neutral tax changes, yes. But in the post-COVID environment, governments will be left with an unpalatable choice between either increasing income taxes, or boosting less conspicuous indirect taxes to fill budget black holes. Governments will inevitably choose the latter, as consumption taxes like GST are less easily understood, apply across the board, and slug everyone from students and pensioners, to tourists and the homeless. Except corporations and sole traders, which merely act as GST tax intermediaries.
Every single country – bar Australia – that has introduced a GST/VAT has increased the rate. Rates rose appreciably after 2008. In 2010, New Zealand raised its GST from 12.5% to 15%. Australia’s GST rate will exceed 10% by 2030, irrespective of the federal government’s protestations to the contrary. With higher unemployment, combined with lower corporate and income tax revenues, indirect tax increases are a mathematical certainty.
The moral? Never stand between a state treasurer and a swag of GST revenue.
Name: Google Pixel Buds 2020 Price (RRP): $279 Manufacturer: Google
Google says life sounds amazing with its new Google Pixel Buds 2020. To me, they are as good as I can expect from a pair of $279 buds – and that is quite a lot.
Why? Because there are a lot of buds out there apart from Google Pixel Buds 2020. Samsung Galaxy Buds+, Apple AirPod, PowerBeats Pro, JBL, Audio-Technica, Sennheiser Momentum, Sony, Bose, Plantronics, Jabra 85t, Jaybird, Blueant, 3SIXT, Skullcandy, Creative, Vissler, Noble Falcon, xFryo and even the Rock (Dwayne) had a go. That is only a small selection of buds – sorry earphones – we (Thomas Bartlett and I) have reviewed over the past 12 months.
So, Google Pixel Buds 2020 need to offer more than the plethora. Let’s see.
Australian review: Google Pixel Buds 2020
Australian website here
Price: $279 inc free delivery
Elevator Pitch: True Wireless buds – the result of thousands of ears research!
Warranty: 2-years ALC
Country of Manufacture: China
Google is a United States-based multinational technology company that specialises in Internet services and products including online advertising technologies,search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware.
Can you trust Google? Our analysis shows Americans trust Google over their Government. Well, some Americans trust almost anyone over their Government! On the whole, Google has a ‘closed’ loop. The data it collects from search and Google devices stays with Google. It uses data to sell advertising (its main source of revenue) – never sold to third parties. On that basis – yes Google is safe.
Google Pixel Buds – the first impression of the ‘Clearly White’ – more a chalky white.
This review is after two days of almost 12-hours daily use. Let’s just say that is longer than I have ever had anything in my ears for well, ever. And it is because these weigh a minuscule 5.3g each. I usually prefer over-the-ear, noise-cancelling headphones for my quiet time.
Point one – get the right fit from the small, medium, or large silicone tips, and you should be happy as they are very comfortable. And they don’t stick out of your ear as far as most do. I would put them on a par with the Samsung Galaxy Bids+ and Jabra Elite 75t for comfort.
They come in a rather cute pillbox (Google calls it a river stone), wireless/USB-C charge case that automatically found my Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Gmail account, downloaded the app and we were away. I guess that is the benefit of being in the Google Android stable.
Point two – wireless charging is not a luxury – it should be mandatory so, thanks Google.
And sound. I love the Blues Brothers, Manhattan Transfer and the Beachboys (sexagenarian tastes). I have also lost a much of the top-end hearing frequency response (above about 6kHz) – so I look for buds to have a good upper mid-range response (clear dialogue) as well as the necessary amount of bass for the Blues Brothers (from 100Hz is fine).
Point three: These have 12mm drivers (oversized) and more than meet my needs. As we cannot measure the frequency response of in-ear buds, it is a subjective test. In a comfort sense, they are also vented to reduce in-ear pressure and let some external sound in.
Setup – EXCEED
Out of the box, it is dead easy for Android (iOS not tested) as it does everything for you. I suspect that is partly to do with BT 5.0, and Google develops Android as well.
Windows setup is easy. Put the buds back in the case, and press/hold the case button for three seconds to enter BT pairing mode. These show up as a headset A2DP stereo device and use the 16-bit, 44.1Hz SBC codec. It also supports Windows Sonic effects and Dolby Atmos for faux 3D sound.
I expect macOS will be similar to Windows, and there is no app iOS/iPad OS – it is just a BT device.
Fail – once paired to a Windows device I had to unpair and repair (from scratch) to the Android device.
Fail – firmware update. It kept saying there was a firmware update available, but it never came.