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Amazon was selling overpriced goods during the pandemic, according to consumer surveillance

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Amazon was selling overpriced goods during the pandemic, according to consumer surveillance

Amazon is accused of overpricing basic necessities like toilet paper and antibacterial soaps, in Public Citizen Consumer Advocacy Group Report… The report analyzed over a dozen products, including those sold by third-party sellers and items listed as “sold by Amazon.” Prices for some items were found to have more than quadrupled between May and August, apparently in violation of Amazon’s own Fair Pricing Policy.

In response to the report, Amazon said there was “no room for overpricing” for its services, including products it sells directly. “Our systems are designed to offer customers the best online prices available, and if we see an error, we quickly fix it,” the spokesperson said.

But the report casts doubt on Amazon’s claims that it was only on third-party lists published by “attackers” that the prices of goods such as face masks and hand sanitizer increased during the pandemic. Amazon has publicly took a hard line about sellers exploiting demand for hygiene and household goods, and claims that thousands of sellers have been banned for doing so.

For items listed as “sold by Amazon,” hand sanitizer prices increased by about 48 percent, according to Public Citizen (product category, Amazon said it has imposed restrictions on back in March), up to 1,000 percent for packs of disposable masks. In the case of toilet paper, for example, the nonprofit group reported that back in June it found that a pack of eight rolls was selling for $ 36.39, while other retailers were charging just $ 6.89 for the same product. One bottle of antibacterial soap was listed at $ 7, up from $ 1.49, up 470 percent.

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In addition to examining the top ten items listed as sold by Amazon, the report also analyzed eight items sold by third-party sellers. These sellers account for a quarter of online retail revenue, according to Amazon’s most recent P&L. Here, Public Citizen found that antibacterial soaps increased by 274 percent and for flour by 941 percent.

While the report found many examples where third-party price tracking systems found large discrepancies between the highest and lowest prices charged for items, in other cases it shows how difficult it is to see how many items have been sold in the past, and therefore obtain an idea of ​​what their price should actually be. Prices fluctuate quickly, making it difficult to determine the typical price, as well as erroneous or deviating prices.

Take face masks, for example. While the Public Citizen report points to an alarming 1,000 percent price increase from about $ 4 to $ 39.99 currently for a pack of 50 masks listed as “sold by Amazon,” it notes that the number of new face mask listings makes it difficult cooking apples. – comparison with apples ”. The link in the report for this original $ 4 price tag for face masks came from Wired report published in Februarywhich indicates now deleted list for a pack of 100, not 50 masks.

Public Citizen is calling for new federal laws that clearly set the point at which price increases lead to price gouging and to which products they apply (Amazon itself called for new federal regulation back in May), but also for Amazon to reform its own listings to make pricing more transparent. The advocacy group wants Amazon to include a link to price history next to each product listing and to end the practice of creating new product pages for products already listed on its service, among other reforms.

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In a statement, an Amazon spokesman said the Public Citizen report found a small number of pricing errors. They said Amazon had removed “over a million overpricing attempts” and suspended over 10,000 merchant accounts.

“We have sent the most egregious offenders to federal and state law enforcement agencies across the country to bring them to justice,” the spokesman said. “We continue to actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.”

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Economy

Russian weapons depend on hundreds of Western components, report condemned

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Russian weapons depend on hundreds of Western components, report condemned

More than 450 foreign-made components were found in Russian weapons found in Ukraine, providing strong evidence that Russia acquired important technology from companies in the US, Europe and Asia years before the invasion, Royal United said in a report on Monday. RUSI), a defense-related think tank.

Since the start of the war five months ago, the Ukrainian military has been seizing or returning undamaged or partially damaged Russian weapons from the battlefield. After dismantling, 27 of these weapons and military systems, from cruise missiles to air defense systems, turned out to be predominantly Western components, the most detailed assessment published to date of the role of Western components in Russia’s war against Ukraine. .

According to RUSI, about two-thirds of the components were manufactured by US companies based on weapons seized from Ukraine. The products of Analog Devices and American Texas Instruments account for almost a quarter of all Western weapons components. Other components were supplied by companies from countries such as Japan, South Korea, the UK, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

“Russian weapons, which are critically dependent on Western electronics, have resulted in the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians,” Jack Watling, RUSI’s ground warfare expert, told Reuters.

While many foreign components are found in everyday items such as microwave ovens that are not subject to export controls, RUSI assured that tightening export restrictions and enforcement could make it difficult for Russia to replenish your arsenal of weapons such as cruise missiles.

In one case, the Russian 9M727 cruise missile, one of the country’s most advanced weapons capable of maneuvering at low altitude, evading radar and hitting targets hundreds of kilometers away, contained 31 foreign components. The parts were made by companies including US-based Texas Instruments and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), as well as Cypress Semiconductor, now owned by Germany’s Infineon AG.

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In another case, the Russian Kh-101 cruise missile that was used to attack Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, also had 31 foreign components, with parts made by companies such as US-based Intel Corporation and AMD Xilinx.

When asked how their chips ended up in Russian weapons, the companies assured that they were complying with trade sanctions and stopped selling components to Russia. Analog Devices noted that the company closed its business in Russia and instructed distributors to stop deliveries to the country. Texas Instruments said it complies with all laws of the countries in which it operates and that parts found in Russian weapons are for commercial products. Intel stated that it “does not support or condone our products being used to violate human rights.” Infineon has expressed “deep concern” if its products are used for purposes for which they were not intended. AMD has stated that it strictly follows all worldwide export control laws.

Many foreign components cost only a few euros, and Russian companies could have purchased them online through national or international distributors before the invasion of Ukraine because they could be used for non-military purposes.

However, more than 80 Western-made microchips have been subject to U.S. export controls since at least 2014, meaning they would need a license to ship to Russia, RUSI reported. for the Russian military or for military use, according to RUSI.

The investigation revealed that the Russian military remains dependent on foreign microchips for everything from tactical radios to drones and long-range precision-guided munitions, and that Western governments have been slow to restrict Russia’s access to these technologies, especially after the invasion of Russia. President Vladimir Putin in 2014.

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According to the National Security and Defense Council, in the first five months of the war, Russian troops fired more than 3,650 missiles. These include 9M727 and Kh-101 missiles. Currently, Russia is looking for new ways to provide access to Western chips, condemned RUSI. Many components are sold through distributors operating in Asia, such as Hong Kong, which acts as a gateway for electronic components entering the Russian military or companies acting on its behalf, RUSI has found, ensuring that the Russian military is constantly undermined. if Western governments tighten export controls, succeed in shutting down clandestine procurement networks in the country, and prevent the production of sensitive components in states that support Russia.

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Economy

Gasoline today falls to pre-war prices: a liter has fallen in price by almost 40 cents in less than 2 months

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Gasoline today falls to pre-war prices: a liter has fallen in price by almost 40 cents in less than 2 months

The sharp drop in oil prices has sent fuel prices down nearly 40 cents a liter in less than two months, about ten of which are today. But it is the tax cut that allows prices to be lower than they were before the war.

Monday, August 8, half the country on vacation, a little heat is predicted on the beaches … and at gas stations. Fuel prices are currently benefiting from a sharp drop, estimated at about a dime a litre.

Refilling a 50-litre tank today can cost almost five euros less than yesterday. And a trip of 300 km (in a car that consumes about six liters per 100 km) today can cost almost two euros less.

Accounts are the result of evaluation 10 cents reduction for gasoline and 9 cents for dieselwhich will come into force today, although they will not be officially confirmed until tomorrow.

At the heart of this decline are the prices of petroleum products, both refined products and raw materials: last week ended with the international price of oil (measured by the Brent index) just above $94, which in dollars is similar to what took place on February 23, the day before Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, the euro value remains more expensive, as the European currency has depreciated by about 9% against the US dollar since the start of the war.

The fall in oil prices is partly due to the prospects for a cooling economy. But it removed some of the tension that existed over the oil.

Gasoline prices fell nearly 40 cents in less than two months

Simple 95 gasoline should now be sold at an average price below 1.8 euros per liter, the lowest price since the beginning of February, that is, even before the war.

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This means that since the peak in Portugal on June 10 (when it was selling at an average price of 2,188 euros per litre), the price of 95 regular gasoline has fallen by almost 40 cents.

The fall in the price of diesel fuel, which today should be sold at a price approaching 1.75 euros per liter (the lowest since the end of February), was slightly less pronounced, but faster.

Since the record high price on June 23 (when a liter cost an average of 2,111 euros), the average selling price of diesel fuel has decreased by a total of almost 35 cents per liter.

This means that, for example, filling a 50-liter diesel tank in a car today costs about 17 cents less than a month and a half ago.

Oil workers still earn more

This decline in final prices, however, does not mean that fuel prices are identical to those in February.

This equalization of prices with respect to February is possible only because the state now levies less taxes than then. Otherwise, gasoline today would be 32.1 cents per liter more expensive, and diesel 28.2 cents per liter.

If the state receives less, and the Portuguese pay almost the same as in February, then other components of the price are more expensive: who sells raw materials, who processes them and who sells them. Including oil companies, which have increased their profits around the world in recent months. António Guterres, UN secretary general, last week criticized oil and gas companies’ “immoral profits”.

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Economy

Electric cars: which brand sells the most in Portugal?

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Carros Elétricos: Qual a marca que mais vende em Portugal?

As we can see, the market for electric vehicles in Portugal is growing. According to the latest data, 4 out of 10 cars sold are electric.

UVE recently released information for July 2022. After all, which brand sells the most in Portugal?

Shocks in the global automotive market, shortages of components, especially microprocessors, and problems in the logistics distribution chains deteriorated with the outbreak of war in Ukraine, creating a general shortage of supply in the automotive industry.

This lack of supply due to increased demand for electric vehicles is becoming apparent in the 100% electric vehicles (BEV - Battery Electric Vehicles) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV - Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) market. in Portugal.

In July 2022, new BEV and PHEV vehicle sales were down 12% month-on-month. In July 2022, 2,649 electric vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs) were sold.considering all vehicle categories - from 1436 BEVs and 1213 PHEVs, representing an annual increase of 16%, mainly due to the aforementioned increase of 61.5% in the 100% electric vehicles (BEV) category.

Electric cars: which brand sells the most in Portugal?

Electric Vehicles: Sales Quotas by Type of Energy

In July of this year, the share of all 100% electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles (BEV + PHEV) reached 17.02%, surpassed by diesel vehicles, which accounted for 18.45% in the passenger car category. .

Best Selling Electric Vehicle Brands in Portugal

In July, Peugeot became the 100% electric passenger car sales champion in Portugal with 171 sales. They are followed by Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz in 2nd and 3rd places respectively.

Overall in 2022, Tesla is #1 in 100% EV sales with 1,061 units delivered, followed by Peugeot in 2nd with 934 vehicles sold, closing the podium with BMW (BMW+BMWi) with 688 100% EVs sold. . . Three brands remain in the plug-in category: BMW in 1st place, Mercedes-Benz in 2nd and Volvo in 3rd.

TO BE

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