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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign

“Amazon Rigged Data, Knocked-Off Products”: Reuters

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/amazon-india-rigging/

Excerpt

A trove of internal Amazon documents reveals how the e-commerce giant ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoff goods and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India – practices it has denied engaging in. And at least two top Amazon executives reviewed the strategy.

Filed 

Amazon.com Inc has been repeatedly accused of knocking off products it sells on its website and of exploiting its vast trove of internal data to promote its own merchandise at the expense of other sellers. The company has denied the accusations.

But thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents examined by Reuters – including emails, strategy papers and business plans – show the company ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India, one of the company’s largest growth markets.

The documents reveal how Amazon’s private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from Amazon.in to copy products sold by other companies, and then offered them on its platform. The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging Amazon’s search results so that the company’s products would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it, “in the first 2 or three … search results” when customers were shopping on Amazon.in.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Stand with Palestine Surveillance Capitalism

Amazon Employees Condemn Israeli Military Cloud Contract

https://www.businessinsider.com/hundreds-google-amazon-employees-condemn-israeli-military-cloud-contract-2021-10

Excerpt:

  • Hundreds of Google and Amazon employees called for their companies to cut ties with the Israeli military.
  • Employees criticized Project Nimbus, a contract the two companies signed to sell cloud services to Israel.
  • Employees said the technology would allow for further Israeli surveillance of Palestinians.

Hundreds of Google and Amazon employees signed an open letter published in The Guardian on Tuesday condemning Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract signed by the two companies to sell cloud services to the Israeli military and government.

“This technology allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land,” the letter stated. “We cannot look the other way, as the products we build are used to deny Palestinians their basic rights, force Palestinians out of their homes and attack Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – actions that have prompted war crime investigations by the international criminal court.”

Yesterday, almost 800 workers at Amazon and Google joined forces to demand their employers pull out of Project Nimbus – a $1.2 billion contract to provide cloud services for the Israeli military and government – and cut all ties with the Israeli military. 

The courageous workers at every level of Amazon and Google are making it very clear that technology should be used to bring people together, not enable apartheid and violence.

Project Nimbus is designed to make the Israeli military that carries out atrocities in Gaza — and the government that carries out the daily business of apartheid — more oppressive and deadly for Palestinians.

They deserve our support. Click here to send an email to Amazon and Google execs & let them know that there’s still time to do the right thing: Cut Project Nimbus, and stop doing business with Israel’s apartheid government.

Batool Syeda lead organizer of the campaign and employee at Amazontold American Muslims for Palestine today, “We know that this contract further enables Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. We’re concerned, we’re outraged, and we will no longer be complicit as our companies continue this pattern of militarization that follows working with ICE, the US military, and policing agencies. We are urging Amazon and Google to respect human rights and dignity by dropping Project Nimbus and committing to ethical business practices.”

Let’s declare together: #NoTechForApartheid.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/12/google-amazon-workers-condemn-project-nimbus-israeli-military-contract

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Surveillance Capitalism

Amazon & Digital Redlining

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/09/16/chris-gilliard-sees-digital-redlining-in-surveillance-tech/

Excerpt:

Gilliard began calling attention to Ring’s discriminatory potential soon after Amazon acquired it in 2018. He grew so preoccupied with the camera that he changed his Twitter name to “One Ring (Doorbell) to Surveil Them All,” a play on a line from “The Lord of the Rings.” He made himself available as an expert source to ViceUSA Today and the Associated Press, explaining how consumer surveillance tools such as Ring, along with social “neighborhood watch” apps such as Neighbors and Nextdoor, feed on people’s fears and amplify their biases.

“I think about what the effect is of law enforcement having easy access to cameras from everyone’s porch,” Gilliard said. “It makes nuisance crimes” — from stolen Amazon packages to an egged car — “available for escalation in a way that they weren’t previously.”

Gradually, Gilliard’s concerns were borne out. Stories began to emerge about Ring’s secret partnerships with police departments; its security vulnerabilities; the rampant racism on its neighborhood watch app, Neighbors; and how it trades on people’s suspicion of others who look like they “don’t belong.” (Ring says it doesn’t tolerate discrimination on the Neighbors app, and it encourages users to consider whether their suspicion is reasonable before sharing footage.)

<snip>

Gilliard is “a true leading indicator,” said Rumman Chowdhury, an expert on artificial intelligence ethics who directs Twitter’s Machine Learning Ethics, Transparency, and Accountability team. “For anybody looking to understand the next narrative in tech, whatever tomorrow’s story is going to be, it would be smart to follow Chris and to listen to what he is saying.”

***

If Gilliard appears prescient about how tools of surveillance may be abused in the future, it might be because he’s intimately familiar with how they’ve been abused in the past.

Gilliard grew up in Detroit in the 1970s and ‘80s, a time and place associated with drugs and violent crime in the popular imagination. But Gilliard, one of eight children born to a washing-machine repairman and a cook, didn’t see it that way. To him, the perceptions of urban Detroit as a dangerous dystopia were more damaging than the reality. They meant that members of his community were viewed by White society primarily as a threat — a problem to be solved, or contained.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Surveillance Capitalism

Amazon Profits from Endless War

Recent disclosures of the revolving door between Amazon and the national security state have underlined the degree to which the company has been profiting from the “War on Terror”.

https://techxplore.com/news/2021-09-big-tech-billions-war-terror.html

Excerpt:

Tech giants made billions through contracts with the US military and other government agencies during the so-called “war on terror”, according to a report released ahead of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The main report, “Big Tech Sells War”, is available here:

https://bigtechsellswar.com

Steve Pandelides, pictured above  worked at the FBI from November 1999-March 2021, including at the National Counterterrorism Center and Operational Technology Division. He’s now the Director for Security at Amazon Web Services. Christine Halvorsen, above, also worked at the FBI, from March 2013-April 2019, including as Deputy Assistant Director for the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. She is now
Amazon Web Services Senior Technical Business Development Manager, and a Mission Acceleration Team Strategic Account Executive, for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Jana Kay had two tours of duty at the Department of “Defense”, 2005-2007, and 2009-2018, including as a Strategist for the Global War on Terrorism; from 2007-2009, she was a Strategic Planner, at the National Counterterrorism Center. She has been with Amazon Web Services as a Cloud Security Strategist, 2018-Present.

Excerpt:

  • The 2000s saw the rise of profits and prominence of US Big Tech. While tech corporations like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter became more and more a part of our everyday lives, these same companies were providing tools to the US military and government to help fuel their war on Muslim communities. From databases to drones, US Big Tech is complicit in and has profited from this never-ending war against Muslims at home and abroad.
  • Big Tech has also been a vehicle for the rampant spread of Islamophobia since the start of the GWoT. Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s streaming service YouTube platform virulent anti-Muslim, xenophobic hate speech, and conspiracies that have fueled events like the 2019 Christchurch attack. These platforms also allow think tanks and individuals invested in the GWoT in some way to spread disinformation to justify its continuation. At the same time these platforms have censored BIPOC creators and activists for speaking out against state violence.
  • While weapons manufacturers have rightly  gotten much attention as war profiteers, tech also has a role in war against our communities. The United States remains the largest arms exporter in the world, but now tools to fight “war” are different and focused on what the tech and military industries refer to as the “digital battlefield” where metadata, drones, and artificial intelligence (AI) do the killing in the name of efficiency. Add the reality that surveillance has become an essential part of the GWoT and there is now an entire terro industry for Big Tech to profit from.
  • Big Tech is benefitting from what some have called “terror capitalism,” the phenomenon of corporations profiting off of defining entire communities as “terrorists” and using these communities as test subjects for technology developed in service of counterterrorism, which can eventually also be deployed for other purposes. For the GWoT, it is Muslim communities across the globe who have been dehumanized as “terrorists” and have become test subjects for a wide range of technology from drones to databases.
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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign ICE Surveillance Capitalism

Amazon Partial Owner of Deportation Airline

https://investigate.afsc.org/company/atsg

AIR TRANSPORT SERVICES GROUP INC

STOCK SYMBOLS
NASDAQ

:

ATSG
COMPANY HEADQUARTERS
USA
ISSUES

A US air cargo and transportation company, which operates charter deportation flights for the US government

Air Transport Services Group Inc (ATSG) is a charter cargo and passenger airline operating primarily in the U.S. and Canada. It is the largest provider of charter flights to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), which in 2020 accounted for 31% of its revenue. The company’s other major clients include Amazon, which is a partial owner (see below), shipping companies DHL and UPS, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for which ATSG provides deportation flights (see below). Other than charter flights, the company also provides air transportation services such as aircraft leasing, aircraft maintenance and modification services, logistics, and training. ATSG owns three charter airlines with a combined fleet of 106 Boeing aircraft and reported a 2020 revenue of $1.5 billion.

ATSG is partially owned by Amazon, which acquired a 19.5% stake in ATSG in 2020, and has the option to increase its share to 40%. ATSG reports having a “long-standing, strategic customer relationship” with Amazon, which accounted for 30% of ATSG’s 2020 revenue. ATSG’s cargo airline Air Transport International is one of two airlines that comprise the bulk of Amazon’s air fleet (“Amazon Air”), since Amazon established it in 2016. ATSG reports as an advantage the fact that it is headquartered at the Wilmington Air Park in Ohio, which Amazon also uses as a regional hub. Another ATSG subsidiary, Cargo Aircraft Management, has contracted the Israeli military company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to convert Boeing 767 aircraft from a passenger to cargo configuration for Amazon’s fleet. As of 2019, 80% of Amazon’s cargo planes were reportedly converted by IAI.

Omni Air International, ATSG’s passenger charter airline, is the sole provider of “special high-risk charter” deportation flights for ICE. These are flights that involve deporting people who “fail to comply” with ICE’s orders or other “high-profile” deportations, and are different from most ICE deportations, which are handled either by routine charter flights to Central America or by booking seats on commercial flights. As specified in government contracting documents, Omni Air effectively has a monopoly on “high-risk” deportation flights, as no other company can provide these services on ICE’s schedule. The planes used for such deportations are Boeing 767s and 777s.

ICE does not contract Omni Air directly for deportation flights, but through an intermediary broker company called Classic Air Charter, which arranges most ICE air deportations. This contract, which started in 2017, is worth a potential $737.9 million and can be extended through 2023. It is unknown how much of this amount ends up in the hands of Omni Air, however the company charged ICE $33,500 per flight hour and a total of almost $1.8 million for one deportation flight to Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam in 2019.

On many of the “high-risk” deportations that Omni Air operates, ICE puts people into a device called the WRAP, a full body, straitjacket-like restraint. Anecdotal accounts indicate that this process often involves pinning individuals to the ground face-down on the ground before the flight, beating them up while they are in the restraint, and using TASERs to subdue them. The WRAP device is manufactured by Safe Restraints, a privately-owned company based in Diablo, CA. It is also used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies and prisons across the U.S. and has been implicated in multiple fatalities.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Stand with Palestine Surveillance Capitalism

Amazon Deepens “Security” Involvement in Israel

Amazon’s Investments in Israel Reveal Complicity in Settlements and Military Operations | The Nation

Excerpt:

On Prime Day, Amazon’s largest online shopping event, the company will be looking to beat its previous sales record of $10.4 billion. Increasingly, customers have grown critical of Amazon’s treatment of workersunion-busting activities, and partnerships with police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, leading some to call for a boycott of Prime Day. What Amazon Prime members may not realize, however, is that Amazon is also aiding in the spread of military occupation abroad.

Amid Israel’s most recent deadly attacks on the Gaza Strip and ongoing displacement of Palestinian residents in Sheikh Jarrah, Amazon Web Services (AWS), together with Google, recently signed a $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government. The deal, “Project Nimbus,” is a flagship project to provide a cloud services “ecosystem” for the Israeli public sector, for which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) will be the primary beneficiary. Construction has already begun on three data server centers.

<snip>

Amazon’s cloud service will also assist in Israel’s expanding settlement enterprise by supporting data for the Israel Land Authority (ILA), the government agency that manages and allocates state land. As Human Rights Watch has argued, the ILA administers discriminatory land policies that “nurture the growth and expansion” of predominantly Jewish settlements, while hemming Palestinians into dense population centers in “starkly unequal terms.”

According to Israel National News, this has generated dissent and protest from Amazon workers:

Google, Amazon, and Israel in the new America – Israel National News

Shortly after the Google employees published their letter, some five hundred Amazon employees entered the anti-Israel fray. They signed a letter that was almost identical to the Google employees’ letter. They called for Amazon to reject the definition of anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism. They insisted that Israel is a racist colonial project and that the land of Israel belongs to the Palestinian Arabs. They called for Amazon to financially support Palestinian organizations. And they asked that the firm “commit to review and sever business contracts and corporate donations with companies, organizations, and/or governments that are active or complicit in human rights violations, such as the Israeli Defense Forces.”

Another employee group, called “Amazon Employees for Climate Justice,” tweeted a long chain of posts denouncing the company’s participation in the Nimbus Project. Among other things, they wrote, “We stand in solidarity with Palestinians who went on a historic general strike to protest Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza. Amazon and Google recently signed a $1B deal supporting Israel’s military. Amazon is complicit in state killings and human rights abuses.

“Amazon’s workers didn’t sign up to work on projects that support militaries and policing forces. We didn’t sign up to be complicit in state killings and human rights abuses in the US, Israel, and around the world,” they conc

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

Amazon Cheated on Union Vote, NLRB Hearing Officer Recommends Do-Over

6109481ae4b0552883e5928e.pdf (huffingtonpost.com)

Excerpt:

“On April 9, 2021, a tally of ballots issued in a mail ballot election that had commenced on February 8, 2021. That tally reflected that a majority of employees who had cast ballots in the election voted against representation by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (Petitioner or Union). However, the Petitioner contests the results of the election claiming that Amazon.Com Services, LLC (Employer or Amazon) engaged in objectionable conduct. As a
result of this objectionable conduct, Petitioner asks that the election be set aside and that a new election be directed. Specifically, the Petitioner contends that the Employer interfered with the …conditions necessary to conduct a fair election by causing a mailbox to be installed on
its premises, by polling employees, by threatening employees, by hiring additional police, and by interfering with the Union’s access to voters by causing the county to alter the timing of certain traffic lights.
After conducting the hearing and carefully reviewing the evidence and the arguments made by the parties, I recommend that Petitioner’s objections be sustained in part because the evidence demonstrates that the Employer’s conduct interfered with the laboratory conditions
necessary to conduct a fair election.”

With Amazon Accused of Cheating, NLRB Official Says Workers Should Get Another Union Vote | Common Dreams News

Excerpt:

An official at the National Labor Relations Board on Monday formally recommended tossing out the results of a closely watched union election at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, potentially giving workers there a chance to hold another vote as the e-commerce giant faces accusations of unlawful misconduct.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power

Amazon’s Drone Delivery Collapsing

The slow collapse of Amazon’s drone delivery dream | WIRED UK

Excerpt:

Well over 100 employees at Amazon Prime Air have lost their jobs and dozens of other roles are moving to other projects abroad as the company shutters part of its operation in the UK, WIRED understands. Insiders claim the future of the UK operation, which launched in 2016 to help pioneer Amazon’s global drone delivery efforts, is now uncertain.

Those working on the UK team in the last few years, who spoke on condition of anonymity, describe a project that was “collapsing inwards”, “dysfunctional” and resembled “organised chaos”, run by managers that were “detached from reality” in the years building up to the mass redundancies.

Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

How Amazon Exploited a Weakened America

https://blackagendareport.com/how-amazon-exploited-weakened-america

Excerpt:

Amazon will not stop squeezing every drop from workers until those workers have more power.

“The book is less an examination of the company than an examination of America through its lens.”

Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America
Alec MacGillis
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374159276

During the Covid-19 pandemic, one in four Americans has struggled to pay their bills, and as of mid-January, unemployment claims surpassed those of the Great Recession for the forty-third straight week. As of February, more than 24 million people reported that their households sometimes didn’t have enough to eat. Many lower-income Americans continued to report for in-person jobs without proper protective equipment in dangerously crowded environments like meatpacking plants, warehouses, and hospitals.

For those who could work from home, it became “our patriotic duty” to buy online, wrote ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis in a November New York Times op-ed. Flattening the curve put the nail in the coffin of in-person retail, which had already endured record closures in 2019. Amazon, meanwhile, hired 250,000 people, taking the total to over a million employees globally. Most of those jobs sucked: They were largely in warehouse and delivery, which have become notoriously brutal jobs at Amazon both physically and mentally (but we’ll get to that). Nine months into 2020, and six months into the pandemic, Amazon had already surpassed its 2019 earnings.

Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

Bezos’ s Wasteful Space Race Proves: Tax Amazon on Earth

Last week, we saw billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos engage in a massively wasteful ‘space race’ while the entire Western United States suffered from a record-breaking heat wave. Then, after landing, Jeff Bezos had the audacity to thank Amazon workers for paying for his public mid-life crisis.

Back on Earth, the rest of us are paying for billionaire greed too as record temperatures threaten human life and infrastructure in a climate crisis driven by the top 100 companies in the world. Renters have nowhere to go as the eviction moratorium is about to end, and the median price of a house in California has risen by $300,000.

Lack of housing, climate destruction, and poor working conditions all have the same cause: the hoarding and exploitation committed by the billionaire class.

To fight against Bezos, Amazon, and Big Business, we’ll need a mass movement committed to fighting first-hand for what we need. Will you commit to joining our volunteer campaign to tax Amazon in Burbank?

Take a stand!

Raise $100 million from tax on companies with the largest square footageBefore they do that, we need to show public support for the terms as passed by the Action Conference:The TAB campaign has officially sent our resolutions from the last Action Conference to the Burbank City Council. Once they add it to the agenda, they’ll debate on whether or not to craft a law that meets our terms. The council will likely attempt to water down the resolutions in an attempt to cater to Big Business in Burbank!

Fund rent and utilities relief due to COVID

Build social housing by union labor with living wages

Fund public schools

Fund a Green New Deal in Burbank

And more!

When the council schedules the discussion of the Burbank Amazon Tax, we need Burbankers to show up online to speak up in support! Are you willing to show City Council that Burbank needs a strong tax on Amazon and Big Business?

Stay tuned, and add “Tax Amazon Burbank” to your address book so you won’t miss any updates. We’re heading into a crucial part of the campaign, and it’s going to take all of us to beat Bezos.