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Boycott Amazon Campaign

Bezos Using Opportunity Zone Tax Breaks for Space Race with Musk

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-12-09/elon-musk-jeff-bezos-use-opportunity-zone-tax-breaks-for-private-space-race

Excerpt:

The world’s two richest men, who committed billions of dollars of their own money to a private space race, are now eligible for an extra boost from the federal government: a tax break intended to help poor communities.

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk had competed for nearly a decade to develop engines and rockets through their privately owned space companies when the perk came their way in 2018. Their companies’ sites were included among the thousands of tracts across the U.S. designated as Qualified Opportunity Zones, part of President Donald Trump’s plan to use tax breaks to attract investments and jobs to distressed neighborhoods.

At the time, Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. was building a launch operation along the Texas-Mexico border. Bezos’s Blue Origin had struck a deal to build a $200 million rocket engine plant in an Alabama research park. The companies had already committed to job creation and secured local tax breaks.

The billionaires’ qualification for the federal benefit, which hasn’t been previously reported, enables them to avoid capital gains taxes on money they steer into opportunity zone operations. Those investments can then grow tax-free, and if the billionaires keep their investments in place for a decade, any appreciation can be shielded from federal capital gains taxes forever.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

#BlackOutBezos

Today is Black Friday, the second busiest shopping day of the entire year.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is hoping to make billions of dollars between today and Cyber Monday, off of the work of thousands of warehouse employees across the country.

Warehouse workers at Amazon are twice as likely to be injured on the job than those in similar jobs.(1) Coronavirus cases are spiking but Amazon has ended its hazard pay and still does not have significant paid sick leave.(2) And while Bezos has made $70 billion since the start of the pandemic, warehouse employees in California aren’t being paid wages competitive to where they live.(3)

We’re encouraging everyone to shop local this Black Friday and Cyber Monday in order to support local businesses and send a strong message to Bezos that we won’t support his exploitation of warehouse workers.

Will you change your profile picture to our #BlackOutBezos image from today through Cyber Monday and help convince others to shop local?

Here are instructions for how to change your profile picture for various social medias:

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Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

Amazon Workers in Alabama Petition for Union

https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2020-11-24/amazon-warehouse-workers-in-alabama-petition-to-form-a-union

EXCERPT FROM BLOOMBERG:

Amazon.com Inc. warehouse workers in Alabama filed a petition with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board to form a union, the latest sign of strife between the online retailer and its large blue-collar workforce.

The federal agency posted a notice dated Friday for a hearing to determine whether the petition meets the criteria to advance to the next step. With enough support, it’ll proceed to a vote among those working at the warehouse outside Birmingham on whether to unionize and be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The recently opened facility in Bessemer employs about 1,500 people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the plight of so-called essential workers, including those in Amazon’s logistics and delivery operations, whose labor helped many people reduce their exposure by having goods delivered to their homes.

Some Amazon warehouse workers in Europe are union members, but most of the company’s U.S. workforce isn’t unionized. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $181.9 billion, while many of Amazon’s workers earn so little that they receive government subsidies for food and healthcare.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign

Amazon Refuses to Sell Book on COVID-Capitalism Connection

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Boycott Amazon Campaign Surveillance Capitalism

Ring Doorbells Subject to Recall Over Fire Hazard

In addition to dangers to privacy and  being a step towards a “total surveillance society” hooked into law enforcement, Amazon’s Ring doorbells have been the subject of a recall by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission over a threat of causing fires. Some 350,000 units in the U.S. and 8,700 in Canada are being recalled over fire and burn concerns. The devices were on sale through Amazon’s sites and retail locations.

https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2020/ring-recalls-video-doorbells-2nd-generation-due-to-fire-hazard

According to the CPSC, “This recall involves Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Generation), model number 5UM5E5 smart doorbell cameras.  The video doorbells have a blue ring at the front and come in two color combinations:  (black and silver) and (black and bronze).  They were sold with a mounting bracket and a USB charging cable.  The two-way audio doorbell can be hardwired or battery-powered and supports night vision[Emphasis added.]

“The Ring logo is printed on the bottom front of the doorbell and the model and serial number are on a label on the back of the doorbell and the outer packaging.  Consumers can determine if their doorbell is included in this recall by entering the doorbell’s serial number at http://support.ring.com/ring-2nd-gen-recall. Only Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Generation) models with certain serial numbers are included.”

The recall, joined in by Canada, notes that the doorbells are imported by Ring LLC of Santa Monica, CA from China. Perhaps we should consider Ring of Santa Monica as a site for a protest of Amazon’s surveillance activities and other involvements.

The CSPC advises that: “Consumers should immediately stop installing the recalled video doorbells and contact Ring for revised installation instructions or download them here.  Consumers can check if their video doorbell is part of this recall through Ring’s website or app.”
There have been a number of reported incidents or injuries:

The CSPC says that Ring has received 85 incident reports of incorrect doorbell screws installed with 23 of those doorbells igniting, resulting in minor property damage.  The firm has received eight reports of minor burns.

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Boycott Amazon Campaign Surveillance Capitalism

Palantir Extending Reach into British COVID Contact Tracing

https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2020/11/04/palantir-in-talks-to-help-britain-with-covid-contact-tracing.html

Excerpt:

The U.K. government is considering using software from U.S. data analytics firm Palantir for coronavirus contact tracing in England, according to reports from Bloomberg and The Financial Times, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

[NOTE: Palantir’s data mining functions on the backbone of Amazon Web Services (AWS).]

Officials are reportedly in talks about using the company’s Foundry software to manage sensitive contact-tracing data on the spread of the virus. It comes after the government failed to report 15,841 positive cases because an Excel spreadsheet containing contact-tracing data reached its maximum size and failed to automatically update.

<snip>

Palantir has been described as the company that “knows everything about you” and its software is used by government surveillance agencies around the world for spying purposes.

From the Bloomberg Business news piece linked to above:

Founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel and some fellow PayPal alumni, Palantir cut its teeth working for the Pentagon and the CIA in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company’s engineers and products don’t do any spying themselves; they’re more like a spy’s brain, collecting and analyzing information that’s fed in from the hands, eyes, nose, and ears. The software combs through disparate data sources—financial documents, airline reservations, cellphone records, social media postings—and searches for connections that human analysts might miss. It then presents the linkages in colorful, easy-to-interpret graphics that look like spider webs. U.S. spies and special forces loved it immediately; they deployed Palantir to synthesize and sort the blizzard of battlefield intelligence.

From LA Magazine on Peter Thiel’s relationship with Donald Trump:

In 2016, billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel became the first openly gay person to speak at a Republican convention in nearly a generation. Thiel was an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump from the get-go, ultimately donating around $1.25 million to help him become president. But, [t]hese days, Thiel reportedly describes the Trump campaign as the “S.S. Minnow,” a reference to the shipwrecked boat from Gilligan’s Island, and insiders say he has “ghosted” the campaign’s overtures.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

Vigil at Bezos Mansion on Prime Day, Oct 13

A few hours of support for essential workers = Many days of services so we can shelter at home

 UPDATE: About 50 people attended for a candle-light vigil. Bezos’ s mansion has the highest hedge I have ever seen, about four stories high.

PRIME DAY! OCTOBER 13, 2020   6pm to 8pm

CANDLELIGHT VIGIL AT THE BEZOS MANSION

1801 Angelo Drive, Beverly Hills, 90210

• Support the workers’ demand for safe PPE and a rank and file safety committee.

Amazon workers will be participating with facial covering to avoid retaliation.

“Even if Jeff Bezos gave $170,000 to every employee in Amazon he would still have the same wealth as before the pandemic. This is the extent to which he has profited from this historically tragic moment.

“Amazon workers are essential! Our lifeline to the basic things we need, yet they continue to put their health, and the health of loved ones they go home to every night at risk. We must stand in solidarity with them.”

AMAZON’S COVID NUMBERS

19,816 have tested positive for Covid-19. (does not include any 3rd party deliverers or contractors)

Source: Amazon/Rueters

 Hawthorne Distribution Center, 2815 W. El Segundo = 42 cases. Includes first confirm death due to Covid-19.

 Eastvale Fulfillment Center, 4950 Goodman Road, Eastvale (San Bernardino County), CA= 55 cases.

Source: directly from workers inside.

 Amazon under investigation from CA Attorney General for unsafe practices during pandemic

https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2020-07-27/amazons-warehouse-safety-spurs-investigation-by-california-attorney-general

  1. “Andy”-Amazon worker from Hawthorne distribution center. – “Please join us at our CEO’s mansion to demand PPE’s, a rank and file safety committee, paid sick days off.”

  1. Chris Smalls- fired Amazon worker. “Amazon smears Smalls with racist anti-union campaign”-The Real News.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTQiTliRxig

  1. Non-union Somali Amazon workers on one day strike in Minnesota.

  1. Adam Diaz, Director, Warehouse Workers Resource Center, PANA member

Amazon workers’ demographics for the US (50 states)

Total workers (July 2020) Approx. 1 million in USA. Amazon Net income – $225 billion, 2019.

65% – Non-White, 34.7% White

26.5% Black

18.5% Hispanic

15.4% Asian –  154,000 API workers with a majority of them in California & Hawai’i.

3.6%  2 or more races

1.3% Native indigenous

53% male, 47% female

The Big Picture: How does Bezos make so much? While Amazon and all workers and community in the US must unite, it is our job in the US to educate and build solidarity with Amazon workers in the global south upon whose exploitation the Amazon empire and US Imperialism depends.  Broad public exposure of inhumane conditions and pay makes it difficult for Amazon to “divide” US workers and consumers with “better” benefits (relative to the global south) and American racism about “immigrant” and or “foreign workers” threatening American jobs.

   

1.Philippines: Amazon-Product Research worker- $1.31 per hour Investigations are ongoing for allegations of “inhumane” treatment of workers forced to lock-down inside work facilities and sleep on floors due to the pandemic.

2. Hengyang, China: Amazon contractor Foxxconn assembler – $2.14 per hour

3. San Bernardino, CA: Fullfillment Center – $15.00 per hour entry level

4. Seattle, WA: Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO – $13 million per hour

 Since the Covid-19 pandemic began PANA has supported the non-union Amazon workers through the Warehouse Workers Resource Center and we have supported nurses who have been fighting for adequate PPE and safe patient care procedures through the CA Nurses Association, AFL-CIO, at Kaiser Sunset and at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.

• Healthcare workers, in particular nurses, have some of the highest death rates battling the pandemic as “essential” workers, like the Amazon workers. Both have been very visible in LA and the nation in their fights.

• Healthcare workers have one of the highest concentrations of API workers. In CA, about a quarter of all RNs are API, the majority Filipino/a.

• Amazon workers nationwide include about 154,000 Asian/Pacific Islander workers, with a significant number in CA, all non-union.

 PANA: Peace, Justice & Equality for the 99%

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Boycott Amazon Campaign

How People’s Power Beat Amazon in NYC

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Boycott Amazon Campaign Surveillance Capitalism

No Tech for ICE! Campaign

Mijente has launched a No Tech for ICE campaign, focusing on Palantir — its CEO, Alex Karp is pictured above — and its use of Amazon Web Services to help ICE, the Border Patrol and DHS carry out the mission of deportation and repression of immigrants and other Latinx people in the US.

Here are two links:

https://action.mijente.net/petitions/tell-jeff-bezos-amazon-cut-your-ties-to-ice

https://notechforice.com/palantir/

As vice.com recently reported:

HTTPS://CMS.VICE.COM/VICE/EN_U…

In a CNBC interview at Davos, Palantir CEO Alex Karp admitted that his company “[finds] people in our country who are undocumented.” For years, Palantir has attempted to deny or downplay any role in those operations by pointing to the two wings of ICE, which deal with “criminal investigations” and immigration enforcement.

Palantir, a technology company founded by Karp and Peter Thiel, has contracts with the Pentagon, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security. Last year alone, Palantir secured $1.5 billion in new federal government contracts. But it has faced the most scrutiny over its contracts with ICE.

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Boycott Amazon Campaign

Amazon Web Services Used to Monitor Prisoner Calls for COVID keywords

https://theintercept.com/2020/04/21/prisons-inmates-coronavirus-monitoring-surveillance-verus/

Prisons Attempt to Track Coronavirus-Related Keywords in Inmate Phone Calls

Akela Lacy, Alice Speri, Jordan Smith, Sam Biddle – April 21 2020

Prison officials in at least three states are using software to scan inmate calls for mentions of the coronavirus, a move advocacy groups believe paves the way for abuse while raising stark questions about carceral health care.

The monitoring software was created by LEO Technologies, a Los Angeles company backed primarily by scandal-plagued Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy. Known as Verus, it was first deployed several years ago to forestall suicide attempts, mine calls for investigative tips, and for a range of other purposes. In recent weeks, it has been marketed as a system “that can mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across our nation’s jail and prison facilities” by alerting prison authorities to sickness-related conversations between inmates and the outside world.

LEO then routes the data through Amazon’s cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, to obtain call transcripts, which are then shared back to LEO for keyword analysis by its staff. The LEO Technologies website notes the company is part of the “AWS partner network,” an Amazon initiative that “helps companies build, market, and sell their AWS offerings by providing valuable business, technical, and marketing support,” per an Amazon web page.

Document: LEO Technology

“It automatically downloads, analyzes, and transcribes all recorded inmate calls, proactively flagging them for review,” explains a Verus product brochure, which also claims this “near real-time intelligence” can be used to identify sick inmates, help allocate personnel in understaffed prisons, and even prevent “COVID-19 related murder.” The brochure touts Verus’s “advanced semantics” and “proactive analysis” and provides what it says are real-world examples of Verus already at work in undisclosed prison facilities.

Coronavirus monitoring trials have begun at prisons in Alabama, California, and Georgia, LEO Tech CEO Scott Kernan said, adding that there may be further deployments he could not immediately detail.

Advocates for incarcerated people said they feared the technology would be used against those discussing the virus with people outside.

“We’ve been using words that would trigger the keywords that were advertised on that document,” said Sarah Hamid, an organizer with the Carceral Tech Resistance Network, whose volunteers work closely with incarcerated people. “And so we became concerned because we don’t know what the ramifications are of using those words. Like, if somebody uses the word ‘coughing,’ will their entire dorm be put under lockdown or something like that?”

How It Works — and Who Pays For It

According to LEO Technologies’ website, the Verus system operates in at least 26 facilities in 11 states, including uses not specific to the coronavirus. In an interview with The Intercept, Kernan said that prisons use Verus by telling their phone service provider to share call data with LEO Technologies;

LEO then routes this data through Amazon’s cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, to obtain call transcripts, which are then shared back to LEO for keyword analysis by its staff. The LEO Technologies website notes the company is part of the “AWS partner network,” an Amazon initiative that “helps companies build, market, and sell their AWS offerings by providing valuable business, technical, and marketing support,” per an Amazon web page. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Kernan, a former California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation secretary, also sits on the board of the GEO Group, one of the two largest private prison corporations and the largest operator of immigration detention facilities in the country.

LEO Technologies is funded by Elliott Broidy, a Trump insider and former national deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee whose office was raided in 2018 as part of a Justice Department investigation into money laundering and foreign influence peddling.