Amazon posts record profits as Apple thanks stimulus aid for forecast-beating earnings, despite worst US quarter on record

amazon-posts-record-profits-as-apple-thanks-stimulus-aid-for-forecast-beating-earnings,-despite-worst-us-quarter-on-record

31-07-20 07:38:00,

Amazon and Apple have reported major quarterly gains, with Jeff Bezos’ brainchild posting its biggest-ever profit and Apple seeing strong earnings, even as Covid-19 drives the US economy into its worst contraction on record.

The two tech giants announced their second quarter results on Thursday, both topping expectations on Wall Street as online sales and virtual products see a surge amid the ongoing health crisis.

Amazon revenue jumped to $88.9 billion, up 40 percent from 2019, and the company brought on some 175,000 new employees in recent months. Though it had predicted it would lose money after dropping billions on coronavirus-related measures, Amazon’s net income nonetheless doubled compared to the year prior, from $2.6 billion to $5.2 billion, in what CEO Jeff Bezos deemed “another highly unusual quarter.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of and grateful to our employees around the globe. As expected, we spent over $4 billion on incremental Covid-19-related costs in the quarter to help keep employees safe and deliver products to customers in this time of high demand,” Bezos said in a press release.

Despite the big spending, Amazon has come under fire for its handling of the pandemic, with employees repeatedly complaining of major shortages of protective gear and unsafe working conditions, some even saying they were fired after speaking out about the lack of equipment. The e-commerce king also took heat after slashing a meager $2 hazard pay boost for workers, even as Bezos and other company executives see their fortunes swell.

Also on rt.com
WORST DROP EVER for US economy as GDP crashes 33% due to Covid pandemic lockdowns

Despite a massive US economic contraction due to lingering business closures driven by the pandemic – declining nearly 33 percent between April and June alone, the worst drop on record, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis – Apple also reported blowout earnings for the second quarter, noting revenue gains in every category.

The pandemic has been something of a boon for Apple, as consumers are forced to work and learn from home and increasingly look to its devices and apps. CEO Tim Cook also credited emergency relief spending in the US and elsewhere for the company’s performance.

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Amazon Introduces A.I. Cart That Knows What You Are Buying As You Fill It – Activist Post

amazon-introduces-ai.-cart-that-knows-what-you-are-buying-as-you-fill-it-–-activist-post

15-07-20 07:34:00,

By Aaron Kesel

Amazon has introduced a cart that knows what you are purchasing while you throw it in, Komo News reported.

The cart uses cameras, sensors, and a scale to automatically detect what shoppers are putting in it. It keeps a tally and then charges their Amazon account when they leave the store without ever having to go to a register.

Amazon opened a cashier-less supermarket in Seattle that uses cameras and sensors in the ceiling to track what shoppers grab and charge them as they leave. Amazon.com Inc. also has roughly 25 cashier-less convenience stores with similar technology. This new piece of tech will likely now rollout across its stores. However, there are no plans for that right now as this is a test.

The cart, known as the Amazon Dash Cart, is being tested at a new Los Angeles supermarket Amazon is opening later this year. The store will have cashiers, but Amazon said it wanted to give shoppers a way to bypass the long lines.

Amazon isn’t the only one designing carts, Walmart has a totally creepy idea to monitor your biometric data, pulse, and location from the sensors on a shopping cart handle, Activist Post previously reported.

Last year Walmart applied for a patent that details biometric shopping handles that can track a customer’s heart rate, palm temperature, grip, and how fast the cart is being pushed.

The patent titled “System And Method For A Biometric Feedback Cart Handle” published August 23rd 2019, details a cart with sensors in it that would then send data to a server. That server would then notify store employees to check on individual customers.

Hundreds of retail stores — and soon thousands — are investigating using biometric facial recognition software FaceFirst to build a database of shoplifters to aid in the fight against theft, Activist Post reported.

See: 177 Different Ways to Generate Extra Income

However, facial recognition technology currently has a lot of problems. Activist Post recently reported how Amazon’s own facial “Rekognition” software erroneously and hilariously identified 28 members of Congress as people who have been arrested for crimes.

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Amazon onthult augmented reality om sociale distantiëring af te dwingen in nieuwe norm voor zakelijk Amerika

amazon-onthult-augmented-reality-om-sociale-distantiering-af-te-dwingen-in-nieuwe-norm-voor-zakelijk-amerika

23-06-20 07:11:00,

Als u een van de tientallen mensen bent die tegenwoordig minimaal tien uur in ploegendienst werken in het Amazon-vervullingscentrum in Kent, Washington, zou u heel goed de voorhoede kunnen zijn van de “nieuwe norm” voor Amerikaanse arbeiderswerkplekken.

De faciliteit van 1 miljoen vierkante meter, ongeveer 20 mijl ten zuiden van Seattle, is de locatie van een nieuw apparaat voor draagbare technologie om voorgeschreven COVID-19-regels voor sociale afstand te handhaven. Zoals beschreven lijkt het apparaat zelf niet bepaald state-of-the-art te zijn. Een ‘doorzichtige plastic hoes’ met een LED-lampje en een klein audiosysteem waarschuwen het magazijnpersoneel als ze te dichtbij zijn voor corona virus comfort.

Het idee is om arbeiders die per ongeluk (of met opzet) sociale afstandsregels overtreden, te laten schrikken met flitsende lichten en digitale alarmbellen om een ​​Pavloviaanse reactie van hen op te wekken. De grondgedachte is natuurlijk het voorkomen van de verspreiding van COVID-19. Maar er is meer dagelijkse veiligheid op de werkplek betrokken bij deze Orwelliaanse toepassing van technologie rechtstreeks uit de metropool van Fritz Lang.

In het geval dat een werknemer het virus heeft opgelopen – zoals in maart gebeurde in deze faciliteit – zal het rudimentaire technische apparaat ook gedurende de werkdag gegevens verzamelen over de exacte verblijfplaats van de persoon en het management voorzien van specifieke informatie over met wie de besmette werknemer kin nauw contact kwam, om vervolgens te bepalen wie contactprotocollen moet ondergaan.

Privacykwesties of werkplekrechten worden nu volledig omzeild in het tijdperk van COVID-19. Testen en de ogenschijnlijke ontwikkeling van het apparaat waren het resultaat van druk van meerdere staatsregeringen afgelopen mei, toen 13 procureurs-generaals Amazon en zijn dochteronderneming Whole Foods opriepen om een ​​strikter beschermingsbeleid te implementeren.

SELECTIEF PROBLEEM OPLOSSEN

De druk die door de procureurs-generaals van Massachusetts tot New Mexico op de online retailgigant is uitgeoefend, wijst op een tekortkoming in het ‘beleid en de processen van Amazon die betrekking hebben op het informeren van mensen over ontwikkelingen in het coronavirus in de winkels’, waarbij wordt opgemerkt dat ‘veel van de consumentenbeschermingswetten van deze staten bedrijven vereisen om waarheidsgetrouwe informatie te verstrekken en belangrijke informatie aan consumenten te onthullen ”aldus een brief die is gestuurd naar Whole Foods ‘CEO, John Mackey.

De snelle implementatie door Amazon van een oplossing voor de verzoeken van de staat spreekt echter het directe belang uit dat hij heeft met betrekking tot dergelijke technologieën,

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De winnaars zijn: Amazon, Microsoft, Apple… | Uitpers

de-winnaars-zijn:-amazon,-microsoft,-apple…-|-uitpers

29-04-20 01:24:00,

De grote 5, winnaars

Volg de beurskoersen en zie wie er wint bij de corona-crisis. De koersen stortten in maart gevoelig in, met een dieptepunt op 23 maart. Maar talrijke koersen hebben zich sindsdien flink hersteld. Hoeft het te verwonderen dat vooral de hele groten baat hebben bij een crisis die zoveel kleinere mededingers uitschakelt.

De faillissementen die worden verwacht, komen de concurrenten goed uit, en dat zijn degenen die de reserves en de omvang hebben om de kleine vissen op korte termijn op te slokken. Neo-liberalisme, dat is nog meer dan gewoonlijk de een zijn dood, de ander zijn brood.

Stijgers

Microsoft, Amazon en Apple hebben aan beurswaarde meer dan 750 miljard dollar gewonnen sinds het dieptepunt van 23 maart. Sindsdien stegen hun koersen met minstens 20 %, die van Alphabet(Google) met 17 %. De speculatiefondsen en andere beleggers zien hen als winnende kolossen die geen personeel zullen moeten ontslaan – Amazon werft zelfs massaal aan – en zelfs grote nieuwe investeringen kunnen doen.

Zij zijn bovendien door de aard van hun bezigheden ook het best aangepast aan on line werken. Die tendens heeft met de crisis ineens een enorme stoot gekregen en die zal ongetwijfeld sterk blijven doorwerken.

Bovendien zitten die ondernemingen op bergen geld, zodat ze barre tijden zonder enig probleem kunnen doorspartelen. Terwijl de kleinere ondernemingen, die men terugvindt in de Russell 2000 index, wel hard te lijden hebben, wat zich weerspiegelt in verder dalende beurskoersen.

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Amazon, Google, and Apple have moved past monopoly status to competing directly with governments… and winning

amazon,-google,-and-apple-have-moved-past-monopoly-status-to-competing-directly-with-governments…-and-winning

28-04-20 07:28:00,

US Senator Josh Hawley is demanding a criminal antitrust probe of Amazon as the e-commerce behemoth’s powers grow to rival the government’s own. Google and Apple, too, are now ordering governments around.

Amazon “abuses its position as an online platform and collects detailed data about merchandise so Amazon can create copycat products under an Amazon brand,” Hawley charged in a letter he sent to US Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday. The senator (R-MO) demanded a criminal probe of the e-commerce giant, accusing it of engaging in “predatory and exclusionary data practices to build and maintain a monopoly” – a textbook violation of antitrust law.

Also on rt.com
Amazon appeals Indian high court to kill antitrust probe, insisting it would cause ‘irreparable’ losses

Charging that Amazon has gained unprecedented monopoly power through the sheer wealth of data it has collected on its users, allowing it to clone sellers’ products and undercut them on price, the senator likened the company’s “capacity for data collection” to “a brick and mortar retailer attaching a camera to every customer’s forehead.” With the coronavirus pandemic forcing the lion’s share of commerce online, Amazon has assumed near-omnipotence.

Even if all of Hawley’s allegations – derived from a Wall Street Journal investigation published earlier this month – are proven 100 percent true, it’s questionable whether the Justice Department would be willing (or able) to punish Amazon.

In some ways, the company is at least as powerful as the government whose laws it goes through the motions of obeying. Amazon’s cloud servers host the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, and other US agencies, meaning if the company decided to throw a temper tantrum in response to legal penalties (as it threatened to do in France) government operations could be severely disrupted.

Read more

Amazon files suit challenging Pentagon ‘war cloud’ contract with Microsoft, may argue Trump ‘meddled’ in process

Indeed, after losing the lucrative Pentagon JEDI contract to competitor Microsoft, it was Amazon that hauled the Trump administration into court and may yet force it to reconsider. If the trillion-dollar company can scupper the plans of the White House,

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Pandemiegewinnler Amazon

pandemiegewinnler-amazon

15-04-20 01:30:00,

Grafik: TP

Jeff Bezos mehrte sein Vermögen seit Beginn der Corona-Krise um 24 auf jetzt 138,5 Milliarden Dollar

Die meisten Unternehmen erwarten wegen der Coronakrise stark sinkende Einnahmen. Der Weltwährungsfonds rechnet deshalb mit der schlimmsten Rezession seit der Weltwirtschaftskrise in den 1930er Jahren – und Länder wie die USA und Deutschland haben bereits gigantische Wirtschaftsrettungspakete verabschiedet (vgl. US-Coronahilfspaket: Aus 1,2 Billionen Dollar wurden im Senat 2).

Aber nicht alle Unternehmen sind gleichermaßen von den düsteren Prognosen betroffen. Manche erwarten sogar steigende Umsätze – etwa Anbieter von Videokonferenzsoftware, die von geschlossenen Schulen, abgesagten Meetings und Rechner- statt Büropräsenz profitieren. Oder Online-Händler und Logistikunternehmen, die das an die Haustür liefern, was man sonst in den jetzt geschlossenen Geschäften kaufen würde.

Zufriedene Kunden

Vor allem der Branchenriese Amazon scheint davon zu profitieren: Seine Aktie legte seit Januar um fast ein Viertel zu. Amazon-Gründer Jeff Bezos wurde dabei dem Bloomberg Billionaires Index nach um 24 Milliarden reicher und verfügt jetzt über ein Vermögen von 138,5 Milliarden Dollar (vgl. Amazon-Aktie auf Rekordhoch – Bezos macht Milliarden in Corona-Krise).

Nach den Ausgangs- und Ladenöffnungsbeschränkungen stiegen die Bestellungen bei Amazon in einigen Ländern so stark, dass das Unternehmen bei Lieferungen priorisieren musste und Lebensmitteln und Hygieneprodukten den Vorzug vor Kleidung, Möbeln und Büchern gab (vgl. Amazon beschränkt Lieferung nicht notwendiger Waren in Frankreich und Italien).

Dass gerade Amazon vom zeitweisen Wegfall der Vor-Ort-Konkurrenz profitiert, dürfte vor allem damit zu tun haben, dass der Online-Händler der mit Abstand bekannteste ist und auch über seine Marketplace-Nutzer fast alles für den privaten und vieles für den geschäftlichen Bedarf anbieten kann. Darüber hinaus liefert er auch relativ schnell und zuverlässig und legt bei Rücksendungen und Rückerstattungen keine großen Hürden in den Weg.

Deshalb ist – vorsichtig formuliert – auch nicht ganz ausgeschlossen, dass manche Verbraucher, die dort jetzt Dinge bestellen, die sie vorher in Geschäften kauften, auch nach dem Ende der Ausgangs- und Ladenöffnungsbeschränkungen mehr als vor der Krise bei Amazon kaufen werden.

Nicht ganz so zufriedene Angestellte

Unter den Amazon-Angestellten ist der Anteil der Zufriedenen möglicherweise nicht ganz so hoch wie unter den Amazon-Kunden. Darauf deuten zumindest einige Entlassungen hin, die der Konzern in letzter Zeit vornahm.

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Amazon Deletes Over a Million Items for Price Gouging or False Advertising About Coronavirus – Activist Post

amazon-deletes-over-a-million-items-for-price-gouging-or-false-advertising-about-coronavirus-–-activist-post

03-03-20 02:33:00,

By Sean Walton

Amazon says it has pulled more than 1 million products for price gouging or for falsely advertising effectiveness against the coronavirus.

The company said in a statement that it has “always required sellers provide accurate information” on product pages and removes those that violates its policies. Amazon said that third-party sellers must follow its Fair Pricing Policy, which states companies can’t set a price “significantly higher” then seen in other places or sell an item that “misleads customers.”

The removal comes after Wired found sellers gouging the prices of coronavirus-related products, like face masks, or charging people “exorbitant shipping costs,” according to the magazine. In one instance, the publication found a seller with face masks for as much as five times their normal price.

“We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis and, in line with our long-standing policy, have recently blocked or removed tens of thousands of offers,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNN Business. “We continue to actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.”

Third-party sellers on Amazon have come under criticism in the past for selling defective or fraudulent products with little oversight.

Fear has also gripped consumers as the coronavirus continues to spread. Major stores, like CVS and Walgreens, warned last week that there might be shortages of disinfectant products like hand sanitizers and cleaning wipes.

There are now more than 88,000 coronavirus cases around the world. It has killed more than 3,000 people, with the vast majority being in mainland China.

Sean Walton is a researcher and journalist for The Daily Sheeple. Send tips to [email protected]

Subscribe to Activist Post for truth, peace, and freedom news. Become an Activist Post Patron for as little as $1 per month at Patreon. Follow us on SoMee, Flote, Minds, Twitter, and Steemit.

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Amazon Ring – Hunderttausende private Überwachungskameras in den USA

amazon-ring-–-hunderttausende-private-uberwachungskameras-in-den-usa

11-12-19 02:16:00,

Gizmodo hat Daten aus Amazons Heimüberwachungs-App „Neighbors“ ausgewertet und konnte damit die Verbreitung der Überwachungstechnologie Ring in den USA visualisieren. Ring war zuletzt in die Schlagzeilen geraten, weil Amazon die Technik aggressiv zusammen mit der Polizei vertreibt und die Technik von Bürgerrechtlern als Einfallstor für Bürgerrechtsverletzungen gesehen wird.

Gizmodo wertete für die Recherche fast 65.800 einzelne Beiträgen aus, die von Nutzer:innen der „Neighbors“-App geteilt wurden. Die Untersuchung der App habe unerwartete Daten hervorgebracht, heißt es bei Gizmodo, darunter seien versteckte geographische Koordinaten gewesen, die mit bis zu sechs Dezimalstellen sehr genau gewesen seien.

Karte von Los Angeles mit Standorten von KamerasRing-Kameras in den neun Quadratmeilen, die Gizmodo in Los Angeles untersuchte.

Mit diesen Daten war Gizmodo in der Lage, die Positionen von zehntausenden Ring-Kameras in 15 Städten der USA zu lokalisieren. Dies sei allerdings nur ein geringer Teil der Kameras und auch nur diejenigen, deren Nutzer:innen die Daten mit der App teilten. In jeder der untersuchten Städte begrenzte Gizmodo die Recherche auf neun Quadratmeilen.

Bürgerrechtler der Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) waren erstaunt ob der Dichte und Anzahl der privat aufgestellten Kameras. Matthew Guariglia sagte gegenüber Gizmodo, dass wegen der Allgegenwart der Geräte die Gefahr bestünde, dass Fußgänger registriert würden, die beispielsweise in und aus „sensiblen Gebäuden“ kämen. Das könnten Kliniken, Anwaltskanzleien und ausländische Konsulate sein. Gizmodo konnte solche sensiblen Orte in den erstellten Karten lokalisieren.

Allgegenwart der Überwachung

Die Kameras stehen teilweise so dicht, schreibt Gizmodo, dass Schulkinder in Washington auf dem etwa eine Meile langen Weg von der Schule zum Sportplatz von 13 Ring-Kameras aufgenommen werden. Gleichzeitig fand Gizmodo in diesem Gebiet 36 Beiträge mit Überwachungsaufnahmen, in denen sich Ring-Kunden über das Verhalten der Kinder beschwerten, weil diese zum Beispiel Selfies aufnahmen. Das MIT Media Lab geht davon aus, dass schon mehr als 440.000 Ring-Kameras in den USA im Einsatz sind, verriet Dan Calacci Gizmodo mit Hinweis auf eine noch unveröffentlichte Studie zum Thema „Selbstüberwachung“.

Problematisch ist nicht nur die Verletzung der Privatsphäre der aufgenommenen Personen, sondern auch die Tatsache, dass Ring die Kamerastandorte mit der Polizei schon einmal geteilt hat und über eine Karte der Polizei die Standorte der Kameras preisgab.

Die große Frage ist, wieviel Kontrolle die Kund:innen von Ring über die Überwachungsaufnahmen ihrer Kameras haben und ob es sich nicht letztlich um eine privat vorangetriebene Vollüberwachung handelt,

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Brazil’s Amazon Guardians Respond to Killing of Paulo Paulino – Global Research

brazil’s-amazon-guardians-respond-to-killing-of-paulo-paulino-–-global-research

18-11-19 03:54:00,

We’ve lost a great warrior in our fight. They murdered our friend, our brother, our tireless companion in the defence of the forest, Paulo Paulino “Lobo” Guajajara.

We’re mourning and our hearts are hurting.

Lobo was killed because he defended our land. Our forest that gives us everything. Our forest without which we cannot live. Lobo was killed for defending life.

There is so much evil in this world. The loggers want to kill us to steal our trees and make money. We are not violent to them, but they are heavily armed. They threaten us. They kill us. They killed our friends, our fellow Guardians Cantidi, Assis and Afonso. And now they’ve killed Lobo.

But his death will not be in vain. It makes us sad and angry, but it gives us strength. One more warrior has been planted in the soil. It will give us the strength to keep fighting to protect our forest for our families, and for the survival of our uncontacted Awá relatives. We will never give up.

We cannot give up because we have a great battle ahead. The government has declared itself our enemy. President Bolsonaro said he will not protect indigenous lands. He and others want to open our land to agribusiness. We will never accept that!

We want the government to fulfil its duty to help us defend our forest from illegal invaders and destruction. We want proper security for our land and our lives.

We want the government to investigate Lobo’s murder, and the attack on him and our fellow Guardian Tainaky. We want the killers and the logging mafias behind bars.

We’ve been denouncing the threats and crimes against us for a long time. Lobo and all of us Guardians had often warned the authorities that we could be attacked and killed at any time. Nothing was done. And Lobo was murdered.

Where is justice? We demand justice!

We will continue our struggle to rid our land of loggers. We know it’s working. We’re managing to greatly reduce the destruction.

The protection of our land and its biodiversity has always been our struggle and always will be.

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Microsoft and Amazon may destroy humanity with A.I. research that resembles “Skynet” from the Terminator movies | Light On Conspiracies – Revealing the Agenda

microsoft-and-amazon-may-destroy-humanity-with-ai.-research-that-resembles-“skynet”-from-the-terminator-movies-|-light-on-conspiracies-–-revealing-the-agenda

25-10-19 09:22:00,

Microsoft, Amazon and other major tech companies are putting the entire world at risk with their development of “deadly A.I.” and “killer robots,” according to a shocking report from Dutch NGO Pax. A study led by the Dutch NGO ranks 50 tech firms based on their relations to the development of deadly A.I. or military projects –and questions why companies like Microsoft and Amazon are apparently involved with the development of autonomous weaponry.

Is this the beginning of a Terminator movie? The NSA does already have something called “Skynet,” which is a surveillance program for suspected terrorists. But the development of A.I. weapon systems designed to independently select and attack targets is another ballgame. The advancement of A.I. and robotics could see the dawn of a new horizon — one in which robots can decide what humans they want to kill, and entire groups of people can be killed in the blink of an eye. The advancement of killer A.I. technology is a threat to humanity and the Dutch NGO warns that such weapons will “inevitably become weapons of mass destruction.”

Microsoft, Amazon are of “high concern”

As Breitbart reports, Dutch NGO Pax ranked 50 tech companies whether they were actively working on deadly A.I. technology or military projects  — or if they were making an effort to stop contributing to these kinds of projects. Amazon and Microsoft were just two of 21 “high concern” organizations named by the report. According to Pax’s study, the two tech giants are currently bidding on a $10 billion Pentagon contract for “providing cloud infrastructure” to the U.S. military.

International Business Times reports further that the development of A.I. for military purposes has prompted substantial criticism and concern. Stuart Russel, a computer science professor at the University of California-Berkeley, told reporters, “Autonomous weapons will inevitably become scalable weapons of mass destruction, because if the human is not in the loop, then a single person can launch a million weapons or a hundred million weapons.”

According to Russel, people are working on all kinds of autonomous weapons right now — from fighter planes to submarines, there’s someone working to automate it. But, Russel cautions, the most concerning types of autonomous weapons are the ones that don’t even exist yet.

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Amazon Is Becoming One Of America’s Biggest Military Giants

amazon-is-becoming-one-of-america’s-biggest-military-giants

09-10-19 11:32:00,

By Aaron Kesel

Amazon is on its way to becoming one of the U.S. military’s biggest security giants, with a pending $10bn JEDI cloud computing deal that the company could win, MIT Technology Review reported.

In August the Pentagon halted the controversial contract deal, known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), an initiative to “aggressively accelerate the Department’s adoption of cloud architecture and services, with a focus on commercial solutions.”

The deal was stopped and is now under investigation by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to audit the process which caused complaints form other tech companies like Microsoft.  U.S. President Donald Trump has publicly criticized Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in the past and announced in July that he wanted a review of the contract, citing “tremendous complaints” from competing companies.

Further, the Office of the Inspector General is investigating possible conflicts of interest, the acquisition process and requirements, according to Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the watchdog office, Fed Scoop reported.

The office has “assembled a multidisciplinary team of auditors, investigators, and attorneys” to review “the DoD’s handling of the JEDI cloud acquisition, including the development of requirements and the request for proposal process,” Allen told Fed Scoop in an emailed statement. “In addition, we are investigating whether current or former DoD officials committed misconduct relating to the JEDI acquisition, such as whether any had any conflicts of interest related to their involvement in the acquisition process.”

Microsoft and Amazon are now the two finalists in the running for the contract, leaving many of the others in the dust due to their technological abilities and security outmatching the competition to build the U.S. military its first “war cloud” computing system. Both companies beat out Oracle and IBM who were eliminated at an earlier round of the contract competition.

This “war cloud” would eventually replace the military’s current internet structure, which sources indicate uses a software hard fork of the Navy created TOR (The Onion Router) network to communicate. The program aims to move about 80% of all Department of Defense (DoD) data into the cloud according to Federalist News Network.

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Amazon Reportedly Changed Search Algorithm To Favor More Profitable Products

amazon-reportedly-changed-search-algorithm-to-favor-more-profitable-products

16-09-19 04:30:00,

After publishing a steady stream of scoops about Amazon’s anti-competitive tendencies, the Wall Street Journal on Monday dropped one of the biggest media bombshells to rock the e-commerce giant in recent memory: That Amazon has deliberately tweaked its product-search algorithm to more prominently feature products that are more profitable for Amazon, including its own in-house brands.

Multiple sources from inside the company told WSJ last year that the company’s engineers were ordered to change the algorithm so that instead of just showing customers the most relevant listings to their search, or the best sellers on the platform, they would also see companies that would have the highest return for Amazon if sold.

The change followed a lengthy struggle between executives overseeing the company’s retail business in Seattle and its search team – also known as A9 – in Palo Alto. The search team reportedly opposed the move.

The news hasn’t had much of an impact on AMZN shares, but it will almost certainly be of interest to Congress, as well as the State AGs and federal agencies who are investigating anti-trust practices at the big tech giants – both in the US, and in Europe.

From WSJ’s description of how the project unfolded, it seems like Amazon’s retail execs ignored the company’s directive to put the company’s interests first, and tried to shape the changes in such a way that they wouldn’t trigger anti-trust concerns.

Amazon’s lawyers rejected an initial proposal for how to add profit directly into the algorithm, saying it represented a change that could create trouble with antitrust regulators, one of the people familiar with the project said.

The Amazon search team’s view was that the profitability push violated the company’s principle of doing what is best for the customer, the people familiar with the project said. “This was definitely not a popular project,” said one. “The search engine should look for relevant items, not for more profitable items.”

When approached by WSJ, Amazon denied that the changes to the algorithm were significant, but declined to further discuss the innerworkings of its algorithm.

Amazon said it has for many years considered long-term profitability and does look at the impact of it when deploying an algorithm.

 » Lees verder

Amazon Chaos: “BlackRock Is Literally Reaping Profits As The World’s Jungles Burn”

amazon-chaos:-“blackrock-is-literally-reaping-profits-as-the-world’s-jungles-burn”

07-09-19 12:45:00,

According to a new report from the Friends of the Earth U.S.; Amazon Watch; and Profundo, Larry Fink’s BlackRock Inc is one of the top investors in companies “responsible for tropical forest destruction in the Amazon and around the world.”

The report called BlackRock’s Big Deforestation Problem, published on Amazon Watch’s website, claims BlackRock is the top three shareholders in 25 of the world’s biggest publicly traded deforestation-risk companies; these companies are known for producing soya, beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber and timber, but also have a long track record in burning down forests to clear land for agriculture purposes. The New York-based investment bank is also a top ten shareholder in another 50 of the world’s top deforestation-risk companies, the report added.

“The data is clear: from the Amazon to the great forests of Africa and Southeast Asia, BlackRock is a global leader in financing forest destruction,” said Jeff Conant, senior international forest program manager with Friends of the Earth U.S., the report’s lead author.

“As long as this financial behemoth continues to unconditionally back the world’s most destructive agribusiness companies, the forests of the world, and consequently the climate and the rights of forest-dwelling people, will continue to go up in flames. BlackRock is literally reaping profits as the world’s jungles burn.”

BlackRock’s investment in deforestation-risk companies has been increasing in the last half-decade. In 4Q14, BlackRock owned roughly $1 billion in deforestation-risk investments. By 4Q18, the value of these investments jumped to $1.6 billion. 

The report said the investment firm’s deforestation-linked commodity holdings are comprised mainly of index funds. In 2014, 80% of BlackRock’s deforestation-linked commodity holdings were through index funds; by 2018, it had jumped to 94%. 

“BlackRock claims that its hands are tied by index funds. It is wrong. BlackRock can follow the lead of other global asset managers and make change for the good of the rainforest, the climate, and of its customers by shifting investments out of companies wrecking the planet, and applying maximum pressure to change company behavior,” said Moira Birss, Finance Campaign Director of Amazon Watch.

“The fires currently raging in the Amazon clearly demonstrate the risk that agribusiness expansion poses for the Amazon rainforest,

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Amazon ‘smart’ doorbell company partnered with 400+ police departments to surveil your neighborhood

amazon-‘smart’-doorbell-company-partnered-with-400+-police-departments-to-surveil-your-neighborhood

29-08-19 07:39:00,

Over 400 US police forces have access to the video footage generated by Amazon’s “smart” Ring doorbells, creating an unprecedented – and largely unaccountable – surveillance network outside existing legal structures.

Video-sharing partnerships allow law enforcement to automatically request video from Ring owners within a designated timeframe and area, giving them access to millions of cameras that police claim have proved invaluable for investigations. Officers are not supposed to receive access to live-streaming video, and users can deny the footage requests – which come in the form of emails thanking them for “making your neighborhood a safer place” –but they don’t always have the option of saying “no.

Also on rt.com
New Jersey cops turn citizens’ phones into surveillance devices – for their own good, of course

By installing the “smart” doorbells, Ring users consent to the company supplying video to “law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or third parties” in response to a “legal process or reasonable government request,” according to the terms of service. The company can also preserve footage the user deletes. Confronted with uncooperative residents, police can go directly to Amazon to obtain the footage, as long as they present a “valid and binding legal demand.” 

Ring users have access to a social network called Neighbors, allowing area residents to swap footage from their doorbells and discuss suspicious goings-on in the neighborhood – another invaluable resource for law enforcement.

Emails reviewed by Motherboard show several New Jersey police departments coaching their officers on how to cajole surveillance footage out of Ring users without a search warrant – “increasing the opt-in rate,” as one representative called it. Surveilled individuals don’t have the option of opting out. If they walk by a camera, 400 police forces are potentially going to know about it, and if someone on the network deems them suspicious, they may find police attention follows them out of that neighborhood.

Read more

Mysterious man with TV for a head leaves old sets on doorsteps of 60 homes (VIDEO)

Amazon’s surveillance network has the advantage of operating in the private sector,

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The Amazon Fires and the Dawn of Environmental Interventions – Global Research

the-amazon-fires-and-the-dawn-of-environmental-interventions-–-global-research

28-08-19 07:51:00,

So-called “environmental interventions” might become commonplace as global powers seek excuses to intervene in the domestic affairs of sovereign states in order to seize control of their natural resources.

The entire world has watched in horror over the past week as the Amazon rainforest burns worse than it’s ever done before, or at least that’s the narrative that the Mainstream Media wants the global audience to believe. The storyline is that ranchers have been emboldened by Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s rhetoric about developing the rainforest region and therefore decided to set more fires than ever in order to clear as much land as possible for future cattle ranching and settlement. It’s true that the country’s leader might have inspired some rogue ranchers, who he belatedly decided to blame after first suggesting that left-wing environmental groups were responsible, but that doesn’t explain the media firestorm that’s since commenced and the manipulation of international perceptions in favor of what can only be described as an “environmental intervention” by a select group of global powers.

It’s factually false to assert that these latest fires are unprecedented, as proven by the investigative reporting that Off Guardia’s Catte Black carried out, and Bolsonaro already called out French President Macron for jumping on the bandwagon and misleadingly sharing older photos purporting to be of the most recent fires just like a host of celebrities have done as well. The French leader has taken the lead in trying to assemble international support for putting out this blaze, though he and the rest of his ilk are silent about the much worse fires presently raging all across the Southern African country of Angola right now, strongly suggesting that there are ulterior motives behind their laser-focused interest in the resource-rich Amazon. Macron has already politically instrumentalized the crisis to blackmail Brazil by threatening to block a long-negotiated EU-Mercosur trade deal because of it, showing that he’s not afraid to exploit these fires for his own purposes.

Unwittingly, the possible collapse of EU-Mercosur trade talks would only help the US since it would make it much easier for Trump to clinch a similar pact with the bloc as part of his “Fortress America” vision of reestablishing the US’ hemispheric hegemony if it’s not institutionally tied to the EU.

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Burn the Amazon!

burn-the-amazon!

24-08-19 03:18:00,

Cut down the trees. Kill the wild animals. Burn the bush. Pollute the rivers. Pave over the grass. Raise more beef, pigs and poultry in cages.

That’s the credo of the new right. Hatred of Nature is an integral part of its politics. President Donald Trump is the high priest of such environmental vandalism. In his narrow land-developer mind, Nature is a left-wing liberal conspiracy.

Trump’s Brazilian wannabe, President Jair Bolsonaro, is now doing his mentor one better: he encouraged Brazilian farmers, loggers and miners, all key Bolsonaro constituencies, to accelerate their destruction of the Amazon rain forest, which provides 20% of the Earth’s oxygen.

The farmers, miners and loggers responded to his call by burning the irreplaceable forest, the world’s largest, at a rate over 80% higher than last year. Rarely has the world seen a more horrifying example of humans destroying the small planet on which they live.

Bolsonaro and his fellow Brazilian vandals say they lack the means to stop this incendiary epidemic. Nonsense. The Brazilian president is a former army officer. He must deploy the entire Brazilian Army to protect his nation’s most important resource, the Amazon. Neighboring Bolivia, Columbia and Paraguay should join in. Here is a perfect example for the UN Security Council to take action by declaring the 75,000 man-made fires a threat to all humanity and threaten to sanction Brazil’s exports if its does not take decisive action.

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron put it right at the current G7 meeting at Biarritz, ‘our house is on fire.’ France, Spain and Portugal all have their very serious dry season fires, but they send small armies to combat them. Climate change is playing a major role in sparking the raging fires. Unlike Bolsonaro, the European nations don’t absurdly claim the fires were begun by NGO’s (non-governmental environmental organizations).

Brazil’s army numbers 222,700 men, backed by reserves of 1,980,000. Mobilize them. Bolsonaro has been eager to send special paramilitary militia groups into slums in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Send them to the Amazon, which has three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.

The Amazon’s forests are being burned primarily to create more grazing land for cattle, one of Brazil’s most important exports.

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Is Amazon Surveillance Secretly Infiltrating Police Departments?

is-amazon-surveillance-secretly-infiltrating-police-departments?

23-08-19 09:01:00,

By Eta Onrish

Big Tech has come under fire quite consistently for privacy concerns and has even faced big fines for violations (which they can afford). It seems that public attention on this matter has forced them to start going underground, with secret back-end deals with the government at local levels to expand their surveillance capabilities.

If you haven’t heard, there is a very useful doorbell camera called Ring. Ring started out as a product called, Doorbot, on the Shark Tank TV show but was rejected. The owners got immediate exposure and millions of dollars from investors after the show, changing the name from Doorbot to Ring. Fast forward five years, and Amazon decides to compete with Google’s friendly surveillance system called Nest, and buys Ring for A Billion Freaking Dollars.

Using Ring to expand a surveillance network

Ok, so what? It’s a very useful thing to be able to see who’s at the door and have a record of someone breaking into your home. The systems, in themselves, aren’t an issue. It’s when governments start to get involved and big money starts being made that conflicts of interest can lead to misuse and violations of privacy.

It’s these very expansions outside of the homeowner’s benefit that need scrutiny.

In addition to the actual doorbell surveillance camera itself, Ring/Amazon added a handy online app called, Neighbors, to use these systems to help reduce crime. According to Jamie Siminoff, Chief Inventor and Founder of Ring,

“At Ring, we come to work every day with the mission of reducing crime in neighborhoods. Over the past few years we have learned that, when neighbors, the Ring team and law enforcement all work together, we can create safer communities. Neighbors is meant to facilitate real-time communication between these groups, while maintaining neighbor privacy first and foremost. By bringing security to every neighbor with the free Neighbors app, communities can stay on top of crime and safety alerts as they happen.”

That sounds very good, doesn’t it? This may not seem all that much of an issue on the surface (if we ignore the obvious conflict of interest), but let’s dig deeper…

In addition to a system that allows people to monitor their homes,

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Bolsonaro’s War on the Amazon: Mass Mining Invasion of Yanomami Lands in Brazil Threatens Their Survival – Global Research

bolsonaro’s-war-on-the-amazon:-mass-mining-invasion-of-yanomami-lands-in-brazil-threatens-their-survival-–-global-research

09-08-19 02:12:00,

Bolsonaro’s War on the Amazon: Mass Mining Invasion of Yanomami Lands in Brazil Threatens Their Survival

Acting in response to public statements from the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, on the need to open up indigenous lands in the Amazon Basin to extractive industries, an estimated 20,000 illegal miners are reported to have invaded the lands of the Yanomami peoples in Brazil. Although the 9.7 million hectare area was established as an Indigenous Park in 1992, meaning it could only be exploited for mining subject to special decisions in the national legislature, over the past 20 years it has been repeatedly threatened by mining invasions which have caused epidemics and violent clashes.

Concerns have also been raised about copycat invasions of Yanomami lands across the border in Venezuela, where the Government of President Maduro has announced plans for a Mining Arc embracing the whole of the south of the country. Currently, owing to a nation-wide gasoline shortage, illegal mining in the Upper Orinoco and Caura rivers in Venezuela have been scaled back.

The American Association of Anthropologists has also appealed to human rights organisations to demand the protection of the Yanomami’s rights.

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Amazon’s Ring Is a Perfect Storm of Privacy Threats

amazon’s-ring-is-a-perfect-storm-of-privacy-threats

09-08-19 07:49:00,

By Matthew Guariglia

Doors across the United States are now fitted with Amazon’s Ring, a combination doorbell-security camera that records and transmits video straight to users’ phones, to Amazon’s cloud—and often to the local police department. By sending photos and alerts every time the camera detects motion or someone rings the doorbell, the app can create an illusion of a household under siege. It turns what seems like a perfectly safe neighborhood into a source of anxiety and fear. This raises the question: do you really need Ring, or have Amazon and the police misled you into thinking that you do?

Recent reports show that Ring has partnered with police departments across the country to hawk this new surveillance system—going so far as to draft press statements and social media posts for police to promote Ring cameras. This creates a vicious cycle in which police promote the adoption of Ring, Ring terrifies people into thinking their homes are in danger, and then Amazon sells more cameras.

 

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Privacy info. This embed will serve content from openstreetmap.fr

Map of Ring partnerships with police compiled by Shreyas GandlurSee full screen

 

How Ring Surveils and Frightens Residents

Even though government statistics show that crime in the United States has been steadily decreasing for decades, people’s perception of crime and danger in their communities often conflict with the data. Vendors prey on these fears by creating products that inflame our greatest anxieties about crime.

Ring works by sending notifications to a person’s phone every time the doorbell rings or motion near the door is detected. With every update, Ring turns the delivery person or census-taker innocently standing on at the door into a potential criminal.

Neighborhood watch apps only increase the paranoia. Amazon promotes its free Neighbors app to accompany Ring. Other vendors sell competing apps such as Nextdoor and Citizen. All are marketed as localized social networks where people in a neighborhood can discuss local issues or share concerns. But all too often, they facilitate reporting of so-called “suspicious” behavior that really amounts to racial profiling.

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Auch Amazon will Tausende von Satelliten in eine Umlaufbahn schicken

auch-amazon-will-tausende-von-satelliten-in-eine-umlaufbahn-schicken

18-07-19 07:36:00,

Zwei Stapel mit insgesamt 60 Starlink-Satelliten auf einer Falcon‑9-Oberstufe. Bild: SpaceX

In den nächsten Jahren stehen Hunderte von Raketenstarts für Zehntausende Satelliten und eine Massierung des Weltraumschrotts an. Die Folgen scheinen nicht zu interessieren

Amazon bzw. Jeff Bezos steigt auch ins Wettrennen mit Satellitennetzen zur Abdeckung der Erde mit Breitbandverbindungen. Im April wurde bekannt, dass Amazon im Rahmen Tausende von Satelliten in eine erdnahe Umlaufbahn (LEO) bringen will. Verantwortlich wird das Tochterunternehmen Kuiper Systems sein, in dem viele ehemalige Mitarbeiter von SpaceX arbeiten, das für Starlink insgesamt fast 12000 Kommunikationssatelliten in den Weltall bringen will. Die FCC, die für die USA zuständige Behörde, hat genehmigt, 4425 Satelliten in eine Höhe von 1200 km den Weltraum zu bringen. Auch der Antrag, weitere 7518 Satelliten in einer Höhe von 335 km bis 346 km anzubringen, wurde von der amerikanischen Behörde genehmigt. Die Satelliten haben nach Starlink jeweils ein Gewicht von 227 kg. Sie haben einen Antrieb und sind manövrierfähig, können miteinander kommunizieren und sind mit Phased-Array-Antennen wie 5G-Sendemasten ausgestattet (Allein SpaceX will 12.000 Satelliten in eine Umlaufbahn bringen).

Jetzt hat in der Oligarchenkonkurrenz Bezos-Musk Amazon bei der FCC einen Antrag für ein nicht-geostationäres Netzwerk von 3236 Satelliten auf 98 Umlaufbahnen in einer Höhe von 590, 610 und 630 km eingereicht. Es würde also voll um die Erde werden, wo jetzt bereits 4.816 Satelliten, davon 2000 noch funktionsfähig, und über 14.300 Raketen, Raketen- und andere Schrottteile kreisen. Die neuen kleineren Satelliten werden die Schicht aus Weltraumschott um die Erde mehren und es mitunter künftig schwieriger machen, den Weltraum zu beobachten oder in ihn zu gelangen.

Schließlich wollen nicht nur Amazon und SpaceX, sondern viele andere Unternehmen wie Samsung, OneWeb oder Kepler eine große Menge Satelliten in Umlauf bringen. Damit wird für die weltweit flächendeckende Breitbandkommunikation durch Satelliten nicht nur die erdnahen Umlaufbahnen mit Artefakten verdichtet, sondern auch das Klima der Erde mit vermutlich Tausenden von Raketenstarts belastet. Ein Start einer Falcon-9-Rakete belastet nach Berechnungen die Atmosphäre mit 640 Tonnen CO2-Äquivalent. Dazu kommen Rußpartikel in großer Höhe, die die Temperatur auf der Erde beeinflussen könnten. Möglich wäre auch wieder ein Abbau der Ozonschicht.

Amazon will die digitale Kluft schließen

Amazon erklärt, dass es viele Millionen Menschen und Firmen in den USA und auf der ganzen Erde,

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Get Ready, Amazon Delivery Drones Coming ‘Within Months’

get-ready,-amazon-delivery-drones-coming-‘within-months’

07-06-19 07:08:00,

Amazon announced this week that they will begin delivering packages to customers using drones within months, according to the Financial Times 

Unveiled at a presentation during the robotics and space conference in Las Vegas (Re:Mars), Amazon’s electric delivery drone has a range of 15 miles and can deliver packages weighing up to five pounds to customers in under 30 minutes – which accounts for 75-90% of Amazon’s consumer deliveries, according to Jeff Wilke, head of Amazon’s consumer business.

“You’re going to see this new drone delivering packages to customers in months,” said Wilke, without elaborating. 

“With the help of our world-class fulfillment and delivery network, we expect to scale Prime Air both quickly and efficiently, delivering packages via drone to customers within months,: Wilke said in a blog post that accompanied the conference announcement. 

Drones will join an expanding fleet of Amazon’s delivery formats as the company takes greater control over its sprawling logistics network and looks to get items to customers more quickly and cheaply. In recent years it has invested in freight trailers, cargo planes and delivery vans, built out an extensive network of delivery hubs, and begun to experiment with autonomous vehicles for deliveries.

Earlier this year Amazon pledged to spend $800m in the second quarter cutting shipping times to one day for members of its Prime subscription programme in the US. –Financial Times

Amazon’s drone delivery program has been public knowledge since 2013, while the company tested its first delivery in a rural corner of England in December, 2016. It took 13 minutes from order to delivery, and had a similar 5 lb maximum constraint – which was quoted as constituting 87% of items sold. 

The company’s new hexagonal drone takes off vertically but can fly like an airplane, which Business Insider likened to a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet. 

The drone can detect obstacles such as wires, chimneys and paragliders in real time – and can avoid them “using machine learning and advanced artificial intelligence,” according to Business Insider. 

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CREEPY: Amazon and Facebook Both Want To Read Human Emotions

creepy:-amazon-and-facebook-both-want-to-read-human-emotions

03-06-19 08:11:00,

By Aaron Kesel

Facebook and Amazon’s insanity only seems to continue with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Now, the two big conglomerate giants want to move into the uncharted territory of reading human emotions, both in their own ways.

Facebook wants a robot that has five senses which can read human emotions. Facebook wants “emotionally sensitive” robots that can explore the world, identify objects and people and enable its users to make more friends, Dailymail reported.

The robots would be fitted with wheels or tank-like caterpillar treads that would allow them to trundle about their environment.

Alternatively, such robots could be fitted out with drive systems that would allow them to move around underwater, fly through the air or float in space, Facebook suggest in their patent.

I am not sure why anyone would trust Facebook with data ever again, let alone biometric data, after all the numerous scandals Activist Post has documented including data mining. But to each their own I guess.

Amazon is also looking into reading human emotions in a completely different way by utilizing a voice-activated wearable device, that will sense its wearer’s state of mind by the tone of voice, Bloomberg reported.

[READ: “The Creepy Study” – Surveillance Cameras Analyze Emotions]

It’s worth noting that both companies have a smart home device, and after reading this you should fear what information is being gathered by the cameras and microphones attached to those electronics … besides the typically targeted advertising to turn consumers into the product.

On the Amazon front, it seems more than likely the company will want to use this technology in a variety of different digital gadgets, ranging from personal assistants such as Alexa to new technologies that the retail giant is currently developing. Amazon has announced it’s developing a personal assistance robot, so the new emotional technology could easily be integrated into this at-home robot as a means to “serve the consumer better.” A horrifically terrifying thought indeed.

Amazon and Facebook aren’t the only companies looking into utilizing human emotions.

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Only 2% of Amazon shareholders vote against giving facial recognition to government

only-2%-of-amazon-shareholders-vote-against-giving-facial-recognition-to-government

25-05-19 08:06:00,

Amazon shareholders voted almost unanimously to reject a proposal to stop selling facial recognition tech to government agencies, and even a study of its effects garnered little support, effectively green-lighting Big Brother.

The proposal to stop selling Amazon’s ‘Rekognition’ program to authorities was rejected by 97.6 percent of the company’s shareholders, according to a regulatory filing released on Friday, while a proposal to study Rekognition’s negative impact on civil rights and privacy repulsed 72.5 percent. CEO Jeff Bezos, who controls 16 percent of the company’s stock, voted against both, and Amazon’s board condemned them.

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You’ve been warned: Widespread US face surveillance is ‘imminent reality’, says tech privacy report

Climate change was more popular, with only 70.2 percent rejecting a proposal for the company to issue a report on how it would address the phenomenon.

Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled Amazon had to vote on both facial recognition proposals at its annual meeting after they were brought forward by activist shareholders concerned the company was selling a surveillance system “readily available to violate rights and target communities of color.” The company had argued the proposals were “insignificant to its business,” but was overruled by the regulator.

A group of “socially responsible investors” holding shares in Amazon implored the company to stop selling the tech to law enforcement last year, citing both the potential for abuse by American authorities and fears the tech could end up in the hands of foreign governments, “including authoritarian regimes.”

The shareholders joined hundreds of Amazon employees, the American Civil Liberties Union, and at least 70 more civil rights groups in writing several letters to Bezos asking that Amazon cease sales of Rekognition to law enforcement. The employee letter singled out the potential for abuse by the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration & Customs Enforcement as cause for particular concern, while the ACLU pointed to Amazon’s own marketing materials, which tout Rekognition’s ability to monitor “people of interest” in real time, as “primed for abuse in the hands of governments.”

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Amazon Developing Device That Can Recognize Human Emotions

amazon-developing-device-that-can-recognize-human-emotions

23-05-19 06:47:00,

Amazon is developing a voice-activated gadget that can recognize human emotions. 

The wrist-worn device is described as a health and wellness product according to internal documents reviewed by Bloomberg, which is being developed in partnership with Lab126, the group behind Amazon’s Fire phone and Echo smart speaker. The Alexa voice software team is also involved. 

Designed to work with a smartphone app, the device has microphones paired with software that can discern the wearer’s emotional state from the sound of his or her voice, according to the documents and a person familiar with the program. Eventually the technology could be able to advise the wearer how to interact more effectively with others, the documents show. –Bloomberg

It is unknown how far along the project is, or if the device code-named “Dylan” will ever be brought to market – however work on the project was ongoing recently according to the documents as well as Bloomberg’s source. It is currently being beta tested, though “it’s unclear whether the trial includes prototype hardware, the emotion-detecting software, or both,” according to the report. 

Machines that can understand human emotion has been a longtime theme in science fiction – from Star Trek’s Data, to ‘Mike’ from Robert Heinlein’s 1966 The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

And now, once again, science fiction may become reality, as companies such as Microsoft, Google and IBM – and many others – are developing technologies to decipher emotional states from imagery, audio data and other inputs. Amazon, for example, has discussed a desire to build a more lifelike voice assistant – a technology which could help the company better serve health needs, and of course, better advertise. 

As Bloomberg noted last month, Amazon has a team of employees listening in on and annotating audio clips captured by the company’s popular Echo line of voice-activated products. 

A U.S. patent filed in 2017 describes a system in which voice software uses analysis of vocal patterns to determine how a user is feeling, discerning among “joy, anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress, or other emotional states.” The patent,

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Amazon Rolling Out Automated Packing Machines 5X Faster Than Humans

amazon-rolling-out-automated-packing-machines-5x-faster-than-humans

14-05-19 08:14:00,

Amazon has been rolling out machines which automatically scans goods coming down a conveyer belt and boxes them for shipping, according to an exclusive report by Reuters, citing two people who worked on the project.  

The ‘latest and greatest’ in automation will replace thousands of workers. After installing the technology in a “handful of warehouses,” the company has considered installing the machines at dozens more – replacing at least 24 workers each at facilities which typically employ more than 2,000 people. 

The new machines, known as the CartonWrap from Italian firm CMC Srl, pack much faster than humans. They crank out 600 to 700 boxes per hour, or four to five times the rate of a human packer, the sources said. The machines require one person to load customer orders, another to stock cardboard and glue and a technician to fix jams on occasion. –Reuters

Deployed across 55 US fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory, this would mean more than 1,300 jobs gone, while Amazon would recover the cost of the program in less than two years at $1 million per machine plus operational expenses. 

The plan, previously unreported, shows how Amazon is pushing to reduce labor and boost profits as automation of the most common warehouse task – picking up an item – is still beyond its reach. The changes are not finalized because vetting technology before a major deployment can take a long time. –Reuters

 

“We are piloting this new technology with the goal of increasing safety, speeding up delivery times and adding efficiency across our network,” said an Amazon spokeswoman in a statement to Reuters. “We expect the efficiency savings will be re-invested in new services for customers, where new jobs will continue to be created.” 

Last month Amazon tried to downplay steps towards automation taken at its Baltimore fulfillment center, telling worried employees that a fully robotic future was far off. 

A key to its goal of a leaner workforce is attrition, one of the sources said. Rather than lay off workers, the person said, the world’s largest online retailer will one day refrain from refilling packing roles.

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Amazon’s kid-friendly Echo Dot is ‘blatant violation’ of child privacy laws, investigation finds

amazon’s-kid-friendly-echo-dot-is-‘blatant-violation’-of-child-privacy-laws,-investigation-finds

09-05-19 01:52:00,

An investigation into Amazon’s ‘Echo’ device for kids has revealed alarming details about its operations, including that the tech company keeps children’s sensitive data even after parents try to delete it.

Research into Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids Edition, carried out by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Institute for Public Representation (IPR) at Georgetown Law, found “blatant violations” of children’s privacy laws and the illegal collection of their data.

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‘Alexa, who’s eavesdropping on me?’ 1000s of humans reportedly audit ‘snippets’ from Amazon devices

The CCFC, who published their findings on Thursday, are now calling on the FTC to investigate and sanction Amazon “because parents, not Jeff Bezos, should be in charge of children’s data.”

The Echo Dot Kids is the child version of Amazon’s ‘home assistant’ speaker device, which records and stores information from its users. The technology uses machine learning to help train the system’s AI and understand its owner better through their requests.

READ MORE: Alexa, what’s my neighbor doing? ‘Human error’ allows user to eavesdrop on stranger’s life

The group investigating the family-friendly version of the device released video footage demonstrating their attempts to delete sensitive data.

Amazon markets Echo Dot Kids as a device to educate and entertain kids, but the real purpose is to amass a treasure trove of sensitive data that it refuses to relinquish even when directed to by parents,” said Josh Golin, CCFC’s Executive Director.

Golin went on to claim that Amazon are in clear violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and called on the FTC to hold the company accountable for “blatantly violating children’s privacy law and putting kids at risk.”

READ MORE: Alexa, is that you? Amazon exposes user data in mystery breach, issues creepy non-explanation

Amazon spokeswoman Kinley Pearsall said the Echo Dot Kids Edition is “compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” but failed to address any of the specific issues raised in the complaint,

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Amazon: Algorithmen entscheiden, wer entlassen wird

amazon:-algorithmen-entscheiden,-wer-entlassen-wird

04-05-19 09:21:00,

Amazon-Gründer und -Präsident Jeff Bezos ist der reichste Mann der Welt. (Foto: dpa)

Amazon-Gründer und -Präsident Jeff Bezos ist der reichste Mann der Welt. (Foto: dpa)

In diesem Artikel lesen Sie: 

  • Wie Algorithmen entscheiden, wer bei Amazon entlassen wird
  • Wie das wertvollste Unternehmen der Welt seine Mitarbeiter behandelt, als wären sie Roboter 
  • Wie sich die Situation speziell in Deutschland darstellt

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USA: Amazon und Co. zahlen keinen Cent Steuern

usa:-amazon-und-co.-zahlen-keinen-cent-steuern

03-05-19 03:11:00,

In den USA hat sich die Zahl der Konzerne, die keine Steuern zahlen, nach Trumps Steuerreform verdoppelt

Das dürfte Donald Trump in Bedrängnis bringen. Während die kleinen Leute ihre Steuern zahlen müssen, weil sie – wie bei uns – keine Möglichkeiten haben, ihr Einkommen am Finanzamt vorbei zu tricksen, zahlen mehr Konzerne trotz Milliardengewinnen keinen Cent an Steuern. Und das hat sich mit Trumps Steuerreform noch weiter verstärkt.

Die New York Times hat das Thema aufgegriffen und gegen Donald Trump gewendet, wie das die Politik des Mediums ist. Tatsächlich wird in den USA derzeit die Forderung nach einer höheren Besteuerung der Reichen populär. Einige Präsidentschaftskandidaten der Demokraten haben dies auf ihr Programm gesetzt, während Trump weiter die Alternative “Sozialismus oder Freiheit” gegen Venezuela, aber auch gegen die demokratischen Politiker propagiert (Socialist States of America?, Höhere Besteuerung der Reichen ist plötzlich mehrheitsfähig).

Nach einem Bericht zahlten 60 Fortune 500-Konzerne keine Unternehmenssteuer, obgleich sie fast 80 Milliarden US-Dollar Profit machen. Die Konzerne hätten sogar 4,3 Milliarden an Unternehmenssteuern zurücküberwiesen bekommen. Besonders krass ist Amazon. Der Konzern machte über 10 Milliarden US-Dollar Gewinn und erhielt sogar noch eine Steuerrückzahlung. Ganz neu ist die Steuervermeidung großer Konzerne nicht, aber in den USA hat sich deren Zahl, die nach Trumps Steuerreform keine Steuern zahlen, gleich verdoppelt.

Zu den Null-Steuer-Konzernen gehören neben Amazon beispielsweise Halliburton, Netflix, IBM, Delta Air Lines, Chevron oder General Motors. Nach Plänen mancher demokratischer Präsidentschaftskandidaten sollen nicht nur die Reichen, sondern auch die profitablen Unternehmen mehr Steuern zahlen und damit zum Gemeinwohl beitragen. Sie werden natürlich als Linke oder gar Kommunisten bezeichnet, aber ist eine Besteuerung von Unternehmen und Reichen schon links, wenn kleine Einkommen ganz selbstverständlich Steuern zahlen müssen?

Die Präsidentschaftskandidatin Elizabeth Warren fordert beispielsweise, dass Unternehmen 7 Prozent Steuern auf die Gewinne über 100 Millionen US-Dollar in den USA zahlen sollen, die sie in der Welt erzielen. Das würde nur 1200 Unternehmen betreffen und eine Billion US-Dollar bringen. Amazon hätte nach Warren fast 700 Millionen US-Dollar an Steuern zahlen müssen. Das wären 700 Millionen mehr als nichts (Das Vermögen der Reichsten wächst am schnellsten).

Allerdings fordern Länder, in denen US-Konzerne Gewinne machen, ohne sie dort zu versteuern,

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It’s not just Amazon: These profitable US corporations paid ZERO taxes

its-not-just-amazon-these-profitable-us-corporations-paid-zero-taxes

21-04-19 11:22:00,

Sixty of America’s biggest companies from the Fortune 500 list, including IBM, Netflix, General Motors and Chevron, managed to avoid paying a dime in income taxes on their whopping profits last year.

After the explosive report on how Jeff Bezos’ Amazon used tax loopholes and paid nothing in taxes for two years in a row, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) revealed that many more US companies did the same thing absolutely legally in 2018.

They include 60 major firms from different sectors of the US economy from retail to oil and gas. For example, Delta Air Lines paid nothing to Uncle Sam despite recording over $5 billion in profits. Energy major Chevron and automotive giant General Motors also paid zero tax, with each having earned more than $4 billion last year.

In total, the listed companies zeroed out federal income taxes on $79 billion in US pretax income, according to ITEP findings. And instead of paying $16.4 billion in taxes, these corporations enjoyed a net corporate tax rebate of $4.3 billion.

Also on rt.com
Walmart trolls Amazon over not paying taxes after Bezos challenges rivals to hike minimum wage

This all happened thanks to various legal loopholes created by the “technically flawed” 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The law left most tax breaks intact while it also set a 21 percent statutory corporate tax rate (reduced from 35 percent).

“The result, unsurprisingly, has been a continued decline in our already low corporate tax revenues: in fiscal 2018, US corporate tax revenues fell by 31 percent, according to US Treasury data,” the authors of the report said. “This was a more precipitous decline than in any year of normal economic growth in US history.”

The diverse array of legal tax breaks includes accelerated depreciation (used, for example, by Chevron and Delta Airlines among others) as well a tax break for stock options, from which Amazon and Netflix benefited. The latter – with $856 million in profit – reduced its income taxes by $191 million by taking advantage of this tax break and paying nothing.

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However,

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Bundespolizei goes Amazon

bundespolizei-goes-amazon

18-03-19 09:34:00,

Eine neue Form von Public-Private-Partnership: Die Bundespolizei speichert Bodycam-Aufnahmen auf Servern von Amazon

Eine ganz neue Form von Public-Private-Partnership ist offensichtlich die deutsche Bundespolizei eingegangen. Kürzlich wurde bekannt, dass die Strafverfolgungsbehörde die Aufnahmen ihrer mit Bodycams ausgestatteten Einsatzkräfte nun auf den Servern von Amazon speichert.

Diese Körperkameras, die bereits seit 2014 verstärkt zum Einsatz kommen, sollen Polizisten im Einsatz vor aggressiven Angriffen schützen und darüber hinaus dabei helfen, Straftäter zu identifizieren. Es handelt sich also um sensibles Datenmaterial, das da auf den Servern eines amerikanischen Privatunternehmens gespeichert wird. Das zuständige Ministerium begründete diesen Schritt damit, dass der amerikanische Internetgigant in Deutschland derzeit der einzige Anbieter sei, der eine vom Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik zertifizierte Cloudlösung anbieten kann. Die Daten seien selbstverständlich verschlüsselt und ausschließlich auf Servern gespeichert, die in Deutschland stehen.

Deutsche Behörden wie die Bundespolizei verfügen also offensichtlich nicht über die nötigen Rechenzentren und Speicherkapazitäten, um das Datenmaterial, das ihre eigenen Mitarbeiter im Einsatz sammeln, unter eigener Regie und Kontrolle zu speichern. Denn wer weiß schon, ob nicht auch amerikanische Sicherheitsbehörden Zugriff auf die hier abgelegten Daten haben. Immerhin ist auch die CIA mit einer “Secret Cloud” auf den Servern der Amazon Web Services (AWS) Zuhause, was bei Bedarf doch kurze Wege für NSA & Co. garantiert.

Die Frage sei erlaubt, was Dorothee Bär, die für Digitalisierung zuständige Staatssekretärin im Kanzleramt, eigentlich den lieben langen Tag so macht? Von Flugtaxis träumen, aber die Basics nicht auf die Reihe kriegen, wie zum Beispiel den Aufbau einer gut funktionierenden IT-Infrastruktur für die bundeseigenen Behörden.

Johannes Bröckers ist Autor des Buches “Schnauze, Alexa! Ich kaufe nicht bei Amazon”: Darin rechnet er mit dem Allesverkäufer ab, der auf dem besten Weg ist, der Allesbeherrscher zu werden. Amazons Alexa hört weltweit in den Wohnstuben alles mit, auch die intimsten Informationen über uns kennt der weltweit größte Händler – vielleicht aber auch die CIA, die ebenfalls auf den Amazon-Servern zu Hause ist? Da hilft nur zu sagen: “Schnauze, Alexa!”

Aber vielleicht träumt ja die Bundespolizei bei dieser strategischen Partnerschaft insgeheim auch schon von “Amazon Rekognition”. Dieses KI-gestützte Gesichtserkennungsprogramm verkauft Amazon seit gut zwei Jahren an die US-Polizei. Rekognition ist bei der Überwachung im öffentlichen Raum in der Lage,

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Amazon Banned These 9 Academic Books Questioning Certain Aspects of the ‘Holocaust’. Why?

amazon-banned-these-9-academic-books-questioning-certain-aspects-of-the-8216holocaust8217.-why

08-03-19 06:53:00,

This doesn’t look like extremist hate speech to us. Judging from these blurbs and titles, it looks like pretty balanced and fair discussion of a very serious, and vehemently disputed, allegation.

The first one in the list below even presents both sides of the argument in an attempt to get to the bottom of who is telling the truth.

Why are some people so afraid of a fair and open discussion?

These books were banned from Amazon in March of 2017, but are easily available online at other sellers. Take a look at the blurbs describing these books. They are an eye-opener.

Debating the Holocaust. A New Look at Both Sides.

By Thomas Dalton.

Mainstream historians insist that there cannot be, may not be a debate about the Holocaust. But ignoring it does not make this controversy go away. Traditional scholars admit that there was neither a budget, a plan, nor an order for the Holocaust; that the key camps have all but vanished, and so have any human remains; that material and unequivocal documentary evidence is absent; and that there are serious problems with survivor testimonies. Dalton juxtaposes the traditional Holocaust narrative with revisionist challenges and then analyzes the mainstream’s responses to them. He reveals the weaknesses of both sides, while declaring revisionism the winner of the current state of the debate. 3rd edition. 

332 pp. pb., 6”×9”, b/w ill., bibl., index, £20/25 (2017)

Auschwitz: A Three-Quarter Century of Propaganda Origins, Development and Decline of the “Gas Chamber” Propaganda Lie.

By Carlo Mattogno.

An overview of the many rumors, myths and lies about Auschwitz spread during and right after the war, which mainstream historians today reject as untrue: murder by gas bombs, electrocution chambers, gas showers, pneumatic hammer systems, electrocution conveyor belts; oils, grease and soap made of murder victims; 4 million victims; crematoria with a capacity of up to 400 million bodies… It then explains by which ridiculous methods some claims about Auschwitz were accepted as true and turned into “history,” although they are just as untrue.

124 pp. pb., 5”×8”, b/w ill., bibl., index, £8/$10 (2018) | Free eBook version available

Jewish Emigration from the Third Reich.

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Amazon Vendors Panic After Online Giant Suddenly Halts Purchases

amazon-vendors-panic-after-online-giant-suddenly-halts-purchases

08-03-19 09:39:00,

After Amazon successfully put a majority of its retail “brick and mortar” competitors out of business, it is now cracking down on its own supply chain.

In Jeff Bezos latest move to boost flagging profits and razor-thin margins at the company’s core e-commerce business, Amazon abruptly stopped buying products over the past two weeks from many of its wholesale vendors, encouraging them to instead sell their products directly to consumers on Amazon’s marketplace, even if that means disrupting relationships with longtime suppliers and potentially limiting customer choice. And, according to Bloomberg which cited consultants who help clients sell on Amazon, thousands of vendors are affected.

The departure from the company’s traditional business model of serving as logistical middleman between buyers and sellers, is pushing suppliers directly onto the marketplace – rather than selling products itself – and lets Amazon offload the risk but more importantly, the cost of purchasing, storing and shipping the merchandise. Instead, leveraging its quasi-monopolistic scale, Amazon is moving to charge suppliers for these services while taking a commission on each transaction, resulting in much higher margins per transaction. The disruptive strategy is part of a larger effort to reduce overhead by getting more suppliers to use an automated self-service system that requires no input from Amazon managers.

Commenting on the change in the company’s traditional operating model, Amazon responded to Bloomberg that it regularly reviews its selling partner relationships “and may make changes when we see an opportunity to provide customers with improved selection, value and convenience.” What it meant is that it is now big enough to extract an even greater profit from each transaction as the company’s vendors have no other choice.

And while their options may be limited, the vendors were not only shocked by the change in strategy, they are also furious: the abrupt cancellation of orders prompted panic this week at the ShopTalk retail conference that drew more than 8,000 retailers, brands and consultants to Las Vegas.

Some attendees said Amazon stopped submitting routine orders last week for a variety of products, often without explanation. The drought continued this week, affecting more vendors and leaving them frustrated about the lack of communication from Amazon.

One vendor who has been selling products to Amazon for five years said he got a canned response when he inquired why his routine weekly purchase order never came through.

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