Tag Archives: Amazon

How Silicon Valley, in a Show of Monopolistic Force, Destroyed Parler, by Glenn Greenwald

Silicon Valley is ready, willing, and able to ban anyone who poses a competitive threat to statist ideology in the marketplace of ideas. From Glenn Greenwald at greenwald.substack.com:

In the last three months, tech giants have censored political speech and journalism to manipulate U.S. politics, while liberals, with virtual unanimity, have cheered.

Users of the social media platform Parler encountered this error message as of Jan. 11, 2021, after Apple, Google and Amazon united to remove them from app stores and hosting services (Photo by Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto via Getty Images).

Critics of Silicon Valley censorship for years heard the same refrain: tech platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter are private corporations and can host or ban whoever they want. If you don’t like what they are doing, the solution is not to complain or to regulate them. Instead, go create your own social media platform that operates the way you think it should.

The founders of Parler heard that suggestion and tried. In August, 2018, they created a social media platform similar to Twitter but which promised far greater privacy protections, including a refusal to aggregate user data in order to monetize them to advertisers or algorithmically evaluate their interests in order to promote content or products to them. They also promised far greater free speech rights, rejecting the increasingly repressive content policing of Silicon Valley giants.

Over the last year, Parler encountered immense success. Millions of people who objected to increasing repression of speech on the largest platforms or who had themselves been banned signed up for the new social media company.

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“This Was A Coordinated Attack”: Parler CEO Speaks Out After Amazon Boots From AWS, Vows To Rebuild ‘From Scratch’ by Tyler Durden

We should expect no quarter from the opposition’s social media. They should expect no quarter from us. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Update (2210 ET): Parler CEO John Matze has issued a statement (emphasis ours):

Sunday (tomorrow) at midnight Amazon will be shutting off all of our servers in an attempt to completely remove free speech off the internet. There is the possibility Parler will be unavailable on the internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch. We prepared for events like this by never relying on amazons proprietary infrastructure and building bare metal products.

We will try our best to move to a new provider right now as we have many competing for our business, however Amazon, Google and Apple purposefully did this as a coordinated effort knowing our options would be limited and knowing this would inflict the most damage right as President Trump was banned from the tech companies.

This was a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the market place. We were too successful too fast. You can expect the war on competition and free speech to continue, but don’t count us out.

#speakfreely

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Update (2130 ET): And so the hammer has come down late on Saturday, when Amazon officially kicked Parler off its cloud Web hosting service, AWS according to Buzzfeed. The suspension means that once the ban takes effect on Sunday, the website – which as of this moment is still up – will be offline until it finds someone else to host it.

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Update (2100 ET): As expected, Apple removed Parler permanently from its app store on Saturday. “[T]here is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity,” the iPhone maker said, according to CNN which adds that Apple notified Parler of its decision in a message that said it had violated the company’s app store terms.

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Facebook, Twitter and Big Tech Make Their Money in China, by Daniel Greenfield

Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon don’t make much money selling into China, but they make a lot of money by facilitating Chinese sales in the US. From Daniel Greenfield at danielgreenfield.org:

Last year, Amazon was forced to shut down its marketplace business in the People’s Republic of China. Amazon’s defeat followed that of a long line of Big Tech players who had tried to make a go of it in China and failed miserably. China’s economy is built to boost domestic businesses and foreign exports, with some needed imports, by companies linked to the Communist Party.

And no matter how politically correct Amazon may try to be, it can never join that club.

But Amazon’s business in China isn’t done. To a large degree, Amazon’s business is China. Behind the smiling logo, the massive array of businesses covering everything from running the CIA’s cloud to spending $500 million to make a Lord of the Rings streaming series, are a bunch of grim offices, apartments, and warehouses in Chinese cities that make up its real business.

Three years ago, third-party sellers topped Amazon’s own sales. They now make up 58%. Who are they? If, like most Americans, you shop at the giant dot com retail monopoly, you’ve already waded through a stream of random shop names, fake misspelled reviews, and counterfeit products while searching for just about anything. What happened? China happened.

Between 40% to 48% of top third-party sellers on Amazon are operating out of China. The massive growth in Chinese third-party sellers has been fairly recent and transformative.

What Amazon Prime members are really buying is membership in a club that helps third-party sellers from China push counterfeit and imitation products to Americans. Amazon acts as a middle man, charging Chinese sellers and American customers for handling listing, shipping and sales..

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Investigative Issues: Here’s an Excerpt From My Covid E-Book That Was Quarantined by Amazon, by Alex Berenson

Amazon ventures into content censorship. From Alex Berenson at realclearinvestigations.com:

Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson has developed a wide following on Twitter for detailed posts that challenge some mainstream reporting and government declarations about COVID-19. 

Read the full thread here.

Thursday morning he tweeted that Amazon had refused to offer for sale his self-published book, “Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns Part 1: Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates.”

Among those responding in outrage over what they called blatant censorship were SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (“This is insane @JeffBezos”) and journalist Glenn Greenwald. And late Thursday Berenson reported that Amazon had backed off and is now offering the book for sale on Kindle.

Before Amazon reversed itself (calling its earlier move an “error,” according to Fox News), RealClearInvestigations asked the award-winning novelist to elaborate on his experience. Here’s his response, followed by an excerpt from the book:

By Alex Berenson

The booklet was the first in a series of coronavirus pamphlets I plan to put out covering various aspects of the crisis. Readers of my Twitter feed encouraged me to compile information in a more comprehensive and easier-to-read format, and when I polled people on Twitter to ask if they would be willing to pay a nominal fee for such a pamphlet, the response was strong.

Originally I only planned to write one, but I had so much information I realized that the booklet would be an awkward length – longer than a magazine article but shorter than a book. Also, doing so would take too long, and I wanted to put it out quickly. So I decided to split the booklet into pieces. Part 1 included an introduction and a discussion of death coding, death counts, and who is really dying from COVID, as well as a worst-case estimate of deaths with no mitigation efforts. It is about 6,500 words, and I planned to sell it for $2.99 as an ebook or $5.99 for a paperback. It is called “Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1, Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates.”

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U.S. Descends Into Third-World Hellscape Where Amazon Delivers In Three Days Instead Of Two, from The Babylon Bee

U.S.—The U.S. has become an absolute hellscape, a terrifying place where you can’t always get exactly what you want from Amazon in two days.

In fact, experts have reclassified the United States as a third-world country now that Amazon deliveries can take three days, a week, or even longer.

“It’s basically Somalia at this point,” said Kris Paulson, an essential oils representative from Washington state. “If I can’t order something I decided that I absolutely need to have on a whim and have it arrive in 1-2 days, then the American dream is dead.”

Similar tribulations and hardships have erupted all across the nation. Many people can’t go hang out at Starbucks all day and now have to get their artisan coffee beverages exclusively via drive-thru. Many people had to settle for off-brand bread and milk. In one horror story that sounds as though it’s straight out of a sub-Saharan African country, a family in Southern California said they have to order their premium steaks to go and eat them at home “like cavemen.”

“The people who suffered through the bubonic plague have no idea the kind of sacrifices we’ve had to make here,” Paulson continued. “If this keeps up, I’m going to move to a nicer place like Uganda.”

https://babylonbee.com/news/america-descends-into-third-world-hellscape-where-amazon-delivers-in-three-days-instead-of-two

JEDI Mind Tricks: Amazon versus the Pentagon and Trump, by Thomas Knapp

Jeff Bezos’s animus towards Trump put him at the back of the line for supplying the Pentagon an unnecessary cloud computing system. Now Amazon is suing. From Thomas Knapp at antiwar.com:

Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, boasting revenues of more than $230 billion last year. But last month the company sued the US Department of Defense over a paltry potential $10 billion spread over ten years.

Amazon lost out to Microsoft in bidding for the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (yes, JEDI, because the most important part of a government program is coming up with a cool acronym) cloud computing program.

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The Tech Giants Are a Conduit for Fascism, by Michael Krieger

The tech giants are aiding and abetting the government’s ever-increasing repression and curtailment of liberty. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

A second former Amazon employee would spark more controversy. Deap Ubhi, a former AWS employee who worked for Lynch, was tasked with gathering marketing information to make the case for a single cloud inside the DOD. Around the same time that he started working on JEDI, Ubhi began talking with AWS about rejoining the company. As his work on JEDI deepened, so did his job negotiations. Six days after he received a formal offer from Amazon, Ubhi recused himself from JEDI, fabricating a story that Amazon had expressed an interest in buying a startup company he owned. A contracting officer who investigated found enough evidence that Ubhi’s conduct violated conflict of interest rules to refer the matter to the inspector general, but concluded that his conduct did not corrupt the process. (Ubhi, who now works in AWS’ commercial division, declined comment through a company spokesperson.)

Ubhi worsened the impression by making ill-advised public statements while still employed by the DOD. In a tweet, he described himself as “once an Amazonian, always an Amazonian.”

– From the must read ProPublica expose: How Amazon and Silicon Valley Seduced the Pentagon

That U.S. tech giants are willing participants in facilitating mass government surveillance has been widely known for a while, particularly since whistleblower Edward Snowden risked his life and liberty to tell us about it six years ago. We also know what happens to executives who don’t play ball.

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The Real Big Brother, by Eric Zuesse

Jeff Bezos is a prime exponent of US interventionism. He’s got a lot a ways to make his views known, and a very receptive audience in Washington. From Eric Zuesse at consortiumnews.com:

It’s a billionaire’s world and the biggest of them all is in the thick of it, as Eric Zuesse explains.

Jeff Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post, which leads America’s news-media in their almost 100 percent support and promotion of neoconservatism, American imperialism and wars. This includes sanctions, coups, and military invasions against countries that America’s billionaires want to control but don’t yet control — such as Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, Libya, and China.

These are aggressive wars against countries which have never aggressed against the United States. They are not, at all, defensive, but the exact opposite. It’s not necessarily endless war (even Hitler hadn’t planned that), but war until the entire planet has come under the control of the U.S. Government, a government that is itself controlled by America’s billionaires, the funders of neoconservatism and imperialism — in both major American political parties, think tanks, newspapers, TV networks, etcetera.

Bezos has been a crucial part of neoconservatism, ever since, at the June 6-9 2013 Bilderberg meeting, he arranged with Donald Graham, the Washington Post’s owner, to buy that newspaper, for $250 million. Bezos had already negotiated, in March of that same year, with the neoconservative CIA Director, John Brennan, for a  $600 million ten-year cloud computing contract that transformed Amazon corporation, from being a reliable money-loser, into a reliably profitable firm.

That caused Bezos’s net worth to soar even more (and at a sharper rate of rising) than it had been doing while it had been losing money. He became the most influential salesman not only for books, but for the CIA, and for such mega-corporations as Lockheed Martin. Imperialism has supercharged his wealth, but it didn’t alone cause it. Bezos might be the most ferociously gifted business-person on the planet.

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How Amazon and Silicon Valley Seduced the Pentagon, by James Bandler, Anjali Tsui and Doris Burke

Big Tech’s relationship with the Pentagon and intelligence agencies is the very definition of crony socialism. From James Bandler, Anjali Tsui and Doris Burke at propublica.org:

Tech moguls like Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt have gotten unprecedented access to the Pentagon. And one whistleblower who raised flags has paid the price.

From left: Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google’s parent company, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. (Nate Kitch, special to ProPublica)

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up for ProPublica’s Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox as soon as they are published.

This article was co-published with Fortune.

On Aug. 8, 2017, Roma Laster, a Pentagon employee responsible for policing conflicts of interest, emailed an urgent warning to the chief of staff of then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Several department employees had arranged for Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, to be sworn into an influential Pentagon advisory board despite the fact that, in the year since he’d been nominated, Bezos had never completed a required background check to obtain a security clearance.

Mattis was about to fly to the West Coast, where he would personally swear Bezos in at Amazon’s headquarters before moving on to meetings with executives from Google and Apple. Soon phone calls and emails began bouncing around the Pentagon. Security clearances are no trivial matter to defense officials; they exist to ensure that people with access to sensitive information aren’t, say, vulnerable to blackmail and don’t have conflicts of interest. Laster also contended that it was a “noteworthy exception” for Mattis to perform the ceremony. Secretaries of defense, she wrote, don’t hold swearing-in events.

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Amazon is developing high-tech surveillance tools for an eager customer: America’s police, by Jon Schuppe

Amazon and your local police are taking out a few more of the last remaining vestiges of personal privacy. From John Schuppe at nbcnews.com:

Dozens of law enforcement agencies have used Amazon-powered technology to modernize crime fighting — but critics raise fears of privacy abuses.

On July 12, a few hours before dawn, a man in Chandler, Arizona, was jolted awake by an alert on his phone. It was coming from his Ring security camera, which had detected movement outside his home.

The live feed showed a group of young men breaking into cars. The man hollered at them through his front door, then called the police.

As an officer arrived, the men sped off in a car, leaving behind cellphones, tools and other things they’d taken during their interrupted burglary spree. They abandoned the getaway vehicle in a housing complex and turned themselves in later that morning.

By then, the homeowner had showed police his camera footage and posted it to Neighbors, an app run by Ring, which is owned by Amazon. Ring doesn’t just make the wireless security cameras — it also accesses police data to alert residents of potential crimes, encourages users to share their recordings of suspicious behavior, and connects them with law enforcement.

“Thank goodness for the Ring!!!” the man wrote on Neighbors.

“Thanks for posting,” a Chandler police officer responded.

The exchange was typical of the way police are using Ring, helping it spread its business while using it to detect and investigate crime. The arrangement in Chandler is among dozens of such partnerships around the country, and part of a much broader effort by Amazon to deepen its reach into law enforcement — which critics say is expanding the government’s surveillance of Americans.

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