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Tag Archives: Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos Protests the Invasion of His Privacy, as Amazon Builds a Sprawling Surveillance State for Everyone Else, by Glenn Greenwald

The hypocrisy is obvious. From Glenn Greenwald at theintercept.com:

THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER HAS engaged in behavior so lowly and unscrupulous that it created a seemingly impossible storyline: the world’s richest billionaire and a notorious labor abuser, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as a sympathetic victim.

On Thursday, Bezos published emails in which the Enquirer’s parent company explicitly threatened to publish intimate photographs of Bezos and his mistress, which were apparently exchanged between the two through their iPhones, unless Bezos agreed to a series of demands involving silence about the company’s conduct.

In a perfect world, none of the sexually salacious material the Enquirer was threatening to release would be incriminating or embarrassing to Bezos: it involves consensual sex between adults that is the business of nobody other than those involved and their spouses. But that’s not the world in which we live: few news events generate moralizing interest like sex scandals, especially among the media.

The prospect of naked selfies of Bezos would obviously generate intense media coverage and all sorts of adolescent giggling and sanctimonious judgments. The Enquirer’s reports of Bezos’ adulterous affair seemed to have already played at least a significant role, if not the primary one, in the recent announcement of Bezos’ divorce from his wife of 25 years.

Beyond the prurient interest in sex scandals, this case entails genuinely newsworthy questions because of its political context. The National Enquirer was so actively devoted to Donald Trump’s election that the chairman of its parent company admitted to helping make hush payments to kill stories of Trump’s affairs, and received immunity for his cooperation in the criminal case of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, while Bezos, as the owner of the steadfastly anti-Trump Washington Post, is viewed by Trump as a political enemy.

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Jeff Bezos Puts the Pentagon on His Monopoly Board, by Jason C. Ditz

Jeff Bezos wants Amazon to be the Pentagon’s go-to supplier. From Jason C. Ditz at theamericanconservative.com:

While employees at Google and Microsoft are wary of collaborating with the military, Amazon revels in it.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons and Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Speaking at the Wired 25th anniversary last month month, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his company will continue to accept Pentagon contracts. That includes a very controversial cloud-computing contract that Google and Microsoft have already backed out of due to vocal employee opposition to working with the U.S. military.

Amazon was long considered the front-runner for this contract, but Bezos’s rationale for taking it goes well beyond its being low-hanging fruit. He’s argued that the government’s job is to “make the right decision, even when it’s unpopular,” and that large tech companies should support those decisions irrespective of politics.

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Bezos’ Decision to Raise Wages is Largely a Machiavellian Distraction, by Michael Krieger

Jeff Bezos wants to dominate the world’s retail. He’s well on his way. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

For the many low wage Amazon workers — both full time and temporary — set to receive a raise thanks to the just announced boost in minimum pay to $15/hour, the news is certainly a big plus. It should also be noted that had Amazon not been subject to intense scrutiny and criticism from the likes of Bernie Sanders and others, Jeff Bezos never would have responded with such an aggressive move. That said, if you think a little beyond the surface level about why he’s doing this now and what his real motives are, it becomes clear nobody should take this move at face value.

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Amazon is Far More Dangerous and Powerful Than You Want to Admit, by Michael Krieger

No question but that Jeff Bezo and Amazon are in bed with the government and Deep State. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

The sneaky thing about Amazon’s increased dominance in so many key aspects of our lives is that much of the perniciousness is hidden. No one’s going to tell you about all the retailers who have gotten pressured or destroyed via its tactics while you’re happily clicking “add to cart” and smiling about 2-day free shipping. In this sense, it can be best compared to the evils of factory farming. Most people just simply have no idea about the immense damage going on behind the scenes as they indulge in incredible convenience and what looks like a good deal.

– From my November 15, 2017 post: Amazon Poses a Serious Threat to Freedom and Free Markets

Today’s post should be seen as an update to last year’s article referenced above. In the months that have followed, I’ve been consistently frustrated by the lack of interest when it comes to the dangers presented by Amazon and its richest man in the world ($165 billion as of last count) CEO Jeff Bezos. The following Twitter exchange is a good example of what I mean:

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NSA Launches Amazon-Backed Cloud-Computing Service For Sharing “Top Secret” Info, by Tyler Burden

What could go wrong with this? From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Four years after handing Amazon a $600 million contract to develop a cloud-storage service for the US intelligence community that can store information across the full range of data classifications – including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret – the NSA announced on Thursday that it has moved most of its mission data to a front-end cloud computing system developed by the agency that’s supported by – you guessed it – Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos.

According to NextGov.com, the IC GovCloud, which was created by the NSA but is supported by Amazon’s web services, will offer similar hosting services to the other 16 members of the US intelligence community. The advantage of having all of these intelligence agencies using the same system, according to NSA Chief Information Officer Greg Smithberger, is that it will allow analysts from across agencies to share information and “connect the dots” more quickly. But even before the other agencies sign on, the NSA will use the platform to “collect, analyze and store” classified information in a “classified cloud computing environment.”

The goal of the platform is to gather all of the signals intelligence that the NSA gathers on foreign targets (and, of course, its myriad spying on the American public) into one centralized location that’s easily accessible by its analysts.

The impetus for the multi-year move is getting the NSA’s data, including signals intelligence and other foreign surveillance and intelligence information it ingests from multiple repositories around the globe into a single data lake analysts from the NSA and other IC agencies can run queries against.

“The NSA has been systematically moving almost all its mission into this big data fusion environment,” Smithberger told Nextgov in an interview. “Right now, almost all NSA’s mission is being done in [IC GovCloud], and the productivity gains and the speed at which our analysts are able to put together insights and work higher-level problems has been really amazing.”

To continue reading: NSA Launches Amazon-Backed Cloud-Computing Service For Sharing “Top Secret” Info

Big Tech firms march to the beat of Pentagon, CIA despite dissension, by Tim Johnson

As SLL said in “The Friendly Faces of Fascism,” Big Tech has crawled into bed with the government. From Tim Johnson at mcclatchydc.com:

A funny thing has happened to Google and Amazon on their path toward high-tech success: They have become crucial cogs in the U.S. national security establishment.

Both companies are expanding teams of employees with security clearances to work on projects that include deploying artificial intelligence and building digital “clouds” to offering law enforcement facial recognition tools that can even read the mood of people caught on camera.

The security establishment’s embrace of Big Tech has ruffled the feathers of traditional defense contractors and roiled employee ranks, in Google’s case, over whether the company is being drawn into what disguntled employees called “the business of war.”

Defense industry analysts say the Pentagon views Big Tech, and particularly Google with its deep bench of artificial intelligence researchers, as vital to the nation’s future safety.

In some ways, the evolution of companies born to disrupt the status quo into business giants with a broad array of clients, including the security establishment, is a result of the profits to be made doing business with the federal government.

The Pentagon currently is testing a customized Google AI surveillance engine that sifts through massive amounts of footage from tactical drones to produce what it calls “actionable intelligence and insights at speed.” The tests are under way at six locations in Africa and the Middle East. Such drone footage has been used in the past to target and kill ISIS extremists.

The pilot, known as Project Maven, spurred nearly 4,000 of Google’s 88,000 employees to sign a petition in April demanding that the project be cancelled because it would “irreparably damage Google’s brand.” The petition added: “Building this technology to assist the U.S. government in military surveillance – and potentially lethal outcomes – is not acceptable.”

The internal protest about Project Maven appeared to be taking a toll. The tech website Gizmodo, citing three unnamed sources, reported Friday afternoon that a Google executive told employees earlier in the day that the backlash over Project Maven had been severe and that the company would not pursue further artificial intelligence work with the Pentagon.

Google declined to answer questions about Project Maven, and a spokeswoman for the Mountain View, Calif., company did not answer broader queries about the company’s activities in the national security sphere.

To continue reading: Big Tech firms march to the beat of Pentagon, CIA despite dissension

Six Things We Can Learn About US Plutocracy By Looking At Jeff Bezos, by Caitlin Johnstone

There’s no way the richest man in the world is not somehow going to be in bed with the US government. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

I often look at Jeff Bezos when trying to understand how American oligarchy functions for a few reasons.

Firstly, currently occupying the number one slot on Forbes’ billionaires list, he is the top dog. He figured out how to play the plutocracy game quickly, and how to play it better than anyone else.

Second, our civilization is currently headed on a clear trajectory deeper and deeper into Orwellian tech dystopia if we don’t turn things around or drive humanity into extinction first. The new money tech plutocrats own the foundation of that dark future, and we should all keep a very, very close eye on them on general principles as well as to get a read on where things are headed.

Lastly and most importantly, as a new money plutocrat Bezos has had to build his empire with high visibility in the information age. The old money plutocrats built their kingdoms in much darker times, with some families setting the foundations of their rule hundreds of years ago when there was very little in the way of newspaper coverage, and certainly no alternative media scrutinizing power. Bezos’ wheelings and dealings are above ground to a much greater extent, because he’s had to do everything in the public eye.

With that in mind, here are six things we can learn about how US plutocracy operates by looking at Jeff Bezos.

1. The rich rule America because of a system wherein money translates directly into political power.

Amazon has increased its spending on Washington lobbying by 400 percent in the last five years, far in excess of its competition. Bezos hasn’t been doing this to be charitable. With growing antitrust concerns, taxation to avoid, lucrative Pentagon deals to secure, and what some experts are describing as an agenda to control the underlying infrastructure of the economy, he needs Washington on his side.

Plutocrats do not pour large fortunes into lobbying campaigns without reason. They do it because it works.

A 2014 study by Princeton University found that while wealthy Americans have a great deal of sway over US policy and behavior, ordinary Americans have virtually none. This is because corporate lobbying and campaign financing have made the bribery of public officials perfectly legal as plutocrat-championed legislation like 1976’s Buckley v. Valeo, 1978’s First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti as well as the infamous Citizens United v. FEC has created a system where money translates directly into political power.

To continue reading: Six Things We Can Learn About US Plutocracy By Looking At Jeff Bezos

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