Sunday 16th of December 2018

books, nick-nax and a human colony on the moon...

 

rich man, poor man...

The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos briefly overtook Microsoft’s Bill Gates to become the world’s richest person.

Bezos leapfrogged Gates, who has been the richest man on the planet since 2013, after a rise in the share price of Amazon ahead of its latest results due Thursday night.

According to a real-time billionaires index compiled by Forbes, the rise pushed the value of Bezos’s fortune to $91bn (£69bn) – compared with Gates’ wealth of $90bn. Their riches are calculated on the share prices of their respective companies and at the current values Bezos’s stake is twice as big as carmaker Ford.

But the Amazon share price fell back leaving Gates on top, but with less than $1bn separating them.

Bezos – born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1964 – keeps a relatively low profile, but has used some of the wealth he has amassed to buy the Washington Post and invest in space travel through Blue Origin, a company he founded in 2000.

He began Amazon in 1994 when he sold books from his garage in Seattle before expanding into a huge range of other products and capturing the global rush to online shopping.

Amazon now accounts for 43% of everything sold online in the US and 64 million people have signed up for its Prime service – which gives access to free deliveries and video streaming. Amazon shares have soared this year – making the company worth more than $500bn.

read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/27/amazon-founder-jeff-bez...

 

moonraker...

 

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos wants to send people back to the moon – but this time to colonize.

The billionaire revealed more about his ambitious plan to settle on the moon during a Q&A with kids at the Seattle Museum of Flight’s Apollo exhibit Saturday.

Answering a question about the impact of AI on space exploration, Bezos said: “I think we should build a permanent human settlement on one of the poles of the moon. It’s time to go back to the moon, but this time to stay.”

Super fun morning talking rockets with a very cool group of students. Great questions. Thx to all the students and to@museumofflighthttps://t.co/adXbn3bdon

— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) May 20, 2017

READ MORE: Amazon boss wants to start delivery service to the Moon

Bezos has previously spoken about Blue Origin’s plan to send cargo shipments to the moon to deliver equipment necessary for building a human colony.

Writing in an internal company report earlier this year, Bezos said: “A permanently inhabited lunar settlement is a difficult and worthy objective. I sense a lot of people are excited about this.”

read more:

https://www.rt.com/viral/389475-jeff-bezos-moon-colonization/

 

Moonraker... Moonraker (1979) is the eleventh spy film in the James Bond series, and the fourth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The third and final film in the series to be directed by Lewis Gilbert, it co-stars Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Corinne Cléry, and Richard Kiel. Bond investigates the theft of a space shuttle, leading him to Hugo Drax, the owner of the shuttle's manufacturing firm. Along with space scientist Dr. Holly Goodhead, Bond follows the trail from California to Venice, Rio de Janeiro, and the Amazon rainforest, and finally into outer space to prevent a plot to wipe out the world population and to re-create humanity with a master race.[2][3]

Here we can see similarity with Jeff Bezos' moon program except he does not have to plan the destruction of humanity since we can do a good job at this ourselves. In order to be eligible to travel to space one needs to be fit, healthy and somewhat very intelligent (though a bit mad to wish to go there). Thus the moon human colony would eliminate lazy bums, idiots and blue blooded animals.

 

 

the rich beautiful people wear valentino...

 

 

If you were casting a Bravo reality series about superficial, luxury-brand-obsessed Washington women, you wouldn’t have to look much farther than Louise Linton, the wife of the US treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. (Oh, but wait, such a reality series – Real Housewives of DC – already aired, cancelled in 2010.)

 

On Monday, Linton exhibited her talent for playing true to type by posting an Instagram picture of herself disembarking from a US Air Force jet with her husband – in Fort Knox, no less, site of the nation’s gold reserves. The post was replete with hashtags announcing the designer brands she was rocking on her day trip to the poverty-stricken state of Kentucky: #rolandmouret, #hermesscarf, #tomford and #valentino.

When a Portland mother of three, Jenni Miller, derided the post – “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable” – Linton went on an Instagram rant of Trumpian proportions, mocking Miller for being “adorably out of touch” in her presumed ignorance of the “sacrifices” rich persons such as herself make in the service to their country – not to mention the taxes they pay! (Taxes which Donald Trump has promised to slash.)

Linton’s post, and Linton herself, were promptly dragged across social media and excoriated in obligatory hot takes in the media. Linton then took down the post, apologized for her “inappropriate” behavior, and set her Instagram account to private.

Was Linton’s post “deplorable”? Sure. But then the culture of social media is deplorable. For her post wasn’t really so different from millions of others that appear on social platforms every day, perhaps every minute.

It was standard-issue social media braggadocio, designed to cause fomo (fear of missing out). Look at my life – isn’t my life amazing? Look at my clothes – look at me. This is what we do, on social media, isn’t it? Show off?

As she is the wife of a government official, Linton’s tone-deaf crowing indeed may have been “inappropriate”, but her post was in keeping with endless other posts by the famous and obscure alike, from the Kardashians to middle school girls who proudly display their “hauls” from the cosmetic aisles at Walgreen’s – to parents who post about their own children as a way of bragging about their wonderful families.

The problem is that this culture seems to be causing not just fomo, but some serious dysfunction. Anxiety, depression, even suicide, are on the rise among kids, especially girls, and some researchers have connected this to the effects of social media.

For children and teenagers, the pressure to constantly present an image of an awesome, perfect life can be overwhelming. The inordinate emphasis these image-based platforms place on physical appearance is also an issue. “You find a really pretty girl on Instagram and you’re like, ‘Goals,’” a girl named Sophia in Montclair, New Jersey, told me when I was reporting my book American Girls. “Goals to have my eyebrows like hers, goals to have my lips like hers … If you’re beautiful, everyone will love you.”

The interchange which followed Linton’s Instagram post was representative of another troubling aspect of social media culture, particularly as it relates to kids.

read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/23/social-media-backl...

 

one does not make money should one sell a dud...

 

 

One-star reviews of Hillary Clinton’s postmortem of the 2016 presidential election enigmatically disappeared from the page after the former presidential candidate’s book had just a three-star rating overall - the average mark has since jumped to 4.9 out of 5 stars.

As of 6 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, 19 of 645 reviews gave Clinton’s book one star (3 percent), 6 reviews gave two stars (1 percent), zero gave three stars, 12 rated four stars (2 percent) and 606 reviews marked five stars (94 percent).

The reviews haven’t always been so positive, the Washington Times reports. According to Zero Hedge, on Wednesday afternoon there were an equal number of five-star and one-star reviews. Clearly that is no longer the case based on the latest distribution of scores, which are heavily concentrated around five-star reviews.,“They delete negative reviews that don’t agree with their political affiliation,” Riddy J says in a comment on the top critical review, adding “I regret EVERY dollar I ever gave to you and Jeff Bezos. Absolutely disgusting.”

 

An Amazon spokesperson said in comments to the Washington Times that the company strives to maintain the integrity of reviews. “In the case of a memoir, the subject of the book is the author and their views. It’s not our role to decide what a customer would view as helpful or unhelpful in making their decision,” the Amazon spokesperson explained.

read more:

https://sputniknews.com/us/201709151057408825-bad-clinton-reviews-myster...

 

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rich and poor...

 

Jeff Bezos' $13b day makes him world's richest man, overtaking Bill Gates

A post-earnings surge in Amazon shares on Friday pushed Jeff Bezos to the top of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index for the first time, vaulting him ahead of Bill Gates who had held the top spot as the richest person on earth for more than four years.

The founder and chief executive officer of the retail juggernaut added $US10.4 billion ($13.1 billion) to his net worth as Amazon shares jumped 13 per cent, the most in 2 1/2 years

read more:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/world-business/jeff-bezos-13b-day-makes-h...

 

Meanwhile at Slave Central:

 

 

While Anju was working long hours at a clothes factory in Bangladesh, one of her young daughters was bitten by a dog.

So Anju and her husband, a rickshaw driver, sent their children far away to live a safer life with their grandparents, and the young couple only see their girls twice a year.

 

The 25-year-old sews jumpers sold in Australian shops including Katies and Rivers, earning 37¢ an hour, a wage that does not cover even basic costs like accommodation and food.

Her story is one of many included in aid organisation Oxfam's new report, What She Makes: Power and Poverty in the Fashion Industry, which estimates 4 per cent of the price of a garment sold in major Australian retailers is paid to the factory worker who made it.

Read more:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/consumer-affairs/oxfam-report-calls-on-au...

 

 

 

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the CIA, bezos' cloud and profits...

 

Moving to the cloud is how the CIA sees itself as running more like a business. "We want to be like commercial companies, not the government. [Cloud] is the most innovative thing we've done, and it's having a material impact on the CIA and the IC," Edwards said in June, adding that reaching a deal with Amazon for AWS was the "best decision we ever made."

If it weren't for AWS, Amazon would probably not be profitable. AWS was the only business segment in the company to improve operating profit in the third quarter of 2017. While the company's operating income fell 40 percent on a year-over-year basis to $347 million in Q3 as ecommerce lines suffered, the company's bottom line was buoyed by $1 billion in operating profits from the AWS line. In each quarter of 2017, AWS revenues have jumped at least 40 percent.

 

read more:

https://sputniknews.com/military/201711201059275617-bezos-amazon-secret-...

 

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post, has completed construction of a secret region on Amazon’s cloud computing software to host data from all 17 US intelligence agencies, according to a new report.

"Today we mark an important milestone as we launch the AWS [Amazon Web Services] Secret Region," Theresa Carlson, vice president of AWS worldwide public sector, said Monday, according to NextGov.

 

$100 billion billionaire...

 

With the founder of Amazon.com Inc. having added $2.4 billion to his fortune, which now stands at a whopping $100.3 billion, many wonder if the world’s richest man will follow the example of fellow moguls Bill Gates and Warren Buffett who have donated billions to charity, Bloomberg wrote.

The world’s number one online retailer’s shares spiked more than 2 percent based on the company’s prospects for the holiday shopping season, with daily online purchases rising 18.4 percent over last year.

read more:

https://sputniknews.com/us/201711251059421733-bezos-amazon-fortune/

 

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connected vessels...

The United States Postal Service is deep in the red, with a dwindling list of options available to stop the bleeding. USPS officials and Congress have continually neglected to employ sound financial management, which has resulted in $15 billion in debt and more than $100 billion in unfunded liabilities for the Postal Service. Despite inept leadership, anyone bringing attention to these issues is bound to be repeatedly attacked as a corporate shill trying to harm the USPS. 

Over the past week, however, feathers have been particularly ruffled by President Trump, who has criticized Amazon’s agreements with the USPS as costly and unproductive. These accusations have elicited a mountain of commentary, mostly by “fact-checkers” critical of the president’s Twitter blasts. But contrary to defenders of the status-quo, agreements in place do, in fact, bolster Amazon at the expense of customers and taxpayers. These crony carve-outs are just one of many issues plaguing Postal Service finances. But citizens should be especially leery of special arrangements that tilt the playing field in favor of a massive corporate leviathan that has been squeezing out market competition on every level imaginable. 

Special arrangements created by the Postal Service ensure that Amazon will get a much larger piece of the action than competing e-commerce companies. A deal carved out in 2013, for instance, commits the Postal Service to delivering Amazon packages on Sundays. This has undoubtedly been a major boon to the e-commerce giant’s bottom line, making two-day Prime delivery a possibility even on weekends. But competitors like Walmart can’t tap into this same advantage, and must wait until the holiday season to take advantage of Sunday delivery by the Postal Service.

 

Read more:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-postal-service-amazo...

 

Of course, Amazon very much depends on the Postal Service to take their packages the last mile to their destination. By one estimate, about 40 percent of Amazon’s orders are delivered by the agency, with the rest handled by U.P.S., FedEx and a hodgepodge of other carriers.

Companies that do a lot of shipping, like Amazon, often negotiate deals with the Postal Service to pay less than an ordinary person would to send goods. It is essentially a discount for buying in bulk.

That is where the president seems to be focused, and partly why Amazon’s stock has fallen sharply in the last week. Its shares are down more than 20 points — nearly 1.5 percent — since March 28.

But the Postal Service says all such deals it makes are profitable — and must be by law.

An independent body, the Postal Regulatory Commission, oversees the rates that the Postal Service charges for its products. By law, the agreements it cuts with corporate customers like Amazon must cover their “attributable costs” that directly result from their use of the postal network.

Amazon helps lower those costs by organizing the packages it takes to the Post Office by destination ZIP code in over 35 sorting centers around the country, leaving less work that must be done by postal workers. The company relies on the Postal Service strictly for last-mile delivery to customers, short trips that further limit the cost of delivering each package.

But in one of his tweet attacks, Mr. Trump seemed to dispute whether Amazon was covering the Postal Service’s costs, saying that “it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.”

 

Read more:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/technology/amazon-postal-service-trump.html?

fundamentally wrong...

 

 

By Jill Abramson

 

Donald Trump’s savage attacks on Jeff Bezos and Amazon mark a sharp escalation in the president’s attacks on the free press. Trump v Bezos is really a proxy war: the president’s ultimate target is the Washington Post, which Bezos purchased from the Graham family in 2013.

The Post’s return to financial health since 2013 has been good for the media, which thrives on healthy competition. Since Trump became president, the Post and the New York Times have engaged in a thrilling, old-fashioned newspaper war, with each trading off, day after day, with deeply reported stories and scoops that hold the Trump administration to account. The Post has been relentless in investigating the Trump administration’s abuse of power and the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.

 

Read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/05/trump-amazon-feud-...

 

Jill Abramson was a supporter of Hillary Clinton. During the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Abramson argued in a column for Guardian US that Hillary Clinton, whom she had covered as a reporter and editor since the Whitewater controversy, was "fundamentally honest and trustworthy."

they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments...

Powerful is the man who, with a short series of tweets, can single-handedly send the bluest of the blue-chip stocks into a headlong tumble. For better or for worse, the current occupant of the Oval Office is one such man, tapping into his power with the following missive that crossed the Twitter transom on the morning of March 29: 

I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!

Over the next few trading days, with four subsequent tweets peppered in, Amazon’s stock dropped by more than $75 a share, losing a market value of nearly $40 billion. Card carrying-members of the Resistance and Never Trump brigade quickly portrayed the president’s scorn as the latest evidence of his “soft totalitarianism” and general disdain for the First Amendment and the free press. They noted that Amazon’s CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post—a leading “perpetrator” of what Trump has called the “opposition party” and “fake news.”

Concerns of politically motivated impropriety are not without merit. Trump has repeatedly proven himself unworthy of the benefit of the doubt. As presidential candidate and commander in chief, he has demonstrated an eagerness to use his Twitter account as a bully pulpit in his petty brawls with lawmakers, media personalities, and anyone else who might draw his ire. 

And yet, ulterior motives though there may be, knee-jerk dismissals of the president’s attack are short-sighted. The president’s bluster in this instance is rooted in reality. 

Indeed, contra the libertarian ethos that Amazon and its leader purport to embody, the company has not emerged as one of history’s preeminent corporate juggernauts through thrift and elbow grease alone. Although the company’s harshest critics must concede that Amazon is the world’s most consistently competent corporation—replete with innovation and ingenuity—the company’s unprecedented growth would not be possible without two key ingredients: corporate welfare and tax avoidance.

Amazon has long benefitted from the procurement of taxpayer-funded subsidies, emerging in recent years as the leading recipient of corporate welfare. According to Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C., organization dedicated to corporate and government accountability, Amazon has, since 2000, received more than $1.39 billion in state and local tax breaks  and subsidies for construction of its vast network of warehouses and data centers. 

These private-public “partnership” deals are perhaps best illustrated by the sweepstakes for Amazon’s second headquarters. Touted as the economic development opportunity of the century, the chosen destination will reap the benefits of 50,000 “high-paying” jobs and $5 billion in construction spending. The possibility of securing an economic development package of this magnitude elicited proposals from 238 North American cities and regions, fomenting what some have called a “bidding war” between mayors, governors, and county executives desperate for economic invigoration. 

After a first round deadline of October 19, the pool of applicants was, in mid-January, whittled down to a list of 20. As expected, each finalist offered incentive packages worth more than a billion dollars, with Montgomery County, Maryland, ($8.5 billion) and Newark, New Jersey, ($7 billion) offering the most eye-popping bundles. Proposals utilized a wide array of state and local economic development programs: property tax discounts, infrastructure subsidies, and, in the case of Chicago’s proposal, an incentive known as a “personal income-tax diversion.” Worth up to $1.32 billion, Amazon employees would still pay their income taxes in full—but instead of Illinois receiving the money, the tax payments would be funneled directly into the pockets of Amazon itself.

While critics condemn the ostentatious bids of Maryland and New Jersey and decry the “creative” gimmicks of cities such as Chicago, they are equally worried about the details—or lack thereof—of the proposals from the other finalists. Despite demands for transparency from local community leaders and journalists, only a handful of cities have released the details of their bids in full, while six finalists—Indianapolis, Dallas, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh, North Carolina—have refused to release any of the details from their first-round bids. Viewing themselves as players in a zero-sum game of high-stakes poker, they claim that there is little to gain, but a lot to lose, in making their proposals public.

Such secrecy has, in the second round of bidding, become the rule more than the exception. Although he owns a newspaper with the slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” Bezos has required state and local officials involved in negotiations to sign non-disclosure agreements. With the opportunity to revisit and revise their bids (i.e., increase their dollar value), the transition from public spectacle to backroom dealing introduces yet another cause for concern. If the finalists don’t apprise citizens of their bids’ details, the citizens can’t weigh the costs and benefits and determine whether inviting the company into their midst will be a net positive or net negative.

Amazon’s pursuit of public tithes and offerings is matched by its relentless obsession with avoiding taxes. Employing a legion of accountants and lawyers, the company has become a master at navigating the tax code and exploiting every loophole. Illegality is not the issue here but rather a tax system that allows mammoth corporations to operate with huge tax advantages not available to mom-and-pop shops on Main Street.  

Of course Amazon isn’t unique in its desire to avoid the taxman. It is, however, unrivaled in its ability to do so. Last fall’s debate concerning the merits of lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent was, for Amazon, a moot point. In the five years from 2012 to 2016, Amazon paid an effective federal income tax rate of only 11.4 percent. 

The company fared even better in 2017. Despite posting a $5.6 billion profit, Amazon didn’t pay a single cent in federal taxes, according to a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. What’s more, Amazon projects it will receive an additional $789 million in kickbacks from last year’s tax reform bill. 

Even by the standards of mammoth corporations, this is impressive. By way of comparison, Walmart—no stranger to corporate welfare and tax avoidance—has paid $64 billion in corporate income tax since 2008. Amazon? Just $1.4 billion. 

Amazon’s tax-avoidance success can be attributed to two things: avoiding the collection of sales taxes and stashing profits in overseas tax havens. The IRS estimates that Amazon has dodged more than $1.5 billion in taxes by funneling the patents of its intellectual property behind the walls of its European headquarters city, Luxembourg—a widely used corporate tax haven. Again, nothing illegal here, but there’s something wrong with a tax system that allows it. 

From day one, Amazon’s business model involved legally avoiding any obligation to collect sales taxes,  and then using the subsequent pricing advantage to gain market share. It did this by first locating its warehouses in very few states, most of which did not have a sales tax. It then shipped its goods to customers that resided in other states that did have sales tax. This game plan allowed Amazon to avoid what is known as “nexus” in sales-tax states, meaning that those states could not compel it to collect the tax—a two to 10 percent competitive advantage over its brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Amazon exploited this tax advantage for years until state legislatures—realizing how much revenue they were losing—gradually began passing legislation requiring Internet retailers to collect sales taxes for items purchased by their citizens. In 2012, having already benefited from this competitive advantage for more than a decade and a half, Bezos—under the pretense of  a “level playing field”—began advocating for federal legislation that would require Internet retailers to collect sales tax. No such legislation has been passed. 

And despite Bezos’s carefully calculated public relations posturing, Amazon’s advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers persists: not only does Amazon not collect city and county sales taxes (where applicable) but it also doesn’t, with few exceptions, collect sales tax on items sold by third-party distributors on Amazon Marketplace—sales that account for more than half of Amazon’s sales.

It is difficult to overstate how instrumental tax breaks and tax avoidance have been in Amazon’s unprecedented growth. As Bezos made clear in his first letter to shareholders in 1997, Amazon’s business plan is predicated on amassing long-term market share in lieu of short-term profits. As a result, the company operates on razor-thin margins in some retail categories, while actually taking losses in others. 

Amazon has not squandered these competitive advantages. Half of online retail purchases are made through Amazon, and more than half of American households are enrolled in the Amazon Prime program—a subscription service that engenders platform loyalty and leads to increases in consumer spending.  

In fact, Amazon’s ascent and tactics have led an increasing number of public policy experts to call for a renewed enforcement of America’s antitrust laws. The concern is that Amazon has used its market power to crush smaller competitors with a swath of anti-competitive practices, including predatory pricing and market power advantages stemming from Amazon Marketplace—Amazon’s vast sales platform for third-party retailers. 

Such practices may be a boon for consumers and Amazon stockholders, the reasoning goes, but they are only possible because Amazon uses economic power to squeeze its retail partners on pricing at various points in the production line, which harms the health of many other businesses. In fact, some suggest this bullying tendency calls to mind the actions of John D. Rockefeller in his dealings with railroad companies at the turn of the last century. 

These monopolistic practices have squeezed local, state, and federal revenue streams in two ways. Not only do these governments forego the collection of needed tax revenue but Amazon’s rise has also knocked out many brick-and-mortar competitors that previously had provided streams of tax revenue. By wooing Amazon with taxpayer-funded subsidies and other giveaways, government leaders are, in a very real sense, funding the destruction of their own tax base. There is little evidence that such taxpayer-funded inducements have resulted in a net positive to the states and localities doling out the subsidies.

By forsaking the tenets of free market orthodoxy, forgoing the collection of much-needed tax revenue, and giving big businesses major competitive advantages, state and local governments have generated increasing controversy and political enmity from both ends of the political spectrum. And yet, though bipartisan accusations of crony capitalism and corporate welfare abound, such opposition does little to dissuade state and local governments from loosening the public purse strings in their efforts to woo big corporations such as Amazon.

Daniel Kishi is associate editor of The American Conservative. Follow him on Twitter: @DanielMKishi.

Read more:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/amazons-relentless-pursu...

 

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tax is so bothersome... for amazon...

Online retail giant Amazon will block Australian consumers from its global sites to counter new laws to force it to collect the good and services tax on transactions.

From July 1 when the new GST regulations begin, Australian consumers shopping on Amazon international sites will be redirected to the local Australian site.

In a statement issued to the ABC, Amazon said it regretted the move and the inconvenience to customers accustomed to visiting Amazon's global online stores.

"We have had to assess the workability of the legislation as a global business with multiple international sites," a spokeswoman said.

Under the new GST collection laws beginning on July 1, online retailers like Amazon will be forced to apply the 10 per cent GST to goods purchased on international sites and shipped to Australia.

The GST collection requirement came after years of intense lobbying from local retailers in Australia such as Harvey Norman, Myer, JB Hi-Fi and David Jones, who have seen their traditional bricks and mortar sales suffer from online competitors.

Currently GST is applied to items bought overseas for more than $1,000.

It is understood that Amazon baulked at the massive administrative burden of tracking Australian GST from all overseas transactions.

 

Read more:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-31/amazon-to-block-us-site-in-austral...

 

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add spying to the list...

Amazon’s top-secret computing service, first designed for the Central Intelligence Agency, is poised to pick up a new client, official documents show.


The National Ground Intelligence Agency, a military agency supporting US Army Intelligence, plans to procure and use Amazon's cloud service, according to an unclassified task order from last month.

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/military/201806011065023768-amazon-collects-anot...

 

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stop it or you'll go bezos...

An undisclosed number of Amazon employees penned an open letter to the e-commerce giant chief executive asking that the company stop selling facial recognition software to law enforcement agencies.

The letter also asked Bezos to cut all business ties to Palantir, a data-mining company that works with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The employees feel ICE’s actions in dealing with immigrants and refugees is “immoral.”

Amazon’s facial-recognition software, called Rekognition, uses artificial intelligence to match images of faces captured on video-surveillance equipment to those in existing databases of millions of faces.

Amazon has pitched the technology to law enforcement agencies as making “investigation and monitoring of individuals easy and accurate,” according to emails obtained by the ACLU.

Palantir, a customer of Amazon Web Services, helps runs ICE’s case management system and helps facilitate the expulsion of undocumented immigrants from the country

 

Read more:

https://nypost.com/2018/06/22/amazon-workers-ask-bezos-to-stop-selling-t...

philanthropy on the moon...

"Great fortunes," the American industrialist Andrew Carnegie is reported to have said, "are great blessings to a community."

No doubt the beneficiaries of multibillionaire Jeff Bezos's new philanthropic fund will agree. 

The richest man in the world announced on Thursday that he would give $2bn (£1.5bn) of his fortune to finance a network of preschools and tackle homelessness in America. 

But far from being universally applauded, the Amazon founder's pledge was met with fierce criticism. 

James Bloodworth, a writer who went undercover to expose working conditions at the company's fulfilment centres, said there was "something slightly ironic" about Mr Bezos's plan. 

"There have been credible reports of Amazon warehouse workers sleeping outside in tents because they can't afford to rent homes on the wages paid to them by the company," he told the BBC.

"Jeff Bezos can tout himself as a great philanthropist, yet it will not absolve him of responsibility if Amazon workers continue to be afraid to take toilet breaks and days off sick because they fear disciplinary action at work."

 

Read more:

https://www.bbc.com/news/business

 

MEANWHILE:

 

From Edward Curtin

On September 10, 2018, I published a laudatory review of the new book, 9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation by David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth.  It is the definitive book on the defining event of the 21st century.  The book concludes that the official version(s) of the attacks of 11 September 2001 are false.  The review was subsequently reposted at many publications. There was great reader response and interest in the book, which was due for official release the next day, 11 September.  My review provided a link to the book’s Amazon page that noted the 11 September availability date.

By the next day readers were responding in great number that the Amazon site was reporting the book was “out of print,” when in fact it had just been published.  This “out of print” notification lasted until the evening of 13 September when it was changed to “in stock on September 30, 2018.”

By the following morning it was changed to “in stock on September 21, 2018,” only to be changed again between 11-12 PM on September 14 to “in stock on September 24, 2018,” where it remains as of noon on Saturday the 15th.  It is unheard of for a book that has an official release date and that is available straight from the publisher to be listed as “out of print.” Amazon Canada continues to report that the book “has not yet been released.”  And obviously, all the date changes that push the book’s availability back by weeks suggest a clear-cut effort by Amazon to make sure readers cannot obtain the book quickly and in a timely manner from the most popular source, if ever.

Will they soon announce that the book will never be available for national security considerations or because it violates Amazon’s “content guidelines”? The book’s publisher, Interlink Publishing, is selling the book now and says Amazon has the books.  So why is Jeff Bezos’s company playing this game? His other major business, The Washington Post, (known as the CIA’s newspaper) is surely not going to review the book, nor would their editorial staff post encomiums to David Ray Griffin, Elizabeth Woodworth, their colleagues in this important research.

Readers should demand that Amazon immediately change their website and accept orders to be shipped today.  Whether they are responsible for this game of chaotic discouragement or the intelligence services, who are fully capable of hacking into Amazon, as Edward Snowden has pointed out, I do not know.  But something very odd is happening and Amazon should correct it.

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2018/09/15/amazon-censorship-of-9-11-unmasked/

Meanwhile it could be more socially beneficial for "rich" people to pay their taxes in full, to forget "philanthropy", to enjoy their loot and say nothing should they do "philanthropy"....

 

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paying the vet bill in amazon dollars...

The actor Elizabeth Hurley has received compensation from Amazon after her pet dog was run over by a delivery driver, her sister has said.

Her two-year-old Labrador, Hector, was said to have suffered a collapsed lung and broken leg in the incident at Hurley’s Herefordshire estate last December.

The 53-year-old’s sister, Katie Hurley, told the Mail on Sunday the actor was “absolutely devastated” at the time, and that the family feared the pet would not pull through.

 

Read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/sep/16/elizabeth-hurley-wi...

keeping his pentagon pantaloons on...

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. 

The $10 billion tied to the contract can’t hurt either. Whatever his motivation for sucking it up and taking one for team tech, Bezos’s public justification is a poor one, and it isn’t hard to see why. The Pentagon has a long history of immoral and reckless behavior, actions that objectively aren’t beneficial to the defense of the United States. Any company that blindly works with them does so at its own peril.

Employees at Google and Microsoft have already made a powerful case for why tech giants shouldn’t collaborate with the Defense Department. They don’t want to be responsible for developing technology that causes substantial harm, surveils others in violation of international norms, or contravenes human rights. The Pentagon can be counted on to do all three, and more.

 

Read more:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/amazon-joins-the-milita...

 

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fair cop...

 

I don't think The Donald is worried about Amazon.... He'll be more please that Amazon is another prong to the empire infestation (infiltration) of the world... There are so many cokes and macs one can sell to the deplorables of Europe and to the rest of the uncultured world, like China ... and China... 

 

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... to extract wealth, insert itself, dominate...

 

After pulling one last trick from its sleeve, Amazon’s yearlong HQ2 spectacle appears to be over. Although the company has not released an official announcement, The New York Times reported last week that the sweepstakes for its second headquarters (commonly referred to as HQ2) has not one but two winners: the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, and the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia.

With 50,000 high-paying jobs and $5 billion in infrastructure spending up for grabs, the largest development project in recent history generated enthusiasm as well as millions of dollars in free publicity. It also garnered widespread criticism as community leaders and journalists condemned the secrecy of the bargaining process, and accused the tech giant of instigating a “bidding war” between mayors and governors desperate for economic invigoration. 

A corporation valued at $1 trillion, critics claimed, should not be privy to taxpayer-funded handouts. And yet, though government officials in New York and Virginia have refused to disclose the details of their winning bids, it’s safe to assume that the combined package includes tax breaks and subsidies worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. 

Amazon’s decision to expand its footprint in the New York City and Washington, D.C. metro areas did not silence its critics. In fact, with the economic disparity between coastal enclaves and the rest of the country deepening, the common refrain was that the deal will only make the rich richer. The selection, then, is par for the course: according to the Economic Innovation Group, the two regions accounted for almost half of the net increase in the nation’s business establishments from 2007 to 2016. That’s good news for the high-earning, well-educated winners of the 21st-century information economy; it’s bad news for regions left behind, and for those whose rising cost of living already outpaces their ability to pay for it.

Locating half of the expansion just outside Washington, D.C. also brings Amazon one step closer to transforming the nation’s capital into a company town. Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company’s lucrative cloud computing division and the primary catalyst of its profitability, is headquartered in Northern Virginia. And with a 34 percent share of the nation’s cloud computing market—larger than the next four competitors combined—Amazon has increasingly become intertwined with the digital infrastructure of the federal government. 

Already the beneficiary of a $600 million deal with the Central Intelligence Agency, AWS is widely considered the frontrunner for the Department of Defense’s $10 billion winner-take-all cloud services contract. Amazon representatives have also recently met with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in an effort to sell them Rekognition, a real-time facial recognition surveillance technology which is powered by AWS servers. 

Amid growing concerns from employees at Google, Microsoft, and IBM for its employers’ willingness to work with the military and the federal government, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos—who also owns The Washington Post and D.C.’s largest mansion—adopted a country-over-controversy posture, claiming he would not capitulate to coercion from his subordinates. 

“If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the DoD,” Bezos said at a San Francisco tech conference last month, “this country is going to be in trouble.”

 

Read more:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/amazons-great-hq2-swind...

 

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Amazon picks Northern Va., NYC for its additional headquarters 
The company has chosen Arlington, Va., and Queens, N.Y., both of which boast highly educated workforces and deep talent pools, according to people with knowledge of the decision.

Read more at bezos newspaper: 
https://www.washingtonpost.com

super-rich one day, hyper-rich the next...

 

...

Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world.  Jeff Bezos is worth $166 billion. This year, his net worth has been increasing at roughly $260 million per day.  And yet, New York City and northern Virginia fell all over themselves to win Amazon’s two new headquarters buildings. It was too much even for the Ur-capitalists at the Wall Street Journal editorial board, who said today:

We rarely agree with socialist Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but she’s right to call billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for Amazon “extremely concerning.” These handouts to one of the richest companies in the history of the world, with an essentially zero cost of capital, is crony capitalism at its worst.

The editorial provides details of state and local giveaways, and concedes that Bezos would have been stupid to refuse all that free money from politicians, “but it still amounts to a company with a market capitalization of nearly $800 billon getting paid to create jobs it would have created somewhere anyway.”

 

Read more:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/jeff-bezos-amazon-new-yor...

 

Meanwhile, if you did not get the lolly:

A year ago, I predicted that Amazon’s new headquarters—known informally as HQ2—would come to Washington, D.C., and suggested Crystal City, Virginia, as one of the places they might consider. Now that the company has announced that they’re splitting HQ2 between Crystal City and Queens, New York, I’m going to buy some lottery tickets. After that, however, I plan to ponder how good a deal this will actually be for Crystal City, for Virginia, and for the D.C. region.

On one hand, it’s a perfect match. The D.C. area has the tech talent, airport access, and prestigious address that Amazon wants, and it doesn’t hurt that Jeff Bezos has a house here. Crystal City has millions of square feet of empty office space, the legacy of federal agencies fleeing the area following base relocation a decade ago. Today, the neighborhood is home to 1960s office blocks, highway overpasses, and a sprawling underground mall. But just like South Lake Union, the Seattle neighborhood home to Amazon’s headquarters, much of Crystal City’s vacant office space belongs to a single landlord who wants to remake the area into a new urban playground for tech companies eager to attract young professionals.

A big tech company will be perfect for burnishing D.C.’s credentials as more than just a government town. It will help the city’s transition away from relying on the federal government for its employer base. And that’s to say nothing of the spillover from a new corporate headquarters: the companies that do business with Amazon and will locate nearby, the restaurants that will feed the new employees, the public employees who will teach their kids and protect their homes, the service workers who will cook and clean offices.

 

Read more:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-communities-amazon-...

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