Tag: Amazon

Amazon Scraps Plan For New York City Headquarters

Nate Galt | United States

Amazon has just shockingly announced that it has pulled out of a deal that would move its second headquarters to Long Island City, opposite Manhattan on the East River. It has finally canceled the awaited move due to pressure from community activists and notable politicians, namely from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). After the cancellation of the deal was announced, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez claimed victory for New York’s workers. She took to Twitter to proclaim a win against corporate greed, saying, “Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”

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Amazon Selects New York City and Northern Virginia as New HQ2 Locations

By Max Bibeau | USA

After months of city bidding, Amazon has finally selected its HQ2 locations, as reported by the New York Times. The new headquarters will appear in New York City and Crystal City, bringing with it an estimated $5 billion in investment and 50,000 new jobs.

These selections come as a surprise to many, as previous analytics, such as Bank of America’s, found cities like Washington DC, Boston, and Atlanta to be much better contenders for the new HQ.

The decision comes after months of intense bidding from cities across the country, including tax cuts and subsidies. It’s no secret that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was extremely interested in attracting the HQ to New York, even jokingly offering to change his name to Amazon Cuomo “if that’s what it takes.”

While Cuomo will get to keep his birth name, the city is offering upwards of 1.5 billion in direct subsidies and tax cuts in exchange for Amazon’s HQ.

Crystal City’s incentives, however, are much less publicized, being drafted and proposed behind closed doors. While we can imagine the immense bargaining that must have taken place, it is not currently known what Virginia offered Amazon, outside of a booming location with a highly educated workforce. 

It’s unsure when exactly construction on the new HQs will begin, but after the selection of the cities, it is likely Amazon will waste no time in beginning the process. The new HQs should be a huge boon for both New York and Virginia, providing a huge economic stimulus to both regions.


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Free-market Capitalism Gone Wrong. Is Amazon to Blame?

By Casey Ward | United States

By definition, taxes are immoral. If someone consents to certain working conditions or wages then it is fair, although in our current market it is unethical and should be considered disparate treatment of the highest degree towards Amazon’s competitors. Amazon continues to get tax cuts, government contracts, and subsidized workers even as they rake in massive profits. In the meantime, their competition is still being coerced into paying higher taxes, since we all know what happens if you don’t pay up. At the same time, Amazon’s employees do not see any of the increased profits that come from these reductions in expenses.

Amazon gets major tax cuts, and they continually get offers for more tax incentives, such as the battle for their second headquarters. Maryland and New Jersey each offered $7,000,000,000+ in tax incentives just to host the new headquarters. This is only making Amazon the new financial sector of 2008, too big to fail.

 Amazon’s position in the data industry is the main factor to their enormity. They control an enormous percentage of the market, which also makes them nearly bulletproof. When criticized for using foreign banks to dodge taxes, they merely shrugged it off. Contributing to Amazon’s brute strength is the biggest consumer of their data services, the federal government.

The corporation already has a government contract for $600,000,000, and is in the running for a $10,000,000,000 cloud contract. They are also rolling out many other deals with the military, intelligence community, and even local police such as their new facial recognition program. Many of these could hurt the public. One of the common concerns is that police will take a turn towards China’s current surveillance tactics. Essentially, police could use said facial recognition and send tickets for every minor infraction, such as jaywalking and littering. In a larger scale, such surveillance could also lead to the prosecution of protesters, effectively diminishing the first amendment.

Poor working conditions are also blamed as the cause of almost 25% of Amazon’s employees being sick or injured. On top of that, employees get below average wages, leading to higher turnover rates, since the employees cannot afford to live on such poor pay. Government assistance for Amazon employees is now extraordinarily high, with Arizona having one in three employees enrolled. This is the same tactic Wal-Mart has been using for years to save money. They pay low wages, and those employees then get SNAP, since they’re now struggling financially. They then spend that money somewhere they get the most out of every dollar, like Wal-Mart and Amazon.

Amazon is simply using the legal route to reduce cost and increase profits. But they are not killing industry competition; cronyism replacing capitalism is the real murderer.


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BOMBS AWAY: Amazon’s “Frequently Bought Together” Algorithm Can Prompt Users To Buy Bomb Making Ingredients

By Andrew Zirkle | SEATTLE

In today’s algorithm-driven world, no company is more reliant on predictive math than Amazon, where one wrong variable could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost profits. Although Amazon’s product suggestion system frequently results in meaningful customer purchases and helps Amazon garner more revenue, it was uncovered by UK Broadcasting Channel 4 that the algorithm was in some cases suggesting chemical combinations that could be used to make incendiary devices to its users.

 

freqBoughtTogether
Example of the “Frequently Bought Together” section

According to the report issued by Channel 4, searches for a certain type of chemical would yield black powder and thermite in the “Frequently Bought Together” section. Another reported example states that the algorithm has also linked 3 chemicals that when mixed and ignited, could be used to create a large incendiary bomb. The report also stated that throughout the investigation, listings for steel ball bearings, push button switches, battery connectors, and cables all appeared in the “Frequently Bought Together” section.

 

Investigations also found that by creating a “shopping basket” in Amazon, customers in the UK are able to buy 45kg of black powder and have it shipped right to their door, which is an outrageously large amount compared to the current legal purchasing limit of 100g in the UK.

Amazon has since released a statement saying that all of its products must adhere to their [Amazon’s] selling guidelines and all UK laws. They also stated that they will work closely with police and law enforcement agencies should they need to assist with investigations.

Although it’s not clear if Amazon has fixed the issue with their algorithm, there have not been any reported incidents thus far of customers taking advantage of these algorithms to build IEDs.


Andrew Zirkle is a Reporter for 71 Republic.