New demographic data shows continued divide at Amazon

FILE PHOTO: An employee fills a cart full of items at Amazon’s JFK8 distribution center in Staten Island, New York, U.S. November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid./File Photo

September 23, 2021

By Ross Kerber

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s executives ranks remained largely white, although the share of non-white executives rose modestly, while minorities continued to account for most of its blue-collar workforce as the online retailer grew rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new company data.

The disclosure made Amazon the largest company by market capitalization to date to respond to a call from New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer for companies to publicly release a confidential federal form, his office said on Thursday.

In all 67 companies in the S&P 100 released or plan to release their EEO-1 forms, which show detailed worker information as a result of the campaign, Stringer’s office said.

A lack of racial or gender diversity in the leadership of many U.S. corporations has drawn focus since last year’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Demographic trends at Amazon are closely-watched compared to other technology companies partly because of the big blue-collar workforce staffing its warehouses and delivery vans, making it one of the largest U.S. private employers.

Amazon’s data on U.S. workers showed that as of the end of October last year, 71% of top executives were white, down from 74% at the same point in 2019.

The figures were in a similar range as other big technology companies, several of which have not yet disclosed 2020 reports. An Amazon spokeswoman said via e-mail the data shows it is making progress on diversity and noted hiring goals it has set to improve diversity, including hiring more Black people and women. People of color accounted for 42% of newly-hired executives in 2020, she said.

Amazon’s total U.S. employment now stands around 950,000, and the company has described more hiring goals.

In the filings Amazon posted on its website on Wednesday the biggest single category of workers was “laborers and helpers,” accounting for about two-thirds of workers as of last October.

The form showed such workers who were Black, Hispanic or in other nonwhite categories made up 74% of such workers last year, compared with 72% the prior year.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Aurora Ellis)





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Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Apple: How to Create a Modern Streaming Service

Here’s how we’d run Hollywood’s hottest new streaming service. Pixabay

Let us take a stroll through time to the simpler days of 2019. Masks were for Halloween, we took human interaction for granted, and almost no one had heard of a telehealth and video conferencing platform called Zoom. Yes, 2019 feels uncomplicated in retrospect, particularly for the entertainment industry. Back then, theatrical movies still ruled Hollywood’s roost as the global box office set an industry record with $42.5 billion in ticket sales. Amid the record-breaking year, I picked apart Hollywood strategies with a story about how I’d run a new hypothetical film studio.

But these days, who wants to put on pants to go out? Both the pandemic and the launch of major new streaming services (hello, Disney+) have expedited Hollywood’s transition to couch-based entertainment. Every major entertainment company restructured in the pandemic to prioritize streaming and estimates project that streaming video on demand (SVOD) subscriptions could grow to 1.25 billion by 2024, or roughly 16% of the human population. With the entertainment industry’s hierarchy changing, so too must my hypotheticals. My old faux film studio needs to be reborn as a faux SVOD competitor.

So without further ado, here’s how I’d navigate the minefield of the modern streaming wars.

Amazon Apple Netflix Disney Hulu
How Observer will differentiate its streamer from the competition. Chesnot/Getty Images

Customer Focus

Before we jump into our content strategy, let’s think about which segment of consumers our new streamer will be targeting. Primary players such as Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ are largely competing for first generation streaming viewers—meaning both younger cord cutters and older, higher-income viewers. The cutters receive most of the attention, but the olds are a valuable and sizable demographic.

“I’d focus my efforts on the folks who haven’t cut the cord, for whatever reason,” former entertainment executive, digital media professional and current industry analyst Entertainment Strategy Guy told Observer. “What are they watching? Why does broadcast still fit their needs? And how can I serve those?”

The streaming industry is more robust and diverse than ever. Domestic subscriptions are up 26% year-over-year, according to transactional data firm Antenna. The pie is growing. But with so many premium SVOD platforms—Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Starz, Showtime, Discovery+, Peacock, and Apple TV+—a saturation point is inevitable. Targeting an undervalued customer base with growth potential, and reaching them in creative ways, will be a necessity.

“While it’s a little easier to raise awareness among existing subscribers (masthead banners, in-app trailers, etc), the bigger issue is connecting with new audiences and turning them into subscribers, a challenge all streamers will continue to face, and one that’s becoming more competitive,” Anjali Midha, co-founder and CEO of predictive content analytics platform Diesel Labs, told Observer. “As the broadest media channels (like traditional TV) continue to fragment, targeted campaigns become critical, as well as driving enough audience engagement on social and video channels to help augment awareness efforts.”

Netflix Ratings Most Watched Animated Series
Animation is hugely popular, but also readily available across all forms of entertainment already. Netflix

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Much like when you’re day drinking, when launching a new product in a maturing field it’s always helpful to ask “What not to do?” For our new streaming service, we want to avoid existing market overlap so that we’re not just offering a carbon copy of what’s already available. That means we’re not going out of our way to produce expensive prestige TV and movies on the off-chance we can sneak into the Emmys and Oscars. Accolades and attention are nice, but no substitute for cold hard viewership for an embryonic streamer, but there’s a way to claw your way to the top organically without over-spending upfront.

“In my data, most Oscar-winning films do little to bring in new customers and deliver viewership,” Entertainment Strategy Guy said. “So I’d focus very little on trying to win awards, but let that happen as a by-product of making great shows that can drive lots of viewership.”

This also means bypassing high-upside genres that work for other streamers. Horror films are abundant across the entertainment landscape, with Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Shudder all investing heavily in that blood-soaked bailiwick. Animation is a major battleground of the streaming wars, but so saturated across the main combatants (plus CrunchyRoll) that it doesn’t make much sense for us to chase that rainbow. YouTube looms large as the king of kids content (particularly in AVOD), Disney remains the prestige kids brand, Universal commands the eyeballs of young and old with DreamWorks Animation and Illumination, and Netflix has spent more money than most millennials will earn in several lifetimes to become a go-to destination in animation. The harsh reality is that we’re too behind the ball to compete at this point (a struggle Peacock and Paramount+ are facing) and are better served directing our resources elsewhere.

Lastly, it’s become en vogue for streaming services to guard ratings and viewership data like it was the Chamber of Secrets. It’s true that this walled garden approach offers the advantage of keeping the media and the competition in the dark while enabling a streamer to control the narrative. But it also infuriates creative partners as well as interested audiences. We want to foster an environment of trust. So in the spirit of transparency, we’re offering a techno-utopian approach where we’ll share the viewer data we collect with creators. This should help attract talented writers, directors, producers, and stars while greasing the wheels for future overall deals.

Content Focus

So how do we go about building out our library? That’s the multi-billion dollar question.

“On the topic of catalog composition, we also see Netflix and Disney+ on opposite sides of the spectrum here as well, with Netflix favoring drama and comedy (together 47% of this years originals) and Disney+ favoring comedy and action/adventure (together 43% of this years originals),” Midha said.

Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ Shows
Catalog composition: Genre breakdown for Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+ originals year-to-date. Diesel Labs

We want to zig while other streaming services are zagging rather than run the same exact rat race. But there’s a way to do this while still attacking the high-upside genres—such as comedy, drama, action and adventure, and sci-fi—that have proven to be the streaming industry’s bread and butter. We already have a handful of unmade sci-fi and fantasy intellectual property that is ripe for adaptation.

“Frankly, I’d see what was working on broadcast TV for the last few decades and copy that much more seriously,” ESG said. “Meaning sitcoms and procedural dramas. Meaning cops, doctors and lawyers. If I were a major streamer, every quarter, I’d have a drama featuring a police officer solving a crime, lawyers putting a case together and/or a medical team solving emergencies. And I’d put them on twice a year, rotating to always have episodes.”

Not the most creatively ambitious small screen strategy — but if we learned anything from Quibi (RIP) or even Yahoo Screen (RIP x 2), it’s there’s a limited window to reach safe cruising altitude as a young SVOD service. Once we build a baseline subscriber foundation, we’ll have the freedom to unearth the next Sopranos or Breaking Bad. Until then, we’re going to focus on what works. And procedurals work.

According to Nielsen data provided to Observer, shows like NCIS, Criminal Minds and Grey’s Anatomy have all ranked among the top-10 most-watched programs across U.S. SVOD services for four straight weeks. These are Netflix’s most valuable library series following the departures of Friends and The Office. Entertainment Strategy Guy also points out that two of Prime Video’s longest running series are Bosch, a cop show and Goliath, a lawyer show.

Netflix vs Disney+
2021 original content releases for Netflix and Disney+ Diesel Labs

Speaking of valuable library additions, we’d make aggressive attempts to partner with Sony, Hollywood’s premiere arms dealer, in a licensing deal. While Sony Pictures Television hits such as Seinfeld, Breaking Bad, Community, and Mad Men are all currently tied up in existing streaming deals, we’d put ourselves in pole position to be next in line the moment they expire. We also recognize the value of reality television, which is inexpensive and highly addictive to audiences. With Discovery joining forces with WarnerMedia, we’d try to turn to A&E, which is half-owned by Disney, for some juicy true crime documentaries which have proven to be highly effective for HBO, Netflix, etc.

Tying it all together, we’d look for fresh talent with potential to keep initial costs down and form productive relationships with the next generation of storytellers.

“Also, I’d aggressively hire new showrunners,” ESG said. “That feels like the market inefficiency. Everyone focuses on writers who have already run a show, because it’s safer. But since they’ve worked before, their rates tend to be higher.”

Release Strategy

“Building a streaming platform requires a very different approach to catalog curation than most traditional media companies are used to,” Midha said. “It’s no longer about needing a new drama to fill a slot on 9 PM on Tuesday—the challenge has shifted to architecting a catalog that continually builds audience subscribership and mitigates churn.”

Netflix and Disney+, the two dominant streamers at the moment, approach this issue from opposing starting points. Netflix floods the market with original content (with about $1 billion worth of content in active development alone), while Disney is more selective, opting to lean on its famed vault of content — stocked for a near century — with the mega-franchises it’s acquired from Marvel, Pixar and Lucasflim providing new titles. It’s clear that no matter where you are on the catalog composition spectrum, having a healthy mixture is critical to success. But we need to generate buzz in order to entice prospective audiences, which means raising awareness among viewers.

Netflix’s endless sea of content is great for reducing churn, but Disney’s content succeeds more in generating conversation and engagement. A black diamond mountain of television doesn’t do much good if everyone consistently opts for the bunny slopes instead.

Disney vs Netflix
Share of voice analysis: media company content releases* vs. engagement. Diesel Labs

As part of this effort, we’re not going to lock in a reductive uniform release strategy. There’s no binge versus weekly debate. We’ll tackle shows on a case-by-case basis, similar to how HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu all experiment with rotating release strategies. For example, HBO dropped the final five unaired episodes of finance drama Industry on HBO Max on Nov. 27 even as they continued to air weekly on the premium cable channel. Streaming offers the freedom to get creative.

We’ve seen shows from both binge and weekly releases transform from little-hyped upcoming originals with muted pre-release buzz to full-fledged phenomenons after gaining steam. We’re trying to generate similar post-release breakout hits as well.

Netflix, HBO Max, Disney
2021 post-premiere breakout hits, proportion of total engagement after launch. Diesel Labs

The Bottom Line

Okay. So we’ve laid out a techno-utopian approach to data sharing, the better to attract the young showrunners who’ll keep our costs down as we amass a rotating slate of new procedurals, existing true-crime docs, reality TV and eventually Sony Pictures Television properties. Is this a guaranteed strategy for success? Far from it, otherwise every we — and every single studio executive — would be sipping grande lattes atop golden jet-skis. But by examining the common mistakes to avoid, honing in on proven genres, carefully constructing talent relations, and staying open to creative innovation, we believe we can launch a hot new streaming service. Just don’t expect a “+” at the end of our name.


Movie Math is an armchair analysis of Hollywood’s strategies for big new releases.

Here’s How We’d Run a New Streaming Service



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Going to Pot: Amazon, Apple Increasingly Accepting of Marijuana

Whether looking at hiring policies or the App Store, Amazon and Apple appear to be going to pot.

Amazon and Apple are increasingly more accepting of marijuana (cannabis) use, a drug considered a Schedule I drug under The Controlled Substances Act. Amazon has considerably loosened its marijuana-related drug testing policies for job applicants, reported Protocol. Apple too, whose App Store once “banned apps that facilitated marijuana sales,” according to Mashable, reportedly changed its policy. Apple now reportedly allows it and approved the “cannabis delivery service,” Eaze, for its App Store in July, reported Fortune.

Amazon announced in June it would not be testing the majority of job applicants for marijuana use. “We hope that other employers will join us,” Amazon said. The shipping giant just announced it “also reinstated the employment eligibility for former employees and applicants who were previously terminated or deferred during random or pre-employment marijuana screenings.” Amazon has even endorsed a new senate bill, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. Protocol reported that the bill “would allow resentencing for people imprisoned for marijuana crimes and expunge records for nonviolent convictions.” Amazon also lobbied for another law decriminalizing marijuana, The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act), earlier this year.

Protocol wrote that Amazon, the second largest private U.S. employer, became “caught up in the web of often-conflicting and fast-changing marijuana rules on the state level.” Protocol also speculated that Amazon is hoping the changed marijuana policies will help hiring. Amazon has reportedly been suffering from high turnover in a “tight labor market” at a time when the company is seeking to hire over “100,000 new workers.”

Meanwhile, Apple’s initial approval of Eaze has brought other “cannabis delivery services” to join Apple’s App Store, according to Mashable.  App Store guidelines retain some restrictions, stipulating that cannabis-providing apps must use a “legal entity that provides the services, and not by an individual developer.” The cannabis apps are also unavailable for download or “geo-restricted” for residents of states where weed is not legal. The App Store guidelines state, “Apps that encourage consumption of tobacco and vape products, illegal drugs, or excessive amounts of alcohol are not permitted on the App Store.” An exception is made for “otherwise legal cannabis dispensaries” in the same paragraph.

MRC Free Speech America reached out to Apple for comment, but Apple has not responded as of the publishing of this piece.

A recent Gallup poll perhaps points to a factor in Amazon’s and Apple’s policy shifts. The poll found that nearly half of Americans have at least tried marijuana, a record high, and 12 percent of U.S. adults smoke weed.

Conservatives are under attack. Contact Amazon at (206) 266-1000 and Apple and demand that they be held to account to provide transparency: Companies need to design open systems so that they can be held accountable, while giving weight to privacy concerns. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.



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Newsom Signs Bill Targeting Production Quotas at Amazon and Other Warehouse Operators

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that restricts the ability of retailers like Amazon to enforce production quotas on warehouse workers, a move hailed by labor advocacy groups but opposed by business organizations as needless and burdensome.

The measure, called AB 701, passed the state assembly earlier in the month and was signed into law by Newsom on Sept. 23. The law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, bars mega-retailers like Amazon from firing or retaliating against warehouse workers for missing quotas that interfere with bathroom and rest breaks.

It also requires greater transparency around production quotas, with large warehouse employers having to disclose quotas to workers within 30 days and provide authorities with detailed descriptions of productivity targets workers are expected to meet.

The law, which applies to all warehouse distribution centers, also allows employees to sue to suspend unsafe quotas or reverse retaliation.

“We cannot allow corporations to put profit over people. The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” Newsom said in a statement.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses reporters at the John L. Burton California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 14, 2021. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo)

The measure was authored by Democrat Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a lawyer and former labor leader, who accused Amazon of disciplining warehouse workers at the direction of “an algorithm” that tracks employees’ activities and can determine that anything not directly related to moving packages is “off-task.”

“We’ve heard disturbing stories of back-breaking working conditions in Amazon warehouses that use algorithms to enforce dangerous work speeds,” Gonzalez said in a statement following the bill’s passage by the Legislature.

“Amazon is pushing workers to risk their bodies for next-day delivery, while they can’t so much as use the restroom without fearing retaliation. AB 701 gives workers the tools and protections necessary to be able to speak up and seek real relief against the health and safety abuses they’ve experienced in these warehouses,” she said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on AB 701.

Amazon worker
A worker assembles a box for delivery at the Amazon fulfillment center in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 30, 2019. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

Advocates of the bill view the legislation as a needed measure to protect the health and safety of workers.

“Thanks to AB 701, warehouse workers at places like Amazon will no longer be fired for simply using the restroom in the middle of their shift,” Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said in a statement. “Workers can finally make a living instead of making a trip to the emergency room.”

A coalition of 27 business organizations led by the California Retailers Association objected to the measure, writing in an Aug. 30 letter (pdf) to state lawmakers that the bill is “both burdensome and needlessly overboard.”

“The specific complaints made by sponsors are already enforceable under existing occupational regulatory standards,” the coalition wrote, arguing that the bill creates substantial liability for businesses by providing plaintiffs’ attorneys “more grounds to leverage large settlements from warehouse employees.”

“This bill also establishes anti-retaliation provisions that will make it more costly and difficult to take job actions against underperforming employees,” the letter argues.

The business coalition also said that the measure would add costs on warehousing that will be passed onto consumers and would “have a chilling effect on production at distribution centers that will ripple through the rest of the supply chain.”

Tom Ozimek

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Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he’s ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: ‘Hit your target’ and ‘leave the best for last.’



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As Amazon destruction continues, Brazil faces future of floods, drought

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* Shifting weather patterns have already hit power grid and farms

* Parts of Brazil are seeing the worst flooding in a century

* Tree loss in Brazil’s Amazon rose 17% in first half of the year

By Fabio Zuker

SAO PAULO, Sept 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In May and June, heavy rain pushed Brazil’s sprawling Negro river to its highest level in more than a century, causing flooding in Manaus, the Amazon rainforest’s largest city.

At the same time, parts of southern and west-central Brazil in the Paraná River basin – including Brazil’s largest city of Sao Paulo – have suffered unprecedented drought due to low rainfall.

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The disastrous mix of floods, drought and intense downpours could be a glimpse of a potentially dire future as a heating planet and surging deforestation alter long-standing weather patterns throughout Brazil and South America, scientists warn.

Climate shifts could lead to a range of environmental and socioeconomic shocks, from dwindling farm harvests to more destructive forest fires and energy blackouts, climate and forestry experts told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“What we see now in terms of extremes in temperature and rainfall are perhaps a sample of things that may come if warming continues,” said José Marengo, a climatologist with Cemaden, the Brazilian government’s disaster monitoring center.

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Climate experts say deforestation of the Amazon and the Cerrado – the largest savanna in South America – are key drivers of the country’s changing climate patterns.

“The process (of climate change) is becoming stronger because of human activities,” Marengo said.

In the first six months of this year, the amount of forest cleared in the Brazilian Amazon rose 17% compared to last year, with 3,600 square kilometers (1,400 square miles) disappearing, according to national space research agency Inpe.

Most of the tree losses were to make way for soy farming and cattle rearing, as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro focuses on expanding agribusiness as the development model to boost the Amazon region’s economy.

FLOODS AND FIRES

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Increasingly heavy rain and floods in the Amazon are linked to atmospheric changes caused in part by ocean warming linked to climate change, said Jochen Schoengart, a researcher with the National Institute for Amazonian Research.

During the first 70 years of water level measurements at the port in Manaus, a big flood was recorded every 20 years, said Schoengart, who specializes in the history of hydrological cycles and forest floods.

But “in the last 10 years, we have seen seven major floods. And among those big seven, we have the two biggest on record, in 2012 and now in 2021,” he said.

In other biomes south and east of the Amazon, changing climate patterns are having the opposite effect, with areas gasping for water as abnormal cooling of the Pacific – a weather anomaly known as La Nina – contributes to unusually dry weather.

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Hydropower reservoirs the country heavily relies on have become severely depleted, prompting the government to ramp up its use of polluting fossil fuels. The country warned in May it faced its worst dry spell in 91 years this year.

In its latest annual report, the Ministry of Mines and Energy said more than 65% of the country’s electricity comes from hydropower, with the rest mainly generated by biomass-fueled power plants and wind turbines.

Harsher drought is also making forest fires worse, scientists said, pointing to severe blazes in the Pantanal wetlands and along the Paraná River over the past two years.

Figures from the Life Center Institute, a Brazilian nongovernmental organization focused on biodiversity preservation, show from January to mid-November 2020 fires consumed 8.5 million hectares (21 million acres) in Mato Grosso – about 10% of the central Brazilian state’s total area.

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That represented a 54% rise in fire “hotspots” in 2020 compared to the previous year, the group said.

FARM LOSSES

Besides the threat of power shortages and more destructive forest fires, climate experts say the drier weather is also causing agricultural losses.

A study published in May in the journal Nature Communications estimated that agribusiness is losing up to $1 billion a year as rising deforestation cuts rainfall in parts of the country.

Marengo said the problem stems in part from disruption of a weather phenomenon climatologists call “flying rivers.”

These are large quantities of humid air that move over the Amazon from the Atlantic Ocean, along the way picking up water vapor evaporating from trees and later releasing it as rainfall, he said.

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When the air currents hit the natural barrier of the Andes mountains, they shift south, where they meet a cold front and turn into what used to be regular, abundant rains, scientists say.

But with fewer forests to help trigger rain showers along the way, the flying rivers have become faster and more concentrated, Marengo explained.

When they reach more southerly areas of Brazil they release short, intense rainstorms – like a runaway train ejecting all of its passengers at once, he said.

The result is often increasingly deadly flash floods and mudslides like those that hit the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo last year, he added.

In Brazil’s farming areas, when rain does come, it arrives less often and can be very heavy, making it harder to provide the consistent moisture crops need, farmers say.

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“It is raining half of what it used to, and very, very concentrated storms,” said Alexandre Barretto, a soybean and cattle farmer in the city of Juscimeira, in Mato Grosso state.

Last year, Barretto’s farm got an average of 1,200 millimeters (47 inches) of rain, half the historical annual average, noted the farmer, who lost about 15% of his soybean crops.

“It is a general worry among farmers. The time frame for planting has become just too short,” he said in a video call.

Preliminary data published by Inpe in September gave a hint of hope to those calling to save the Amazon, with figures showing tree loss in the forest region falling for a second consecutive month in August, dropping 32% compared to a year ago.

But deforestation remains nearly double what it was in the first eight months of 2018, prior to Bolsonaro taking office.

For Marengo, the solution to Brazil’s worrying rainfall changes is to keep pushing the government to halt, and then reverse, the destruction of the Amazon.

“The forests are extremely important,” he said. “We have to reduce deforestation, we have to plant more trees. Otherwise, we will have consequences.” (Reporting by Fabio Zuker; editing by Jumana Farouky and Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)

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China Begins to Realize Cronyism and Big Tech Do Way More Harm Than Good – RedState

Monday’s stock market slide could have been a response to any of the very many awful economic indicators we are currently facing.

A lot of the blamers were blaming China’s over-leveraged monster property development company The Evergrande Group.  Evergrande just noted that perhaps they may not be able to pay back the $300+ billion they currently owe.  That they borrowed from suckers — oops, I mean lenders — all over the world.  So their looming default threatens the entire world’s economy.

China’s uber-cronyism made Evergrande into a global monster — #122 on Fortune’s August Global 500 hugest companies list.  Because no one succeeds in China unless the Communist government allows it to happen.  Many of the Communists’ favored companies have gotten really, REALLY huge.

Now it looks like China is realizing that having a few crony companies dominate the entire economy may not be the best way to run a railroad.  Over the last several months, China has started to undo its cronyism for once-favored companies.

No company is “too big to fail” when the government cuts off the cronyism.

It’s true of China’s Evergrande.  And it’s true of Big Tech companies.  In China, the US — and anywhere else they arise to stomp out the Main Street portion of the global economy.

Big Tech companies got to be Big Tech companies thanks to gobs and gobs of government cronyism.  Things were no different in China — until quite recently.

China Is Cracking Down Hard on Big Tech:

“Over the past few weeks, the Chinese government’s crackdown on Big Tech companies has intensified. The giants have all felt the brunt of heightened regulatory scrutiny.”

But this article makes the same mistake lots of people make:

“Given the economic benefits these companies bring to China, is the government shooting itself in the foot…?”

Actually, no.  To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of Big Tech’s economic benefits have been greatly exaggerated.  In China — and here at home.

China now realizes what we very quickly must learn: Big Tech and its cronyism do way more harm than good.

How Did Big Tech Get So Big? Massive Government Cronyism:

“A person who works for one of the biggest of Big Tech companies – a conservative I’ve known for years – was seated next to me. This person turned to me and whispered something along the lines of:

“‘If you get rid of Section 230 – it will kill these companies.’

“Really? Many of these near-trillion companies got to be near-trillion dollar companies – almost solely because of Section 230?

“And they can’t exist without it?

“That sounds like the quintessential definition of government cronyism.”

China Knows: Big Tech Hires Very Few People:

“Their Big Tech companies are like our Big Tech companies – ‘too big, too powerful, and all too willing to abuse their market share.’

“Big Tech abusing their market share – means killing competitors and potential competitors.  Which means killing jobs and potential jobs.

“Which means less Chinese people working – which means less Chinese people eating.  Which is ancient China’s ancient chief concern.

“China also views Big Tech’s massive money consolidation – as unproductive for the broader economy…and thereby the people.”

Google’s Biggest US Employee Tally Is Probably Its Lawyers:

“One of the VERY many downsides of Big Tech taking over this country? The very few employees they hire….

“(M)ost Big Tech companies – like Google, Facebook and Twitter – are mostly a bunch of computer servers. With a few hyper-compensated hyper-Left partisan executives. And some computer programmers to keep the servers up and running – and getting ever better at consuming our minds and existences.

“And Big Tech doesn’t even want to hire US citizens for those few programming gigs.  So they instead hire even more lawyers to get even more Big Government cronyism out of the government officials they own….

“‘Tech giants now spend as much or more (on lobbying) as big banks, pharmaceutical manufacturers and oil giants, the records show, led by Amazon, Facebook and Google….’

“(F)or what are Big Tech lawyer lobbyists lobbying? Even at the height of US citizen unemployment because of the Big Tech-enriching government lockdowns?

“Not hiring US citizens.

“‘Google, Amazon, Other Big Tech Companies Speak Out Against Trump Work Visa Restrictions:

“‘Nearly 2 of 3 approved H-1B applications in 2019 were for ‘computer-related occupations.’”

Amazon hires a few more people than that, but…:

“Jeff Bezos’ Amazon…(has killed) tens of millions of jobs in America and worldwide – while hiring thousands.”

Amazon’s No-Profit Model: Bleed Competitors to Death – Then Do Exactly What They Did:

“A key component of Amazon’s murderous business model – was operating for a quarter century making…almost no money whatsoever. And for many quarters at a time – actually losing coin….

“Amazon’s no-profit forced growth – comes at the expense of everyone besides Amazon selling…anything Amazon sells.

“Black Friday in brick-and-mortar retail circles – is the day after Thanksgiving, and marks the start of the Christmas shopping season.

“It is called Black Friday because most retailers operate in the red (i.e. at a loss) – all year until then. It is that day they break through into the black. So obviously, Christmas for them is life-saving crucial.

“Amazon knows this. So what do they do?:

“‘Amazon is cutting prices ferociously on its products as Christmas shopping picks up, to levels that are break-even or below.’

“They cut prices to sell at a loss – right in the heart of retailers’ most important time of the year….They are the biggest of behemoths – crowding out more and more and more competitors.”

Amazon’s Secret Weapon: Cloud Subsidizes Retail:

“Of course this massive…retail division would be not be possible if it were not for the profits coming in from the booming cloud services division.”

So China looks at Big Tech and what does it see?

A bunch of companies that got to be super-huge thanks to China’s government cronyism.  Cronyism China provided — to allegedly help its people.

Instead, Big Tech has consolidated way too much power and wealth.  To the direct detriment of the people China was trying to help when they propped up Big Tech.

So China has reversed course.  And started to rein in their Frankenstein monsters.

We should take note — and do the exact same thing.



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There’s a Government Hall of Fame – but Government Is AWFUL at Everything – RedState

Barely-there President Joe Biden is arguing that the federal government should spend over $6 trillion next year — a more than 20% increase over the titanic $4.8 trillion spent this year.

But that ain’t nearly enough for government’s crony-self-dealers.  They are now debating $5.4 trillion of additional spending on an endless array of fake “infrastructure” slush funds.

The only actual argument to be made against this idiocy is almost never made anywhere by anyone.  And that is: Government is AWFUL at everything.  Having them try to do anything at all ain’t very bright.  Having them try to do…everything is really very stupid.

This job requires me to consume mass quantities of political media.  Which I am sure is penance for major sins committed in this or a prior life.

Of course, most media outlets offer a broad range of perspectives  — from hard-Left to very-hard-Left.  So they are always waving their Big Government pompoms — and less politely mass-reprising the role of Oliver Twist.

But even on the non-Left outlets, those offering (often token) opposition to the endlessly increasing avalanche of government cash?  Do so in the mildest, meekest, and weakest of ways.

Arguing that we can’t afford it clearly doesn’t resonate.  We’re almost $30 trillion in debt.  Almost no one cares.  In the very near future, the debt ceiling must be yet again raised.  The last time a small contingent of sane members of Congress tried to make the debt ceiling raise an issue — rather than a perfunctory afterthought — they were roundly attacked by everyone — including lots of Republicans.

Arguing against the tax increases alleged to offset the spending clearly doesn’t work either.  The Left’s “tax the rich” idiocy has made us the most tax-the-rich country on the planet.  The top 1% already pay 40% of the taxes.  How much thinner do you want to shave the pointy end of our economy’s upside-down pyramid?  Besides which, all the REALLY rich bribe government to exempt them from the increasingly absurd “tax the rich” rates.

Very few even argue the private sector can do things better than government — which is inching towards the never-used “government is awful” argument.  And they do so as a throwaway line rather than mining the Mariana Trench-esque vein of government idiocy.

If non-Left media types started relentlessly saying government sucks — and listing government’s endless misfires — those arguing for more government would begin to look more and more and more ridiculous.  Quite rapidly, all those not arguing for a trillion-direction rollback of government would begin to look more and more and more ridiculous.

Well, maybe.  It may already be too late.  In which case — what the heck do we have to lose?  Let it fly.

Government dangles promise after promise after promise — that they never, never deliver.

On health insurance….

Obama – If You Like Your Healthcare Montage

Obama Promises to Lower Health Insurance Premiums by $2,500 Per Year

Except….

Millions Have Lost Private Insurance Under Obamacare

Obamacare Has Doubled the Cost of Individual Health Insurance

Obama’s ‘Keep Your Plan’ Promise Labeled ‘Lie of the Year’

Government is awful on health care in totality.  You want government-only medicine?  Medicare-for-All, perhaps?  Well, we’ve had government-only medicine for almost two hundred years — it’s called the Veterans Administration (VA).  How’s that been going?

VA History and Failures

307,000 Vets May Have Died Awaiting VA Care

VA Bonuses Were Incentive to Hide Wait Times

Veterans’ Group Charges VA With Failure to Fix Health Care System

Speaking of Medicare – and its bastard stepchild Medicaid.  And while we’re at it — our government retirement program Social Security….

Social Security & Medicare Shortfalls Exceed $100 Trillion Over 30 Years

More Physicians No Longer Seeing Medicare/Medicaid Patients:

“A combination of constant battles over reimbursement rates, red tape and payment below what services actually cost has simmered for a long time.  Medicare now faces the same tell-tale signs of trouble as Medicaid, the low-income health program.  One-third of primary care doctors won’t take new patients on Medicaid.”

And as the government-only VA has demonstrated for two centuries….

Medicare for All: Bad for Doctors and Patients Alike

How about government picking and choosing which energy sources we can use…?

Even Michael Moore Now Knows: ‘Green Energy’ – Is Neither Green Nor Energy

We Shouldn’t Be Surprised Renewables Make Energy Expensive Since That’s Always Been The Greens’ Goal

The Dark Side of Renewable Energy: Negative Impacts of Renewables on the Environment

The ‘Green Energy’ Lobby is About Cronyism – Not Polar Bears

Biden’s Infrastructure Bill: Green Handouts for the Politically Connected

Government can’t do ANYTHING.  Those of you still rooting for that massive “infrastructure” spending…?

Federal ‘Infrastructure’? State-Local Government and Crony Bail Outs and Slush Funds

Obama Admitted $787 Billion Stimulus Was Utter Failure – ‘There Were No Shovel Ready Jobs’

And of course — government awfulness in general….

50 Examples of Government Waste

Bizarre Examples of Wasteful Government Spending

The Poison of Government Corruption and Abuse of Power

So when government promises this….

Infrastructure Framework Has $65 Billion for Universal Broadband

Oh look — it’s government-only Broadband-for-All….

Meanwhile, in Ways and Means:

“House Ways and Means Committee Democrats tucked in a proposed tax credit for local governments that run their own broadband networks, which Democrats say are better attuned to local needs. Republicans and the telecom industry broadly oppose municipal broadband projects, complaining local governments lack the scale and expertise for network building.”

Oh, look — Republicans timidly saying “local governments lack the scale and expertise for network building.”  That’s an inch in the direction of “government is AWFUL at everything.”…

Broadband Boondoggles:

“For decades, local governments have made promises of faster and cheaper broadband networks. Unfortunately, these municipal networks often don’t deliver or fail, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Explore the map to learn about the massive debt, waste and broken promises left behind by these failed government networks.”

Because government is AWFUL at everything.

And, oh look — this government trip is totally unnecessary:

“(A)ccording to the Federal Communications Commission, 99.99% of the U.S. population has access to one or more internet service providers offering cable, DSL, fiber, fixed wireless, satellite or another type of internet service….”

We’re already there.  Thanks exclusively to the private sector — and not at all to government.

We’ll end this ceaseless cavalcade of soul-crushing government idiocy – with this….

Government Hall of Fame Inductees to Be Unveiled Next Week:

“Dr. Anthony Fauci. Colin Powell. Madeleine Albright….

“These are just a few of the luminaries who have been inducted into the Government Hall of Fame in the two years since Government Executive created the prestigious honor.

“Now we’re about to unveil this year’s class, along with the visionaries, directors, pathfinders, partners and defenders whose outstanding achievements have made them the winners of this year’s Theodore Roosevelt Government Leadership Awards.”

And no, most unfortunately — that isn’t the Babylon Bee.



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Brazil renews protection of little-seen Amazon tribe for six months

An undated image of two male members of the Piripkura tribe during an encounter with a FUNAI (Indigenous National Foundation) unit before they returned to live in the Amazon forest, Rondonia state, Brazil. Survival International/Bruno Jorge/Handout via REUTERS

September 17, 2021

By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) -The only two known male members of the Piripkura tribe in Brazil live in isolation on ancestral lands the size of Luxembourg in the Amazon rainforest, resisting decades of invasion by loggers and cattle ranchers.

Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency Funai renewed a protection order on Friday for the 242,500-hectare (599,230-acre) area in western Mato Grosso state. But the renewed protection will last just six months, unlike the three-year extensions granted for the territory since 2008.

The Piripkura’s fate has become a test of indigenous rights under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has criticized reservations for giving too much land to too few people and blocking the expansion of mining and farming.

Indigenous rights advocates had pressed for a three-year extension as in previous renewals. Advocate group Survival International called it a “stay of execution” by the government to gauge reactions before ending the protection altogether.

“We are still deeply concerned as the Piripkura’s future still hangs very much in the balance, while the landgrabbers are circling round and poised to invade,” said Fiona Watson, director of research and advocacy at Survival International.

The office of Brazil’s public prosecutor urged the government to renew protection orders that are about to expire for four groups of indigenous people. It said Brazil is the South American country with the largest number of indigenous people living voluntarily in isolation, with 114 groups sighted.

Federal prosecutor Ricardo Pael, who has been seeking a court-ordered extension in Mato Grosso, said it should be renewed until a final decision on making the Piripkura an official tribal reservation is taken by Funai.

SPORADIC ENCOUNTERS

The Piripkura men, Baita and nephew Tamanduá, have only been seen in recent years in sporadic encounters with Funai staffers. Unshaven, long-haired and naked, they quickly disappear back into the forest, where other Piripkura are believed to live.

Baita’s sister Rita Piripkura has been the men’s contact with the outside world since she emerged to marry into another tribe on the nearby Karipuna reservation.

“I’m worried they’ll be killed. There are lots of outsiders around there. They could kill them both and there won’t be anyone left,” Rita told Survival International in a recorded interview, recalling a massacre of her people years ago.

“White men arrived at dawn and killed everyone. They killed nine of us. My family escaped in a canoe,” she said.

In July, federal prosecutor Pael got a court injunction for the eviction of farmers from the Piripkura land, the most deforested territory of any isolated or recently contacted Amazon people. Police have not yet acted on the order.

Anthropologists say the uncontacted tribes of the Amazon cannot survive without their land and are increasingly pitted against armed invaders interested in poaching, farming and mining in their territory.

The invaders have become bolder since the 2018 election of Bolsonaro, who once praised Colonel George Custer in a speech for his role in clearing the U.S. prairies of indigenous people.

He is backing a bill in Congress that would limit indigenous land claims and help to open tribal reservations for commercial mining and plantations.

The public prosecutor’s office said in its statement that mining companies have 55 requests for prospecting licenses on Piripkura land that will be held up by the protection order for another six months.

Indigenous advocates worry that a failure to renew such orders would mean an eventual extinction of protected territories.

“It will be the end of the Piripkura,” said Fabricio Amorim, a former Funai employee now with OPI, an NGO advocating for the rights of isolated and recently contacted indigenous people.

(Reporting by Anthony BoadleEditing by Brad Haynes and Rosalba O’Brien)





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Amazon Blocks Ad for Book Critical of Black Lives Matter

Heritage Foundation scholar is latest conservative censored by Amazon

Black Lives Matter riots in Atlanta in July 2020 / Getty Images

Santi Ruiz • September 16, 2021 3:40 pm

Amazon blocked an ad for a book critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, the latest example of the retail giant censoring conservative voices.

The online retailer prevented the Heritage Foundation from purchasing ads to promote Mike Gonzalez’s BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution. Amazon told Heritage that the ad “contains book/s or content that is not allowed,” specifically “content that revolves around controversial or highly debated social topics is not permitted.” Amazon later reversed its decision and posted the ad, telling the Washington Free Beacon that its “policies were not enforced correctly in this case” and that the employees responsible would receive “additional training.”

Amazon refused to explain the nature of the error. But in recent months, the company has used its policies to suppress conservative books. A book on the transgender movement was pulled from the platform in February without explanation. After senators pushed Amazon to explain its decision, the retailer announced it was changing its policies to ban any books that treat gender dysphoria as a mental illness. Amazon funded an effort to place hundreds of copies of critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi’s book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You in Virginia public schools.

BLM criticizes the titular movement for its Marxist roots. One of the three Black Lives Matter founders said in 2015 that she and another cofounder “are trained organizers; we are trained Marxists.” Gonzalez, a former journalist and Heritage senior fellow, said his book addresses important questions “after the 630 or more riots that left our cities burning, businesses destroyed and billions in damage, and Americans dead.”

Gonzalez said Amazon is “trying to limit how many Americans read this book” and asked whether books by left-leaning authors on Black Lives Matter and race faced the same restrictions. Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James released a statement calling examples of “big tech censorship … inescapable and irrefutable.” “Conservative voices are deemed ‘unacceptable’ and are silenced,” she said.

Advertising makes up a substantial portion of Amazon’s revenue. Amazon, Google, and Facebook together took up almost two thirds of the digital advertising market in 2020. A growing contingent of lawmakers worry that advertising consolidation on a few online platforms could harm market competition.

Amazon has faced pressure from liberal politicians to exercise more control over which speech is allowed on the platform. Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) called on Amazon to ban books containing “misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.”





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Oops? Amazon CENSORS, Claims ‘Error’ & Restores Ad for Book Investigating Black Lives Matter

Amazon sells Hitler’s Mein Kampf, but blocked an advertisement for an investigative book on Black Lives Matter leaders, citing “controversial” content. The platform later claimed to have made an “error” and is now allowing the book to be advertised.

The book in question, BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution, was written by Mike Gonzalez, senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Heritage tried to purchase an ad for Gonzalez’s book, but reported that “Amazon, the nation’s largest retailer, blocked it from its website,” according to Heritage’s The Daily Signal.

The Daily Signal said Amazon notified Heritage Tuesday that the advertisement for Gonzalez’s book “no longer complies with our current Creative Acceptance Policies.” Amazon continued, “Specifically for the following reasons: Your ad contains book/s or content that is not allowed. Content that revolves around controversial or highly debated social topics is not permitted.” Amazon also told Heritage, “Please remove this content from your ad.” The book was still being sold on Amazon as a category best-seller.

Amazon told MRC Free Speech America, “Our policies were not enforced correctly in this case. We fixed the error, communicated with the advertiser, and the book is now being advertised. We will be providing additional training to ensure our teams are clear on our policies and how to enforce them in the future.”

Mike Gonzalez said in a statement he wrote the book because the “press refused to cover the important questions” about Black Lives Matter. He suggested Amazon was “trying to limit how many Americans read this book.” The Daily Signal quoted Gonzalez:

“The American people deserve answers to those questions, especially after the 630 or more riots that left our cities burning, businesses destroyed and billions in damage, and Americans dead.”

Earlier in 2021, Amazon ceased selling the book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment by former Heritage Foundation senior research fellow and current Ethics and Public Policy Center President Ryan T. Anderson. Meanwhile, books by terrorist Osama Bin Laden and convicted murderer Charles Manson were sold on Amazon when Anderson’s book was removed. Amazon Prime Video also removed a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during “Black History Month.”

Other books that discuss “controversial or highly debated social topics,” however, are still permitted on the platform. Both Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf are available for sale on Amazon. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, Jason Reynolds’ remix for youth of Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning, is sold on Amazon as an “Editors’ pick” for the “Best Young Adult” category. Stamped praises Communist activists. 

Other “controversial” products sold on Amazon include: an “Amazon’s Choice” T-shirt that reads, “My Body My Choice,” atheist T-shirts attempting to mock Christianity and coins and stamps featuring swastikas and Hitler. A “Genuine Nazi Swastika Reichspfennig coin with Hitler Stamp” is described as “a great GIFT for the World War Two collector!” Amazon also previously sold a “Kill All Republicans” T-shirt as a sponsored product among 204 items promoting violence and hate on its site.

Conservatives are under attack. Contact Amazon at (206) 266-1000 and demand that it be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.





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