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Amazon Using ‘Fake’ Twitter Accounts To Defend Working Conditions 

Amazon has received a slew of criticism within the past year of the pandemic due to the harsh working conditions their warehouse/lower level employees have had to endure at the sake of their own health and safety. Now, a surge of “fake” Twitter accounts have emerged to defend the corporation and push back on criticisms presented during the pandemic. 

Many of the accounts are meant to be Amazon warehouse employees who love working for the company and believe Unions aren’t actually helpful. A majority of the account handles begin with “AmazonFC” followed by the first name of the “employee” and warehouse designation. The accounts often only tweet about Amazon in response to criticism and refute any tweets claiming the company enforces “robotic” working conditions that lead to “high injury rates.” 

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One account, which has since been suspended, tweeted: “Unions are good for some companies, but I don’t want to have to shell out hundreds a month just for lawyers!”

This is not the first time Amazon has used social media to try to combat criticism. Many Amazon employee accounts from 2018 and 2019 have since been deleted due to exposure. Amazon did confirm, however, that the latest tweets being spread online were fake. 

“Many of these are not Amazon FC Ambassadors – it appears they are fake accounts that violate Twitter’s terms. We’ve asked Twitter to investigate and take appropriate action.” 

The spokesperson for Amazon who released the statement above refused to acknowledge how many Twitter accounts were run by real Amazon ambassadors and how the company regulates fake accounts. Bellingcat is an investigative journalism site that compiled a list of at least 56 Amazon Ambassador Twitter accounts. 

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Some of the accounts only recently became active and were almost immediately suspended by Twitter. Some Twitter users have even created their own parody accounts to make fun of the corporation’s attempt at combating criticism. 

Recently, Amazon CEO Dave Clark and the official Amazon News Twitter account criticized Senator Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Congressman Mark Pocan over certain policies. Those tweets backfired for Amazon after it was revealed that Amazon engineers flagged the tweets because they were concerned that they were “unnecessarily antagonistic which would risk Amazon’s brand reputation.” 

Other leaked memos that initially sparked these fake Twitter accounts cited complaints from Amazon managers over delivery truck drivers leaving bottles of their urine and bags of their feces in trucks, despite the fact that Amazon’s PR account claimed all reports of workers needing to urinate in bottles to keep up with their workload was false. 

The National Labor Relations Board is also currently determining “whether to consolidate multiple complaints from workers over the past year alleging interference from Amazon against workers’ attempts to organize or form a union,” according to the Guardian.

Parler Sues Amazon For Removing App From Cloud Services Following Capitol Riot

Amazon Web Services removed the Parler app from its cloud services this past Monday after the company claimed that the network wasn’t able to monitor the content on its platform, especially content that promoted or incited violence.

Deforestation

Deforestation In The Amazon Is At A 12-Year High 

Between August 2019 and July 2020 the Brazilian Amazon experienced a 12-year high in deforestation rates, according to the nation’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). During that one-year time period, 6,890 square miles of forest were completely destroyed, along with the thousands of wildlife habitats within them. 

The destruction that occurred within this year is 9.5% greater than the previous year-long period, and is the highest level of destruction the Amazon has endured since 2008, according to the INPE, who recently spoke at a news conference to discuss this major issue. 

In general, deforestation rates have skyrocketed in Brazil since current far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office back in January 2019. Bolsonaro has highly encouraged the commercial development of the Amazon and has defunded numerous agencies that are responsible for preventing illegal logging, ranching, and mining within the rainforest. 

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Fires are often lit in the Amazon on purpose to clear vegetation from parts of the forest to make room for these illegal ranches. The surrounding forest area is typically already destroyed due to deforestation as well. Environmentalists have been outspoken about their disapproval of Bolsonaro and his policies that promote illegal logging and development in the Amazon. 

Back in August Bolsonaro was called out for referring to official data and news reports regarding fires in the Amazon “a lie.” Back in 2019 the president was faced with a threat from 34 international investors who all threatened to divest from Brazilian companies unless Bolsonaro made a genuine effort to slow the destruction of the forest as well as the illegal fires and ranching. 

While his government did take steps to curb that destruction by periodically banning fires and allocating military personnel to control them, the new data shows the opposite. NGO Greenpeace is an environmental group that’s been documenting the destruction of the Amazon throughout the past year.

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NGO released photos from a flyover operation they completed in August. The images showed the southern portion of the forest located in Rondônia which included protected areas where commercial development and exploitation is prohibited, however, the images clearly showed the areas engulfed in flames and smoke. 

Back in September current president-elect Joe Biden even brought up the deforestation issue in the Amazon during a debate, claiming that the “rainforests in Brazil are being torn down but [he would] make sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion to say ‘here’s $20 billion, stop tearing down the forest and if you don’t, you are going to have significant economic consequences.’”

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and is now an integral player in the fight against global climate change. When the rainforest is healthy and thriving, it’s able to pull billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and thus defend the planet from further climate destruction. 

It’s also a biodiversity hotspot and home to numerous species, and according to NGO South America’s Pantanal region has been hit by the worst wildfires in decades. The fires have now consumed over 28% of the area, meaning the area that is typically responsible for absorbing carbon dioxide and maintaining a healthy ecosystem for the forest is struggling for survival now.

Black Friday Sale

Best Black Friday Deals You Can Find On Amazon Right Now

Now that Black Friday is finally here, shoppers are logging into as many online retailers as possible to avoid the crowds at the malls or stores, and shop safer this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the most popular retailers is of course Amazon, and this year they’re offering a multitude of deals on some of their most well-known products. 

Echo Flex: The Echo Flex is a small smart speaker that simply plugs into any outlet and will turn any room into a melodic space filled with your favorite tunes. The Flex is currently on sale for $9.99, originally $24.99.

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Echo Dot: The fourth-generation Echo Dot is Amazon’s latest Dot model and features a new sleek spherical shape. The Echo Dot is on sale for the first time this Black Friday for just $28.99 for the base model, or for $10 more you could get the Echo Dot with Clock or the Kids Edition.

Ring Video Doorbells: Ring Video doorbells are some of the most popular video-security devices on the market now. The sleek design comes in both silver and bronze to match any homes aesthetic, and is now on sale for pricing starting at $70. The doorbells feature 1080p HD video and are super easy to install.

Echo Show 8: Originally $130 the Echo Show 8 is now on sale for the low price of $65! The smart display is now available at its lowest price ever and comes in both charcoal and sandstone color schemes. 

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Kindle Paperwhite: The Kindle Paperwhite is one of the most popular e-readers on the market currently. Starting at just $85 this Black Friday, the paperwhite is the perfect gift for any reader in your life. It’s the thinnest model Amazon’s ever released, and it’s waterproof in case you accidentally spill anything on it.

Fire HD Tablet 8 Plus: Originally $110 the Fire HD Tablet 8 Plus is now on sale for just $75! This is also CNN’s budget pick for best tablet of the holiday season.

Fire TV Recast: On sale for $180, the Fire TV Recast is the perfect DVR device for any cable lover in your life. The Recast gives you the ability to watch and record over-the-air TV at home with your Fire TV or Echo Show! You can also record on-the-go with the mobile app. 

Echo Buds: Originally $130 the Echo Buds are now on sale for $80. These wireless earbuds bring Alexa on-the-go with you and offer an immersive sound experience, and a battery-life lasting up to 5 hours of continuous audio.  

Fire TV Cube: On sale for $80, the Fire TV Cube is Amazon’s most powerful Fire TV device that allows for easy Alexa-enabled entertainment. The Cube can also control any other Amazon smart home devices you have in the home.

U.S. Stocks Climbing Despite Uncertainty Surrounding Presidential Election

Tech-led stocks in the US began climbing when the market opened up on Wednesday morning, despite there being a lack of clarity in terms of who will win the 2020 presidential election. 

According to reports, The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 500 points, or 1.7%. The S&P 500 traded 2.3% higher while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite increased by 3.2%. Mike Lewis is the managing director of US equity cash trading at Barclays, and spoke with the press this morning about these surges. 

“I think that the outlook going forward for markets is this is going to be more about policy and the Fed than it’s going to be about politics, which is a good thing for markets.”

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Key swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could take a while to fully determine how the votes will lean. Both candidates and their camps are confident in their paths to victory this week.

Amazon, Microsoft and Apple all saw spikes of at least 3% in their stocks while Facebook increased by 7%, and Google-parent company Alphabet jumped more than 5%. Traders on Wall Street attribute these spikes to a multitude of factors. The possibility that Republicans will maintain control of the Senate is a positive for the groups, as a Democrat congress could have weighed down on the high-growth sector, according to Barry Bannister, Stifel Head of Institutional Equity Strategy.

“It appears investors may be satisfied with at least half a Republican Senate and no tax increase, knowing they have a ‘Fed put’ if fiscal assistance is slower in coming. This favors Growth stocks over Value near-term.”

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Traders are also still grappling with the idea of a contested election, as Wall Street strategists claim that could have major consequences for the stock market. “News of a contested election could cause a sharp drop in stocks in the very short term, but we do not see it as a bearish gamechanger,” Tom Essaye, founder of the Sevens Report, said.

Traders are also watching the Senate race closely as the result of that race will have major implications on the future of the market as a whole. A Democrat win in the Senate and a Biden presidency has a lot of traders worried about the higher tax rates that would impact technology shares especially. 

On the other hand, some traders think a blue wave in the Senate and White House could lead to a larger stimulus package for Americans as we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic; which would also boost stocks linked to the larger economy. 

“When this is all said and done, I still believe equities will move higher regardless of who wins the Oval Office. The coronavirus pandemic and U.S. monetary policy will be bigger market drivers over the long haul,” said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial intelligence.

Federal Judge Dismisses Amazon Warehouse Workers’ Covid-19 Lawsuit

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit in New York involving an Amazon warehouse employee who was claiming that the company was putting employee lives on the line with their mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The suit initially began after a slew of Amazon warehouse employees contracted the coronavirus due to a lack of proper health and safety procedures. 

The lawsuit was initially filed in June after workers accused Amazon of creating a “public nuisance by exacerbating Covid-19 risks.” These “exacerbations” took the form of a company culture that created “workplace fear” for the employees. According to the filing, workers were told to “work at dizzying speeds, even if doing so prevents them from socially distancing, washing their hands, and sanitizing their work spaces.”

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This Sunday, US District judge Brian Cogan made a ruling in Brooklyn, NY, in which he decided that the warehouse employees should have brought the issues up with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) instead. Cogan claimed that the federal agency would better be able to “strike a balance between maintaining some level of operations in conjunction with some level of protective measures.” 

Given the federal courts lack of expertise on workplace health and safety issues during a global health crisis, Cogan feared bringing the lawsuit to the courts would only create a bunch of conflicting rulings from various judges who also lack experience in this type of legal issue. 

“Court-imposed workplace policies could subject the industry to vastly different, costly regulatory schemes in a time of economic crisis.”

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The Amazon workers’ lawyers said that they were weighing an appeal of Cogan’s ruling, claiming that the judge’s redirection of the case to be further dealt with by the OSHA “should be very concerning to anyone who cares about the health of American workers, given that OSHA has been virtually AWOL throughout this crisis,” they said in a statement after the ruling was made. 

Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski recently released a statement after the ruling as well, denying any wrongdoing from the company, and calling the lawsuit an “effort to exploit the pandemic.”

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our employees, which is why at the onset of the pandemic we moved quickly to make more than 150 COVID-19 related process changes.” 

In general, worker advocate groups all throughout the nation have filed public nuisance suits due to the lack of effort from the OSHA, meaning they’ve looked into the options with the agency but as they claimed, the organization has been relatively absent throughout the past nine months. 

Towards Justice and Public Justice are two legal non-profits that helped bring the Amazon suit to the courts initially. Additionally, the two companies are separately suing OSHA in a federal court in Pennsylvania due to their lack of efforts to address the “imminent dangers” workers everywhere continue to face.

Headphones

Well-Reviewed Speakers And Headphones That Won’t Break The Bank

As the holiday season approaches, and the world continues to endure the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time to start thinking of gifts for our loved ones that promote staying home, but remaining entertained as we all navigate these uncertain times. Music has become one of the most healing elements for some during this year.

A proper sound system, or personal headphone system, is essential for any music lover in your life, and now that we’re living in an era where the government wants us to stay home and watch movies, there’s never been a better time to upgrade your systems; without breaking the bank either. Here are some of the newest, and most-affordable, speaker and headphones available currently:

Razer Opus Wireless Headphones: These wireless headphones are $200 which is a relatively average price for quality devices such as these currently on the market. Reviews of these headphones suggest that they’re comfortable, have great sound quality, and a long battery life. Added bonuses include a compact carrying case and ear cups on the headphones that can swivel to rest on the users chest.

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Sony WF-XB700Z Earbuds: These earbuds have been highly regarded as one of the best wireless headphones on a budget. Some sale prices have even shown the earbuds costing less than $100, and for that low price individuals get a pair of earbuds that has the ability to increase bass-levels, and latch onto your ears securely without feeling tight. For the price, users claim the sounds quality is just as good as any other higher end wireless headphone on the market.

OnePlus Buds: These earbuds are only for individuals who use a OnePlus phone. If you own an Android they’ll still work, however, reviewers claim you get the best sound quality when they’re paired with their proper counterpart. At just $79 users get a pair of earbuds that look very similar to Apple’s Airpods with just as smooth of a smooth sound quality.

Beats Flex: The new Beats Flex are only $50, a significantly cheaper version of the Beats X earbuds. Beats has long been known for their noise-cancelling crisp sounds quality, and the Flex buds are no different. They offer 12 hours of battery life, and have a remarkably comfortable fit for its low price point.

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Sonos Ikea Speakers: Shifting gears into the speaker market, Sonos and Ikea have been working on their partnership for over a year now, and finally they’re ready to offer you their widely impressive and affordable speaker systems. The Symfonisk table lamp speaker is $179, but there’s also a bookshelf size of the same speaker for just $99. You can pick them up at your local Ikea or on the furniture stores website, but they aren’t available at third-party retailers such as Best Buy.

Marshall’s Emerton Bluetooth Speaker: This speaker is $149 and uses a simple USB-C cord to charge. The controls on the device mimic that of Marshall’s recent line of headphones as well. The buttons on this speaker make it extremely easy for anyone to use as well.

Amazon Echo Dot: The line of Alexa-enabled smart speakers from Amazon have long dominated the market and for good reason. Mainly because the line is quite large and varies greatly in pricing, ranging from $49.99 to $199.99, but all contain the same amazing sound quality levels and smart-home capabilities.

Amazon Building

20,000 Amazon Workers In The US Have Tested Positive For Covid-19

After activists have been demanding Amazon for months to disclose information regarding Covid-19 and their workers, the company revealed this week that almost 20,000 of its workers in the US have contracted the coronavirus. Throughout this pandemic, however, Amazon as a brand has been succeeding monumentally when compared to other online retail giants. 

Amazon has faced some major criticisms within the past six months of the pandemic in general. Labor campaigners and union leaders have alleged that the company is putting their employees in danger by keeping so many warehouses open despite individuals contracting the virus who’ve worked in some of these warehouses. 

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Amazon posted on their blog an analysis that showed the rate of infection among 1.4 million American workers was 42% lower than the expected rate of infection to come from a warehouse occupation. 

A breakdown of infection rates on a state-by-state level showed that the highest rate of infection of Amazon employees was in Minnesota where 3.2% of the workers were presumed to have gotten Covid-19 at their place of business; for reference that percentage is double the rate of infection for average individuals working from home in the same area. 

Athena is a coalition of US activist groups that work to campaign for large worker groups all across the country. Most recently they’ve been using their resources to focus on Amazon, and call upon the company to be immediately investigated for how strictly they’ve been abiding by health and safety protections for their workers. Dania Rajendra is the director of Athena who recently claimed the group also wants to ensure Amazon has been regularly reporting on the number of employees with Covid-19 as they’re legally required to do so. 

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 “Amazon allowed Covid-19 to spread like wildfire in its facilities, risking the health of tens of thousands of people who work at Amazon – as well as their family members, neighbors and friends.”

Amazon currently has a market value of $1.6 trillion with its founder and chief, Jeff Bezos, owning the most shares making him the world’s wealthiest individual. Bezos has claimed multiple times that Amazon has been investing “hundreds of millions of dollars” into its own covid-19 testing program as well as tracing efforts. The plan is projected to test 50,000 individuals a day at 650 sites all across the US starting in November. However, Rajendra and the team at Athena isn’t as convinced that Bezos will stick to his word based on his already detrimental decision-making and the fact that this multi-trillion dollar company is still paying its warehouse workers little to nothing to help them cope with the pandemics effects. 

“Amazon is, in no uncertain terms, a threat to public health.” 

Within the blogpost Amazon claimed that they would be giving their employees comprehensive health insurance and paid time off for any worker who needs to be quarantined; a policy workers have been trying to get implemented for months now. The tech giant will also be implementing new cleaning regimes and other safety processes to reduce the spread of the virus, however, after dealing with this virus for over six months now, many individuals are quick to criticize Amazon for their lack of concern over employees previously, and believe these new policies are more of a way to appease the public and make up for the tens of thousands of workers that have already been impacted. 

 

Walmart Store

Walmart Teams Up With Microsoft In A Bid To Buy TikTok 

Walmart announced this week that they would be collaborating with Microsoft in a bid to acquire TikTok. Currently ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company which is based in Beijing, is nearing an agreement to sell its American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand operations in a deal that’s projected to earn the company up to $30 billion. 

Walmart and Microsoft are just one team placing a bid for the app in America, as many are looking to take advantage of buying one of the most popular social media platforms in 2020. Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove recently spoke with the media, and while he denied to comment on how the two companies would be dividing their ownership of the app, he claims this acquisition would be an amazing opportunity for both companies to compete against other giant corporations such as Amazon. 

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Walmart and Amazon have been competing as major “superstore” type retailers for years now. In fact, Walmart recently announced plans to launch its own membership program similar to Amazon Prime, called Walmart+, which will also include original content. 

“We believe a potential relationship with TikTok US in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide Walmart a way to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses.”

Walmart went on in their statement to also claim that they were confident in their ability to meet both the expectations of current TikTok users, and the US government; who has recently been attacking TikTok for its potential sharing of personal data with China; which has not been proven. 

In the US, TikTok currently has around 100 million active users. When compared to the amount of users the app had in 2018 there’s an 800% increase in use. Daniel Ives, managing director and technology analyst, claims that there’s a 90% chance TikTok will accept the bid from Microsoft and Walmart, and the acquisition of the app will be a major step in Walmarts constant expansion of services. 

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This will not be the first time Walmart and Microsoft work together either. In 2018, Walmart announced a five-year “cloud deal” with Microsoft, allowing the retailer to adopt Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure and include bundles in certain devices that would include Office 365 with every purchase. 

After TikTok was under major threat of being banned by Donald Trump and his administration, the app knew it had to find a new buyer so that the app would remain alive in one of its most lucrative markets worldwide. The Pentagon has already banned TikTok from being downloaded on any government-issued devices due to security concerns; the US House of Representatives and Senate were also ordered to follow suit. 

Despite the many allegations from Trump himself, TikTok has went on record multiple times that they have never shared personal data with China, it’s parent company, or any other company for that matter. They then explained how TikTok is run within each country it’s available, and all US user data is stored in the US. 

There’s no real timeline as to when TikTok will accept or deny Microsoft and Walmart’s bid, however, with the 2020 election getting closer, it’s likely the app will make a decision sooner rather than later in order to keep it alive. 

Hockey Stadium

Amazon Renames Seattle NHL Stadium ‘Climate Pledge Arena’ In New Green Initiative

Amazon has officially secured the naming rights for Seattle’s downtown arena that will be the home for the city’s new NHL team as well as the WNBA’s Storm team. Amazon made the announcement this week that they would be deciding the name of the arena, however, many were shocked to learn that the company wouldn’t include its name in the title; something that’s fairly typical when it comes to naming stadium-type establishments after the corporations that sponsor them (Staples Center, Citi Field, AT&T Stadium, etc.). 

Instead, the stadium will be named Climate Pledge Arena and will feature several new green initiatives to make the future of live sports entertainment more environmentally friendly. 

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“I think this is going to be a transformative moment in our industry. Amazon said, ‘We’ll act like a naming rights partner, but let’s do this the right way. We don’t need any more branding. What we need is to go save the planet.’ It was brilliant,” a spokesperson for the arena claimed. 

As mentioned Climate Pledge Arena is going to run with the intention of remaining completely green. In fact, Amazon is attempting to make it the first arena in the world to earn a net zero carbon certifications by the International Living Future Institute.  There are a multitude of features that will be implemented into the structure, games themselves, and clean up procedures for the stadium. 

All ice for hockey games will be created using recycled rainwater thanks to a massive tank that’s located underground and adjacent to the arena. This tank is specifically designed to collect runoff rainwater from the roof of the arena, but the arena’s team is also working on a way to easily allow fans at home to bring their own recycled rainwater to help aid the running of the stadium.

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All events will also be “zero waste,” a decision that according to the team was inspired by singer Billie Eilish, who before the coronavirus pandemic was embarking on a world tour for her most recent album. Eilish asked every venue that she was planning to play on her tour to eliminate as much single-waste plastic as possible, to which they all happily obliged to get one of the biggest artists of the year to play at their establishment. 

 “I was like, I can’t believe she got an entire syndication of arenas to come along and finally address this issue. I was so in awe that she made this part of the deal. When we were debating this, I said if she could do it for a night, couldn’t we do this for 365 nights?” said Tim Leiweke, CEO of the Oak View Group. 

75% of the arena’s food vendors will be sourced seasonally by local farmers and producers as a means of helping local small businesses. Unused food that’s still edible and viable will also be donated to various food charities in the area. The arena will also solely run on electricity, and carbon emissions and sustainability performance is set up to be closely monitored and will also be made public record to all American citizens so they can see for themselves how green the arena is. 

The cost of the building overall is set to be around $900 million and will be able to hold 18,000 sports fans. Its projected to host around 200 events each year, which will also include concerts. The building is currently still under construction, as production was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s expected to make its public debut with Seattle’s brand new NHL team in 2021-2022 (the dates are subject to change based on how the pandemic progresses).