everything i needed to know about Amazon’s dark arts i learned from the wsws

Amazon HQ, Seattle
Well, almost everything.  I know that the combined fortunes of Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and that Rootin’ Tootin’ Billy Monsanto Gates is greater than the bottom 50% of Amerika’s citizens.  And I know that Bezos owns the war-mongering WaPo, and is called ‘a mouthpiece for the CIA.  But beyond the bias and hints that their reporters show, I just learned why that is.  Another fact I’d known was that Amazon treats their wage slaves…like human garbage.

Let’s begin with Evan Blake’s ‘House to vote on giving Amazon $53 billion deal to become main Pentagon supplier’, wsws.org, 11 November 2017

[Wd here: On September 18, the Senate passed their version of Mac Thornberry’s HR 2810 89-8.  The Senate tweaked it a bit, and it’s now been passed to the House Rules Committee for a Nov. 13 review, final vote to come within a week.  Govtrack notes that it was an authorization vote, not an appropriations vote, FWIW].

“Members of the US House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services committees announced Wednesday that they have reached agreement on the proposed $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense spending bill. This astronomical figure—an $80 billion increase over spending in 2016 and roughly $26 billion more than was requested by President Donald Trump—is a clear signal that the US will expand its ongoing wars around the world and is preparing to engage in far broader conflicts potentially involving North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China.

The NDAA will now be voted on by the House of Representatives, where it has been rubber-stamped every year since 1961, before being signed into law by Trump. While reporting by the bourgeois press on the NDAA has been limited overall, a key section of the bill, titled “Procurement Through Commercial E-Commerce Portals,” has been almost entirely overlooked. This section establishes the framework whereby Amazon will be able to corner the market for Defense Department procurements worth roughly $53 billion, and its inclusion in the NDAA is a product of the direct links connecting Amazon with the state and military-intelligence apparatus.

Already marked as a semi-official wing of the US military-intelligence apparatus by their back-room deal with the CIA, Amazon will likely soon become the primary supplier for numerous items demanded by the Defense Department.”

Now ‘deal with the CIA’ is fascinating, partially due to the fact that I’d had no idea what folks meant by ‘cloud computing’, ‘stored in The Cloud’, etc.  The link goes to Blake’s July 13 ‘Part One: Amazon cashes in on war crimes and mass surveillance’

“One of Amazon’s most significant business contracts, which has largely been kept hidden from the public since it was finalized in October 2013, was a $600 million deal for Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build a private computing cloud for the 17 American intelligence agencies known collectively as the “intelligence community” (IC).

The deal initiated Amazon’s ever-deepening integration with the American state, and implicates the company in the international war crimes, mass spying and repressive operations carried out by the spy agencies of American imperialism. Similar to the Krupp company, which supplied arms to the German military during World Wars I and II, Amazon today provides the technological scaffolding for the wars waged by American imperialism.

Since reaching its deal with the CIA, Amazon’s stock value has more than tripled from $319.04/share to $993.80/share today. In the process, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has amassed roughly $55.9 billion, becoming the world’s second-richest person with a current net value of $85.3 billion.

Through the contract, known as the Commercial Cloud Service or C2S cloud, the company forged links to all 17 IC agencies. The cloud securely stores large portions of the internet and telecommunications data accumulated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); eight agencies of the Department of Defense, including the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the intelligence wings of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps; the Office of Intelligence and Analysis and Coast Guard Intelligence of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and the Intelligence Branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to name the most prominent agencies of the IC.”

Well, you get the gist, as in: power begets more power…and everything related to it.  But back to the 2018 NDA:

“The Pentagon will now purchase office equipment, internet service, and all other equipment needed to direct its out war crimes directly from Amazon, both in the US and at its military bases internationally. In other words, if the bill becomes law, Amazon will be providing hundreds of thousands of CIA agents, military personnel, prosecutors, and immigration agents with their pencils, desks, and chairs.

Section 846 of the NDAA requires the Defense Department to purchase commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products on “e-commerce portals.” While congressmen claim that there will be healthy “competition” between a variety of such “e-commerce portals,” in reality Amazon possesses immense advantages that leave it poised to quickly monopolize the market.

By claiming that the online marketplaces are inherently competitive, Section 846 also enables the federal government to secure no-bid contracts, eliminating the requirement that procurement officers seek competitive bids.

For those of us who’ve chosen to buy from third-parties on Amazon, apparently the sneaky algorithms track popularity of the most profitable items, and direct traffic to ‘marked down’ Amazon items.  He says that Amazon also charges third-party vendors between 15- and 20% of their revenue, thus allowing Amazon to constantly undercut their competitors.  It’s not clear how that works within the ‘check used items’, many of which one finds are actually…new, but with lower prices.  But yes: such a free marketplace it is!

“With the establishment of an online marketplace catering to the federal government, Amazon will be able to track the Pentagon’s spending data on everything, and repeat the above process until they control every major market. Very shortly, Amazon could be the sole source of chairs, paper, desks, water bottles, etc. for the entire Defense Department, netting annual revenue of almost the entire apportionment of $53 billion, equal to 38 percent of the company’s overall $136 billion revenue in 2016.” [snip]

“The proposed NDAA budget explicitly states that it will promote “the objective of enabling Government-wide use of such portals,” while making the entire process as seamless as possible for Amazon and the other e-commerce portals. The document states, “The conferees encourage the Administrator, General Services, to resist the urge to make changes to the existing features, terms and conditions, and business models of available e-commerce portals, but rather demonstrate the government’s willingness to adapt the way it does business.”

Not a rigged system, is it?  But this seriously takes the cake:

“Amazon Business, the company’s commercial sales platform launched in 2015, will likely be the platform by which they sell merchandise to the Defense Department. The current head of Amazon Business’ public sector division, Anne Rung, was the head of the US government’s Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy until fall 2016. In that capacity, Rung effectively oversaw the program that will now be making purchases directly from Amazon.”

In the comment section of his ‘deal with the CIA’ essay, Blake had said:

“It is impossible to effectively boycott such an entity as Amazon, which is the largest cloud services provider in the world, controlling over 40 percent of the worldwide market share for cloud services. Amazon provides the internet backbone for a wide variety of companies, including Netflix, Instagram, Dropbox, Buzzfeed, Airbnb, Spotify, and many more. A study conducted in 2012 found that websites using cloud computing provided by AWS are visited daily by a third of all internet users, a figure that has likely grown to be much higher today.”

A related gem that I picked up in the comments section of Robert Parry’s piece on McCarthyism, part of which was those theatrical Senate hearings ‘grilling’ reps from Facebook, Twitter, and Google was that all three entities belong to the “First Draft Coalition” (Reuters version at Fortune) ‘to tackle #FakeNews.  Other members include the usual war-mongering media suspects: the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, the UK Guardian and Telegraph, BBC News.  New to me were members the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab and Kiev-based Stopfake that he’d mentioned.  This is a longer version of the Truth Seekers at medium.com: They are Bellingcat (click: OMG!), Eyewitness Media Hub, Emergent, Meedan, Reported.ly, Storyful and Verification Junkie, aided by none other than Google News Lab**.

Meanwhile, Bezos wants a second corporate HQ, and Justin Trudeau is begging for it to be in one of six Canadian cities.  The rumor mill has it that the contestants will be on with Vanna White competing on Wheel of Fortune, Bezos officiating.

If he plays his cards right, he might get stuck in the closet…

17 responses to “everything i needed to know about Amazon’s dark arts i learned from the wsws

  1. Yes, Equality is his middle name: Jeffrey Equality Bezos.

    what do you pay them, sir equality? any more than you pay the ‘Camper Force‘ senior citizens? #Asshole up to $11.50, bennies (mumble, mumble)?

  2. Being Hacked HERE?

    • fine tune, bruce; i’d never heard it, didn’t even recognize jackson browne’s voice, dagnabbit. but quite apropos. the political economy is so simple to ‘bernays’, isn’t it? the facebook notification i’m not quite getting. would i understand if i were on facebook?

  3. Dutifully I began with the wsws article, all the way to the end but sailing through lots of horrifying statistics to reach the safe harbor of the worker takeover and use of Amz’ s infrastructure to do all sorts of really good stuff — but then I came back to this military morph and even the workers will be ex-military…hey, maybe that’s the Achilles heel?

    • ah, well, as a master of the universe bezos doesn’t care a jot about ‘equality’, of course, and was simply virtue signaling for veteran’s day. now i’m likely missing your point about the achilles heel, but he must have literally millions of low-wage slaves around the globe by now. but ‘leaders’ made it orwellian art, imo.

      you might be interested in the earlier russophobia post and the two new nato commands forming to fight ‘russian aggression. it’s all getting too out of hand, and dangerous, methinks. nato’s dreaming of a ‘space command’ as well. good god all-friday.

      p.s. on edit: mr. wd and i were musing this a.m about stopping the combined juggernauts. it’s just that they’re so self-sustaining like amazon’s contracts leading to preferential status for the next ones, etc. MIC.news-o-tainment complex, as well. some dude was on trnn having hosted the ‘divest in arms to stop war’ conference w/ medea benjamen. what? no, it’s not like divesting in south africa; northrupp grumman, raytheon, lockheed martin don’t have to care about who divests from their stock. the only thing that will end the culture of war is a true revolution of consciousness that includes the fact that we’ve been lied into war, and that our rulers don’t care who they assassinate in the name of hegemony and resource plunder.

      • I just thought maybe those veterans could include some whose hearts would be touched by the close encounter with wage slavery and ‘turned’ into true heroes capable of organizing the takeover envisioned at wsws. Sort of like Iraqi Veterans Against the War.

        And speaking of which, OT but I do strongly recommend Pepe Escobar’s piece at counterpunch.org – “Tikrit and Najaf”. He was obviously very moved by the experience of being at both places, and the photos are his – extraordinary, moving, very holy experience.

        • from your keyboard to the gods’ ears, juliania. but amazon has even closed down centers that workers struck. when amazon bought whole foods, the issue became ascendant again. but it turns out i was way off on my numbers: they only employ 300,000 slaves globally. but the wsws keeps on keepin’ on….

          as a side note, i confess i was imaging some of those vets goin’ postal at work. ;-) but really, if you can find the time, do read this diary combining RT being forced to register as a foreign agent…and more. if you’re still using just a smart phone, it may be difficult, though. i just can’t imagine it…

          and here’s pepe’s new piece; i’m looking forward to reading it.

  4. Glen Ford, oct. 26, BAR:
    “Jeff Bezos and his ilk have used their political power to create an economic order of near absolute worker insecurity.”

    “Bezos is an extortionist. Amazon has already gotten more than $1 billion in local and state subsidies for its warehouse centers around the country, where workers are paid 15 percent less , on average, than other warehouses in the region. According to a recent study, Amazon’s business model has destroyed nearly 150,000 more jobs in retail stores than have been created in its warehouses. Author Simon Head writes that Amazon’s “system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive” he has ever come across — even worse than Walmart. However, the whole point of establishing an austerity regime is to starve working people and their communities into submission to employers like Walmart and Amazon – and to make governments pay for the privilege of hosting the extortionist.”

    • save us, Mitch McConnell!!!

      national sports franchises do this extortion crap all the time. build us a new stadium, or we’ll take the Dallas Cowboys to Ft. Worth!

  5. save us, Mitch McConnell!!!

    but but but capitalizm and competishun!!!! Amazon got to be where it is b/c of the titanic Ayn Randian genius of Bezos in developing more efficient market strategies to deliver the goods consumers want. any other explanation is a load of commie bull.

    ok. funny how Amazon will be providing the services for spooks & cops to surveil the Amazon slaves (& the rest of the world). free RFDs included in every order & shipment! And Amazon promises to anonymize any personal data collected & use it solely for market research. don’t let how personal & targeted all the marketing seems fool you! (i know, that’s more google’s thing, but still.) and they got that (effectively) sole source contracting with all the spooks, & soon to be a huge chunk of the DOD, b/c shipping consumer garbage around the world gave them much needed expertise in cloud computing.

    and as long as Amazon makes my consumer lifestyle easier, don’t bother me w/all that other stuff! it is funny & disturbing how certain middlers & uppers could really care less how many “good” (relative term) Amazon destroys. Aim for a career with dignity! Aim for Wal Mart!

    well, I suppose in a few years after the actual Amazon has bit the dust, we will soon forget about it in the effulgence of Amazon, Inc.’s all eclipsing brightness. 400 inch flat screen TV’s for $200??? We can learn all about the river that once was on them old-timey nature shows and classic movies like “Piranha” and “Piranha 2: Roe’s Revenge.”

    • fine rant, mitch devoteé, but you sure did make me sad w/ picturing the death of the actual amazon. the rain forest is disappearing more and more as i type, isn’t it?

      yep, bezos is all about economic equality; imagine him getting that award. jackasses. did he have to share it w/ bill gates?

      i will offer that i was on firefox bing scoping out nut prices at sam’s club (another disgusting place to work) in northern colorado so our son and DiL could shop for us before they come for thankgsgiving. next day i got an email from sam’s club in my junk box. whooosh and ooof.

      great analogy: sports franchises and extortion.

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