Bear repellent sends 24 Amazon employees to hospital, at least one in critical condition

An Amazon warehouse in New Jersey sent 24 employees to the hospital after they were exposed to bear repellent fumes. Read the rest

Alexa-enabled Big Mouth Billy Bass. Pre-order it for $40.

You can preorder an Alexa-enabled Big Mouth Billy Bass for $40. Read the rest

Amazon won't say how many accounts were affected in security lapse

Amazon admits that it leaked some users' email addresses and names. But it's not saying how the information was exposed, how many were affected, or otherwise talking to those affected or to the press. From the sound of things, it'll be a Christmas miracle if anyone finds out.

From TechCrunch:

TechCrunch that the issue exposed names as well as email addresses. “We have fixed the issue and informed customers who may have been impacted.” The company emailed all impacted users to be cautious.

In response to a request for specifics, a spokesperson said the company had “nothing to add beyond our statement.” The company denies there was a data breach of its website of any of its systems, and says it’s fixed the issue, but dismissed our request for more info including the cause, scale and circumstances of the error.

I guess the good news is that those who Amazon is certain of having been affected by their leaky ship have been contacted via email and told the following:

“We’re contacting you to let you know that our website inadvertently disclosed your email address due to a technical error... The issue has been fixed. This is not a result of anything you have done, and there is no need for you to change your password or take any other action.”

What a relief. After all, Who wants to know how or why a snafu that could have a deep impact on their personal finances occurred. Give me a vague explanation of a serious issue, any day. Read the rest

Amazon employees snapped up NYC real estate before headquarters announcement

Like the billions in public money destined for Amazon's benefit and that of the world's richest man, it's all perfectly legal.

The two employees decided to the buy units just before the first press reports surfaced that Amazon was likely to choose Long Island City for its new headquarters, Mr. Aguayo said. The buyers now live in New Jersey and Queens, he added.

While employees aren’t permitted to buy and sell stocks based on nonpublic information, several real estate lawyers said they were aware of no such prohibition for real-estate transactions.

The WSJ reports no "reliable figures" on sales in the area since Amazon's announcement (and immediately before it, evidently) but it's explosive. One brokerage says it sold 150 condos in the last four days, 15 times its normal volume. Read the rest

Amazon's NYC digs being built on land that would have been used for low-income housing

Amazon is already known for providing dangerous working conditions, anti-union activities and treating their blue collar workforce like a disposable commodity. Since they're already screwing folks at work, it must have seemed like a natural progression to screw them at home too.

From Politico:

Amazon’s plans to expand into Long Island City may cost Mayor Bill de Blasio — and New York City — approximately 1,500 units of affordable housing.

Two sites that will house the future offices of the e-commerce giant were originally intended for residential development, before Amazon chose them in a nationwide contest for its new headquarters.

Most — if not all — of that intended housing is now off the table.

According to Politico, the 14.7 acres of land Amazon's plopping out of their grossly subsidized new headquarters complex in Long Island City is owned by a company called Plaxall. Before Amazon came along, Plaxall was gearing up to ask New York City administrators for permission to build close to 5,000 new homes on their property. 1,250 of these homes would have been earmarked for use by low and middle-income earning families. In addition to this, Amazon's NYC complex is also eating up turf from a second company, TF Cornerstone: they were ready to build a complex that would contain 250 low-income housing units on the dirt where Amazon is building their new HQ. That's not going to happen anymore, either.

Greed is nothing, if not consistent.

Image via Wikipedia Commons Read the rest

EU antitrust enforcers investigate Amazon's predatory private-label products

Amazon's best selling wholesales have long accused the company of mining their sales data to discover which products are most profitable; then Amazon clones the product and offers it for sale at a lower price than the wholesales can afford (because Amazon doesn't have to worry about a wholesale-retail markup when it's both wholesaler and retailer at once) and tweaks its search and recommendation system to drive sales to its private-label versions of its partners' products. Read the rest

New York's corporate welfare for Amazon enrages the Koch Brothers, Bernie Sanders, Tucker Carlson, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, etc...

Amazon's new headquarters will be split between northern Virginia and parts of Queens, New York, and will net the company billions in corporate welfare, branded as "incentives." Read the rest

#AmazonHQ2: Amazon to open New York and Northern Virginia headquarters, plus new Nashville operations center

Amazon has selected New York City and Northern Virginia for new headquarters. They're re-branding the area of Crystal City in Arlington, VA as "National Landing." Read the rest

Global antiquarian bookseller strike brings Amazon to its knees

When Amazon division Abebooks -- the largest platform for antiquarian booksellers in the world -- announced it would blacklist stores in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, South Korea and Russia, citing nebulous transaction-processing difficulties -- 600 antiquarian booksellers in 27 countries went on strike, withdrawing their 4,000,000 titles from Abebooks. Read the rest

Apple's war on repair continues: Amazon now bans refurb Apple products from third parties

Apple has long understood that hardware products that last a long time result in falling unit sales, as customers opt to keep their old machines instead of buying the latest models; that's part of why the company led the charge that killed every single Right to Repair bill introduced last year -- less repairs leads to more "recycling," which is Applespeak for dropping used units into giant shredders without harvesting any usable parts first. Read the rest

An overworked US postal worker shares what life is like delivering Amazon packages

In late 2013, the United States Postal Service entered into an agreement with Amazon to deliver its packages alongside the regular mail and, on Sundays, to deliver their packages exclusively. Because the USPS receives no federal funding and was operating in a multi-billion dollar loss, it was thought that this agreement would generate much-needed revenue for them, and it has. Read the rest

Amazon is actively pitching face-recognition to ICE

Despite an uprising of Amazon employees over the use of the company's AI facial recognition program ("Rekognition") in law enforcement, the company is actively courting US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the hopes that it will use the wildly inaccurate technology. Read the rest

A history of the tech worker uprising

Tech-sector workers have enormous market-power: companies find it easier to raise cash than to use it to hire qualified developers. Read the rest

The first trailer for Good Omens makes the apocalypse look delightful

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens is a book that I've revisited many times over the years. Each time that I do, it feels like I'm spending time with an old friend: nothing much has changed since the last time that we saw each other, but I enjoy the book's presence in my life, nonetheless.

The first trailer for Amazon's Good Omens doesn't give me those feels. That's not a bad thing. The mini-series, staring Michael Sheen and David Tennant as Aziraphale and Crowley, feels vital and expansive compared to the cozy confines of the novel I've enjoyed so often over the past few decades. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the production interprets the work.

And hey, if it sucks, I still have the wonderful written iteration to fall back on. Read the rest

USPS says Amazon should pay 9-12% more for shipping, after Trump criticizes USPS for not charging Amazon more

The United States Postal Service (USPS) wants to raise the fees it charges Amazon.com and other internet commerce shippers by 9 to 12 percent. This comes just months after President Donald Trump criticized the USPS, saying it gives Amazon too good of a deal. Read the rest

Amazon trained a sexism-fighting, resume-screening AI with sexist hiring data, so the bot became sexist

Some parts of machine learning are incredibly esoteric and hard to grasp, surprising even seasoned computer science pros; other parts of it are just the same problems that programmers have contended with since the earliest days of computation. The problem Amazon had with its machine-learning-based system for screening job applicants was the latter. Read the rest

Report: Chinese spies snuck tiny backdoor chips onto US corporate, government and military servers

According to an explosive report in Bloomberg, US spies and large corporate IT departments have had an open secret for years: the servers supplied by US hardware giant Supermicro for Elemental, Inc were sometimes infected with tiny hardware backdoors by Chinese spies during their manufacture; these superminiature chips were wired into the systems' baseboard management system and were able to accept covert software patches that would allow Chinese spies to utterly compromise both the servers and the networks they were connected to. Read the rest

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