Commentary: Tennessee Legislature Must Pass Big COVID Test in ‘Special Session’

The red state/blue state dichotomy is not simple.

Nowhere is that more apparent than Tennessee where—despite having one of the most conservative electorates in the country—the leadership has been passive at best in responding to the wishes of their supporters during these days of great crisis.

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Amazon Warehouse Workers in New York Set to File for Union Vote

Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, New York City, announced plans Thursday to file for a union election before the National Labor Relations Board next week.

Amazon Labor Union, which represents 2,000 Amazon workers, signed union authorization cards and announced plans to petition for an election, according to Vice. If the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approves this request and the unionization vote succeeds, the workers would be the first Amazon employees to successfully unionize.

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Lawmakers Say Amazon ‘Misled’ and ‘May Have Lied’ to Congress

Top members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy on Monday questioning whether the tech company’s executives lied under oath to Congress.

The letter, sent by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including House Judiciary Committee Chair Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York and House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee Ranking Member Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, referred to Wednesday reporting from Reuters stating that Amazon used its online marketplace to collect data on competitors and manufacture imitations of their products, prioritizing its imitations over competitors’ products in search results. The lawmakers also cited a Thursday investigation by The Markup which found that Amazon provided its “brands” better search result locations than those awarded to competitors with better ratings and reviews.

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Conservative Tech Groups Slam Ex-Intelligence Officials for Defending Monopolies, Urge Passage of Antitrust Bills

Two conservative tech advocacy groups sent a letter to House lawmakers criticizing former national security officials for attempting to prevent the passage of antitrust bills targeting Big Tech.

The letter, sent by the Internet Accountability Project (IAP) and the American Principles Project (APP) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy along with lawmakers responsible for overseeing antitrust legislation, urged Congress to pass six bills targeting major tech companies advanced beyond the House Judiciary Committee in June. The letter also criticized twelve former intelligence officials who sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arguing against the passage of antitrust bills in mid-September.

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Amazon Is Awarding Cars and Cash Prizes to Warehouse, Retail Workers Who Get Vaccinated

Amazon is handing out cash prizes and vehicles to its workers that receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a push to vaccinate more of its frontline employees.

The company announced on one of its Instagram pages Monday that five employees were awarded cars worth up to $40,000 dollars as winners of a vaccine sweepstakes.

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Arizona Senate Candidate Blake Masters’ Plans to Tackle Big Tech’s ‘Predatory’ Business Practices

Woman in a red suit on Smartphone

Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters wants to break up Big Tech and ban their business practices he believes are harmful.

“I think Republicans need to reacquaint themselves with their history of antitrust enforcement, and realize huge concentrations of power in private hands can violate people’s liberties just as much as government,” Masters said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Masters, who announced his candidacy in July, serves as chief operating officer at investment firm Thiel Capital and runs the Thiel Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by billionaire investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. He competes in a crowded Republican primary with fellow candidate and current Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the chance to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022.

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Amazon to Pay Employees’ Full College Tuition in Latest Attempt to Attract More Workers

Amazon will begin paying college tuition for hundreds of thousands of its employees in an effort to attract more workers, the company said Thursday.

More than 750,000 hourly Amazon employees nationwide will be eligible to have their full college tuition paid for at one of hundreds of partner universities, according to the announcement. The billion-dollar online retailer said it would also pay for employees’ associate degrees and high school tuition.

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Amazon Will Start Actively Looking for Content to Remove from Hosting Platform: Report

Amazon logo on a Samsung phone

Amazon is creating a team dedicated to actively locating content that violates its policies and removing it from its cloud hosting platform, Reuters reported.

The company’s cloud services division, Amazon Web Services (AWS), is set to hire several people to monitor and remove abusive, illegal, and violent content, a source familiar with the plans told Reuters. The team will also work with outside researchers to review and identify offending content, the source said.

AWS provides data storage, machine learning, and cloud web-hosting, among other services. The division attracted controversy earlier this year when it kicked social media app Parler off its cloud servers over allegations the app was used to coordinate the Jan. 6 riots inside the Capitol building.

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Amazon Plans to Open Department Stores

Amazon is planning to open department stores where consumers can purchase a variety of goods like clothing and electronics, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The planned expansion of Amazon brick-and-mortar stores is the online retail giant’s latest attempt to disrupt the industry, according to a WSJ report Thursday. The Seattle-based company has recently expanded its brick-and-mortar grocery store footprint, opening 17 Amazon Fresh stores nationwide, and is developing at least 20 more, Bloomberg reported.

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EU Regulator Hits Amazon with Record-Breaking Fine for How It Uses Customer Data

An EU privacy regulator hit Amazon with an $887 million fine for violating laws related to the processing of personal data.

The Luxembourg agency National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) issued the fine, imposed July 16 and revealed Friday, ruling that Amazon’s processing of personal data in relation to its advertising practices was in violation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to Amazon’s 10-Q SEC filing. The fine is the largest ever issued under the GDPR, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Corporations Silent on Why They Pulled Funding from Republicans Who Questioned an Election, but Not Democrats Who Did the Same

Corporations were silent on why they chose to suspend political contributions to Republicans, but not Democrats who have objected to election results.

More than 15 major U.S. companies that announced they would suspend giving money to members of Congress following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot didn’t respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation about their political contribution activity following the 2016 presidential election. The corporations were quick to condemn Republicans lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election earlier this year, but apparently didn’t criticize or punish Democrats who have similarly objected to election results in the past.

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Amazon Calls for Higher Taxes on All Corporations Except Itself

Amazon logo on Samsung smartphone screen

While the tech giant Amazon has publicly endorsed proposals to raise the corporate tax rate in the United States, the company has been secretly lobbying to keep its own tax rates low, Politico reports.

Last year, during the 2020 presidential election, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos openly supported then-candidate Joe Biden’s proposals to raise taxes on American corporations. Those proposals have re-emerged in recent weeks as a possible means of funding a possible infrastructure bill, and Biden has been advocating for other countries around the world to adopt higher corporate tax rates as well.

But recently, Amazon has been stepping up its lobbying efforts to try to convince Congress and the White House to allow the company to keep using certain tax breaks in order to keep its own rates low. The retail giant hired a tax lobbyist named Joshua Odintz, who formerly worked as a Democratic aide on Capitol Hill and then as an official in the Obama Administration. In addition to Amazon’s own efforts, similar lobbying has been undertaken by a group known as the “R&D Coalition,” which consists of several companies and organizations including Amazon, Intel, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

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Jeff Bezos Steps Down as CEO of Amazon

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos officially handed over the position of CEO to successor Andy Jassy on Monday, transitioning to the role of executive chair.

Bezos, whose stake in Amazon is worth roughly $180 billion according to the Associated Press, announced in a blog post his plans to step down from the chief executive officer position in February. Bezos said his new position as executive chair would allow him “to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives.”

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Amazon Demands Recusal of Federal Trade Commission Chair from Any Antitrust Investigations

Federal Trade Commission

Tech giant Amazon recently demanded that the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission be recused from any antitrust investigations into the company, according to the Daily Caller.

Amazon filed the petition with the FTC on Wednesday, accusing Chairwoman Lina Khan of being biased due to the fact that she “has, on numerous occasions, argued that Amazon is guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up.” The petition continued by declaring that “these statements convey to any reasonable observer the clear impression that she has already made up her mind about many material facts relevant to Amazon’s antitrust culpability as well as about the ultimate issue of culpability itself.”

The FTC is already conducting several antitrust investigations, including against Amazon; their most recent efforts are focusing on Amazon’s possible acquisition of the film studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), a purchase of nearly $9 billion announced last month.

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Congress’ Antitrust Legislation Avoids Regulating Many Big Tech Companies

Last-minute changes to major antitrust legislation working its way through the House appears to exempt several Big Tech companies from being affected by its regulations.

The legislation, which has been months in the making and was crafted to take on Big Tech monopolies, targets a handful of companies while excluding others that also have massive market power, a leading expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Existing federal and state antitrust law already prohibits a wide range of anticompetitive business activity across all industries like unlawful mergers and monopolization.

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Biden’s Sister Appears to Capitalize on His Position with Book Deal

Valerie Biden Owens

President Joe Biden’s sister will publish a book in April titled “Growing Up Biden: A Memoir,” according to an Amazon pre-order page.

Valerie Biden Owens, a close confidant of the president appears to be capitalizing on his position as president in the new book that appears to go against White House policy, Fox News reported.

“It’s the White House’s policy that the President’s name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities to suggest or in any way — in any way they could reasonably be understood to imply his endorsement or support,” Psaki said at a press briefing in January. “He’s issued the farthest-reaching executive order with respect to the ethical commitments required of his appointees ever and is very proud of it. And, you know, that’s something that he is committed to conveying to anyone it applies to.”

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Reportedly Phoned Pelosi to Warn Her Against Antitrust Bills

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress last week, warning lawmakers that newly proposed antitrust legislation would harm consumers and hurt innovation, five sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.

Lawmakers introduced a series of antitrust bills that target Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon, The New York Times reports. The legislative efforts seek to rein in the tech companies by addressing alleged anti-competitive practices and by curbing monopoly power, according to a report by CNET.  

Pelosi pushed back on Cook’s warnings, asking him to name specific policy objections, two sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.

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Amazon to Acquire MGM Studios for $8.45 Billion in Mega Media Deal

MGM building in Las Vegas, Nevada

Amazon acquired MGM Studios for $8.45 billion in a mega deal that will bolster Amazon’s entertainment profile, the companies announced Wednesday morning.

The deal will allow Amazon to give its subscribers access to MGM Studios’ entire portfolio of movies and television shows, according to the announcement. MGM Studios’ content library includes more than 4,000 films and 17,000 television shows.

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”

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Labor Board Will Hold Hearing over Whether Amazon Interfered with Union Election

Amazon warehouse

The National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing next month to investigate challenges levied by the union that attempted to organize Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama, according to CNBC.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) acting regional director Lisa Henderson will preside over the hearing on May 7 and has the power to order a new unionization election, CNBC reported.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) filed charges with the NLRB against Amazon on April 19, alleging that the company had intimidated and threatened employees throughout the election.

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Silicon Valley Tech Platforms Receive Failing Grades on Quarterly Censorship Report

According to a the most recent quarterly censorship report card from the Media Research Center (MRC), most of the major Silicon Valley tech titans are failing to protect freedom of expression.

“By almost any measure, the first three months of 2021 were the worst ever for online freedom. Amazon, Twitter, Apple, Google, Facebook, YouTube and others proved to the world that the Big Tech censorship of conservatives is a reality,” the group said. “And they did so in disturbing, authoritarian ways that highlight their unchecked power over information and our political process.”

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Commentary: Amazon’s Rejection of Unions in Alabama Is a Big Loss for Big Labor

Amazon workers

Big labor suffered a significant loss in its attempt to unionize employees at Amazon’s warehouse facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Of the workers eligible to vote, an embarrassingly small 16% voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. It was the most recent in a series of high-profile losses for labor including failed attempts to unionize factories for Volkswagen, Nissan Motors, and Boeing. In each case, union leaders bet that they could convince workers it was in their best interests to be enrolled in a union that would stand up to management over wages and working conditions. In each case, they lost.

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Amazon, Which Routinely Avoids Taxes, Supports Biden’s Corporate Tax Rate Hike

Amazon endorsed President Joe Biden’s proposed higher corporate tax rate despite its history of routinely avoiding most or all of its federal tax obligations.

The massive online retailer supports President Joe Biden’s plan to pay for the $2 trillion infrastructure plan he unveiled last week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement Tuesday. Biden announced that the plan would raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.

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Marco Rubio Endorses Amazon Workers Unionization, Tells Business Community to Stop Taking Republicans for Granted

Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio threw his weight of support behind the Amazon workers attempting to unionize at a Bessemer, Alabama warehouse.

Rubio endorsed the Bessemer warehouse workers’ effort to unionize in a USA Today editorial Friday morning, in which he sharply criticized Amazon. Rubio said the retail giant, which has fought hard against the unionization campaign, has waged a war against working-class values and has used anticompetitive strategies to harm small businesses.

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Dr. Seuss Book Sales Skyrocket as Big Tech Companies Continue to Censor Author’s Works

Following the announcement that six books by the world-renowned children’s author Dr. Seuss would be banned due to alleged “racist imagery,” sales of the author’s books have soared on various online retailers, even as other Big Tech companies attempt to further suppress such sales, as reported by Fox News.

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Biden Endorses Historic Amazon Unionization Effort in Alabama

President Joe Biden endorsed the ongoing effort to unionize the workforce at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, giving hope to labor leaders.

Biden tweeted his support for the effort on Sunday, nearly one month after the Bessemer, Alabama warehouse workers began voting in favor of or against unionizing. Biden said workers in Alabama, and nationwide, deserved the right to choose for themselves whether they wanted to join the union, but didn’t mention Amazon by name.

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Big Tech Employees Donated More to Biden’s Campaign Than Any Other Sector

Employees at Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, donated at least $15.1 million to President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, according to Open Secrets.

The donations eclipsed the amount given from employees in the banking and legal sectors, according to The Wall Street Journal. The five companies were also the largest fundraising sources for Biden’s campaign.

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Amazon Stops Selling Book Critical of Transgender Movement

Amazon has removed from its cybershelves a book with “thoughtful answers to questions” about transgenderism—without informing the author and without explanation. 

“When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” by Ryan T. Anderson, a former senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation and now president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, contends that ideology is more of a factor than biology in American society’s acceptance of transgenderism.

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New York Sues Amazon over Allegedly Jeopardizing Workers’ Safety

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday night alleging that the online behemoth bypassed regulations meant to protect its workers from COVID-19.

The lawsuit claims that since the pandemic began in March the company refused to adopt legally required safety measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus in its two New York City facilities. It also alleges that Amazon did not adequately sanitize and close its facilities, adopt necessary social distancing measures or notify its employees of possible coronavirus exposures.

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Amazon Loses Bid to Delay Unionization Vote at Its Alabama Warehouse

The National Labor Relations Board denied Amazon’s request to delay a unionization vote in its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse and ensure it’s conducted in-person.

In January, Amazon requested that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) delay the unionization election, arguing that the proposed mail-in ballot election would disenfranchise up to 1,700 workers. The Bessemer, Alabama warehouse’s nearly 5,800 total workers will begin voting in favor or against unionization on Monday.

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Amazon Offers to Help Biden Administration with Vaccine Distribution, After Ignoring Trump Administration

The Big Tech giant Amazon has publicly offered to assist the new Biden Administration with efforts to distribute the coronavirus vaccine, after previously not making any such offers to the Trump Administration, as reported by the Daily Caller.

The offer was made in a letter to Joe Biden by Amazon vice president Dave Clark, who wrote that “Amazon stands ready to assist you in reaching your goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of your administration.” The letter continued, adding that “we are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts.”

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EU Files Antitrust Charges Against Amazon Over Use of Data

European Union regulators filed antitrust charges Tuesday against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of using its access to data from companies that sell products on its platform to gain an unfair advantage over them.

The charges, filed two years after the bloc’s antitrust enforcer began looking into the company, are the latest effort by European regulators to curb the power of big technology companies. Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition issues, has slapped Google with antitrust fines totaling nearly $10 billion and opened twin antitrust investigations this summer into Apple. The EU’s executive Commission also opened a second investigation Tuesday into whether Amazon favors product offers and merchants that use its own logistics and delivery system.

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Netflix Raising US Streaming Prices Amid Booming Growth

Netflix is raising most of its U.S. prices by 8% to 13% as its video streaming service rides a wave of rising popularity spurred by government-imposed lockdowns that corralled people at home during the fight against the pandemic.

The increases imposed Friday boost the cost of Netflix’s most popular U.S. streaming plan by $1 to $14 per month, while a premium plan that allows more people to watch the service on different screens simultaneously will now cost $2 more at $18 per month. Netflix’s basic U.S. plan remains at $9 per month. It marks Netflix’s first price changes in the U.S. since an increase rolled out early last year.

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Over 19,000 Amazon Staff Members Likely Had COVID Between March and September

Nearly 20,000 Amazon staff members have either tested positive for the coronavirus or were presumed positive between March and September, the company announced Thursday.

Amazon said 19,816 staff members tested positive for the virus or were presumed positive, according to a company blog post.

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Amazon to Kick Off Holiday Shopping with October Prime Day

Amazon is aiming to kickstart the holiday shopping season early this year.

The company is holding its annual Prime Day over two days in October this year, after the pandemic forced it to postpone the sales event from July. It’s the first time Prime Day is being held in the fall, and Amazon is positioning it as a way to get people to start their holiday shopping.

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Trump’s DOD Delivers Another Big Blow to Bezos, Gives $10 Billion Cloud Project to Microsoft Instead of Amazon

The Pentagon reaffirmed its decision Friday to give a $10 billion cloud computing project to Microsoft instead of Amazon, marking the second time in one year that the Trump administration bypassed the online giant’s attempt to secure the program.

The Trump administration’s decision comes amid a legal battle Amazon Web Services initiated in 2019 after the Department of Defense (DOD) selected Microsoft in 2019 for the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud computing contract, media reports show. Amazon previously stated that President Donald Trump’s dislike of CEO Jeff Bezos contributed to the move.

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Jeff Bezos’ Net Worth Reaches $200 Billion

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, solidified his status as the world’s wealthiest man after his net worth reached the $200 billion mark, according to the Daily Caller.

Bezos reached the astounding milestone on Wednesday, with the Caller noting that he is not alone in expanding his wealth during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, which has significantly increased business for Amazon due to the rise in online shopping. Two other prominent CEOs who saw their net worths reach significant landmarks are Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who both reached $100 billion.

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Amazon to Add Thousands of Tech, Corporate Jobs in Six American Cities

Amazon plans to create 3,500 new tech and corporate jobs in six cities nationwide, the company announced Tuesday.

Most of the company’s new hires will be located in Amazon’s New York office with the rest being added in Dallas, Detroit, Denver, Phoenix and San Diego, according to a press release. Amazon also announced plans to expand the six offices to accommodate the new hires.

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Commentary: Why Isn’t ‘Cancel Culture’ Canceling Corporations?

If you haven’t gotten your fill of “cancel culture” yet, tell you what: I have over 80 companies you can cancel right now. Nike, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google among others should be facing the wrath of the social justice warriors, but I’ve barely heard a peep from them about these corporations. 

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Amazon Says Email to Employees Banning TikTok Was a Mistake

Roughly five hours after an internal email went out Friday to Amazon employees telling them to delete the popular video app TikTok from their phones, the online retailing giant appeared to backtrack, calling the ban a mistake.

“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error,” Amazon emailed reporters just before 5 p.m. Eastern time. “There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”

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Censorship, Antitrust Probes: Big Tech Is Back to Fighting Familiar Foes After Taking on Coronavirus

Amazon, Twitter, and other major tech companies are facing intense criticism on antitrust issues and censorship claims in the months since government officials reportedly began asking for help from Silicon Valley on ways to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The president and lawmakers have turned their sights on Twitter and Amazon, respectively, while Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other attorneys general are reportedly ratcheting up their antitrust investigation targeting Google’s business model. The White House asked them in March to fight coronavirus disinformation while also assisting the government in its virus response.

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Conservatives Ask Amazon to End SPLC’s Role as ‘Hate Group Sheriff’

A conservative free-market group hopes to convince Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, not to rely on the Southern Poverty Law Center as a gatekeeper for its philanthropic giving.

The scandal-plagued SPLC, a left-wing advocacy organization, routinely labels mainstream center-right organizations as “hate groups” on a list that includes actual hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazis. 

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Bezos Could Become World’s First Trillionaire as Amazon Rakes in Cash During Pandemic, Research Shows

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is expected to ride the wave of business his company is collecting during the coronavirus pandemic to become the world’s first trillionaire, research shows.

Bezos’s net worth has grown by 34% on average over the past half decade, which could make him a trillionaire, according to an analysis from Comparisun, a platform that helps companies create business management tools. Along with creating marketing tools, the company also conducts studies forecasting what will happen in the business sector, Comparisun’s website noted.

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Commentary: Big Tech’s Toadying to Chinese Communists Demands Action

As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, China has become infamous for its role in allowing the virus to spread. From misleading the World Health Organization about the virus’s contagious elements, restricting the access of global investigators to infected sites, and lying about their infection numbers, China single-handedly stole months of preparation from other countries that have been savaged by the disease.

China has also hoarded masks and personal protective equipment from desperate countries and threatened to withhold critical medicines relied upon by millions of Americans.

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Omar and Bernie Ask Bezos for Answers About Amazon’s Efforts to Slow COVID-19 Spread

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) sent a letter Friday to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asking for “detailed information” about his plans to protect warehouse workers from the coronavirus.

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