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Concerned Activists and Hiroshima Bombing Survivor Host Virtual Discussion Night Sunday, August 6 th to Urge Concrete Actions Towards World Peace

Concerned Activists and Hiroshima Bombing Survivor Host Virtual Discussion Night Sunday, August 6 th to Urge Concrete Actions Towards World Peace

Each year, many around the world acknowledge August 6
th as a solemn remembrance of the WWII bomb attack on civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We are a collection of activists from the technology, business, and political spheres working for peace and civil liberties. We will host a Zoom event, “Harmony for Humanity” Sunday, August 6th, from 6pm to 8:30 pm Pacific time which is open to the public. Our
event will be focused not only on commemorating those who suffered and died due to the bombs but on current world conflicts and steps people can take, and can urge their leaders to take, to promote a peaceful world. Please sign up here.
This event is not financed, endorsed or supported in any way by any government, for-profit, or nonprofit corporation. It is 100% grassroots and supported by attendees.

This is not your Oppenheimer movie. For more information on this event visit This unique gathering brings together a diverse lineup of
talent, including four hilarious comedians, six inspiring speakers, and a captivating musician, all driven by a shared commitment to promote world peace.

Through laughter, thought-provoking discussions, and soul-stirring melodies, this event aims to create a space where the power of humor, ideas, and music converge to
facilitate important conversations surrounding nuclear disarmament and the preservation of human rights. Together we will explore the impact of the Hiroshima
bombing and its lasting consequences on both the survivors and the world at large.

Our incredible comedians will infuse the evening with laughter, using their witty and insightful humor to shed light on serious topics, break down barriers, and encourage meaningful dialogue. They will remind us that even in the face of adversity, laughter can
be a catalyst for change and an essential tool for healing.


Vahid Razavi
Founded Ethics In Technology 10 years ago and is now the founder of No Ethics In Big Tech, is the author of two books, The Age of Nepotism and Ethics in Tech and Lack
Thereof. As a lifelong activist and humanitarian, he has produced hundreds of videos on various social issues, including ethics in technology, Silicon Valley, regional politics, poverty, war, and social injustice.


Mr. Takashi Thomas Tanemori: was born in December 1937, in Hiroshima Japan. His father taught him, as the firstborn son, the Samurai Code, to guide him during many
years of searching. After surviving the bombing of Hiroshima, less than a mile from ground zero, losing his parents, and living with relatives, he emigrated to the Central Valley of California as a teenager. Along with authoring his life story in “Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness” he has become a speaker for school, university, and spiritual multi-faith gatherings to share his story of Peace through Forgiveness.

Helen Jaccard : has been a crew member, public speaker, and the Project Manager of the Veterans For Peace “Golden Rule” sailboat project since 2015. She is also a
member of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom. Helen is an author and activist, educating the public about the environmental and cultural impacts of war, militarism, and the nuclear industry.

Norman Solomon : is an American journalist, media critic, antiwar activist, and former U.S. congressional candidate. Solomon is a longtime associate of the media watch
group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). In 1997 he founded the Institute for Public Accuracy, which works to provide alternative sources for journalists, and serves
as its executive director. Solomon’s weekly column, “Media Beat”, was in national syndication from 1992 to 2009.

Dr. Dorsey : Blake serves as Presiding Minister of The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples and Faculty Associate at the Pacific School of Religion. He is also a member of the Coordination Committee of the National Committee of Elders. Franchesca Fiorentini Correspondent and stand-up comedian. Host of Newsbroke and The Bitchuation Room Podcast. Will Durst Acknowledged by peers and press alike as one of the premier political satirists in the country,

Will Durst : has patched together a comedy quilt of a career, weaving together columns, books, radio and television commentaries, acting, voice-overs, and most especially, standup comedy, into a hilarious patchwork of
outraged and outrageous common sense. His abiding motto is, “You can’t make stuff up
like this.” The New York Times calls him “possibly the best political comic in the country.” Fox News agrees “he’s a great political satirist,” while the Oregonian hails him
as a “hilarious stand-up journalist.

Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based writer and activist whose work focuses on issues of war and peace, and human rights. He is a staff writer at Common Dreams.

José : is the Community Manager at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In 1990, he experienced the United States’ wars from the other side, visiting his family in Panamá while it was under US occupation. He has organized against war and militarism ever since. At EFF, he has worked on teams focused on police, carceral, and border technologies.

Chloe McGovern has performed at major clubs throughout New York City and the country, including The Comedy Cellar Underground, The Stand, Gotham Comedy Club, Caroline’s, The Hollywood Improv, and The Laugh Factory, among others.

Annette Mullaney is a San Francisco-based comic who’s performed all over the country, from SF Sketchfest and Austin’s Out of Bounds Festival to the Detroit Women
of Comedy Festival, and recently opened for Third Eye Blind. Originally from Michigan, she lived in Syria for several years and has been a software engineer, translator, and writer for a magazine that she now realizes was a money-laundering front for the cousin
of a dictator.


Mike Rufo’s songs and poems arc across the waves of life. His music is gripping and eclectic, reflecting his impassioned engagement with the world. Mike’s musical
language builds upon powerful lyrics, soaring vocals, driving rhythms, and melodic riffs that explore emotional depths and transformation. He also mixes things up with a knack for well-conceived parody, with a dash of political punch, like his popular singles Hit the Road, Trump! and Spyin’ Eyes

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Harmony for Humanity: Uniting for Peace on Hiroshima Day

Harmony for Humanity: Uniting for Peace on Hiroshima Day

This year’s theme for No Ethics in Big Tech’s—formerly Ethics In Tech—Hiroshima Day annual commemoration and panel is “Harmony for Humanity: Uniting for Peace on Hiroshima Day.”

Our lineup this year includes a diverse mix of speakers and comedians, promising a unique blend of comedy and discussion that makes No Ethics In Big Tech events a
one-of-a-kind experience.

Legendary political comedian Will Durst is on the mend and back in our all-star lineup, along with stand-up superstar, journalist, and activist Francesca Fiorentini,
the ever-uproarious Chloe McGovern, and cosmopolitan humorist Annette Mullaney, whose work in Big Tech seasons her always witty sets.Singer/songwriter/guitarist Michael Rufo—whose crafty lyrics skewer government
surveillance and current affairs—is our special musical guest.

On the speaker side, host and No Ethics in Big Tech founder Vahid Razavi has assembled one of our best panels yet. Author and Veterans for Peace activist Helen Jaccard will lead off a lineup that includes Rev. Dr. Dorsey Blake of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, Common Dreams writer Brett Wilkins, RootsAction founder Norman Solomon—whose latest book, War Made Invisible, is a must-read for all peace-lovers, José of the venerable Electronic Frontier Foundation, and our very special guest, atomic bomb survivor and Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness author Takashi Thomas Tanemori.

“I am looking forward to meeting many of you,” says Tanemori. “It is wonderful that you are promoting peace. For me, I’m promoting peace through forgiveness.”
Always one of our more popular events, this year’s Hiroshima Day commemoration is all the more timely given the release of Christopher Nolan’s summer blockbuster Oppenheimer, a biopic chronicling the life of theoretical physicist and “father of the atomic bomb” J. Robert Oppenheimer. Being this is a No Ethics in Big Tech event, we won’t pull any punches like Hollywood inevitably does—although we stand in solidarity with striking writers and actors. As always, we’ll have a frank discussion about the history, current state, and future of nuclear weapons, which, arguably, now as much as ever represent an existential threat to humanity.

The world’s nine nuclear-armed countries—the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea—spent a combined $83
billion on their nuclear arsenals last year, with more than half of that amount attributable to the U.S. Instead of disarmament, the United States is spending tens
of billions of dollars modernizing and upgrading its nuclear arsenal. Another world is possible. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its work culminating in the landmark Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which now has 92 signatories and 68 state parties. However, none of the world’s nine nuclear powers have signed the treaty. But as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently asserted, eliminating nuclear weapons is “not only possible, it is necessary.”

Guterres warning came amid heightened nuclear fears during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and nuclear threats from Russian leaders. The world hasn’t been this close
to nuclear war since the 1980s, when tensions between the United States and Soviet Union reignited to levels unseen since the Cuban Missile Crisis. According
to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, we are closer to “midnight”—nuclear armageddon—than even during the dark days of the Cold War’s final decade.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Join us on Hiroshima Day, August 6, and let’s realize a better world together

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Oppenheimer’s Movie, Humanizing the Inhumane

Let me share my thoughts on the movie Oppenheimer, which I attended on its opening night in Palo Alto at the 7:00 PM showing. As a disabled individual, I was assigned seat E2 and had to sit in the handicapped seat located on top of the theater, as using the stairs was not an option for me.

When I purchased my ticket online from the Emerson St theater  in Palo Alto, their website indicated that the movie was nearly sold out. However, upon arrival, I was surprised to see that the occupancy was only around 75% at best. This experience reminded me of how certain organizations manipulate ticket sales, such as the Church of Scientology’s bulk purchases of Tom Cruise movies or movie production houses giving away tickets for free reviews to create a buzz.

In my opinion, Oppenheimer glorifies individuals responsible for the creation of weapons of mass destruction. The film attempts to humanize their actions, which resulted in events such as Trinity, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and over 1000 nuclear tests in the US alone. Unfortunately, the movie fails to reflect on the impact these actions had on the victims of atomic blasts, the victims in Japan, the victims of nuclear energy accidents, or even the 1000 tests themselves. Ultimately, it is three hours of disjointed theater that overlooks the true consequences.

It is disheartening to think that our society, with over $800 billion spent on the military, has cultivated a generation fascinated by violence and technology, supporting movies like this. I have no doubt that it will receive awards, accolades, and generate significant streaming income. It seems both Hollywood and the tech industry excel at profiting from the war machine, essentially making blood money.

However, there is an alternative response to this movie. We are organizing an event to commemorate the anniversary of Hiroshima Day, which claimed the lives of 160,000 people. The event will feature a Hiroshima Survivor, as well as representatives from Roots Action, Common Dreams, Veterans For Peace, The Church of Fellowship of All People, and four talented comedians and musicians. Rather than glorifying individuals like Oppenheimer, our event aims to initiate meaningful discussions and even find humor in their inhuman actions. I invite you to join us for the Harmony for Humanity Hiroshima Day Event.

Please join us for the event on August 6th at 6:00 PM.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my review and invitation.


Vahid Razavi

Mr. Tanimori 


‘Unconstitutional’ South Carolina bill would criminalize sharing abortion info online

July 22, 2022 by Brett Wilkins for Common Dreams

Critics on Friday took aim at a proposed South Carolina law that would criminalize the online sharing of information about obtaining abortions and, according to some journalists, could even be used to silence stories related to reproductive rights.

S.B. 1373—which one prominent defense attorney called “a breathtaking assault on free speech”—contains language associated with organized crime conspiracy laws by targeting people who engage in “a pattern of prohibited abortion activity.”

“This is tremendously concerning for us. It is a target for folks who tell the stories of patients who need to access care, explain how care is [accessed], and the stories of providers and advocates who are helping make sure that happens,” Jessica Mason Pieklo, senior vice president and executive editor at the reproductive rights site Rewire News Group, toldPrism.

“If we think that conservatives will stop at speech that targets abortion providers, people who write about abortion, people who offer scientific and medical information around abortion, we’re mistaken,” Pieklo added. “We know that this will bleed into other areas that evangelical and social conservatives deem inappropriate and deviant.”

Just before the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing supermajority overturned Roe v. Wade last month, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s largest anti-choice group, published model legislation that, in addition to banning abortion, criminalizes “aiding or abetting” the medical procedure.

According to S.B. 1373—parts of which are nearly identical to NRLC model law—”aiding or abetting” includes:

Providing information to a pregnant woman, or someone seeking information on behalf of a pregnant woman, by telephone, internet, or any other mode of communication regarding self-administered abortions or the means to obtain an abortion, knowing that the information will be used, or is reasonably likely to be used, for an abortion;
Hosting or maintaining an internet website, providing access to an internet website, or providing an internet service purposefully directed to a pregnant woman who is a resident of this state that provides information on how to obtain an abortion;
Offering or providing abortion doula services, knowing that the services will be used, or are reasonably likely to be used for an abortion;
Providing a referral to an abortion provider, knowing that the referral will result, or is reasonably likely to result, in an abortion; and
Providing a referral to an abortion provider and receiving monetary remuneration, or other compensation, from an abortion provider for the referral.
S.B. 1373 also contains novel “whistleblower” protections, imposing prison terms of up to 10 years for people who “take any action to impede” those who report violations of the law to the state attorney general.

The National Law Review said the bill “also provides an extremely broad definition of what constitutes ‘actions impeding a whistleblower.’”

Michele Goodwin, director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy at the University of California, Irvine Law School, called S.B. 1373 “unconstitutional,” but warned such bills would nevertheless likely proliferate.

“These are not going to be one-offs,” Goodwin told The Washington Post. “These are going to be laws that spread like wildfire through states that have shown hostility to abortion.”

Digital rights campaigners highlighted the role—and responsibility—of Big Tech in light of bills like S.B. 1373, with New Jersey congressional candidate and attorney Stephanie Schmid asserting that “it’s time for tech companies to get off the sidelines.”

The Center for Democracy & Technology says that “crucially, companies should carefully scrutinize and seek to limit the scope of surveillance demands issued in prosecutions to enforce anti-abortion laws.”

“They should adopt clear and consistent standards for refusing overbroad requests, commit to giving their users timely notice of requests, and report publicly the numbers of surveillance demands they receive to increase public accountability,” the advocacy group added.

In a bid to counter legislation like S.B. 1373, congressional Democrats last month introduced a bill, the My Body, My Data Act, that would establish privacy protections for reproductive health data.

Earlier this month, a coalition of reproductive rights groups filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the legislation, which Center for Reproductive Rights president and CEO Nancy Northup said is causing “mayhem at an unimaginable scale.”

As of last month, abortion is banned in South Carolina after six weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape or incest, or when the pregnant person’s life is in danger.


Bernie Sanders leads calls for regulators to block Amazon’s purchase of One Medical

July 21, 2022 by Brett Wilkins for Common Dreams
Privacy, antitrust, and other advocates on Thursday sounded the alarm over Amazon’s purchase of boutique healthcare company One Medical, a move that one group said “opens a terrifying new frontier in surveillance of Americans by private corporations.”

CNBC reports Amazon is acquiring One Medical, a San Francisco-based private health services provider with 188 locations whose 767,000 members pay around $200 in annual concierge fees, for about $3.9 billion, or $18 per share.

Neil Lindsay, Amazon’s senior vice president of health services, told The Washington Post—which is owned by Amazon multi-billionaire founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos—that “we think healthcare is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention.”

However, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted: “The function of a rational healthcare system is to provide quality care to all in a cost-effective way, not make billionaires like Jeff Bezos even richer. At a time of growing concentration of ownership, the Justice Department must deny Amazon’s acquisition of One Medical.”

Barry Lynn, executive director of the Open Markets Institute (OMI), an anti-monopoly think tank, asserted in a statement that “U.S. enforcement agencies should block this deal.”

“They should also move swiftly to establish a basic set of rules to protect every corner of America’s health industry from the power of the manipulation platforms,” he added.

If the One Medical deal is completed, it would mark Amazon’s third-biggest acquisition after Whole Foods ($13.7 billion) and MGM Studios ($8.5 billion).

While One Medical CEO Amir Dan Rubin said the Amazon acquisition presents “an immense opportunity to make the healthcare experience more accessible, affordable, and even enjoyable,” critics warned of the dangers to public health in a nation that spends far more per capita on healthcare than other developed countries while experiencing overall inferior outcomes.

“This will be a blow to the fight for universal healthcare,” opined journalist Aaron T. Rose. “Imagine all the money Amazon will pour into lobbying to stop Medicare for All now that they have a dog in the fight.”

Others expressed concerns about the threats to privacy and competition. OMI’s Lynn wrote:

Amazon’s takeover of One Medical is the latest shot in a terrifying new stage in the business model of the world’s largest corporations. The deal will expand Amazon’s ability to collect the most intimate and personal of information about individuals, in order to track, target, manipulate, and exploit people in ever more intrusive ways.

Amazon is not the only dangerous actor here. Google’s recent takeover of the fitness tracker Fitbit poses similar threats. Every American should stand against this radical extension of corporate power into our lives. In addition to manipulating how we talk to one another and do business with one another, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple are moving fast to manipulate our perceptions of our own health and well-being.

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent reversal of Roe v. Wade and Republican-led states’ moves to criminalize people who have, perform, or “abet” abortions, reproductive rights advocates feared the implications of Amazon’s purchase.

“One Medical currently has healthcare locations in Georgia, Texas, Ohio, and Arizona—all states we can expect will prosecute pregnant people for abortions or adverse pregnancy outcomes,” tweeted Robyn Swirling, founder and executive director of the progressive advocacy group Works in Progress. “So you can maybe see why Amazon having their medical data is, perhaps, not going to be safe!”

This isn’t Amazon’s first foray into the healthcare services sector. It bought online pharmacy PillPack in 2018 for $750 million, launched Amazon Pharmacy in 2020, and earlier this year expanded its Amazon Care telehealth program nationwide.

“Is there anything,” asked NPR correspondent David Gura in response to Amazon’s latest acquisition, “this corporation won’t know about your day-to-day life?”


Analysis: 26 US Billionaires Paid Average Tax Rate of Just 4.8% in Recent Years

"When you include their untaxed wealth growth in the calculation, many billionaires pay almost nothing," said Frank Clemente of Americans for Tax Fairness.


May 19, 2022

When their astronomical wealth gains are taken into account, dozens of the top billionaires in the United States paid an average federal tax rate of just 4.8% from 2013 to 2018—a significantly lower rate than the nation's average taxpayer.

"As long as we fail to tax their main source of income—the growth in their fortunes—many billionaires will continue to live largely tax-free lives."

That's according to a new analysis released Thursday by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), a progressive group that has been tracking the explosion of billionaire wealth over the past several years, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under current U.S. law, unrealized capital gains from stocks and other assets are not taxed, allowing billionaires such as Amazon executive chairman Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk to accumulate massive fortunes tax-free. And even when assets are sold and gains are "realized," the long-term capital gains tax rate is significantly lower than the top marginal tax rate of 37%.

Drawing on Forbes figures on billionaire wealth and recent Internal Revenue Service data leaked to ProPublica, ATF estimates that 26 of the richest people in the U.S. paid an average federal income tax rate of 4.8% between 2013 and 2018 when wealth gains are counted as income.

Some prominent billionaires—including Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Bezos—paid tax rates of less than 2% during the six-year period, ATF found.

On Twitter, ATF pointed out that the average U.S. taxpayer pays a 13.3% tax rate on their income.

"Teachers, plumbers, firefighters, and other working Americans can already pay higher tax rates than billionaires—and that's just counting the small part of billionaire income that is now taxed," Frank Clemente, ATF's executive director, said in a statement. "When you include their untaxed wealth growth in the calculation, many billionaires pay almost nothing."

ATF argues that it's reasonable to count billionaires' unrealized wealth gains as income because the ultra-rich can borrow against their assets, securing "low-interest loans that fund lavish lifestyles without owing income tax."

"At the scale enjoyed by billionaires, growth in the value of assets—even if those assets are not sold—can be as good as money in the bank, which Elon Musk is putting to good effect in his purchase of Twitter," the group said.

In October, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)—the chair of the Senate Finance Committee—introduced legislation that would impose an annual tax on unrealized gains that the wealthy accumulate from tradable assets, a proposal that ATF has applauded.

At present, the bill has no path to passage in the Senate, largely because of Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) opposition.

"As long as we fail to tax their main source of income—the growth in their fortunes—many billionaires will continue to live largely tax-free lives," Clemente said Thursday.

Workers Want a Voice on the Job. Amazon Should Lead the Way

Amazon should welcome our voices and our deep knowledge of the business.

Want to know why there’s a sudden wave of workers organizing to form unions across the country?

A lot of reasons, to be sure, but more than anything, I believe: Workers want to be heard. We spend most of our waking hours on the job, and we have a lot to say about what happens there. We want to find a way to make our employers actually listen to what we know, and what we want.

Companies with hourly workers on their boards of directors perform better—they enjoy higher profits, lower turnover, and stronger safety records.

In most companies, the boards of directors have no face-to-face contact with the people who do the actual labor of keeping the lights on and the packages delivered. They don’t know what it means to be watched while you take a restroom break, to have the pace of work determined by machines, to have to carry your belongings in a clear plastic bag so security can ensure you haven’t taken anything.

Workers know this, and we know how it feels to try to raise a family on $15 an hour, to have to report to work while ill because we have minimal paid leave, to work 12-hour shifts just to earn a few more cents an hour.

In fact, while Jeff Bezos blasted himself into space last summer, many essential workers were losing COVID-related paid sick leave, struggling to stay safe and healthy, and even mourning the loss of loved ones.

We want to share this reality and these experiences, and we want to find a way to make changes so the business and the workers can do better.

That’s why I worked so hard to help form a union at my warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama; and why I celebrated when the workers on State Island were successful earlier this year.

Amazon should welcome our voices and our deep knowledge of the business. In fact, on May 25, shareholders have a chance to acknowledge this potential, and support a resolution to nominate an hourly associate to the Board.

Amazon needs a worker on the board because current labor practices are running through workers. The average Amazon warehouse worker only lasts eight months on the job. The rate of turnover is so high that the company is exhausting the local labor supply.

Amazon needs a worker on the board because the pace of work is injuring workers at extraordinary rates. I’ve been injured myself, and they tried to blame me for it, while it was clearly an issue from the work. An ice pack and ibuprofen is supposed to cure every injury. Out of all the places I’ve ever worked, I’ve never seen the pace being pushed so fast, and seen safety not be the number one priority.

Amazon needs a worker on the board because they need to understand what it means when a coworker dies on the job. We’ve had several deaths in our facility and not once has Amazon acknowledged the loss of our coworkers. This was devastating and continues to crush our morale.

Amazon needs a worker on the board because we bring voices that are missing on the board. Amazon’s board remains mostly male and white, even though the majority of hourly workers are of color and women. And not one person on Amazon’s board has any idea what it means to try to keep a household running right now on $15 an hour—or $20 or $30 an hour.

Finally, Amazon needs a worker on the board because it will make the company more successful. We are the ones who know all the ins and outs of how the process works. From the tape to the robot arm to the distance to the bathroom, we know it best. Companies with hourly workers on their boards of directors perform better—they enjoy higher profits, lower turnover, and stronger safety records.

I’ll continue to do all I can to make life better for my coworkers, because I care for them and believe in our dignity. If Amazon truly wants to be “Earth’s Best Employer,” listening to its employees is a good place to start.


” 14 Report Warns Taxpayer Money Is Fueling ‘Pandemic Greed Grab’ by US CEOs

As ordinary workers across the United States watched inflation eat away at modest wage gains in 2021, many corporations—including firms contracting with the federal government—used record-shattering profits to lavish their CEOs with bigger pay packages and reward shareholders with billions of dollars in stock buybacks.

According to an analysis published Tuesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the average gap between CEO and median worker pay at a sample of 300 low-wage U.S. corporations surged in 2021, rising to 670 to 1—up from 604 to 1 in 2020.

“Amazon has reported $10.3 billion in recent federal contracts, most of it to provide web services for the National Security Agency.”

Forty-nine of the publicly traded companies examined in the IPS study, titled “Executive Excess,” had CEO-to-worker-pay ratios above 1,000 to 1 last year.

Amazon, for instance, paid CEO Andy Jassy a staggering 6,474 times more than it paid its median worker in 2021, a year in which the e-commerce giant spent $4.3 million on anti-union consultants.

Overall, IPS found that CEO pay at the 300 corporations increased by $2.5 million to an average of $10.6 million last year while median worker pay grew by just $3,556, rising to an average of $23,968 as inflation soared to its highest level in decades.

IPS noted that skyrocketing inflation—which has been fueled by corporate profiteering—resulted in effective pay cuts for median workers at 106 of the companies in its sample.

Meanwhile, IPS observed, 67% of those firms spent a total of $43.7 billion on stock buybacks, which benefit company shareholders and help boost the stock-based compensation of executives. Now a common practice among profitable corporations, share buybacks were largely illegal before 1982.

“With the $13 billion Lowes alone spent on share repurchases, the company could have given each of its 325,000 employees a $40,000 raise,” the new report states. “Instead, its median pay fell 7.6% to $22,697.”

Sarah Anderson, director of the IPS Global Economy Project and lead author of the new study, said in a statement that “CEOs’ pandemic greed grab has sparked outrage among Americans across the political spectrum,” pointing to an April survey showing that nearly 90% of U.S. adults believe the widening chasm between CEO and worker pay is “a problem in this country today.”

That problem, according to IPS’ findings, is being exacerbated by taxpayer dollars. Out of the 300 companies analyzed, 40% were awarded contracts from the federal government between October 1, 2019 and May 1, 2022.

IPS found that the combined value of the federal contracts was $37.2 billion, and the average CEO-worker pay ratio of the contractors jumped to 571 to 1 in 2021.

“Amazon has reported $10.3 billion in recent federal contracts, most of it to provide web services for the National Security Agency,” the report notes. “The company reportedly also received a lucrative share of a multibillion-dollar CIA contract for cloud services. The details and exact value of this contract continue to be classified.”

Among other policy recommendations, IPS argued that President Joe Biden can and should take action unilaterally to ensure that contracts flow to firms with lower CEO-to-worker-pay ratios.

“The president could wield the power of the public purse by introducing new standards making it hard for companies with huge CEO-worker pay gaps to land a lucrative federal contract,” Anderson said.


Big Tech Mounting Big-Money Fight to Defeat to Corporate Antitrust Bill

The bill is being praised as “simple, bipartisan, wildly popular with voters, and a good first step toward reining in Big Tech.”

Amazon and tech giants are mounting a big-money push to tank bipartisan antitrust legislation its proponents say rightly takes on concentrated corporate power undermining small businesses and democracy.

Introduced in October by lead co-sponsors Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa.), the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S.2992) is coming up against negative media and spending blitzes ahead of a possible vote later this month.

Bloomberg reported Monday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has promised a vote on the legislation this month, noting the narrow window ahead of the August recess.

The bill would, among other provisions, prevent major platforms like Amazon and Google from giving preferential treatment to their own products.

According to a report released last week by the Center for American Progress, the measure would “protect American consumers, small businesses, and innovation online.”

Industry lobby groups and major tech firms, however, are “going all out” against the bill, Axios reported Monday.

Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide selling partner services, for example, “recently tried lobbying third-party sellers on an online forum that they use to communicate with one another about hot topics” to encourage them to oppose the measure, according to CNBC. “I want to ensure that you are aware of this legislation and what you can do to try and stop it from harming you,” he wrote in part, and directed sellers to a contact-your-senator form. CNBC added:

Hundreds of sellers replied to Mehta’s post, including many who seemed unconvinced by Amazon’s point of view and promised to support the legislation. Third-party sellers, who account for more than half of Amazon’s retail volume, have in recent years expressed frustration over the costs they pay to stay in good standing, the amount Amazon charges them for ads, and Amazon’s inability to rid the marketplace of scams and bad actors.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Neil Bradley also came out swinging against the bill, writing in a Monday blog post that it would afford “unprecedented authority to bureaucrats at the FTC and DOJ allowing them to micro-manage the American economy and pick winners and losers in the marketplace.” And in a letter to senators last week, the chamber called it “misguided” and urged lawmakers to vote against it.

To help achieve that aim, as a Washington Post analysis published Monday highlighted, “tech trade associations and groups with ties to industry giants are… launching a major advertising blitz that’s increasingly targeting swing-state Democrats.”

The Post reported:

“CCIA—a trade group that counts Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google as members—took out over $8 million in TV ads earlier this year primarily targeting swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin, according to the independent news site the Lever. CCIA also took out over $2 million in ads in New Hampshire, according to the New Hampshire Journal. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

In recent months, another group called New Democracy has “taken out at least $167,000 in Facebook ads and over $218,000 in Google ads that largely call on a narrow set of swing-state Democrats to reject the bill,” the Post added. “The ads have been shown at least 13 million times, according to a review by The Technology 202 of the companies’ digital advertising libraries.”

Bloomberg also noted that “Apple, Amazon, Google, and [Facebook parent company] Meta spent $16.7 million lobbying in the first three months of 2022, with all four identifying the antitrust bills as their top priority, according to lobbying disclosures filed with Congress,” referencing the Senate and House versions. And Apple, Axios reported Monday, “spent more on lobbying last quarter ($2.5 million) than in any previous quarter.”

The money may have been well spent.

The legislation “passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with support from both parties earlier this year,” Politico reported last month. However, “in the days since Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Klobuchar he would hold a floor vote as early as [June], several Democratic senators have privately expressed deep reservations about voting for the legislation, particularly with a midterm election looming, in their conversations with Schumer and other Democratic offices.”

Fight for the Future, a digital rights group backing the legislation, said in an email to supporters Tuesday that “a small faction of Senate Democrats may be betraying you for Big Tech.”

“There is no question that these lawmakers, including Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), and Alejandro Padilla (Calif.), are being swayed by Big Tech lobbyists,” the group wrote.

“But siding with Big Tech at the expense of passing legislation that would rein in monopolistic companies that abuse their gatekeeper status to undermine human rights, distort democracy, abuse our personal data, and stifle competition,” said Fight for the Future, “is just wrong.”

Stacy Mitchell, co-director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, called Klobuchar’s bill “simple, bipartisan, wildly popular with voters, and a good first step toward reining in Big Tech.”

In a lengthy Twitter thread last week debunking Amazon’s claim that the legislation would kill its Prime service, Mitchell wrote that the measure would stop the online retail giant and other Big Tech firms from “self-preferencing and market manipulation.”

Its passage, she added, could bring about “the end of some of the most nakedly monopolistic tactics used by Big Tech.”


Sanders and Gillibrand Call on Amazon to Recognize Historic Union Victory

"It is time for Amazon to end its blatant disregard of labor law and treat workers with the respect and dignity they deserve."


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) Friday sent a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy urging him to drop the company's objections to the historic union election on Staten Island before a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing on Monday and finally recognize the Amazon Labor Union.

"If Amazon can afford to spend $10 billion in stock buybacks to enrich its wealthy shareholders and executives—including the second richest person in the world, Jeff Bezos—it can afford a unionized workforce," the senators wrote. "If Amazon can spend over $4 million in a single year on union-busting and $213 million on your compensation, it can afford a workforce that can collectively bargain for better wages, better benefits, safer working conditions, and reliable schedules…We strongly urge you to respect the will of Amazon workers by dropping your objections, recognizing the Amazon Labor Union and negotiating in good faith before the NLRB hearing on June 13th. It is time for Amazon to end its blatant disregard of labor law and treat workers with the respect and dignity they deserve."

Since the workers on Staten Island became the first-ever Amazon warehouse to successfully vote to form a union in the United States, Amazon has refused to negotiate a first contract, refused to recognize that the union exists, and filed 25 objections to the election – despite the NLRB certifying the victory.

"Sadly, Amazon has refused to accept the will of their workers and has instead filed 25 objections to the election, accusing both the union and the NLRB of misconduct.  Amazon has objected to the union election from the beginning, alleging that there is insufficient support and the union and NLRB manipulated evidence of support.  But, Mr. Jassy, last month's election results make it clear that your workers at JFK8 want a union.  Amazon has gone as far as alleging that the NLRB and the union's actions are "substantially more egregious" than its own actions to interfere with a union election in Bessemer, Alabama by illegally installing a mailbox to intimidate workers" the senators wrote.

Last year, Amazon increased its profits by 75 percent to a record-breaking $35 billion while avoiding over $5 billion in taxes and while spending $4.3 million on union-busting consultants and lawyers. Amazon has also been penalized more than $75 million for breaking federal discrimination and wage laws and is currently being sued by the NLRB to reinstate a worker who was illegally fired for organizing a union.

Amazon is waging a war against workers' right to unionize – from forcing workers to attend anti-union meetings, to threatening to slash wages and benefits if workers form a union – and there are currently 51 open Unfair Labor Practice cases against Amazon pending before the NLRB.

Jeff Bezos, world’s first multi-centibillionaire, or, New Zealand in a man

On Wednesday, Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person, shattered the $200 billion ceiling. He had a decent day on the stock market, with Amazon shares edging up about 2 percent. But a “decent” 2 percent day for the richest man on Earth means his net wealth soared by around $5 billion that day. And voilà, just like that, we’ve got the world’s first multi-centibillionaire, and I’m pretty sure the first ever printing of the word “multi-centibillionaire.” Strange days, friends. Strange days, indeed.

Dan Riffle, a senior advisor to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has famously asserted that “every billionaire is a policy failure.” If that’s so—and I do believe it is—then the United States of America is at least to some degree a failed state. And by “some,” I mean much more than we can afford to ignore.

Bezos isn’t alone up there. Yes, he is a whopping $75 billion richer than Bill Gates, the runner-up on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index. But that still means that the Microsoft co-founder is worth a staggering $125 billion, with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg ($111 billion) not far behind, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk ($104 billion) pulling the platinum caboose of the centibillionaire’s club.

A train, replete with all the Snowpiercer-like mental imagery it conjures, seems a fitting metaphor for a system that progressive economist and former U.S. labor secretary says has “gone off the rails.”As in Snowpiercer, Bezos and his plutocrat pals in the front of the train are worse than oblivious to the plight of the poor passengers in the back. They’re downright contemptuous.

Have you heard about Chris Smalls? He was a worker at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse who was fired after organizing a work stoppage to protest a lack of protective gear and pandemic hazard pay amid the deaths of numerous company employees. What Amazon executives didn’t expect was that Smalls would become a cause célèbre who would draw worldwide attention to some of their worst corporate practices. Scrambling into damage control mode, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky decided the company’s best course of action was to smear Smalls, a Black man, as “not smart or articulate.”The system is beyond broken. It is beyond unfair. It has entered the realm of insanity. What else would you call it when three men own more wealth than the bottom half of the U.S. population—that’s 160 million people—combined? How would you describe a system in which tens of millions of people are jobless, millions of children are hungry, and millions of families are at risk of becoming homeless, while the net worth of America’s billionaires has skyrocketed by nearly $800 billion over the past five months?The four richest men in the world now have a combined net worth of $540 billion. In my own personal quest to wrap my head around such stupendous wealth, I found countries to be a useful benchmark. More specifically, I reckoned that comparing the tech titans’ total treasure to the annual gross domestic product of various nations, the only truly appropriate entities against which these men can be accurately measured, would give me a fuller understanding of the scale and scope of their fortune.

So I got hold of the World Bank’s latest available (2019) world GDP figures and from these I learned that if Bezos, Gates, Zuckerberg and Musk were a country, their net worth would fall between the GDP of Thailand ($543 billion), the world’s 22nd-largest economy, and #23 Sweden ($530 billion).

On his own, Bezos’ bazillions would place him roughly on par with #52 New Zealand ($206 billion), and well ahead of oil-drenched #53, Qatar ($183 billion). Had Bezos and his former wife not divorced last year, the couple would be worth at least $263 billion, or about as much as the GDP of Finland, the world’s 44th-largest economy.

Bezos is now on track to become world’s first trillionaire. My spell-check doesn’t even recognize that word; surely it’s a mistake? Oh, but it’s not, and according to the business research firm Comparisun, Bezos is projected to reach that unimaginable milestone by 2026.

Unless, that is, somebody stops him and his ilk. Some think this can realized via more traditional means:


Outrage over $10 billion ‘giveaway of galactic proportions’ to Bezos in NDAA

Progressives on Wednesday slammed what they called a proposed $10 billion handout to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos—the world’s first multi-centibillionaire—in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act as a “giveaway of galactic proportions” in the face of growing wealth inequality and the inability of U.S. lawmakers to pass a sweeping social and climate spending package.

According to Defense News, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to merge the $250 billion U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (USICA)—aimed largely at countering the rise of China—with next year’s NDAA, which would authorize up to $778 billion in military spending. That’s $37 billion more than former President Donald Trump’s final defense budget and $25 billion more than requested by President Joe Biden. The NDAA includes a $10 billion subsidy to Bezos’ Blue Origin space exploration company.

“Providing Jeff Bezos with $10 billion of taxpayer money would be an inappropriate giveaway of galactic proportions,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), said in a statement Wednesday.“Jeff Bezos shouldn’t receive taxpayer subsidies for his personal projects—period,” he continued. “In at least two recent years, one of the richest people on the planet paid no income tax; yet he then demands billions in taxpayer funds for a project that’s already been awarded to another company. This is the height of hubris.”

“Rather than waste $10 billion on a redundant space contract for Bezos, that money could be used to adequately fund Social Security Disability, Medicare and Medicaid, and the food stamps that many of his own employees at Amazon and elsewhere have to rely on to make ends meet,” Appelbaum said.

“Jeff Bezos’s business model includes feasting on public subsidies—and the U.S. Senate must not acquiesce to his demands,” he added. “Furthermore, until Jeff Bezos changes the way his employees are mistreated and dehumanized at Amazon and elsewhere, no elected official should support the passage of subsidies for him or any of his projects.”Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has condemned the NDAA for containing $52 billion in “corporate welfare” for Big Tech. Explaining why he would vote against the NDAA, Sanders said Tuesday that “combining these two pieces of legislation would push the price tag of the defense bill to over $1 trillion—with very little scrutiny.”

“Meanwhile,” he added, “the Senate has spent month after month discussing the Build Back Better Act and whether we can afford to protect the children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and the future of our planet. As a nation, we need to get our priorities right.”

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