Amazon rainforest is nearing critical ‘tipping point’

The Amazon rainforest, one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems and a major absorber of carbon dioxide, is losing its ability to recover from disturbances such as deforestation, fire, and drought, according to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Using satellite data, researchers from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and Technical University of Munich found that around 75 percent of the Amazon has become less resilient since the early 2000s, returning to its former state more slowly or not at all after destructive events.

That’s an indication that the forest is getting closer to a point of no return, the scientists warn, where drier weather driven by climate change and deforestation could cause permanent forest dieback, potentially transforming the ecosystem into something more closely resembling a savanna or grassland.

That would devastate the forest’s biodiversity, as well as the lives of the Indigenous peoples that rely on it to survive. It would also disrupt global water cycles and turn the

— source | Diana Kruzman | Mar 08, 2022

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Amazon Avoided More Than $5 Billion in Taxes Last Year

Amazon’s latest annual financial report released last Friday paints a vivid picture of a company that is edging toward monopoly status—and doing so at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

The company reported a record $35 billion in U.S. pretax income for fiscal year 2021, a haul that is 75 percent more than its 2020 U.S. earnings of $20 billion. Just as notable, the company’s effective federal income tax rate of 6 percent means it avoided about $5.2 billion of federal income tax in 2021. If Amazon had paid the statutory 21 percent tax rate on its 2021 U.S. income without any tax breaks, that would have meant a tax bill of more than $7.3 billion. Instead, the company reports a current federal income tax expense of $2.1 billion.

Amazon’s 2021 federal income tax payment is comparatively significant for a profitable company that paid less than $0 in the first year of the Trump-GOP tax law. But the company’s continuous tax avoidance adds up over time. Over the past four years, Amazon reported a total federal tax rate of just 5.1 percent on over $78 billion of U.S. income.

The (entirely legal) mechanisms Amazon uses to achieve this are familiar. Tax credits account for $1.1 billion of the company’s tax avoidance, with deductions for excess

— source Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy | Matthew Gardner | Feb 8, 2022

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Amazon Dodged $5.2 Billion in Taxes in 2021

An analysis released Monday shows that Amazon utilized several perfectly legal mechanisms to avoid paying $5.2 billion in federal corporate income taxes in 2021, a year in which the online retail behemoth saw its profits and sales skyrocket.

Matthew Gardner, a senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), estimated that given Amazon’s record-breaking $35 billion in U.S. pretax income for fiscal year 2021, the Seattle-based corporate giant paid an “effective federal income tax rate of 6%”—far lower than the statutory corporate tax rate of 21%.

Had Amazon paid the latter rate on its 2021 U.S. income, Gardner noted, the company’s federal tax bill would have amounted to more than $7.3 billion.

“Instead, the company reports a current federal income tax expense of $2.1 billion,” Gardner wrote Tuesday. “Amazon’s 2021 federal income tax payment is comparatively significant

— source | Jake Johnson | Feb 8, 2022

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Six workers died at Amazon gulag

At least six people died after part of an Amazon warehouse collapsed in Edwardsville when a tornado rolled through Friday night, Edwardsville Fire Department said Saturday. The death toll rose to six Saturday afternoon, announced in a press conference at the Edwardsville Public Safety Building. Forty-five other people made it out safely from the warehouse, Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford said Saturday. 150 yards of the Amazon building collapsed, Whiteford said Saturday. The walls on both sides of the building collapsed inward, causing the roof to fall. The 11-inch-thick, 40-feet-tall walls could not sustain the tornado that hit the building Friday night. The National Weather Service

Amazon workers are not part of a union, but Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum released a statement blasting Amazon for what he said was putting people’s lives in danger.

“Time and time again Amazon puts its bottom line above the lives of its employees,” Appelbaum said in the statement. “Requiring workers to work through such a major tornado warning event as this was inexcusable.

“Amazon cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people’s lives at risk. Our union will not back down until Amazon is held accountable for these and so many more dangerous labor practices.”

— source | Dec 17, 2021

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Amazon fires employees who spoke out about coronavirus and climate change

Amazon is trying to establish itself as the most essential of essential businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. But the tech giant is struggling to keep a lid on internal turmoil, both at its warehouses, where workers say they’re not being adequately protected from COVID-19, and at its corporate offices, where a showdown between tech employees and management over the company’s climate policies reached a tipping point last week.

Last Friday afternoon, Amazon fired two of its tech employees after they publicly criticized its coronavirus policies. Those employees, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, both user experience designers with 21 years of service at the company between them, were among the leaders of an internal worker group formed in December 2018 with the aim of pressuring Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to commit to more ambitious climate targets. The group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ), has recently widened its focus to embrace the struggles of frontline Amazon employees at fulfillment centers across the country.

— source | Apr 14, 2020

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Amazon Workers in Alabama Get New Shot at Union

On Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, the day after Thanksgiving, Amazon employees worldwide joined in a strike that targeted the trillion-dollar company and its founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos, under the banner “Make Amazon Pay.” They called for the retail giant to raise wages, pay its taxes in full and stop its surveillance of workers.

This comes as workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, may soon get another chance to decide whether to unionize. The National Labor Relations Board has ordered a new election after it ruled Amazon had interfered in the first election in part by pressuring the U.S. Postal Service to install a mailbox outside the warehouse one day before the voting was set to begin. Amazon managers then pressured workers to drop their ballots in the new collection box, casting doubt over the secrecy of the election. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is leading the organizing campaign in Bessemer. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement the new ruling “confirms what we were saying all along—that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace.”

— source | Dec 01, 2021

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Amazon copied products and rigged search results to promote its own brands Inc has been repeatedly accused of knocking off products it sells on its website and of exploiting its vast trove of internal data to promote its own merchandise at the expense of other sellers. The company has denied the accusations.

But thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents examined by Reuters – including emails, strategy papers and business plans – show the company ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India, one of the company’s largest growth markets.

The documents reveal how Amazon’s private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from to copy products sold by other companies, and then offered them on its platform. The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging Amazon’s search results so that the company’s products would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it, “in the first 2 or three … search results” when customers were shopping on

— source | ADITYA KALRA, STEVE STECKLOW | Oct. 13, 2021

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