Regulators Should Block Amazon’s Acquisition Of Whole Foods

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By Nick Stumo-Langer for ILSR – In response to Amazon’s announced acquisition of Whole Foods, Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and co-author of Amazon’s Stranglehold, made the following statement: “Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods raises significant anti-competitive issues that should be deeply concerning to federal antitrust regulators and the public. This deal would allow Amazon to leverage Whole Foods’ 444 U.S. stores in ways that would dramatically amplify Amazon’s online market power, by integrating these locations into its vast logistics and delivery network. And it would give Amazon, which already sells more clothing, books, toys, and consumer electronics than any other retailer, a substantial share of an even bigger consumer goods category, groceries. Regulators should block this acquisition.” ILSR’s recent report Amazon’s Stranglehold traced Amazon’s rapidly expanding reach and its impacts.

Battle For The Amazon: Tapajós Basin Threatened By Massive Development

The Tapajós River, Brazil. More than 40 dams would turn this free flowing river and its tributaries into a vast industrial waterway threatening the Tapajós Basin's ecosystems, wildlife, people and even the regional and global climate. (Photo: International Rivers on Flickr, licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] license)

By Sue Branford and Maurício Torres for Mongabay – The Tapajós River Basin lies at the heart of the Amazon, and also at the heart of an exploding controversy: whether to build more than 40 large dams, a railway, roads, canals and port complexes, turning the Basin into a vast industrialized commodities export corridor; or to curb this development impulse and conserve one of the most biologically and culturally rich regions on the planet. Those struggling to shape the Basin’s fate hold conflicting opinions, but because the Tapajós is an isolated region, few of these views get aired in the media. Journalist Sue Branford and social scientist Mauricio Torres travelled there recently for Mongabay, and over coming weeks hope to shed some light on the heated debate that will shape the future of the Amazon.

Oil Production Begins At Controversial Amazon Drilling Project

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By Adam Zuckerman and Kevin Koenig for Amazon Watch – Tomorrow, Ecuadorian state oil company Petroamazonas will produce the first barrel of commercial crude from the ITT (Ishpingo, Tambococha, Tiputini) fields that lie beneath Yasuní National Park, an area that some scientists have called the most biodiverse rainforest on Earth. Much of the oil will likely be processed in California, which refined 60% of Ecuador’s oil exports in 2015.

5 Things Local Officials Need To Know About Amazon

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By Stacy Mitchell for ILSR – Amazon is on a building spree, and many local officials are eager to bring one of its giant fulfillment centers to their own backyard. They are so eager, in fact, that some have resorted to offering the company lavish tax breaks and other public assistance. Between 2012 and 2014, Amazon picked up $431 million in local tax incentives to finance its warehouse expansion. Yet, as our analysis shows, Amazon fulfillment centers impose so many hidden costs on local economies that cities ought to reconsider welcoming them at all, much less greasing the way with public funds.

Amazon Workers Strike For Better Pay & Working Conditions

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By Cora Lewis in Buzz Feed – Staff at a major Los Angeles warehouse serving Amazon and other big retailers went on strike Tuesday, protesting unpaid wages and overtime, dangerous conditions, a lack of breaks and water during hot summer months, and retaliation by management against their organizing efforts. The strike continued on Wednesday. The stoppage is the latest tactic in a campaign to improve conditions at the distribution center at the Port of Los Angeles, according to Sheheryar Kaoosji, director of the Warehouse Worker Resource Center. Workers and advocates have previously filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint, a class-action lawsuit, and an Occupational Safety and Health complaint, the last of which triggered an ongoing investigation.

Amazonian Tribe Brings Struggle to International Stage

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By Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch & Brent Millikan, International Rivers. When Brazilian energy planners proposed to choke the Amazon’s Tapajós River and its tributaries with dozens of large hydroelectric dams, they underrated a formidable foe: the Munduruku people. The largest indigenous group in the Tapajós Basin, the Munduruku are proving to be sophisticated adversaries who are throwing a wrench in the dam industry’s plans. The tribe has frequently caught the Brazilian government off guard with their tactics. They have a flair for the theatrical – they staged a series of dramatic protests in Brasilia, including a “die-in” at the Ministry of Mines and Energy – and the practical. In January, they delivered a protocol to government officials demanding a culturally-appropriate process of free, prior and informed consultation and consent (FPIC). While enshrined in Brazil’s constitution and integral to ILO Convention 169, the indigenous right to FPIC has been systematically ignored in Brazil.

China: Don’t Drill The Amazon!

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By Jennifer Baker in Revolution News – Support the Sápara and protect the Amazon. Recently indigenous leaders from the Ecuadorian Amazon urged Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to cancel plans for Chinese state oil company Andes Petroleum to drill for oil in their territory. Li has promised to use an “iron fist” to punish companies that destroy the environment. Ask him to live up to his promise and to cancel China’s plans to drill the Amazon. Controversial Chinese investment in Ecuador and oil-backed loans are creating an unprecedented new oil boom in the country’s Amazon region. The region is home to ten different indigenous nationalities and some of the world’s most pristine and biodiverse forest. Chinese state-owned oil company Andes Petroleum is hoping to operate in the rainforest homes of the Sápara and the Kichwa of Sarayaku.

Peru's Mega-Dam Projects Threaten Amazon River Ecosystem Collapse

'The Marañón River in Peru where the government is proposing more than 20 dams on the main trunk.'. Photo credit: David Hill

Peru is planning a series of huge hydroelectric dams on the 1,700-kilometer (1,056-mile) Marañón River, which begins in the Peruvian Andes and is the main source of the Amazon River. Critics say the mega-dam projects could destroy the currently free-flowing Marañón, resulting in what Peruvian engineer Jose Serra Vega calls its “biological death.” In 2011, Peru passed a law declaring the construction of 20 dams on the main trunk of the Marañón to be in the “national interest” and that the projects will launch the country’s “long-term National Energy Revolution.” But many Peruvians following the issue believe the planned dams are less about meeting “national demand” for electricity as the law reads, and more about supplying mining companies, and exporting to neighboring countries.

The Fight For Justice For Ecuador’s Amazon Continues

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Amazonian residents cite various peer-reviewed health evaluations demonstrating significantly higher rates of cancer, miscarriages, birth defects, and skin diseases, among a multitude of other health problems for those living in the region as evidence of them being poisoned. Those studies show that the health problems are even more acute for those living nearby the 300 or so oil well sites of the former Texaco concession of which PetroEcuador also had a hand in. For local residents who have witnessed the growth of the Amazonian oil industry over the last half-century, they are confident of it being the arrival of Texaco that marks the gradual destruction of their once clean land and water resources. The fact that Texaco ominously renamed the burgeoning oil frontier town of its Amazonian heyday to Sour Lake (Lago Agrio in Spanish) as homage to its corporate birthplace in Texas has not helped to alter that widely held view.

Brazilian Indigenous Leader Slams Construction of Dams In Amazon

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The uncontacted Indians living near the dam construction sites could be completely wiped out by outside diseases brought in by the thousands of migrants being drawn to the areas. On Tuesday, Sonia denounced Brazil’s abuse of indigenous rights at the United Nations in Geneva, including the government and landowners’ aims to weaken indigenous rights and open up indigenous territories for massive industrial projects. Director of Survival France, Jean-Patrick Razon, said today, ’Sonia’s demands in Paris today, just three months before the World Cup kicks off, act as another wake-up call to the human rights scandal inflicted on the Indians by these French companies, and by the Brazilian state. When will they listen and put a stop to this once and for all?’

Is Amazon Worse For Workers Than Walmart?

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Like most such corporate mission statements, Onetto’s uses a coded language that hides the harshness of his underlying message, which needs translation along with a hefty reality check. As with Walmart so at Amazon, there is a quasi-religious cult of the customer as an object of “trust” and “care”; Amazon “cares about the customer,” and “everything is driven” for him or her. Early in the lecture, Onetto quotes Bezos himself as saying, “I am not selling stuff. I am facilitating for my customers to buy what they need.” …But as so often in Amazon’s recent history, it has been in Germany that this humbug has been stripped away and the true role of the “cult of the customer” has become clear. In its US and UK fulfillment centers, Amazon management is hegemonic.

Amazon Women: On the Front Lines of Grassroots Climate Leadership

Amazon woman class with police in Quito, Ecuador, Oct 17, 2013

Women have organized and battled for centuries to win basic rights, to be treated with respect and equality. Meanwhile, patriarchal institutions driven by the thirst for power, accumulation, and economic growth have fought hard to maintain their seat at the top of the social and political hierarchy. Indeed, our current political and economic institutions are overwhelmingly led by men. Women are also uniquely capable of shifting the way the world operates in fundamental ways. Indeed, women activists and leaders have been at the core of the environmental movement since it’s inception. From Rachel Carson to Vandana Shiva, from suffrage to climate talks, women have pushed the boundaries of what is possible, and what is just, in our society. Cindy Rosenthal, in her book When Women Lead, suggests that women use strategies that have an “integrative style: sharing power and empowering others, being noncompetitive and inclusive, seeking consensus and mutuality in relationships, and inviting participation rather than imposing dominance.” Women in positions of leadership have also been shown to be more concerned with environmental risk, and less willing to impose those risks on others.