Amazon Boycott and New York Voters

Grind for November 1st
“I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded. In fact, if anything, I am the prod.”
– Winston Churchill

Unexpected Twist

The Headline

Hundreds of musicians boycott Amazon over its connection to ICE

The Grind

In a petition introduced October 24th, a group of nearly 400 musicians has vowed to stop doing business with Amazon until the company stops working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other businesses that have been accused of human rights abuses.

Amazon works with ICE through its subsidiary Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides cloud computing services to the Department of Homeland Security.

The petition also asks Amazon to halt all projects that “encourage racial profiling and discrimination,” including facial recognition technology.

A form of Amazon’s facial recognition technology is rumored to be used by officials in China to track down Uighur Muslims.

“We will not allow Amazon to exploit our creativity to promote its brand while it enables attacks on immigrants, communities of color, workers, and local economies. We call on all artists who believe in basic rights and human dignity to join us,” reads the petition.

The Details

The petition was triggered by Amazon’s plans to launch Intersect, a new music festival scheduled to take place December 6th-7th in Las Vegas.

Featured artists include: Kacey Musgraves, Beck, Foo Fighters, Spoon, Brandi Carlile, Paak & the Free Nationals, HER, and Kaytranada.

“After the lineup reveal, a lot of outrage focused on the artists who agreed to play the fest – many of them unwittingly supporting a company they have major concerns about,” explains Sadie Dupuis, lead singer and guitarist for the band Speedy Ortiz.

“Our demands are very simple,” adds Evan Greer, a queer activist, and singer/songwriter. “We won’t work with Amazon while they continue to run a surveillance-based business model that’s fundamentally at odds with basic human rights.”

Included in the petition is a request that Amazon allows any artist to back out of his/her contractually obligated performances at Intersect.

Amazon has not responded to the petition.

A Good Idea

The Headline

New York enters first-ever early voting period

The Grind

According to a reform package passed in January, all counties in New York must provide one early polling station for every 50,000 registered voters.

New York City, in preparation for the general election on November 5th, has far exceeded that requirement with 61 locations.

Early voting stations opened on October 26th, giving voters 9 days to cast their ballots before polls close for 2 days prior to Election Day.

The Details

The expanded polling hours are expected to improve voter turnout for all parties.

“When a constituency is energized but has trouble making the polling hours, it will help,” says political consultant Bruce Gyory. “It’s probably going to help blue-collar workers. If you’re in a rural white area, that will probably help more conservatives. If you’re in an urban area, it will probably help minority voters and single moms.”

Others don’t think the change will be effective, in part because New Yorkers aren’t used to early voting and because state and federal offices aren’t on the ballot this year.

Major races include: Public Advocate (Democrat Jumaane Williams v. Republican Joseph Borelli v. Libertarian Devin Balkin), Queens District Attorney (Democrat Melinda Katz v. Republican Joseph Murray), and Council District 45 Representative (Democrat Farah Louis v. Independent Anthony Beckford v. Libertarian David Fite).

To make voting even easier, Uber and Lyft are offering $5 off when voters use discount code NYCVOTES.

Did you know… You share your birthday with at least 9 other million people in the world.