Amazon to protest Pentagon award of cloud contract to Microsoft

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2019   •   287

San Francisco, USA – The United States tech multinational Amazon announced Thursday that it would protest the Pentagon’s award to Microsoft of a cloud computing contract valued at up to $10 billion.

Amazon’s cloud unit Amazon Web Services had been the favorite to win and already had a contract with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Its founder Jeff Bezos is often a target of US President Donald Trump’s ire. Bezos also the Washington Post – one of the news outlets most critical of the president’s administration and which has been the subject of his outbursts.

The Seattle company said in a statement that “numerous aspects of the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias, and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”

“We also believe it’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence,” AWS said.

The comment appeared to be directed at Trump, who on July 19 called for an investigation of the Pentagon contract.

“I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and Amazon,” Trump told reporters at the time. “I will be asking them to look very closely to see what’s going on,” he added, according to EFE/Dow Jones.

The Pentagon has more than 500 separate clouds. The JEDI contract is designed to serve as an umbrella system to rationalize that number and provide the military with access to services that better keep up with the pace of technology in civilian markets.

In addition to the economic value of the deal itself, its importance goes even further as the Pentagon’s largest technology contract in history is seen as a pioneer that other government agencies would follow.

At the time of announcing the award, the Department of Defense assured that all parties “were treated fairly and evaluated consistently with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria.” – EFE-EPA

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Turkey created a ‘very terrible’ situation in Syria – Pentagon chief

Robie de Guzman   •   October 24, 2019

US Secretary for Defense Mark Esper

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday (October 24) criticised Turkey for its military incursion into Syria, saying it had put the U.S. and its allies in a “very terrible situation”.

Last week, Esper said he would press NATO allies “to take collective and individual diplomatic and economic measures in response” to Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria, even as critics have pointed out that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision enabled the Turkish offensive. Earlier this month, Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing its troops from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkish troops to launch an offensive against Kurdish fighters in the area.

“There was not a possibility that we were going to start a war with a NATO ally,” Esper said.

Speaking at an event organised in Brussels by the German Marshall Fund think tank, the Defense Secretary urged Ankara to demonstrate that it was still a “responsible” NATO ally.

The American pullout from northeastern Syria has raised concern that it could allow a resurgence of Islamic State militants.

Esper said he already talked to his British and French counterparts and that the U.S. was still committed to continue the fight against Islamic State militants. He was expected to discuss the topic further at a meeting of NATO defence ministers later in the day. (Reuters)

(Production: Christian Levaux, Jorrit Donner-Wittkopf)

Firefighters collapse from exhaustion, animals saved as wildfires rage on in Bolivia

UNTV News   •   September 20, 2019

 Firefighters battling raging wildfires in Bolivia were evacuated to hospitals in Santa Cruz on Thursday (September 19) after they collapsed from exhaustion.

Blazes have burned unabated across vast swaths of hilly forest and savannah near Bolivia’s border with Paraguay and Brazil. More than a million hectares, or approximately 3,800 square miles, have been impacted by the fires, officials have said.

The fires have left behind an uncountable death toll of flora and fauna. These animals in this refuge are the lucky ones.

This anteater has its paws bandaged after they were burnt by hot earth.

Bolivia is one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere, but one of the richest in biodiversity. Swathes of the country has been left charred, barren from the fires and will be unable to sustain animal life for a while to come.

(Production: Monica Machicao)

Hundreds killed in Brazil’s Amazon over land, resources in past decade – report

UNTV News   •   September 18, 2019

 A Human Rights Watch report on Tuesday (September 17) found that more than 300 people have been killed over the past decade in conflicts over the use of land and resources in the Amazon, many by organized criminal networks profiting from illegal deforestation.

Of those cases, only 14 were tried in court, the non-profit said the report was based on 170 interviews.

“This really shows the level of impunity,” Cesar Munoz, a senior investigator at Human Rights Watch told Reuters on the sidelines of an event in Sao Paulo to discuss the report.

About 60% of the Amazon rainforest, considered a crucial barrier against climate change, lies in Brazil. Destruction of the forest has surged this year, and the highest number of fires since 2010 has drawn worldwide condemnation of the policies of President Jair Bolsonaro, who advocates opening the Amazon to development.

Human Rights Watch traveled to several Brazilian states between 2017 and the first half of this year to research the report, which showed that almost half of the murders linked to deforestation took place in the Northern state of Para.

Bolsonaro has weakened Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency Ibama, cut its budget by 25% and restricted the ability of field agents to torch the equipment of those found committing environmental crimes, Reuters has reported.

(Production: Pablo Garcia)

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