Right now, millions of Americans are still struggling to recover from the 2008 financial collapse.
That collapse was fueled by the housing crisis, when Wall Street banksters were running around betting on risky mortgage-backed securities that they could sell to investors and make billions from.
They were able to do that because the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act had blown up rational banking regulations, and, as a result, we saw things like the so-called mortgage “liar loans”.
Banksters were able to turn billions of dollars in risky mortgages into trillions of dollars in derivatives.
And then everything went to hell.
Fast forward to today, and because of Dodd-Frank there are no more “liar loans.”
Banksters can’t run the same scam as they did during the housing crisis.
So, they’ve found a new way to come up with real-estate-backed securities that can be turned into derivatives, worth billions in profits.
How? They’ve become landlords.
Austerity measures imposed by international creditors on member states are eroding the social and economic rights of people, says human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.
“The crisis is both a context and a constraint on government policy but some responses to the crisis have created much collateral damage to human rights,” Nils Muiznieks, the commissioner for human rights at the Strasbourg-based watchdog, told reporters on Tuesday (3 December).
Muiznieks, who presented a report on safeguarding human rights in times of economic crisis, said cuts in public expenditure and selective tax hikes aimed a curbing public deficits have not achieved their stated aims.
Instead, the rights to decent work and adequate standards of living have rolled back, contributing to deepening poverty in Europe.
The report notes civil and political rights have also eroded as some governments exclude people on having any say in austerity proposals, provoking large-scale demonstrations.
David Cameron today dismissed an editorial in a Government-run Chinese newspaper which labelled Britain as a fallen power only good as a destination for tourism and studying.
The Global Times also took Cameron to task for comments backing expanded democracy in former British colony Hong Kong, and said Britain is colluding with France and Germany to provoke China over the Dalai Lama.
“We’ve discovered that Britain is easily replaceable in China’s European foreign policy,” said the editorial in the newspaper’s Chinese edition. “Moreover, Britain is no longer any kind of ‘big country’, but merely a country of old Europe suitable for tourism and overseas study, with a few decent football teams.”
Hunger in Britain has reached the level of a “public health emergency” and the Government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem, leading experts have said.
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, a group of doctors and senior academics from the Medical Research Council and two leading universities said that the effect of Government policies on vulnerable people’s ability to afford food needed to be “urgently” monitored.
A surge in the number of people requiring emergency food aid, a decrease in the amount of calories consumed by British families, and a doubling of the number of malnutrition cases seen at English hospitals represent “all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventative action,” they write.
Despite mounting evidence for a growing food poverty crisis in the UK, ministers maintain there is “no robust evidence” of a link between sweeping welfare reforms and a rise in the use of food banks. However, publication of research into the phenomenon, commissioned by the Government itself, has been delayed, amid speculation that the findings may prove embarrassing for ministers.
- Eternal austerity makes complete sense – if you’re rich
- More than 5 million people in the UK are paid less than the living wage
- Recession has led to spending on food falling by 8.5%, say researchers
- Iain Duncan Smith ‘targeting seriously ill claimants’ in benefits overhaul
- Labour: We’ll scrap benefits for under 25s
- Britain’s poorest and most deprived areas hit hardest as society becomes ”unacceptably more divided”
- Malnutrition cases almost double in last five years as poorer families struggle to survive the economic downturn
- Council report recommends ‘using all available by laws’ to ban Croydon soup kitchen
- Gravesend man hangs himself after sickness benefits were cut
- Civil servants told to judge whether disabled deserve benefits by Googling their illnesses
- Paying benefits ‘does not make unemployed lazy’
- Cut benefits cap to £20,000, say Tories
- U.K. Food-Bank Users Return What Needs Cooking as Bills Rise
- Dying man ‘has only 12p a day to eat’
- Foodbanks ‘are a sticking plaster’ in poverty epidemic
When Ofgem head Andrew Wright identified a “deep mistrust of anything the energy companies do or say” last week, the chief executive of Britain’s gas and electricity regulator wasn’t exaggerating.
After four years of inflation-busting price hikes that have increased their average profit per household more than ten-fold, the popularity of the “big six” appears to have sunk to an all-time low. So much so, that 68 per cent of the population wants to see the big energy companies renationalised, according to a poll by YouGov last month. Returning the energy sector to state ownership may be a comforting thought after those bill hikes increased the average big six profit per household from £8 in 2009 to £105 now, leaving ever-larger numbers of people struggling – and in millions of cases failing – to heat their homes.
- 800,000 people ‘lifted’ out of fuel poverty – by redefining it
- Cameron accused of ‘smoke and mirrors’ on energy bills
- Profits at ‘Big Six’ energy companies have rocketed since the financial crisis began
- Energy bills have risen at eight times the rate of earnings in the last three years
- How Big Six energy firms conceal their profits
- Big Six energy firms face investor exodus over political interference in pricing
- Gas industry employee seconded to draft UK’s energy policy
- Labour’s energy price freeze triggers power cuts warning from Npower boss, who refuses to give up bonus as a ‘gimmick’
- Sir John Major calls for excess profit tax on Big Six energy firms
- Owen Jones: The bullies at the Big Six must be stood up to
- Big Energy vs. Small Business – SMEs Buckling Under the Pressure of Energy Hikes
- The other energy scandal – power giants use loophole to cut their own tax bills
- 340 MPs claim £200,000 on expenses for energy bills
A witness has told an inquest how Mark Duggan was clutching a mobile phone in his hand when he was shot dead by armed police.
The man, referred to as Witness B to protect his anonymity, told the inquest into the 29-year-old’s death how he saw Mr Duggan still holding the device as he collapsed after being shot by a police marksman stood ‘five to seven steps away’.
The witness said he used his own mobile to film the aftermath of the fatal shooting in August 2011, which sparked riots across London and other parts of Britain.
A majority of Americans believe the US plays a less important and powerful role in the world than it did 10 years ago, according to a long-running study that found that most people now believe America should “mind its own business internationally”.
It is the first time the survey of US foreign policy attitudes has recorded such a sentiment in almost four decades of polling.
The findings, published on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center in association with the Council on Foreign Relations, suggest Americans want their leaders to adopt a less interventionist approach, although there is a growing desire for the development of stronger trade and business links abroad.
The US is now widely seen as less respected abroad, bucking a trend in which Americans believed their reputation had recovered since Barack Obama was elected. Impressions of how the US is perceived under Obama are now, broadly, as negative as they were in the final days of the George W Bush administration.
Selling weapons used to be a cut-throat business. With a no-questions-asked policy, it has led in the past, to the selling of weapons to support African conflicts, leaving Angola, Somalia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic Congo awash with AK-47 semi-automatic rifles and very little else.
Today’s high-tech weapons manufacturers are enjoying record sales. The State Department’s Military Assistance Report stated that it approved $44.28 billion in arms shipments to 173 nations in the last fiscal year. One of the more controversial is the Defense Department’s plans to sell Saudi Arabia $6.8 billion and the United Arab Emirates $4 billion in advanced weaponry, including air-launched cruise missiles and precision munitions. The trouble is – has anyone asked where these weapons will ultimately end up?
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), the leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence committees respectively, went on CNN’s Sunday talk show yesterday to put fear into the hearts of Americans. They told us we are in more danger now than ever and the obvious corollary to this is that Americans need to take their fear of government and redirect it to nameless and faceless terrorists who are out to destroy us.
“There are new bombs, very big bombs,” Feinstain warned, “that go through (metal-detecting) magnetometers.” She warned of “huge malevolence out there.” This puts “enormous pressure” on our intelligence community, Rogers added, which means Americans have to lay off the NSA because they “are not the bad guys.”
In other words, the NSA is not your enemy. Really, it isn’t. The government is just protecting us from foreign bogeymen that are the real danger.
Kudos to Kevin Gosztola, who liberated the propaganda the NSA sent workers home with for Thanksgiving to use with family and friends.
I find 3 of the bullet points particularly interesting (all of which Gosztola also touches on).
NSA: we steal secrets, we just use them differently
NSA does not and will not steal industry secrets in order to give U.S. companies a competitive advantage.
The NSA has uttered various versions of this claim since the Snowden leaks started. But I find this formulation particularly telling. NSA is not denying they steal industry secrets (nor could they, since we know they’ve stolen data from corporations like Petrobras and have stolen secrets from a range of hacking targets).
They’re just denying they steal secrets in order to give US companies a competitive advantage.
The UN’s senior counter-terrorism official is to launch an investigation into the surveillance powers of American and British intelligence agencies following Edward Snowden’s revelations that they are using secret programmes to store and analyse billions of emails, phone calls and text messages.
The UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC said his inquiry would also seek to establish whether the British parliament had been misled about the capabilities of Britain’s eavesdropping headquarters, GCHQ, and whether the current system of oversight and scrutiny was strong enough to meet United Nations standards.
The inquiry will make a series of recommendations to the UN general assembly next year.
In an article for the Guardian, Emmerson said Snowden had disclosed “issues at the very apex of public interest concerns”. He said the media had a duty and right to publish stories about the activities of GCHQ and its American counterpart the National Security Agency.
After an eventful six months, Edward Snowden will be hoping for a quieter time ahead – but not as quiet as life in a maximum-security American jail. In Russia since fleeing Hong Kong in June, the NSA computer specialist-turned-whistleblower is living under fairly restrictive conditions. But at least he still has access to the internet – crucial to him – although the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, made it a condition of granting Snowden temporary asylum that he do nothing to embarrass the US further.
Snowden has said he no longer has the documents he leaked, having passed all of them to the journalists he met in Hong Kong in June.
On 21 June, his 30th birthday, the US indicted him on three charges, including two under the Espionage Act: theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorised person, with a possible combined sentence of up to 30 years in jail. Further charges could be added. The death penalty is also available under a section of the act but the US attorney general, Eric Holder, said in July that Snowden would not face execution.
America would “do everything in its power short of snatching him from Russia to try to have Edward Snowden put on trial in the US”, said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Centre’s liberty and national security programme at New York University law school. If he was to try to move somewhere other than Russia, the US would go to great lengths to intercept him, she said.
The editor of the Guardian said Tuesday his newspaper has published just 1 percent of the material it received from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, and denied the paper had placed lives or national security at risk.
Under questioning by lawmakers on Parliament’s home affairs committee, Alan Rusbridger accused British authorities of trying to intimidate the newspaper, and warned of “national security being used as a trump card” to stifle debate.
[...] Rusbridger said the leak amounted to about 58,000 files, and the newspaper had published “about 1 percent” of the total.
“I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more,” he said.
- NSA chief says Snowden leaked up to 200,000 secret documents
- Snowden persuaded other NSA workers to give up passwords
- Snowden articles ‘could be acts of terror’
- Al Gore: Snowden ‘revealed evidence’ of crimes against US constitution
- Bush’s Warrantless Wiretapping Program Inspired Snowden to Become a Whistleblower
- Snowden: US would have buried NSA warnings forever
Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger appeared before a British parliamentary committee to answer questions on how the media organization had handled the publication of National Security Agency documents from former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The invitation to appear before the committee seemed to be part of an escalation in attacks on the Guardian since it began to publish stories on NSA documents, especially the NSA’s partnership with the UK spy agency, GCHQ.
Chairman of the Home Affairs Commitee, Keith Vaz, who is a Labour Party member, asked Rusbridger if he had been compelled to appear before the committee, since that had been suggested by various groups. Rusbridger was not aware that it was “optional.”
Vaz pushed Rusbridger to detail the location of all the files, which journalists had them and how many files each journalist possessed. Rusbridger did not find it sensible to answer this question but he did acknowledge that files were sent to the New York Times.
Pressed to address claims by the heads of security services, such as MI5′s Andrew Parker, that the files had caused a risk to national security, Rusbridger said the problem with these allegations is that they are vague and do not reference specific stories the organization has published. He noted multiple officials: Norman Baker the Home Office minister, a member of the Senate intelligence committee who asked not to be named, a senior Obama administration official and a senior Whitehall official.” They had not accused The Guardian of causing any damage to national security.
The hearing suddenly seemed like a House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearing as Vaz actually asked Rusbridger if he loved his country.
Let’s think through the troubling implications of the latest surveillance-state news. “The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches,” Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim report.
NSA apologists would have us believe that only terrorists have cause to be worried. A surveillance-state spokesperson told the Huffington Post, “without discussing specific individuals, it should not be surprising that the US Government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalize others to violence.”
As the story notes, however, the targets are not necessarily terrorists. The term the NSA uses for them is “radicalizes,” and if you’re thinking of fiery orators urging people to strap on dynamite vests, know that the NSA chart accompanying the story includes one target who is a “well known media celebrity,” and whose offense is arguing that “the U.S. perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.” It makes one wonder if the NSA believes it would be justified in targeting any 9/11 truther. The chart* shows another target whose “writings appear on numerous jihadi websites” (it doesn’t specify whether the writings were produced for those websites or merely posted there), and whose offending argument is that “the U.S. brought the 9/11 attacks upon itself.” That could be a crude description of what the Reverend Jeremiah Wright or Ron Paul thinks about 9/11.
The Japanese government, which already has a long history of cover-ups and opaqueness, is on its way to becoming even less open and transparent after the lower house the Diet, Japan’s parliament, passed the Designated Secrets Bill on Tuesday. With new powers to classify nearly anything as a state secret and harsh punishments for leakers that can easily be used to intimidate whistleblowers and stifle press freedom, many in Japan worry that the if the bill becomes law it will be only the first step towards even more severe erosions of freedom in the country.
[...] Even politicians inside the ruling bloc are saying, “It can’t be denied that another purpose is to muzzle the press, shut up whistleblowers, and ensure that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima ceases to be an embarrassment before the Olympics.”
[...] Outspoken Upper House Councilor Taro Yamamoto, who is known to be a strong supporter of investigative journalism, minces no words: “The path that Japan is taking is the recreation of a fascist state. I strongly believe that this secrecy bill represents a planned coup d’état by a group of politicians and bureaucrats,” he warned.
While his statement may seem alarmist, even a senior official of the National Police Agency agrees. “I would say this is Abe’s attempt to make sure that his own shady issues aren’t brought to light, and a misuse of legislative power.
The case of a woman whose baby daughter was forcibly removed from her womb by social services was described by human-rights groups on Sunday night as “the stuff of nightmares”. The Italian woman was sedated and her baby delivered against her will, after Essex social services obtained a court order in August 2012 for the birth “to be enforced by way of caesarean section”.
The case, described by the woman’s lawyers as “unprecedented”, has further highlighted the controversial decisions made by the Court of Protection, which authorised the forced removal of the baby, as well as the powers afforded to social workers.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was visiting Britain in July last year to attend a Ryanair training course at Stansted airport in Essex when she suffered a panic attack after failing to take medication for her bipolar disorder.
Despite the woman’s mother explaining her daughter’s condition to police over the telephone from Italy, she was taken to a psychiatric hospital and sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Five weeks later, her daughter was removed from her womb without her consent.
This month, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Department of Homeland Security must make its plan to shut off the internet and cellphone communications available to the American public. You, of course, may now be thinking: What plan?! Though President Barack Obama swiftly disapproved of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak turning off the internet in his country (to quell widespread civil disobedience) in 2011, the US government has the authority to do the same sort of thing, under a plan that was devised during the George W. Bush administration. Many details of the government’s controversial “kill switch” authority have been classified, such as the conditions under which it can be implemented and how the switch can be used. But thanks to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), DHS has to reveal those details by January 13—or mount an appeal. (The smart betting is on an appeal, since DHS has fought to release this information so far.) Yet here’s what we do know about the government’s “kill switch” plan
[...] Certainly, the planet is improved by the fact that Heinrich Boere no longer resides on the skin of this Earth, but is buried beneath it. He was not the last living Nazi of Hitler’s Reich, but he is among the last. Very soon now – certainly within the next ten years – the sun will rise upon a world without a single living soul who saw what happened, who participated either directly or by way of tacit approval in the formation and defense of the so-called “Thousand Year Reich.”
In my own way, I mourn the passing of Heinrich Boere. Not because of what he believed or what he did; were I able, I would spit on his grave…and then light a candle, and stand a vigil, because Heinrich Boere is important to us all. When men like Heinrich Boere die, we are one step closer to forgetting that men like him lived at all, one step closer to forgetting that party-sponsored murder gangs like the Waffen SS ever existed, one step closer to forgetting that hate-fueled thuggery thrives in economic chaos, can take over, and can wreak bloody havoc.
When men like Heinrich Boere die, we are one step closer to having men like Heinrich Boere among us again, because we forget what they did when they are gone, and by forgetting, we allow them to live again. Sooner or later, inevitably, they rise when we forget.
The fast food industry is notorious for handing out lean paychecks to their burger flippers and fat ones to their CEOs. What’s less well-known is that taxpayers are actually subsidizing fast food incomes at both the bottom — and top — of the industry.
Take, for example, Yum Brands, which operates the Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut chains. Wages for the corporation’s nearly 380,000 U.S. workers are so low that many of them have to turn to taxpayer-funded anti-poverty programs just to get by. The National Employment Law Project estimates that Yum Brands’ workers draw nearly $650 million in Medicaid and other public assistance annually.
Meanwhile, at the top end of the company’s pay ladder, CEO David Novak pocketed $94 million over the years 2011 and 2012 in stock options gains, bonuses and other so-called “performance pay.” That was a nice windfall for him, but a big burden for the rest of us taxpayers.
Under the current tax code, corporations can deduct unlimited amounts of such “performance pay” from their federal income taxes. In other words, the more corporations pay their CEO, the lower their tax burden. Novak’s $94 million payout, for example, lowered YUM’s IRS bill by $33 million. Guess who makes up the difference?
Combined, these firms’ CEOs pocketed more than $183 million in fully deductible “performance pay” in 2011 and 2012, lowering their companies’ IRS bills by an estimated $64 million. To put that figure in perspective, it would be enough to cover the average cost of food stamps for 40,000 American families for a year.My new Institute for Policy Studies report calculates the cost to taxpayers of this “performance pay” loophole at all of the top six publicly held fast food chains — McDonald’s, Yum, Wendy’s, Burger King, Domino’s, and Dunkin’ Brands.
Transparency International has published its 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their administrative and political institutions are perceived to be on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) and a 100 (very clean).
Compiled from a combination of surveys and assessments of ”the abuse of entrusted power for private gain,” the CPI is the most widely used indicator of corruption worldwide.
After struggling for a minute to answer the question on an LBC radio phone-in, Johnson also failed two questions from a quiz presented like an IQ test and refused to attempt to answer a third, saying: “No one said IQ is the only measure of ability”.
It was his first public appearance since he caused controversy by suggesting some people struggle to get on in life because of their low IQs, adding that the bigger cornflakes tended to end up at the top of the packet.
[...] Johnson sought to defend his speech last week that was interpreted by some as saying greed is a good motivator and needs to be encouraged.
“There is too much inequality,” he said. “My speech was actually a warning against letting inequality go unchecked.” He then said that “in last 20 years there has been a widening of income between rich and the poor”.
He added: “What hacks me off is people with ability have found it very difficult to progress in the last 20 years. The key thing I said is inequality is only tolerable in our society if you look after those who are finding it tough to compete and where people have ability they are allowed to get on.”
Trying to get contraband into a prison is nothing new, but there is a new method. This week, some creative crooks tried to get tobacco to South Georgia prisoners by using a remote controlled helicopter, but they didn’t get away with it.
A lieutenant from the Calhoun State prison noticed a small helicopter flying over the gates of and a search began. Sheriff Josh Hilton says about an hour later deputies noticed a suspicious black dodge car with Gwinnett County tags on Edison Street.
“After we gained consent to search the car we found the helicopter and I don’t know exactly how much it was but probably about one or two pounds of tobacco rolled up,” said Hilton.
The War On Christmas may actually be happening this year, but it’s being waged by an unlikely culprit: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).
Last week, Walker’s campaign sent an email encouraging supporters not to buy gifts for their children and to use that money instead to support his reelection effort.
“Instead of electronics or toys that will undoubtedly be outdated, broken, or lost by the next Holiday Season, help give your children the gift of a Wisconsin that we can all be proud of,” the email read.
NSA Sent Home Talking Points for Employees to Use in Conversations with Family & Friends During Holidays
A sheet of talking points for employees of the National Security Agency and Central Security Services, was sent out ahead of Thanksgiving to help guide conversations with family and friends during the holiday season.
Firedoglake obtained a copy of a two-page document that was sent out on November 22. It was clearly put together for rebutting statements about the NSA from news stories on documents disclosed by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and it encouraged employees to “share the following points with family members and close friends.”
The “talking points” sheet suggests that employees make five key points: (1) NSA’s mission is of great value to the Nation”; (2) NSA performs its mission the right way—lawful, compliant and in a way that protects civil liberties and privacy; (3) NSA performs its mission exceptionally well. We strive to be the best that we can be, because that’s what America requires as part of its defense in a dangerous world; (4) The people who work for NSA are loyal Americans with expert skills who make sacrifices to help protect the freedoms we all cherish; (5) NSA is committed to increased transparency, public dialog and faithful implementation of any changes required by our overseers. (No emphasis added. Underlines appear in the document.)
Each key point includes sub-points that presumably an employee could additionally cite if a family member disputed their main point.
Google, the tech giant supposedly guided by its “don’t be evil” motto, has been funding a growing list of groups advancing the agenda of the Koch brothers.
Organizations that received “substantial” funding from Google for the first time over the past year include Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union (best known for its CPAC conference), and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation that led the charge to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act: Heritage Action.
In 2013, Google also funded the corporate lobby group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, although that group is not listed as receiving “substantial” funding in the list published by Google.
U.S. corporations are not required to publicly disclose their funding of political advocacy groups, and very few do so, but since at least 2010 Google has chosen to voluntarily release some limited details about grants it makes to U.S. non-profits. The published list from Google is not comprehensive, including only those groups that “receive the most substantial contributions from Google’s U.S. Federal Public Policy and Government Affairs team.”
What Google considers “substantial” is not explained — no dollar amounts are given — but the language suggests significant investments from Google and, with a stock value of $330 billion, Google has considerably deep pockets.
Google has a distinctively progressive image, but in March 2012 it hired former Republican member of the House of Representatives, Susan Molinari as its Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations. According to the New York Times, Molinari is being “paid handsomely to broaden the tech giant’s support beyond Silicon Valley Democrats and to lavish money and attention on selected Republicans.”
The Real Reason Amazon Announced Delivery Drones Last Night: $3 Million In Free Advertising On Cyber Monday
Last night, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos went on “60 Minutes” and announced that Amazon’s R&D department is working on drones that can deliver packages within 30 minutes. He called the service Amazon Prime Air.
The thing is, Amazon Prime Air won’t be available for many years.
Even Bezos said last night that the earliest Amazon Prime Air could be in service is 2015 because that’s the soonest the FAA could update its laws.
But The Wall Street Journal reports that the FAA isn’t planning on beginning the certification of commercial drones until 2020.
There is a good reason for this. Drones can be very dangerous.
[...] The fact is, there is a very good chance that, last night, Amazon “announced” a service that will never exist in reality.
Why did Amazon do that?
The answer is free advertising. Even better: free advertising the night before the biggest e-commerce shopping day of the year, Cyber Monday.