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Federal Judge in Washington Halts Pentagon Work with Microsoft on Cloud Contract

US Court has currently put a pause to Pentagon Work with Microsoft on Cloud Contract

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People stand in the lobby for Amazon offices in New York. Amazon says President Donald Trump's “improper pressure" and behind-the-scenes attacks harmed its chances of winning a $10 billion Pentagon contract. VOA

By Peyton Bigora

A federal judge in Washington has halted, for now, a major U.S. Defense Department cyber contract, blocking Microsoft Corp. from working on the Pentagon’s JEDI cloud-computing initiative pending the resolution of a lawsuit brought by rival Amazon.com.

In October, Microsoft was awarded the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, which has an estimated worth of around $10 billion over the next decade. The JEDI project will process and store classified data to provide the U.S. military improved communications with soldiers in the field as well as artificial intelligence to speed up war planning and fighting capabilities.

By November, Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing division, filed a lawsuit alleging the Defense Department unfairly judged its bid for the contract. Amazon believes the process was tainted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s animosity towards Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer and owner of The Washington Post newspaper, which Trump has regularly accused of bias against him.

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The Microsoft logo in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris, France. VOA

Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith said the JEDI contract cannot continue to be enacted “until further order of the court.” Judge Campbell-Smith’s full opinion was sealed.

While Amazon scored at least a preliminary victory, it is required to create a $42 million security fund that will be used to pay for any damages if the court later finds the injunction was improper.

Earlier this week, Amazon asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to allow them to question Trump and top Pentagon leaders, including former defense secretary James Mattis and Defense Secretary Mark Esper about any political interference from the White House in the awarding of the contract.

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“We believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require,” said Microsoft’s spokesman Frank Shaw, adding that he is disappointed by the ruling and believes the Pentagon’s decision-making process was fair. (VOA)

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Amazon Takes Major Steps To Protect its Workers

"We have already hired over 80,000 people into those roles, and have spent more than $150 million to support our team of associates and partners," said the company

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Earlier this week, Amazon had fired Chris Smalls, a worker at its Staten Island, New York warehouse, for allegedly breaking pandemic rules. VOA

After being slammed by legislators, unions and employees about health safety across its workforce at warehouses amid the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon on Thursday said that it is taking major steps to protect the workers.

In a blog post, Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations at Amazon, said the company will begin taking employees’ temperatures when they report for work and supply them with face masks.

“We are now temperature checking more than 100,000 employees per day. The complete rollout of temperature checks across our entire US and European operations network and Whole Foods Market stores is expected by early next week,” said Clark.

The firing of an Amazon employee who organised a protest demanding more protection for workers amid the new coronavirus pandemic has not gone down well with the US Senators and the general public. Earlier this week, Amazon had fired Chris Smalls, a worker at its Staten Island, New York warehouse, for allegedly breaking pandemic rules.

According to the retail giant, the company “terminated his employment for putting the health and safety of others at risk and violations of his terms of his employment.” However, Small said in a statement that “Amazon would rather fire workers than face up to its total failure to do what it should to keep us, our families, and our communities safe.”

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After being slammed by legislators, unions and employees about health safety across its workforce at warehouses amid the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon on Thursday said that it is taking major steps to protect the workers. Wikimedia Commons

Clark said in the blog post that the company is conducting daily audits of the new health and safety measures it has put into place. “With over 1,000 sites around the world, and so many measures and precautions rapidly rolled out over the past several weeks, there may be instances where we didn’t get it perfect, but I can assure you that’s just what there’ll be — exceptions,” said Clark.

On March 16, Amazon announced that it would be hiring an additional 100,000 people to help meet demand and will be investing more than $350 million to support employees and partners during the ongoing crisis.

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“We have already hired over 80,000 people into those roles, and have spent more than $150 million to support our team of associates and partners,” said the company. (IANS)