business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"The U.S. government is looking into whether Amazon. com Inc. might have misled lenders about its workplace safety record to obtain credit, using a law stemming from the savings-and-loan crisis in a legal move a lawyer for the company called 'unprecedented.'

"The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office is conducting an investigation into Amazon under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act, a law that allows civil cases to be brought over wrongdoing that impacts banks. The office has deployed the 1989 law at the same time the Labor Department presses a workplace safety investigation of Amazon that has already led to several citations.

'The Labor Department in December cited Amazon at six of its warehouses for not adequately reporting injuries and this week cited three company facilities, saying workers were exposed to ergonomic or equipment hazards.

'Amazon has said it intends to appeal the citations. The company also said it never intentionally misrepresented its safety record.'

•  The Washington Post reports that "Amazon Web Services plans to invest $35 billion in new data centers in Virginia under a deal with the state, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Friday.

"Millions of dollars in incentives to close the deal still require legislative approval, but General Assembly leaders in both parties expressed support in a news release issued by Youngkin’s office … The governor’s office said the locations of the data centers, to be built by 2040, will be determined at a later date. But tech companies prefer northern Virginia because it is close to the historical backbone of the internet, and proximity to those connection points provides nanoseconds of advantage that are of importance to tech companies that rely on the servers to support financial transactions, gaming technology and other time-sensitive applications."

According to the story, "Data centers have become a politically volatile topic, particularly in northern Virginia, where the structures are increasingly common and where neighbors are voicing noise and environmental concerns.

"Data centers house the computer servers and hardware required to support modern internet use, and demand continues to increase. But the data centers require high-powered fans and extensive cooling capacity that can generate noise. They also consume huge amounts of electricity that can require construction of high-voltage transmission lines to support them."

•  CNBC reports that a decade after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos introduced the idea of using drones to make deliveries to shoppers, "Amazon is finally starting to launch drone deliveries in two small markets through a program called Prime Air. But just as it’s finally getting off the ground, the drone program is running squarely into a sputtering economy and CEO Andy Jassy’s widespread cost-cutting efforts.

"CNBC has learned that, as part of Amazon’s plan to slash 18,000 jobs, its biggest headcount reduction in history, Prime Air is losing a significant number of employees. Sources familiar with the matter who asked not to be named for confidentiality said they learned about the Prime Air cuts on Wednesday, when two senior Amazon executives sent emails to employees notifying them that those impacted by the layoffs would be informed shortly."