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Google fires 28 workers in aftermath of protests over big tech deal with Israeli government

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Google fires 28 workers in aftermath of protests over big tech deal with Israeli government
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Google fires 28 workers in aftermath of protests over big tech deal with Israeli government

2024-04-19 07:18 Last Updated At:07:31

Google has fired 28 employees in the aftermath of protests over technology that the internet company is supplying the Israeli government amid the Gaza war, further escalating tensions surrounding a hot-button deal.

The firings confirmed by Google late Wednesday came a day after nine employees were arrested during sit-in protests at offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, after the company called police.

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The Google sign is displayed outside the Google offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Google has fired 28 employees who were involved in protests over the tech company’s cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. The workers held sit-ins at the company’s offices in California and New York over Google’s $1.2 billion contract to provide custom tools for Israeli’s military. (AP Photo/Terry Chea)

Google has fired 28 employees in the aftermath of protests over technology that the internet company is supplying the Israeli government amid the Gaza war, further escalating tensions surrounding a hot-button deal.

Two people ride past the Google sign outside the Google offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Google has fired 28 employees who were involved in protests over the tech company’s cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. The workers held sit-ins at the company’s offices in California and New York over Google’s $1.2 billion contract to provide custom tools for Israeli’s military. (AP Photo/Terry Chea)

Two people ride past the Google sign outside the Google offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Google has fired 28 employees who were involved in protests over the tech company’s cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. The workers held sit-ins at the company’s offices in California and New York over Google’s $1.2 billion contract to provide custom tools for Israeli’s military. (AP Photo/Terry Chea)

FILE -- A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., on Sept. 24, 2019. On Friday, April 12, 2024, Google announced it was testing removing links to California news websites from some people's search results. The search giant said it was preparing in case the Legislature passed a bill requiring it to pay media companies a fee for linking to its content. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

FILE -- A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., on Sept. 24, 2019. On Friday, April 12, 2024, Google announced it was testing removing links to California news websites from some people's search results. The search giant said it was preparing in case the Legislature passed a bill requiring it to pay media companies a fee for linking to its content. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Google fires 28 workers after office sit-ins to protest cloud contract with Israel

Google fires 28 workers after office sit-ins to protest cloud contract with Israel

Google fires 28 workers after office sit-ins to protest cloud contract with Israel

Google fires 28 workers after office sit-ins to protest cloud contract with Israel

The dissent roiling Google centers on “Project Nimbus,” a $1.2 billion contract signed in 2021 that calls upon Google and Amazon to provide the Israeli government with cloud computing and artificial intelligence services.

The protests are being organized primarily by a group called No Tech For Apartheid. Google says Nimbus isn't being deployed in weaponry or intelligence gathering.

In a statement, Google attributed the firing of the 28 employees to “completely unacceptable behavior” that prevented some workers from doing their jobs and created a threatening atmosphere. The Mountain View, California, company added it is still investigating what happened during the protests, implying more workers could still be fired.

In a blog post, No Tech For Apartheid accused Google of lying about what happened inside its offices during what it described as “peaceful sit-in" that received overwhelming support from other workers who weren't participating in the protest.

“This flagrant act of retaliation is a clear indication that Google values its $1.2 billion contract with the genocidal Israeli government and military more than its own workers,” No Tech For Apartheid asserted.

Without calling out a specific incident, Google CEO Sundar Pichai indicated in a Thursday blog post that employees will be on a short leash as the company intensifies its efforts to improve its AI technology at a pivotal moment in the industry and, potentially, humanity.

“This is a business, and not a place to act in a way that disrupts coworkers or makes them feel unsafe, to attempt to use the company as a personal platform, or to fight over disruptive issues or debate politics,” Pichai wrote. “This is too important a moment as a company for us to be distracted.”

The contract raising the ire of some Google workers runs within the company's cloud computing division that is overseen by a former Oracle executive, Thomas Kurian.

Under Kurian's leadership, cloud computing has emerged as one of Google's fastest-growing divisions, with revenue of $33 billion last year, a 26% increase from 2022. A wide range of private-sector companies also buy Google's cloud computing services, in addition to governments around the world.

Google workers have periodically staged angry protests over other deals the company has been working on and have also raised ethical concerns about the way it is developing artificial intelligence.

One of the previous employee uprisings resulted in Google deciding in 2018 to end a contract with the U.S. defense department called “Project Maven” that involved helping the armed forces analyze military videos.

But Google has continued to thrive, despite the internal misgivings about the way it is making some of its money. Its revenue mostly comes through digital advertising sold through an internet empire that depends on its dominant search engine as its main pillar.

Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., posted a $74 billion profit last year and now employs about 182,000 workers worldwide — about 83,000 more people than in 2018 when it abandoned Project Maven.

The Google sign is displayed outside the Google offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Google has fired 28 employees who were involved in protests over the tech company’s cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. The workers held sit-ins at the company’s offices in California and New York over Google’s $1.2 billion contract to provide custom tools for Israeli’s military. (AP Photo/Terry Chea)

The Google sign is displayed outside the Google offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Google has fired 28 employees who were involved in protests over the tech company’s cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. The workers held sit-ins at the company’s offices in California and New York over Google’s $1.2 billion contract to provide custom tools for Israeli’s military. (AP Photo/Terry Chea)

Two people ride past the Google sign outside the Google offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Google has fired 28 employees who were involved in protests over the tech company’s cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. The workers held sit-ins at the company’s offices in California and New York over Google’s $1.2 billion contract to provide custom tools for Israeli’s military. (AP Photo/Terry Chea)

Two people ride past the Google sign outside the Google offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Google has fired 28 employees who were involved in protests over the tech company’s cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. The workers held sit-ins at the company’s offices in California and New York over Google’s $1.2 billion contract to provide custom tools for Israeli’s military. (AP Photo/Terry Chea)

FILE -- A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., on Sept. 24, 2019. On Friday, April 12, 2024, Google announced it was testing removing links to California news websites from some people's search results. The search giant said it was preparing in case the Legislature passed a bill requiring it to pay media companies a fee for linking to its content. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

FILE -- A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., on Sept. 24, 2019. On Friday, April 12, 2024, Google announced it was testing removing links to California news websites from some people's search results. The search giant said it was preparing in case the Legislature passed a bill requiring it to pay media companies a fee for linking to its content. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Google fires 28 workers after office sit-ins to protest cloud contract with Israel

Google fires 28 workers after office sit-ins to protest cloud contract with Israel

Google fires 28 workers after office sit-ins to protest cloud contract with Israel

Google fires 28 workers after office sit-ins to protest cloud contract with Israel

Next Article

Fani Willis and judge presiding over Georgia Trump election case defeat challengers

2024-05-22 09:55 Last Updated At:10:00

ATLANTA (AP) — Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor who brought a sprawling racketeering case against former President Donald Trump and others, has won the Democratic primary in her bid for reelection.

Willis defeated progressive attorney Christian Wise Smith in the primary election and is now set to face off against Republican Courtney Kramer in the fall. Willis told reporters after her victory that the voters sent a message that “people want a DA that is just, that treats everybody equally and that works hard, and they know that they have that in me.”

Meanwhile, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, the judge who was randomly assigned to preside over the election interference case, also fended off a challenger, winning a nonpartisan election to keep his seat.

The Trump election case and racketeering cases against well-known rappers have boosted Willis’ public profile. But on Tuesday night she touted her efforts to fight violent crime by being tough on gang members while also saying she worked to give second chances to first offenders and created programs to catch at-risk youth before they get caught up in the criminal justice system.

“The people said yes to justice. The people said yes to safety. The people said yes to integrity. The people said yes to Fani Willis," Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said to applause Tuesday night at Willis' victory party.

With her name recognition, the advantages of incumbency and a hefty fundraising haul, Willis’ victory in the primary was not terribly surprising. As she moves on to the general election, the odds would seem to be in her favor as well. Fulton County includes most of the city of Atlanta and is heavily Democratic, about 73% of its voters having cast ballots for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

But Willis was taking nothing for granted after her primary win, telling supporters, “The campaign does not end tonight. It begins tonight.”

“My opponent is completely unqualified,” she said, later adding, “But while she is inexperienced and unqualified and does not represent the values of my county, don't get confused. She is a real threat because of who backs her and how they back her.”

Willis urged her supporters to continue to back her financially, noting that there was a store selling campaign merchandise onsite during her victory party.

Kramer, who has ties to some of Trump’s most prominent allies in Georgia and has drawn campaign contributions from both the county and state Republican parties, told reporters when she qualified to run that the Trump indictment prompted her to challenge Willis. In a post on the social media platform X earlier this month, she wrote, “The future of Fulton and safety in our community should not be controlled by self-interested politicians who use their office for political law fare. It’s time for a change.”

McAfee has been on the bench since last year when Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to fill an empty seat. He has since become one of the most high-profile judges in Georgia since he was randomly assigned last year to preside over the election interference case. With the added advantages of incumbency, strong bipartisan backing from heavy hitters and an impressive fundraising haul, he was the likely favorite to win.

Willis and Smith both worked in the Fulton County district attorney’s office under then-District Attorney Paul Howard. They both challenged their former boss in the Democratic primary in 2020. Willis and Howard advanced to a runoff that she won, and she ran unopposed in the November general election that year.

Kramer ran unopposed in the Republican primary Tuesday and has already been focusing her attention on attacking Willis. A lawyer who interned in the Trump White House, she has ties to some of the former president's prominent allies in Georgia.

Kramer and her backers will undoubtedly continue to focus on what even some of Willis' closest allies have seen as a major misstep — her romantic relationship with a special prosecutor she hired for the election case. Claims by defense attorneys in the case that the romance created a conflict of interest threatened to derail the prosecution.

McAfee ultimately ruled that it did not create a conflict of interest that should disqualify Willis, but he said she could only continue the case if the special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, stepped aside. Wade promptly left the case, but a defense appeal of McAfee's ruling is now pending before the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Wade was among those gathered at an event space in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood Tuesday evening to celebrate Willis' win.

Willis obtained an indictment in August against Trump and 18 others, accusing them of participating in an alleged illegal scheme to overturn Trump's narrow loss in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Four people have pleaded guilty after reaching deals with prosecutors. Trump and the 14 others who remain have pleaded not guilty.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens takes a photograph with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis before she speaks and after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens takes a photograph with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis before she speaks and after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates with supporters after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates with supporters after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

In this photo combination of file images, Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court, left, while Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, looks on during a hearing on the Georgia election interference case, March, 1, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photos/Alex Slitz)

In this photo combination of file images, Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court, left, while Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, looks on during a hearing on the Georgia election interference case, March, 1, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photos/Alex Slitz)

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