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Jeff Bezos at Wired's 25th anniversary conference in San Francisco. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED25

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Monday he plans to spend "a little more" than $1 billion on his space exploration company, Blue Origin, next year — a slight increase over the current $1 billion a year.

Why it matters: Bezos, along with other billionaires like Elon Musk, has been criticized for focusing his resources on moonshot projects like space travel instead of immediate problems on Earth (he did recently announce a $2 billion investment in early education and homelessness). Bezos made his announcement at Wired's 25th anniversary conference in San Francisco.

I will not spend one minute of my life on anything I don’t think is contributing to society and civilization...You want risk taking. You want people to have a vision most people don’t agree with.
— Jeff Bezos

On the recent backlash against tech companies working with the military: "If big tech companies are going to turn their backs on the Department of Defense, we are in big trouble.... This is a great country and it does need to be defended."

On concerns for technologies' misuse: "Technology is always two-sided... this isn't new. The book was invented and people could write really evil books and lead bad revolutions with them and fascist empires with books... It doesn't mean the book is bad."

On social media: "I think social media is increasing, unfortunately, identity politics and tribalism. I think the internet in its current iteration is a confirmation bias machine... So we don't know the solutions to these problems yet but we'll figure them out yet.

  • "I worry that some of these technologies will be very useful for autocratic regimes to enforce their rules ... But that's not new, that's always been the case ... The last thing we want to do is stop these technologies even if they're dual-use."

On growing calls for large tech companies (like Amazon) to be heavily scrutinized: "I think all large institutions should be scrutinized ... it's normal ... We want large companies but we want to scrutinize them. And I preach inside Amazon that this is going to happen, don't take it personally."

Go deeper

26 mins ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

GOP operatives accused of funneling Russian cash to Trump

Jesse Benton, spokesman for the Ron Paul campaign, speaking to reporters in the spin room after the CNN Debate on January 1, 2012. Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

A former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul was indicted this month for allegedly funneling $25,000 from a wealthy, unnamed Russian to former President Trump's reelection efforts.

The big picture: The Justice Department alleges that Jesse Benton, 43, the husband of Paul's niece and a veteran Republican staffer, orchestrated a scheme to conceal the illegal foreign donation with another GOP operative, Doug Wead.

Biden to raise refugee admissions cap to 125,000

Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport after being evacuated from Kabul. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration will raise the refugee admissions cap to 125,000 for the next fiscal year beginning in October, the State Department confirmed in a statement Monday.

Why it matters: The move comes as the U.S. contends with resettling tens of thousands of Afghan refugees stateside, and as the world faces "unprecedented global displacement and humanitarian needs," the department wrote.