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Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 11:30 AM PDT
Ending The Walmart Scam
by Raul Grijalva
Right now, income inequality is the highest it’s been in our society since 1928. A lucky few in America make billions, while millions of others struggle just to get by. Nowhere is this gap more apparent than in the 4,100 plus Walmart stores across the country. Rob Walton and his family have amassed an empire of riches, and they built it on the backs of the working poor. The consequences of such skewed earning potential – where the family on top is worth $150 billion while their employees earn less than $25,000 per year – are significant and unsustainable.
As the nation’s largest employer, with $15 billion in profits annually, Walmart can afford to pay their employees a livable wage. Instead, they choose to manipulate schedules and hours to pay the majority of their workers abysmal wages. Sandra Sok, who works in Phoenix Walmart Store #5331 is a perfect example. After eight years of service to the company, she still struggles for enough work and income to make ends meet. She pleads with management every week for additional shifts because the 30 hours she is usually scheduled for simply aren’t enough. Sandra’s done her part to help Walmart succeed – she deserves more than poverty pay in return.
Many workers like Sandra are forced to rely on food stamps, health care assistance and other taxpayer-funded programs to get by. So while the Walton family alone has as much wealth as 43% of American families combined, the American people still have to pick up the tab for the Walton’s appalling business practices. And it’s not cheap: Walmart is estimated to cost the taxpayers $6.2 billion annually through public assistance costs, with expenses ranging between $3,015 and $5,815 per worker. All the while, Walmart and the Waltons are taking $8 billion a year in tax breaks that subsidize their low-wage business – and add to their profits. It is estimated that the family has avoided paying $3 billion in taxes by using special trusts to dodge estate taxes.
It’s time to end this charade and shut down the Walmart scam. That starts by recognizing that every worker deserves the decency of full-time work. Manipulating schedules to avoid paying employees what they’re due is shameful, demoralizing and wrong. The Schedules That Work Act, which has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, will give workers the right to a stable work schedule without retaliation. We also need to turn the minimum wage into a livable wage. Cities like Seattle, Los Angeles and Baltimore have led the charge in this effort, raising their minimum wage levels as high as $15 per hour. But they are the exception, and we need to make it the norm.
The American Dream is premised on the notion that anyone who works hard here can earn a decent living. Corporations like Walmart have turned that dream into a living nightmare for the men and women they employ, and it’s up to the American people to put a stop to it. As Walmart employees in Phoenix and other major cities across the country protest their conditions this week, we must recommit to ensuring the American Dream remains within reach for everyone willing to work for it.
Posted by FourScore | Wed Oct 15, 2014, 10:56 PM (1 replies)
Seriously? In Georgia?? You boys don't know the difference between okra and Mary Jane? Why, didn't your Mamas ever fry that slimy stuff for you all? My lord!
Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 10:15 AM PDT
Georgia deputies raid man's home after mistaking okra plants for marijuana
by Jen Hayden
Helicopter hovering over Dwayne Perry's backyard attribution: screenshot from video
Once again, from the "not The Onion" files, Georgia deputies went full SWAT to raid Dwayne Perry's home because they thought he was growing marijuana in his backyard. But, no. It was okra:
"I was scared actually, at first, because I didn't know what was happening,” said homeowner Dwayne Perry.
All he noticed was that there was a chopper sitting unusually low over his house, then Bartow County deputies and a K-9 unit appeared at his doorstep in minutes.
"They were strapped to the gills,” Perry said.
Georgia State Patrol says they still haven't identified the mysterious (and enormously popular Southern vegetable):
"We've not been able to identify it as of yet. But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant,” said Georgia State Patrol Capt. Kermit Stokes.
Dwayne Perry says he's still embarrassed and feels his reputation has been damaged, not to mention being terrified at how quickly something could have gone wrong.
Even if this were one small patch of homegrown marijuana, isn't this type of police response just a wee bit overkill? Especially when 75% of Americans don't even think it should be a jailable offense and 58% think it should be legal outright?
See an interview with Dwayne Perry below the fold.
Posted by FourScore | Mon Oct 6, 2014, 02:49 PM (19 replies)
Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 06:50 AM PDT
Cartoon: Do your part
by Tom Tomorrow
Posted by FourScore | Mon Oct 6, 2014, 10:05 AM (10 replies)
Thu Oct 02, 2014 at 02:11 PM PDT
Attention, American Students: Tired of Prohibitive Debt? Germany Has Now Abolished ALL Tuition Fees
Why does America hate the future? Issue by issue, from our unsustainable, for-profit healthcare system to our outrageous higher-education costs -- to our head-in-the-sand inaction on climate change -- the U.S. seems to be mired in an interminable, regressive state-of-mind. Frankly, none of it makes any sense.
That said, I'm in my mid-fifties now. When I was young my parents couldn't afford to send me to college. So, I enrolled in a local community college to get my four-year certificates in Machine Tool Technology and Math, and then re-enrolled a number of times in other community colleges periodically throughout my career as a machinist in order to keep up with rapid advances in technology, which in turn allowed me to make an adequate living. But, man-oh-man, if I had realized when I was young that I could have had an opportunity to enroll in a major, accredited university but didn't have to pay ANY tuition -- and all I had to do was to move to Europe -- I would have done it in a heartbeat. By hook or by crook, so-to-speak.
But, I digress...
Prospective students in the United States who can’t afford to pay for college or don’t want to rack up tens of thousands in student debt should try their luck in Germany. Higher education is now free throughout the country, even for international students. Yesterday, Lower Saxony became the last of seven German states to abolish tuition fees, which were already extremely low compared to those paid in the United States.
German universities only began charging for tuition in 2006, when the German Constitutional Court ruled that limited fees, combined with loans, were not in conflict the country’s commitment to universal education. The measure proved unpopular, however, and German states that had instituted fees began dropping them one by one.
“We got rid of tuition fees because we do not want higher education which depends on the wealth of the parents,” Gabrielle Heinen-Kjajic, the minister for science and culture in Lower Saxony, said in a statement. Her words were echoed by many in the German government. “Tuition fees are unjust,” said Hamburg’s senator for science Dorothee Stapelfeldt. “They discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”
It's interesting to note that even before tuition fees were abolished, German students barely had to pay for undergraduate study. Per semester, fees averaged about C500. ($630USD) Not to mention the fact that most students were entitled to perks such as cheap (if not free) transportation to and from universities.
Think Progress has the story: This Country Just Abolished College Tuition Fees
Compared to American students, Germans barely had to pay for undergraduate study even before tuition fees were abolished. Semester fees averaged around €500 ($630) and students were entitled to many perks, such as cheap (often free) transportation within and between cities.
Free education is a concept that is embraced in most of Europe with notable exceptions like the U.K., where the government voted to lift the cap on university fees in 2010. The measure has reportedly cost more money than it brought in. The Guardian reported in March that students are failing to pay back student loans at such a rate that “the government will lose more money than it would have saved from keeping the old £3,000 ($4,865) tuition fee system.”
Although it's patently ridiculous, students in the U.K. often compare their own education plight to their American counterparts. The Brits pay a maximum of $14,500USD per year for tuition. It's much higher in the U.S. In fact, exorbitant tuition and fees here have caused student debt to explode overall to a mind-numbing $1.2 trillion, and is continuing to spiral out of control. It is now the second-highest form of consumer debt in the country. And, (according to the Institute for College Access and Success) a full 2/3rds of college students in the U.S. will leave college in significant debt, with an average of $26,600 per student.
However, the news is not all bad. There has been, in fact, some movement at the state level: Tennessee, for one, recently voted to make two-year colleges free for all high school graduates. But overall change in this country is at a snail's pace at best. And this simply must change. And that change is not as difficult as it would seem. We just need a new (liberal) perspective.
The U.S. as whole could take a note from Germany and make public universities free with relative ease. The government spends around $69 billion subsidizing college education and another $107.4 billion on student loans. Tuition at all public universities comes to much less than that, around $62.6 billion in 2012. By restructuring the education budget, the cost of attending public universities could easily be brought down to zero. This would also put pressure on private universities to lower their cost in order to be more competitive.
So, for what it's worth, I know it can be cost-prohibitive for a lot of young folks. But until us older folks manage to enact necessary education reforms, if it's at all possible, my advice to young people in this country would be... (to paraphrase an American classic)
"Go east, young people... Go East! (across the pond)
Posted by FourScore | Fri Oct 3, 2014, 09:42 AM (4 replies)
Dear white racists and your fragile fee-fees:
Relax, I'm white, too. Look, I can do the secret handshake and nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Lemme whitesplain something to you, fellow white men: no one buys your bullshit. That's because your bullshit runs like this: For historically- and presently-oppressed black people to be treated decently, they must carefully avoid doing anything that could be remotely twisted into behaving like a white racist, even if you're squinting and looking at it from five hundred meters away in a thick fog. Because that would be racist, and therefore hypocritical, and if that's the case, they deserve to continue to be oppressed.
Here's the thing you thick-headed assholes totally fail to get: NO ONE DESERVES TO BE OPPRESSED, PERIOD. You can talk all you want about how it's okay for black people to be mistreated if--- but get this, there is no "if". It's not okay, ever. That's why we call it mistreatment. Your error is to think that it's ever justified, and your active misdeed is to constantly search for a justification. Black people, collectively, are not guilty of anything. In fact, a basic principle of civil society is that we reject the notion of collective guilt.
Some individual black people, like individual white people, have done bad things, and in those cases, may deserve judicial punishments. But even those people don't deserve mistreatment from some random white guy on the street. And black people in general don't owe anyone anything as a prerequisite for being treated decently. No one does.
Now I know there are a bunch of you in the back of the room waving your hand and getting ready to launch the argument that it's racist to complain about white privilege. No, it is not. Complaining about white privilege is not the same as assigning collective guilt to white people. White privilege is a pervasive feature of our society and our legal system. It's hard to see if you're white (and you're not looking or actively trying not to look), but it is real, it is powerfully destructive, and if global warming had the kind of statistical support that evidence of white privilege has, Bill O'Reilly would be haranguing FOX News viewers to install solar panels.
And here's the subtle point that you folks either can't or won't grasp. White privilege is especially the responsibility of white people to fix, not because we're all racist schlubs like you are, but because white privilege itself means that we're the ones who have the power to change it. Black people don't have that power, again because of white privilege, and not because they aren't sufficiently careful in the way they phrase their complaints about being mistreated. It's our problem and our responsibility as white people to fix not because whites are collectively guilty, but because it is the responsibility of ALL PEOPLE to fight for decent treatment for ALL PEOPLE. It just happens that, because of our shithead ancestors and a helping handful of historical accident, we white people are the ones who can do something about it. When the finger on the trigger is white, it's pointless to ask a black guy to lower the gun.
And quite frankly, given all the shit that our black fellow citizens have put up with, and all the shit they have to deal with every. fucking. day., if some of them lose their tempers and say things that aren't carefully calibrated to kiss your privileged, hypersensitive asses, well, is that actually surprising? You lose your minds when black people just complain verbally about being kicked. Imagine how tough it would be for you to keep your cool if someone was actually doing something to you instead of just talking.
Finally, yes, I know this is pointless. You want to be offended to fluff your fragile egos, and you want black people to please shut the fuck up and stop harshing your mellow. I hate to break it to you, but as long as people are being murdered by the state, given draconian sentences for crimes that in many cases they haven't even committed, and being held in poverty and privation and a constant state of fear, those of us who actually give a shit about our fellow citizens are going, at the very least, to make some noise about it.
In the meantime, if you can't be bothered to do your duty as an American to protect your fellow Americans with the considerable power at your disposal, at least shut the fuck up and stop making an ass of yourself.
Your fellow privileged white guy
Posted by FourScore | Thu Oct 2, 2014, 08:29 AM (96 replies)
That's what really worries me. I hope it is not the foreshadowing of something worse.
The security breaches are bad. Really bad. But some of them happened years ago, so why are they being disclosed or discussed now?
I always wonder about the timing of these disclosures. I don't believe they are happenstance.
I am so worried about my President's well-being.
Posted by FourScore | Tue Sep 30, 2014, 11:07 PM (7 replies)
Sat Sep 27, 2014 at 10:59 AM PDT
by wilderness voice
Dr. Gobee Logan, a doctor in rural Liberia, has given an HIV drug, lamivudine, to 15 Ebola patients. 13 survived. Continue past the mating paramecium for more:
"My stomach was hurting; I was feeling weak; I was vomiting," Elizabeth Kundu, 23, says of her bout with the virus. "They gave me medicine, and I'm feeling fine. We take it, and we can eat -- we're feeling fine in our bodies." Kundu and the other 12 patients who took the lamivudine and survived, received the drug in the first five days or so of their illness. The two patients who died received it between days five and eight.
also knows American researchers will say only a real study can prove effectiveness. ..."Our people are dying and you're taking about studies?" he said. "It's a matter of doing all that I can do as a doctor to save some people's lives."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says that theoretically, Logan's approach has some merit.... other drugs in this class are being studied to treat Ebola
Lamivudine is a nucleoside analog:
These agents can be used against hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, herpes simplex, and HIV. Once they are phosphorylated, they work as antimetabolites by being similar enough to nucleotides to be incorporated into growing DNA strands; but they act as chain terminators and stop viral DNA Polymerase. They are not specific to viral DNA and also affect mitochondrial DNA. Because of this they have side effects such as bone marrow suppression.
Ebola virus uses RNA only and does not create any DNA. However, RNA requires nucleotides for its assembly just as does DNA, so it stands to reason it could work for Ebola as well as HIV. In any case, it seems to be working, since the chance of this large a proportion of patients surviving otherwise, without treatment, would be quite unlikely.
Posted by FourScore | Sat Sep 27, 2014, 09:45 PM (10 replies)
Thu Sep 25, 2014 at 07:36 PM PDT
Women's Rights Activist tortured and executed by ISIS
Outrage upon outrage. Here's the latest scoop from the War Against Women, ISIS-style:
An Iraqi lawyer known for her work promoting women’s rights has been killed by Islamic State fighters, the head of the United Nations human rights office said on Thursday, continuing a pattern of attacks on professional women.
The lawyer, Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy, was seized from her home by Islamic State fighters last week and tortured for several days before a masked firing squad executed her in public on Monday, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations human rights commissioner, said in a statement.
The New York Times brings us this grisly report of yet another outrageous act of barbarism by the deranged Islamist mobsters known as ISIS.
Women (and their children) often bear the brunt of military hostilities, but the present situation is particularly vicious.
United Nations monitors in Iraq have received numerous reports of executions of women by Islamic State gunmen, some after perfunctory trials, the organization said. “Educated, professional women seem to be particularly at risk,” it added.
These killings, together with abductions and the enslavement of women and children, illustrate the “utterly poisonous nature” of the extremist group, Mr. Zeid said, drawing attention to the plight of hundreds of women and girls of the Yazidi religious minority and other ethnic and religious groups sold into slavery, raped or forced into marriage after the group overran large areas of northern Iraq.
So, there you have it. Women who dare to venture out of the veil, out of the kitchen, out of enslavement are targeted and murdered by the men who would enslave them. It's the Neanderthal Age, déjà vu all over again. Who would have imagined that such a thing could occur in 2014?
We are all Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy. May her soul rest in peace.
Posted by FourScore | Fri Sep 26, 2014, 12:28 AM (6 replies)
One of the most eye-opening articles I have read in a long time. How are these guys not rotting in jail?? Unbelievable!!!
About the patriarch:
...Fred had built a domestic oil empire under a new company eventually called Rock Island Oil & Refining, transporting crude from wellheads to refineries by truck or by pipe. In those later years, Fred also became a major benefactor and board member of the John Birch Society, the rabidly anti-communist organization founded in 1958 by candy magnate and virulent racist Robert Welch. Bircher publications warned that the Red endgame was the creation of the "Negro Soviet Republic" in the Deep South. In his own writing, Fred described integration as a Red plot to "enslave both the white and black man..."
On their "Market Based Management" which rewarded workers for cutting costs and fired those who acted responsibly, a risky business model in the oil industry:
...On the day before Danielle Smalley was to leave for college, she and her friend Jason Stone were hanging out in her family's mobile home. Seventeen years old, with long chestnut hair, Danielle began to feel nauseated. "Dad," she said, "we smell gas." It was 3:45 in the afternoon on August 24th, 1996, near Lively, Texas, some 50 miles southeast of Dallas. The Smalleys were too poor to own a telephone. So the teens jumped into her dad's 1964 Chevy pickup to alert the authorities. As they drove away, the truck stalled where the driveway crossed a dry creek bed. Danielle cranked the ignition, and a fireball engulfed the truck. "You see two children burned to death in front of you – you never forget that," Danielle's father, Danny, would later tell reporters.
Unknown to the Smalleys, a decrepit Koch pipeline carrying liquid butane – literally, lighter fluid – ran through their subdivision. It had ruptured, filling the creek bed with vapor, and the spark from the pickup's ignition had set off a bomb. Federal investigators documented both "severe corrosion" and "mechanical damage" in the pipeline. A National Transportation Safety Board report would cite the "failure of Koch Pipeline Company LP to adequately protect its pipeline from corrosion."
Installed in the early Eighties, the pipeline had been out of commission for three years. When Koch decided to start it up again in 1995, a water-pressure test had blown the pipe open. An inspection of just a few dozen miles of pipe near the Smalley home found 538 corrosion defects. The industry's term of art for a pipeline in this condition is Swiss cheese, according to the testimony of an expert witness – "essentially the pipeline is gone."
Koch repaired only 80 of the defects – enough to allow the pipeline to withstand another pressure check – and began running explosive fluid down the line at high pressure in January 1996. A month later, employees discovered that a key anticorrosion system had malfunctioned, but it was never fixed. Charles Koch had made it clear to managers that they were expected to slash costs and boost profits. In a sternly worded memo that April, Charles had ordered his top managers to cut expenditures by 10 percent "through the elimination of waste (I'm sure there is much more waste than that)" in order to increase pre-tax earnings by $550 million a year...
There is so much more, but I can't copy any more. Just read it. It's long and INFORMATIVE!
Honestly! Its just incredible these men are not in jail!
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/inside-the-koch-brothers-toxic-empire-20140924#ixzz3EO6wCy9K
Posted by FourScore | Thu Sep 25, 2014, 11:48 PM (78 replies)
For those who think it is staged, here is the Chinese news report on the incident:
My apologies if this has already been posted. It looks as though it is about a year old.
Posted by FourScore | Thu Sep 18, 2014, 01:13 PM (8 replies)