Society's Child


Update: Charleston shooting suspect, identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, arrested during traffic stop in Shelby, NC

The Charleston shooting suspect has reportedly been identified as Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old from Lexington County, S.C., currently out on bond in connection with recent arrests on drug and trespassing charges.

Roof's uncle told Reuters that he recognized his nephew from the surveillance photos released earlier today and that Roof received a new gun for his 21st birthday in April. Law enforcement agents are, according to the uncle, speaking with Roof's mother at her home. WLTX reports that authorities are searching for the suspect in Richland County.


South Carolina Senator Clementa Pinckney among 9 dead in Charleston church shooting - police release image of gunman

South Carolina Senator Clementa C. Pinckney is among the nine people who were shot and killed inside a downtown Charleston church late Wednesday night, according to local civil rights activist Elder James Johnson.

Charleston Police confirm nine people were killed after shots were fired during a prayer meeting inside Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street around 9:05 p.m. Police Chief Greg Mullen said officers arrived to find eight people dead inside the church.

A ninth victim died later at a nearby hospital.

Elder James Johnson, President of the Charleston Chapter of the National Action News, said Pinckney was shot inside the church. Pinckney, 41, served as pastor for Emanuel AME in addition to his role as a state senator for District 45.


Sanity check: 45 veterans sign letter urging drone pilots to stand down

© Reuters / Eric D. Warren
A group of 45 former American military members have issued a jointly signed letter pushing drone operators to step away from their controls and refuse to fly any more lethal missions.

The letter draws attention to the controversial operation of drones in foreign nations, where lethal strikes in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan have damaged terrorist networks but have also claimed the lives of innocent civilians.

"At least 6,000 lives have been unjustly taken by US drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, the Philippines, Libya and Syria. These attacks are also undermining principles of international law and human rights," the authors write, according to the Guardian., which sent out the letter, is also looking to distribute them by hand outside several military bases where drone operators are known to work, including Beale Air Force Base in California and Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in New York.

Comment: It is good to hear some sane voices in this insane world. Hope this group gets some traction.

Cowboy Hat

Military chief in Canada forced to apologize after saying men are 'biologically wired' for sexual harassment

© Reuters/Chris Wattie
Canada's Chief of Defence Staff General Tom Lawson
Canada's military chief has apologized for saying the prevalence of sexual harassment in the Canadian Forces is due to "biological wiring." His comment drew outrage from politicians and those on social media.

Tom Lawson's controversial statement was made during a Tuesday interview with CBC News.

"It would be a trite answer, but it's because we're biologically wired in a certain way and there will be those who believe it is a reasonable thing to press themselves and their desires on others. It's not the way it should be," Lawson said.

"Much as we would very much like to be absolutely professional in everything we do, and I think by and large we are, there will be situations and have been situations where, largely, men will see themselves as able to press themselves onto our women members,"he added.

Comment: Certainly sounds like a projection from the defense chief. Perhaps in his head, it is normal for a man to force himself onto a woman. But most people have a conscience which stops them from raping others.

Comment: See:

Red Flag

Millionaires will soon control half of world's wealth as income inequality skyrockets

© Flickr/ Thomas Galvez
In yet another sign that the global wealth gap is expanding, millionaires are set to possess nearly half the world's wealth by 2019.

Boston Consulting Group's annual Global Wealth report says that in 2014 there were 17 million millionaires in the world, up from 15 million in 2013, and they now account for 41% the world's $164 trillion in private wealth, which is expected to rise to 46% share by 2019.

"The wealthier are getting more and more wealthy," BCG partner and managing director Anna Zakrzewski told MSNBC. "They have a much larger share of their wealth invested in equity markets and last year was a good year for market performance."

In another indication that those gaining wealth are making money from money itself, the report says 73% of the world's gains in private wealth in 2014 came from gains on existing assets rather than the creation of new wealth or business.


California cuts off lone supply of water to town of 15,000

© Flickr/ cayusa
A California community of 15,000 people is days away from running out of water after the state cut off its only water source amidst one of the worst droughts the state has ever faced.

The upscale San Joaquin County community of Mountain House received its water supply exclusively from Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, one of 114 senior water rights holders who were cut off on Friday.

The decision to cut off many of California's longest-held water claims has several of the water districts planning to sue, but that won't help the residents on Mountain House with their immediate dilemma.

The community has storage tanks, but they are built just to ensure the correct pressurization is maintained and can hold less than two days worth of water.


The Walmart octopus: World's biggest corporation dodges its massive US tax bill with secret overseas havens

A groundbreaking report reveals that Walmart has built a vast, undisclosed network of 78 subsidiaries and branches in 15 overseas tax havens, which may be used to minimize foreign taxes where it has retail operations and to avoid U.S. tax on those foreign earnings. These secretive subsidiaries have never been subject to public scrutiny before. They have remained largely invisible, in part because Walmart fails to list them in its annual 10-K filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Walmart's preferred tax haven is Luxembourg, dubbed a "magical fairyland" for corporations looking to shelter profits from taxation.

The report, The Walmart Web: How the World's Biggest Corporation Secretly Uses Tax Havens to Dodge Taxes, is the first-ever comprehensive documentation of the company's use of tax havens. The full report is available here, and for the report's Key Findings, click here.

Key Findings

Most people know that Walmart is the world's biggest corporation. Virtually no one knows that Walmart has an extensive and secretive web of subsidiaries located in countries widely known as tax havens. Typically, the primary purpose for a corporation to set up subsidiaries in tax havens where it has little to no business operations and few, if any, employees is to pay little, if any, taxes and to maintain financial secrecy.

Walmart has established a vast and relatively new web of subsidiaries in tax havens, while avoiding public disclosure of these subsidiaries.

Comment: So Walmart hast a total of $205 billion (billion!) in total assets. Yet this despicable "business" gets away with paying its slaves employees so little they are forced to apply for food stamps and other forms of social assistance. How is this not criminal? Shouldn't the IRS be focusing on this grand scale malfeasance, rather than auditing mom-and-pop businesses?


Boeing 737 bursts into flames at Kazakhstan airport


Terror at the terminal: Horrified airline passengers look on from the gate after the plane they were due to board bursts into flames at at an airport in Kazakhstan
This is the terrifying moment a commercial airliner bursts into flames moments before passengers were about to board.

The Boeing 737-300 caught fire after an oxygen cylinder exploded as horrified onlookers watched on from the gate.

Dramatic footage shows 15ft-high flames erupting through a massive hole in the fuselage, sending thick, black smoke billowing across the airport.

Fortunately, the incoming passengers had already left the 25-year-old aircraft and the outgoing ones had not yet been called to board.

The fire is understood to have caused irreparable damage before firefighters were able to bring the flames under control with water cannon.

Snakes in Suits

While tax payers help feed its low-wage workers, Wal-Mart hides over $76 billion in overseas tax havens

© Shutterstock
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was able to avoid paying $3.5 billion in taxes last year by owning $76 billion of its assets in overseas tax havens, a study found this week.

United Food & Commercial Workers International Union research published by Americans for Tax Fairness on Wednesday showed that Wal-Mart had created more than 78 offshore subsidiaries and branches since 2009 that the company had not disclosed in U.S. securities filings, Bloomberg reported.

According to the study, 90 percent of the overseas assets owned by Wal-Mart were through two of the most popular tax havens in the world, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Although the company has no stores in Luxembourg, it reported $1.3 billion profits in the country between 2010 and 2013, which were taxed at a rate of less than 1 percent.


"The pitchforks are coming" - a billionaire talks about class war

© Associated Press
"When employers stop thinking about employees as costs to cut, but instead as customers, they see it is in their self interest to raise the minimum wage. We need to change their concept of self interest."
Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist who was one of the first investors in Amazon, has the distinction of being one of America's few progressive billionaires. We spoke to him about the class war—which he is busily fighting.

Hanauer drew attention last year for writing an op-ed in Politico warning his "fellow zillionaires" that "the pitchforks are coming" if something is not done to address America's growing economic inequality. Since then, he has been producing a steady stream of blog posts and essays calling for higher pay for low-wage workers and other measures designed to boost the fortunes of the declining lower and middle classes.

Yesterday, the Seattle-based investor was in New York testifying in favor of a $15 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers. He stopped by our office afterwards to talk.

Gawker: Why did you decide to speak at the fast food wage hearing today?

Nick Hanauer: I flew out to do testimony obviously because they asked me to, but [also] because I was at the forefront of the effort to pass $15 minimum wage in Seattle, and have been collaborating with the people who are trying to make that happen across the country.

Gawker: And your message is: it worked in Seattle, and it can work here?

NH: Yeah. My message is that the counterclaim—which is that if wages go up, employment will go down—is a scam. It's a con job. It's an intimidation tactic. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that it's true. On the contrary, where you find high wages you usually find low unemployment.

Comment: Heartening to see that a person can be a successful entrepreneur and still retain their humanity.