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Mon, 30 Jan 2023
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Wal-Mart: 50 Years of Gutting America's Middle Class


Movie poster detail from the documentary, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price.
Walmart's explosive growth has gutted two key pillars of the American middle class: small businesses and well-paid manufacturing jobs

Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in Rogers, Arkansas, 50 years ago this month. Sprawled along a major thoroughfare outside the city's downtown, that inaugural store embodied many of the hallmarks that have since come to define the Walmart way of doing business. Walton scoured the country for the cheapest merchandise and deftly exploited a loophole in federal law to pay his mostly female workforce less than minimum wage.

That relentless focus on squeezing workers and suppliers for every advantage has paid off since July 1962. Walmart is now the second-largest corporation on the planet. It took in almost half-a-trillion dollars last year at more than 10,000 stores worldwide.

Walmart now captures one of every four dollars Americans spend on groceries. Its stores are so plentiful that it's easy to imagine that the retailer has long since reached the upper limit of its growth potential. It hasn't. Walmart has opened over 1,100 new supercenters since 2005 and expanded its U.S. sales by 35 percent. It aims to keep on growing that fast. With an eye to infiltrating urban areas, Walmart recently introduced smaller "neighborhood markets" and "express" stores.


New Tests Show Yasser Arafat Poisoned with Radioactive Polonium

© Unknown
“[W]e shall discover ourselves in peace more than we have with war and confrontation, as I am sure that the Israelis in turn shall find themselves in peace more than they have found it in war.” —Yasser Arafat, Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, 1994
Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, died mysteriously on November 11, 2004.

Now, a nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera revealed Tuesday that Arafat was in good health until he suddenly fell ill on October 12, 2004.

[...] tests reveal that Arafat's final personal belongings - his clothes, his toothbrush, even his iconic kaffiyeh - contained abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element. Those personal effects, which were analyzed at the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, were variously stained with Arafat's blood, sweat, saliva and urine. The tests carried out on those samples suggested that there was a high level of polonium inside his body when he died.

"I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids," said Dr. Francois Bochud, the director of the institute.


Some Outrageous Facts about US Inequality

© AP/Mark Lennihan
A homeless person sits under blankets at a Wall Street subway station in New York City.
Studying inequality in America reveals some facts that are truly hard to believe. Amidst all the absurdity a few stand out.

1. U.S. companies in total pay a smaller percentage of taxes than the lowest-income 20% of Americans.

Total corporate profits for 2011 were $1.97 trillion. Corporations paid $181 billion in federal taxes (9%) and $40 billion in state taxes (2%), for a total tax burden of 11%. The poorest 20% of American citizens pay 17.4% in federal, state, and local taxes.

2. The high-profit, tax-avoiding tech industry was built on publicly-funded research.

The technology sector has been more dependent on government research and development than any other industry. The U.S. government provided about half of the funding for basic research in technology and communications well into the 1980s. Even today, federal grants support about 60 percent of research performed at universities.

IBM was founded in 1911, Hewlett-Packard in 1947, Intel in 1968, Microsoft in 1975, Apple and Oracle in 1977, Cisco in 1984. All relied on government and military innovations. The more recently incorporated Google, which started in 1996, grew out of the Defense Department's ARPANET system and the National Science Foundation's Digital Library Initiative.

The combined 2011 federal tax payment for the eight companies was just 10.6%.


Nicolas Sarkozy's home raided by French police

Detectives investigating alleged illegal campaign-financing by L'Oreal heir Liliane Bettencourt search Carla Bruni's mansion

French police have raided the home and offices of the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy as part of an investigation into illegal campaign financing and alleged brown envelopes of cash from France's wealthiest woman, the L'Oreal hairspray heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Police searched the mansion rented by Carla Bruni in a chic gated community in the west of Paris, where she and Sarkozy live with Bruni's 11-year-old son and the couple's new baby daughter. Officers also searched the office of the legal firm where Sarkozy is a partner and the new office he moved into after losing the presidential election to Socialist Francois Hollande in May.

The Sarkozys were not present as they had left for a Quebec chalet holiday on Monday, Sarkozy's lawyer said.

As president, Sarkozy had judicial immunity which protected him from legal investigations, but this expired on 16 June.


Propaganda Alert! Psychologically disturbed Syrian state TV reporter 'defects'

© Guardian
Ghatan Sleiba, who told Western authority figures what they wanted to hear, that 'the rebels' aka al Qaeda are in control of much of eastern Syria... before backtracking and saying they were in "quasi-control"... which really means they are totally out of control massacring civilians at will.
Ghatan Sleiba, from the pro-Assad al-Dunya channel, says he has been providing intelligence to the rebels for months

A presenter from the Syrian regime's main television channel has defected to the opposition and revealed he has been secretly providing intelligence to rebels for the past seven months.

Ghatan Sleiba, who worked for both the state-owned al-Akhbariya network and the al-Dunya channel, is believed to be the first high-profile defector from Damascus's powerful propaganda arm. "I am the first and I will probably be the last," he told the Guardian in southern Turkey. "There are some others who also want to run, but there are more who love the regime from the depths of their hearts."

In military defections on Monday, a Syrian general from an artillery division and seven officers were among dozens of soldiers, mostly serving in Homs province, who also fled to Turkey, a Syrian activist and Free Syria Army sources told Reuters.

Comment: The al-Jazeera guy sussed him out. This Ghatan Sleiba is about as trustworthy as someone you'd find locked in a mental institution.


France next on the economic hit list? 'Austerity looms large for France'


The 'world economy' in a nutshell
Despite the French president's campaign pledge to avoid implementing harsh austerity measures, a report says his government is in dire need of cutting jobs and implementing economic reforms to achieve a European deficit target.

According to a report by France's national audit office on Monday, Paris needs to come up with EUR 33 billion (USD 42 billi
on) in savings next year to meet its European deficit goal of three percent of gross domestic product.

This comes as auditors have already noted in an in-depth review that the state requires EUR 6-10 billion (USD 7.6-12.6 billion) in budget savings in 2012 to reach the deficit target of 4.4 percent of the GDP.

Officials have warned that "2013 is a crucial year" as France "is in the danger zone in terms of its economy and public finances."

Star of David

Flashback to Jewish Ghettos in Poland under the Nazis: Hebron border police officer kicks a Palestinian child

A B'Tselem video volunteer documented an Israeli Border Police officer kicking a Palestinian child while another officer held the boy. The incident took place on the 29th of June 2012 near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in Hebron's H2 area. The child, Abd a-Rahman Burqan, who is nine years old, lives with his family near the parking lot used by Israeli vehicles outside of the Tomb. The video shows a Border Police officer ambushing a child from around the corner. As the child walks past, the officer grabs him by the arm and says: "why are you making trouble?" The officer then drags the child, who is screaming, on the ground for a few seconds. A second Border Police officer then appears and kicks the boy. The officer then lets the child go. He runs away, and the two Border Police officers leave the scene as well. The incident was filmed by a volunteer in B'Tselem's camera distribution project, from inside his home. The volunteer told B'Tselem that he began to film when he noticed the officer hiding behind the wall. B'Tselem will refer the case to the Justice Ministry's Department for the Investigation of Police.

Comment: A snapshot of daily life for Palestinians under Israeli rule. The state of Israel treats Palestinians like the Nazis treated minorities and the whole world pretends it is normal and acceptable. But it should be obvious to any rational human being that what is acceptable in the Jewish state is not substantially different than what was acceptable in the Third Reich.

This Palestinian boy should count himself lucky though, he could just have easily been shot through the head by an Israeli soldier, who would have then been found innocent. In the totalitarian world he lives in, the world Zionists and psychopaths in power everywhere envisage for all humanity in the very near future, he will have to become very street-smart if he is to survive into adulthood.


US Muffling Opposition Voice by Secretly Liquidating Dissidents: Analyst

9/11 truth
A US political analyst says despite Washington's claims to being a pioneer in promoting freedom of speech and human rights, the American government is actually disabling and even killing dissidents by inconspicuous means.

"The post-9/11 USA is no longer a beacon of human rights. As former President Jimmy Carter recently wrote in the New York Times, the United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights," Kevin Barrett wrote in an article published on the Press TV website.

Referring to recent remarks of President Barak Obama administration's information czar Cass Sunstein, who openly noted that the US government should "disable the purveyors of conspiracy theories," the analyst said one way to disable the purveyors of conspiracy theories is to terrorize them with death threats.


Researches in Texas Use Spoofing to 'Hack' into a US Drone

© unknown
A US assassination drone.
American researchers at the University of Texas have successfully taken control of a flying drone by "hacking" into its GPS system, showing its weaknesses to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

During the experiment at the University of Texas at Austin's Radio navigation Laboratory, Professor Todd Humphreys and his team successfully hijacked a drone by "spoofing" its GPS receiver.

Humphreys says that Iran's success in bringing down a US spy drone last December gave him the idea of doing the experiment.

"So we decided to conduct the experiment, which showed us that it's possible to take control of a flying drone," Humphrey said.

Humphreys says that unlike military UAVs, which use an encrypted GPS system, most drones that will fly over the US will rely on civilian GPS, which is not encrypted and wide open to infiltration.


Video Shows Israeli Police Roughing Up Palestinian Child

Human rights group B'Tselem has uploaded a video showing Israeli police officers brutally attacking a Palestinian child, providing more evidence of Israeli violence against Palestinian children.

A volunteer shot the video near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) in the south of the occupied West Bank on June 29 for the B'Tselem human rights organization and the group uploaded the video on YouTube on Monday.

The video shows one border policeman apprehending a nine-year-old boy, identified as Abd al-Rahman Burkan, and knocking him to the ground while the child shouts.