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Prison to Table: Whole Foods exploits wage loopholes to increase profits

Whole Foods prison labor
© Steve Rhodes/Flickr
Whole Foods workers participate in a Fight for 15 strike, July 31, 2013
It's not clear what shocked people most about the report in Fortune that Whole Foods Market sells goat cheese and tilapia prepared with prison labor - the horrendous exploitation of prisoners for a base rate less than one-tenth of Whole Foods' starting wage, or the fact that even after paying prisoner-workers sixty cents an hour, that tiny wheel of goat cheese still costs upward of seven dollars. Whichever reason it was, for many the story disturbed the experience that Whole Foods carefully cultivates for its customers.

Walk into any Whole Foods Market and the messaging is clear. Colorful panels above neatly displayed quarts of organic chicken broth boast that Whole Foods pays the highest minimum wage in the grocery business ($10 an hour, which is still a poverty wage for most workers). Pamphlets outside the meat cases detail the company's animal welfare rating system and explain why it doesn't sell shark meat and other seafood that can't be fished sustainably. Workers in a seemingly casual but carefully tailored uniform set out "Whole Trade" bananas while smiling and making small talk with customers. Along the walls, posters introduce you to different vendors whose products the store stocks. When you check out, a cashier may ask you to donate to the Whole Planet Foundation - a program to give microloans to women entrepreneurs in developing countries. The stores are designed, from the crates used to display produce to the boat-deck-style overalls worn in the seafood department, to give you the impression of a highly compressed supply chain, carefully monitored for quality and decentralized to produce "win-win" relationships with vendors.

Whole Foods portrays this experience as the natural state of affairs in a bastion of so-called conscious capitalism - a strategy that has contributed in no small part to the company's incredible success. It pioneered a new model for grocery stores that based its marketing not only on the products it sold but on its image as an "activist" company that "revolutionized" the way the grocery business was run. The real secret of Whole Foods' success, however, is far less novel or glamorous: it has essentially profited from scamming its customer base.

Sheriff

Additional footage of Tamir Rice shooting shows 14-year old sister tackled and restrained

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© RT
Police tackled and restrained the teenage sister of 12-year-old Tamir Rice when she rushed to her dying brother after a Cleveland, Ohio cop fatally shot the boy in November, according to newly released video footage of the now notorious incident.

The Cleveland Police Department shared the 30-minute recording on Wednesday night, lending credence to claims made by the Rice family about how law enforcement acted in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. This comes in the midst of a wave of similar tragic officer-involved incidents that have unfolded across the United States in recent months.

"This has to be the cruelest thing I've ever seen," Akron-based attorney Walter Madison, a representative of the Rice family, told the Northeast Ohio Media Group when he viewed the video footage.

On November 22, 2014, the Cleveland Police Department received reports concerning a male with a gun at an area playground, and a cruiser, with Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, arrived on the scene shortly after.

Police said Loehmann engaged when Rice reached into his waistband, and that officers didn't learn until after the fact that the boy only had a non-lethal airsoft pistol. An abbreviated, 2.5-minute video clip, taken from a nearby surveillance camera and released by the police days after the incident, showed previously that Loehmann, 26, fired two shots at Rice in just as many seconds. This happened as soon as the officer got out of his vehicle, fatally wounding the boy.

According to the new footage made available this week, roughly one minute after Rice was shot by Officer Timothy Loehmann, the victim's 14-year-old sister sped to his aid but was intercepted by another cop, forced to the ground and eventually detained in a nearby patrol car only a few feet from her dying brother.

Comment: A young girl realizes her 12-year old brother was just shot and is lying alone, bleeding. She attempts to help him and is thrown to the ground and 'detained' for doing so. What a sick, heartless, fascist machine the modern police force has become. This is America - the grim reality of a police state.

The path to tyranny: The Nazi Gestapo and the US police state


Syringe

Medical fascism: Supreme Court rules teen cannot refuse chemotherapy. What does this mean for the future?

gavel
© unknown
How can any American living here in the supposed "land of the free" honestly believe we still are?

The Connecticut Supreme Court has now ruled that yes, the government has the power to force a minor to undergo chemotherapy treatments even if she doesn't want to.

That's right. The court has unanimously determined that a 17-year-old patient cannot refuse chemotherapy treatment, even if her mother agrees they want to seek alternative treatment, for her Hodgkin's lymphoma.

We aren't just a fascist oligarchy and a police state, but we absolutely a medical tyranny.

Let's just try to overlook the fact (even though it's huge and deserving of its own article) that we even live in a society where the number children getting cancer these days is skyrocketing.

Comment: Hopefully, Cassandra will turn 18 soon and she can legally escape this state-sanctioned attempted murder.


Eye 1

'Special administrative measures' keep Boston bombing suspect gagged

The prisoner
© James LeGros
Were accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev imprisoned in another country and barred from speaking to the outside world, he'd doubtlessly be described as "being held incommunicado."

Yet since he's an accused terrorist being held in the United States, the Justice Department-ordered gag on him has barely been noticed. And were anyone to ask why he's forcibly been kept silent, they'd be told he's been subjected to "Special Administrative Measures."

Don't be fooled by the innocuous sound of that. The phrase refers to a law that allows the government to restrict a prisoner's communications in ways that:

"may include housing the inmate in administrative detention and/or limiting certain privileges, including, but not limited to, correspondence, visiting, interviews with representatives of the news media, and use of the telephone, as is reasonably necessary to protect persons against the risk of acts of violence or terrorism."

The law was established to prevent presumably dangerous inmates - those accused of terrorism, espionage, mob or gang activity - from communicating to the outside plans that could result in death or bodily harm.

Comment: For more on why the FBI would want to keep Tsarnaev silent see:

Tsarnaev brothers were 9/11 Truthers - and obviously innocent!

The Boston Bombing web of lies

17 Unanswered questions about the Boston Marathon bombing the media is afraid to ask


Eye 2

Father charged with murder for throwing 5-year-old daughter off bridge

Image
© WFTS
A Florida man driving toward a bridge over Tampa Bay pulled his car over early Thursday, took his 5-year-old daughter from the back seat, pressed her head to his chest, and tossed her over the rail, according to police in St. Petersburg.

John Nicholas Jonchuck, 25, faces first-degree murder charges. His daughter, Phoebe, fell about 60 feet over the Sunshine Skyway bridge into the bay just after midnight, St. Petersburg police Chief Anthony Holloway said at a news conference

An officer heading home after his shift saw Jonchuck's vehicle speed past at nearly 100 mph, Holloway said. The officer prepared to pull the PT Cruiser over, but by the time he caught up with it, Jonchuck had pulled over on the side of the road.

Holloway said Jonchuck got out and started toward the officer, who pulled his weapon. But Jonchuck went around to the passenger side of the car and got the child out.

The officer "thought he heard the child scream, but he wasn't sure," Holloway said. The officer then saw the man throw the child over, into the strong bay current.

Her body was recovered about a mile from the bridge and hour and a half later. Rescue crews tried to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at 2:44 a.m.

Comment: Just what is wrong with someone for them to murder their own child?


Binoculars

Selective compassion: Charlie Hebdo and Donbass

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Selective compassion! Left: I am Charlie Hebdo / Right: Donbass
Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack once again showed the world that the Western mainstream media can be vigilant ... when it is in the Western interests. A rightful uproar over the deaths of journalists in Paris makes MSM's silence, ignorance and quiet approval of Kiev's atrocities in Donbass all the more apparent. We learn once again that killings by radical Muslims are not OK, but killings by governments are just collateral damage, as long as that government is willing to open up its country to the plunder of Western banks and corporations. Democracy is only about hearing pro-Western voices, other voices are not to be heard, and should be silenced by bombs.

Armed mobs of radical nationalists are only no good when they threaten a pro-Western government and raise the uncomfortable questions about its American supporters. They are perfectly acceptable, as long as their anger, fury and vengeance is directed towards the citizens of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine for not wanting to cut ties with their historic motherland and abandon their culture.

Cardboard Box

Hungry in America: Ten cities where a shocking number of people don't have enough food

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© Shutterstock
"Hunger" is a word that is often used in connection with poor developing countries, but it is also a word that has become increasingly common in the United States - where, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 49.1 million households experienced food insecurity at some point in 2013. And newly released figures by the U.S. Conference of Mayors serve as additional proof of just how dire the problem remains as the U.S. continues to grapple with the fallout of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. On December 11, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released its 32nd Annual Report on Hunger and Homelessness. The report covered 25 American cities: 71% of them said that the number of requests for emergency food assistance had increased in the last year, while only 25% said that requests for emergency food assistance had decreased. And 84% of the cities surveyed expected emergency food requests to increase in 2015, but many food banks may not have the resources to meet those requests.

Helene Schneider, mayor of Santa Barbara and co-chair of the Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, warned in the report that Congress will increase hunger in U.S. cities if it defunds federal anti-hunger programs: the report found that in eight of the 25 cities, at least 20% of the emergency food being distributed came from federal funding (in Los Angeles, it was 51%). And if Republicans step up their attacks on food stamps and federal anti-hunger programs after retaking the U.S. Senate in January, hunger in American cities will likely worsen.


Comment: It doesn't matter if the psychopath is Republican or Democrat. They do not have the emotional capability to empathize with anyones' suffering.


Below are ten U.S. cities in which an appalling number of Americans are going hungry.

1. Memphis

In 2010, a study by the Food Research Action Center declared Memphis to be the hunger capital of the U.S. and found that 26% of its residents had suffered from food insecurity at some point during the previous 12 months. And four years later, Memphis had the worst hunger problem of the 25 cities examined in the U.S. Conference of Mayors' new report: 46% of the requests for emergency food assistance in Tennessee's largest city - almost half - were being unmet. Food pantries in Memphis are overwhelmed with requests, and according to the report, they are having a hard time "securing funds to purchase the food needed to meet the need." Unemployment, low wages and poverty were cited as the main causes of hunger in Memphis, where the official unemployment rate is 7.5% and 26.2% of its residents are living below the poverty line. And the Conference of Mayors noted that in 2015, "city officials expect requests for food assistance to increase moderately and resources to provide food assistance to decrease moderately."

Comment: New year, same social sickness in the U.S.


Handcuffs

Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi facing new charges of sexual assault as questions about CBC cover-up continue

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© Reuters/Mark Blinch
Jian Ghomeshi (C), a former celebrity radio host who has been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, leaves court alongside his lawyer Marie Henein (R) in Toronto, January 8, 2015.
Canadian radio star Jian Ghomeshi was charged with three more counts of sexual assault in a court appearance on Thursday in a widening sex scandal that has prompted suspensions at the country's national public broadcaster.

The three new charges, linked to three more women, bring the total number of charges facing Ghomeshi to eight and the number of complainants to six. A publication ban prevents naming any of the women.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp fired Ghomeshi as host of Q, an internationally syndicated CBC Radio music and arts program, in October. The CBC said it had seen graphic evidence that he had injured a woman in what Ghomeshi said were consensual sex acts involving bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.

Ghomeshi, 47, who interviewed a long roster of A-list celebrities including Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand and Paul McCartney in seven years at the helm of Q, initially defended his sexual tastes as a "mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey," referring to the bestselling erotic novel.

Comment: From the BBC to CBC, it's appears that many large media organizations, and the executives that run them, are more concerned with their ratings and bottom-line than in protecting women and children from predators that work for them.


Red Flag

Father arrested for hosting Playboy-themed party for 18-year-old daughter

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Sheriff's deputies arrested a homeowner as they broke up a large house party in Poway where underage people were allegedly drinking Friday night, authorities said.

Deputies were called to a home on Avenida Del Valle near Avenida La Valencia at 10:30 p.m. about underage drinking at a party, said sheriff's Sgt. Angela Pearl.

When the deputies arrived, they saw minors walking up and down the street, some of them carrying alcoholic beverages, the sergeant said. The deputies found a 17-year-old boy passed out in a bathroom and a 19-year-old passed out in a closet. Both of them were turned over to their parents.

There were about 150 to 200 people at the party, she said.

A resident at the home, Jeffrey Lake, 48, was arrested on charges of violating the city's "social host" ordinance, Pearl said. The law makes it illegal to provide an environment where underage drinking takes place, regardless of who provides the alcohol.

Lake is an attorney who has handled medical marijuana cases and ran unsuccessfully for the Poway City Council in 2004.

Minors found to be drinking at the gathering were released to their parents, the sergeant said.

The resident will also be charged $3,600 to recover the department's expenses during the call, including the deputies' time, authorities said. Pearl said five deputies and a sheriff's helicopter responded to the call.

Comment: It's a sad state of our society when the sexualization of our children has pervaded to even the parents of our children.


Eye 2

Lawyer: Dad accused of tossing girl off bridge acted strange

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© Pinellas County Jail - AP Photo
This booking photo provided by the Pinellas County Jail shows John Jonchuck. The 25-year-old faces a first-degree murder charge after throwing his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge on the approach to the Sunshine Skyway, early Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015.
The man accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge early Thursday had been acting strangely hours before, calling his attorney "God" and asking her to translate a Bible in Swedish, according to sheriff's documents.

Attorney Genevieve Torres said she met with John Jonchuck on Wednesday to discuss the custody case for his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, who was found dead in Tampa Bay after police said he tossed her into the water.

Torres was so worried about Jonchuck and Phoebe that she reported the odd statements to police. They interviewed Jonchuck and his daughter as he was picking her up from a church day care and both appeared to be in good health. Jonchuck said he didn't want to harm himself or anyone else, the documents said.

"She was smiling and appeared healthy, properly clothed and happy," according to the documents.

A little more than twelve hours later, police said Jonchuck threw his daughter over a bridge.

Comment: Such a terrible tragedy!