Who's Funding Kevin Johnson's Secret Government? — Deadspin's detailed report on a developing scandal involving Sacramento, California mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson's alleged misuse of the power of his office to benefit for-profit charter schools. [more inside]
"There are times where I have my good day and my bad days, where I forget things," he said. "There are times where I get the headaches, and the nose bleeds. I won't even let my lady know because I don't want her to be worried about it."--Tracy Morgan speaks about his injuries, the loss of his friend "Jimmy Mack" McNair, and the recently settled lawsuit against Wal-Mart. [more inside]
Why Is Walmart Upset with a Guy for Photoshopping This Picture of a Horse in Front of One of Its Stores? He was hanging out with some friends in July when they came across .horse and thought it was pretty much the funniest top-level domain one could own. So Jacques started checking periodically to see what big companies hadn't purchased their .horse domain yet and came across Walmart. "I thought, 'Alright I'm gonna buy this and do something stupid with it and see what happens," he told me. And readers, he did just that. [more inside]
The Ghost Stores of Walmart. "The biggest downside to a Walmart opening up in your community is that after all the protests, the negotiations, and, almost inevitably, the acceptance, the retail giant might just break its lease, pack up shop, and move a mile down the road. The process starts all over again, and Walmart’s giant, hard-won original behemoth of a structure sits abandoned, looming over its increasingly frustrated neighbours."
Q: What happens when you leave a Wal-Mart store brand "Great Value" ice cream sandwich in the sun for 75 minutes?
A: Not what you'd think! [more inside]
A: Not what you'd think! [more inside]
Monopoly is back: Barry Lynn on the concentration of American economic power — and how we can restore fairness. Highlights: [more inside]
Hell on Wheels: Are bad trucking laws partially to blame for Tracy Morgan's accident?
Two days before Kevin Roper crashed his Walmart big rig into Tracy Morgan’s limousine, critically injuring the comedian and killing his colleague James McNair, the Senate Appropriations Committee quietly loosened the laws governing truckers’ hours on the road. Senator Susan Collins slipped an amendment into an appropriations bill suspending for one year a rule limiting truckers to 70-hour work weeks, with a mandatory 34-hour “re-start” once they hit that threshold. Under the amendment, the law would revert to an 82-hour workweek. The Truck Safety Coalition denounced the measure: “What is being portrayed as a small change to the rest period actually has a large impact on crash risk and will set back safety for everyone sharing the roads with large 80,000-pound trucks.”
A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.So it turns out many of the prawns on sale at your local supermarket are produced by slave labour.
65 to 70 million U.S. adults, 3 or 4 of every 10, have an arrest or conviction record, greatly reducing their chances of getting a job, if they even get an interview, as many job applications ask applicants to check a box if they have a criminal record. "Ban the Box" is the slogan used by groups who are trying to counter this practice. The ban is spreading with cities and states around the country "banning the box" from government job applications, and some jurisdictions are forcing private employers to ban the question, too. A few major companies have removed such questions from their applications ahead of the local and state requirements, with Target following Wal-Mart's decision (previously).
Using food-stamps as a way for corporations to subsidize their payroll, keep people at minimum wage, and profit from tax-payer funded low-income support programs, has become an increasingly well documented phenomena. But how much would it cost companies like Walmart (the largest that takes in food-stamps from their workers) to just pay their employees a living wage, and what impact would that have on the prices? [via] [more inside]
Barry Ritholtz has a finance blog (Big Picture) and writes a column for Bloomberg. He was on the Daily Show with Samantha Bee and Peter Schiff discussing minimum wage in the American economy. He claims Wal-Mart and McDonald's are the two largest beneficiaries of welfare because a large percentage of their workers couldn't afford to work there without it. [more inside]
"[Walmart]'s policy of allowing overnight stays in their parking lots is intended to boost sales, but has the tangential effect of creating a subculture around its locations... The two separate Walmart parking lots in Flagstaff, Arizona are specifically known for their long-term residents, and this past summer photographer Nolan Conway spent several days making a series of portraits of both the overnighters and the people who call these asphalt grids a temporary home."
Waking Up At Walmart (via)
Waking Up At Walmart (via)
A growing number of Americans is realizing that “good jobs” aren’t coming back, and that for things to get better, they’re going to have to fight to turn their McJobs into something better. (Via Jacobin) [more inside]
Zachary R. Mider writes about how the Waltons avoid paying the estate tax. There is a follow-up interview at Bloomberg TV.
An editorial in the Nation recently argued in favour of higher wages for WalMart employees, many of whom make only the minimum wage. WalMart responded by pointing out that the Nation employs its interns at less than the minimum wage. The Nation replied that since interns are at the beginning of their careers, the situation is different.
Wal-Mart doesn’t have enough bodies to restock the shelves, and in not-unrelated news, is considering a radical plan to have store customers deliver packages to online buyers.
[slyt] The war between art and commercialism is over, and art lost. Here's Jewel singing The Walmart Song.
"The company at this point isn’t just a key purveyor of lower labor standards and a globalized and concentrated supply chain, it is a key tell for policymakers."
#ExilePitbull / Bullfrog On The Moon: Boston Phoenix music writer David Thorpe discovers that WalMart will send internationally-renowned musician Pitbull to whichever WalMart location gets the most Likes on facebook; he enlists the internet to send Pitbull to the most isolated WalMart he can find, and learns a little something about building his personal brand in the process.
'At 123,000 square feet, the new Main Library may very well be the largest single floor public library in the nation.'
The McAllen, TX Public Library won a 'Best-Of-Category' award in Interior Design for its new layout. It's in an abandoned Wal-Mart. [more inside]
After years of severe setbacks, plans gone awry, limited backdoor entry, millions of dollars spent lobbying and a truculent audience, Wal-Mart finally gets a green signal for the Indian market. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced lifting of restrictions on foreign investment in India's retail and aviation sectors as an economic boost. Many are sceptical. The truculence remains. What happens next?
"Like a lot of locals, he says that one of his big fears is Costa serving notice that Totnes is ready to be colonised, and sparking the arrival of Caffe Nero, Subway and all the rest." A town declares war on Costa Coffee.
"Wal-Mart dispatched investigators to Mexico City, and within days they unearthed evidence of widespread bribery. They found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million. They also found documents showing that Wal-Mart de Mexico’s top executives not only knew about the payments, but had taken steps to conceal them from Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. [...] The lead investigator recommended that Wal-Mart expand the investigation. Instead, an examination by The New York Times found, Wal-Mart’s leaders shut it down."
Just beating Bank of America, Consumerist readers have voted Electronic Arts the worst company in America
From Michigan to Nebraska, from Washington State to North Carolina, anonymous donors have been paying off "layaway" tabs for holiday-shopping families.
Comedian Louis CK on the Opie and Anthony radio show discussing consumers and commercialism: (part 1) (part 2) (part 3). [more inside]
Mr. Ghetto's New Orleans Bounce (Wal-Mart rap) has created quite a stir. Others comment that at least the Wal-Mart that the video takes place in is clean, and well-stocked. New Orleans bounce music has been mentioned previously.
Why Wal-Mart Is Making Our Health Its Problem - "So what's behind the [healthier-eating] initiative? In a word: scale. In a recent article in HBR, Chris Meyer and I argued that we'll see companies taking more and more ownership of externalities they could ignore because of changing sensibilities and better sensors (meaning detection and reporting of impacts by third parties). But we also identified a third driver: the scale of modern business. Whereas in the past, a single grocer could not have much impact on society, in today's highly consolidated market, Wal-Mart touches a significant percentage of the nation's food intake. Once you reach a scale where your decisions have ramifications for millions, it is hard to pretend that the impacts, even as distant ripples, are not your problem."
"At this point, his 16-year-old son Joseph Kane comes out shooting with an AK-47." A dashcam video from a police SUV shows a teenager opening fire on two West Memphis police officers before taking off in a van with his father. Subsequent helicopter footage reveals a third occupant of the van escaping unharmed. The Game and Fish Officer who rammed his truck into the van most likely saved the lives of two wounded officers. Full Text. [more inside]
"Generously sized, the Star Legacy's Regal Wide Body has extended dimensions width combined with an adjustable bed. Exceptional quality, sleek design and squared corners add to its contoured look. The hand-tailored white crepe interior and hand-painted, high gloss antique gunmetal finish is complemented with classically designed hardware and premium swing bars. it is the perfect match for the person who lived life to its fullest." Yep, Walmart now does caskets.
In a story broken by the New York Times, unsold clothes were found in trash bags outside of H&M and Wal-Mart, apparently cut up so as to be unwearable, in a city with 16,000 homeless people currently in the midst of a recession and a very cold winter. [more inside]
How Wal-Mart's values are shaping America's economy -- and why this is a very bad thing:
Around the time that the young Sam Walton opened his first stores, John Kennedy redeemed a presidential campaign promise by persuading Congress to extend the minimum wage to retail workers, who had until then not been covered by the law. Walton was furious. Now the goddamn federal government was telling him he had to pay his workers the $1.15 hourly minimum. Walton's response was to divide up his stores into individual companies whose revenues didn't exceed the $250,000 threshold. Eventually, though, a federal court ruled that this was simply a scheme to avoid paying the minimum wage, and he was ordered to pay his workers the accumulated sums he owed them, plus a double-time penalty thrown in for good measure. Wal-Mart cut the checks, but Walton also summoned the employees at a major cluster of his stores to a meeting. "I'll fire anyone who cashes the check," he told them.
“They are brands that may not be considered cool by the often elitist and self-absorbed standards of New York media,” she said. She had taken a car from Manhattan that morning, and wore a pink wool shirt-dress, patent leather Manolo Blahnik heels, and diamond hoop earrings.
Reader's Digest jumps the shark. (NYT)
Reader's Digest jumps the shark. (NYT)
SighFilter: In light of other Black Friday tales of horror or posts urging a more sober consumerism, now comes this story of a worker trampled to death at Wal-Mart and a woman who miscarried in a stampede. They ought to have read FEMA's Black Friday Advisory.
Wal-mart/Sam's Club and Costco are in the process of switching to a re-designed milk jug. [more inside]
For 30 years, retail juggernaut Walmart used a small video production company to capture footage of its top executives -- sometimes in unguarded moments. Two years ago, they stopped using the company. But Walmart never signed a contract with the company...and now the material is "proving irresistible to everyone from business historians and documentary filmmakers to plaintiffs lawyers and union organizers."
Checkout: Where all lanes are open. NYT article article on Walmart's new blog written by their buyers with uncensored commentary on Walmart products. "After heeding the lessons of Wal-Mart’s earlier blogs and consulting with several well-known bloggers from sites like the Huffington Post, the buyers decided the site would succeed only if they wrote in their own voice, free from censorship and corporate review." [more inside]
Disaster at Sea!! A collection of dozens & dozens of photographs of misfortune striking those GIGANTIC shipping vessels, the kind that bring goods from China to Wal Mart. Every kind of affliction imaginable, from shipboard fire to heavy weather to grounding amidst crushing waves to capsizing from ill balanced loads to random explosive cargo to terrorist attack to so much more. Descriptions of the vessels and what brought them down are included in the first link.
Proported [Leaked] Walmart Internal-Marketing Presentation. Hate Walmart? Well, you're now a Conscientuous Objector (14% of their market). Read up on the Price-Value Shopper, the Brand Aspirationals, and the Price Sensitive Affluents, and see if you can figure out where you are in the Walmart Universe.
Wal-Mart sells hentai now? (link SFW) Strange activity for a retailer well known to ban men's magazines (of both the pornographic variety and almost-but-not-quite pornographic variety), music with explicit lyrics, or pretty much any book they don't like. One can only assume that they were trying to get into the market for these newfangled Japanese comics that are suddenly all the rage, and didn't pay attention to precisely which ones they were ordering.
Wal-Mart and the Light Bulb [NY Times link] - Wal-Mart officials admit their push to sell 100 million compact fluorescent lights per year is at least partially a marketing ploy, but if successful, it would increase the number of the energy-efficient bulbs in use by 50% while "saving Americans $3 billion in electricity costs and avoiding the need to build additional power plants for the equivalent of 450,000 new homes." Wal-Mart's environmental record is less than perfect, of course, but if they managed to pull this off it would be hard to see it as a bad thing.
Blogger goes to Wal-Mart and finds t-shirt with Nazi SS logo. Wal-Mart apologizes and promises to pull the shirts. But have they been doing a good job? [via] the consumerist
my3cents.com is an addictive read. It's for people to air their grief about various retail stores (Walmart is the clear favorite). This particular complaint is a riot.
Breaking the Chain: The antitrust case against Wal-Mart. Barry C. Lynn argues Wal-Mart is a monopsony, and should be dealt with the same way A&P and Standard Oil were many years ago.