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FALSE-FLAG ALERT: 6 injured in Atlanta FedEx shooting, suspected attacker kills himself

Published time: April 29, 2014 12:54 
Edited time: April 29, 2014 13:25

Reuters / Mike Blake

Reuters / Mike Blake

At least six people were hospitalized after a shooting at a FedEx warehouse in Cobb County, Georgia, with the suspected attacker taking his own life after the incident.

The police received an emergency call about a shooting at a warehouse on Grist Lake Road in Kennesaw at 5:54 AM local time, CBS46 reports.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers representing different agencies arrived at the scene, and everyone was evacuated from the warehouse. Roads around the building have been shut down.

WellStar Kennestone Hospital officials said they currently have six patients, whose conditions range from minor to those in surgery.

However, the doctors added that that they are expecting more shooting victims to arrive shortly.

The police searched for the shooter inside the warehouse and eventually found him dead with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“We’re not looking for anybody else at this point,” Dana Pierce, Cobb police spokesman, said.

“FedEx is aware of the situation. Our primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of our team members, first responders and others affected. FedEx is cooperating with authorities,” a statement by FedEx said.

The company’s warehouse is closed and won’t reopen for at 24 hours.

One of the FedEx workers said that his boss called him on Tuesday and told him not to worry about getting to work on time, Atlanta Journal-Constitution paper reports.

“(My boss) called me about 6 o’clock this morning saying there was a guy inside, shot the security guard,” Michael Hogland, a driver at the facility, said.

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EU immigration: Don’t target the immigrants, blame turbo-capitalism

Published time: February 12, 2014 21:30

What’s going on – why has EU immigration become such a big issue? To answer the question, we need to look back at the political and economic changes that have occurred over the past 30 years.

Switzerland has voted narrowly in a referendum to bring back strict quotas for immigration from European Union countries. In Norway, the Progress Party, which serves in the current governing coalition, has called for the country to copy the Swiss and hold its own referendum on immigration from the EU. Meanwhile, in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron has said he wants to see “tougher measures” on migration from the EU.

Across the European continent, parties that call for stricter curbs on immigration, such as the UK Independence Party in Britain, have been gaining in strength. It’s not just parties of the right that are taking a tougher line: in Britain, Labour leader Ed Miliband has said that his party “got it wrong” when it allowed uncontrolled immigration from new EU states in 2004.

The large increases in EU migration haven’t just happened out of the blue – it is a feature of modern turbo-capitalism and the shift in economic model from one which put the interests of the majority first, to one that benefits the 1 percent.

For over 30 years, from the end of the Second World War, European countries, both in the west and the east, operated under economic systems in which full employment was governments’ stated aim. In the 1979 general election in Austria, Socialist Chancellor Bruno Kreisky said that he would rather the government run up a deficit than people lose their jobs.

Reuters / Luke MacGregor

Reuters / Luke MacGregor

Hundreds of thousands unemployed matter more than a few billion schillings of debt,” he said. What a contrast to the views of the European elite of today, who put cutting deficits before jobs.

A feature of the European economies in this post-war era was a large state-owned sector. In communist countries, all large-scale enterprises were in public ownership. These state-owned companies were paternalistic and offered workers not just secure employment but other fringe benefits too, such as subsidized canteens, crèches, sports facilities and holidays in company-owned accommodation. In western Europe, too, the public sector was extensive. In Britain, by the late 1970s it included coal, steel and shipbuilding, public transportation, the motor industry, the energy sector, water, cross-channel ferries, hotels and telecommunications. It was a similar story in other western European countries too. 

These state-owned companies were a feature of the pre-neoliberal age.

The nationalized companies’ aim was not profit maximization at the expense of all other considerations – they pursued wider social goals too. They were a key reason why unemployment across Europe was much lower than today.

But starting in 1979 in Britain, all this changed.

If the pre-1979 economic models – communism in eastern Europe, and mixed economies with a high level of state ownership in the west, can be described as majoritarian systems – i.e. ones which put the economic interests of the majority first, the model which followed was minoritarian – in that it was about putting the interests of the 1 percent first. The neo-liberal reforms of the Thatcher government in Britain helped usher in the era of turbo-capitalism. 

Exchange controls were abolished. Financial services were deregulated. And most importantly of all, state-owned enterprises were privatized. These economic policies, when copied elsewhere, led to higher long-term unemployment in western Europe, but the impact was even more disastrous in eastern Europe after the fall of communism in 1989.

Reuters / Paul Hackett

Reuters / Paul Hackett

Had communism been replaced by the mixed economy model which operated in western Europe in the post-war period, one in which governments strove to maintain full employment, and maintained a large state-owned sector, there wouldn’t have been a problem. But the western elites – and the international institutions that represent their interests, such as the IMF and World Bank, had already decided to jettison that model and so the countries of the east went straight from communism to neo-liberalism.

Their economies were radically restructured with mass privatization of state-owned enterprises. The impact that this had on employment levels in eastern Europe was catastrophic.

The unparalleled peacetime contraction of post-communist economies can only be compared to the Great Depression of the 1930s,” Hungarian economist Laszlo Andor wrote in The Guardian in 2004.“Luckier countries like Hungary lost only about 20 percent of their national income in the years after 1989, while the GDP of others fell by 30-40 percent. Poland was first to recover its 1989 output level, in 1997; the rest only managed to do so in 2000 or even later.” Interestingly, Andor is now Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion in the European Commission.

Millions of people in eastern Europe who would have been employed in state-owned companies were laid off as private companies – often from the west – took over and slashed the workforce as a way to maximize profits. Many factories were closed down and the land sold off by asset strippers. In the Hungarian capital, Budapest, the historic building of Magyar Optikai Muvek (Hungarian Optical Works), a world famous company that employed thousands of people, making excellent optical equipment, was demolished to make way for a shopping mall with a Citibank, McDonald’s and Starbucks.

It’s been a similar story across eastern Europe as economies were radically “restructured” to benefit foreign “investors” and multinationals. With greatly reduced employment possibilities at home due to the economic changes, a whole generation of eastern Europeans have had no option but to leave their countries to try and make a living elsewhere.

Shoppers walk in a market in Upton Park, a neighborhood in the British capital's most culturally diverse borough of Newham, in east London (Reuters/Paul Hacket)

Shoppers walk in a market in Upton Park, a neighborhood in the British capital’s most culturally diverse borough of Newham, in east London (Reuters/Paul Hacket)

A 2011 census showed that 579,000 Poles were living in Britain, 10 times more than a decade earlier. In Poland, unemployment among the under 25s was a whopping 27.4 percent in December 2013 (and 30 percent for young women). Just imagine how much higher the figure would have been if young Poles had stayed in their country. In Hungary, 24.6 percent of people under 25 are unemployed, while in Bulgaria it’s 29.4 percent (and 33 percent for men under 25).

This mass exodus from the east – brought about by lack of employment opportunities at home – is one of the great non-stories of modern times.

A huge media fuss was made about the so-called “brain drain” from Britain to the US in the 1970s, when the top rate of income tax was 83 percent in Britain, but little said about the much bigger migration flows that brutal neoliberal policies have caused in Europe.

While eastern European immigrants are often scapegoated there is little, if any, analysis of why they are leaving their countries in such large numbers. To do that would mean countering the dominant neoliberal narrative, which says that following the fall of communism eastern European economies have been great success stories. But if the economies in the east really are so successful following “restructuring,” why have millions of eastern Europeans left their homelands?

The question we need to ask is who has benefited most from this massive rise in European migration. The answer quite clearly, is capital.

Reuters / Cathal McNaughton

Reuters / Cathal McNaughton

As Fred Goldstein puts it in his book, “Low Wage Capitalism”: “Sections of the ruling class tolerate, encourage and take advantage of this influx of immigrants, not only for the purpose of filling a labor shortage or to settle territory, but also to artificially increase the reserve army of labor, an army of vulnerable workers who are forced to work at substandard wages. The principal aim of permitting and fostering immigration under imperialism is to greatly increase competition among workers and keep downward pressure on wages.” The same elites in the west who ordered the economic restructuring in the east which triggered the massive exodus of workers from that region, benefit from the immigration for the reasons Goldstein outlines.

If people in western countries feel that the level of immigration is too high, that it is putting too much pressure on services and infrastructure, and that it is leading to a downward push on wages, then they should not be angry with the immigrants. Instead, they should get even with the economic and political elites who changed a system (that worked well for the majority) to one which benefits the 1 percent, for their own selfish interests.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Scientists create Terminator-style muscle at 1,000 times human strength

Published time: December 22, 2013 16:46
Edited time: December 24, 2013 08:37

Screenshot from YouTube user Berkeley Lab

Screenshot from YouTube user Berkeley Lab

American scientists have developed a robotic muscle 1,000 times more powerful than a human’s – using a revolutionary material that fluidly changes its properties.

The invention gives vanadium dioxide amazing, superhero-style powers. Its most striking property is to change shape and structure whenever differing amounts of heat are applied to it.

This made it perfectly suited for creating a torsional motor muscle, as researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found, the Lab’s website reported.

Added to this is the material’s capacity for changing size and other physical characteristics. And when made into a robotic muscle, its estimated strength equals to hurling objects 50 times its weight and five times its length at speeds as fast as 60 milliseconds.

Team leader on the study, Junqiao Wu, said in Berkeley Lab’s statement that they have “created a micro-bimorph dual coil that functions as a powerful torsional muscle, driven thermally or electro-thermally by the phase transition of vanadium dioxide.”

Wu, who is a member of both Berkeley Lab and the Berkeley University’s Materials Science and Engineering department, co-authored the research submitted to the journal Advanced Materials, entitled “Powerful, Multifunctional Torsional Micro Muscles Activated by Phase Transition.”

Image from newscenter.lbl.gov

Image from newscenter.lbl.gov

Vanadium dioxide is not a new material to the electronics industry, already receiving praise for its ability to be both an insulator (at low temperatures) and a conductor (whenever the temperature is raised to above 67 degrees) undergoing what scientists call a temperature-driven phase transition. They say that more energy-efficient optical and electronic devices are definitely in the cards.

And that is not all. For when heated, vanadium dioxide’s crystals begin to rapidly contract along one dimension, while expanding along the other two, showing that a structural phase transition effected by temperature changes is also taking place. This physical property means that in future, using the material for anything from artificial muscles to robotic technologies and complex machinery is practically a given.

As Wu explains, “miniaturizing rotary motors is important for integrated micro-systems and has been intensively pursued over the past decades… the power density of our micro-muscle in combination with its multi-functionality distinguishes it from all current macro- or micro-torsional actuators/motors.”

This opens doors for scientific progress being made almost exponentially, as a series of micro-muscles could be used to build a more complex organism – perhaps even simulate an active neuromuscular system, due to the material’s miraculous property of “proximity sensing and torsional motion [which] allow the device to remotely detect a target and respond by reconfiguring itself to a different shape,” Wu says. “This simulates living bodies where neurons sense and deliver stimuli to the muscles and the muscles provide motion.”

However researchers say it is a little too early to start fearing a Terminator-style rise of the machines, as the mechanism in question is currently the size of a microchip.