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Amazon to Buy Whole Foods For $13.7 Billion in Cash

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Amazon to Buy Whole Foods For $13.7 Billion in Cash

Internet retail giant Amazon will buy leading natural and organic supermarket chain Whole Foods in a deal valued at $13.7 billion, the companies announced Friday.

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO in a statement.

“This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers,” said John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO in a statement.

Amazon has been exploring real-world brick and mortar retail stores lately, launching several physical bookstores and adding a customer pick-up option to its AmazonFresh grocery service, with varying results.

“This is an earthquake rattling through the grocery sector as well as the retail world. We can only imagine the technological innovation that Amazon will bring to the purchasing experience for the consumer,” said Bankrate.com senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick.

“Now, we can see in hindsight that its recent dithering around the brick-and-mortar experience, as an experiment, was only a rumbling of the seismic event in the offing,” he said.

Following a decline in sales, Mackey has been under pressure from activist investors lately to either restructure or sell itself after his longstanding co-CEO who was more involved with daily operations stepped down.

In a recent interview with Texas Monthly, Mackey called the investors “greedy bastards.”

Supermarket shares slumped on the merger news, with Target dropping by 12 percent, Kroger by 14 percent, and Walmart by almost 6 percent.

Whole Foods stocks soared over 26 percent on the news.

Via: NBCNews

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Kids Take To Streets And Twitter To Demand Action On Gun Control (VIDEO/TWEETS)

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Kids Take To Streets And Twitter To Demand Action On Gun Control (VIDEO/TWEETS)

Ever since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, overwhelming support for common-sense reform of our gun laws has run into a seemingly immovable object–the National Rifle Association. Like clockwork, the NRA warns that any lawmakers who vote to close loopholes in our gun laws will be severely punished at the polls–and it has the money to ensure that isn’t an idle threat.

Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida appeared to be more of the same. But students who have grown up having to prepare for someone bursting into their schools with a gun aren’t taking this lying down.

Senator Marco Rubio, whose home in Miami is just a short drive from Douglas High, found this out the hard way. On Thursday, he took to the Senate floor and claimed that no law currently on the books would have kept Nikolas Cruz from killing 17 people. Watch here.

One of the students who survived, junior Sarah Chadwick, was having none of it.

The pushback actually began literally within hours of Cruz finally being taken down. Donald Trump offered a boilerplate “thoughts and prayers” tweet within hours of the shooting.

Several Douglas students let it be known they were having none of it. One of them was Chadwick, who called Trump a “f***ing price (sic) of s**t” in a now-deleted tweet. Some of her classmates were equally blunt.

Another classmate, Cameron Kasky, wasted little time after getting home starting a Facebook page called “Never Again,” which has already attracted 32,700 followers. Largely due to their efforts, the hashtags “#NeverAgain” and “#DouglasStrong” have been heavily trending on social media.

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The students have also let it be known that they aren’t shutting up any time soon.

Right-wing pundit Tomi Lahren found that out the hard way when she begged the nation to give Parkland a chance to heal.

The survivors loudly told her that they aren’t just grieving–they’re acting, and they’re acting now.

So did right-wing culture jammer Mark Dice. When he told kids that they should have called 911 rather than post video of the carnage as it happened, Chadwick and classmate Connor Dietrich tore him apart.

That effort isn’t going unnoticed. Students at nearby South Broward High School in Hollywood staged a protest on Friday in solidarity with their compatriots in Parkland. Students around the country have organized walkouts to protest the NRA-imposed inertia in Washington, with a big one planned for sometime this week.

At least one other walkout has already been scheduled for later this spring.

Everytown for Gun Safety was so overwhelmed with information requests from students that it has launched a student-focused group, Students Demand Action.

This is nothing short of inspirational. It’s going to be awfully hard for the NRA to effectively combat this in the long run. After all, this can’t be dismissed as mere librul-influenced astroturf.

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Admittedly, it may take awhile to get meaningful changes past this Congress and this president. But if these kids hammer away long enough, they may eventually be able to kick the proverbial door in.

(featured image courtesy Never Again’s Facebook)

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Because ‘Nothing Has Changed Since Columbine,’ Students, Teachers Call for Nationwide School Walkouts

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Because ‘Nothing Has Changed Since Columbine,’ Students, Teachers Call for Nationwide School Walkouts

As families continue to grieve and hold funerals for the 17 victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., students and educators are calling for a nationwide day of action including school walkouts to protest lawmakers’ deadly inaction on gun control legislation.

The day set for the actions is April 20, which will be the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School.

The Twitter account National School Walkout, which was started Friday, declares, “We are the students, we are the victims, we are change.”

The April 20 walkout, it says, will be “polite, passionate, plea for peace.”

A Change.org petition, which has gathered over 6,100 signatures as of this writing, and is linked to the Twitter account, says, “There has been too much complacency on the part of politicians when it comes to gun violence. The time to act is now!”

“The violence of guns is being performed in our schools and our communities. Not the Senate floor. As the future of America, it is time for teenagers to speak their minds and put their frustration into action,” it adds. It also encourages people to sign on to take part in the action, saying,” Nothing has changed since Columbine, let us start a movement that lets the government know the time for change is now.”

The students’ call-to-action comes days after David Berliner, an educational psychologist and Regents’ Professor of Education Emeritus at Arizona State University, issued a call for a national teachers’ strike if lawmakers continue their failure to enact “sane gun laws.”

Berliner’s call, which he sent in a message to education historian Diane Ravitch, states, in part, “Almost all of America’s 3 million teachers—nurturers and guardians of our youth—want sensible gun laws. They deserve that. But they have to be ready to exert the power they have by walking out of their schools if they do not get what they want. They have to exert the reputational power that 3 million of our most admired voters have. Neither the NRA nor their legislative puppets will be able stand up to that.”

He originally said the day should be May 1, May Day, but after being flooded with responses including from the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, he explained to Slate the day got switched to April 20.

“April 20,” he told Slate, “will become the day on which teachers can say, ‘No. You will never ever be elected again if you don’t pass sensible laws, and there are all sorts of things that can be done that don’t violate the Constitution.’ I’ve just had enough.”

A web page calling for pledges to commit to an April 20 action and sponsored by the Network for Public Education, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and other organizations says, “The failure to enact rational laws around the purchase of guns that are designed for mass shootings is inexcusable. The time to act is now. Every child deserves to learn in a school that is safe.”

A separate nationwide walkout event sponsored by organizers of the Women’s March is scheduled for March 14. Rather than a day-long event, that action is scheduled to take place “for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone … to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”

On Twitter the National School Walkout explains, “For those of you concerned on the separate dates of our protest and @womensmarch ‘s. We agree that there is strength in numbers. That is why we have contacted them and are waiting for their response. We all would prefer a full day to 17 minutes.”

Among the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School countering lawmakers’ vacuous “thoughts and prayers” and instead making passionate pleas for action on gun legislation in the wake of Parkland shooting is 17-year-old David Hogg.

“I don’t want this to be another mass shooting. I want this to be the last mass shooting,” the senior told MSNBC. “Everybody is getting used to this, and that’s not ok. … We’re habituating to this. And what happens when you do that is children are dying and they will continue to die unless we stop it, stand up, and take action.”

“We don’t need ideas. We need action,” Hogg continued. “We need action from our elected officials and we need action from the civil public because without that, this is going to happen again.”

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Ignoring Risks, Trump Moving to Modernize Ineffective and Potentially ‘Catastrophic’ Nukes

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Ignoring Risks, Trump Moving to Modernize Ineffective and Potentially ‘Catastrophic’ Nukes

As the Trump administration barrels ahead with its aggressive nuclear agenda that includes dumping billions of dollars into upgrading the 150 B61 bombs positioned in Europe, a new report argues that these weapons are essentially useless as deterrents and a potentially “catastrophic” security threat.

Authored by the arms control advocacy group Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and viewed by the Guardian for the first time on Thursday, the report (pdf) highlights with alarm the Trump administration’s decision to move ahead with efforts to “modernize” the B61 nukes in an effort to make them more accurate and versatile, which analysts worry will “increase the risk of nuclear use in a crisis.”

These weapons—many of which are currently positioned just 70 miles from the Syrian border—also “increase the risk of accidents, blunders, or catastrophic terrorism and invite preemption,” NTI’s analysis notes. “Given these added risks, it is past time to revisit whether these forward-based weapons are essential for military deterrence and political reassurance.”

Despite the perilous possibilities outlined by NTI and other experts, Trump is moving quickly to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons, a decision several world leaders denounced earlier this month as a “dangerous” step that moves “humankind closer to annihilation.”

In addition to heightening the risk of a devastating nuclear accident and even all-out war, modernizing the B61 nukes—a process that would replace the Cold War relic with the B61-12, “the U.S. arsenal’s first guided nuclear gravity bomb”—would also come at an enormous financial cost.

“The cost of maintaining and modernizing U.S. nuclear forces is projected to cost $400 billion during the next 10 years and more than $1.2 trillion across 30 years,” NTI notes. “Production of the B61-12 has already been delayed three years and has more than doubled in cost to nearly $10 billion.”

President Donald Trump’s aggressive push to expand America’s nuclear arsenal comes at a time of soaring tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Peace groups have warned repeatedly over the past several months that if diplomacy isn’t pursued immediately, a “nuclear nightmare” could quickly break out.

Speaking with the Guardian on Thursday, nuclear physicist and former U.S. energy secretary Ernest Moniz echoed these concerns and said the possibility that a nuke could be deployed “is higher than it’s been since the Cuban missile crisis.”

“We know we’ve had those warnings many times in history and we’ve managed so far to dodge the bullet,” Moniz, who is also the CEO and co-chairman of NTI, added. “But dodging the bullets is more difficult when there’s not significant communications going on and a lot of tensions between the countries.”

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