Daily Archives: August 25, 2011

Book adds details on IKEA founder’s Nazi links


The founder of Swedish furniture chain was in contact with Nazi sympathizers until at least 1950 — two years longer than he had previously acknowledged. The book also mentions a wedding invitation Kamprad sent to a renown Fascist, Per Engdahl, in 1950, in which he underscored how proud he was that the two belonged to the same circle.

Associated Press | Aug 24, 2011

By LOUISE NORDSTROM

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A new book claims IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad’s youth ties with Nazi groups extended beyond what he has previously admitted, saying Sweden’s intelligence agency even set up a special file on him.

Respected Swedish author and journalist Elisabeth Asbrink says Kamprad joined the Swedish Nazi party in 1943 when he was 17, prompting the security police to set up a file on him the same year.

Asbrink also claims in her book, “And in Wienerwald the Trees Remain,” that the founder of Swedish furniture chain was in contact with Nazi sympathizers until at least 1950 — two years longer than he had previously acknowledged.

She writes that Kamprad’s letters were secretly opened by the security police, and their contents, including information about his effort to recruit new members, were noted on his file, in which the police wrote the word Nazi. “They were steamed open, copied, and closed again,” Asbrink writes in the book.

The intelligence agency is also quoted as having noted that Kamprad “had some sort of functionary position” in a youth Nazi organization that sent him newsletters.

Per Heggenes, a spokesman for the IKEA icon, on Wednesday told The Associated Press that Kamprad had never been aware of the file’s existence until now, and reiterated that Kamprad sees his Nazi involvement as the “biggest mistake” of his life.

“There are no Nazi-sympathizing thoughts in Ingvar’s head whatsoever,” Heggenes said.

The Swedish intelligence service refused to comment on the book’s content and referred the calls regarding the documents to the national archives. Calls to national archives went unanswered.

Based on a dozen interviews, official documents and more than 500 letters, the book recounts the true story of one of Kamprad’s best friends, Otto Ullmann, an Austrian Jew sent to Sweden as a young boy just before the outbreak of World War II.

While he worked for the Kamprad family in 1944, Ullmann’s parents were killed by Nazis in Germany. He learnt about their deaths two years later.

The book also mentions a wedding invitation Kamprad sent to a renown Fascist, Per Engdahl, in 1950, in which he underscored how proud he was that the two belonged to the same circle.

In 1988, Kamprad admitted his past involvement with Nazism in a book about his life and asked for forgiveness for his “stupidity.” He also admitted to Swedish media that he had attended meetings of Nazi groups between 1945-48.

Kamprad has attributed his early sympathies to Nazism to his upbringing, saying he was greatly influenced by his grandmother, a native of the current Czech Republic region of Bohemia, who introduced him to Nazi propaganda magazines at an early age.

In a statement, The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants demanded that a probe be opened into Kamprad’s past.

“Holocaust survivors are shocked at the reports of the depths of Kamprad’s Nazi involvement which he previously had dismissed as mere ‘teenage confusion’,” it said. “It is time for Kamprad to come clean. Swedish intelligence files describe his recruitment of others to the fascist movement and his involvement with it well after World War II. This can hardly be characterized as youthful confusion.”

Hospital patients now being microchipped with “electronic tattoos”

naturalnews.com | Aug 25, 2011

by Christina Luisa

(NaturalNews) Being microchipped is now being spun as a method of protecting the health of hospital patients. To help mask the practice of this bodily invasion with a trendy, high-tech appearance, microchipping sensors are being referred to as “electronic tattoos” that can attach to human skin and stretch and move without breaking.

Supposedly the comparisons of this hair-thin electronic patch-like chip to an electronic tattoo are being made because of how it adheres to the skin like a temporary tattoo using only water.

The small chip is less than 50 micrometers thick, which is thinner in diameter than a human hair. It is being marketed as a “safe” and easy way to temporarily monitor the heart and brain in patients while replacing bulky medical equipment currently being used in hospitals.

This device uses micro-electronics technology called an epidermal electronic system (EES) and is said to be a development that will “transform” medical sensing technology, computer gaming and even spy operations, according to a study published last week.

The hair-thin chip was developed by an international team of researchers from the United States, China and Singapore and is described in the Journal of Science.

The proven link between animal microchipping and cancer
Pet microchips have become increasingly common over the past few years. These chips are marked with a small barcode that can be scanned just like the tags on grocery items.

This seems to suggest that microchips are meant to turn the wearer into an object that can be tracked and catalogued. Once inserted in an animal, the chip stays there for the entirety of its lifetime and can be used to identify the pet if it should be found on the street or turned into a shelter. The subdermal chips are often recommended by vets and animal care experts as a way to ensure lost pets find their way home again.

But research suggests that despite their proclaimed usefulness, pet microchips may cause cancer. Multiple studies have clearly linked pet microchips with increased incidence of cancer and tumors in mice and rats.

In the past, public disclosure of these suggested links between microchipping and cancer in animals stirred widespread concern over the safety of implantable microchips in living beings. The animal microchip study findings that created such an uproar were so persuasive that Dr. Robert Benezra, head of the Cancer Biology Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, was quoted in an article about microchipping as saying, “There’s no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members.”

A 2001 study found that 1% of rats with implanted microchips developed cancerous tumors near the chip location. At least a dozen animal studies have been done between 1990 and 2007 and most concluded that microchips significantly increased the risk of cancer at the microchip site.

Soon we’ll all have “cool electronic tattoos!”
All the electronic parts of the new EES chip are built out of wavy, snake-like components which allow them to be stretched and squeezed. They also contain tiny solar cells which can generate power or get energy from electromagnetic radiation. The sensor is mounted on to a water-soluble sheet of plastic and attached to the body by brushing the surface with water – hence the comparison to a temporary tattoo.

This new device being implanted in hospital patients certainly looks and acts like a microchip – yet it is persistently being referred to as an “electronic tattoo” in order to make the concept appear harmless, friendly – even trendy!

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Hugo Chavez’s supporters shave heads in religious ferment


Dominican Republic citizens who have shaved their heads in a show of solidarity with Venezuelan President Chavez  Photo: REUTERS

Supporters of President Hugo Chavez shaved their heads in solidarity with their leader’s struggle against cancer.

Young men with close-cropped hair stood in the crowd as shouts of “Hallelujah!” and “Amen!”

Telegraph | Aug 24, 2011

Barbers shaved off the hair of several men and at least one woman while the crowd swayed to a religious song on Sunday as hundreds prayed and sang at a televised event.

Mr Chavez, bald from chemotherapy, smiled, clapped with the music and waved to the crowd.

Those attending included a group of six from the Dominican Republic who shaved their heads outside the Venezuelan Embassy in their country on Friday. Mr Chavez greeted the Dominicans with hugs, and stood arm-in-arm with them.

Pro-Chavez lawmaker Robert Serra said in a message on Twitter that “Venezuelan young people and priests cut their hair … in solidarity”.

Young men with close-cropped hair stood in the crowd as shouts of “Hallelujah!” and “Amen!” rose at the end of a song.

Leidy Jimenez, one of the Dominicans, told state television that their decision to shave their heads was “a gesture of love and of strength for the president.”

Mr Chavez blew a kiss to the crowd, and listened as a priest, a minister and others spoke. “Long live Hugo Chavez!,” one Dominican man told the crowd.

Mr Chavez praised the Christian group from the Dominican Republic in a newspaper column on Saturday, saying “may God bless you.” The Dominicans arrived in Venezuela on Saturday night to meet with the president.

Mr Chavez also said in his column that tests show his body has been responding well to chemotherapy. He said he was preparing for a “possible” new round of chemotherapy and that all of his hair has fallen out as a result of the treatment.

Mr Chavez returned from his latest round of chemotherapy in Cuba on Aug 13.

He underwent surgery in Cuba in June that removed a cancerous tumour from his pelvic region. He has not specified where the tumour was located. He has said the chemotherapy aims to ensure no malignant cells reappear.

College students stumped by search engines, lack basic literacy skills

College students stumped by search engines, research finds

The Lookout | Aug 24, 2011

By Liz Goodwin

The members of the generation that is sometimes dubbed the “millennials” are alternately reviled or lauded by the news media for their tech-savvy, gadget-loving ways. But a new ethnographic research project on students in five Illinois universities may put a dent in that reputation. It found that many college kids don’t even know how to perform a simple internet search.

Researchers with the Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries project watched 30 students at Illinois Wesleyan University try to search for different topics online and found that only seven of them were able to conduct “what a librarian might consider a reasonably well-executed search.”

The students “appeared to lack even some of the most basic information literacy skills that we assumed they would have mastered in high school,” Lynda Duke and Andrew Asher write in a book on the project coming out this fall.

At all five Illinois universities, students reported feeling “anxious” and confused when trying to research. Many felt overwhelmed by the volume of results their searches would turn up, not realizing that there are ways to narrow those searches and get more tailored results. Others would abandon their research topics when they couldn’t find enough sources, unaware that they were using the wrong search terms or database for their topics.

The researchers found that students did not know “how to build a search to narrow or expand results, how to use subject headings, and how various search engines (including Google) organize and display results.” That means that some students didn’t understand how to search only for news articles, or only for scholarly articles. Most only know how to punch in keywords and hope for the best.

Asher told The Lookout that “extremely few students could describe how Google works in conceptual terms with any degree of accuracy.” One sophomore in Biology told him: “I have no idea [how Google determines search results].  I’m just trusting Google to know what are the good resources.”

This can be a problem because Google organizes results in part on how many other sites link to a page. That means scholarly articles are rarely at the top of basic search results for any topic. Asher points out that searching for “How Google Works” turns up an April Fool’s prank by Google engineers in its top results.

A survey last year of 1,000 college students backed up the somewhat counterintuitive finding that the millennials (sometimes defined as those born between 1980 and 1995) are actually not that good at the Internet. Most students said they trusted whatever website was the first result for their search on Google. Other students said they trusted most the “sponsored” links that appear at the top of the page, which are actually paid advertisements.

In other sad news, Google “search anthropologist” Dan Russell told The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal that 90 percent of American Google users do not know how to use CTRL or Command+F to find a word on a page. Russell says he’s watched people patiently scan documents for a word or phrase, when they could use that simple trick and save time. “Just like we learn to skim tables of content or look through an index or just skim chapter titles to find what we’re looking for, we need to teach people about this CTRL+F thing,” Madrigal writes.

USA becomes Food Stamp Nation


Thelma Zambrano eats lunch with her husband Jesse Torres and daughter Vida Torres, 2, at their home in Santa Ana, California, December 10, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Reuters | Aug 22, 2011

By Kristina Cooke |

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Genna Saucedo supervises cashiers at a Wal-Mart in Pico Rivera, California, but her wages aren’t enough to feed herself and her 12-year-old son.

Saucedo, who earns $9.70 an hour for about 26 hours a week and lives with her mother, is one of the many Americans who survive because of government handouts in what has rapidly become a food stamp nation.

Altogether, there are now almost 46 million people in the United States on food stamps, roughly 15 percent of the population. That’s an increase of 74 percent since 2007, just before the financial crisis and a deep recession led to mass job losses.

At the same time, the cost doubled to reach $68 billion in 2010 — more than a third of the amount the U.S. government received in corporate income tax last year — which means the program has started to attract the attention of some Republican lawmakers looking for ways to cut the nation’s budget deficit.

While there are clearly some cases of abuse by people who claim food stamps but don’t really need them, for many Americans like Saucedo there is little current alternative if they are to put food on the table while paying rent and utility bills.

“It’s kind of sad that even though I’m working that I need to have government assistance. I have asked them to please put me on full-time so I can have benefits,” said the 32-year-old.

She’s worked at Wal-Mart for nine months, and applied for food stamps as soon as her probation ended. She said plenty of her colleagues are in the same situation.

So are her customers. Bill Simon, head of Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations, told a conference call last Tuesday that the company had seen an increase in the number of shoppers relying on government assistance for food.

About forty percent of food stamp recipients are, like Saucedo, in households in which at least one member of the family earns wages. Many more could be eligible: the government estimates one in three who could be on the program are not.

“If they’re working, they often think they can’t get help. But people can’t support their families on $10, $11, $12 an hour jobs, especially when you add transport, clothes, rent.” said Carolyn McLaughlin, executive director of BronxWorks, a social services organization in New York.

The maximum amount a family of four can receive in food stamps is $668 a month. They can only be used to buy food — though not hot food — and for plants and seeds to grow food.

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all made efforts to raise awareness about the program and remove the stigma associated with it.

In 2004, paper coupons were replaced with cards similar to debit cards onto which benefits can be loaded. In 2008 they were renamed Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits though most people still call them food stamps.

Despite the bipartisan support for the program in the past, some of the recent political rhetoric has food stamp advocates worried.

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich last year derided Democrats as “the party of food stamps”. And Republican leaders in the House of Representatives propose changing the program so that the funding is through a “block grant” to the states, rather than allowing it to grow automatically when needed due to an emergency, such as a natural disaster or economic crisis.

In some parts of the country, shoppers using food stamps have almost become the norm. In May 2011, a third of all people in Alabama were on food stamps — though part of that was because of emergency assistance after communities were destroyed by a series of destructive tornadoes. Washington D.C., Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon and Tennessee all had about a fifth of their population on food stamps that month.

“Food stamps have traditionally been insulated from politics,” said Parke Wilde, professor of U.S. food policy at Tufts University. “But as you look over the current fiscally conservative proposals, the question is, has something fundamentally changed?”

A LOW WAGE SUPPORT PROGRAM

Over the past 20 years, the characteristics of the program’s recipients have changed. In 1989, a higher percentage were on benefits than working, but as of 2009 a higher percentage had earned income.

“SNAP is increasingly work support,” said Ed Bolen, an analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

And that’s only likely to get worse: So far in the recovery, jobs growth has been concentrated in lower-wage occupations, with minimal growth in middle-income wages as many higher-paid blue collar jobs have disappeared.

And 6 percent of the 72.9 million Americans paid by the hour received wages at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour in 2010. That’s up from 4.9 percent in 2009, and 3 percent in 2002, according to government data.

Bolen said just based on income, minimum wage single parents are almost always eligible for food stamps.

“This becomes an implicit subsidy for low-wage jobs and in terms of incentives for higher wage job creation that really is not a good thing,” said Arindrajit Dube, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, whose research shows raising the minimum wage would spur economic activity.

Until a couple of weeks ago Tashawna Green, 21, from Queens Village, New York, worked 25 hours a week at an $8.08 hourly rate at retailer Target. She is on food stamps, and says a good number of her former colleagues are too.

“It’s a good thing that the government helps, but if employers paid enough and gave enough hours, then we wouldn’t need to be on food stamps,” said Green, who has a six-year-old daughter.

Of course, with an unemployment rate over 9 percent, some argue that those with any job at all are lucky.

Millions of Americans whose unemployment benefits have expired have to exist only on food stamps and other government aid, such as Medicaid healthcare support. [nN1E7660K4]

And even with unemployment benefits, said Jessica King, 25, from Portland, Oregon, her family juggles bills to ensure the electricity stays on. They are also selling some belongings on Craigslist to raise funds.

King’s husband Stephen, 30, an electronics assembly worker, lost his job two months ago when she was seven months pregnant with their second child. It was the third time he has been laid off since 2008.

She said she was reluctant, initially, to go on food stamps.

“I felt the way our national debt was going I didn’t want to be part of the problem,” said King, who used to work as a cook at a faith-based non-profit organization.

“But I didn’t know what else to do and I got to a point where I swallowed my pride and decided to do what was best for my daughter.”

(additional reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago, editing by Martin Howell in New York)

IKEA furniture company founder ‘was Nazi recruiter’


Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad

IKEA’s billionaire founder Ingvar Kamprad was a member of the Swedish Nazi party and was such a concern to secret service they opened a file on him, according to a new book.

Telegraph | Aug 24, 2011

By Richard Orange, Malmö

The 1943 file, revealed in a book published on Wednesday by Swedish journalist Elisabeth Åsbrink, will revive the long-standing controversy over the far right sympathies of the 85-year-old businessman.

It proves for the first time that Mr Kamprad was an active member of Svensk Socialistisk Samling – the successor to the Swedish Nationalist Socialist Workers Party – even detailing his membership number, 4013.

It quotes letters intercepted from Mr Kamprad, then 17, in which he enthuses about recruiting new members and says that he “misses no opportunity to work for the movement”.

The secret service concluded that, as Mr Kamprad received the party’s youth newspaper, he must have held “some sort of official position within the organisation”.

Ms Åsbrink accused Mr Kamprad of failing to come clean about the full extent of his Nazi past.

“He said in 1998 that he would get everything up on the table and that there would be nothing hidden. Why then didn’t he tell us that he was a member of the worst Nazi party, and that the police found it serious enough to create a file on him?” she said.

Mr Kamprad has long fought to escape the stain of his involvement with the far right New Swedish Movement, revelations of which first surfaced with the publication of the letters of the group’s leader, Per Engdahl, in 1994.

Those letters showed that Mr Kamprad gave money and recruited members, and that Mr Engdahl had been one of a select few invited to Mr Kamprad’s wedding.

Ms Åsbrink said Mr Kamprad’s feelings about Mr Engdahl remained mixed even today. “Per Engdahl was a great man, this I will maintain for as long as I live,” he told her last year in a two-hour interview recorded for her book.

In 1998, Mr Kamprad said he could not remember whether he had been a member of Nordic Youth, Sweden’s equivalent of the Hitler Youth, when faced by further revelations.

But he has never admitted to membership of the more radical Svensk Socialistisk Samling, which was so close to the German Nazi party that it had dropped the Swastika symbol only a few years before Mr Kamprad joined.

Ms Åsbrink’s book, And in Wienerwald the trees remain, details Mr Kamprad’s long friendship with a young Jewish refugee who came to work on his family farm and then played a key role in the team that launched IKEA.

“He came from a background where it was normal to speak badly about Jews, but when he met Otto, they became the closest friends,” she said.

A spokesman for Mr Kamprad downplayed the revelations as “old news”.

“Ingvar Kamprad gave a detailed account back in 1994 about what he describes as his ‘youthful sins’ and the ‘biggest mistake of his life’, apologising and asking for forgiveness from all parties involved. The IKEA he created is based on democratic principles and embraces a multicultural society.”