Walmart thinks it can save itself from Amazon with a streaming video service

Walmart has been whining about Amazon drinking what it considers to be its milkshake for some time. Sucking cash out of the pockets of the same low-income earners that you pay just enough to keep alive is a seriously competitive business. With Amazon's online shopping dominance in North America has left Walmart’s brick-and-mortar empire only capable of making Scrooge McDuck money when it’s really Jeff Bezos money that they’re after. In an effort to top off their coffers, Walmart’s been pushing, hard, into catching up to Amazon in the area of online sales. Earlier this week, they announced a partnership with Microsoft that’ll ensure that Walmart’s online shopping experience is faster, more secure and a lot more reliable. Maybe it’ll help!

If not, plopping out yet another online video streaming service to compete against Amazon Prime video and, perhaps you’ve heard of it, a little thing called Netflix, will totally help them to make the crazy-hunting-man-because-he’s-the-most-dangerous-game cash that they’re so horny for.

From The Information (subscription required):

Discussions are still ongoing, and the retailer may eventually decide against offering a service. But Walmart executives believe their customers, particularly in the middle of America, would be interested in a lower-cost option than what is currently available, the person said. Netflix and Amazon are seen as more popular with people on the East and West Coasts of the U.S., one of the people said.

Yeah. No matter what middle America’s viewing habits might be, or how little they opt to charge for the privilege of watching Highway to Heaven on-demand, I don’t know that I trust Walmart to pull this off. Read the rest

Defense contractors already making millions off detention of immigrant kids in #TrumpsCamps

Defense contractors are making millions off the Trump administration's racist campaign to separate immigrant kids from their parents, and detain the kids separately --indefinitely-- in ad-hoc camps.

We already know Trump and his allies in government are amoral. We need to hold accountable these private sector enablers, too. Read the rest

Daranide, a 1958 drug, used to be free - now it costs your insurer at least $109,500/year

Daranide is a drug that was approved for treating glaucoma in 1958; the public domain drug's manufacture has shifted around for decades, sending its price soaring and plummeting from $0.50/dose to $1365, down to free, and now to $109,500, courtesy of Strongbridge Biopharma, new owners of Taro Pharmaceutical Industries, who started making the drug after Merck discontinued its production. Read the rest

Novum Pharma's $240, semi-useless acne cream now costs $10,000/tube

The cost of Aloquin -- an acne cream based on iodoquinol and aloe, whose component ingredients cost virtually nothing -- was raised by 128% this week by manufacturer Novum Pharma, who now charge $9,561 for a 60g tube. Read the rest

International Olympic Committee bans GIFs

They've "expressly prohibited" turning anything from the Olympics into "animated formats such as animated GIFs (i.e. GIFV), GFY, WebM, or short video formats such as Vines." Read the rest

Epipens have more than quintupled in price since 2004

Epipens -- self-injection sticks carried by people with deadly allergies, which have to be replaced twice a year -- were developed by NASA at taxpayer expense, were patented by a government scientist who receives no royalties, require no marketing, and have gone from as little as $60 each to up to $606 in a few short years (during which time the company has switched to selling them exclusively in two-packs). Read the rest

Red-baiting water speculator plans to drain the Mojave of its ancient water

Scott Slater, a former water lawyer, is the CEO of Cadiz, Inc, a hedge-fund-backed company that's purchased the water rights for 45,000 acres of the Mojave on Route 66, 75 miles northeast of Palm Springs. He wants to pump 814 million gallons of ancient water out of the desert and send it to drought-stricken southern California, where he can soak the thirsty millions for $2.4 billion. Read the rest

MGM shuts down volunteer "Rocky" charity run

The Philadelphia run, which recreates a scene from Rocky II, raises money to buy sneakers for a charity; MGM has seen its success and has partnered with a for-profit company to launch a non-charitable version and now has clobbered the volunteers to clear away competition. Read the rest

Utility companies go to war against solar

Utility companies across America are fighting solar, imposing high fees on homeowners who install their own solar panels to feed back into the grid. This one was predictable from a long, long way out -- energy companies being that special horror-burrito made from a core of hot, chewy greed wrapped in a fluffy blanket of regulatory protection, fixed in their belief that they have the right to profit from all power used, whether or not their supply it.

Bruce Sterling once proposed that Americans should be encouraged to drive much larger trucks, big enough to house monster fuel-cells that are kept supplied with hydrogen by decentralized windmill and solar installations -- when they are receiving more power than is immediately needed, they use the surplus to electrolyze water and store the hydrogen in any handy nearby monster-trucks' cells. When the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining, you just plug your house into your enormous American-Dream-mobile -- no need for a two-way grid.

This solution wasn't just great because it aligned the core American value of driving really large cars with environmental protection, but also because it was less vulnerable to sabotage from hydrocarbon-addicted energy companies. Read the rest

Belgian copyright society wants royalties for library volunteers who read to small groups of children

Robin Wauters writes in The Next Web about the bizarre, cartoon-villain move from Belgian copyright collecting society SABAM, who are demanding that public libraries pay royalties when volunteers read to groups of ten or so small children. SABAM is demanding €250 per year from each cash-strapped library. The technical term for this is "eating your seed corn" (a less technical term might be "acting like a titanic asshole"). If kids are read to, they grow up to be readers, and they buy books. If kids don't get the reading habit, they won't grow up to buy books and writers will starve.

Twice a month, the library in Dilbeek welcomes about 10 children to introduce them to the magical world of books. A representative of the library in question is quoted in the De Morgen report as saying there’s no budget to compensate people who read to the kids, relying instead on volunteers (bless them)...

The De Morgen reporter then contacted SABAM (probably to check if this wasn’t an elaborate hoax or some grave error in judgment) and received a formal statement from the organization asserting that, indeed, public libraries need to pay up for the right to – once again – READ BOOKS TO KIDS.

Belgian rightsholders group wants to charge libraries for READING BOOKS TO KIDS Read the rest