Society's Child

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Jamaican Dollar devaluation devastates the poor - is the US Dollar next?


SEAGA… as much as he was vilified and even hated, the poor among us could purchase ‘bully beef’ during his tenure as prime minister

In the last year of his prime ministerial run from the violence-riddled latter part of 1980 to early 1989 the much unloved, highly autocratic and hands-on Eddie Seaga presided over an economy that saw the Jamaican dollar valued at US$0.18.

In 1989, J$100 could purchase basic food and grocery items for a family of five for a week.

In 2014 with the still loved and admired Portia Simpson Miller in charge but seemingly disconnected from active governance, that same J$100 can only purchase four minuscule packets of black pepper. In 2014 the Jamaican dollar is worth, at today's rate, US$0.0089, less than a cent.

Comment: The US Dollar is likely heading right down this same path. Listen to Peter Schiff describe the beginning stage of this dollar devaluation against food - happening right now:


Fugitive South Korean soldier who killed 5 fellow soldiers arrested

© Unknown
South Korean soldiers position near the area where a fugitive soldier is hiding, not far from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas, in Goseong, Gangwon Province, June 23, 2014.
A fugitive South Korean soldier, who has killed five comrades and injured seven others, has been taken into custody in a forested area near the border with North Korea.

The Defense Ministry said Monday that the 22-year-old sergeant, identified by his last name Yim, shot himself in the upper left chest as he was about to be detained. Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Yim has been taken to hospital.

"We have retrieved his gun and all the ammunition he was carrying," Kim told reporters.

Yim opened fire on the members of his own unit at the outpost in the eastern Gangwon Province on Saturday night. The shooting spree killed five soldiers and injured seven others.

One platoon leader was also wounded Sunday when Yim fired on the military personnel closing in on him. He was scheduled to be discharged from military service in September.

Officials have launched an investigation to find his motivation for the shootings.

There have been similar shooting cases at the border in the past.

In 2011, a marine corporal, 19, went on a shooting rampage at a base in Gwanghwa Island, south of the maritime border with North Korea.

In 2005, a soldier threw a hand grenade and fired on a front-line army unit. Eight people were killed in the incident. The soldier, identified as Kim Dong-min, told investigators that he was furious at superiors who verbally abused him.

Cowboy Hat

How a country dies and what the warning signs are

© Unknown
A country dies slowly.

Those living during the decline of Rome were likely unaware that anything was happening. The decline took over a couple of hundred years. Anyone living during the decline only saw a small part of what was happening and likely never noticed it as anything other than ordinary.

Countries don't have genetically determined life spans. Nor do they die quickly, unless the cataclysm of some great war does them in. Even in such extreme cases, there are usually warning signs, which are more obvious in hindsight than at the time.

Few citizens of a dying nation recognize the signs. Most are too busy trying to live their lives, sometimes not an easy task. If death occupies their mind, it is with respect to themselves, a relative or a friend. Most cannot conceive of the death of a nation.


Upping the ante: Ukraine railroad blown up, Russian train derailed

© RIA Novosti / Maksim Blinov
Train derailment in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine, June 22, 2014.

The railroad tracks in Ukraine's Donetsk Region have been blown up as a freight train belonging to Russian Railways was passing by. Fourteen freight cars were derailed in what railroad staff believe was a planned explosion.

The blast happened Sunday evening, damaging the railroad tracks on a stretch between the Donetsk Region towns of Ilovaisk and Kuteinikovo, in eastern Ukraine, Russian Railways said in a statement.

The blast happened after the train passed a mined area. The blast was so strong that 14 cargo cars were derailed.

"We were moving from Ilovaisk to Martsevo [Rostov Region, Russia]. At the 1,168-kilometer mark, we heard a sharp clap similar to an explosion," Maksim Ustinov, the train driver, told Life News. "When we stopped the train, we saw that the freight cars were derailed."

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Report finds nearly 40 women illegally sterilised in four Californian prisons

© The Independent, UK
In total, 39 women were surgically sterilised without giving legal consent between 2006 and 2011.

Four Californian prisons have been accused of carrying out illegal sterilisations on nearly forty female inmates, a new report has revealed.

The report released by the Californian State Auditor on Thursday, found that between 2005 and 2011, 39 female prisoners had been surgically sterilised without the correct consent procedures taking place.

Folsom Women's Facility, Central California Women's Facility, Valley State Prison for Women and the California Institution for Women were all identified by auditors as the prisons where these illegal procedures had been carried out .

Of the 144 inmates that underwent the "tubal litigations" over the six-year period, nearly a third had occurred without legal consent.

Californian state law states that sterilisation procedures can only take place between 30 and 180 days from the time a woman agrees to the procedure, "to provide the patient with enough time to reflect on her choice and to make sure she desires sterilization."

Nevertheless, in 18 cases auditors had found serious violations of this waiting period.

In another 27 cases, it was found that there had been instances of malpractice by prison doctors.

Some cases saw medical procedures taking place without the correct documentation being signed by prison doctors, while other cases saw doctors falsify documents by saying the proper waiting period had been adhered to when it had clearly not.

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Zoos drive animals crazy

© Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Image
A polar bear's natural range may be about a million times the size of a zoo enclosure.
In the mid-1990s, Gus, a polar bear in the Central Park Zoo, alarmed visitors by compulsively swimming figure eights in his pool, sometimes for 12 hours a day. He stalked children from his underwater window, prompting zoo staff to put up barriers to keep the frightened children away from his predatory gaze.* Gus's neuroticism earned him the nickname "the bipolar bear," a dose of Prozac, and $25,000 worth of behavioral therapy.

Gus is one of the many mentally unstable animals featured in Laurel Braitman's new book, Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves. The book features a dog that jumps out of a fourth floor apartment, a shin-biting miniature donkey, gorillas that sob, and compulsively masturbating walruses.* Much of the animal madness Braitman describes is caused by humans forcing animals to live in unnatural habitats, and the suffering that ensues is on display most starkly in zoos.

"Zoos as institutions are deeply problematic," Braitman told me. Gus, for example, was forced to live in an enclosure that is 0.00009 percent of the size his range would have been in his natural habitat. "It's impossible to replicate even a slim fraction of the kind of life polar bears have in the wild," Braitman writes.

Many animals cope with unstimulating or small environments through stereotypic behavior, which, in zoological parlance, is a repetitive behavior that serves no obvious purpose, such as pacing, bar biting, and Gus' figure-eight swimming. Trichotillomania (repetitive hair plucking) and regurgitation and reingestation (the practice of repetitively vomiting and eating the vomit) are also common in captivity. According to Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, authors of Animals Make Us Human, these behaviors, "almost never occur in the wild." In captivity, these behaviors are so common that they have a name: "zoochosis," or psychosis caused by confinement.

The disruption of family or pack units for the sake of breeding is another stressor in zoos, especially in species that form close-knit groups, such as gorillas and elephants. Zoo breeding programs, which are overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Animal Exchange Database, move animals around the country when they identify a genetically suitable mate. Tom, a gorilla featured in Animal Madness, was moved hundreds of miles away because he was a good genetic match for another zoo's gorilla. At the new zoo, he was abused by the other gorillas and lost a third of his body weight. Eventually, he was sent back home, only to be sent to another zoo again once he was nursed back to health.

When his zookeepers visited him at his new zoo, he ran toward them sobbing and crying, following them until visitors complained that the zookeepers were "hogging the gorilla." While a strong argument can be made for the practice of moving animals for breeding purposes in the case of endangered species, animals are also moved because a zoo has too many of one species. The Milwaukee Zoo writes on its website that exchanging animals with other zoos "helps to keep their collection fresh and exciting."

Snakes in Suits

New set of rules could ban Muslims from becoming UK school governors to "promote British values"

© Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
Muslims attend Friday prayers in the courtyard of a housing estate next to the small BBC community centre and mosque in east London March 28, 2014.
A set of rules aimed at promoting "British values" in schools could ban conservative Muslims from becoming governors, a religious rights group says. The new regulations follow allegations of a "Trojan Horse" plot to Islamisize schools in the UK.

The Department of Education has introduced a new set of rules governing free schools and academies in Britain. The regulations dictate that school governors and trustees should demonstrate "fundamental British values" and give the state powers to close the schools if they do not toe the line.

"The Academy Trust must ensure that principles are promoted which support fundamental British values," say the rules. These include respect for democracy and the democratic process, support for gender equality and tolerance of different faiths and religions.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MBC) argues the new rules are discriminatory and allocate too much power to the Department of Education to define "British values."

Comment: So the British state claims to be an arbiter of "British values"? Considering their record of participating in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and beyond, one has to wonder why the Dept. of Education is so interested in promoting "British values"?


Illinois man put hot sauce in 3-year old's mouth, taped it shut - charges filed

A man living in a Danvers hotel is accused of putting hot sauce in the mouth of his girlfriend's 3-year-old son and then taping it shut.

Christopher Delcid, 21, pleaded not guilty Wednesday at his arraignment to charges of assault and battery on a child and child abandonment, according to the Salem News.

He was ordered held on $250,000 bail.

The boy's mother, Katherine Rodriguez, is due in Salem District Court Thursday to face charges in the case.

According to a police report, the boy was found alone in an Extended Stay America hotel room in Danvers Tuesday afternoon after police received a call from a concerned relative.


Federal appeals court rules Los Angeles homeless can live in cars

© AFP Photo / Frederic J. Brown
A federal appeals court ruled that a Los Angeles ordinance preventing homeless people from living in cars is unconstitutionally vague and struck down the ban.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the law that banned people living in their cars or recreational vehicles on a public street or in a public parking lot (even overnight) is unconstitutionally vague and encourages arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement. The decision overturned the District Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the city.

The ban was enacted in 1983, but faced renewed enforcement in 2010, after Los Angeles officials held a September town hall to address complaints of homeless people living in vehicles on streets in the Venice area of the city. City officials repeatedly said at the meeting that the "concern was not homelessness generally, but the illegal dumping of trash and human waste on city streets that was endangering public health," the ruling said in the factual background.

The Los Angeles Police Department then created the Venice Homelessness Task Force, made of 21 officers to cite and arrest people living in cars, as well as distribute information about local shelters and social services. During their training, task force members were told that "an individual need not be sleeping or have slept in the vehicle to violate" the city ban, and that the LAPD officers should look for"possessions normally found in a home, such as food, bedding, clothing, medicine, and basic necessities." They were to offer a warning for the first violation, a citation for the second and make an arrest on the third.


Pope Francis 'excommunicates' Italian mafia

© AFP Photo / Vincenzo Pinto
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the popemobile on June 21, 2014 as he arrives in Cassano allo Ionio in the southern Italian region of Calabria for a one day visit.
Calling the practices of Italian 'Ndrangheta crime group the "adoration of evil," Pope Francis said the Mafiosi "are excommunicated" from God and the Catholic Church, in his address to tens of thousands of people in Calabria, southern Italy.

"Those who in their lives follow this path of evil, as Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated," Pope Francis said as cited by Reuters.

"This evil must be fought against, it must be pushed aside. We must say no to it," Francis said, promising that the Vatican would apply all efforts to combat such activity.

Francis condemned 'Ndrangheta as the "adoration of evil and contempt of the common good."

"Repent! There is no time to avoid ending up in hell, which is what awaits you if you do not change course," the Pope stated after holding a vigil as he visited Castrovillari prison in Calabria, a region infested by organized crime, Il Sole 24 Ore reports.

Comment: In this truth-lie sandwich, the Pope offers a fairly accurate assessment of the mafia and the responsibility of humanity (not just Catholics) to fight against this (and related) evil. Unfortunately, it is sandwiched between the absurdity of hell and the blatant omission of the very real evils committed by the Catholic Church and its representatives.

Comment: No matter how many seemingly moral statements the Pope makes, it will be hard to take him seriously until he seriously addresses the elephant in the Vatican: the rampant pedophilia and cover-up of offending priests the world over. And he's got a long way to go before clearing out Catholicism of its rampant corruption. See also: