Society's Child


Over quarter of South African schoolgirls HIV positive: minister

© AFP Photo
As many as 28 percent of South African schoolgirls are HIV positive, according to figures from the country's health minister reported by local media on Thursday.

Unveiling statistics that minister Aaron Motsoaledi admitted "destroyed my soul," he added that four percent of schoolboys have the virus.

"It is clear that it is not young boys who are sleeping with these girls. It is old men," the Sowetan newspaper quoted Motsoaledi as saying.

"We can no longer live like that," he said.
Heart - Black

Study: blacks twice as likely as whites to be executed

© WikiCommons
A new report, released on Wednesday, shows that African Americans are twice as likely as white to receive death sentences, according to Mother Jones.

The report, from University of Maryland criminology professor Ray Paternoster, examined the impact race had on sentencing in 504 cases. The findings are striking. From the report:
The probability that the district attorney will advance a case to a penalty trial is more than three times as high when the defendant is African-American than for white defendants (this includes Mr. Buck's case). This disparity by race of the defendant, moreover, cannot be attributed to observed case characteristics because these cases are those that were most comparable in terms of the estimated propensity score.

This racial disparity is only partially corrected at the jury sentencing stage...Ultimately, among this group of comparable cases a death sentence was twice as likely to be imposed on an African American defendant as a white defendant.

Passengers: Power outages, overflowing toilets on another Carnival cruise ship

Multiple passengers aboard the Carnival Dream have contacted CNN, telling stories of power outages and overflowing toilets.
A Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Dream became a nightmare for some passengers, a month after a fire crippled another Carnival ship in the Gulf of Mexico.

Several Dream passengers contacted CNN, telling stories of power outages and overflowing toilets, all while docked in port at Philipsburg, St. Maarten, in the eastern Caribbean.

The reports came just two days after Carnival Cruise Lines announced it was conducting "a comprehensive review" of all its 23 ships.

Carnival acknowledges 'periodic interruptions'

"We are not allowed off of the boat despite the fact that we have no way to use the restrooms on board," Jonathan Evans of Reidsville, North Carolina, said in an e-mail early Thursday. "The cruise director is giving passengers very limited information and tons of empty promises. What was supposed to take an hour has turned into 7-plus hours."

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss told CNN, "We have spoken to the captain and right now, the decision has been made to have the passengers remain aboard the ship for accountability purposes. The last thing we want to do is have someone get left behind in St. Maarten by accident."
Bizarro Earth

Lawsuit claims a two-year-old ate a used condom at McDonald's

© AP
A diner at a Gage Park neighborhood McDonald's is suing the fast food giant, claiming her young child ate a used condom he found in the restaurant's play area.

Anishi Spencer filed the suit Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of herself and her young sons, Jacquel and Jonathan Hines.

Jonathan, then 3, and Jacquel, 2, were visiting the restaurant at 5733 S. Kezie Ave. on Feb. 4, 2012, when they allegedly found the used condom on the play area floor, Spencer claims in the suit.

The mother claims Jacquel later coughed up a piece of the condom, the suit says. Both toddlers had to receive medical treatment because of the incident.

16-year-old killed by NYPD was shot three times in back, four in front

The 16-year-old boy who was killed in Brooklyn by the police in a hail of 11 bullets on Saturday night was hit by seven of them, three entering his body from the rear, the authorities said on Wednesday.

The report from the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner did not specify which of the seven bullets caused the death of the teenager, Kimani Gray; that determination awaits further investigation.

One bullet entered his left shoulder in the rear, exiting in the front; two other bullets struck the back of his thighs, one in the left thigh and one in the right. Two bullets struck from the front, hitting his right thigh; one bullet entered his left side, striking his lower rib cage; and the last bullet hit his left lower forearm.

The police said that two plainclothes officers fired at Mr. Gray after he pulled a .38-caliber revolver and pointed it at them; the officers then fired 11 shots, killing him. Mr. Gray's revolver had four bullets in its chambers, the police said.
Bizarro Earth

Fireball in Gulf of Mexico as tug collides with pipeline

© AFP/Scanpix
A fireball bursting from the ocean's surface continued to burn on Wednesday after a tug and barge hit a gas pipeline owned by Chevron south of New Orleans on Tuesday evening.

The fire had been reduced by about 30% by Wednesday afternoon and there were no reports of oil in the water, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

"Visual imagery initially indicated potential pockets of crude oil," the statement said. "However, those areas have been determined to be particulate ash from" the liquid petroleum gas (LPG) burn off.

"The fire will diminish as the product diminishes," it added.

The pipeline was shut shortly after the collision at around 18:00 local time Tuesday evening near Bayou Perot 30 miles south of New Orleans.

Chevron said the line connects a gas plant in Venice, Louisiana, with a pump station in Paradis, according to a Reuters report.

Is your boss a possible psychopath?

psychopath office politics

Winners at office politics tend to be psychopathic--as well as narcissistic and Machiavellian. These "triads" fly up the corporate ladder, but there are ways to minimize their effect on your success and happiness.

It's estimated that 3 million Americans are psychopathic--meaning they display callous or non-empathetic tendencies; that, perhaps one in 10 on Wall Street are; and it's even suggested that a touch of psychopathy may be necessary to reach the top.

Psychopaths are also likely to be narcissistic (self-loving) or to have a Machiavellian streak (detachment, liking for games-playing). These days, more and more people are "triadic," says British psychologist Oliver James--meaning the people in your office have all three disorders at the same time.

The perception of what you've contributed becomes as important as what you've actually done.

James blames the changing nature of work. In the past, jobs were straightforward: you made stuff, and you were compensated accordingly. Now, in many service industries (PR, finance, TV) it is hard to say who should take credit. Triads thrive with such ambiguity, mastering how to accentuate their part in the positive, while downplaying their negatives.

"The perception of what you've contributed becomes as important as what you've actually done," James says. "Whether you get promoted and how much you get paid depends largely on the subjective valuation of your boss. That means that office politics becomes more important. Making your boss like you, and encouraging them to believe you are doing a good job, is as important as actually doing a good job."

Comment: The book Snakes in Suits by Babiak and Hare is highly recommended reading on this subject. The only defense we have is to educate ourselves as much as possible about this intra-species predator in our midst.

Wall Street

Senator Warren slams Republicans: Worry less about helping big banks and more about helping ordinary consumers

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts slammed Republicans on Tuesday for holding up the confirmation of Richard Cordray to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

At a Senate Banking Committee hearing, the progressive senator suggested Republicans were using false arguments to fight the nomination of Cordray. Warren, who was a key figure in setting up the relatively new agency, questioned why Republicans believed it was wrong for the CFPB to have a single director, but was acceptable in the case of numerous other agencies like the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

"I see nothing here but a filibuster threat against Director Cordray as an attempt to weaken the consumer agency," Warren said. "I think the delay in getting him confirmed is bad for consumers, it's bad for small banks, bad for credit unions, for anyone trying to offer an honest product in an honest market."

"The American people deserve a Congress that worries less about helping big banks, and more about helping regular people who have been cheated on mortgages, on credit cards, on student loans and on credit reports," she added.

Policeman arrested for printing counterfeit currency

Anthony A. Rivera
Former Santa Fe police officer Anthony Rivera and brother Dominic were arrested Sunday and charged with overseeing the production of fake $100 bills, created using $20′s that were stripped of their color using paint thinner.

The two men, 44 and 34 respectively, were arrested along with 20-year-old Tyler Ament and accused of creating more than $1,200 in counterfeit currency in recent months, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Tuesday.

Police broke the case last week after Ament tried to use one of the bills at a gas station and a clerk turned him away. Ament returned to the gas station for cigarettes after buying jeans at a local Kohls and officers were waiting for him.
Bad Guys

Florida Lt. Governor resigns over ties to Internet sweepstakes cafes under investigation for illegal gambling

© Chris O'Meara / AP
In this Jan. 11, 2012 file photo, Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll speaks during Florida Space Center day at the Florida House of Representatives in Tallahassee, Fla. Carroll resigned in the wake of a federal gambling racketeering case.
Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll abruptly resigned Tuesday after law enforcement officials questioned her about ties to a purported veterans charity organization at the center of a $300 million multi-state racketeering investigation.

Florida law enforcement officials would not say if Carroll, 53, is facing possible criminal charges in connection with the case. Gov. Rick Scott also would not comment. Scott said he would not name Carroll's replacement until the end of the annual legislative session in May.

"She resigned, and she did the right thing for her state and for her family," Scott said.

At issue is Carroll's connections to Allied Veterans of the World, a Florida nonprofit that operates a chain of Internet sweepstakes cafes as a pseudo-charity. Nearly 60 people associated with the company were arrested this week on various charges, including illegal gambling, racketeering and money laundering.

Carroll owned a public relations firm that represented Allied Veterans, and as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, did work for the company. She later filmed an advertisement promoting Allied Veterans while serving as lieutenant governor.