Society's Child

Heart - Black

307,000 U.S. veterans died while waiting for VA healthcare benefits approval

© Larry Downing/Reuters
The Department of Veterans Affairs still has a massive backlog of nearly 900,000 healthcare applications ‒ including more than 300,000 from veterans who died waiting for their benefits to be approved, a report by the agency's inspector general found.

The VA's internal watchdog, the Office of the Inspector General, released a report Wednesday that looked into a whistleblower's claims of extensive, persistent problems in the Veterans Health Administration's (VHA) Health Eligibility Center enrollment records.

The OIG found that the VHA's enrollment system had about 867,000 pending records as of September 30, 2014. On top of that, at least 307,000 applications ‒ or about 35 percent of all pending records ‒ were associated with individuals reported as deceased by the Social Security Administration.

However, "serious enrollment data limitations" prevented the inspector general from reliably determining how many of those records were associated with actual application records, Deputy Inspector General Linda Halliday said in a statement.

Those limitations included an estimated 477,000 pending records that did not have application dates associated with them.

Comment: These tragic numbers are the result of a small percentage of pathologicals who create wars for profit and control based on lies. When these soldiers have served their purpose, they are tossed aside like garbage. In the capitalist system, human beings are nothing more than disposable chattel.


Number of Americans living on $2 a day has more than doubled in 20 years

© eflon
Newly published research highlights the pervasiveness of American poverty.

It may be hard to imagine how one can survive earning no more than $2 a day, but for 1.5 million families and 3 million children in the US, this single digit is a severe reality, according to a new book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by co-authors Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University Kathryn Edin and University of Michigan professor of social work and public policy H. Luke Shaefer.

The US is considered one of the most developed capitalist states in the world, but that doesn't change the fact that an increasing number of its residents live in conditions one would be forgiven for thinking only those in third world countries have seen.

According to Edin and Shaefer, the US owes its shocking prevalence of poverty to conditions within the labor market, as companies do whatever it takes to reduce their costs, putting such considerations above the plight of low-wage employees. Parents having to deal with on-call scheduling, wage theft, unhealthy workplaces, cuts in hours — these are only few examples from the long list of problems within the US workforce.

"These families, contrary to what many would expect, are workers, and their slide into poverty is a failure of the labor market and our safety net, as well as their own personal circumstances," Edin told CBS News, implying that the stereotypical perception of people getting by on state welfare is not always just.

What's worse, welfare programs don't even work the way they should. Within the two decades since Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) was introduced in the 1990s, the number of poor families receiving benefits has gradually decreased. Welfare assistance reached more than 14.2 million Americans in 1994, but by 2014 only 3.8 million Americans were aided by TANF, Edin and Shaefer write in their book.

By interviewing families in desperate economic straits in four US regions, Edin determined that many don't even know the program exists, while in other cases they hesitate to apply because of the stigma attached to relying on welfare, or because of the program's complex requirements.

Bad Guys

The U.S. collapse continues: Low income Americans can't afford to live in any metro area

© Inconnu
A new report shows poor households cannot earn enough to live in even the least expensive metropolitan American cities. This is a signal that the country's slow-motion economic collapse is hitting low-income workers the hardest.

Commentators continue to cheer on America's so-called booming economic recovery. Last quarter, the U.S. economy grew at a surprisingly good 3.7% annualized rate. Stock market indices, including the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, are holding just below their all-time highs.

However, little of this expansion is trickling down to the average American household. According to the Family Budget Calculator designed by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute (EPI), low-income families cannot afford to live in any metropolitan area.


Inmates held in solitary confinement for up to 25 years win class action suit against California

© AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
A landmark class action lawsuit settlement in California brings to an end the indefinite solitary confinement of thousands of inmates who filled the Pelican Bay State Prison isolation wing.

The federal class-action lawsuit settled on Tuesday was brought about by nine inmates who had been held in solitary confinement for more than a decade, and who claimed that the practice of indefinite detention violated their Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. It also argued that the confinement was a violation of due process.

The plaintiffs included several leaders of and participants in hunger strikes in Security Housing Units (SHU), where they were kept confined, as this was the only means they had to protest isolating prison conditions.

"From this foundation, the prisoners' human rights movement is awakening the conscience of the nation to recognize that we are fellow human beings," said a statement from the nine plaintiffs regarding the settlement of Ashker v. Governor of California.

"As the recent statements of President Obama and of Justice Kennedy illustrate, the nation is turning against solitary confinement."


Thousands protest in Dublin over water charges imposed by government

© goobambherald / YouTube
Tens of thousands of people took part in the anti-water charges protest in Ireland on Saturday, marching through the capital of Dublin to show their dissatisfaction with the government's policy.

It was the first mass rally in the last six months to protest the water charges imposed by the government. Organized by the Right2Water campaign group, it was the fifth major demonstration since the controversial utility fee was levied.

The protesters gathered at two meeting points located near the train stations of Heuston in the western part of the city, and Connoly in the city's east. The demonstration began at 2 pm local time, as crowds of people marched through Dublin's quays to Spire on O'Connel Street in the city center.

Dozens of small groups of local residents joined the protesters, with a number of smaller columns of demonstrators marching in from the suburbs, Irish media reports.

Heart - Black

Transport of tons of whale meat to Japan via Iceland sparks outrage

© iyoshi Ota / Reuters
A vessel with 1,816 tons of whale meat from Iceland has been delivered to Osaka, Japan, traveling through the Arctic Ocean apparently not to face the anti-whaling groups located in the Indian Ocean.

1,816 tons of meat accounts for about 40 percent of the country's annual consumption, The Japan Times reported. The ship left Iceland with the cargo three months earlier, according to Newsweek.

The Winter Bay is initially a Norwegian vessel flying the flag of St. Kitts and Nevis, a so-called "flag of convenience", allowing fewer regulations and taxes.

Over 1 million people signed a petition demanding that the ship removes the flag on the activist website Avaaz.


American boxer Roy Jones Jr. asks Putin for Russian passport over cup of tea in Crimea

© Aleksey Nikolskyi / Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with U.S. boxer Roy Jones, Jr. in Sevastopol, Crimea, August 19, 2015
During their brief meeting in Crimea, famous boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. has asked President Putin for a Russian passport which would help facilitate business. Putin noted that fans would be thrilled, promising assistance if the champ spends enough time in Russia.

The 46-year-old US boxer and rapper who will take part in a show in Sevastopol this weekend, opted to stay away from politics during a meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea city, and said that sport could help "build a bridge" between the US and Russia.

Finding a common interest with Putin in his favorite martial art, judo, the champion told the Russian President that as a kid, before turning to the boxing ring, he wanted to master the Japanese sport. However Putin, who initially began training in sambo before switching to judo at the age of 14 (which he continues to practice today), praised Jones' achievements in the sport he had chosen.

"You were highly successful in boxing - like no one else... I don't think there have been any others like you in the world,"Putin said, noting Jones' unique achievement: Starting his career as a middleweight to gradually go on winning titles up to the heavyweight.

Comment: More and more Westerners are seeing that, beyond the Western media propaganda that demonizes him, Putin is a worthy statesman who is doing good for Russia. More people should follow Roy Jones Jr.'s lead.

Star of David

Orthodox Jewish school teaches 3yo children 'non-Jews are evil', want to kill Jews

© Andrew Winning / Reuters
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish schoolchildren as young as three are being taught that "non-Jews" are evil and want to kill Jewish people, an anonymous whistleblower has revealed.

According to the Independent, worksheets that allude to the horrors of the Holocaust are being handed out to three and four year old schoolchildren at the Beis Rochel boys' school in Stamford Hill, North London.

In the documents, non-Jews are referred to as "evil goyim." In Yiddish, the term "goyim" means someone who is not Jewish. Nazis are also referred to as "goyim."

The worksheet asks questions related to the holiday of 21 Kislev, observed by Satmer Jews as the day its founder and holy Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, escaped the Nazis.

Speaking to the Independent, the source said one question on the sheet asks: "What have the evil goyim done with the synagogues and cheders?" The answer in the completed worksheet reads: "Burned them."

Another question asks: "What did the goyim want to do with all the Jews?" The correct worksheet answer is: "Kill them."

The worksheet "doesn't explicitly refer to the Holocaust" but it teaches young children to be "very afraid" and treat non-Jews "very suspiciously because of what they did to us in the past," the source told the paper.

Comment: Just goes to show that followers and leaders of any religion can be racist, intolerant, ignorant, and a harm to children. Rather than work on finding common ground and working together to solve the world's problems, these individuals reinforce fictitious divisions and conflicts, and foster a sense of fear and separation. Is this what religion should be?

Christmas Tree

Tuning out: Drug use among college students rising, 6 percent use marijuana daily

© Cliff DesPeaux / Reuters
The number of US college students regularly smoking marijuana has reached the highest point since 1980, a new study has found. Daily or near-daily marijuana use was reported by 5.9 percent of college kids in 2014— up from 3.5 percent in 2007.

It means that one in every 17 college students surveyed by University of Michigan researchers for the 'Monitoring the Future' nationwide study smokes marijuana on a daily/near-daily basis, defined as use on 20 or more occasions in the prior 30 days.

The percent using marijuana once or more in the prior 30 days rose from 17 percent in 2006 to 21 percent in 2014. Use in the prior 12 months rose from 30 percent in 2006 to 34 percent in 2014. Both of these measures leveled in 2014, according to the study. The annual survey has been reporting on US college students' substance use of all kinds for 35 years.

"It's clear that for the past seven or eight years there has been an increase in marijuana use among the nation's college students," the study's main author Lloyd Johnston said. "And this largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors."

Researchers attribute the increase to the fact that marijuana use has recently come to be perceived as dangerous by fewer adolescents and young adults. While 55 percent of all high school graduates aged between 19 and 22 saw regular marijuana use as dangerous in 2006, only 35 percent considered it as such by 2014.

Magic Wand

New guidelines urge police to use psychics and clairvoyants for help in solving cases

Police officers hunting for missing people should "not rule out" any tip-offs from witches, psychics and clairvoyants, according to new official guidelines.

In a consultation document from the College of Policing (COP), which lists new guidelines on how police should handle inquiries on missing persons, officers are urged to examine a psychic's methods and "accredited success" before heeding their supernatural advice.

The consultation, which runs until October 9, aims to offer official guidance for police officers and support them in missing person's investigations.

"Any information received from psychics should be evaluated in the context of the case, and should never become a distraction to the overall investigation and search strategy unless it can be verified," the consultation paper said.