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Record 62% of Japan households facing financial difficulties

© Bloomberg
The proportion of households facing financial difficulties in Japan hit a record high of 62.4 percent as of July 2014, a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry survey showed Thursday.

The result partly reflects the consumption tax hike from 5 percent to 8 percent in April last year, the ministry said. The previous record high was 61.5 percent in July 2011.

The proportion of households having "severe difficulty" in living came to 29.7 percent, and 32.7 percent said their financial conditions are "somewhat difficult."

Meanwhile, 34.0 percent said their living is "normal." The proportion of households which said they are "somewhat well-off" stood at 3.2 percent, and 0.4 percent said they are "very well-off."

The survey also showed that the average household income in 2013 fell ¥83,000, or 1.5 percent, from the preceding year to ¥5,289,000, the fourth-lowest level since comparable data became available in 1985. The fall is partly due to an increase in nonregular employees, according to the ministry.

The average income fell 2.8 percent to ¥3,005,000 at elderly households, consisting only of people aged 65 or over, or of elderly people and children under 18.

The average income at all households with children under 18 increased 3.4 percent to ¥6,963,000.


'Selfie with daughter' campaign for gender equality goes viral on twitter

© Unknown
Heartwarming parent-daughter selfies have gone viral on Twitter, thanks to a social media campaign called #SelfieWithDaughter launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an effort to promote gender equality.

During his Sunday radio address, Modi asked parents to tweet photos of themselves with their daughters to highlight the importance of girls and women. The campaign is called "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana" and is roughly translated to "Save Daughters, Educate Daughters." Modi credits the online hit to a local politician in the small Indian village of Haryana. According to a story published in the New York Times, baby boys are valued in Indian society, resulting in nearly 2,000 girls being killed at birth. And while laws exist to prevent expecting couples from using prenatal tests to learn the sex of their unborn baby, per the Wall Street Journal, many parents hold out hope for a son.

Heart - Black

Smiles-R-Us? Georgia dentist terrifies young girl with fully body restraints during routine procedure - without parents' permission

© James Crow via WBS-TV
A pair of Georgia parents are infuriated by the method a dentist employed to restrain their daughter during a routine procedure.

James Crow told WSB-TV that he and his mother took his daughter, Elizabeth, to a Caarrollton dentist to have a tooth pulled. What ensued he could have never imagined.

Not allowed inside the exam room, Crow waited with his mother in the lobby.

"We were sitting out in the waiting room and all of a sudden, we heard somebody screaming," Evelyn Crow told WBS.

The father rushed into the room and found his daughter bound with a tool called a "papoose board."

"I couldn't see my kid in the body bag just strapped down to the bed, I couldn't handle it," Crow told WSB.

"This little girl was frightened. I had to carry her out, she was shaking so bad," his mother added to the local news station.

An employee of the office told WSB that parents are required to sign a release form before the papoose board is used. Crow said he didn't recall being notified.

Comment: It's truly sickening that someone so ignorant as to what would traumatize a child is allowed to practice dentistry. Without parental consent, no less!


TTP and TTIP treaties could make this the US's last Independence Day celebration

Early terrorists?
Long ago, American colonists took a stance against a government that didn't represent the voice of the people. Fast forward to today and the recent TPP and TTIP treaties essentially silence the voice of the people once again. But is anyone paying attention?

The men, unhappy with the decisions that had been forced upon them by people they had never seen before, decided to do something. Waiting until sunset, they dressed up as Indians, painted their faces, and marched down to the harbor. Upon reaching it, they stormed a ship, grabbed the cargo and threw it overboard. Shouting into the night, "no taxation without representation!" the men made a defiant stance against what they felt was an overreaching government that only saw them as streams of income. In response, the government attempted to crack down on society in a desperate attempt to remain in control. It didn't work and today historians note that the event, which came to be known as the Boston Tea Party, was one of the first shots of the War for Independence.

Of course, if this event were to happen today, media would report it like this —"A local militia, believed to be a terrorist organization, attacked the property of private citizens today at our nation's busiest port. Although no one was injured in the attack, a large quantity of merchandise, considered to be valuable to its owners and loathsome to the perpetrators, was destroyed. The terrorists, dressed in disguise and apparently intoxicated, were able to escape into the night with the help of local citizens who harbor these fugitives and conceal their identities from the authorities. It is believed that the terrorist attack was a response to the policies enacted by the occupying country's government. Even stronger policies are anticipated by the local citizens."

Although these two tales tell the same story, perception is key. And when 90% of American media is controlled by 6 companies, the narrative is tightly controlled. Not for the benefit of the people, of course, but for the benefit of the government. But not even for the government so much any more, as the recent buzz surrounding the TPP and TTIP have revealed. In fact, numerous stories over the last couple of weeks have shed light on just who was behind the treaties, and it reads like a list of who's who in the world of big business.That's right. Corporations wrote the treaties and the politicians, which are elected by the people to represent the people, either didn't read the treaties at all, or chose to play buzzword bingo when publicly discussing the matter. Of course, as the Guardian reports, the tens of thousands of dollars that went to the "yea" votes helped to convince those fence sitters which direction the wind was blowing and more importantly, helped their future re-election campaigns. Addressing this issue, Mansur Gidfar, spokesman for the anti-corruption group Represent. US noted -"It's a rare thing for members of Congress to go against the money these days. They know exactly which special interests they need to keep happy if they want to fund their reelection campaigns or secure a future job as a lobbyist." He went on to ask - "How can we expect politicians who routinely receive campaign money, lucrative job offers, and lavish gifts from special interests to make impartial decisions that directly affect those same special interests?"

Comment: More food for thought:

Cardboard Box

Puerto Ricans fleeing economic hardship continue to struggle on American mainland

© Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A pedestrian walks through a street in Old San Juan as Puerto Rico’s economy continues to go downhill.
The Caribbean territory, whose residents are US citizens, is groaning under $73bn debt forcing it to ration water, close schools and watch its health system collapse.

Facing a crisis of monumental proportions at home, tens of thousands of people are fleeing a Caribbean island in search of a better life in the United States only to find hardship and struggle on American shores. Their stories sound like those of millions of migrants - poverty at home, where the economy lies in tatters - but they differ from millions of others: they're already American.

Unable to pay its $73bn debt, Puerto Rico has begun rationing water, closing schools and watching its healthcare system collapse and 45% of its people living in poverty. Emigration to the mainland has accelerated in recent years, activists say, and data shows that from 2003 to 2013 there was a population swing of more than 1.5 million people.

Comment: The difficulties faced by the Puerto Ricans will probably continue to intensify, as the U.S. pathocrats are unlikely to offer any substantial assistance. They cannot even be bothered to do anything useful to stem the tide of poverty, joblessness and crumbling infrastructure that has been plaguing America for years as they are too busy worsening living conditions around the globe.


Third alternative health practitioner death in past two weeks

Crime scene investigators at the home of Dr. Sievers.
Mysterious spate of deaths rattle medical community

The recent death of a holistic practitioner in Florida is concerning residents and medical experts alike, as it is the third death of an alternative doctor in almost as many weeks.

On Monday morning, police found the body of Dr. Teresa Ann Sievers, 46, at her home in Bonita Springs after she failed to arrive at work. Dr. Sievers headed a health and wellness practice in Estero, Florida, which focuses on restorative healing through a variety of non-pharmaceutical treatments.

Detectives say they're treating the incident as a homicide, although they are not revealing to media how she was killed, nor if they think it was a random or targeted attack. "We don't know anything but that she was murdered," Sievers' sister, Annie Lisa, told The News-Press.

"Sievers was well-known in Southwest Florida for writing about women's health issues," reports The News-Press. "She wrote for several publications, including The News-Press, and appeared on local television."

Sievers' follows the death of two other prominent alternative doctors from Florida, Dr. Bruce Hedendal of Boca Raton, and Dr. Jeff Bradstreet, 60, who lived in Florida before relocating to Georgia.

Comment: Is it all about the message (and counter-message), or are there more obvious reasons and sources for the apparent suicides murders? We must ask: "Who benefits?"


Berniemania: Largest crowd of 2016 campaign shows up for Bernie Sanders

© Reuters /Jim Young
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders may be an underdog, but a massive crowd of 10,000 people gathered in Madison, Wisconsin to hear him speak - the largest crowd drawn by any 2016 presidential candidate.

Sanders, an independent US senator from Vermont who has described himself as a democratic socialist, has been dismissed as a low-tier candidate ever since first announcing his campaign for the presidency. However, while he may lack the high profile of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he is showing himself to be quite capable of energizing liberals.

This ability has helped him attract more people than other candidate so far, Democrat or Republican.

Comment: Bernie is an interesting wrinkle in this campaign with shades of Ron Paul. He may not win this campaign but maybe more people will get the message.


Montana and New Mexico pass laws requiring criminal conviction in civil forfeiture cases

Just in time for the Fourth of July, states are declaring their independence from civil forfeiture.

Enabled by civil forfeiture laws, police can seize and keep property without the government ever filing criminal charges. Innocent Americans actually must prove their own innocence in court if they ever hope to regain their property. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies routinely seize property and pad their budgets with forfeiture revenue. Outlets as diverse as The New Yorker and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver have detailed this travesty of justice.

But thankfully, civil forfeiture's days may soon be numbered. Starting July 1, two major reforms from Montana and New Mexico will go into effect.

Earlier this year, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed a law that requires the government to first obtain a criminal conviction before taking and keeping someone's property through civil forfeiture. This legislation also shifts the burden of proof onto the government—where it belongs—when spouses, neighbors and other innocent owners try to get back property used by a suspect without their knowledge. Montana's civil forfeiture reforms are vital to restore due process and protect the property rights of the innocent.


Get outta Dodge: 35% of Americans would consider leaving U.S.

© Reuters / Shannon Stapleton
A study polling American and emigrant adults found that 35 percent would consider leaving the US, according to TransferWise, an international money transfer company. The most popular reason for wanting to leave was to seek a better quality of life.

Despite the results of the survey, 59 percent said it was home. Another 58 percent said romantic and family ties were important reasons for staying in the US.

Another 22 percent in the survey cited democratic society as a reason to stay, and only 2 percent said low taxes. The online poll surveyed 2,000 American and emigrant adults.

The percentage of those willing to leave greatly increases for the millennial generation, with more than half of those aged 18 to 34, or 55 percent saying they would consider moving to another country for a higher paying job.


Oklahoma court rules energy companies can be sued for injuries and damage caused by fracking

© Reuters / Vincent Kessler
Oklahoma's highest court agreed energy companies can be sued for injuries to people and damage to property sustained during earthquakes.Plaintiffs in two lawsuits claim fracking companies are responsible for the earthquakes.

In a 7-0 decision, with two justices abstaining, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the plaintiff, Sandra Ladra, may seek damages from two energy companies for injuries sustained to her legs during an earthquake on November 5, 2011.

The quake shook the victim's hometown of Prague, causing rocks to fall from Ladra'a chimney onto her legs. It was the highest magnitude trembler the state has ever experienced, registering 5.7 on the Richter scale.

"The size of rock is about the size of your head, certainly, and a significant sized and heavy rock,"Scott Poynter, Ladra's attorney, told KFOR News Channel 4.

Poynter told the news channel Ladra is not looking for a payout, but the industry needs to stand up and pay for the problems they're causing. Ladra has been in pain since the incident and Poynter said she is going to have knee replacement surgery.

Comment: Hopefully this will curtail the actions of greedy energy companies who think nothing of the individuals who have to deal with the effects of fracking in their environment.