Society's Child


Low-income Americans targeted by high tax preparation fees

In December, they begin showing up in empty storefronts in neighborhoods where empty storefronts are easy to come by. Cars with phone numbers brightly displayed on the doors roll down the streets, and signs pop up along the sidewalks promising fast money.

For millions of low-income Americans, tax season means the biggest one-time influx of money all year. It also means the annual sprouting of commercial tax preparers: some of them big-name franchises, some mom-and-pops and some, as 20-year-old Brittany Dixon discovered this year, shockingly expensive.

Ms. Dixon, a supermarket cashier and college student, took her tax documents - a W-2 form and some education expenses - to the first place she saw, in a storefront near the interstate. The preparation took about a half-hour, and Ms. Dixon was told the amount of her refund - and that she would be charged nearly $400, about a quarter of the total, in fees.
Brittany Dixon
© Bob Miller
Brittany Dixon, a supermarket cashier and college student, was charged nearly $400 in fees by a storefront tax preparer in Alabama
She told the preparer not to file, she said, and found a service willing to do her taxes at no cost. But by then, the first preparer had already filed and taken its cut. "That was my whole car note," Ms. Dixon said.
Light Sabers

New York Festivals honors RT with prestigious gold medal award for the second year in a row

RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan
© RIA Novosti
RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan

"The Russian RT news channel has been honored with a prestigious gold medal award at the New York Festivals, besting the US-based CNN news channel, and claiming an additional two bronze medals," RT's press service told RIA Novosti.

RT News Channel, previously known as Russia Today, is a Russian international information TV company.

RT is the first Russian channel presenting round-the-clock news in English, Arabic and Spanish.

The RT editor-in-chief is Margarita Simonyan and in late 2005 the network began English-language news broadcasts from Moscow.

RT has 22 bureaus in 19 countries, with offices in Washington, New York, London, Berlin, Cairo and Baghdad, employing over 1,000 media professionals around the globe.

The network has a global reach of over 644 million people in more than 100 countries.

In 2010, the network became the first ever Russian TV channel to be nominated in the Emmy International Television Awards.

In 2012, the news channel received a second Emmy nomination for covering the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Last year, the channel took the top prize for best round-the-clock news channel at Europe's most prestigious gathering of TV officials, the Monte-Carlo Television Festival.

And last year, the news channel also won the top prize at the New York Festivals.

The new Ukraine: WWII, Holocaust memorials in Odessa vandalized by Kiev Nazi protesters

Hungarian jews
© Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa 3.0
Southern city of Ukraine, Odessa has been vandalized by the activists from Kiev. The protestors are leaving Nazi symbols behind them on the monuments of WWII. They are also demanding the arrest of those who wear St. George's ribbons, symbol of WWII heroes. On Tuesday the main monument to Holocaust victims in center square in Odessa was horribly vandalized, reports the RT media.

The activists left the monument with the symbols of swastikas and wolf hooks. Those exact symbols that represent Nazi ideology and bring all the memories of severe WWII period.

The Holocaust memorial in Odessa was opened last October as a remembrance of thousands of Odessa residents that died in 1941.

Roman Schwartzman, head of the association of former Nazi prisoners comments on this, "Out of the 25 thousand of people killed about 22 thousand were Jews, mainly children, women and old people. The rest were Soviet soldiers and marines who protected the city from the Nazis. All were burned by Romanian occupants."
Light Sabers

Open letter to Putin from German civil society: US wants to destroy Ukrainian 'bridge' between EU and Russia

Retired German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Johan Scholtz
© Unknown
Retired German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Johan Scholtz
Members of German civil society have written an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, condemning Russophobia in mass media and German political establishment while showing support for Moscow's actions in the ongoing Ukrainian crisis.

Retired German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jochen Scholz wrote an open letter to the Russian leader in response to the speech Putin made on March 18, 2014 at the reunification of Crimea with Russia. The letter was cosigned by hundreds of Germans including lawyers, journalists, doctors, servicemen, scholars, scientists, diplomats and historians.

In that letter the German intellectuals said that Putin's speech "appealed directly to the German people" and deserved a "positive response that corresponds to the true feelings of Germans."

The letter acknowledges that the Soviet Union indeed played a decisive role in the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany and supported the reunification of Germany and its ascension into NATO after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact.

Then US President George Bush Sr. had given assurances to Russia that NATO will not expand eastward, and yet despite Moscow's show of trust, the US and its allies violated that commitment, Scholz says.

"NATO expansion into the former Soviet republics, the creation of military bases in the former Warsaw Pact countries and the setup of an umbrella missile defense system in Eastern Europe, while unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM Treaty by the US is a flagrant violation of promises," the letter reads.
Eye 2

Sick: Tattooed-children case‏ moves to Campbell County grand jury

Melissa Delp, Daniel Janney, and one of the children.
A Campbell County judge on Monday certified charges to a grand jury against a mother and her boyfriend in connection with the tattooing of two children without consent.

Melissa Delp, 35, and Daniel Janney, 32, are charged with two counts each of malicious wounding and child neglect. The charges stem from efforts to remove tattoos on the children, who were younger than age 13 at the time, according to the Campbell County Sheriff's Office.

Alexander Edwards, a family friend, is charged with two counts of malicious wounding, two counts of abduction and two counts of felony child abuse. Edwards was taking care of the children Dec. 22, 2013, when the children were tattooed without their consent or the consent of their parents, Maj. L.T. Guthrie of the Campbell County Sheriff's Office has said.
People 2

More mothers are staying at home to care for families, reversing decades long decline

stay at home mom graph
After decades of decline, the share of mothers who stay home with their children has steadily risen over the last several years, a new report has found.

In 2012, 29% of all mothers with children under age 18 stayed at home, a figure that has steadily risen since 1999 when 23% of mothers were stay-at-home, the Pew Research Center reported Tuesday. The share of stay-at-home moms had been dropping since 1967, when about half of all moms stayed home.

Pew attributed the rise of stay-at-home mothers to a mix of demographic, economic and societal factors. The vast majority of married stay-at-home mothers, 85%, say they are doing so by choice in order to care for their families. That rate is much lower for single stay-at-home mothers, at 41%, and cohabitating mothers, at 64%.

The report also found a drop in women working because of the recession, a trend that has lingered as the economy recovers. Pew cited an increase in immigrant families, for whom it is more common to have a mother stay at home with her children, and an increase in the number of women who said they were disabled and unable to work.
Arrow Down

Drone owned by film company strikes triathlete in the head during race

During Sunday's Endure Batavia Triathlon held in Western Australia, a female competitor was taken to the hospital after a being struck in the head by an Unmanned Aerial Vehichle (UAV). The injured athlete, Raija Ogden from Perth, was struck by the drone as she began her second lap and subsequently fell to the ground.

The drone is owned and operated by local videographers New Era Photography and Film, who were covering the event. But according to one report, owner Warren Abrams, suggested Ogden was never actually struck by the drone and simply fell to the ground because she was "frightened" by the proximity of the machine. Citing footage taken just moments before the incident, Abrams said, "She looks over her shoulder and gets frightened, falling to the ground and bumping her head, but the drone didn't actually strike her."

What happens when a female student in a hot pink top walks through Cairo University?

© Independent
A shocking video shows a female student being sexually harassed as she walks through her campus at Cairo University in Egypt.

Wearing a pink top and tight jeans, the young woman is whistled and shouted at as she makes her way through the site amongst a growing group of men following her.

University guards are seen in the clip, which has gone viral on social media, escorting her off the premises after she hid in a toilet to escape the group, who were allegedly trying to remove her clothes.

The Dean of the Cairo University Law School, Gaber Nasser, has since sparked anger after he appeared to blame the girl by saying her outfit was "a bit unconventional". He told Egyptian channel ONTV: "This girl entered the university wearing an abaya [a loose cloak] and then took it off in the faculty, and appeared with those clothes, that caused, in reality - but this doesn't justify at all [the incident]."

Americans who can't find Ukraine on map are more in favor of military intervention

Since Russian troops first entered the Crimean peninsula in early March, a series of media polling outlets have asked Americans how they want the U.S. to respond to the ongoing situation. Although two-thirds of Americans have reported following the situation at least "somewhat closely," most Americans actually know very little about events on the ground - or even where the ground is.

On March 28-31, 2014, we asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans (fielded via Survey Sampling International Inc. (SSI), what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: In addition to measuring standard demographic characteristics and general foreign policy attitudes, we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. We found that only one out of six Americans can find Ukraine on a map, and that this lack of knowledge is related to preferences: The farther their guesses were from Ukraine's actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene with military force.
© Thomas Zeitzoff/The Monkey Cage
Where’s Ukraine? Each dot depicts the location where a U.S. survey respondent situated Ukraine; the dots are colored based on how far removed they are from the actual country, with the most accurate responses in red and the least accurate ones in blue
Mr. Potato

Parliament punch-up: Ukrainian nationalists slammed by opposition for inspiring crisis in southeast

A brawl broke out in the Ukrainian parliament after the leader of the Communist Party blamed right-wing nationalists for fomenting the split of the country by failing to address the concerns of southeast regions and "eliminating" their independence.

Fistfights in Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, have been a common sight in recent years, certainly before the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich. A return to brawling on the parliament floor, instead of in the streets outside, might be a sign that the situation in the country is finally stabilizing. On Tuesday, the scuffle occurred toward the end of a speech by Communist Party leader Pyotr Simonenko, who blamed the current crisis on the nationalists.