Society's Child


Protestors in Taiwan clash with riot police at government buildings in Taipei; Dozens detained as tensions over China pact rise

© Wally Santana
Dozens of people were detained in Taipei late Sunday after violent clashes erupted between police and protesters, following the Taiwanese president's refusal to scrap a contentious trade agreement with China.

Hundreds of protesters who had been staging a demonstration against the trade pact pushed past riot police in full gear to storm the government headquarters, before the crowd was dispersed shortly after midnight.

Tensions exploded into the open on Tuesday when around 200 demonstrators, mostly young students, broke through security barriers and took over parliament's main chamber, the first such occupation of the building in the island's history.

President Ma Ying-jeou moved Sunday to denounce the "illegal" occupation of parliament by students opposed to the trade agreement's ratification.

Local TVBS news network showed protesters pulling down barbed wire barricades surrounding the government building, with some using ladders to break into offices on the second floor of the building.

Homeless man shot to death by police while "illegally camping" in the foothills of New Mexico

The moment police opened fire on James Boyd. Note he was turning away.
A homeless New Mexico man who was illegally camping in the Albuquerque foothills was fatally shot by police.

New helmet camera video released by the Albuquerque Police Department on Friday shows the moment 38-year-old James Boyd turns his back to officers and then gets shot dead. Despite overwhelming criticism to the shooting, the department says its officers were justified, KRQE reported.

Boyd was shot on Sunday, March 16. Police Chief Gorden Eden said officers approached Boyd, who was sleeping, to speak to him about illegally camping in an open space, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

According to authorities, Boyd began arguing with officers for more than three hours before the fatal shooting. Graphic video released by the department shows cops yelling at Boyd to "get on the ground" moments before he's shot.

Texas man wins sexual harassment case against female boss: Jury awards James Gist $567K in Pam Matranga case

© Facebook
A Texas jury found Pam Matranga sexually harassed her deputy.
A Texas law enforcement official was awarded $567,000 by a jury who found that he was the victim of sexual harassment from his female boss

Former Galveston County Deputy Constable James Gist, 51, sued the county and claimed ex-Constable Pam Matranga repeatedly sexually harassed him from May 2011 to October 2011 by asking him to touch her breasts, pulling her shirt over his head and pretending to give him a lap dance. The Galveston County jury awarded damages to Gist on Friday.

Anthony Griffin, Gist's attorney, told the Houston Chronicle that the jury awarded Gist $200,000 more than what the 51-year-old former deputy constable was seeking in damages. He also said the jury's decision showed that gender didn't play a role in the case.

Debt Slavery! The student loan problem is worse than you think

piggy bank
© unknown
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York published its latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit recently, and, as usual, the real story about student loans is buried in its back pages.

The report highlights the fact that loan-payment delinquency rates continue to improve (i.e. decline). On average, a little over 7% of all outstanding consumer debt obligations are in some stage of delinquency (30 or more days past due), and roughly 70% of those are seriously so (90 or more days past due).

The executive summary also notes that student loan balances that are 90 or more days past due represent 11.5% of the total outstanding. Sure, it's a troubling metric. But when the FRBNY juxtaposes that amount with the 9.5% of comparably delinquent (and equally uncollateralized) credit card debt, it doesn't seem so out of whack - until you dig a little deeper.

Unlike credit card balances, not all outstanding student loans are due at any given moment in time. In fact, of the approximately $1.2 trillion of education debt that's currently on the books, only about half that amount is actually amortizing (the other half pertains to loans for students who are still in school).

Texas city pays Ted Nugent $16k to not perform at Fourth of July celebration

© Torin Halsey
Longtime rocker Ted Nugent speaks to a crowd of Greg Abbott supporters during a campaign stop in Wichita Falls, Texas on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014
The city of Longview put the stranglehold on "Cat Scratch Fever" - but it cost thousands of dollars.

The city paid out $16,250 last month to end contract negotiations with rocker Ted Nugent, who was under consideration as the headliner for the city's Fourth of July celebration.

The payoff came as Nugent's earlier incendiary comments and song lyrics became an issue during a campaign swing with Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.

City spokesman Shawn Hara said the campaign-trail controversy was just one of several factors that led to the city pulling the plug.

"(There were) a variety of reasons. Cost, structure, is it the right musical act for this type of event - a city-sponsored, family-oriented overall event," Hara said. "They decided no, we don't want to move forward, it is not the right act for this. At that point we decided to end discussions."

Comment: One has to think that the city had second thoughts after reading a host of inflammatory comments Ted Nugent has made, including calling President Obama a "chimpanzee and sub-human mongrel", that Hillary Clinton had "spare scrotums", and that apartheid wasn't "cut-and-dry".


Scarce in Venezuela: Flour, cooking oil, butter, milk, diapers, toilet paper

© Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images
People line up to buy goods at a store in Caracas, Venezuela.
Alvaro Villarueda starts his morning the same way every day - putting in a call to his friend who has a friend who works at a Caracas, Venezuela, supermarket.

Today, he's looking for sugar, and he's asking his friend if he knows if any shipments have arrived. As he talks on the phone, his wife Lisbeth Nello, is in the kitchen.

There are 10 mouths to feed every day in this family - five of them children. The two youngest are still in diapers.

"The things that are the scarcest are actually what we need the most," Nello says. "Flour, cooking oil, butter, milk, diapers. I spent last week hunting for diapers everywhere. The situation is really tough for basic goods."

Student-led demonstrations have been roiling Venezuela for more than a month. At least 28 people have been killed and dozens wounded in confrontations between security forces and those who have taken to the streets.

The list of grievances - rising crime, inflation - is long, but the main one for many is the scarcity of basic foodstuffs.

Comment: Food prices skyrocketed 72% in Venezuela in 2013: International financiers' currency speculation to blame?

Eggs Fried

White House pastry chef resigns: 'I don't want to demonize cream, butter, sugar and eggs' - He's right

© Daily Caller
White House executive pastry chef Bill Yosses is resigning after First Lady Michelle Obama fundamentally changed his job duties to focus on healthier food.

Yosses is leaving the White House in June to work on a new project focusing on "food literacy" and The New York Times says Michelle is "partly to blame." The openly gay chef was hired by Laura Bush in 2007 to make his trademark cookie plates and sugar sculptures. Mrs. Obama took over in 2009 and ordered Yosses to make healthier plates in smaller portions.

Yosses began replacing butter with fruit puree and sugar with honey and agave. But Yosses was never fully committed to the new policy.

"I don't want to demonize cream, butter, sugar and eggs," Yosses said, noting that his departure from the White House is a "bittersweet decision."

Two million square miles to be searched, 26 countries involved - and still not a trace of Flight MH370

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed that the plane could have travelled, undetected, for a further seven hours.
  • Kazakhstan says there was no 'unsanctioned use' of its air space
  • Malaysia appealed for radar data and search planes to help the hunt
  • 26 countries have answered the call, including the U.S. and France
  • Australian PM Tony Abbott agreed to help after talking to Malaysia's leader
  • Six Australians were on board the flight carrying 239 passengers
  • India rejects fear it could have been intended target of 9/11-style attack
  • Indian security sources 'rubbish' idea that plane flew near an Indian city
  • Searchers still don't know if the aircraft has come down on land or sea
  • Total area now being examined amounts to 28million square miles
  • That is equivalent to twice the size of Africa or a tenth of the planet
Australia has taken the lead in the hunt for the missing Boeing 777 over the southern Indian Ocean as the list of countries providing assistance rose to 26 today.

The move came as Malaysia's transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein revealed that two million square miles still need to be searched.

Malaysia has appealed for radar data and search planes to help in the unprecedented hunt through a vast swath of Asia stretching north-west into Kazakhstan.

It said searches have begun in both the northern and southern corridors of a vast swath of Asia where the jet may have ended up.

The Malaysian government has revealed an investigation indicates the jet was deliberately diverted and flew for several hours after leaving its scheduled flight path.
Snakes in Suits

Whitewash! Malaysian Prime Minister sez Flight 370 crashed in Indian Ocean

© Credit Ng Han Guan/Associated Press
A relative of a Chinese passenger on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Beijing after being told of the latest news on Monday.
Malaysia's prime minister said Monday that further analysis of satellite data confirmed that the missing Malaysian airliner went down in the southern Indian Ocean. The announcement narrowed the search area but left many questions unanswered about why it flew to such a remote part of the world.

Experts had previously held out the possibility that the jet could have flown north instead, toward Central Asia, but the new data showed that it could have gone only south, said the prime minister, Najib Razak.

Mr. Najib appeared eager to bring closure to the families of the passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, two-thirds of whom are Chinese. The families have grown increasingly angry about the lack of clear information about the plane's fate. The Boeing 777, with 227 passengers and 12 crew members onboard, was headed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared on March 8.

The aircraft's last known position, according to the analysis, "is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites," Mr. Najib said. "It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."

The new analysis of the flight path, the prime minister said, came from Inmarsat, the British company that provided the satellite data, and from Britain's air safety agency. The company had "used a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort," he said.
Wall Street

Western debt-slavery: Half of UK graduates cannot pay back student loans

© AFP Photo / Leon Neal
In a dramatic reassessment of UK student finance, the government estimates around 45 percent of graduates will be unable to pay back their loans. The shortfall could cancel out the profits made by the disputed tripling of tuition fees in 2012.

British Universities Minister David Willetts has said that the amount of graduates who will fail to pay back their student loans has greatly exceeded previous estimates. Before tuition fees were increased threefold in 2012, the government predicted that only 28 percent of loans would ever be paid back. However, in light of projections for the coming years, the government has reassessed this figure and almost doubled it to 45 percent.

This increase could potentially nullify the 10 billion pounds ($16 billion) in profits made by increasing tuition fees to 9,000 pounds ($15,000) a year in 2012. If the amount of students unable to pay back their loans grows to 48.6 percent, economists predict the government will start losing more money.

When the tuition fee hikes came into effect, the Conservative government hailed them as progressive and a way of allowing universities to make the money back they had lost in state funding. Rival party Labour condemned the move as a "tragedy" for a generation of young people, while the National Union of Students called the threefold increase an "outrage." The reform triggered widespread protest across the country.