Society's Child


Collapsed housing market partly to blame for widening US wealth gap

The wealth gap in the US has been widening since the Great Recession despite the 2008 financial crisis destroying billions of dollars in wealth. The recovery saw the richest restore much of their losses - unlike average Americans, researchers found.

The wealthiest 5 percent of Americans had 24 times the wealth of the average household in 2013, up significantly from 16.5 times as much in 2007, AP said, quoting a study by the University of Michigan.

A large part of the explanation for the yawning gap that now separates the rich from everybody else in America is the collapsed housing market, which is exactly what brought the global economy to the edge of the abyss in 2008.

In fact, fewer Americans can even afford to put a roof over their heads: The home ownership rate dropped to 64.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, from a high of 69.2 percent in 2004.

Tumbling from historic highs before the housing bubble burst, US home prices are still in the cellar. In the first quarter of this year, 18.8 percent of homeowners with a mortgage still owed more on their homes than they were worth, according to AP, citing real estate data provider Zillow.

Comment: The housing market is not the only reason that Americans are finding it so difficult to make ends meet. The greed of the wealthy and the ongoing war on terror has added to the burden.
Decline and Fall of the American Empire
Inequality in America worse than it was in Ancient Rome
How the Rich Soaked the Rest of Us: The Astonishing Story of the Last Few Decades is a Massive Redistribution of Wealth, as the Rich have Shifted the Tax Burden

Cell Phone

'Get a warrant' to search cellphones, says unanimous Superme Court Justices

In an emphatic defense of privacy in the digital age, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police generally may not search the cellphones of people they arrest without first getting search warrants.

Cellphones are unlike anything else police may find on someone they arrest, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. They are "not just another technological convenience," he said, but ubiquitous, increasingly powerful computers that contain vast quantities of personal, sensitive information.

"With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life," Roberts declared. So the message to police about what they should do before rummaging through a cellphone's contents following an arrest is simple: "Get a warrant."

The chief justice acknowledged that barring searches would affect law enforcement, but he said: "Privacy comes at a cost."

By ruling as it did, the court chose not to extend earlier decisions from the 1970s - when cellphone technology was not yet available - that allow police to empty a suspect's pockets and examine whatever they find to ensure officers' safety and prevent the destruction of evidence.

The Obama administration and the state of California, defending cellphone searches, said the phones should have no greater protection from a search than anything else police find. But the defendants in the current cases, backed by civil libertarians, librarians and news media groups, argued that cellphones, especially smartphones, can store troves of sensitive personal information.

"By recognizing that the digital revolution has transformed our expectations of privacy, today's decision is itself revolutionary and will help to protect the privacy rights of all Americans," said American Civil Liberties Union legal director Steven Shapiro.

Comment: Supreme Court's verdict on cell phone privacy is in the right direction. Can Supreme court give similar verdict to NSA who is spying on every body?.


The shoe is on the other foot: Man uses drone to record police activity

© AFP Photo / Robert MacPherson
The Los Angeles Police Department is waiting for approval before it begins using a pair of recently acquired unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor events in Southern California, but a local man has already beaten them to the punch.

Forty-two-year-old Daniel Saulmon of Torrance, CA has been using a camera-equipped drone of his own during the last month or so to get a bird's-eye-view of area happenings from high above the ground. Coupled with a passion for photographing police activity, Saulmon's unusual hobby has made him well known among local law enforcement officials.

"If there's police activity in my area that's close by, I generally will go and try to record it and document what I see," Saulmon recently told local news network KTLA.

"I don't want to say the police don't supervise themselves, but in a way there might be a little bit of truth to that," he added.


Suicide: Chairman of China's largest copper producer jumps from hotel

© Unknown
Mr. Jianghong Wei serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Co., Ltd
While news of high-ranking financial executive suicides in the west have become week to week news, the troubling trend has spread to Asia. A string of Chinese officials have killed themselves in recent months, with speculation linking many to a crackdown on graft. However, as SCMP reports, this weekend saw the head of China's largest copper producer 'fell to this death' from a hotel owned by his company with a state-run newspaper claiming the 52-year-old committed suicide (due to work pressures) following corruption allegations. The timing of Wei Jianghong, chairman of state-owned Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group, suicide appears catalyzed by the growing anxiety over the widespread implications of China's rehypothecation commodity-finance scandal.

That leaves one question - what did he know that markets remain ignorant of for now?


Appalling! Accidental shootings kill up to 100 children a year in the US

© John Minchillo/AP
Hundreds of demonstrators, including members of Moms Demand Action on Gun Sense in America marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to call for tougher gun control laws last week.
Substantially higher figure of accidental gun deaths recorded in gun control groups' research than suggested by federal statistics

The tragedy of children killed accidentally by guns in the US is laid bare in new research that shows that as many as 100 boys and girls aged 14 and under are dying each year, substantially more than federal statistics have previously suggested.

Everytown and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America - affiliated groups that campaign for stronger gun laws - have studied the incidents of publicly reported unintentional gun deaths involving children in the period of a year from 15 December 2012 to 14 December 2013. The report exposes a long list of lives cut short as a result of largely preventable calamities.

Like the one that befell two-year-old Sincere Smith in Conway, South Carolina, who was relaxing after a heavy meal of chicken and mac and cheese on Christmas day when he spotted an object on the living room table. It was a .38-caliber handgun that his father had bought two weeks before and had left on the table while he went to make a phone call. Sincere picked it up and fired a single shot through his own chest; he died en route to hospital.


Church volunteer in Tennessee molests little girl while pastor was covering it up to 'follow biblical guidelines'

© Raw Story
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims has asked prosecutors in Tennessee to investigate whether a Baptist minister altered his account of sex abuse by a church volunteer to protect himself from civil liability.

The family of a girl who was molested by a member of First Baptist Church of Bemis sued the church last month for negligence after the church allowed Chad Lutrell to volunteer at Vacation Bible School five years ago, when the abuse took place.

The suit, which seeks $2 million in damages, claimed then-pastor Mark McSwain allowed Lutrell to work with children even though he knew of previous allegations of sexual misconduct.

According to the suit, Lutrell had been seen at church kissing girls between the ages of 6 and 10 on the mouth, and three adult women said he had stalked, threatened, and harassed them.

Comment: Dr. Salter exposed the reality of sexual predators in Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders, Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children. It's a must read for learning how they operate, why so few are caught and how to protect yourself and your children.

See also:
SOTT Talk Radio: Predators Among Us - Interview With Dr. Anna Salter

Stock Up

Majority of Russians support Putin for president in 2018

© Reuters / Alexei Nikolsky / RIA Novosti / Kremlin
People like Putin!
Sixty-six percent of Russian citizens want Vladimir Putin to continue at his presidential post for the next term, the latest opinion poll shows. The respondents especially praised his efforts in foreign policy and in strengthening Russian military.

According to the Public Opinion foundation, two thirds of Russians also claimed that Putin's policies were fully in line with their own interests. The number rose from 36 percent in September 2012 to 66 percent in June this year.

Even more Russians agreed that Putin's work as a president matched the expectations they experienced during the elections two years ago. In addition, 55 percent of those polled hold that during the current term Putin was fulfilling his duties better than during his first and second terms in office.

When asked which of Putin's steps they approved of most, 29 percent of Russian public nominated the accession of Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation, 7 percent mentioned the efforts for political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, 5 percent said it was the successful hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and four percent answered that it was Russian foreign policy in general.

Comment: Putin's approval rating has grown since March, now at 86%. Obama's approval rating? 41%.

Mr. Potato

Minnesota man faces burglary charges after logging into Facebook on victim's computer

© Dakota County Jail
Intern Nicholas Steven Wig from South St. Paul, Minn. is pictured in a booking photo from the Dakota County Jail made on June 19, 2014.
A Minnesota man has become people's exhibit No. 1 for why a life of crime and a social media habit don't mix.

Nick Wig was arrested Thursday after allegedly breaking into a home in Dakota County, south of Minneapolis, authorities said. His undoing, they said, was that he logged into his Facebook account on homeowner James Wood's computer and forgot to log out.

"This is a first case in Dakota County in which a suspected burglar left his Facebook profile on the computer screen of the victim's computer," Monica Jensen, spokesperson for the Dakota County Attorney's Office told ABC News today.

Wood got home Thursday morning and found his front door had been unlocked and an outer screen had been removed from a window of his house, according to the criminal complaint. Wood told authorities that missing items included cash, a checkbook, credit cards, keys and a watch.

He also told police that someone had used his computer to log onto the Facebook page of "Nick Dub," later identified as Nick Wig. On the floor near the computer lay a pile of soaking wet shoes and jeans that did not belong to Wood or his son, Wood told police.

Later that morning, as Wood was driving in the neighborhood, Wood spotted a man on the street that looked like the man in the Facebook page photos and contacted authorities. When officers apprehended Wig, he was wearing a watch that matched the description of the one taken in the burglary, police said. Wig told officers that he was going to give everything back, according to the criminal complaint. As Wig emptied his pockets of car keys and an iPod shuffle, Wood identified both items as belonging to him, authorities said.

Wig later admitted to entering Wood's home and taking the property reported stolen, authorities said. He also admitted logging into his Facebook page using Wood's computer.

Wig has been charged with burglary in the second degree, a felony, authorities said. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in jail and up to $20,000 in fines.


Mass sex-trafficking sting rescues 168, catches 281 pimps

© Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images / AFP
The FBI does something right. Too bad they don't go after the pedophiles in power who get away with murder, literally.
A week-long operation across the US against child sex trafficking has resulted in the rescue of almost 170 children and the arrest of 281 pimps, according to the FBI.

The law enforcement operation represents the latest effort on behalf of the FBI's Innocence Lost program, which since its 2003 creation has resulted in the recovery of some 3,600 children who faced sexual exploitation. In addition to arrests and child recoveries operations have resulted in 1,450 criminal convictions, 14 life in prison terms and the seizure of over $3.1 million.

"These are not children living in some faraway place, far from everyday life," FBI Director James Comey said in announcing the law enforcement sting, which is known as Operation Cross Country.

"These are our children. On our streets. Our truck stops. Our motels. These are America's children."

The massive anti sex-trafficking push was executed via partnerships between the Bureau and other law enforcement, including local and state police. The FBI currently operates 70 Child Exploitation Task Forces throughout the country.

According to Comey, one of the most disturbing dimensions to child sex trafficking is the increasing prevalence of online prostitution. Moreover, many of the children who were rescued during the latest sting were never reported missing.

Comment: People (if we can even call them that) who prey on children are the lowest of the low. It says a lot about our society that crimes such as these take place, not only among the low, 'criminal' class, but also among the criminals masquerading as politicians and leaders of our society. If history teaches us anything, it's that the latter class of criminal will never be exposed, never be brought to justice.


Japanese college women mysteriously pass out on Tokyo street

Over ten female Japanese college students passed out at the same time on a street in Tokyo last weekend.
Students getting drunk and passing out is part of the university experience. But this weekend, something strange and quite possibly sinister happened in Tokyo.

On Twitter and Instagram (via 2ch), photos of a group of young women passed out in the middle of the street circulated online. It's believed that the women are college students at Meiji University and members of the school's tennis club. The university is currently investigating the issue, states website Buzzap.

According to television reports, such as on morning show Tokudane!, over ten students fainted in Shinjuku after a drinking party. The incident was also covered on Excite News. Tokudane! is one of Japan's largest morning shows, and Excite News is a large website. Combined with reporting on the national news tonight, this story is getting mainstream coverage in Japan.

Police arrived on the scene, and online, some thought that the students were passed out drunk. However, as one eye witness told Tokudane!, it was largely females who had passed out on the street. Many of the women were completely incapacitated, leading many online in Japan to wonder if they allegedly had their drinks spiked by the male members attending the drinking party. This is currently internet conjecture.

Comment: If it was merely a case of "excess drinking", as the university states, would all the women in question pass out at the same time on the same street? It looks like something else is going on here, whether drugging or something else entirely.