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Sherlock

Wyclef Jean faces criminal probe over Haiti charity

Rapper will have to explain how fund backed by celebrities managed to burn through $16m in two years.


Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean, the hip-hop artist and former candidate for the presidency of Haiti, said yesterday he was "committed to ensuring that things are made right" amid news of a criminal investigation into the finances of his personal charity.

The musician's lawyer, Avi Schick, confirmed that Jean's Haitian aid organisation, Yele, went out of business in August, leaving a trail of legal disputes and unpaid debts. Regulators in the US, where it was registered, are now attempting to establish how the non-profit organisation burned through $16m (£10m) in public donations in just over two years.

A report in yesterday's New York Times alleged that much of the money was spent on administration, public relations and consultants, or was funnelled to outside businesses owned by friends and relations of Jean. In one mysterious transaction, detailed in Yele's tax returns, the singer's brother-in-law was given $600,000 for helping with the "rebuilding of Haiti".

In 2010, the charity devoted more than half of its $9m budget to travel, staff salaries, consultant fees and expenses related to its property portfolio, the newspaper revealed. It spent $37,000 to rent space at a Manhattan recording studio owned by Jean, and another $375,000 went on "landscaping" for its offices.

Attention

Jimmy Savile Child Sex Abuse Scandal: British government could face civil claims

© The Mirror
Jimmy Saville in 1982
Department of Health could be sued directly over claims that star abused patients when volunteering at Broadmoor hospital


The government has been dragged into the Jimmy Savile scandal after it emerged that the Department of Health could be sued directly over claims the star abused patients when he was a volunteer at Broadmoor hospital in the 1970s and 1980s.

A lawyer acting for victims preparing legal action against Stoke Mandeville hospital and the BBC said it was possible the government could face civil claims as it was directly responsible for the running of the Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital in that time.

Savile was a volunteer for more than four decades at the hospital, had keys to its secure unit and at one point in 1988 was appointed to lead a "taskforce" overseeing the management of the hospital after its management board was dismissed by the then health secretary, Kenneth Clarke.

Pills

Psychiatric Drugs and War: A suicide mission

© Kelly Patricia O’Meara
The first in a four-part series by investigative journalist Kelly Patricia O'Meara written for the Citizens Commission on Human Rights exploring the epidemic of military suicides and the correlation to dramatic increases in psychiatric drug prescriptions to treat the emotional scars of battle.

Imagine for a moment that a soldier is ordered to proceed through a clearly identified mine field, having received assurance from his commanding officer that it's okay to proceed because the odds are not everyone is blown to bits. Most would consider this nothing short of a suicide mission.

The strained and war-weary men and women serving in the military today, on or off the battlefield, are faced with the equivalent of such a scenario when it comes to treating their emotional scars. Anxiety, sleeplessness, nightmares, stress and depression is affecting the troops serving in America's longest war no less than those who've served in previous wars.

Gold Coins

Bill Shock: Customer charged $14,766,481,895,641,556.00

A Frenchwoman who received a telephone bill for an amount equivalent to nearly 6000 times the country's annual economic output has had the real amount she owed waived - after finally convincing the company they must have made a mistake.

Solenne San Jose, from Pessac in the Bordeaux region of southwestern France, could not believe her eyes when she opened the bill to discover she was being asked to pay €11,721,000,000,000,000 ($14,766,481,895,641,556.00) to close her account.

"There were so many zeroes I couldn't even work out how much it was," she said.

Ms San Jose's alarm mounted when operators at Bouygues Telecom told her they could not amend the computer-generated statement or stop the balance from being debited from her bank account.

Heart - Black

Japan's disturbing child porn addiction

© Alamy
A sex shop in the Kabukicho red light area of Tokyo
A nation that openly sexualises youngsters has become the world hub for a dark, booming industry. Now police have decided to tackle the culture of abuse.

It was a shocking find: crudely made DVDs with images of grown men having sex with children as young as 12. Until this year, the men who bought those images faced little more than a slap on the wrist. But police in Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, decided for the first time during the summer to pursue criminal charges against three male customers in a country widely seen as much too lenient on child pornography.

The police campaign is largely the work of Kyoto's prefectural Governor, Keiji Yamada. During his fight for office two years ago, Mr Yamada pledged to roll out an ordinance banning the buying and possession of child porn - still legal under Japanese law, unless there is proven intent to sell or distribute. Even if the makers are arrested, the images circulate for years on the internet and in secondary markets.

Pistol

A second Greek man has been found dead since the emergence of 'The Lagarde List'

Image
© flickr / MEDEF
Christine Lagarde
The so-called "Lagarde List" - the name given by the Greek press to a list containing 1,991 names of wealthy, Swiss-bank-account-possessing Greeks who are being investigated for corruption and tax evasion - is causing a major stir in Greece right now.

Since Friday, two men suspected to be on the list have turned up dead in apparent suicides.

Here is what has happened in the past few days.

Last Tuesday, October 3, the "Lagarde List" was passed to Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras from PASOK party leader and former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos.

Apparently, it had been "missing," according to a Financial Times article from a few days prior, and current finance minister Yannis Stournaras had vowed to track it too.

Bug

Zombie bees today -- Are zombie people next?

© Unknown
Sounds like a science fiction horror story, but it is what is happening. Today, I heard about Zombie Bees being found now in Washington State, and a new swarm sighted in British Columbia. What?

It is thought these bees are infected with a parasitic fly causing them to erratically fly at night until death. An adult fly infects the bees by injecting eggs into the bee's body. The bee is eaten from the inside as the maggots hatch. Zombie bees have been confirmed in Oregon, Washington state, California, South Dakota, British Columbia, and were first discovered in 2008.1 There's even a website called Zombeewatch.org.

The 'colony collapse disorder' that is also killing bees might be related, but it is not known yet. Bees are vital for pollination, and sustainable agriculture. It is thought that pesticides might play a role in the declining bee population.2 According to Steve Sheppard, Washington State University chairman of the entomology department, his research has shown that chemical accumulation shortens the insect's lives. Pesticides once again may be creating more damage than intended.

Arrow Down

Mother reunited with baby stolen from womb

© Medical Daily
A young mother who had her unborn child stolen from her womb has now been reunited with her baby.

Brazilian Odete Barreto, 22, was 37 weeks pregnant when her friend, Daiana dos Santos, 21, lured her to her house with the promise of free baby clothes. However, once Barreto was inside the house, Santos knocked her out by hitting her over the head with a wooden plank and then used a razor blade to slice open Barreto's belly before tearing out the baby and leaving the mother for dead.

Santos took the baby into the street and claimed that it was hers. Shocked neighbors had rushed inside the house and found Barreto in a pool of blood and frantically called emergency services. She was then rushed to the hospital where she stayed for 15 days in intensive care in Manaus, Brazil.

Authorities said that Santos became desperate when doctors told her on September 27 that she wasn't pregnant as she had believed. Santos had met Barreto at the same health clinic where she had been given the bad news and convinced her victim to come back to her house.

"Doctors told her that she wasn't pregnant but that her bump was actually a myoma," Police Chief Adriano Feliz said, according to The Sun. Santos became hysterical and wanted to get a child any way she could.

"She was terrified that her husband would leave her when he discovered she wasn't expecting after all," Feliz said.

Barreto saw her baby for the first time on Wednesday when they were both released from the hospital and Santos is now in isolation in Manaus' Anisio Jobin women's prison. Santos is being charged with attempted murder.

Black Magic

Zimbabwe: Govt will not protect people who use witchcraft

© Clerical Whispers
Government will not protect people who use witchcraft and other supernatural powers to harm others, a Cabinet Minister has said. Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa said any person who could provide evidence to show that one was a witch could escape criminal prosecution.

The minister said this yesterday in the Senate while responding to inquiries from Mutasa-Nyanga Senator Patrick Chitaka (MDC-T) who had asked why the Government was not repealing the Witchcraft and Suppression Act considering that the practice was rampant in the African culture.

The question was posed when Minister Chinamasa was steering for the ratification of a Swakopmund Protocol that seeks to protect traditional knowledge and medicine.

The minister said the Witchcraft and Suppression Act was repealed a long time ago and replaced by the Criminal Codification and Reform Act.

"Clearly if you point out that someone was a witch, it is defamatory.

"But if you can prove it that someone was found with a human hand that is enough proof," he said.

"If you can open a grave and eat its contents, that's enough proof."

Minister Chinamasa said witchcraft allegations have in the past divided families.

Hardworking and wealthier families, he said, have usually been the target of such allegations.

The usual allegations, he said, were that these wealthier families were using poor families to work in their fields at night.

"If you can prove that, then it is witchcraft.

Heart - Black

America's official child abuse: Kids in jail routinely subjected to solitary confinement

© Vincent O'Byrne/Alamy
One teen who participated in the Human Rights watch report wrote that being in isolation felt like 'a slow death from the inside out'.
Thousands of teenagers, some as young as 14 or 15, are routinely subjected by US prisons to this psychological torture

Molly J said of her time in solitary confinement:
"[I felt] doomed, like I was being banished ... Like you have the plague or that you are the worst thing on earth. Like you are set apart [from] everything else. I guess [I wanted to] feel like I was part of the human race - not like some animal."
Molly was just 16 years old when she was placed in isolation in an adult jail in Michigan. She described her cell as being "a box":
"There was a bed - the slab. It was concrete ... There was a stainless steel toilet/sink combo ... The door was solid, without a food slot or window ... There was no window at all."
Molly remained in solitary for several months, locked down alone in her cell for at least 22 hours a day.

No other nation in the developed world routinely tortures its children in this manner. And torture is indeed the word brought to mind by a shocking report released today by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. Growing Up Locked Down documents, for the first time, the widespread use of solitary confinement on youth under the age of 18 in prisons and jails across the country, and the deep and permanent harm it causes to kids caught up in the adult criminal justice system.

Comment: Yet nothing will happen - polls show that a majority of the American public now accept and support the use of torture. A society dehumanized to such a point, cheered on by authoritarians and their followers, will willingly accept measures that inflict pain and suffering on the 'others' without giving it a second thought.

Murder by drone without trail or the need to produce any evidence, routine killing of civilians as 'acceptable losses', isolation and torture of children at home, and the highest prison population anywhere on the planet. All are accepted without a word of protest from the majority in the U.S.