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Mon, 18 Oct 2021
The World for People who Think

Society's Child


Report: 250 million school age kids can't read

kids can't read
© Reuters
Kurdish students sit in their classroom in the town of Rumeilan, near the Syrian/Iraqi border, December 10, 2013
At least 250 million of the world's 650 million primary school age children are unable to read, write or do basic mathematics, according to a report Wednesday commissioned by the U.N. education agency.

The report found that 130 million are in primary school but have not achieved the minimum benchmarks for learning, and almost 120 million have spent little or no time in a classroom including 57 million youngsters who are not attending school.

The independent research team that wrote the report for UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, calculated that the cost of 250 million children around the world not learning translates to a loss for governments of around $129 billion annually.


Loskarn's mother releases open letter he wrote before committing suicide

© Tom Williams
Sen. Lamar Alexander’s former chief of staff Jesse Ryan Loskarn
The former chief of staff to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) who committed suicide left behind an open letter where he says he was drawn to child pornography because he was abused as a child.

Jesse Ryan Loskarn, 35, hanged himself in his parents' basement in Sykesville, Md., last week, just over a month after he was arrested on child pornography charges.

His mother, Gay Loskarn, posted a letter from him online Monday where he apologizes to the people he hurt and talks about his "deepest, darkest secret."

Stock Down

Senate Farm Bill sees price controls introduced in desperate move to prevent U.S. food prices from skyrocketing

Farmers expressed relief this week that a long fight over federal dairy subsidies had ended with an overhaul that most thought would be fair and effective in keeping farms from going under during hard times.

Along with funding for food stamps, the overhaul was a key stumbling block that prevented passage last year of a new, five-year farm bill. The House approved compromise legislation Wednesday, and a Senate vote is expected soon.

The dairy fight largely centered on a provision that sought to limit milk production when there was excess. Some dairy farmers said they needed a way to balance supply and demand so they could get a reasonable price for milk and stay in business.

But opponents - including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner - said it worked against a free market. Wisconsin cheesemakers, the Greek yogurt industry in New York and other dairy processors said the provision would hamper their ability to get the milk they need to grow their businesses.

The issue was unlikely to affect consumer prices, but some farm groups accused processors of wanting to keep milk prices low for their own gain.

Comment: This doesn't just "work against a free market" - it completely contradicts the economic diktats the U.S. has imposed on the rest of the world for the last 50-some years!
"Do as we say, not as we do!"

Heart - Black

Public inquiry in north of Ireland reveals institutionalized child torture

Christine Smith
© Paul Faith/PA
Christine Smith QC, senior counsel for the historic institutional abuse inquiry
Counsel outlines allegations made by ex-residents of Nazareth House and St Joseph's Home, run by Sisters of Nazareth nuns

Children were forced to eat their own vomit and bathe in disinfectant at residential care homes run by nuns, the UK's largest public inquiry into institutional child abuse was told on Monday.

During evidence on the behaviour of nuns from the Sisters of Nazareth order at two Catholic church-run children's homes in Derry, the inquiry heard that children were beaten for bedwetting and had soiled sheets placed on their heads to humiliate them.

Comment: The excuses offered by the nuns as to why they treated the children in their care so horribly amounts to adding insult to injury. There are infinite numbers of ways to discipline children without resorting to abuse. The parties responsible for inflicting so much pain for so long to so many children can't but be sadists who take pleasure in others' pain.

Blue Planet

Doctor walks six miles in snow to perform life-saving brain surgery at Trinity Medical Center

© Joe Songer
In this file photo from 2005, Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw performs back surgery at Baptist Montclair, now Trinity Medical Center.
Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw was at Brookwood Medical Center Tuesday morning when he was needed for emergency brain surgery at Trinity Medical Center.

The problem was the sudden snowstorm had locked down traffic, and the neurosurgeon didn't get farther than a few blocks.

"The cell service was bad so we were fading in and out," said Steve Davis, charge nurse in the neuro intensive care unit at Trinity. "At one point, I heard him say, 'I'm walking.'"

Davis had alerted authorities, and they were looking for him. There were supposed sightings, but no one could find him.


Sex traffickers targeted in countdown to Super Bowl XLVIII

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), cites numbers from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that claim 10,000 women and girls were trafficked to Miami for the 2010 Super Bowl.

© Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Melysa Sperber (center) moderates a congressional briefing with survivors of human trafficking to discuss solutions Monday. Lawmakers and advocacy groups used the three-hour hearing to shine a spotlight on sex trafficking during major national and international sporting events.
Beyond the bright lights of this week's Super Bowl parties in New York and New Jersey, sex trafficking will flourish in the shadows, Congress was told Monday.

"In less than a week, New Jersey will be hosting the Super Bowl, and along with welcoming enthusiastic fans, the state also is preparing for a likely influx of both domestic and international traffickers," Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) said at a House hearing.

"We know from the past, any sports venue - especially the Super Bowl - acts as a sex-trafficking magnet."

Lawmakers and advocacy groups used the three-hour hearing to shine a spotlight on sex trafficking during major national and international sporting events.

The trafficking is defined as inducing someone to have sex for money through fraud or coercion.

Comment: The federal government has estimated that at least 100,000 minors every year are sold for sex in the U.S. The men who purchase and pimp them are rarely punished. Instead, the most common reaction is to punish these victims. For more information see:

Give restitution to victims of child pornography, but also recognize all child victims of sexual exploitation


Give restitution to victims of child pornography, but also recognize all child victims of sexual exploitation


Society has made jail the only safe place for vulnerable kids.
The Supreme Court this week heard arguments in Paroline v. United States about restitution for victims of child pornography. This case reflects the recent awareness among lawmakers, courts and the media about sexual exploitation. This is a welcome development. But a significant group of child victims remains unrecognized as such -- children in the commercial sex industry.

The federal government has estimated that at least 100,000 minors every year are sold for sex in the U.S. The men who purchase and pimp them are rarely punished. And little is done to prevent this epidemic. Run-away shelters, safe housing and services for these children are perennially underfunded.

Instead, the most common reaction is to punish these victims. In almost every state, trafficked minors are routinely arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated for prostitution or related charges. Many of them are very young, entering "the life" at an average age of 11 to 14 years old. The evidence is clear that these children are extremely vulnerable, with over half of them having experienced sexual or physical abuse, and many of them taking to the streets to escape dysfunctional families. Experts estimate that, once he or she has run away, a young person will be approached within 48 to 72 hours to engage in prostitution. Many of them, with no safe place to sleep and no money to buy food, have no other choice.

Bizarro Earth

Tip of the iceberg: Human trafficking in one graphic

© Larry Fink
A photographer's representation of a typical scene at one of the motels in Central Connecticut used for sex trafficking.
From the World Economic Forum to the approaching Super Bowl to the current advocacy month, awareness surrounding human trafficking is swelling.

To coincide with National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which lasts through January, UNICEF has tackled the subject with a dynamic infographic. And it paints a pretty grim picture.

The graphic reveals that 21 million people are victims of forced labor and other forms of exploitation each year.

"The issue with slavery is that it is everywhere," Andrew Forrest, chairman and founder of Fortescue Metals Group, told HuffPost Live on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Sadly, the most disturbing revelation from the infographic might be that there's a surprising lack of accountability and prosecution for those who perpetrate it.

In 2012, there were only 4,746 trafficking convictions worldwide. This number seems even more alarming when considering that of the estimated 21 million individuals currently being trafficked, 5.5 million of them are children.

In an op-ed for the Guardian on Monday, Ivy Suriyopas, the director of the Anti-Trafficking Initiative at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, writes that too many laws criminalize victims instead of holding the traffickers themselves accountable.


'Vampire' banking as practiced in Ireland

Royal Bank of Scotland
© Desconocido
Small businesses from Bath to Bradford are having their lifeblood sucked out by "vampire" banking practices, the author of a report alleging unscrupulous behaviour by Royal Bank of Scotland has told British MPs.

Lawrence Tomlinson gave evidence to the Treasury Select Committee about the "shady" behaviour detailed in his report, which accuses the state-backed lender of driving firms to collapse in order to profit from their property assets.

Mr Tomlinson claimed viable businesses were placed into the hands of the bank's turnaround division, the Global Restructuring Group (GRG), only to find it was in effect a debt collection unit stripping their assets.

"They trust them all the way down the line. Usually by the time they realise what's going on, it's too late," said Mr Tomlinson, who is entrepreneur in residence at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Mr Tomlinson said he was frustrated at the widespread belief that banks have been helping to keep some "zombie" firms alive and said instead it was small firms that had been the victims of "vampire" practices by being hit with heavy charges.

"They are kept in GRG and as soon as they get any cash to invest and grow it is just taken away," he told MPs. "We have seen people's charges being exactly the amount of profit they have made."

Better Earth

10-year-old Michigan boy saves 80-year-old woman by lucky hunch

Howell - Saturday evening, 10-year-old Danny DiPietro of Howell, Michigan became a local hero when he spotted something peculiar in an open garage on the way home from a hockey game.

As his dad drove the young boy home, he looked through the side window and noticed something moving. At a passing glance, he thought it was a dog accidentally left outside by its owners.

"It was late at night and super cold out and their garage was open and something just didn't feel right," said Danny.

Unable to get the image out of his mind, when he got home he asked his mother Dawn if she could check it out. At first, Dawn was skeptical and tried to assure Danny that the dog was fine and that nobody would leave their dog outside in such severe cold.