Society's ChildS

Heart - Black

US: Superbowl a Magnet for Under-age Sex Trade

© Brian Snyder / ReutersFlight attendants deliver educational materials about spotting sex-trafficking to a gate at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas, on Monday ahead of NFL football's Super Bowl XLV to be played Sunday.
Pimps will traffic thousands of under-age prostitutes to Texas for Sunday's Super Bowl, hoping to do business with men arriving for the big game with money to burn, child rights advocates said.

As the country's largest sporting event, the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will make the Dallas-Fort Worth area a magnet for business of all kinds.

That includes the multimillion dollar, under-age sex industry, said activists and law enforcement officials working to combat what they say is an annual spike in trafficking of under-age girls ahead of the Super Bowl.

"The Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told a trafficking prevention meeting in January.

Girls who enter the grim trade face a life of harsh treatment and danger, according to a Dallas police report in 2010. Few who emerge are willing to speak about it. Tina Frundt, 36, is an exception.

Now married and living in Washington D.C., Frundt was lured into sex work at 14 after she fell for a 24-year-old who invited her to leave home in 1989 and join his "family" in Cleveland, Ohio.

That family consisted of the man and three girls living in a motel. When Frundt declined on the first night to have sex with her boyfriend's friends they raped her.

"I was angry with myself for not listening to him, so the next night when he sent me out on the street and told me ... (to earn $500) I listened," she said in a telephone interview.

Frundt paced the streets for hours and finally got into a client's car.

When she came home in the morning with just $50, her pimp beat her in front of the other girls to teach them all a lesson and sent her back onto the street the next night with the warning not to return until she had reached the quota.

The scenario was repeated night after night as Frundt's pimp moved his stable across the Midwest. Any sign of rebellion led to further beatings. Escape seemed out of the question.

"I was a teen-ager in a strange town with no money and no place to go," she said. She finally escaped by getting arrested.

Heart - Black

Hundreds have died of dehydration in UK care homes

Neglect levels in Britain's care homes were described as "scandalous" today after it emerged that more than 650 elderly residents have died of dehydration in the past five years.

Figures also revealed that 157 vulnerable pensioners died of malnutrition in the same period, while nearly 2,000 passed away from superbugs Clostridium difficile and MRSA.

It is feared the totals may be higher because care home residents who die in hospital are not included in the statistics.


Egyptians form makeshift militias to stop looters

Egyptian soldiers Cairo
© Ahmed Khaled/EPAEgyptian soldiers with armoured vehicles patrol near the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but they are mostly absent away from the main roads.
As police disappear from residential streets, communities take law into their own hands against armed gangs

The security of most neighbourhoods in Egypt lay in the hands of its citizens last night, as residents responded to the disappearance of the police force by setting up makeshift barricades and beginning local patrols to protect themselves from violence.

In extraordinary scenes repeated across the country, communities formed spontaneous militias armed with sticks, knives and guns, and worked through the night to man roadblocks and maintain order on the streets, from which the government security forces are now almost entirely absent. The army remains in place on major highways, squares and public buildings - but away from main roads local residents were left to defend their families and property from looters.

As reports filtered in of gangs attempting to rob and terrorise neighbourhoods in different quarters of the capital, some pointed the finger at escaped prisoners and opportunistic criminals, though many more claimed that groups of policemen, now wearing civilian clothing, were behind the attacks. There were claims that some of those captured by vigilantes were found with police IDs.

Cowboy Hat

91,000 Gulf oil spill claims, just 1 final payment

BP's compensation fund for Gulf oil spill victims has issued a final settlement payment to just one of the thousands of people and businesses waiting for checks, records show, and that $10 million payout went to a company after the oil giant intervened on its behalf.

BP won't identify the business, citing confidentiality, but acknowledges it lobbied for the settlement. The amount far exceeds smaller stopgap payments that some individuals and businesses have received while they wait for their own final settlements.

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility was set up in August to independently administer BP's $20 billion compensation fund in the aftermath of its April 20 oil well blowout off Louisiana.

As of this weekend, roughly 91,000 people and businesses had filed for final settlements, but the fund's administrator, Washington lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, has said those checks won't start rolling out until February at the earliest. Thousands of people have received some money to tide them over until a final settlement amount is offered, but only one business listed as paid on the facility's website has so far received a check.


Facebook, Twitter, and the Arab Revolutions

The dictator of Tunisia was overthrown in less than one month after being in power for 23 years. There is no question about how opponents of his regime were able to topple it. Two words describe it: Facebook, Twitter. These two social networking sites enabled protesters to take to the streets, organize the opposition, recruit new protesters, and overcome the police force and the military.

There is no question that if the government had chosen to use machine guns to cut down the protesters, it probably would have succeeded in suppressing the revolt. If it had combined machine guns with switching off the Internet, it would have been able to cut the protest down, both literally and digitally. But to do that, the regime would have had to act extremely fast, and it would have risked coming under international condemnation. It would also have created a permanent opposition, ready to revolt again.

The opposition forces are now connected, yet not organized. This has never happened before in recorded history. The masses can communicate with like-minded people for the price of a computer and an Internet connection.

In the good old days of the Soviet Union in the 1960s, the leaders would have applied that degree of force without a moment's hesitation. But this is not the era of the Soviet Union. We are living in a digital age, and almost nothing can be concealed from the public for very long. If a tyrant is weak, this will become common knowledge. There are few Goliaths and a lot of Davids online.


200GB to 25GB: Canada gets first, bitter dose of metered Internet

Metered Internet usage (also called "Usage-Based Billing") is coming to Canada, and it's going to cost Internet users. While an advance guard of Canadians are expressing creative outrage at the prospect of having to pay inflated prices for Internet use charged by the gigabyte, the consequences probably haven't set in for most consumers. Now, however, independent Canadian ISPs are publishing their revised data plans, and they aren't pretty.

"Like our customers, and Canadian internet users everywhere, we are not happy with this new development," wrote the Ontario-based indie ISP TekSavvy in a recent e-mail message to its subscribers.


Winter Storm: Roof collapses at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Catoosa

Atoosa, Oklahoma - Cherokee officials confirm that a portion of the roof at Hard Rock Casino Tulsa has been damaged by the winter storm.

There were no injuries to guests or staff.

Casino officials closed the damaged portion of the facility.

CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses David Stewart has released the following statement:

"The safety of our guests is a top priority for us, and we're so glad that no one was hurt."

Monte Haddox was in the casino at the time of the collapse.

He says he noticed water on the floor and started to take a picture when he noticed the ceiling had come down.

Haddox says he was told he was in an "unsafe area" and was quickly ushered out of the room, but not before he was able to snap this picture.

He says he was told by a casino employee that the weight of the snow caused the ceiling to give out.

Bizarro Earth

Total War: Agri-business style

My father passed this farm down to me.

Back then, farming used to be affordable.

Since the invasion, prices have skyrocketed.

I don't know why.
So many farmers have stopped farming - they can't afford to any more.

Now, the price of fertilizers is high.

And seeds have become five times more expensive.

With all the imported crops here now, farming doesn't even break even.

I've been working here for 22 years.

Before the invasion, most of the produce came from Iraq.

It used to be 100% Iraq. We imported less than 25 of our fruits and vegetables.

We only imported apples bananas and apples. That's it.

There is very little Iraqi produce here. Less than 25% of the produce here is Iraqi.

Farmers tells us that prices don't even cover their costs.


Israel steps into void left by US by arming Egyptian forces against protesters

Reports say Israel has sent crowd dispersal weapons to the Egyptian regime to curb massive protests against President Hosni Mubarak's 30 years of authoritarian rule.

The International Network for Rights and Development said that three Israeli planes landed at Cairo's Mina International Airport on Saturday, carrying equipment for use in dispersing and suppressing large crowds, a Press TV correspondent reported.

According to the report, Egyptian security forces received the cargo on three Israeli planes, which were allegedly carrying a large supply of internationally proscribed gas to disperse crowds.

Egyptians have taken to the streets across the country for eight days running, demanding that Mubarak step down.

The uprising has prompted Mubarak to appoint his first-ever vice president and a new prime minister in a desperate attempt to retain power.


Al Jazeera English Blacked Out Across Most Of U.S.

Canadian television viewers looking for the most thorough and in-depth coverage of the uprising in Egypt have the option of tuning into Al Jazeera English, whose on-the-ground coverage of the turmoil is unmatched by any other outlet. American viewers, meanwhile, have little choice but to wait until one of the U.S. cable-company-approved networks broadcasts footage from AJE, which the company makes publicly available. What they can't do is watch the network directly.

Other than in a handful of pockets across the U.S. - including Ohio, Vermont and Washington, D.C. - cable carriers do not give viewers the choice of watching Al Jazeera. That corporate censorship comes as American diplomats harshly criticize the Egyptian government for blocking Internet communication inside the country and as Egypt attempts to block Al Jazeera from broadcasting.

The result of the Al Jazeera English blackout in the United States has been a surge in traffic to the media outlet's website, where footage can be seen streaming live. The last 24 hours have seen a two-and-a-half thousand percent increase in web traffic, Tony Burman, head of North American strategies for Al Jazeera English, told HuffPost. Sixty percent of that traffic, he said, has come from the United States.