Society's ChildS

Question

Parachuters near Goldman Sachs building catch NYPD's attention

Mystery Parachuters
© Bloomberg NewsPedestrians walk near Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s headquarters in New York in April.
Police in New York City are investigating an unusual incident that unfolded in the early morning hours on Monday: Two men, dressed in black outfits and wearing helmets, were captured on surveillance video walking near the Goldman Sachs building in Lower Manhattan after apparently parachuting down to the street.

The odd occurrence was announced by New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly at an unrelated news conference. The Commissioner sounded more bemused than alarmed by the caper, saying it did not appear to pose a threat or have a political bend.

Dare devils, perhaps?

"If they came out of an aircraft, it's unknown at this time but they were seen walking with parachutes away from the location," he said. "No banners, no notes were left. Obviously it is something that is under investigation."

The mystery men apparently landed at 3:07 a.m. near the West Street tower of the financial giant and were captured on camera "landing in some way shape or form," Mr. Kelly said. He said investigators are reviewing cameras from the vicinity in the hopes of finding additional footage.

The men apparently walked away from the range of the camera that initially recorded them, and it was not known if they left the scene in a vehicle or on foot. Mr. Kelly said the NYPD was alerted by "security personnel" on Monday.

Bug

Allergic reaction to fire ant bites kills Texas teen football player after attack during game

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© FacebookCameron Espinosa (right) died of an allergic reaction to fire ants on the field
On the same day a New York high school football player succumbed to injuries sustained from an apparent helmet-to-helmet hit, some 1,500 miles to the south, a Texas teen died as the result of an allergic reaction to fire ant bites during a football game on Monday.

Corpus Christi (Texas) Haas Middle School student Cameron Espinosa, 13, was bitten while warming up at halftime of a football game, tried to wash away the ants with a water bottle on the sidelines, but lost consciousness, according to an Associated Press report.

The eighth-grader spent five days at nearby Driscoll Children's Hospital in a medically induced coma to curb the swelling in his brain before his death, KHOU.com reported.

Eye 1

Local supermarkets use NSA-style spying on their own customers

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© Jonathan Edwards
Many of us have done it. The checker is ringing up your groceries and lets you know that you could save two whole bucks if you sign up for one of the store's rip roaring super saver bonanza cards. All you have to do to get a buy-one-get-one-free package of cream cheese or toilet paper is give their database all of your personal contact information. Surely it's nothing more than a harmless way for the supermarket to send you extra coupons in the mail, right?

Wrong. Loyalty cards are about way more than just making you feel special by saving you a few measly cents off your bill.

According to a report by The Guardian, stores use these Big Brother-esque card programs to build sophisticated databases on their customers which include everything from your demographics to how much you spend and how often you shop. This data is then analyzed National Security Administration-style and used to target and entice you based on what you might consider buying and when.

Che Guevara

Veterans 'break' into WWII memorial during shutdown

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© TheBlaze / Oliver DarcyThe World War II memorial was closed to the public on Tuesday as a result of the government shutdown.
Several Republican members of Congress removed barricades from the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Monday and escorted veterans onto the grounds that were legally closed because of the government shutdown.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told reporters at the scene she was going for a morning walk when she heard that World War II veterans were being stopped from entering their own memorial.

"I ran over as quick as I could ... and I couldn't believe my eyes," Bachmann said. "There were all these veterans standing here behind police tape and they are prevented from going in to see the memorial."


"About maybe eight to 12 of us members, one member had a scissor cut the tape and then we just escorted the veterans in," she continued. "You should have seen these veterans. They had smiles from ear to ear. They were thrilled."

National Parks Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said she was unsure how the government would deal with situation going forward.

"We are seeking guidance," Johnson told reporters at the scene.

Bizarro Earth

Fired for giving a kid a 66 cent cookie!

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Organizers say the cookie was just an excuse to target a Subway worker who had helped lead fast food strikes

A worker in Seattle at the sandwich chain Subway says his boss told him he was being fired for giving a 66 cent cookie to a three year-old. Labor activists allege the "cookie excuse" was actually a cover for management's real motivation: forcing out an activist employee who helped bring the recent national wave of fast food strikes to Seattle.

"I did give the free cookie," the fired worker, Carlos Hernandez, told Salon. "But I know that's not the reason." Hernandez said he'd frequently given free cookies to children in the store before, and a manager had previously congratulated him on doing so because it represented "very good customer service." Hernandez said he usually paid the 66 cents for those cookies out of his own pocket, but that on the day in question he forgot to because there was a long line of customers in the store. "I love kids," said Hernandez. "I believe that kids are the most honest people in the world."

"They're definitely trying to set an example," said Jessica Hendricks, a former Subway worker who's now an activist with the labor-community coalition Good Jobs Seattle. "It wouldn't be the first time the company used scare tactics against us in order to make us do exactly what they wanted."

Bulb

Goodwill drops theft charges against teen who gave customer discounts

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© Collier County Sheriff's Office
A Goodwill store in Naples, Fla., reversed course today and decided to drop grand theft charges against a teen employee who had given discounts to poor customers.

The decision came four days after the store had fired Andrew Anderson, 19, and had him arrested for granting discounts that totaled $4,000. As recently as today, the store defended its actions saying the money could have been better used on Goodwill's other charitable projects.

Goodwill contacted ABC News this afternoon to say that the organization was dropping charges against Anderson.

"After completing our internal investigation we have determined that the individual's actions were not for personal gain, but rather for the benefit of others," the statement read.

Cardboard Box

Japan's budget-conscious send dead into space, as funeral costs hits $27K

Talk about a send-off. With burial costs averaging almost $30,000, Japan's budget-conscious and cash-strapped are turning to space as a funeral option for their loved ones.

For the comparatively low-cost of $1,990, bereaved families can send their cremated deceased to circle the earth in a capsule aboard a space craft for several months. Bloomberg reported they can follow the craft's journey via a mobile telephone app. And just like a meteorite, their loved ones' remains would disintegrate in fire during the return journey through the earth's atmosphere - "blazing as a shooting star," the company that hosts the ceremony promised.

Moreover, the family members are provided a "space-grade" aluminum capsule that contains a tiny gram of their loved one's remains as a keepsake, said Benjamin Joffe, a company spokesman.

The space craft will carry up to 400 capsules of cremated remains per trip - keeping the cost low for Japanese families struggling with funeral costs, Bloomberg reported.

Japan is one of the world's fastest-growing populations, with a large elderly segment. Japan Institute of Life Insurance says it costs on average $27,400 to rent a burial plot and purchase a tomb stone.

Arrow Down

Alarm over children being sexually exploited in Northern Ireland care homes was raised seven years ago

Edwin Poots
© Belfast Telegraph, UKHealth Minister Edwin Poots.
Reports sounding alarm bells over the sexual exploitation of children in care homes in Northern Ireland date back seven years, the Assembly has been told.

The chair of Stormont's health committee, Maeve McLaughlin, said it was "shocking" that reports in 2006 pre-dated the recent Barnardo's report which was itself published in 2011. Her comments came as Assembly parties united yesterday to voice concern over the recent revelations and backed an inquiry involving Health Minister Edwin Poots and Justice Minister David Ford into claims that 22 teenagers missing from children's homes were sexually exploited.

Referring to a Social Services Inspectorate report called 'Our Children And Young People: Our Shared Responsibility', she said: "Although the vulnerable nature of young people involved in sexual exploitation is shocking, it is just as shocking that reports date back to 2006 in which organisations and agencies were recommended and mandated to respond to the abuse of children.

"That, in anybody's terms, is wrong and has failed children."

The Sinn Fein MLA also welcomed what she called Mr Poots' change of heart moving from the appointment of an independent expert to reviewing practices to establishing an independent expert-led inquiry - but said a number of questions still need to be answered.

"An inquiry with proper independence, powers to investigate and accountability mechanisms is required (and) if departments have failed after they have been mandated to act, they will need to be accountable," she said.

Chart Pie

Bad government policy has created the worst inequality on record ... and it's destroying our economy

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It's Not an Accident ... It's Policy

America is experiencing unprecedented inequality. And a who's who of prominent economists (and investors) say that inequality is hurting the economy.

Defenders of the status quo pretend that this inequality is something outside of our control ... like a force of nature. They argue that it's due to technological innovation or something else outside of policy-makers' control.

In reality, inequality is rising due to bad policy.

Nobel prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz said this month:
Inequality is not inevitable. It is not ... like the weather, something that just happens to us. It is not the result of the laws of nature or the laws of economics. Rather, it is something that we create, by our policies, by what we do.

We created this inequality - chose it, really - with [bad] laws ...
Gaming the System to Pillage and Loot

The world's top economic leaders have said for years that inequality is spiraling out of control and needs to be reduced. Why is inequality soaring even though world economic leaders have talked for years about the urgent need to reduce it?

Because they're saying one thing but doing something very different. And both mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans are using smoke and mirrors to hide what's really going on.

Stop

'Rambo of the Taiga' busted in Siberia after 4 months on the run

A former paratrooper jailed for butchering Central Asian migrant workers in a gruesome vendetta was detained Monday after spending four months on the run from a maximum security prison in eastern Siberia, officials said.

Though Vladimir Avdeyev was nicknamed "Rambo of the Taiga" by Russian media, the 38-year-old was overtaken too fast to offer any resistance, the Irkutsk Region branch of the Federal Prison Service said on its website.

Avdeyev said he spent the entire time in the forest, had no contact with other people and subsided on whatever nourishment he could forage in the wilderness, the region's police said. The Komsomolskaya Pravda daily said he might have been turned in to police by local foresters for whom he worked as a logger.