Society's ChildS


Chris Christie slams Congress for not doing their job

Chris Christie
© Mel Evans/Associated PressNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering in Camden, N.J.
The compromise-friendly New Jersey governor tells Lloyd Grove he thinks Washington - including his own party - has failed at its only job: keep the government running.

"It's ridiculous," Chris Christie said.

New Jersey's blunt-spoken, bipartisanly-inclined Republican governor was discussing the ongoing federal shutdown and debt ceiling crisis plaguing the nation's capital. "You get hired to do a job. Do your job!" he said. "There are too many people down here who spend all their time pontificating rather than working. And that applies to both parties. I don't have patience for that."

The 51-year-old Christie - who many hope will launch a presidential campaign once he gets past what is widely expected to be an easy reelection on Nov. 5 - was making a rare visit to Washington, D.C. Technically, however, he was in the sovereign nation of Italy, having been selected to receive a Points of Light voluntarism award during a black-tie dinner Friday at the Italian Embassy. "My mother" - the late Sondra Grasso, a descendant of Sicilians and a Democrat to boot - "would always be happy to have me spend any time in Italy," he quipped.

Earlier in the day, during a meeting with the editorial board of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Christie had suggested that the dysfunction in Washington drives him to thoughts of suicide: "If I was in the Senate right now, I'd kill myself."

Comment: Nice talking points. But Chris Christie's association with the Bush clan does not bode well for the U.S.

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Poll: 60 percent say fire every member of Congress

Throw the bums out.

That's the message 60 percent of Americans are sending to Washington in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, saying if they had the chance to vote to defeat and replace every single member of Congress, including their own representative, they would. Just 35 percent say they would not.

According to the latest NBC/WSJ poll, the shutdown has been a political disaster. One in three say the shutdown has directly impacted their lives, and 65 percent say the shutdown is doing quite a bit of harm to the economy. NBC's Chuck Todd reports.

The 60 percent figure is the highest-ever in that question recorded in the poll, registered in the wake of the government shutdown and threat of the U.S. defaulting on its debt for the first time in history. If the nation's debt limit is not increased one week from now, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warns that the entire global economy could be in peril.

"We continue to use this number as a way to sort of understand how much revulsion there is," said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted the poll with Republican Bill McInturff. "We now have a new high-water mark."

Read the full poll here (.pdf)

The numbers reflect a broader trend over the last few years. Americans have traditionally said that while they might not like Congress, they usually like their own representatives. But that sentiment appears to have shifted


Oregon father's memorial trek across country ends in a family's second tragedy

Joe Bell
© Chris Baxter/The La Grande ObserverJoe Bell, in La Grande, Ore., in March, was walking across the country to tell the story of his gay son, Jadin, 15, who killed himself after being bullied.
As he made his way across the country, Joe Bell walked through rain squalls, slept in ditches and talked to anyone who would listen about how his gay son had killed himself after being taunted and bullied at school.

Mr. Bell's artificial knees ached and his feet were mapped with blisters, but he told friends and strangers that he was determined to make it on foot from his home in eastern Oregon to New York City, where his son, Jadin, 15, had dreamed of one day working in fashion or photography. "I miss my son Jadin with all my heart and soul," he wrote on Facebook in late May. "I know you're with me on this walk."

But last Wednesday, Mr. Bell's American journey - one that drew attention from local newspapers and attracted thousands of followers on social media - ended in an instant on a two-lane road in rural eastern Colorado. He was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer whose driver had apparently fallen asleep, the state police said.

For nearly six months, Mr. Bell, 48, had been on the road, sharing his son's story and trying to salve his own grief. He spoke at motorcycle rallies and college bars, schools, diners and gay-outreach centers, telling people about his sensitive, artistic son who hanged himself from a piece of playground equipment on Jan. 19.


44 killed in Laos plane crash

laos map
At least 44 dead after internal flight from capital Vientiane crashes into Mekong river, local media reported.

A Lao Airlines plane carrying 44 people from the capital Vientiane to the southern town of Pakse crashed on Wednesday, killing all on board, among them nationals of 10 countries, a Thai foreign ministry spokesman said.

Laos officials informed Thailand that the plane carrying 39 passengers and five crew went down around 8km from the airport in Champasak province in southern Laos, Sek Wannamethee said.

Light Saber

Colombian farmers risk death to reclaim lost land

colombian farmer
© Jeremy Horner/CorbisA Colombian rice farmer. Millions of hectares of land have been abandoned or stolen since 1991
The government wants to correct decades of 'land reform in reverse'. But powerful criminal, armed and business interests are ranged against the country's displaced peasants

The threats against Sifredy Culma's life come in many forms: suspicious men on motorcycles circling his neighbourhood; a flyer slipped under the door declaring him a "military target"; a menacing phone call warning that he will be killed if he tries to reclaim the plot of land he abandoned when rightwing paramilitary militiamen stormed into his town in Colombia.

The intimidation started in 2010, when Culma began collecting signatures from other farmers who had fled the village of Santafe and been forced to sell their land under threat from the paramilitaries. Culma is reclaiming that property as part of an ambitious government programme to return abandoned or stolen land to millions displaced by the country's half-century-old conflict.


60% of Americans dissatisfied with both GOP and Democrats, think a third major party needed


Twenty-six percent believe Democratic and Republican parties do adequate job

Amid the government shutdown, 60% of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. That is the highest Gallup has measured in the 10-year history of this question. A new low of 26% believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans.

Heart - Black

Tel Aviv Judge Nissim Yeshaya: 'Some girls enjoy getting raped'

 Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
© Nicholas KammJudges must know they are under scrutiny says Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
A judge in Tel Aviv has stepped down after commenting aloud that “some girls enjoy rape” during an appeals committee hearing on the rape of a teenager.

Judge Nissim Yeshaya of the District Court announced he would step down from present duties after meeting with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, reports.

"All judges need to know they are under scrutiny and must conduct themselves in a manner becoming those entrusted with safeguarding the law and deciding the fates of others," said Ms Livni.

"This isn't just about any single statement, it's about a perception women have fought against for years whereby victims are being blamed for the rape, " she added. "Such a statement, even if unintentional, could legitimise rape in the twisted minds of potential offenders. And judges too need to know that when a woman says 'no' she means 'no'."

The offence by four Palestinian youths from the Shuafat refugee camp, took place six years ago, against a 13-year-old girl, Army Radio reported.

The judicial review panel was assembled in the Tel Aviv District Court discussed the rape victim's appeal of a decision of the Defence Ministry not to recognise her rape as an act of terrorism, as she had requested.

The victim was not present at the hearing when the statement was made by Judge Yeshaya.

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The great outdoors is largely avoided by British children

British Children
© Thinkstock

British children are largely missing out on the bounties of nature. This is the conclusion of a three-year study that set out to measure the effects of the great outdoors on today's modern children.

According to research results, only 21 percent of eight- to 12-year-olds living in the UK have a discernible connection with nature. It's possible that even if these children were going outside, they wouldn't see the same plant and animal life their ancestors did.

The study, published in Connecting with Nature, found 60 percent of species native to the UK are on the decline. The researchers believe children who get outdoors and take an interest in nature would not only reap the rewards of being outside but could also help protect these declining species.

"Nature is in trouble, and children's connection to nature is closely linked to this," said Dr. Mike Clarke, the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the group that carried out the study.

"This report is groundbreaking stuff. Millions of people are increasingly worried that today's children have less contact with nature than ever before, but until now there has been no robust scientific attempt to measure and track connection to nature among children in the UK, which means the problem hasn't been given the attention it deserves," Dr. Clarke told The Guardian's Adam Vaughan.

Cowboy Hat

Obamacare enrollees become urban legend

© KAREN BLEIER / AFP/Getty Images
Will the Floridians who have enrolled for Obamacare please stand up?

Nearly two weeks after the federal government launched the online Health Insurance Marketplace at, individuals who have successfully used the choked-up website to enroll for a subsidized health insurance plan have reached a status akin to urban legend: Everyone has heard of them, but very few people have actually met one.

The Miami Herald searched high and low for individuals who completed enrollment for a subsidized health plan through the marketplace, also called an exchange, launched by the federal government on Oct. 1 in 36 states, including Florida.

The Herald solicited readers for stories of enrollees online and in the newspaper, and received a fair number of responses reflecting various degrees of success with, which has been plagued by technical problems that federal officials attribute to an overwhelming number of people trying to access the website at once.


Exempt from Obamacare? Good luck proving it!!

© ReutersThe penalty for 2014 is $95 or 1 percent of a person’s taxable income, whichever is higher
Think you're exempt from Obamacare's individual mandate? Good luck proving it.

The health law's least popular component - the requirement to obtain insurance or face a tax penalty - also features a lengthy list of exceptions for people facing certain hardships like foreclosure, domestic violence or homelessness. Members of certain religious sects or Native American tribes also are exempt.

But if the online system for getting into Obamacare coverage is rickety, the system for getting out of the mandate doesn't even exist yet. HHS says it will take another month at least for the administration to finalize the forms.

The Obama administration estimates that as many as 12 million people will seek exemptions through the federal enrollment system. But if they try now through, a customer service representative will tell them that applications aren't available.

To make it even more confusing, not everyone who is exempt from the mandate will have to prove it via the exchange. Millions of people will have straightforward income-related exemptions - for example, low-income people in states that aren't expanding Medicaid. Their exempt status will get wrapped into their annual tax filing.

But for those who want to start the exemption process online - or who incorrectly think they have to purchase health insurance or be fined despite their personal circumstances - the lack of a pathway has been another example that critics cite about how the White House bungled the rollout.

Comment: Even if you wanted to sign up for ObamaCare or find out if you are eligible for exemptions, it is impossible given that the site is non-functional.
Obamacare is either the product of mentally retarded criminals or a conspiracy to destroy the American healthcare system