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Thu, 24 Jun 2021
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3-year-old South Carolina boy killed after mistaking pink handgun for toy

A 3-year-old boy in Greenville, South Carolina was shot in the head and killed on Friday after he started playing with a pink handgun because he thought it was a toy.

Police responding to the shooting at Haywood Plantation Apartments said that Tmorej Smith was found with a gunshot wound to the head, according to The Associated Press.

Investigators determined that Tmorej and his 7-year-old sister had been playing with a pink handgun when the incident occurred.

Deputy Coroner Jeff Fowler ruled the shooting an accidental homicide.


U.S. prison population seeing "unprecedented increase"

© prisonpath.com
The research wing of the U.S. Congress is warning that three decades of "historically unprecedented" build-up in the number of prisoners incarcerated in the United States have led to a level of overcrowding that is now "taking a toll on the infrastructure" of the federal prison system.

Over the past 30 years, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the federal prison population has jumped from 25,000 to 219,000 inmates, an increase of nearly 790 percent. Swollen by such figures, for years the United States has incarcerated far more people than any other country, today imprisoning some 716 people out of every 100,000. (Although CRS reports are not made public, a copy can be found here.)

"This is one of the major human rights problems within the United States, as many of the people caught up in the criminal justice system are low income, racial and ethnic minorities, often forgotten by society," Maria McFarland, deputy director for the U.S. programme at Human Rights Watch, told IPS.

In recent years, as a consequence of the imposition of very harsh sentencing policies, McFarland's office has seen new patterns emerging of juveniles and very elderly people being put in prison.

"Last year, some 95,000 juveniles under 18 years of age were put in prison, and that doesn't count those in juvenile facilities," she noted.


YouTube study shows children 'three clicks away from explicit material'

© AFP Photo
Children who view clips of Sesame Street and Peppa Pig on YouTube are on average just three clicks away from explicit adult material on the site, including nudity and violence, according to research.

A study released to mark Safer Internet Day on Tuesday found that graphic footage was available to children who had viewed clips of popular kids' TV programmes.

In one example, YouTube users were two clicks away from footage of a woman giving birth after viewing a Sesame Street video, said the security company Kaspersky, which carried out the research. The list of recommended videos, displayed on the right-hand side of the page after a video has shown, provided a path to the explicit material, the researchers found.

A separate study of 24,000 young people found that 27% of seven- to 11-year-olds and nearly half of 11- to 19-year-olds had come across something they thought was "hurtful or unpleasant" online in the past 12 months.


Record number of Americans buying guns, new FBI figures show

© Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP
'America is crazy for guns,' says Pam Bosley, mother of a young student shot dead in Chicago. 'We love guns more than life.'
More than 2.4m gun background checks were initiated in January, topped only by last December's 2.7m

Americans are lining up to buy guns in unprecedented numbers in the wake of the Newtown school shooting and the debate around tightening gun controls, with federal background checks on prospective buyers running at record levels.

New figures released by the FBI show that 2,495,440 gun background checks were initiated in January. That is the second highest number since records began in 1998, and is exceeded only by the entry for December 2012, which reached a peak of 2,783,765.

The Newtown shooting, in which 20 young children and six of their school carers were killed in Connecticut, took place on 14 December.

Since 1998, anyone wanting to buy a firearm from a licensed dealer such as a gun shop must undergo a federal background check to ensure that they are not a criminal, mentally ill or otherwise disqualified from ownership. The check is carried out in reference to a national database, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, operated by the FBI.


2 Los Angeles students lose fingers during tug-of-war

Two teenagers whose fingers were severed during a tug-of-war game at a California high school were recovering Tuesday, but it was unclear whether doctors were able to reattach the digits.

The boy and girl, both under age 18, had stable vital signs after undergoing hours of surgery, Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center spokeswoman Rosa Sacca said.

"They're awake and alert. Parents are at their bedsides," she said.

Sacca said she could not release any information on whether surgeons were able to reattach the fingers.

The teens lost four fingers each from their right hand, and the girl also lost the thumb on her left hand, she said.

Bizarro Earth

Sexual encounters allegedly an 'everyday thing' among students at California preschool

© ABC News
A Carson, Calif., preschool is shutting down as allegations of sexual activity between students surfaced.
Sexual encounters between 4- and 5-year-old students were allegedly an "everyday thing" at a private California preschool that is closing its doors after coming under attack for a lack of supervision, the mother of a 5-year-old former student said.

"It's unfathomable on so many levels. For one, that it actually happened. For two, where it happened. For three, how often something happened," the mother of the girl told ABC-owned station in Los Angeles KABC-TV in an exclusive interview.

Some students in the preschool class at the First Lutheran Church of Carson School in Carson, Calif., would engage in oral sex during nap time, in the tunnel slide on the playground and in an outside bathroom, attorney Greg Owen told ABCNews.com.


China one-child policy enforcer runs over baby

Beijing: A Chinese official demanding a couple pay a fine for violating the country's one-child policy crushed their 13-month-old boy to death with a car, a local spokesman said Tuesday.

Under China's population controls, instituted more than 30 years ago, couples who have more than one child must pay a "social upbringing" fine, while in some cases mothers have been forced to undergo abortions.

Authorities in the eastern city of Wenzhou are investigating how the infant ended up beneath the vehicle, a Mayu county official surnamed Zhou told AFP.

"The family was agitated," he said, "After starting the car to bring the family to the office to discuss the matter, the official discovered the child had been crushed underneath the car."

Arrow Up

Global food prices double in ten years: Unsustainable population growth a significant factor

© Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Soybeans harvested with a combine in Walnut, Illinois. U.S. farmers increased the harvesting of soybeans at the fastest pace in at least three decades as warm, dry weather allowed for fieldwork after a drought this year reduced yields.
Food prices that doubled in the past 10 years are more the result of population growth and increased demand for protein-based diets than any cyclical reasons, according to Sunny Verghese, chief executive officer at Olam International Ltd. (OLAM), the Singapore-based commodities trader.

Three of the biggest annual gains in food prices in the past 20 years occurred since 2007, with the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization's global food price index climbing to a record in 2010. Wheat and soybeans led commodities gains last year and corn jumped to a record in August.

"We've had a long period of food real price declines and food surpluses and we've had three very rapid food crises," Verghese said at the Kingsman sugar conference in Dubai yesterday. "The price inflation that we've seen in the three episodes is more a structural story and not a cyclical issue."


"I was trying to make the horse have a baby."

© The Smoking Gun
When it comes to post-arrest statements, the admissions made by a Texas man busted for having sex with a horse are a good reminder why suspects should take advantage of their right to remain silent.

In a statement given to a sergeant with the Wharton County Sheriff's Office, Andrew Mendoza, 29, waived his assorted rights and told of a late night encounter with a brown horse.

Mendoza, who had been waiting to hear from his girlfriend, noted that, "I told myself that if she didn't call me I was going to go next door and mess with the neighbor's horse."

Which is what occurred, Mendoza, seen at right, told Sergeant Raymond Jansky.

"I was trying to make the horse have a baby," Mendoza explained. "I was thinking it would have a horseman baby."

He added, "I ain't going to lie, I blew a nut in the horse. I then got off the bucket and put my clothes back on and left. I promise that I have not been back over to the horse since that time."

The horse lover, whose rap sheet included a wide variety of felony and misdemeanor collars, later pleaded guilty to public lewdness and criminal trespass and was sentenced to four months in jail.

Mendoza's criminal career subsequently ended when he hanged himself in a county jail, where he was being held on indecency with a child and trespassing charges.


Anti-government sentiment: On the rise?

© David Ryder/Getty Images
A demonstrator carries a handgun while listening to speakers at a pro-gun rally on Jan. 19, 2013 in Olympia, Wash.
President Obama's push for tighter gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown school shootings has led to an increase in anti-government rhetoric that parallels the rise of militia groups in the early 1990s, according to experts.

"The response to Obama's talking about gun control has been enormous," said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks domestic extremist groups.

Potok sees parallels between the political discourse today over gun control, and a period in 1993 and 1994 when militia groups began forming after shootouts between federal officers and extremists at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas.

"There's been a huge amount of rage and it's been at enormous volume. It's come from state legislators, county sheriffs and even congressmen," Potok said. "A lot is coming from the militia groups where the rage is white hot."

Another expert says that while angry rhetoric doesn't equate to violent activity, it should not be ignored.

"It's not the fact they are stating their opinions that people should be concerned about -- it's willingness to commit violence -- but you have to take rhetoric seriously," said Mark Pitcavage, director of investigations for the Anti-Defamation League. "It could mean that people expressing these sentiments might commit violence or convince others to commit violence. You ignore it at your peril."