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Mon, 02 Oct 2023
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Suicides in the US Military since January 1st - an average of 22 per day

veterans suicide
© Elizabeth Harrington
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Dar Place was two feet away when his friend and fellow soldier took his own life during the Gulf War. Two decades later, like so many other veterans, Place is still haunted by the plague of suicide in the military.

"I personally saw my driver after Desert Storm in his tank put a gun underneath his mouth and pull the trigger, while I was no further away from him than I am from you right now," Place told the Washington Free Beacon at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. He was one of the dozens of activists with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) who planted thousands of flags to honor veterans who had killed themselves.

By noon, 1,892 American flags graced the Mall, representing the number of veterans who have taken their life this year alone since January 1st - an average of 22 per day.

Former soldiers and survivors gathered to raise awareness about the epidemic, and lobby Capitol Hill to pass a bill addressing gaps in mental health.

The message of the campaign is "We've Got Your Back," and for Place, serving in the Army is a "family business."

"My son is still in active duty, he's been an infantryman," he said. "I was in the 101st Airborne Division, he was in the 82nd Airborne Division, and just like his old man was when I was a young enlisted man, he kind of followed in my footsteps."

"I served in the 82nd in Desert Storm," Place said. "So twice, I was on the initial invasion into Iraq, and then later on he came in to Iraq as I was coming out. And then he went on to the 82nd Airborne, and he went into Afghanistan as my unit prepared to relieve his unit in place in Afghanistan."

Place retired in November. He is working with IAVA to help his fellow veterans get the help they need.


Steven Seagal loves Putin: "One of the great living world leaders"

© AP
Action guy Steven Seagal weighed in on the international dispute over Russia's annexation of Crimea this week. Spoiler alert: he's siding with his friend Vladimir Putin and not with President Obama, whom the action star believes is one Benghazi revelation away from impeachment. In an interview with the state-run Rossiskaya Gazeta, Seagal called Putin "one of the great living world leaders," adding that he "would like to consider him as a brother."

Black Magic

First Marius the giraffe, now four lions; Copenhagen Zoo kills again!

© Mads Nissen/EPA
A mother and a new member of the pride enter the Copenhagen Zoo's lion enclosure.
The Danish zoo that drew so much criticism for killing a healthy young giraffe named Marius and inviting schoolchildren to watch as he was dismembered and fed to lions is at it again.

This time, the zoo announced that it euthanized four healthy lions Monday to make way for a young male lion.

It did not say what it did with their carcasses, nor whether they were among those who ate Marius.

Of course it's tempting for any older person to anthropomorphize the situation (four old guys equals one young guy), but it turns out that only two of the lions were older -- 16 and 14 years old -- and one of them was a female. The other two were 18-month-old male cubs.

Having checked its humanity at the door in February when it so publicly killed and disposed of Marius, the zoo has a perfectly cold-eyed scientific rationale for the slaughter:

Comment: See also Killing of zoo giraffe raises questions of science, ethics and education


What freedom? Student loan debts top $1 trillion in U.S.

© Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel
The student loan industry is booming, saddling over 37 million college students and graduates with $1.08 trillion in loans in 2013, even as President Barack Obama and lawmakers work to rein in the crippling debt young people face in the US.

The average cost of a Bachelor's degree at a private college or university is $45,000, according to The College Board's Trends in Higher Education. Students attending public schools in their home state pay just under $23,000 on average, while those paying out-of-state tuition can expect to pay more than $36,000 a year. In 2012, The College Board says the average student carried over $6,000 student loans for the academic year.

Of the nearly 20 million Americans who attend college each year, about 12 million borrow, according to the Almanac of Higher Education. Estimates show that the average four-year graduate accumulates $26,000 to $29,000 in loans, and some leave college with debt totaling in the six figures. Those students who continue on to graduate school, especially law and medical school, see their debt balloon.


Singing Italian nun becomes fastest growing internet hit ever

© Daily Mail
  • Sister Cristina Scuccia stunned judges on The Voice in Italy
  • Her version of No One by Alicia Keys has been viewed 30-million times
  • The previous record holder was Gangnam Style by Korean pop star Psy
  • Sister Cristina who grew up in a small town outside Palermo
  • Starry eyed sister said she hoped to have a call from Pope Francis
Not since Julie Andrews has a singing nun caused such a stir in the abbey.

A Sicilian nun has become the fastest growing internet phenomenon of all time after performing on the Italian version of The Voice.

Sister Cristina Scuccia, who stunned judges with her version of an Alicia Keys song, belted out in full habit, has racked up 30-million hits on YouTube in just seven days.

The previous record holder was the unforgettable "Gangnam Style" by Korean pop star Psy which racked up 10-million views in 18 days, before going on to reach almost 2-billion clicks.


China's bloggers weigh in on Russia's Crimea annexation

© Pavel Golovkin/AP
A Russian national flag flies over Russian troops as they gather at a former Ukrainian military base in Perevalne, outside Simferopol, Crimea on March 27.
When it comes to Ukraine, Chinese officials are in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, they don't like the U.S. hectoring other nations, which they see America as doing to Russia. They also aren't at all averse to seeing others thumb their nose at the Americans. On the other hand, allowing the Crimea to vote on its own future sets a dangerous precedent for those in Tibet and Taiwan who want nothing to do with the mainland.

That discord goes a long way toward explaining the platitudes and verbal contortions we've been hearing from Chinese officials - not to mention Beijing's decision to abstain on the recent United Nations vote condemning Russia's actions.

"The complex history and reality bring Ukraine to where it is today. Under the current circumstances, China calls on all sides to exercise calm and restraint," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei on March 27. "China follows a just and objective position on the issue of Ukraine and is committed to promoting a political settlement of it," he continued.


Less cash, less crime? Study shows reduction in total crimes - assaults, larceny and burglary, not robbery

© Illustration by Stephanie Davidson
The precipitous decline of American crimes rates in the 1990s - leading, in some places, to levels today that were last seen in the 1960s - remains one of the great debates in the social sciences. The list of suggested causes includes improved policing methods, the end of the crack epidemic, the economic renaissance of American urban areas, immigration, technology, and even, thanks to "freakonomist" Steven Levitt, the legalization of abortion. Is it time to add the great transition from cash to plastic to the list?

Cash, after all, is what burglars and muggers are usually after - that or stuff that can easily be turned into it. Cash is harder to trace than plastic - for law enforcement officials or tax inspectors - and therefore favored by underground entrepreneurs, such as drug dealers and pimps. Junkies who steal to feed their habit need cash because they can't pay for drugs with a credit card. A new working paper makes the case, in the somewhat turgid language of economic research:
"The proposition that flows logically from this model is that cash is a necessary functional component of the etiological cycle that drives many sorts of predatory street crime. If that is so, then any reduction in the amount of cash in circulation should produce concomitant reductions in acquisitive street crimes (e.g., theft) and the secondary offenses committed in response to them (e.g., retaliatory assault)."
Or, in the more succinct formulation of the paper's title: "Less Cash, Less Crime."


Indianapolis family claims hacker taking control of cable box, sending threats

A family claims they are being terrorized by their cable box. For more than a week, personal and harassing messages are showing up on their TVs.

Alana Meeks has no idea who's behind it.

"This stuff is uncanny. I haven't heard anything like this in my life," she said. "He says he's a stalker."

Meeks said it started more than a week ago - "he" or someone has taken control of her AT&T cable box and typing messages on two of her TVs. The family showed us a few. One wrote: 'ISEEYOUHAHA'. Others even threatened to hurt Alana's 9-year-old granddaughter, Aniya.

"He wants to do more than hurt her," said Meeks. "He wants to have sex with her. Pervert."

Some were quick to judge. However, an officer who stopped by saw it himself, according to a police report. Meeks even tried covering her windows in case someone was watching. It didn't work.

"If you want me, come get me," she said. "You know where I'm at, but you can't have my grand baby."

FOX59 cameras were rolling when it happened again. Whoever was typing knew we were there, too.


Another banking industry death: JP Morgan bankruptcy attorney killed by minivan while riding his bike

Joseph Giampapa
© unknown
A high level JP Morgan bankruptcy attorney has been killed in an incident involving a man who has not been charged with a crime. The incident was initially reported as a hit and run, but days later the local police claimed that a suspect had immediately turned himself in.

JP Morgan lawyer Joseph Giampapa, age 56, was reportedly hit by a minivan and thrown 150 ft, he was later pronounced dead at the scene. Giampapa was biking north on Troy-Sidney Road, near Loy Road, outside of Piqua, in Ohio, just after 11 a.m. on Saturday, when the minivan struck him from behind, Miami County Deputy Todd Tennant said.

The alleged minivan driver, 78 year old Thomas G. Davis, was at fault, but charges haven't been filed, Tennant said.

Originally this story was reported as a hit and run, but then days later news sources began reporting that the 78 year old man immediately called police after running him over.

"It wasn't a blind turn," said David Roderick, a fellow cyclist who was friends with Giampapa.

"It wasn't on a hill," Roderick said. "You could see riders for a very long distance."


Los Angeles Int'l Airport baggage heist may be largest in history

© NBC4
Current and former employees of contracting companies were arrested Wednesday and accused of stealing luggage and other items from Los Angeles International Airport terminals, planes and the tarmac.
In what officials believe is one of the biggest baggage theft operations in Los Angeles International Airport history, authorities on Thursday said they suspect at least 14 baggage handlers of stealing thousands of dollars in electronics, jewelry and other high-priced items.

Police allege that the thieves worked in tandem for at least several months, stealing from bags and other property in a secured area of the airport. Some of the items were then sold on Craigslist.

Detectives are still trying to tally the total losses and identify the victims.

LAX police arrested six workers and detained an additional eight they suspect stole thousands of dollars in small but pricey items from baggage moving through the airport.