Society's ChildS


UK: Police: House Fire that Killed Talented Golfer, 21, and His Sister, 8 Being Treated as 'Murder'

  • Thomas Sharkey had U.S. scholarship at top university
  • Sister had returned home from sleepover because she missed her family
  • Police say fire which left parents seriously injured was a 'deliberate act'
© SWNSTragedy: Thomas Sharkey, 21, and his eight-year-old sister Bridget, who were killed in a house fire in Helensburgh, near Glasgow. Police have now launched a murder investigation

These are the first pictures of talented golfer Thomas Sharkey, 21, and his eight-year-old sister Bridget, who were killed in a house fire.

Police believe the blaze was started deliberately and have now launched a murder investigation into the siblings' deaths.

Their parents Angela, 46, and Tommy, 55, managed to escape the fire in Helensburgh, near Glasgow, after an off-duty policeman raised the alarm.


Peacock Syndrome - America's Fatal Disease

Peacock Syndrome_1
© The Burning Platform

"There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution." - Aldous Huxley

Peacock Syndrome_2
© The Burning Platform

Researchers at the University of Texas recently published a study about why men buy or lease flashy, extravagant, expensive cars like a gold plated Porsche Carrera GT. There conclusion was:
"Although showy spending is often perceived as wasteful, frivolous and even narcissistic, an evolutionary perspective suggests that blatant displays of resources may serve an important function, namely as a communication strategy designed to gain reproductive rewards."
To put that in laymen's terms, guys drive flashy expensive cars so they can get laid. Researcher Dr Vladas Griskevicius said: "The studies show that some men are like peacocks. They're the ones driving the bright colored sports car."

Lead author Dr Jill Sundie said: "This research suggests that conspicuous products, such as Porsches, can serve the same function for some men that large and brilliant feathers serve for peacocks." The male urge to merge with hot women led them to make fiscally irresponsible short term focused decisions. I think the researchers needed to broaden the scope of their study. Millions of Americans, men and women inclusive, have been infected with Peacock Syndrome. Millions of delusional Americans thought owning flashy things, living in the biggest McMansion, and driving a higher series BMW made them more attractive, more successful, and the most dazzling peacock in the zoo.

This is not an attribute specific to Americans, but a failing of all humans throughout history. Charles Mackay captured this human impulse in his 1841 book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds:
"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."


US: Mom faces jail after son, 4, died jaywalking with her

Four-year-old A.J. Nelson
© TODAYFour-year-old A.J. Nelson was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Because she did not use a crosswalk, his mother faces up to three years in jail.

Drunk driver got six months after hitting boy; she could get up to three years

A mother who could serve more jail time for jaywalking than the man who killed her 4-year-old son in a hit-and-run accident tried to come to grips with that brutal reality in an emotional interview with TODAY's Ann Curry on Monday.

Raquel Nelson, 30, faces up to three years in prison after being convicted July 12 of second-degree vehicular homicide, reckless conduct, and failure to use a crosswalk during an incident that occurred on the night of April 10, 2010. She and her three children had gotten off at a bus stop in Marietta, Ga., and were trying to cross a four-lane highway without using a crosswalk in order to reach their apartment. Jerry Guy, a man who had two prior hit-and-run convictions, struck the family with his van as they were crossing, killing 4-year-old A.J. Nelson in the process.

Guy served a six-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to a hit-and-run and was released on Oct. 29. He is currently serving five years of probation. Nelson faces up to 36 months in jail when she is sentenced at a hearing on Tuesday.

Arrow Down

US and France More Depressed Than Poor Countries

Sad Man
© Live ScienceSad older man.

Depression is more likely to strike in high-income countries than in poor ones, according to new research on depression rates across 18 countries worldwide.

The study, published July 25 in the open-access journal BMC Medicine, found that the average lifetime prevalence of major depression in the 10 high-income countries in the study was 14.6 percent. In the eight low- and middle-income countries, the lifetime prevalence of major depression was 11.1 percent.

Across countries, depression was linked to social factors such as age, marital status and income, though sometimes in complicated ways. In low-income and middle-income countries, for example, the average age of a first depressive episode was 24. In high-income countries, depression was likely to hit almost two years later, at 25.7.

The researchers speculate the wealthier countries experience more of the blues because richer countries also have more income inequality. In addition, depression may be a disease of the affluent, a phenomenon that isn't fully understood, they say. Figuring out the causes of depression around the world will help initiatives to combat the mental-health problem, which has been linked to Alzheimer's disease. In severe cases, depression can end in suicide, which leads to about 850,000 deaths per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).


Like Daughter, Like Mother

Like Daughter, Like Mother
© Tomer Lichtash
Moms, your daughters don't want to be like you when they grow up - or at least, they don't want to dress like you. It's the other way around, according to a forthcoming study in the Journal of Consumer Behaviour. Researchers polled 343 mother-daughter pairs (average ages 44 and 16, respectively) and found that mothers intentionally mimic their daughters' style - an effect the authors call the "consumer's doppelganger effect."

Subjects were asked about their perceived age, fashion consciousness, expertise in clothing and cosmetics, and the extent to which their mothers or daughters influenced their fashion tastes. If a mother thought her daughter was a style expert and perceived herself as youthful, she had a 25% chance, on average, of copying her daughter's clothes and cosmetics.

Daughters, on the other hand, even if they felt older than their actual age and thought that their mothers were stylish, only had a 9% chance, on average, of mimicking them. While it has long been known that children influence their parents' consumptive behavior when it comes to products the family consumes as a whole, such as cars or food, this is the first study to show that children can influence their parents' purchase of goods they consume for themselves, suggesting that children's influence on their parents is much more profound than previously thought.


Children Abandoned on East Africa's "Roads of Death"

Somali Child
© Reuters / Kabir DhanjiA newly arrived Somali refugee carries her child as they await medical examinations at the Dadaab refugee camp, near the Kenya-Somalia border, July 23, 2011.

Desperate Somali mothers are abandoning their dying children by the roadside as they travel to overwhelmed emergency food centers in drought-hit eastern Africa, U.N. aid officials said Monday.

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, told a conference in Rome that a combination of natural disaster and regional conflict was affecting more than 12 million people.

"We are seeing all the points able to distribute food completely overwhelmed," she said, adding that a camp in Dadaab in Kenya that was built for 90,000 people now housed 400,000.

"We want to make sure the supplies are there along the road because some of them are becoming roads of death where mothers are having to abandon their children who are too weak to make it or who have died along the way," she said.

Women and children were among the most at risk in the crisis, Sheeran said, calling it the "children's famine" given the number of children at risk of death or permanent stunting of their brains and bodies due to hunger.

The WFP will feed 2.5 million malnourished children and is trying to raise money for more, she said.

Magic Wand

South Africa: 'Dead man' wakes up inside morgue

A 50-year-old South African man woke up inside a mortuary over the weekend and screamed to be let out - scaring away attendants who thought he was a ghost.

His family presumed he was dead when they could not wake him on Saturday night and contacted a private morgue in a rural village in the Eastern Cape.

He spent almost 24 hours inside the morgue, the region's health department spokesman told the Sapa news agency.

The two attendants later returned and called for an ambulance.

The man - whose identity has been withheld - was treated in hospital for dehydration.


US, Michigan: Man Says TSA Screener Mishandled Urostomy Bag -- Again!

Thomas Sawyer
© Fox 2 Thomas Sawyer
A man with bladder cancer whose humiliating security pat down at Detroit Metro Airport ended with urine from his urostomy bag spilled on him said Friday that he was mishandled again by a screener last week.

Thomas Sawyer of Houghton Lake made national news in November when a security agent's aggressive pat down caused the lid of his urostomy bag to loosen, spilling urine on his shirt and pants. Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole personally called Sawyer to apologize and pledge an investigation into how screeners handle passengers with sensitive medical conditions.

"I thought that I had really made a difference for people flying with urostomies, I really did," the 62-year-old told the Free Press on Friday. "I'm angry this time. They can't be training them properly."

Sawyer said he went through security July 14 at the McNamara Terminal for a flight to Orlando -- the same destination he was flying to in November -- and a screener disregarded his warning that he had a urostomy bag beneath his untucked shirt.

Bizarro Earth

Return of Mass Layoffs a Grim Sign for U.S. Workers

Putting pressure on an already lousy job market, the mass layoff is making a comeback. In the past week, Cisco, Lockheed Martin and Borders announced a combined 23,000 in job cuts.

Those announcements follow 41,432 in planned cuts in June, up 11.6% from May and 5.3% vs. a year earlier, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Meanwhile, state and local governments have cut 142,000 jobs this year, The WSJ reports, and Wall Street is braced for another round of cutbacks. This week, Goldman Sachs announced plans to let go 1000 fixed-income traders.

If these trends continue, we may soon be talking about losses in the monthly employment data -- not just disappointing growth, says Howard Davidowitz, CEO of Davidowitz & Associates

"Everything in business is confidence," Davidowitz says. "You lose confidence and businesses can't deal with that [and] who could have confidence with what's going on in Washington?"

Davidowitz is bipartisan in his criticism, calling the U.S. political system "dysfunctional and deranged."

Arrow Up

Gold hits new high as debt talks stall

gold bars
Gold rose to fresh record high on Monday as talks over lifting the debt ceiling appeared to be stalling just days before the August 2 deadline, raising the prospect of a debt default.

Spot gold climbed as high as $1,622.49 an ounce versus Friday's high of $1,607.01 and the previous record of $1,609.51 before easing back to $1,614.66 by 0007 GMT, Reuters data showed.

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders struggled late on Sunday to break a partisan deadlock on a budget deal and bullion dealers said investors were ditching stocks in favor of safe haven assets, such as gold, until the outcome of talks become clearer.

A slightly weaker U.S. dollar at the start of early trading in Asia gave gold its initial lift, though bullion continued to firm even as the greenback later stabilized, according to bullion dealers.

"Gold is moving on its own," a dealer said.