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Smoking

Smoking toddler seen puffing on a cigarette in video causes public outrage

Footage has emerged which shows a toddler appearing to smoke a real cigarette. The young girl, aged about two or three, puts the cigarette into her mouth and inhales several times before breathing out dark smoke. The clip, which has been uploaded to LiveLeak, is believed to have been taken in Finland and has caused public outrage.
toddler smoking
© Unknown
One person wrote: 'Must originate from her sick parents or siblings. Persons under 18 are not allowed to either sell or purchase tobacco in Finland.

'The country has among the toughest smoking laws in the world.'

Some others have also suggested she could be smoking an e-cigarette.

A two-year-old from Sumatra in Indonesia shocked the world after he was photographed chain-smoking cigarettes.

Comment: The 'outrage' is understandable given that people today have been led to believe that smoking is the root of all evil, but according to one A.J. Bell, writing in about 1700:
"For personal disinfections nothing enjoyed such favour as tobacco; the belief in it was widespread, and even children were made to light up a reaf in pipes. Thomas Hearnes remembers one Tom Rogers telling him that when he was a scholar at Eton in the year that the great plague raged, all the boys smoked in school by order, and that he was never whipped so much in his life as he was one morning for not smoking. It was long afterwards a tradition that none who kept a tobacconist shop in London had the plague."
And from another source:
When plague was abroad even children were compelled to smoke. At the time of the dreadful visitation of 1665 all the boys at Eton were obliged to smoke in school every morning. One of these juvenile smokers, a certain Tom Rogers, years afterwards declared to Hearne, the Oxford antiquary, that he never was whipped so much in his life as he was one morning for not smoking. Times have changed at Eton since this anti-tobacconist martyr received his whipping. It is sometimes stated that at this time smoking was generally practised in schools, and that at a stated hour each morning lessons were laid aside, and masters and scholars alike produced their pipes and proceeded to smoke tobacco. But I know of no authority for this wider statement; it seems to have grown out of Hearne's record of the practice at Eton.



Eye 2

Social Decay: UK child sex trafficking, sex abuse, and modern slavery soars, says National Crime Agency

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© Reuters / Darren Staples DS / RD / CCK
Child sex abuse, human trafficking among minors and adults and cases of domestic slavery all saw sharp increases last year, says the National Crime Agency amidst calls for end to modern slavery.

British police identified 450 potential child victims who were either smuggled into the country or moved around it, the NCA show.

Of these, 56 were children of British origin who were suspected of being trafficked for sex - double the 2012 figure - while 88 foreign children were seen as at risk from sexual exploitation, an increase of 11 percent.

Another 123 children were believed to have been brought to the UK for forced labor often growing cannabis or working on drugs farms. Only children from Vietnam and Albania were more likely than the UK to be the victim of human trafficking.

Arrow Up

Snow-clogged roads in Japan trigger food shortages, send vegetable prices surging

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© GSDF/REUTERS
Ground Self-Defense Force personnel dig a car out of the snow in a Yamanashi Prefecture neighborhood Sunday.
The heavy snowfall that hit the Kanto and other regions the last two weekends has sent vegetable prices skyrocketing and caused shortages of some food types.

According to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, prices of vegetables such as leeks, spinach and carrots have been pushed up by 20 to 40 percent compared with the corresponding average for the past five years.

For example, leek prices reached ¥562 per kilogram Saturday, a sharp rise from the ¥323 they fetched Feb. 7.

"The deep snow, especially in Gunma and Saitama prefectures, has stopped shipments of lettuce, cabbage and cucumbers from those areas," said a spokesman for the Maruetsu Inc. supermarket chain.

Light Saber

Parents turn down $100M settlement - Ex-Durangoans blame daughter's death on NuvaRing, want trial

Since Erika Langhart died at age 24 after two heart attacks in 2011, her parents Karen and Rick Langhart have fought to have the product that they say killed her - NuvaRing - taken off the market.

Image
© Karen Langhart
Erika Langhart, 24, died on Thanksgiving Day 2011, after suffering two heart attacks. She was on NuvaRing, a third-generation birth control, which favors blood clots.
Now they are denouncing the $100 million settlement that Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical giant that produces NuvaRing, is offering to resolve about 3,800 lawsuits in federal and state courts, claiming the company concealed NuvaRing's potentially lethal side effects.

Numerous studies show NuvaRing, a form of birth control that uses "desogestrel," a third-generation progestin, increases the risk of blood clots that lead to strokes and heart attacks.

Merck, the second biggest U.S. drugmaker, did not respond to requests for comment.

Under the settlement agreement, Merck denies any fault. The settlement must be accepted by 95 percent of about 3,800 eligible plaintiffs before March 10.

According to Vanity Fair, one lawyer for the plaintiffs, Roger Denton of the law firm Schlichter, Bogard and Denton, said the settlement, reached after nearly a year of negotiations, is "an outstanding result and in the best interests of all the women who have suffered an injury associated with the use of NuvaRing."

To the Langharts, this amounts to lawyers awaiting payday.

"Shame on them," Rick Langhart said. "This settlement agreement, orchestrated by Merck and the attorneys on both sides, driven by their own greed, has all but eliminated the chance for Merck to be taken to trial."

No Entry

France moves to ban GM maize planting in short, long term

Genetically Modified maize
© Lexpress
Genetically modified maize
France published a decree on Monday to prevent the planting of genetically modified maize as a stopgap measure, while the government works on changes to domestic and European laws to ensure a longer-term ban.

The French government, which maintains that GM crops present environmental risks, has been trying to institute a new ban on GM maize (corn) after a senior court twice struck down similar measures.

But in a surprise move, the French Senate late on Monday rejected a proposed domestic law banning GM maize crops with a majority of voters adopting a motion of inadmissibility claiming the attempt as unconstitutional.

Red Flag

Second coal ash dump leak sends toxins into North Carolina river

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© Gerry Broome/AP
Officials said the coal ash is burying aquatic animals and their food.
North Carolina on Tuesday ordered Duke Energy Corp to plug a leak of contaminated wastewater from a decommissioned power plant, which authorities in the state said might be leaking into a river that supplies drinking water.

The arsenic-laced discharge from a 36-inch stormwater pipe was the second this month from beneath a coal ash dump at the Eden plant.

In early February, thousands of tons of sludge spilled into the Dan River after a 48-inch pipe broke under the 27-acre ash pond, Duke said.

The company - which is mired in a long-running legal battle with the state over the storage of coal ash waste - said on Tuesday it would use a temporary system to cap the second discharge until it developed a permanent scheme.

Pipe water samples indicated elevated levels of arsenic, though the duration and volume of the discharge was not known, the Charlotte, N.C.-based firm said.

Cult

Los Angeles bishop kept altar boy list from police

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© AP Photo/Nick Ut, File
Cardinal Roger Mahony
When Los Angeles police were investigating allegations of child abuse by a Roman Catholic priest in 1988, they asked for a list of altar boys at the last parish where the priest worked.

Archbishop Roger Mahony told a subordinate not to give the list, saying he didn't want the boys to be scarred by the investigation and that he felt the altar boys were too old to be potential victims, according to a deposition made public Wednesday.

The detectives investigating allegations against Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, a visiting Mexican priest, ultimately got the names of the boys from parish families. They determined the priest molested at least 26 boys during his 10 months in Los Angeles, according to the priest's confidential archdiocese file and police records made public by attorneys for the victims.

Twenty-five of the alleged victims were altar boys and the 26th was training with the priest to be one, said Anthony DeMarco, a plaintiff attorney. It's not clear what impact Mahony's action had on the investigation, though at the time police complained that the archdiocese wasn't fully cooperating.

Sheriff

U.S. border agent shoots, kills person who threw rock at him near Mexican border

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© Jill Replogle
U.S. Border Patrol agents monitor the road leading to where a suspect was shot, Feb. 19, 2014.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot a man along a rugged section of the Otay Mountains in southeast San Diego early Tuesday, authorities said.

According to San Diego Sheriff's homicide Lt. Glenn Giannantonio, the two Border Patrol agents had split up to cut off a group of three suspected undocumented immigrants when the shooting occurred about 4 miles east of the Otay Mesa border crossing on 6:40 a.m. Tuesday.

"The two agents were out of sight of each other when one of the agents was struck in the face by a rock thrown by one of the suspects. Fearing for his safety, the agent fired his duty pistol at the man, striking him," Giannantonio said in a statement.

Agents tried to revive the man, who was declared dead at the scene. The agent suffered minor injuries.

Comment: One has to wonder where the statistic is that shows how many agents have suffered serious injury or death from being hit by a rock.


Airplane

'Rollercoaster' turbulence injures passengers on Cathay flight over Japan

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© AFP/File, Philippe Lopez
This picture taken on December 7, 2012 shows a Cathay Pacific plane on the tarmac of the international airport in Hong Kong
Several passengers and crew members were injured when a Cathay Pacific jumbo jet hit turbulence over northern Japan, the airline said Wednesday, as one passenger likened the experience to a "rollercoaster".

The Boeing 747-400, carrying 321 passengers and 21 crew, was rocked by sudden turbulence when it flew over Hokkaido prefecture Tuesday.

Cathay Pacific said two crew members and a number of passengers were injured, but did not confirm a total of 12 injuries reported by the South China Morning Post newspaper.

The flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong landed at the southern Chinese city's airport at 6.26 pm local time to be greeted by a fleet of ambulances and emergency vehicles.

Comment: This is the second incident in as many days airplane passengers have been injured due to turbulence. One has to wonder just what exactly is going on in the clouds to cause such intense turbulence.


Ambulance

University of Chicago student's body found decomposing in dorm

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Nicholas Brastins Barnes, a third-year student, was found dead in his dorm room at University of Chicago, school officials said. Police say he had been dead for some time.

Police found the 20-year-old's body on Saturday afternoon after other students in the International House complained of a smell. The last time he used his keycard to enter the dorm was on February 7.

"I don't understand how the people that live next door, and the people who were responsible for his well-being could have not seen that he has been gone for a week," said International House resident Jordan Ginsburg.