Society's ChildS


Are Americans dumb? No, it's the inequality, stupid

© Suzanne Tucker/
Huge disparities in education between the rich and the poor are at the root of all stupidity.

Are Americans dumb? This is a question that has been debated by philosophers, begrudging foreigners and late night TV talk show hosts for decades. Anyone who has ever watched the Tonight Show's "Jaywalking" segment in which host Jay Leno stops random passersby and asks them rudimentary questions like "What is Julius Caesar famous for?" (Answer: "Um, is it the salad?") might already have made their minds up on this issue. But for those of you who prefer to reserve judgement until definitive proof is on hand, then I'm afraid I have some depressing news. America does indeed have a problem in the smarts department and it appears to be getting worse, not better.

On Tuesday, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the results of a two-year study in which thousands of adults in 23 countries were tested for their skills in literacy, basic math and technology. The US fared badly in all three fields, ranking somewhere in the middle for literacy but way down at the bottom for technology and math.

This shouldn't be all that surprising as there is a well documented pattern of American school kids failing to keep up with their tiger cub counterparts in other countries. But these results are the first concrete proof that this skill gap is extending well beyond school and into adulthood. The question is, do the study's results imply, as the New York Post so delicately put it, that "US adults are dumber than your average human"? Hardly, but it does suggest that many Americans may not be putting the smarts they have to good use, or, more likely, that they are not getting the opportunity to do so. Put another way: it's inequality, stupid.

Arrow Down

Chinese man can't afford hospital bill, so amputates leg with hacksaw

Self Amputate
© Sky NewsThe story has attracted widespread media attention in China.
Hefei - A Chinese farmer could not afford hospital bills to have his leg amputated after suffering an arterial embolism, so used a metal saw and knife to amputate his leg himself. Zheng Yanliang amputated the leg in April this year but the story has just emerged.

Chinese media have just covered the sad tale of Mr Zheng, a Chinese farmer and factory worker from Boading in Hefei Province.

Mr Zheng first started to get pains in his right leg in January 2012. After several visits to the hospital, he was diagnosed with arterial embolism, with amputation the only recourse. His family had no more money to pay for visits to hospital, so Mr Zheng was discharged and given just three months to live.

Neighbors reported hearing his agonized screams at night, local media report. And his wife said the painkillers he had been given did not give him any relief.

Red Flag

'Most men allow harmful shit to happen to women, but I won't anymore, and neither should you'

Read the first letter from the #31forMarissa project, in which men write about domestic violence experienced by women they know.

When it comes to the movement to end domestic violence, women have remained at the forefront of the struggle. That's one of the reasons that inspired a new campaign called #31forMarissa. The campaign calls on men nationwide to write in support of Marissa Alexander, a Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years in jail after firing a warning shot at a wall near her abusive husband.

On September 25, a judge ordered a new trial for Alexander.

Each day, #31forMarissa will post a different letter written by a man about his story of violence experienced by women in his circle - his mom, sisters, daughters or friends. (Read the first letter below.) The letters will run on a blog called theSWAGspot, dedicated to starting conversations by men, throughout the month of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Hard copies of the letters will be sent to Marissa Alexander.

#31forMarissa was created by Esther Armah, founder of Emotional Justice Unplugged, a multimedia campaign focused on how emotions affect behavior, and Mariame Kaba, co-founder of the Chicago Task Force on Violence Against Girls and Young Women. The Free Marissa Now movement is also sponsoring the campaign.


American women are dying younger than their mothers and nobody knows why

women die younger
Health Affairs/The Population Institute, University of Wisconsin
Despite rapid medical and technological advances aimed at increasing life expectancy, it seems women today are missing out on benefiting from such progress.

According to recent studies, the life span for women has decreased over the last two decades, with women today expected to have a much shorter life span than their mothers, The Atlantic reported.


Polish Archbishop Jozef Michalik sex abuse comments prompt outrage: 'Child seeking love' because of divorced parents

© Janek Skarzynski/Agence France-Presse/Getty imagesArchbishop Jozef Michalik obviously has no heart
Poland's most senior Catholic cleric said children with divorced parents were sometimes more vulnerable to sexual abuse by priests, remarks that prompted a storm of outrage though the church later said it was a slip of the tongue.

The comments from Archbishop Jozef Michalik entrenched the view among some younger Poles that the church is out of touch with modern society and failing to properly confront allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

In comments shown on Tuesday by broadcaster TVN24, Michalik said child sexual abuse by priests was unacceptable, but the debate about it needed to be broadened out beyond the immediate physical or psychological wounds inflicted on the victims.

"And one has to say ... how many wounds are inflicted when parents divorce? We often hear that this inappropriate attitude (paedophilia), or abuse, manifests itself when a child is seeking love," said the clergyman, who is head of the Roman Catholic episcopate in Poland.

Eye 2

2.3 million Americans rot in prison -- Meet the corporations exploiting them for profit

The prison industry is more lucrative than you think.
"Global Tel* Link. You have a collect call from: 'Tim.' An inmate in Shelby County Correctional Facility.... If you wish to accept and pay for this call, dial zero now."
I don't know how many times I heard the same robotic voice speak these words since last fall. I was researching the story of Timothy McKinney, a Memphis man facing his third death-penalty trial for the killing of an off-duty police officer in 1997. Tim would call from Shelby County Jail, to answer my questions and to do what anyone facing trial would want to do: air concerns about his case, vent. Sometimes he would call multiple times a week. Because the phone calls were limited to fifteen minutes at a time, a couple of times he hung up and called right back, so we could keep talking.

The calls were expensive, more than a dollar per minute, depending on the time of day. In order to accept one, I had to set up a prepaid account with Global Tel* Link, or GTL, "The Next Generation of Correctional Technology." If Tim called and my account was out of money, the automated voice would prompt me to replenish it via credit card, while he waited on the other line. "By accepting an inmate call, you acknowledge and agree that your conversation may be monitored and recorded," the company advises.


Circumcised men desperate to reverse the proceedure

circumcised men
Some circumcised men reportedly feel angry and resentful about the surgery and look to find methods of reversing it because they feel it makes them 'sexually incomplete'
Many men are circumcised at an early age or have to undergo the procedure later in life for health reasons.

Now, a small but vociferous community of circumcised men is gathering online to discuss methods of 'foreskin restoration'.

These men reportedly feel angry and resentful about the surgery and are looking to find methods of reversing it.

They are congregating on forums where they can vent their anger and discuss their options, The Kernel reports.

Typically, they are using websites such as and

Bizarro Earth

'Morally reprehensible': Downton Abbey viewers left in shock after Anna Bates is raped

© ITVDownton Abbey's Anna Bates was left battered and bruised after being attacked by Mr Green
Fans of hit show Downton Abbey were left in shock last night, after popular house maid Anna Bates was beaten and raped.

Hundreds of viewers took to Twitter to air their disgust after the popular character, played by Joanne Froggatt, was left battered and bruised after being sexually abused by newcomer Mr Green.

A message was played before the third episode in the new series, warning that that it contained "violent scenes that some viewers may find upsetting."

However, despite the warning, many fans were left "distressed" and reprimanded writer Julian Fellowes' decision to air the scene.

"Can someone tell me what the point was of that rape scene in Dowton Abbey? It merely reminded me that all men are potential rapists," wrote one viewer.


Propaganda? College grad says Obamacare 'has raped my future' in viral letter

A University of Michigan graduate penned an open letter that went viral online as she described how President Barack Obama's signature health care law hurts the working poor, and has "raped" her future.

Ashley Dionne, 26, posted the now-viral letter to conservative radio host Dennis Prager's Facebook page earlier this week.

She explains how she graduated from the University of Michigan in 2009, at which point she was told she was "too educated and wouldn't stay" at low-paying jobs.

Dionne writes that she has a series of medical conditions, and the Obamacare system pushes her out of a system that favors the non-working poor.

Che Guevara

Gambia accuses U.S., UK of attempts to topple its government and steal its resources - Withdraws its membership of 'neo-colonial' British Commonwealth

Gambia has accused the United States and Britain of fomenting multiple coup attempts and supporting the opposition in a bid to topple
President Yahya Jammeh and destabilize the country.

Comment: Any takers for 'terrorists' being planted in Gambia by Christmas?