Society's ChildS


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?


Best of the Web: Impending collapse of civilization is mathematical certainty, says University of Connecticut professor

© "White House Down" film image Professor Peter Turchin has spent years developing a model that uses numbers to explain historical cycles - like the fall of the Roman Empire, the Rise of Communism. And he says the end of America's superiority is next - unless something drastic happens to avert it.
There is a mathematical formula created by a professor at the University of Connecticut which appears to be predicting a huge social shift - and which may explain why we're in the shutdown and debt ceiling crisis.

Professor Peter Turchin has spent years developing a model that uses numbers to explain historical cycles - like the fall of the Roman Empire, the Rise of Communism.

He measures things like income inequality, the minimum wage, and health - which he measures by life expectancy and the average height of the population.

And the bottom line is - the wider the gap between rich and poor, the unhappier the general population is, and the closer people get to revolution.

We are, right now, climbing that inequality curve and all the signs are there: low taxes on the rich and low wages for workers.

Comment: See also:

Cliodynamics: Explaining and Predicting Human History

Transforming history into science: Arise 'cliodynamics'

Arrow Down

Vampire cannibals: Real ghouls haunt Papua New Guinea

Skeleton Dance
© marcovarro/ShutterstockA group of children and adults get ready for the skeleton dance at Goroka Tribal Festival in Goroka, Papua New Guinea, on September 16, 2011.
Papua New Guinea - a large island nation north of Australia - boasts a fast-growing economy and a rich natural resource base of gold, copper, oil and agricultural products. But deep within the British Commonwealth country's rugged mountains and tropical rain forests, some dark practices still occur.

On Wednesday (Oct. 9), the father of a three-year-old girl allegedly took his daughter into a wooded area and bit into her neck, eating the flesh and sucking her blood, the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier reports. Two boys witnessed the event and reported it to local officials, who quickly arrested the man.

"He was just laughing at the boys and continued eating the flesh and sucking the blood," local councilor John Kenny told the Post-Courier. As gruesome as the incident was, it's not an isolated event, according to numerous reports from Papua New Guinea (PNG). The relatively unexplored country is home to millions of people who live in isolated rural villages and maintain traditional practices that, by many reports, sometimes include cannibalism.

Last year, PNG officials arrested 29 people for killing and cannibalizing the brains and genitals of seven people accused of sorcery. In February, the family of a 6-year-old boy who had recently died accused a 20-year-old mother of witchcraft.

The woman was stripped, bound, tortured with a hot iron, doused with gasoline and burned to death on a pile of trash in broad daylight in front of hundreds of onlookers, The Associated Press reported. Officials condemned the brutal killing, but made no arrests.


My embarrassing picture went viral

When strangers mocked me for my weight, it was a lesson in Internet cruelty, mean girls -- and fighting back

© Courtesy of the author
I logged onto my Facebook one morning to find a message from a girlfriend. "You're internet famous!" it read. She sent a link to a very public page whose sole purpose was posting images that mock people's appearances. There I was in full glory - a picture of me dressed as my hero Lara Croft: Tomb Raider for Halloween - but written over the image were the words "Fridge Raider."

Funny enough, I wasn't even angry at first. I was actually kind of amused. Who doesn't laugh at unfortunate shots of poorly dressed strangers? I've certainly done it before; the Internet runs on this kind of anonymous scorn. There are entire websites dedicated to the poor fashion choices of random people. And just like me, most of those people are fat.

Che Guevara

'March against Monsanto': Global movement plans 2nd protest

Monsanto protests
© AFP Photo / Robyn Beck
Joining six continents, 52 countries and over 500 cities, 'March against Monsanto' is planning its second mass rally Saturday against the biotech giant and genetically modified food. A number of Agent Orange victims are expected to join the protest.

"Saturday is a big day of action against Monsanto. We took our lights out to a local cornfield. Monsanto is bad for our food and bad for our planet," the March against Monsanto's movement posted on its Facebook page.

The rallies, which come four days ahead of World Food Day on Oct. 16, will call on millions of activists to boycott "Monsanto's predatory business," genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and other harmful pesticides, which threaten "health, fertility and longevity."

On October, 5, Movement against Monsanto launched a global 'Twitter storm' asking people to tweet and post certain hashtags as frequently as possible.

"The goal of this Twitter storm is to get the March and info about GMOs trending on Twitter and Facebook and to build awareness about Monsanto and their dangerous products and policies," the organizers said in a statement.


Civics Class? The U.S. government shutdown is teaching students how not to run a country

"What we're seeing now is so at odds with what we teach in civics classes that it's going to cause cognitive dissonance."

government shutdown
© Evan Vucci/Associated Press
With the partial shutdown of the federal government well into its second week, it's reasonable to ask what lessons students might be absorbing from the actions of Congress - or lack thereof. Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University, told me the political stalemate might translate into a short-term "teachable moment" for a class on government. But in the long run, it's a less-than-ideal curriculum.

"What we're seeing now is so at odds with what we teach in civics classes that it's going to cause cognitive dissonance," Levine said. He added that students already know there's a disconnect between what they're being taught about how U.S. government is supposed to function and the realities of current events. And the shutdown only contributes to that gap, he added.

Levine's organization recently convened a commission to examine civic learning and engagement among young people, leading to a new report released today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge conducted an extensive mix of surveys and interviews (including repeats over time to measure changes) with more than 700 teachers and more than 6,000 young people. Among the key takeaways:
  • On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as "The Nation's Report Card," white students from affluent families were "four to six times as likely to exceed the 'proficient' level" on the civics test, when compared with their black or Hispanic classmates from low-income households. (Irony alert: If you're looking for more on NAEP, you won't find it on the official government site. It's been shut down by the shutdown.)
  • Even in presidential elections, fewer than half of eligible young Americans vote. Those who do show up at the polls are more affluent and highly educated than those who don't vote.
  • Nine out of 10 Americans ages 18-24 failed to meet the organization's benchmark of "informed engagement" last year, defined as the following: "registered, voted, answered at least one (out
 of two) campaign knowledge questions correctly, answered four or more general political knowledge questions correctly, voted consistently with their personal opinion on
a campaign issue of their choice, and followed the news fairly or very closely during the election season."
While neither voter turnout nor political knowledge among young people has declined much since the 1970s, the political debate has become "more confusing, alienating, and polarizing," the report's authors contend.
"The degree of pushback and controversy surrounding the very idea of civic engagement is new," Levine told me. "If I had to highlight just one statistic, it's that a quarter of [the government and civics] teachers said their students' parents would object to discussion of politics in the classroom."


Outrageous! Intern can't bring sexual harassment suit because she's not a paid 'employee'

Federal Court in NY rules that an intern doesn't deserve human rights protection against employee because she's unpaid.

As if being an unpaid intern wasn't rough enough, it gets worse....

Last week, New York federal district court judge Kevin Castle ruled that a former unpaid intern could not bring a sexual harassment suit under New York City Human Rights Law because the absence of remuneration disqualified her from "employee status" under the law, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

In order to bring a claim under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, employee status is deemed an "essential condition to the existence of an employer-employee relationship" and to date, interns are not considered 'employees'.

In the case at hand, Lihuan Wang, a former intern at Phoenix Satellite Television US, Inc. filed a suit against the company after what she described as repetitive sexual advances and physical touching by her supervisor and bureau chief.

Dollar Gold

Obamacare's winners and losers in Bay Area

Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.

Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.

Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four.

"Welcome to the club," said Robert Laszewksi, a prominent health care consultant and president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates in Virginia.

For years, the nation has been embroiled in the political rhetoric of "Obamacare," but this past week the reality of the new law sank in as millions of Americans had their first good look at how the 3 1/2-year-old legislation will affect their pocketbooks.

Bizarro Earth

Obamacare supporter: 'Of course I want people to have health care, I just didn't realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally'

© AFP/Getty ImagesA woman looks at the HealthCare. gov insurance exchange internet site October 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. US President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is commonly called, passed in March 2010, went into effect Tuesday at 8am EST.
Supporters of President Barack Obama and his health care law were shocked to learn that their health care plans are being replaced with more expensive ones to comply with all the requirements of Obamacare.

Cindy Vinson, of San Jose, Calif., will reportedly pay $1,800 more each year for an individual policy. Additionally, Tom Waschura, of Portola Valley, Calif., will pay nearly $10,000 more for insurance to cover his family of four.

Both of the California residents "vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama," according to the San Jose Mercury News. They also both anticipated their rates would go up, just not so drastically.

"Of course, I want people to have health care, I just didn't realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally," Vinson said.