Society's ChildS

Cardboard Box

UK university students relying on bin-raiding (dumpster-diving) to survive

Bin raiding team with food items retrieved from supermarket bins in York - left to right: Santiago Parilli, Ursula Wild, Jo Barrow, Robin Lee
It emerged this week that Tesco discarded 20,000 tonnes of food in the first six months of 2013 - but not everyone is horrified. Jo Barrow, a 21-year-old student at York University and one of a growing band of 'bin raiders', reveals the appeal of rifling through supermarket refuse

It's 2am on a bitterly cold winter night, and my friends and I are nervously looking over our shoulders in an exposed supermarket forecourt. As certain as we'll ever be that we're alone, one of us clambers over the fence that protects the back lot and disappears on the other side. We pause, nervously silent, listening for footsteps. There's a click and a squeak; our friend opens the gate and we slip in.

We pull on our gloves and head to the bins by the shop. We try the first one: locked. The second is locked too. We head to the third, breath held, and pull at the lid. It's stacked high with casually discarded food: pâtés, grapes, bacon, bars of chocolate, curries - it was all there, if a little the worse for wear and, legally speaking, unfit for human consumption. We unfurl some bin liners and, quite literally, dive in.

My friends and I have been living off bin food for more than two years. We're students, so the quick and easy access to seemingly limitless and varied free food is too good an opportunity to pass up - and it's changed our lives. Somehow, with no time, barely any cooking ability and little money, we've been feeding ourselves better than we'd ever have been able to if we'd stuck to the usual student staples of eggs and bread-with-stuff.


Fukushima whistleblower exposes yakuza connections, exploitation of cleanup workers

© Reuters/Issei KatoWorkers wearing protective suits and masks are seen next to the No.4 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture
Revelations from a Fukushima cleanup worker-turned-whistleblower have exposed the plant's chaotic system of subcontractors, their alleged mafia connections and the super-exploitation of indigent workers doing this dangerous work.

The allegations, contained in an investigative report by Reuters, have also exposed deeply-rooted problems within Japan's nuclear industry as a whole. In the report, detailing the everyday realities of workers at the stricken facility, Reuters interviewed an estimated 80 casual workers and managers. The most common complaint voiced was the cleanup effort's utter dependence on subcontractors - which it is alleged endangered not just workers' rights, but also their lives.

Tetsuya Hayashi, a 41-tyear-old construction worker by trade, applied
for a job at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, after he suspected that the plant was in deeper trouble than it was willing to admit. The $150 billion cleanup effort, which is expected to last several decades into the future, has already required up to 50,000, mostly casual workers.

However, Hayashi only lasted two weeks on the job, as it became apparent that the vast network of subcontractors involved in the cleanup efforts could not care less for his rights (or his health), while Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the plant's operator, was doing little except giving subcontractors a slap on the wrist.

Hired to monitor the exposure to radiation of plant workers leaving the job during the summer of 2012, Hayashi was assigned to the most bio-hazardous sector and given a protective anti-radiation suit. However, even with the suit on, we exceeded his safe annual radiation quota in less than an hour.

The subcontractor who hired Hayashi was not following nuclear safety rules, according to exposure guidelines by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Reuters reported.

Comment: See also: Fukushima's Nuclear Mafia


Number of people relying on food banks tripled in a year

Food banks have seen a surge in use - "Children are going to school hungry", says Mark Ward, Trussell Trust
The number of people relying on food banks to survive has tripled over the last year, according to new figures.

The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year.

A third of those being helped were children, and a third needed food following a delay in the payment of benefits.

A cross-party group of MPs has been set up to investigate the surge in demand.

The Labour MP Frank Field, appointed by David Cameron as the government's poverty advisor, will head up the committee along with Conservative Laura Sandys.


Best of the Web: Forbes ranks Putin world's most powerful person, downs Obama

Vladimir Putin
© Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AFPUS President Barack Obama (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been ranked the most powerful person in the world by Forbes. He topped the list of the 72 world figures that "matter the most," while US President Barack Obama was rated second.

Putin's Syria "chess match" that prevented the US strike, and his having the last word in the diplomatic row over the fugitive NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, didn't go unnoticed with the editorial rating of the influential American business magazine, and were noted among the reasons for his top place.

Comment: With Vladimir Putin's RECENT efforts to avoid another war in the Middle East, it sure seems like he is becoming more of a peacemaker than war waging imperialist. Not bad for a "autocratic leader," "ex-KGB strongman," and "dictator".


Denver police investigating bones found at apparent occult scene

Lakewood police are investigating what they suspect are human and animal remains believed to have been used for occult worship.

Officers were called around 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 to the 1200 block of Kline Street where a cleaning crew hired by a realtor made the discovery, said Steve Davis, Lakewood police spokesman.

The bones were found in a shed, along with candles, bottles, chains and a crucifix, Davis said.

The former owner of the home left the country in 1998 and has since died, police said. Investigators talked to people who knew the man, including at least one family member, who indicated he was an occultist, Davis said.

"It's all very strange," Davis said.

The items in question in the shed were extremely soiled, covered in multiple layers of dust and appeared to have been undisturbed for more than 15 years, Davis said.

Snakes in Suits

One-legged beggar 'names and shames' Tory MP who told him to get a job

Mark McGuigan
© Mark RichardsMark McGuigan said he was humiliated and intimidated by the Tory MP’s intervention
A one-legged beggar said he was made to feel small and humiliated by a 6ft 8in Conservative MP who told him to 'get a job'.

Mark McGuigan said ministerial aide Daniel Kawczynski loomed over him outside Westminster Tube station to tell him 'get a job, find some work. Yes, I know it is hard, I have struggled too'.

The 47-year-old former drug addict, confined to a wheelchair after losing a leg to septicaemia from heroin use ten years ago, said he wanted to 'name and shame' the Tory MP over the October 7 incident.

'He told me to stop begging and to get a job. He made me feel really small. He was so sanctimonious,' he told the Daily Mail.

'I can't get a job. I can barely read and write. Look at me, I am missing a leg. I said that to him but he just started getting more and more aggressive. It was horrible.


Security check now starts long before you fly

© Michael Stravato for The New York TimesAbdulla Darrat, an urban planner from Queens, said he has been singled out for repeated searches by airport security.
The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information.

While the agency says that the goal is to streamline the security procedures for millions of passengers who pose no risk, the new measures give the government greater authority to use travelers' data for domestic airport screenings. Previously that level of scrutiny applied only to individuals entering the United States.

The prescreening, some of which is already taking place, is described in documents the T.S.A. released to comply with government regulations about the collection and use of individuals' data, but the details of the program have not been publicly announced.


5 new ways the T.S.A. searches you before a flight

The blue glove of the T.S.A. may start to reach much further than your carry-on.
© Getty Images
If you have an upcoming flight, you've probably already been through security -- even if you are nowhere near the airport. The Transportation Security Administration (T.S.A.) will now inspect passengers much more closely, for both domestic and international flights, by surveying a host of different databases.

Here are five new stealthy scans you might unwittingly undergo (well) before boarding your next flight:

Red Flag

Human remains found in Los Angeles water treatment plants

© Screenshot via CBS Los Angeles
The upper torso of a woman found Monday at a waste treatment plant is believed to be related to the human remains found this weekend at a similar facility in Carson.

The human remains of the woman, who was possibly Hispanic, were found by maintenance workers at a facility operated by the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County in the 1900 block of Workman Mill Road in Bassett, near the 60 and 605 freeways.

The remains were discovered in one of the facility's water reclamation plant pools.

"During a check for a plug in a line, they discovered a human torso," sheriff's Lt. Mike Rosson said. "That human torso appears to be related to...remains that were found in Carson on Saturday morning."

Che Guevara

Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt

© Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto/ FlowersWaste land: large-scale irrigation strips nutrients from the soil, scars the landscape and could alter climactic conditions beyond repair.
Is our relentless quest for economic growth killing the planet? Climate scientists have seen the data - and they are coming to some incendiary conclusions.

In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year's conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa's Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

But it was Werner's own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled "Is Earth F**ked?" (full title: "Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism").

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that "earth-human systems" are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the "are we f**ked" question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, "More or less."