Society's ChildS


Best of the Web: US: Children of welfare recipients in California forced to pay for welfare debt

© Illustrated London News (23 December 1843)Refuge for the Destitute
Children in California are being fined for debt payments their parents incurred while on welfare. The vindictive practice has been going on for years, as California welfare agencies collect money from family members living off of government assistance, even if a family member was a minor when the debt occurred.

Many of the debts were brought on by clerical error or fraud and therefore were especially no fault of the children. A lawsuit on behalf of two girls, Irene Ayers and Jamie Hartley, has been filed by two legal organizations, the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the Public Interest Law Project.

Patti Prunhuber, a lawyer from the Public Interest Law Project, told the WSWS that state agencies are barred from collecting payment or seeking criminal charges from cases that are more than four years old. However, according to Prunhuber, the state can still seek repayment for "extremely old" overpayments by intercepting income tax rebates and garnishing wages.


Best of the Web: Wealth Inequality In America May Be Worse Than It Was In Ancient Rome

roman coin
© Unknown
The 99 Percent Movement effectively changed the American political debate from debt and deficits to income inequality, highlighting the fact that income inequality has increased so much in the U.S. that it is now more unequal than countries like Ivory Coast and Pakistan. While those numbers are startling, a study from two historians suggests that American wealth inequality may actually be worse than it was in Ancient Rome - a society built on slave labor, a defined class structure, and centuries of warfare and conquest.

In the United States, the top 1 percent controls roughly 40 percent of the nation's wealth. According to the study, which examined Roman ledgers, previous estimates, imperial edicts, and Biblical passages, Rome's top 1 percent controlled less than half that at the height of its economic power, as Tim De Chant notes at Per Square Mile:
Their target was the state of the economy when the empire was at its population zenith, around 150 C.E. Schiedel and Friesen estimate that the top 1 percent of Roman society controlled 16 percent of the wealth, less than half of what America's top 1 percent control.
Of course, the millions of Romans at the bottom of the empire's class structure - the conquered and enslaved, the poorest Romans, and the women who had little civic or economic empowerment - would probably disagree with the study's conclusion. Still, it serves as yet another highlight of how large the income gap in the United States has become over the last three decades.

Star of David

The Nightmare is Now Israel's Too

israeli settler violence
© Unknown
There is a hint of poetic justice in the events of the last week. It may not be politically correct to relish in this justice, but it is only natural. Extremist Israeli settlers have recently turned some of their manic wrath on their own government alongside the ever escalating violence against the Palestinians.

The two cannot be compared in terms of magnitude, but the fact that the nightmare Israel had intended solely for the purpose of running the Palestinians off their land has turned on them is an ironic twist nonetheless.

Settlers have gone on a rampage this week, mostly against Palestinians. They have burned three mosques including one in Jerusalem, cut down dozens of olive trees, burned down cars and water tanks and attacked ordinary citizens. Palestinians have unfortunately grown accustomed to the indifference of Israel's military and political establishments towards attacks on Palestinians. Palestinians know that in the best case scenario, patrolling Israeli soldiers will turn a blind eye to the settlers and in the worst case, join them in the attack.


Mexico Mayan Region Launches Apocalypse Countdown

Mayan Calander
© unknown
Only a year is left before Dec. 21, 2012, when some believe the Maya predicted the end of the world.

While some doomsday theorists may suggest putting together survival kits, people in southeastern Mexico, the heart of Maya territory, plan to throw a yearlong celebration. And to make a profit while they party.

Mexico's tourism agency expects to draw 52 million visitors over the coming year just to the five states richest in Maya heritage. Mexico as a whole is expected to lure just 22 million foreigners this year.

It is selling the date, the Winter Solstice, as a time of renewal. Most Mexican archaeological authorities say that the 2012 reference on a 1,300-year-old stone tablet only marks the end of a cycle in the Mayan calendar, not an apocalypse.

"The world will not end. It is an era," said Yeanet Zaldo, a tourism spokeswoman for the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, home to Cancun. "For us, it is a message of hope."

Heart - Black

US: 2 Charged In Attack Of New Jersey Homeless Man After Video Posted On YouTube

Police say two young men have been charged in connection with an assault of a homeless man after videos of the attacks were posted on YouTube.

The videos, which have since been taken down, show a young man walking into a wooded area in Wall Township.

The cameraman asks him what he's about to do.

"About to go beat up this bum," he says in the video.

Then in the video, a man who police later identified as homeless, is seen being tackled, punched, pushed, kicked and kneed by the young man.


US: Occupy Denver Camp Set Ablaze as Cops Move In

Daniel Petty/The Denver Post/The Associated Press
Police arrested four people at the site of Occupy Denver, including two charged with arson for allegedly setting the makeshift shelters on fire as officers moved in just before midnight.

Two other people were arrested for failing to obey a police officer's order, KUSA reports.

Some of the protesters took a knee in Tim Tebow-style as the police began clearing the area near the Civic Center shortly before midnight, The Denver Post reports. The crowd of around 40 then sang God Bless America before retreating.

Che Guevara

Egypt: Mass March by Cairo Women in Protest Over Soldiers' Abuse

© Asmaa Waguih/ReutersWomen protested against the military council violations against female demonstrators in Cairo, on Tuesday.
Thousands of women massed in Tahrir Square here on Tuesday afternoon and marched to a journalists' syndicate and back in a demonstration that grew by the minute into an extraordinary expression of anger at the treatment of women by the military police as they protested against continued military rule.

Many held posters of the most sensational image of violence over the last weekend: a group of soldiers pulling the abaya off a prone woman to reveal her blue bra as one raises a boot to kick her. The picture, circulated around the world, has become a rallying point for activists opposed to military rule, though cameras also captured soldiers pulling the clothes off other women.

The march, guarded by a cordon of male protesters, was a surprising turn. In Egypt, as in other countries swept by the revolts of the Arab Spring, women played important roles, raising hopes that broader social and political rights would emerge along with more accountable governments. But with the main popular focus on preparing for elections and protesting the military's continued hold on power, women here had grown less politically visible.


US: 5 Killed in Small Plane Crash on New Jersey Highway

A small plane headed for Georgia crashed Tuesday on one of the New York City area's busiest highways, spiraling out of control, losing a wing, hitting the wooded median strip and exploding. Five people on board were killed.

There were no casualties on the ground from the crash on Interstate 287, State Police Lt. Stephen Jones said.

Wreckage was scattered over at least a half-mile-wide area, with a wing found lodged in a tree of a home about a quarter-mile away, near a highway entrance ramp.

Helicopter footage from CBS2 showed charred wreckage stretching across the median and the highway, a heavily used route that wraps around the northern and western edges of the New York City area. Both sides of the highway were shut down.


30 Anti-Israel Youths Arrested in Turkey

Turkish police have arrested 30 youths after they began an anti-Israeli protest during a basketball match between Turkey and Israel in the central Turkish city of Kayseri.

Police entered the basketball stadium in Kayseri city on Monday after a crowd of Turkish spectators, waving Palestinian flags, began the protest.

As the protest continued, Israeli players left the playing ground.

"They have been accused of insulting Israel," the police said, referring to the Turkish protesters.

This is not the first time the Israeli players have been forced off the court. In 2009, Israeli players left the court when some 3000 Turkish fans disrupted a basketball game in the capital city of Ankara.


Occupy London Wins UBS Court Appeal, Fights St. Paul's Eviction

© Graeme RobertsonThe Occupy London camp outside St Paul's cathedral
Occupy London protesters who took over a vacant UBS AG office building in the city's financial district won court permission to appeal their eviction after a judge ruled they weren't given proper notice of a trial.

The bank's notice to the protesters, in the form of a document posted on the building and a text message sent to a leader 45 minutes before a 10 p.m. hearing, was insufficient to give the group time to prepare or determine how to participate in the case, Court of Appeal Judge Timothy Lloyd ruled today.

There was "really no effective notice of the hearing at all -- especially in circumstances like this, where a hearing took place late at night," Lloyd said. "There is at least a compelling reason why permission to appeal should be granted."

The court victory against Zurich-based UBS comes as the protesters, who seek global economic-equality and claim the bank behaves unethically, are in a separate trial to avoid being evicted from their primary encampment outside St. Paul's Cathedral. More than 200 tents have clustered around the building since the middle of October, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest that has since been broken up by police.

"This ruling is a vindication of the right of everyone in this country to due process," Naomi Colvin, a spokeswoman for Occupy London, said after the ruling. "These people labor under the misconception that they can throw money at a problem; it's emblematic of what the Occupy movement is trying to combat."

UBS's press office in London didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.