Society's ChildS


New York, US: Two Roll-Your-Own-Cigarette Stores to Close

Roll Your Own
© Seth Wenig/Associated PressA customer at Island Smokes in Chinatown put the finishing touches on a rolled cigarette last month.

Two stores, on Staten Island and in Chinatown, have agreed to stop selling roll-your-own cigarettes after New York City accused them of being fronts for evading cigarette taxes.

The owners of the stores, both called Island Smokes, agreed to close them by February as part of a consent decree filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, according to the city's Law Department. They also agreed that no one associated with the businesses would operate a similar enterprise in New York City; stores had already been planned for the East Village and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The stores, which sell loose tobacco and rolling papers and have machines to help customers make their cigarettes, had appeared to operate in a legal gray area. The owners had argued that because they sold loose tobacco, they should not be subject to full state and city cigarette taxes, which can nearly double the price of a pack of cigarettes.

Comment: Smoking has been found to have numerous health benefits contrary to what has been propagandized via government and the mainstream media. To find out more, see these Sott links:

Let's All Light Up!

Health Benefits of Smoking Tobacco

Cigarette Smoke Can Prevent Allergies, Study Suggests

Card - VISA

A Christmas Carol 2011


Slouched in woe beside the Christmas tree, a lot of Americans missed the point of 2011: Santa Claus had already emptied his goodie sack before the night of wonders and miracles arrived and was back at the North Pole checking the balance sheet to see if he could raise a little cash selling some remaining assets off to the Blackstone Group or maybe work a leveraged buyout deal with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. A few elves would have to join the unemployment line, but they could probably get by on half-rations of food stamps. Or maybe Henry Kravis could feed them reindeer steaks... at a discount, as long as they last.

It's remarkable how the year's great mega-holiday blowout suspends time and circumstance. I didn't see how the European banks were going to make it to December 25, but then, heading into the shopping frenzy home-stretch, swap lines opened up between the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank and around $600-odd billion in ZIRP loans flowed to over 200 Euro banks. Maybe that will cover the next two weeks of aggregate debt rollovers, and then what? They can't even look forward to President's Day over there - unless we rented out the George Washington and Abe Lincoln brands to them.

Who is still not impressed with the ability of these central banks, and their owner-operators, to keep re-circulating immense loads of notional money? Alas, every wash-rinse repeat cycle leaves the certificates a little paler and thinner, and it won't be long before they just appear to be blank paper. But rackets as grand and insolent as these would not be possible, except in a culture so estranged from truth that anything goes over without notice. I wonder about that scene around the American Christmas tree, though - the empty space between the floor and the lowest boughs where the gaily-wrapped presents used to appear.

Santa Hat

US: Texas Police: Gunman Dressed as Santa

© ReutersPolice officers investigate a vehicle parked outside an apartment where seven people were shot and killed on Christmas day in Grapevine, Texas, Dec. 25.
Grapevine, Texas - Six members of a Texas family apparently opened Christmas presents just before a relative dressed as Santa Claus showed up, opened fire and killed them before killing himself, police said Monday.

Grapevine police spokesman Sgt. Robert Eberling said the shooter showed up in the Santa outfit shortly before gunfire erupted and was a member of the family. The identity of the shooter and the victims will be released after autopsies are conducted Monday, he said.


UK: Fatal Stabbing at Boxing Day Sales: Several People Arrested After Horror on London's Oxford Street

Terrified sales shoppers looked on in horror today as a man was stabbed to death amid crowds of Boxing Day bargain hunters.

The victim was fatally attacked outside a branch of Foot Locker in Oxford Street, at the heart of London's West End shopping district.

Witnesses said the black man, aged in his late twenties or early thirties, was involved in a clash with a group of other young men.

© Jenny GoodallFatal stabbing: The scene outside Foot Locker in Oxford Street where a man was stabbed to death on Boxing Day.


A Message For All Of Humanity

Christmas Tree

SOTT Focus: Christmas DisGraced

This year, as I bear witness to the quickening changes in our world, I find that I also can't ignore the various reminders of the holiday season. I face an interesting conundrum as I attempt to walk the line of allowing those around me the free will to celebrate carelessly as if all is well while knowing it is not.

This situation gave rise to thoughts of Christmas traditions as we know them today and how they began. What's the story behind the Christmas tree? Going a step further than Virginia O'Hanlon, I wondered if Santa was really an actual person. In short, why is Christmas - Christmas? Perhaps with some digging, we can get a bit closer to the truth.

Cowboy Hat

US: The Incredible Shrinking Sarah Palin

What has Sarah Palin been doing while no one was watching? A year ago, Palin's every tweet -- even retweet -- was worldwide news. But since she decided not the run for president, the press has become mostly bored with her. What has she been doing with her vacation from media scrutiny? Mostly still working out her grudges from the 2008 campaign.
sarah palin wink
© unknown

"I have had people who have sworn on a bible that they have had affairs with Todd or had affairs with me or one specific one was a masseuse that she massaged me when I was seven months pregnant and she could tell that I wasn't pregnant, hence, Trig was not my kid. And that resulted in this whole Trig truth or issue that I still deal with every day. I've had these liars out there trying to ruin my family and my reputation and my record. So I know what Herman Cain is going through."

Palin: You know, remember too, Sean, we have a distinct advantage going into the 2012 race that we did not have in '08. Obama finally has a record. Of course he did not have a record when he ran as a candidate in '08. He had voted present most of his political career. He was an unknown and just had a lot of hogwash rhetoric that he spewed about hope and change. And now we know what that hope and change represented, and it was socialist policies and they're not working. And that's why we see the joblessness and the home mortgage crisis that is really making Americans suffer. We see so many problems today that are a result of what Obama really represents. So we have that advantage today...


US: Connecticut Woman Whose Dogs Mauled Toddler to Death is Charged

A Connecticut woman whose three pit bulls fatally mauled a 20-month-old girl staying in her home has been charged with criminally negligent homicide and other offenses, police said on Friday.

Erica Hobdy, 30, of West Haven, Connecticut, had been babysitting her niece, Neveah Angel Bryant, on the evening of September 30 when authorities say that as many as three pit bulls owned by Hobdy mauled the girl inside a bedroom of Hobdy's apartment.

Nearly three months after the attack, Hobdy was charged in Milford Superior Court on Thursday with first-degree reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a minor, in addition to criminally negligent homicide, said West Haven Police Officer Bret Schneider.

West Haven is located a few miles south of New Haven on the central Connecticut coast.

Che Guevara

Russia: Tens of Thousands of Protesters Pressure Putin

Tens of thousands of flag-waving and chanting protesters called Saturday for a disputed parliamentary election to be rerun and an end to Vladimir Putin's rule, increasing pressure on the Russian leader as he tries to win back the presidency.

The protesters shouted "Russia without Putin" and "New elections, New elections" as one speaker after another called for an end to Putin's 12-year domination of the country at the second big opposition rally in two weeks in central Moscow.

"Do you want Putin to return to the presidency?" novelist Boris Akunin asked from a large stage. Whistling and jeering, protesters chanted: "No!"

Witnesses said at least as many people turned out as at the last big Moscow rally on December 10 to protest against alleged vote-rigging in the December 4 election won by Putin's United Russia party.

Police said at least 28,000 attended the rally on Prospekt Sakharova (Sakharov Avenue), named after Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov. But one of the organizers, liberal politician Vladimir Ryzhkov, put the crowd size at 120,000. Some climbed lamp-posts or trees to get a better view.


Pope Ushers in Christmas, Decries Commercialization

Pope Benedict
© Reuters/Max RossiPope Benedict XVI holds the book of the gospels as he leads the Christmas mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican December 24, 2011.
Pope Benedict ushered in Christmas for the world's 1.3 billion Roman Catholics on Saturday, urging humanity to see through the superficial glitter and commercialism of the season and rediscover the real significance of the humble birth of Jesus.

The 84-year-old pope, celebrating the seventh Christmas season of his pontificate, also urged that those marking the holiday in poverty, suffering or far from home not be forgotten.

At the start of a Christmas Eve service, he was wheeled up the central aisle of St Peter's Basilica standing on a mobile platform which he has been using since October.

The Vatican says it is to conserve his strength, allow more people to see him and guard against attacks such as one on Christmas Eve, 2009, when a woman lunged at him and knocked him to the ground. He is believed to suffer from arthritis in the legs.

But he seemed to be in good shape during the solemn service in Christendom's largest church as choirs sang, cantors chanted and organ music filled the centuries-old basilica.