Society's ChildS


US: 'Taxed out' New York City smokers are rolling their own

With prices of a pack hitting $15, many illegal solutions exist also

At Island Smokes on New York City's Lower East Side, customers sick of the highest tax on cigarettes in America are fighting back by rolling their own cigarettes out of pipe tobacco.

It's a way around New York City's sky-high cigarette taxes, which have led to a 35 percent drop in smoking rates since 2002, when city anti-smoking initiatives began. according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Among New York City public school students the drop is sharper, down 52 percent since 2001, the New York City Department of Health says.

But while city residents may be smoking less, the high taxes - which boost the cost of cigarettes to as high as $15 a pack - have fueled a black market in contraband cigarettes.

All over New York City, runners hawk untaxed, $5-a-pack smokes on city street corners. Newsstand owners pocket city and state taxes with each cheap pack. And Indian reservations flood the market with contraband cigarettes.


US: Upper West Side Mosquito Mystery - Families terrorized by swarms of underground mosquitoes

An insect invasion is terrorizing New York City homeowners, making life miserable, even dangerous, for many families. Parents have been forced to take extreme measures to protect their children and their homes.

CBS 2's Dave Carlin investigates the growing Upper West Side mosquito mystery.

These rare mosquitoes are extra blood-thirsty and active year-round. Carlin saw some of them in a lab after they were collected in the unlikeliest of places, Bernard Lagan's home on West 84th Street.

"They trapped 150 mosquitoes in the basement in a 24-hour period coming from underground and into the basement and up in to the house through the air vents and it's the same story as the other brownstones on this block," Lagan told Carlin.


Man pleads guilty to illegally trafficking kidneys from Israel where they were later transplanted into American patients at prestigious US hospitals


Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, an Israeli citizen living in Brooklyn, NY, has pleaded guilty to illegally purchasing kidneys from desperate Israelis, and trafficking them back to the US for transplant in patients at prestigious, but unnamed, American hospitals. Rosenbaum has also reportedly pleaded guilty to conspiracy for illegally brokering kidney sales.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), desperate kidney patients collectively paid Rosenbaum $410,000 to purchase kidneys harvested from Israelis who had sold them for a mere fraction of this amount. Rosenbaum's lawyers claim that all the donors agreed to give up their kidneys, but a 1984 federal law prohibits knowingly purchasing or selling organs for transplant.

Rosenbaum allegedly bought the kidneys for as little as $10,000 each, and resold them for a minimum of $120,000 each. He then used the money to purchase property, which he has since agreed to forfeit following his guilty pleas.


US, Minnesota: Judge tosses Jesse Ventura's airport scans lawsuit

Jesse Ventura
© unknownJesse Ventura
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura in which he sought to challenge the use of full-body scans and pat-downs at airport checkpoints.

Ventura sued the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration in January alleging that the scans and pat-downs violated his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizure.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled Thursday that the court lacked jurisdiction.

Ventura claimed that the titanium hip implanted in him in 2008 sets off metal detectors and that agents previously used hand-held wands to scan his body. He says he was subjected to a body pat-down after an airport metal detector went off last November.

Ventura's attorney says Ventura will comment Friday outside the St. Paul federal courthouse.


Anxiety over upcoming test of US emergency system

© Agence France-PresseA traffic light illuminates green in front of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC in August 2011. It's only a test, but nerves are somewhat frayed over the first nationwide exercise of the system designed to alert Americans of national emergencies.
It's only a test, but nerves are somewhat frayed over the first nationwide exercise of the system designed to alert Americans of national emergencies.

The test occurs at 1900 GMT Wednesday, November 9, and may last over three minutes -- longer than the typical 30 seconds or one minute for most broadcast test messages.

According to a message being circulated by local school and government officials, there is "great concern in local police and emergency management circles about undue public anxiety over this test."

"The test message on TV might not indicate that it is just a test," according to one email being circulated by a Washington area school district.

"Fear is that the lack of an explanation message might create panic. Please share this information with your family and friends so they are aware of the test."


US, California: Bay Area Woman Trapped in Airport for Eight Days - All for Lack of a $60 Baggage Fee

Sure, hurricanes and unseasonal blizzards can create major delays in air travel. And the ordinary air traveler faces plenty of exasperation via the heightened, and not always rational, security measures of the Transportation Safety Administration.

But Terri Weissinger, a native of Sonoma County, Calif., has suffered a new scale of airport indignity: Seeking to start a new life in Idaho, Weissinger was condemned to eight days in the limbo of the San Francisco International Airport--because she was unable to pay the fee her airline assessed for an additional piece of checked baggage.

As Michael Finney, a correspondent with the local ABC news affiliate KGO, reports, Wessinger, "was broke" when she left for the airport. (You can watch Finney's report in the video clip above.)

"She had nothing but an airline ticket and $30 in her pocket," Finney notes. She also hadn't traveled by air in the last five years--meaning that when she stepped to the ticket counter to check her bags, she was in for a serious case of sticker shock. The U.S. Airways agent checking her in told her that it was cost $60 to check both her bags. Weissinger offered to pay the fee when she arrived in Idaho, but the agent declined. She also offered to leave one bag there at the San Francisco Airport. That, the agent explained, would be in violation of security regulations.

Heart - Black

China Busts Baby Trafficking Ring

© Agence France-PressePolice in eastern China have broken up a human trafficking gang that bought babies from poor families and sold them on for as much as $8,000, state media said Friday
Police in eastern China have broken up a human trafficking gang that bought babies from poor families and sold them on for as much as $8,000, state media said Friday.

Authorities in Shandong province last month detained 15 members of the gang who had paid women from other parts of China to bear children which they then sold to others, including couples unable to conceive and those wanting sons.

In a microblog posting, police in Zoucheng city -- where the trafficking ring was uncovered -- said boys were sold for up to 50,000 yuan ($8,000) while girls could fetch up to 30,000 yuan.

The state-run Global Times newspaper said authorities had tracked down 13 children but were still searching for four other missing infants.

"Working as migrant workers here, the families mainly came from poverty-stricken areas. Husbands went out to work and wives sold their babies to raise money," police investigator Chen Qingwei was quoted as saying.


Faked Study: Disordered Environments Promote Stereotypes and Discrimination

UPDATE: Diederik Stapel, who led this study, has been accused of fabricating data and has been suspended from his post. It is not clear which of his papers are at stake, but until further details emerge, it would probably be best to take this paper and post with a pinch of salt.

In February 2010, cleaners working at Dutch railway stations went on strike for several weeks. Their stations quickly fell to dirtiness and disarray, but most people didn't mind; public support for the strike was high. But two scientists - Diederik Stapel and Siegwart Lindenberg from Tilburg University - were particularly delighted. In the growing chaos of the stations, they saw an opportunity to test an intriguing concept - that disorderly environments promote stereotypes and discrimination.

Black Cat

The Euro and the EU Were a Mistake

The Greek bailout has the potential to put the global economy into a recession. Some critics say that Greece isn't getting bailed out but the actual banks that own the Greek debt are. Many say the banking establishment needs to go and shouldn't be bailed out as a risky deal goes bad. Lew Rockwell, chairman at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, gives us his thoughts on the Eurozone debt crisis.


US: 1 in 15 Americans Now Rank as Poorest Poor

© APMiguel Lopez hauls a load of plastic bottles and aluminum cans for recycling in Los Angeles, Sept. 14, 2011. Lopez earned $68 for the load.
The ranks of America's poorest poor have climbed to a record high -- 1 in 15 people -- spread widely across metropolitan areas as the housing bust pushed many inner-city poor into suburbs and other outlying places and shriveled jobs and income.

New census data paint a stark portrait of the nation's haves and have-nots at a time when unemployment remains persistently high. It comes a week before the government releases first-ever economic data that will show more Hispanics, elderly and working-age poor have fallen into poverty.

CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports the Midwest is the region with the fastest growing poverty rate, up 79 percent. And Youngstown, Ohio, has the highest concentration of poverty, having been hit hard by the loss of steel jobs.

In all, the numbers underscore the breadth and scope by which the downturn has reached further into mainstream America. "There now really is no unaffected group, except maybe the very top income earners," said Robert Moffitt, a professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University. "Recessions are supposed to be temporary, and when it's over, everything returns to where it was before. But the worry now is that the downturn -- which will end eventually -- will have long-lasting effects on families who lose jobs, become worse off and can't recover."