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Sun, 10 Dec 2023
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A Million Elderly Hit by "Epidemic of Poverty and Loneliness"

A generation of lonely and poverty-stricken pensioners needs urgent help from their communities, a think-tank study argues.

© Alamy
More than a million over-65s report feeling loneliness often or always, and a similar number feel trapped in their homes, according to the Centre for Social Justice.
More than a million over-65s report feeling loneliness often or always, and a similar number feel trapped in their homes, according to the Centre for Social Justice.

The report by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith's think-tank also claims that growing numbers are living alone in their own homes but are unable to meet repair and maintenance costs.

'The result is significant housing poverty among older homeowners, especially in the private sector,' it says.

'Currently there are 3.2million older householders living in non-decent private sector homes.'

The CSJ recommends that these pensioners should be prevailed upon to remortgage their homes to pay for this basic upkeep.

Evil Rays

French Woman Sues Opus Dei, Claims Brainwashing

statue of St Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer
© Agence France-Presse/Vincenzo Pinto
A French woman is suing Opus Dei, founded by St Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, a statue of whom is shown at the Vatican.
A French woman claiming to have been brainwashed by the secretive Catholic society Opus Dei is suing it for allegedly keeping her illegally as a domestic servant, she told AFP Tuesday.

Catherine T., who asked not to be identified by her family name, said she joined a hoteliers' school in northeastern France in 1985, aged 14, which she later discovered was run by associates of Opus Dei.

She said she was forced to take vows and made to work as a domestic servant for virtually no pay.

Opus Dei responded in a statement that it was "not involved in the charges being brought" and had "nothing to be guilty about."

It will be the first ever trial targeting the organization, branded a sect by some, which came to wide attention after featuring in the blockbuster novel and film The Da Vinci Code.

"They assigned me a 'tutor' who was actually a kind of conscience instructor," Catherine told AFP. "I entered into the system.... You were forbidden to talk about it to your parents."

Bizarro Earth

Focusing on Casey Anthony Rather than the Child Murder Epidemic

© Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel
Casey Anthony arrives at Friday's hearing.
Babies and children are killed by their parents and caregivers every day. So what's the big deal about Casey Anthony's case?

Forbes Magazine's women's writer, Kiri Blakeley, points to the number of African American babies and children murdered this winter and spring as ample reason why the Casey Anthony murder trials deserves little attention.

In Blakeley's mind, all children murdered by their caregivers and parents deserve national media attention. Children like Caylee Anthony and Jon Benet Ramsey get far too much attention, Blakely argues.

And while most people are long past their grief for the murdered daughter in the Caylee Anthony murder trial, Casey Anthony's denial and her inability or refusal to admit guilt (or relay any information at all) about her daughter's death, brings people from all over the nation into the Florida courtroom to witness this trial.

When the nation is shocked or fascinated with a person and an incident, they are also shocked by the complete disconnect and lack of empathy that the accused displays while proclaiming innocence.

Scott Peterson, to date, is the strongest example of presumed and declared innocence in such murder trials. For as long as he could, Peterson ran a baton race with the basic and fundamental right of any US citizen---he was innocent until proven guilty.


US: To Catch a Predator host who traps sex perverts in TV stings 'caught cheating on his wife'... by hidden cameras

He's made his name with a controversial show that catches would-be internet sex perverts in televised stings.

But now Chris Hansen has found himself on the receiving end of his own hidden camera tactics, after the married NBC anchor was secretly filmed on an illicit date with a blonde television reporter 20 years his junior.

Hansen, 51, has allegedly been having an affair with Kristyn Caddell, a 30-year-old Florida journalist, for the last four months.


Affair: Married NBC anchor Chris Hansen is allegedly having an affair with Florida television reporter Kristyn Caddell, who is more than 20 years his junior
Last weekend he was recorded taking Miss Caddell on a romantic dinner at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manalapan, before spending the night at her Palm Beach apartment.

Hansen, who has two young sons, was caught in an undercover sting operation arranged by the National Enquirer.


UK: Snake Sanctuary Owner Luke Yeomans Dies from Cobra Bite

The owner of a Nottinghamshire snake sanctuary has died after apparently being bitten by one of his own animals.

Luke Yeomans, 47, was due to open the King Cobra Sanctuary, in Eastwood, to the public this weekend.

Police confirmed they were called to a property in Brookhill Leys Road, near Eastwood, where Mr Yeomans had suffered a suspected heart attack.

Officers confirmed the snake had been contained and there was no danger to the public.


Google+ Challenges Facebook in Social Network Battle

© Google
Google+ has been released for use by a small, selected number of users
Online search giant Google has launched a new social networking website in its latest attempt to take on Facebook, which now claims more than 500m users.

Google+ allows individuals to share photos, messages and comments but also integrates the company's maps and images into the service.

It also aims to help users easily organise contacts within groups.

But some analysts say Google has simply reproduced features of Facebook while adding a video chat function.

Google, which handles roughly two out of every three internet searches in the US, has taken several stabs at Facebook in recent years.

But its previous efforts ended in failure, with both Google Wave and Google Buzz proving unpopular with users.

Alarm Clock

Thom Hartmann: Second Japan Nuke... More Dangerous Than Fukushima?

Kevin Kamps, Nuclear Waste Watchdog at Beyond Nuclear joins Thom Hartmann. If Japan didn't have its hands full with one melted down nuclear plant at Fukushima - it certainly does now with another nuclear power plant on the verge of melting down. About 300 miles southwest of Fukushima sits the Monju nuclear reactor - a prototype fast-breeder reactor filled to the brim with plutonium - the deadliest element on the face of the planet. And last year - a 3 ton device of some sort fell into the Monju reactor blocking access to the nuclear fuel rods in the reactor core - and despite several attempts - has yet to be recovered. Another attempt will be made next week to clear the 3 ton object from the reactor - but critics caution that the procedure is extremely dangerous and could trigger an explosion in the nuclear fuel rods. One ominous sign of just how dangerous the situation is - a top manager at the plant just recently committed suicide. Think of the damaged Monju plant as a nuclear bomb just waiting to go off that could take out the city of Kyoto which is just 60 miles from the plant - and has a population of 1.5 million people. And Japan's largest city Tokyo is downwind from the crippled Monju plant. So what does this all mean? And what's the latest with the two nuclear plants that are in danger right here in the United States - in Nebraska?

Heart - Black

North Carolina, US: Frontier Worker Charged with Animal Abuse

© The Sylva Herald
Pepper, an 8-year-old miniature schnauzer owned by Gina and John Rarick of Dillsboro, is still recovering from injuries she sustained after being hit by Frontier Communications employee Joshua Gray, according to Gina Rarick. Gray has been charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals, and his court date is July 12. Rarick said earlier this week that Pepper had improved slightly, but the dog can’t hold her head up and is unable to walk straight.
Joshua Gray of Sylva, a Frontier Communications employee, has been charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals after a June 17 incident, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

Pepper, an 8-year-old miniature schnauzer owned by Gina and John Rarick of Dillsboro, sustained severe brain injuries after Gray hit her with a large test phone, according to Gina Rarick.

Pepper is currently in the care of Sylva Animal Hospital during the day, but Gina Rarick takes her home at night. Pepper's condition is unstable, but she can walk, and by early this week, Pepper was doing better, Gina Rarick said.

"She can walk but she walks in circles. That's the brain damage," she said. "She'll probably always walk in circles."

Heart - Black

US: Texas man dumps 4-year-old son by highway

© AP Photo/Saginaw Police Dept.
This booking photo provided by the Saginaw Police Department shows 22-year-old Carlos Rico. Police say Rico abandoned his 4-year-old son along a West Texas highway, and the injured boy spent several hours alone in the dark before a passing motorist picked him up.

Sweetwater - A father abandoned his 4-year-old son along a West Texas highway, and the injured boy spent several hours alone in the dark before a passing motorist picked him up, police said.

Carlos Rico, 22, stopped his car along a cactus-lined stretch of Interstate 20 near Sweetwater at about 3 a.m. Tuesday and "threw the boy out of the car like a bag of garbage," Sweetwater police Chief Jim Kelley told the Abilene Reporter-News on Tuesday.

The boy was picked up about three hours later by the local high school basketball coach and taken to a hospital, where doctors removed at least 500 cactus spines from the child's body, Kelley said. The boy was in the state's custody on Wednesday.


Saudi Arabian woman challenges male guardianship laws

© Getty Images
Guardianship rules severely restrict the freedom of women in Saudi Arabia
When she was a little girl, Samia* would practice medical procedures on watermelons.

Back then, her dream was to become a successful surgeon and to marry a good man.

"I started to dream of the [wedding] gown when I was 10 or 11 years old. I dreamed of forming a small family - having a kid like my mum and to be a surgeon at the same time".

More than 30 years on, Samia is a fully-qualified doctor.

But in a country where the guardianship system means a woman's life is not her own, her dreams of a happy marriage - with a man of her own choosing - have been taken away from her.