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Alarm over children being sexually exploited in Northern Ireland care homes was raised seven years ago

Edwin Poots
© Belfast Telegraph, UK
Health Minister Edwin Poots.
Reports sounding alarm bells over the sexual exploitation of children in care homes in Northern Ireland date back seven years, the Assembly has been told.

The chair of Stormont's health committee, Maeve McLaughlin, said it was "shocking" that reports in 2006 pre-dated the recent Barnardo's report which was itself published in 2011. Her comments came as Assembly parties united yesterday to voice concern over the recent revelations and backed an inquiry involving Health Minister Edwin Poots and Justice Minister David Ford into claims that 22 teenagers missing from children's homes were sexually exploited.

Referring to a Social Services Inspectorate report called 'Our Children And Young People: Our Shared Responsibility', she said: "Although the vulnerable nature of young people involved in sexual exploitation is shocking, it is just as shocking that reports date back to 2006 in which organisations and agencies were recommended and mandated to respond to the abuse of children.

"That, in anybody's terms, is wrong and has failed children."

The Sinn Fein MLA also welcomed what she called Mr Poots' change of heart moving from the appointment of an independent expert to reviewing practices to establishing an independent expert-led inquiry - but said a number of questions still need to be answered.

"An inquiry with proper independence, powers to investigate and accountability mechanisms is required (and) if departments have failed after they have been mandated to act, they will need to be accountable," she said.

Chart Pie

Bad government policy has created the worst inequality on record ... and it's destroying our economy


It's Not an Accident ... It's Policy

America is experiencing unprecedented inequality. And a who's who of prominent economists (and investors) say that inequality is hurting the economy.

Defenders of the status quo pretend that this inequality is something outside of our control ... like a force of nature. They argue that it's due to technological innovation or something else outside of policy-makers' control.

In reality, inequality is rising due to bad policy.

Nobel prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz said this month:
Inequality is not inevitable. It is not ... like the weather, something that just happens to us. It is not the result of the laws of nature or the laws of economics. Rather, it is something that we create, by our policies, by what we do.

We created this inequality - chose it, really - with [bad] laws ...
Gaming the System to Pillage and Loot

The world's top economic leaders have said for years that inequality is spiraling out of control and needs to be reduced. Why is inequality soaring even though world economic leaders have talked for years about the urgent need to reduce it?

Because they're saying one thing but doing something very different. And both mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans are using smoke and mirrors to hide what's really going on.


'Rambo of the Taiga' busted in Siberia after 4 months on the run

A former paratrooper jailed for butchering Central Asian migrant workers in a gruesome vendetta was detained Monday after spending four months on the run from a maximum security prison in eastern Siberia, officials said.

Though Vladimir Avdeyev was nicknamed "Rambo of the Taiga" by Russian media, the 38-year-old was overtaken too fast to offer any resistance, the Irkutsk Region branch of the Federal Prison Service said on its website.

Avdeyev said he spent the entire time in the forest, had no contact with other people and subsided on whatever nourishment he could forage in the wilderness, the region's police said. The Komsomolskaya Pravda daily said he might have been turned in to police by local foresters for whom he worked as a logger.


Chicago train crash injures 48

Two trains of the Chicago Transit Authority collided at station in suburban Forest Park during Monday morning rush hour, sending 48 people to nearby hospitals. An outbound Blue Line train stopped at Harlem station in Forest Park was hit at 8 a.m. by an out-of-service train going the opposite direction on the same track.

Officials are looking into why the out-of-service train was on the track in the first place, said CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis. Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone said the 48 people injured were taken to 10 hospitals, but none was seriously hurt. Blue Line service was suspended between Forest Park and Kedzie Avenue, and service was later resumed to Forest Park. Harlem Station was still being bypassed, and shuttle busses were being provided.

Airplane Paper

No survivors expected in wreckage of jet that hit hangar, sparked fire at Southern California airport

Santa Monica plane crash
Investigators awaited the arrival of a crane Monday at a Southern California airport where a private jet crashed into a hangar after landing, but they did not expect to find any survivors on the flight from Idaho, officials said.

"This was an unsurvivable crash," Santa Monica Fire Department Capt. John Nevandro said Sunday night at a media briefing at Santa Monica Municipal Airport.

Because the hangar collapsed in flames around it and a crane would be required before the plane could be reached, investigators had been unable to determine how many people were aboard the twin-engine Cessna Citation designed to hold eight passengers and two crew members, officials said.

It had taken off from Hailey, Idaho, and landed in Santa Monica when it went off the right side of the runway at about 6:20 p.m. on Sunday and struck the hangar, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.


To protect and to serve... or to repel and control? Dallas County now has its very own bulletproof, "mine-protected" military SUV

Bulletproof Military SUV
© Unknown
Now that the war in Iraq is officially over and the one in Afghanistan winding down, the Department of Defense found itself facing a conundrum. It had just spent billions of dollars buying heavily armored personnel carriers designed to stand up to insurgent attacks only to find that it had run out of wars to use them in.

The initial plan was to shove the vehicles, called MRAPS (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) into a warehouse and let them collect dust. That changed when someone decided that, having served so admirably overseas, it would be only just to bring the MRAPs stateside and deploy them in the domestic war on crime.

And so, for the past couple of months, news reports have been popping up announcing that places like Murfreesboro, Tennessee and Ohio State University have been receiving their very own military-grade armored SUVs.

Bad Guys

Kenya siege: Eight held in connection with attack on shopping centre

© REX/Mark St George/Faceboook
Samantha Lewthwaite in a family photo with her husband, Germaine Lindsay, the 7/7 bomber.
Kenyan police hold suspects under counter-terrorism legislation, which allows detention for long periods without charge

Kenyan police have arrested eight people in connection with the attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi in which at least 67 people died. Three others have been released after questioning, said the interior minister, Joseph Ole Lenku.

"Police are holding eight suspects as they seek to unmask the faces behind the terror attack," he said. All eight are being held under counter-terrorism legislation, which allows detention for long periods without charge.

The government also said that an international arrest warrant issued on Thursday for the Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, while not linked directly to the Westgate attack, was part of the ongoing security operation. "In view of the security situation, the level of Interpol alertness has been raised in respect to known global terrorists including the British woman Samantha Lewthwaite," a statement said.

Ole Lenku said investigators trying to identify the attackers were searching through the rubble of the mall where three floors collapsed after a series of blasts and a huge blaze. He said they were making good progress.

Arrow Down

Saudi Arabian cleric says driving hurts women's ovaries

Women Drivers
© AFP_File/Fayez Nureldine
A Saudi woman gets out of a car after being given a ride by her driver in Riyadh on May 26, 2011.
A Saudi cleric sparked a wave of mockery online when he warned women that driving would affect their ovaries and bring "clinical disorders" upon their children.

The warning came ahead of an October 26 initiative to defy a longstanding driving ban on women in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

"Physiological science" has found that driving "automatically affects the ovaries and pushes up the pelvis," Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaydan warned women in remarks to local news website Sabq.org.

"This is why we find that children born to most women who continuously drive suffer from clinical disorders of varying degrees," he said.

His comments prompted criticism on Twitter, which has become a rare platform for Saudis to voice their opinions in the absolute monarchy.

"What a mentality we have. People went to space and you still ban women from driving. Idiots," said one comment.

"When idiocy marries dogma in the chapel of medieval traditions, this is their prodigal child," wrote a female tweeter.

Cardboard Box

American workers hanging on by the skin of their teeth

graph private sector payroll jobs

After five years of Obama's economic recovery, the American people are as gloomy as ever. According to a Bloomberg National Poll that was released this week, fewer people "are optimistic about the job market" or "the housing market" or "anticipate improvement in the economy's strength over the next year." Also, only 38 percent think that President Obama is doing enough "to make people feel more economically secure." Worst of all, Bloomberg pollsters found that 68 percent of interviewees thought the country was "headed in the wrong direction".

So why is everyone so miserable? Are things really that bad or have we turned into a nation of crybabies?

The reason people are so pessimistic is because the economy is still in the doldrums and no one's doing anything about it. That's it in a nutshell. Survey after survey have shown that what people really care about is jobs, but no one in Washington is listening. In fact, jobs aren't even on Obama's radar. Just look at his record. He's worse than any president in modern times. Take a look at this graph.

More than 600,000 good-paying public sector jobs have been slashed during Obama's tenure as president. That's worse than Bush, worse than Clinton, worse than Reagan, worse than anyone, except maybe Hoover. Is that Obama's goal, to one-up Herbert Hoover?


UK climate scientist monitoring sea ice levels killed cycling to work in London

© London Evening Standard
A cyclist killed in a rush-hour horror crash in Victoria was today named as a top scientist responsible for pioneering work on global warming.

Dr Katharine Giles, a research fellow and lecturer at University College London, was crushed under the wheels of a tipper truck as it turned left into Victoria Street on Monday morning.

Colleagues spoke of the "devastating loss" of Dr Giles, who had explored the Arctic and Antarctic and last year gave a presentation to MPs.

Sinead Farrell wrote on Twitter that "a bright, shining star has gone out", while UCL palaeoclimatologist Dr Katy Wilson said that "UCL Earth Sciences [had] tragically lost another brilliant young scientist".

Dr Giles, who was in her 30s, worked at the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at UCL after obtaining her degree there in 2000 and PhD in 2005. She is thought to have cycled that route to work for a decade.