Society's ChildS

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US: Wall Street protests continue, several arrested

wall street, protests
© Michael Nagle/Getty ImagesPeople protesting the economic system walk down a sidewalk in the financial district as office workers head to work on September 19, 2011 in New York City. Organizers said the protests, which began Saturday, could last for weeks.

New York - At least five people were arrested on the third day of protests in New York's Financial District, spearheaded by a coalition of groups rallying against the influence of corporate money in politics.

Beginning on Saturday - on what was called a U.S. Day of Rage - several groups of activists vowed to occupy Wall Street, to express their anger over a financial system they say favors the rich and powerful, and about a democratic process they deem to be corrupt.

Organizers of the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration have called for 20,000 people to "flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months."


Washington, US: Tacoma Could Replace Striking Teachers, Says Judge

© King5 News
A Pierce County Superior Court judge says he's considering giving the Tacoma school district the option to hire replacement teachers while regular teachers remain on the picket line.

"I'm seriously willing to consider that," said Judge Bryan Chushcoff. "I don't like doing that, but I will do that if it is necessary."

The attorney for the teachers union said he would argue the judge does not have the authority to do that. A spokesperson for the union doubted the district could find enough replacement teachers to resume class.

Chushcoff met with lawyers for both the Tacoma teachers union and Tacoma Public School District Monday morning to determine the penalties teachers faced for defying his court order to return to work last week.


US: Retiree Benefits for the Military Could Face Cuts

retired veteran
© Colin Hackley for The New York TimesSteve Griffin left the Army after five years and thus receives no pension. But he believes the system provides incentives for recruitment and rewards retirees who have endured great hardship.
As Washington looks to squeeze savings from once-sacrosanct entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, another big social welfare system is growing as rapidly, but with far less scrutiny: the health and pension benefits of military retirees.

Military pensions and health care for active and retired troops now cost the government about $100 billion a year, representing an expanding portion of both the Pentagon budget - about $700 billion a year, including war costs - and the national debt, which together finance the programs.

Making even incremental reductions to military benefits is typically a doomed political venture, given the public's broad support for helping troops, the political potency of veterans groups and the fact that significant savings take years to appear.

But the intense push in Congress this year to reduce the debt and the possibility that the Pentagon might have to begin trimming core programs like weapons procurement, research, training and construction have suddenly made retiree benefits vulnerable, military officials and experts say.

Comment: And there you have it. "The cost of the criminally minimal support we give to the used-up cannon fodder we like to call 'our troops' is really putting a crimp into all our plans for future wars."


UK: Jobcentres to send poor and hungry to charity food banks


Tens of thousands of benefits claimants will be referred to food banks by the Government, which is worried that many Britons face a stark choice: starvation or feeding themselves by begging or stealing.

From tomorrow, jobcentres in England and Wales will refer the needy to charity-run food banks that will give them a food parcel. It is the first time in living memory that hungry people will have been passed on to charities in this way.

The move comes amid growing levels of food poverty, fuelled by rising food prices and high rates of unemployment. Under the scheme, people whose benefits have been delayed, or have been refused crisis loans, will be referred to their local food bank. A claimant will be limited to three consecutive referrals - each time giving them enough food for three days. They will be given basics such as tinned soup, baked beans, meat, fish and pasta.


'Violent Protests' Over China Pollution

chinese troops
Hundreds of Chinese have mounted violent protests against a solar panel factory in eastern China over three days, accusing it of cancer-causing pollution, state media reported Sunday

Around 500 protesters gathered in Haining city, Zhejiang province, on Thursday, demanding an explanations for the death of large numbers of fish in a nearby river, the Xinhua news agency said.

Industrial contamination had caused at least 31 cases of cancer among residents of Hongxiao village, which is part of Haining, they said, including six of leukaemia.

The demonstrators broke into the Jinko Solar factory, ransacking offices and overturning vehicles before being forced back by police, Xinhua said, adding that the violence continued on Friday and Saturday evenings.


Immigrants For Sale: Lost, Abused and Neglected for a Profit

Guillermo Gomez-Sanchez is a 50-year-old legal resident with a mental disability. In 2004, Gomez was detained because of a dispute at a grocery store over a bag of tomatoes. His detention led him into a labyrinth of abuse and neglect - in an immigration system that increasingly puts profit over justice by handing the reigns to private prison corporations.

Cuéntame's Immigrants For Sale campaign has documented the case of Guillermo, who got lost in this system, while his mother Dolores Gomez-Sanchez spent years desperately searching for answers. The problem: Guillermo was sent to a private detention facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Dolores approached immigration authorities, but time and again was told that because Guillermo was in a CCA facility his case was no longer their problem. At one point the only information immigration officials could offer her was that Guillermo was beaten by guards and hospitalized after requesting to use a bathroom.

Private prison corporations like CCA do not care who and how they lock immigrants up. At a rate of up to $200 per inmate per night, this is the "perfect" money scheme. As such, CCA failed to report Guillermo's condition - why should they? The longer Guillermo was locked up the more money in their coffers. Guillermo spent two years in CCA's detention center. At average contract rates, the operator pocketed an estimated $90,000 off of his incarceration.

Brick Wall

US: Largest dam removal aims to bring salmon back

Concrete chipped away on dam
© Olympic National ParkAn excavator hammers away at the concrete wall of the Glines Canyon Dam in the Elwha River Valley on Thursday. At 210 feet high, the dam is the tallest ever removed, the conservation group American Rivers says.

Ceremony with tribal blessing marks beginning of effort on Washington's Olympic Peninsula

Port Angeles, Washington - In an emotional ceremony Saturday marked by a tribal blessing and the use of a large piece of earthmoving equipment with a golden bucket, crews began to set a river free.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and a couple hundred other people gathered on the Elwha River near Port Angeles for the ceremony, marking the beginning of the biggest dam removal project in the United States.

Two dams on the Elwha River inside Olympic National Park are slowly being removed, with the goal of restoring runs of six species of salmon.

The ceremony Saturday included drumming, singing, dancing and a blessing by Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe elder Ben Charles Sr.


New Zealand - Sex Ed Shock for Angry Parents

Sex Education
© Thinkstock

Schools are being accused of going too far in what they teach children about sex.

Children as young as 12 are being taught about oral sex and told it's acceptable to play with a girl's private parts as long as "she's okay with it".

In other cases, 14-year-old girls are being taught how to put condoms on plastic penises, and one female teacher imitated the noises she made during orgasm to her class of 15-year-olds.

The often-graphic nature of today's sex education lessons is considered perfectly acceptable, and necessary, by some parents, but many others are shocked and say it has gone too far.

One concerned father, who did not want to be identified, phoned Newstalk ZB to say he had taken his 12-year-old son out of a sex education class at his all-boy school after he came home upset about what had happened during one of the lessons.

It included a question-and-answer session that focused on, "I have learned that my girlfriend has a thing called a clitoris. I really want to play with it. Is that okay?" The answer was: "Yes, if you ask her and she's okay with it."

Light Sabers

Russian oligarchs brawl on live TV!

Independent and Evening Standard owner 'neutralises' fellow TV debate guest in reaction to the latter's 'threatening manner'

The Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev may pride himself on not interfering with the editorial policy of his UK newspapers, the Independent and Evening Standard, but there was no sign of such restraint when he took exception to the words of a fellow guest on Russian television.

Clad in very tight grey jeans, Lebedev showed a glimpse of his past as a KGB agent as he launched two blows at the former property developer Sergei Polonsky during a television debate on the financial crisis. Polonsky, once ranked Russia's 40th richest man, had said he wanted to "stick one in the mouth" of Lebedev. In the clip posted on the NTV channel's website, Polonsky was sent tumbling to the floor and Lebedev then stood over him in a crouched fighting stance.


Mubarak minister jailed for corruption

© Ahmed Ali/APZohair Garanah is the latest senior member of the former Egyptian regime to be convicted of corruption since the popular uprising toppled Mubarak in February.
Ex-tourism minister Zohair Garanah is already serving a five-year term for allowing investors to illegally acquire state land

An Egyptian court has sentenced one of Hosni Mubarak's cabinet ministers to three years in prison after convicting him of corruption.

The businessman and former tourism minister Zohair Garanah is already serving a five-year jail term for allowing investors to illegally acquire state land. His first sentence was passed by a Cairo court on 10 May.

Under Egyptian law, he will serve the longer of the two sentences.

On Thursday, the steel magnate Ahmed Ezz was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of corruption. Ezz was a powerful insider in Mubarak's now-dissolved ruling party and a close aide to Mubarak's younger son and one-time heir apparent, Gamal.

The former trade minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid, who is at large, was also sentenced to 15 years on Thursday.