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Sun, 29 Jan 2023
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13-year-old Florida Boy Faces Life in Jail for Murdering his 2 Year Old Brother

Cristian Fernandez was 12 years old when he smashed his brother's head against a bookcase, killing the two year old.

Now 13, Fernandez is being tried as an adult for murder in Jacksonville, Florida. If convicted, he could spend life behind bars, reports the Daily Mail.

Arrow Down

Boy Scouts Inaction May Have Contributed To Hundreds Of Sexual Attacks

© Atlanta Blackstar
The Boy Scouts of America may have been tacitly complicit in the sexual assaults of hundreds of boys by failing to report the predators to police and hiding the allegations from parents and the public.

A Los Angeles Times study of 1,600 confidential files dating from 1970 to 1991 found that scouting officials often urged admitted offenders to quietly resign and helped many of them cover their tracks.

Volunteers and employees suspected of abuse were allowed to cite bogus reasons for their departures such as business demands, "chronic brain dysfunction" and even duties at a Shakespeare festival.

The paper discovered the details in the organization's confidential "perversion files," a blacklist of alleged molesters that the Scouts have used internally since 1919.

BSA lawyers around the country have been fighting in court to keep the files from public view.

The blacklist often didn't work as men expelled for alleged abuses sometimes slipped back into the program, only to be accused of molesting again, the paper reported.

A more extensive review by the newspaper has shown that Scouts sometimes abetted molesters by keeping allegations under wraps.

In the majority of cases, the Scouts learned of alleged abuse after it had been reported to authorities. But in more than 500 instances, the Scouts learned about it from victims, parents, staff members or anonymous tips.

In about 400 of those cases - 80 percent - there is no record of BSA officials reporting the allegations to police. In more than 100 of the cases, officials actively sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it, The Times found.

BSA officials declined to be interviewed for the Times article. In a prepared statement, spokesman Deron Smith said, "We have always cooperated fully with any request from law enforcement and today require our members to report even suspicion of abuse directly to their local authorities."

The files reveal a culture in which even known molesters were shown extraordinary deference.


Airport body scanners to be scrapped after failing to receive European approval

  • Scanners use X-ray technology to show up hidden explosives or weapons
  • Fears machines could emit harmful levels of cancer-causing radiation
  • European report said risk 'close to zero' but bosses still failed to give go-ahead
Controversial airport 'strip-search' scanners are to be scrapped after they failed to get approval from European bosses.

Experts feared the 'naked' body scanners, which use X-ray technology to show up hidden explosives or weapons, could emit harmful levels of cancer-causing radiation.

New trials of the device, which display a 'naked' image of the person being scanned - were blocked by the European Commission last November.
© Agence France Presse/Getty Images
Controversial: A demonstration of the scanners that European bosses have failed to give approval of. A full body scan is shown, left, and a screen showing the results of the scan, right

Comment: Good for Europe! The PornScanners Are Here to Stay: TSA Spends Hundreds of Millions on Body Scanners
TSA lied: airport scanners can store and transmit images


6-Year Olds Striving To Be Sexy, Skinny, and Thinking of Themselves As Sex Objects

© PreventDisease
More 6-year old girls, some younger, are beginning to think of themselves as needing to be sexy, pretty, skinny and even as sex objects according to a new study of elementary school children.

Nearly half of the 3- to 6-year-old girls in a previous study by University of Central Florida psychology professor Stacey Tantleff-Dunn and doctoral student Sharon Hayes said they worry about being fat. About one-third would change a physical attribute, such as their weight or hair color.

The number of girls worried about being fat at such a young age concerns Tantleff-Dunn because of the potential implications later in life. Studies have shown that young girls worried about their body image are more likely to suffer from eating disorders when they are older.

The media's portrayal of beauty likely is one of the strongest influences on how they perceive their bodies because children spend so much time watching movies and television, Tantleff-Dunn said.

"The genetic and environmental origins of pregnancy-associated cancers are likely to pre-date the pregnancy but the hormones and growth factors necessary for a baby to develop may accelerate the growth of a tumour," Roberts said.

Eating disorder experts say prepubescent girls are developing eating disorders as young as 5 and 6 years old. They may be getting their obsession from parents who are preoccupied with their own body images, and media images of skinny pop stars like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, the experts say.

Children learn (unhealthy) mainstream attitudes towards food and weight at a very young age. The number of children younger than 12 entering the hospital for eating disorders increased 119 percent between 1999 and 2006.


Security Firm to Hold Zombie Crisis Scenario

© Jonathan Nackstrand/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images
Know how to stop the undead? An October exercise in California will pit military trainees against a horde of role-players exhibiting zombie like behavior. Here, participants in a “zombie walk” in Sweden show their stuff.
San Diego - Forget the H1N1 pandemic. Could a future crisis arise from an outbreak of viruses that destroy brain cells and render people violently catatonic, like zombies?

The far-fetched scenario of a government grappling a zombielike threat - think movies like Night of the Living Dead or, more comically, Zombieland - has captured the attention and imagination of Brad Barker, president of the security firm HALO Corp.

Next month, his outfitwill incorporate - no kidding - zombies into a disaster-crisis scenario at the company's annual Counter-Terrorism Summit in San Diego, a five-day event providing hands-on training, realistic demonstrations, lectures and classes geared to more than 1,000 military personnel, law enforcement officials, medical experts, and state and federal government workers.

HALO will take over the 44-acre Paradise Point resort in the city's popular Mission Bay and create a series of terrorist scenarios, with immersive Hollywood sets including a Middle Eastern village and a pirates' haven. Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, aformer CIA and National Security Agency director, and Mexico Interior Secretary Alejandro Poiré Romero will speak during the summit, which runs Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.

Barker calls the scenario "Zombie Apocalypse." That phrase took off last year after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled a campaign aimed at underscoring the importance of being prepared for major emergencies, natural disasters and pandemics.

In the CDC's Preparedness 101 program, fictional zombies are used to drive home the message that Americans must be ready for any emergency - even the kind that, hypothetically, could stem from a brain-eating virus pandemic. Zombies also star in a 40-page comic book the CDC published, a tongue-in-cheek take on the serious scenario of a mutated virus that quickly spreads as the government dispatches its military to maintain order while infectious disease specialists scour for a vaccine.


Three-Year Old Cambodian Boy Revered as Healer

Ray Rong
© Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
Ray Rong, 3, blesses bottles of water in Svay Chrum village, Prey Veng province. Hundreds of people come to see the child and get the water every day, believing it can heal their illnesses.
Even before dawn, a few hundred people have gathered to sit in line, reminiscent of the queues of waiting patients which snakes outside the grounds of the Kantha Bopha Hospital during pandemics.

They have travelled from different cities and provinces to get a chance to be healed by Ray Rong, a resident of Prey Veng's Svay Chrum village. Rong is known far and wide as one of the best healers in the area, and the blessing water and herbal medicines he gives to patients are claimed to defeat a hundred different kinds of diseases. Many other traditional healers proffer the same goods, but there's one important difference: Rong is only three years old.

Still too young to speak clearly, Ray Rong is the third child of five to Tep Saray and Un Saroeurn, a pair of impoverished farmers.

In the last couple of months, the boy has risen to fame on the back of claims that he has healed hundreds of people. Every day, at least two hundred patients, including some from across the border of nearby Vietnam, wait outside his house to get blessed water and medicine. Some of Rong's patients travel hundreds of kilometers and spend several nights sleeping near the toddler's house in the hopes of getting a chance to meet him.

The 60-year-old Yay Hom was one of Ray Rong's patients, who brought incense, candles, cake and pure drinking water as an offering to the child healer.

"I have to wait for my turn to be called in and see the healer," she says. "I have suffered from diabetes for 10 years. My blood sugar level was never less than 410 mg/dL." (Healthy blood sugar levels range from 70-180 milligrams per deciliter.) "I took medication and saw other doctors, but I never felt better. After the holy child gave me magic water to drink and some fig fruits, my blood sugar level dropped to 110 mg/dL."

Bizarro Earth

Your Tax Dollars Used to Manhunt Children as Police Seek Child Suspected of Robbery

Police are on the lookout for a 4ft tall suspect with a likely under-developed voice.

An unusual wanted ad posted by police in Washington, D.C. on Sunday night described their suspect as being merely 6 or 7 years old.

While with a group of boys described as being between the ages of 7 and 14, the child's accused in connection to a robbery at a McDonald's restaurant.

Light Sabers

We Won - for Now

© AP/John Minchillo
Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, who is suing the government over a controversial provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, is seen here addressing a crowd in New York’s Zuccotti Park.
In January I sued President Barack Obama over Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorized the military to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely, strip them of due process and hold them in military facilities, including offshore penal colonies. Last week, round one in the battle to strike down the onerous provision, one that saw me joined by six other plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, ended in an unqualified victory for the public. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, who accepted every one of our challenges to the law, made her temporary injunction of the section permanent. In short, she declared the law unconstitutional.

Almost immediately after Judge Forrest ruled, the Obama administration challenged the decision. Government prosecutors called the opinion "unprecedented" and said that "the government has compelling arguments that it should be reversed." The government added that it was an "extraordinary injunction of worldwide scope." Government lawyers asked late Friday for an immediate stay of Forrest's ban on the use of the military in domestic policing and on the empowering of the government to strip U.S. citizens of due process. The request for a stay was an attempt by the government to get the judge, pending appeal to a higher court, to grant it the right to continue to use the law. Forrest swiftly rejected the stay, setting in motion a fast-paced appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly, if her ruling is upheld there, to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the 2nd Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the 2nd Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest's injunction. This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard. The government's decision has triggered a constitutional showdown between the president and the judiciary.

"This may be the most significant constitutional standoff since the Pentagon Papers case," said Carl Mayer, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs.


Running scared: US withdraws diplomats from Tunisia and Sudan

© Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters
A policemen checks damage to vehicles inside the US embassy in Tunis after it was attacked by protesters on Saturday.
The US state department has ordered non-essential staff from its embassies in Sudan and Tunisia to leave with their families and warned its citizens against travelling to the two countries owing to concerns over rising anti-American violence.

"Given the security situation in Tunis and Khartoum, the state department has ordered the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel from both posts, and issued parallel travel warnings to American citizens," said a spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland.

In Tunisia, the warning advised Americans that the international airport in Tunis was open and encouraged all US citizens to depart on commercial flights.

It said Americans who chose to remain in Tunisia should use extreme caution and avoid demonstrations. On Friday, protesters climbed the walls into the US embassy in Tunis, torching cars, attacking the entrance building and setting fire to a gym and a neighbouring American school.


Ex-Girlfriend Joyce Johnson on the "Very Odd" Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac
© John Cohen/Getty Images
On the Road author Jack Kerouac listens to himself on the radio in 1959.
The former girlfriend of the leading novelist of the beat generation Jack Kerouac has revealed details of their affair and his descent into bizarre behaviour on finding fame, in a new book to be published more than 40 years after his death.

Joyce Johnson, an accomplished author, also dispels the myth that Kerouac's writing was effortlessly spontaneous. Where he claimed his novel
On the Road was written in a blast of energy during three weeks in 1951 she recalls that he spent years revising his work and carefully crafted each paragraph.

Her book is just part of a revival of the cult that surrounded Kerouac which has this year prompted three feature films and a documentary, as well as books and an exhibition at the British Library.