Society's ChildS

Heart - Black

370,000 elderly people were abused in UK last year

Elderly people are being routinely ill-treated by carers or relatives, says Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow

UK elderly people
© Paul Doyle / Alamy/Alamy

As many as 370,000 older people have been abused in their own homes by a carer, relative or friend in the last year, according to figures, exposing what has been described as a "hidden national scandal".

The number aged over 65 who are physically, psychologically or financially persecuted at home every year is likely to reach almost half a million by the end of the decade.

Elderly men and women across the country, from all walks of life, are routinely ill-treated, yet former health minister Paul Burstow warns that their plight is often ignored or dismissed.

The scale of the abuse, and its rapid growth, has prompted Burstow, who uncovered the figures, to demand a series of radical changes in the law to aid the detection and punishment of those misusing their positions.

As it stands, social services are constrained in their ability to gain access to the elderly in their own homes when a carer is proving an obstacle, even where abuse is suspected. There is also no criminal charge of neglect available against those mistreating a vulnerable and older person who is judged to be of sound mind.

Burstow, a Liberal Democrat MP, told the Observer that elderly people looked after in their homes enjoyed few legal protections and were all too often condemned to living their last years in misery, "out of sight and out of mind". He said: "This is a hidden national scandal. The thing that worries me is what this says about our society.

"There is a feeling that people who are elderly have had a good innings already, or that by the time that the abuse can be uncovered the victim will be dead. The cases that do feature rarely prompt the revulsion that follows cases of child abuse, or the system being galvanised to say 'never again'."

The former minister is due to meet the prime minister in Downing Street to discuss the crisis, along with the Older People's Commissioner for Wales and Gary FitzGerald, chief executive of the charity Action on Elder Abuse.

Burstow said: "The prime minister should use the care bill to toughen up the law and send a powerful message that abusing and neglecting older and vulnerable people won't go undetected and unpunished.


"Stop spying on us": Thousands in Germany joined the anti-NSA protest

German protest against NSA
© UnknownA man takes part in a protest outside a US National Security Agency (NSA) listening station in Griesheim near Darmstadt, Germany, on July 20, 2013. Thousands took to the streets in Berlin Saturday in protests against Internet surveillance activities by the US National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, and the German government's perceived lax reaction to them.
Thousands took to the streets in Berlin Saturday in protests against Internet surveillance activities by the US National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, and the German government's perceived lax reaction to them.

Organisers, among them the opposition Greens, The Left and Pirates parties, said 20,000 people turned out. Police would not confirm the figure, saying only their "tally differs from that of the organisers".

The protest was organised under the slogan "Freedom Rather Than Fear" and demonstrators carried banners saying: "Stop spying on us" and, more sarcastically: "Thanks to PRISM (the US government's vast data collection programs) the government finally knows what the people want".

"Intelligence agencies like the NSA shamelessly spy on telephone conversations and Internet connections worldwide (and) our government, one of whose key roles is the protection from harm, sends off soothing explanations," said one speaker, Kai-Uwe Steffens.

On Thursday, newly leaked documents alleged that US and British intelligence agencies have cracked the encryption that secures a wide range of online communications -- including emails, banking transactions and phone conversations.

Arrow Down

New files may detail sex abuse in Scouts

© WeAreTroop208!!
Minneapolis - Confidential files turned over for a lawsuit set to go to trial in Minnesota may shed new light on the problem of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts of America.

The documents were produced in litigation brought against the Boy Scouts and a former scoutmaster, Peter Stibal II, who is serving 21 years in prison for molesting four Scouts. Attorneys for one former Scout won a court order for the nationwide internal files, commonly known as "ineligible volunteer" or "perversion files." They cover the years 1999-2008, much more recent than similar files forced into the open in an Oregon case last year.

"We are intending to use those to show they have had a longstanding knowledge of the scope of a serious problem like Stibal," said Jeffrey Anderson, the lead attorney for the molested Scout. "They kept files not known to the troops and members of the public and had a body of knowledge that was not made public."

Anderson, who built a national reputation for frequent lawsuits in clergy abuse cases, declined to say what the new documents might show ahead of the trial that begins Monday in St. Paul. He said he expects attorneys for the Scouts to try to block the introduction and release of the files. He wouldn't say how many former leaders the files cover. But the release of more than 1,200 files in the Oregon case suggests the number could be large.


Why does NASA need a SWAT team? To steal moon dust from retirees!

© tactical-life.comNASA’s SWAT team
A recent weapons purchase by NASA piqued the interest of some of my readers, prompting questions such as, "What is NASA doing with assault rifles?" In post 9/11 America, no self-respecting federal agency - from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Education - can exist without its own SWAT team. A strong trend of militarizing law enforcement has been occurring for some time, and if this is a surprise to you, its time to catch up. Yes, even NASA has a SWAT team, and you may be surprised with some of their assignments, which include militarized perimeter security and robbing grandmothers of heirloom decorative paperweights.

NASA's recent purchase of Armalite AR-15 rifles, documented on, is only the tip of the iceberg regarding NASA's equipment and capabilities. The space agency also has its own police department and round-the-clock SWAT team.

The purpose of all this security is protection from "troublemakers," as the agency states, as well as criminal investigations, which I will discuss shortly.

Some security is surely warranted to protect NASA's equipment and personnel. How much? I will leave that for you to decide. describes its SWAT team in a post they titled, SWATting Trouble:

© LuisSantanaPhoto.comOne of NASA’s $250,000 Lenco Bearcat
Along with the formidable force of standard security at Kennedy, a highly trained and specialized group of guardians protect the Center from would-be troublemakers. They are the members of the Kennedy Space Center Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and they mean business.

"We're here 24-7," said SWAT commander David Fernandez. "There's never a point when SWAT is not here, so we're ready to respond to something if needed at a moment's notice."
The SWAT team is equipped with helicopter(s) and armored Lenco Bearcat vehicles - priced at $250,000 each - both of which the agency enjoys taking selfie pictures with



Indiana man sentenced to 8 months in federal prison for teaching people to beat lie-detectors

Is teaching others to lie a protected form of free speech? Apparently not.

© The Telegraph
An Indiana man thought he had the freedom to speak about controversial topics and teach others what he knows. The Federal Government disagreed. This week that man found out that the penalty for free speech is 8 months in federal prison. He taught people how to beat polygraph tests. The case has sparked a debate about whether or not the right to lie, or teach others to lie, should be protected under the First Amendment.

"My wife and I are terrified," said Chris Dixon, of Marion, Indiana. "I stumbled into this. I'm a Little League coach in Indiana...never in my wildest dreams did I somehow imagine I was committing a crime."

Dixon, 34, had been struggling to find work as an electrical engineer and began working as a polygrapher. He soon began giving lessons on defeating the polygraph test.

A polygraph test measures blood pressure, sweat activity, respiration and movement to identify people who lie or try to beat the test. While polygraph data is not admissible in court, polygraphers use the information to detect what they believe are lies, followed by an attempt to elicit a confession to confirm their suspicions.

Polygraph instructors, like Dixon, claim to teach methods that help the test-subjects avoid scrutiny. Polygraph countermeasures include controlled breathing, muscle tensing, tongue biting and mental arithmetic.

"It may be unfortunate for federal law enforcement ... but it is protected speech to tell people how to lie on a polygraph," Dixon's lawyer, Nina Ginsberg, said.

Despite having no criminal record, the Federal government found out about his lessons and began pursuing him for obstructing federal proceedings and wire fraud.


Camp 22 inmates disappear: Over 22,000 prisoners unaccounted for in North Korean labor camp

© Screenshot/HRNKA screenshot of the cover of the new report that in part covers the prisoners that disappeared from Camp 22 in North Korea.
Over 22,000 inmates at Camp 22, a labor camp in North Korea, have disappeared, according to a new report.

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, based in the U.S., reports that the number of prisoners in the camp dwindled rapidly from 30,000 to between 3,000 and 8,000 amid reports of severe food shortages inside the camp.

Prison camps in North Korea, which has a communist-like regime, hold prisoners that are deemed "wrong-thinkers" or "wrong-doers." They are mostly punished through forced labor and sometimes through more extreme measures such as strict rationing and torture.

Camp 22, an area that covered about 31 miles by 25 miles, was recently closed - but a number of missing prisoners haven't been accounted for.

Drawing on several media outlets that have sources inside the closed-off country and several other sources such as a former prison guard, the report outlines that some of the "missing" prisoners were likely transferred to a nearby camp, but about 22,000 are still left unaccounted for.

Stock Down

Slave nation: Number of Britons on 'zero-hours contracts' is actually 5.5 million, not 1.1 million, as reported one month ago

Unite survey finds 22% of workers employed by private firms are on contracts promising less than three hours a week

As many as 5.5 million Britons could be signed up to work contracts that promise them less than three hours of work a week, five times more than existing estimates, new figures suggest.

A survey of 5,000 members of Unite, Britain's biggest union representing more than 1 million people, found that 22% of workers employed by private businesses had deals that offered little or no guarantee of work and pay.

Across the entire UK workforce, the figures suggest millions could be employed on zero-hours contracts, which often provide no holiday or sick pay but can leave employees having to ask permission before seeking additional work elsewhere.


Iowa grants gun permits to the blind

Blind with Gun
© Andrea Melendez/The Des Moines RegisterMichael Barber examines a gun with his hands at Bass Pro Shop in Altoona last month. 'When you shoot a gun, you take it out and point and shoot, and I don't necessarily think eyesight is necessary,' said Barber, who is blind. /
Des Moines -- Here's some news that has law enforcement officials and lawmakers scratching their heads: Iowa is granting permits to acquire or carry guns in public to people who are legally or completely blind.

No one questions the legality of the permits. State law does not allow sheriffs to deny an Iowan the right to carry a weapon based on physical ability.

The quandary centers squarely on public safety. Advocates for the disabled and Iowa law enforcement officers disagree over whether it's a good idea for visually disabled Iowans to have weapons.

On one side: People such as Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington, who demonstrated for The Des Moines Register how blind people can be taught to shoot guns. And Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, who says blocking visually impaired people from the right to obtain weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. That federal law generally prohibits different treatment based on disabilities


In Sicily, a lesson of altruism as Syrian refugees arrive

© Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty ImagesA boat carrying Tunisian migrants enters the port of Lampedusa, Sicily, on April 12, 2011. Sicily is now dealing with an influx of Syrian migrants, as they must pass through Italy on their way to central European countries as they flee violence at home.
Located on the Mediterranean Sea the island of Sicily has become a destination for Syrians fleeing the war-torn nation by boat.

Refugees on their way to central European countries, such as Germany, Austria, or Switzerland, have to pass through Italy first. The number of Syrian refugees has increased especially in the Syracuse Province of Sicily this year.

It presents a challenge for Syracuse, which is relatively unprepared, but it's a challenge that the medical director at the Health Association of Syracuse Province, Anselmo Madeddu, is welcoming.

Madeddu said he has come across many "touching experiences" in his work as a physician with the immigrants. They have given "all of us a lesson in civility," he said in an interview with Epoch Times.

The situation is different from previous years and not only in the numbers. Before immigrants were predominantly males in search of a job, but now they are full families with women and children, and even with pregnant women. Moreover, their social status is generally high - including engineers, doctors, and lawyers - according to Madeddu.

Eye 2

Homeowner finds 6-foot rat snake in sink drain, Texas

A China Spring homeowner was surprised by an unwelcome guest slithering through the drain of his bathroom sink Friday afternoon.

About 3 feet of what officials think was a non-venomous rat snake made it through from the opening of the drain before it got caught in the pipe, Lt. Chris Eubank said.
© McLennan County Sheriff’s Office photo

"(The homeowner) called us as soon as he saw it - he didn't want to mess with it," he said.

McLennan County sheriff's deputies, who responded to the scene on Norm Street about 12:40 p.m., were forced to disassemble the piping, then take the sink, with 6 feet of snake still stuck in the opening of the drain, in an attempt to free it, Eubank said.