Category Archives: Children

British Education Secretary says homophobia may be a sign of extremism, is she going to investigate herself?

Ian Dunt reports for Politics.co.uk:

[…] When British Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was asked to give an example of the kind of behaviour from a pupil which would trigger an anti-extremism intervention, she struggled. And then, out of nowhere, she found an example: homophobia.

This was an interesting example, because Morgan herself voted against gay marriage twice. Is opposition to gay marriage always homophobic? No, not really, although you could make the case. But this isn’t about what’s really the case. It’s about what’s perceived to be the case.

School children are often fond of accusing each other of being ‘gay’. Is this going to be enough to call in the anti-extremism unit? Will Catholic or Jewish faith schools face daily visits from the inspectors? Will a socially conservative teacher find themselves under investigation?

Probably not. But we know the truth: when a Muslim kid calls his friend ‘gay’ it will be treated differently to when a white kid does it. The vague language and imprecise measures of the counter-extremism strategy will allow people’s prejudice free rein.’

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Child poverty rise across Britain “halts progress made since 1990s”

Jamie Doward and Toby Helm report for The Guardian:

Children playing in the streets in Brierfield in Lancashire where nearly 35% of children live in povChild poverty is on course for the biggest rise in a generation, reversing years of progress that began in the late 1990s, leading charities and independent experts claim.

The stark prognosis comes before the release of government figures which experts believe will show a clear increase for the first time since the start of the decade.

It also comes as the chancellor George Osborne and work and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith announced they had agreed a plan to slash a further £12bn a year from benefits spending. In a joint letter they pledged to attack the “damaging culture of welfare dependency”, and said it would take “a decade” or more to return the welfare budget to what they called “sanity”.

The introduction of the bedroom tax and cuts in benefits between 2013 and last year are blamed for fuelling the rise in the number of families whose income is below 60% of the UK average – the definition of relative poverty.’

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What Paul Ehrlich Missed (and Still Does): The Population Challenge Is About Rights

Schuyler Null reports for New Security Beat:

2015-06-03-1433350350-5787894-CountdownpopulationtruckposterfromLibraryFoundationofLosAngelesAlanWeisman.jpgIn 1968, Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich predicted hundreds of millions would starve to death over the next decade, many of them Americans, and the world would generally decline into chaos in his book The Population Bomb.

A retrospective on Ehrlich’s forecast is the subject of a new “Retro Report” in The New York Times. A 12-minute video feature produced by Sarah Weiser with support from the Pulitzer Center is accompanied by a column from Clyde Haberman.

“I do not think my language was too apocalyptic in The Population Bomb,” Ehrlich says in an interview, “my language would be even more apocalyptic today.” His basic premise remains true, he says: “We have a finite planet with finite resources and in such a system you can’t have infinite population growth.”

“I was trying to bring people to get something done,” he says, and he still sees humanity’s dominance over the natural world as a danger to our own life-support system.

But things have changed since The Population Bomb was published almost 50 years ago. Population growth has not continued unabated and in most parts of the world has slowed to at or below replacement level.

One aspect of the story that is somewhat glossed over but helps explain these changes is about rights.’

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Does Monitoring Kids for Terrorist Traits Mess with Their Heads?

Adam Forrest writes for VICE:

When is a child old enough to have their mobile phone examined for signs that they’re a potential terrorist? At what point does a teacher need to start listening out for phrases like “jihadi bride” and “war on Islam” in the playground?

These are the weird and difficult questions being asked in British schools today. The days when kids drawing dicks everywhere was the biggest worry are behind us. Today’s teachers are expected to be intelligence officers trained in the subtle business of susceptibility to religious and political fundamentalism.

Firms are selling “anti-radicalisation” software to education boards, with one company now piloting its system on school computers in 16 different locations across the UK. The software monitors pupils’ online antics for extremist-related language, flagging up keywords like “Kuffs” (a casual, insulting term for non-Muslims) or “YODO” (an acronym for “you only die once” which shows up in ISIS martyrdom material).

Under the Counter-terrorism and Security Act 2015, which comes into force next month, schools have a new duty to “have due regard to the need to prevent pupils being drawn into terrorism”.’

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Samples of Israeli Horrific Brutality and War Criminality in Gaza

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Samples of Israeli Horrific Brutality and War Criminality in GazaThe Israeli group Breaking the Silence issued a report this morning containing testimony from Israeli soldiers about the savagery and criminality committed by the Israeli military during the attack on Gaza last summer. The Independent has a good article describing the report’s findings: “The Israeli military deliberately pounded civilian areas in the Gaza Strip with incessant fire of inaccurate ordinance” and “was at best indifferent about casualties among the Palestinian population.” At best.

This should surprise nobody who paid any attention to the brutal Israeli destruction of Gaza or, for that matter, countless Israeli attacks before that. The U.N. has said that 7 out of 10 people killed by the Israelis were civilians, “including 1,462 civilians, among them 495 children and 253 women”;video of Israelis killing four Gazan boys as they played on a beach sickened anyone decent.

Nonetheless, reading the accounts from these Israeli soldiers is revolting and important in equal parts. It shines considerable light on the reality of what Israeli loyalists have long hailed as “the most moral army in the world,” one unfairly held to a difference standard that ignores their great “restraint.”’

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EU is turning its back on drowning children: Interview with Gemma Parkin from Save the Children

‘Gemma Parkin from Save the Children talks to Afshin about the ‘appalling’ decision of the EU to stop search and rescue missions for migrants trying to make it to European shores – leaving men, women and children to drown.’ (Going Underground)

Israel “directly targeted” children in drone strikes on Gaza, says rights group

Rania Khalek reports for Electronic Intifada:

Israel deliberately targeted children in Gaza last summer, according to a new report by Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine).

Of the 2,220 Palestinians killed during Israel’s 51-day bombing campaign, at least 1,492 were civilians, including at least 547 children.

A total of 535 of those children were killed as a direct result of Israeli attacks. Moreover, 68 percent of children Israel killed in Gaza were under the age of twelve, according to the report.

An additional 3,374 children were injured, including over 1,000 who have been left with lifelong disabilities, many of which require medical care that is inaccessible in Gaza due to a crushing Israeli siege that has yet to be lifted. Another 373,000 children are suffering from deep trauma and require desperately needed psychosocial support that is severely lacking in the Gaza Strip.

As a matter of policy, Israel deliberately and indiscriminately targeted the very spaces where children are supposed to feel most secure. Such acts violate international law and amount to war crimes, according to the report.’

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America’s Shame: Trillions in New Wealth, Millions of Children in Poverty

Paul Buchheit writes for Buzzflash:

2015.13.4 BF BuchheitAmerica’s wealth grew by 60 percent in the past six years, by over $30 trillion. In approximately the same time, the number of homeless children has also grown by 60 percent.

Financier and CEO Peter Schiff said, “People don’t go hungry in a capitalist economy.” The 16 million kids on food stamps know what it’s like to go hungry. Perhaps, some in Congress would say, those children should be working. “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” insisted Georgia Representative Jack Kingston, even for schoolkids, who should be required to “sweep the floor of the cafeteria” (as they actually do at a charter school in Texas).

The callousness of US political and business leaders is disturbing, shocking. Hunger is just one of the problems of our children. Teacher Sonya Romero-Smith told about the two little homeless girls she adopted: “Getting rid of bedbugs, that took us a while. Night terrors, that took a little while. Hoarding food..”‘

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Colombian Report on US Military’s Child Rapes Not Newsworthy to US News Outlets

Adam Johnson reports for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Telesur: US Military Sexually Abused at Least 54 Colombian Children‘An 800-page independent report commissioned by the US-friendly Colombian government and the radical left rebel group FARC found that US military soldiers and contractors had sexually abused at least 54 children in Colombia between 2003 and 2007 and, in all cases, the rapists were never punished–either in Colombia or stateside–due to American military personnel being immune from prosecution under diplomatic immunity agreements between the two countries.

The report was part of a broader historical analysis meant to establish the “causes and violence aggravators” of the 50-year-long conflict between the government and rebels that’s presently being negotiated to an end.

[…] Thus far, however, these explosive claims seem to have received zero coverage in the general US press, despite having been reported on Venezuela’s Telesur (3/23/15), the British tabloid Daily Mail (3/24/15) and Russian RT (3/25/15).’

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Privacy advocates try to keep ‘creepy,’ ‘eavesdropping’ Hello Barbie from hitting shelves

SEE ALSO: Mattel’s new “Hello Barbie” records kids’ voices and sends the intel back to corporate HQ

Sarah Halzack reports for The Washington Post:

[…] This WiFi-connected Barbie may soon be a hit among children used to tinkering with iPads, but children’s privacy advocates are crying foul. Hello Barbie may be more accurately called “eavesdropping” Barbie, says one advocacy group. Another popular description? Creepy.

Hello Barbie works by recording a child’s voice with an embedded microphone that is triggered by pressing a button on the doll. As the doll “listens,” audio recordings travel over the Web to a server where the snippets of speech are recognized and processed. That information is used to help form Hello Barbie’s responses.

“If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child’s intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed,” Angela Campbell, faculty adviser at Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology, said in a statement.’

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Is Your Child a Terrorist? U.S. Government Questionnaire Rates Families at Risk for Extremism

Murtaza Hussain, Cora Currier, and Jana Winter report for The Intercept:

Are you, your family or your community at risk of turning to violent extremism? That’s the premise behind a rating system devised by the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a document marked For Official Use Only and obtained by The Intercept.

The document–and the rating system–is part of a wider strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, which calls for local community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement and other government agencies. The White House has made this approach a centerpiece of its response to terrorist attacks around the world and in the wake of the Paris attacks, announced plans to host an international summit on Countering Violent Extremism on February 18th.’

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Inside the Vaccine War: Measles Outbreak Rekindles Public Health Debate

Afghans live in peril among unexploded NATO bombs that litter countryside

Sune Engel Rasmussen reports for The Guardian:

unexploded ordnance awareness class in Kabul[…] Since 2001, the coalition has dropped about 20,000 tonnes of ammunition over Afghanistan. Experts say about 10% of munitions do not detonate: some malfunction, others land on sandy ground. Foreign soldiers have also used valleys, fields and dry riverbeds as firing ranges and left them peppered with undetonated ammunition.

Statistics from the UN-backed Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (Macca) show there were 369 casualties in the past year, including 89 deaths. The rate rose significantly in October and November when 93 people were injured, 84 of them children. Twenty died.’

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British scientists call for debate on ‘designer babies’

James Gallagher reports for BBC News:

BabiesDr Tony Perry, a pioneer in cloning, has announced precise DNA editing at the moment of conception in mice.

He said huge advances in the past two years meant “designer babies” were no longer HG Wells territory.

Other leading scientists and bioethicists argue it is time for a serious public debate on the issue.’

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China’s gender imbalance “most serious and prolonged in the world”

Xavier Symons writes for Bio Edge:

‘China has by far the greatest gender imbalance of any nation in the world, with conservative estimates from 2014 putting the ratio at 115.8 males to every 100 females.

The peak body responsible for family planning in the country, the National Health and Family Planning Commission, this week made its strongest statement yet on the crisis.’

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Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty

Lyndsey Layton reports for The Washington Post:

‘For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.’

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Buckingham Palace Denies Sex Claims Against Prince Andrew

UK government anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers ‘is heavy-handed’

Robert Mendick, and Robert Verkaik report for The Telegraph:

‘Nursery school staff and registered childminders must report toddlers at risk of becoming terrorists, under counter-terrorism measures proposed by the Government.

The directive is contained in a 39-page consultation document issued by the Home Office in a bid to bolster its Prevent anti-terrorism plan.

Critics said the idea was “unworkable” and “heavy-handed”, and accused the Government of treating teachers and carers as “spies”.

The document accompanies the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, currently before parliament. It identifies nurseries and early years childcare providers, along with schools and universities, as having a duty “to prevent people being drawn into terrorism”.’

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UNICEF: 2014 a devastating year for children, 230 million affected by armed conflict

Prenatal Exposure to Common Chemicals Linked to Lower IQ in Kids

Agata Blaszczak-Boxe reports for Live Science:

‘The children of women who are exposed to higher levels of chemicals called phthalates during pregnancy may have lower IQ scores than those whose mothers are exposed to lower levels of those chemicals, according to a new study. Phthalates are common in products such as plastics and the fragrances used in shampoos, air fresheners and dryer sheets.

In the study, researchers followed 328 women in New York City who were either African-American or Dominican-American, as well as their children, who were born between 1998 and 2006. The researchers measured the levels of four types of phthalates in the women’s urine, and looked at the children’s IQ scores at age 7.

They found that the children of mothers with the highest urine levels of two chemicals — called di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP) — had IQ scores that were about 6 to 8 points lower than those of the children whose mothers had the lowest levels of those chemicals in their urine.’

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Child landmine victims rise, overall casualties lowest since 1999

Anastasia Moloney reports for Reuters:

‘Afghanistan has the world’s highest number of children killed or wounded by landmines and other explosive remnants of war, followed by Colombia, according to a leading anti-landmine group.

In its annual Landmine Monitor report, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC) said the number of recorded casualties of mines and other explosive remnants of war has decreased to the lowest level since 1999, but child victims have risen.’

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Media ‘gagged over bid to report MP child sex cases’

Daniel Boffey reports for The Observer:

The security services are facing questions over the cover-up of a Westminster paedophile ring as it emerged that files relating to official requests for media blackouts in the early 1980s were destroyed.

Two newspaper executives have told the Observer that their publications were issued with D-notices – warnings not to publish intelligence that might damage national security – when they sought to report on allegations of a powerful group of men engaging in child sex abuse in 1984. One executive said he had been accosted in his office by 15 uniformed and two non-uniformed police over a dossier on Westminster paedophiles passed to him by the former Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle.

The other said that his newspaper had received a D-notice when a reporter sought to write about a police investigation into Elm Guest House, in southwest London, where a group of high-profile paedophiles was said to have operated and may have killed a child. Now it has emerged that these claims are impossible to verify or discount because the D-notice archives for that period “are not complete”.

Officials running the D-notice system, which works closely with MI5 and MI6 and the Ministry of Defence, said that files “going back beyond 20 years are not complete because files are reviewed and correspondence of a routine nature with no historical significance destroyed”.’

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Syrian ‘hero boy’ video faked by Norwegian director

Anne-Marie Tomchak and Charlotte McDonald report for BBC News:

A film being shot in a desert settingMillions of YouTube viewers have been captivated by the ‘Syrian hero boy‘ who manages to rescue a little girl while under gunfire. Now a group of Norwegian filmmakers have told BBC Trending they are behind it. They say it was filmed on location in Malta this summer with the intention of being presented as real.

Lars Klevberg, a 34-year-old film director based in Oslo, wrote a script after watching news coverage of the conflict in Syria. He says he deliberately presented the film as reality in order to generate a discussion about children in conflict zones.

“If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope,” he said. “We shot it in Malta in May this year on a set that was used for other famous movies like Troy and Gladiator,” Klevberg said. “The little boy and girl are professional actors from Malta. The voices in the background are Syrian refugees living in Malta.”‘

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David Cameron attacked by sexual abuse victims after calling claims of Home Office cover-up a ‘conspiracy theory’

James Slack and Damein Gayle report for The Daily Mail:

‘Campaigners for survivors of child sexual abuse have savaged David Cameron after he called claims of a Home Office paedophile cover-up a ‘conspiracy theory’.

Referring to the findings of a review into allegations of a VIP paedophile ring, the Prime Minister said on the campaign trail in Rochester that ‘conspiracy theorists’ would have to ‘look elsewhere’.

Last night the author of that review flatly called Mr Cameron’s comments ‘wrong’, while the National Association for People Abused in Childhood said his intervention was ‘appalling’.

It seemed to directly contradict an extraordinary admission by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, that there ‘might have been a cover-up’ of an Establishment paedophile ring by her department in the 1980s.’

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‘Establishment child abuse’ dossier has vanished, official review concludes

Nicholas Cecil reports for the London Evening Standard:

The Houses of UK ParliamentA dossier containing claims about paedophiles at the heart of the Establishment has vanished, an official review has found.

The failure to discover the “Dickens” dossier fuelled fears of a past cover-up to protect Westminster and other senior figures.

The review, led by the NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless, investigated how the Home Office handled child sex abuse allegations at Westminster in the Eighties.

But the Standard understands it has been unable to uncover crucial missing files including the dossier handed to the Home Office by former Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens. The documents are believed to contain the names of MPs and police officers who were suspected of being child abusers.’

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Report says child sexual exploitation ‘normal in parts of Greater Manchester’

Helen Pidd reports for The Guardian:

‘Sexual exploitation of vulnerable children has become the social norm in some parts of Greater Manchester, fuelled by explicit music videos and quasi-pornographic selfies, an MP has warned.

The systematic grooming of boys and girls remains a “real and ongoing problem”, a year after Greater Manchester police (GMP) was forced to admit it had failed abuse victims in Rochdale, said Ann Coffey, a former social worker who is now the Labour MP for Stockport. “My observations will make painful reading for those who hoped that Rochdale was an isolated case,” she writes in a significant report.’

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For More Teens, Arrests by Police Replace School Discipline

Gary Fields and John R. Emshwiller report for The Wall Street Journal:

‘[…] Over the past 20 years, prompted by changing police tactics and a zero-tolerance attitude toward small crimes, authorities have made more than a quarter of a billion arrests, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates. Nearly one out of every three American adults are on file in the FBI’s master criminal database.

This arrest wave, in many ways, starts at school. Concern by parents and school officials over drug use and a spate of shootings prompted a rapid buildup of police officers on campus and led to school administrators referring minor infractions to local authorities. That has turned traditional school discipline, memorialized in Hollywood coming-of-age movies such as “The Breakfast Club,” into something that looks more like the adult criminal-justice system.’

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The age of loneliness is killing us

George Monbiot writes for The Guardian:

File:Thoma Loneliness.jpg‘What do we call this time? It’s not the information age: the collapse of popular education movements left a void filled by marketing andconspiracy theories. Like the stone age, iron age and space age, the digital age says plenty about our artefacts but little about society. The anthropocene, in which humans exert a major impact on the biosphere, fails to distinguish this century from the previous 20. What clear social change marks out our time from those that precede it? To me it’s obvious. This is the Age of Loneliness.’

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Building a super-prison for children is a terrible idea

Frances Crook writes for The Guardian:

‘The Ministry of Justice has come up with the idea of building a super-prison for children as young as 12, at the core of which will be a regime of punishment and physical restraint. The jail will house around 300 boys and a handful of girls, and includes a planned unit for babies in case the girls get pregnant.

No one, but no one, supports this bizarre proposal, except for the companies that would profit from building the £85m complex. The government has refused to publish the rules or any details about what it is euphemistically calling a “secure college”. Next week the House of Lords will scrutinise the legislation and consider an amendment suggesting the whole idea be put on hold until more details are published.’

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Iraqi Doctors Call Depleted Uranium Use “Genocide”

Dahr Jamail writes for Truthout:

2014.10.14.Jamail.Main‘Contamination from depleted uranium (DU) munitions is causing sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq, according to numerous Iraqi doctors.

Iraqi doctors and prominent scientists believe that DU contamination is also connected to the emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. DU contamination may also be connected to the steep rise in leukaemia, renal and anaemia cases, especially among children, being reported throughout many Iraqi governorates.

There has also been a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births among Iraqi women, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, such as Fallujah during 2004, and Basra during the 1991 US war on Iraq.’

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