The world is heading into a horrific economic nightmare, and an inordinate amount of the suffering is going to fall on innocent children. If you want to get an idea of what America is going to look like in the not too distant future, just check out what is happening in Greece. At this point, Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression. As I have written about previously, the unemployment rate in Greece has now risen to 27 percent, which is much higher than the peak unemployment rate that the U.S. economy experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. And as you will read about below, child hunger is absolutely exploding in Greece right now. Some families are literally trying to survive on pasta and ketchup. But don’t think for a moment that it can’t happen here. Sadly, the truth is that child hunger is already rising very rapidly in our poverty-stricken cities. Never before have we had so many Americans unable to take care of themselves. Food stamp enrollment and child homelessness have soared to brand new all-time records, and there are actually thousands of Americans that are so poor that they live in tunnels underneath our cities. But for millions of other Americans, the suffering is not quite so dramatic. Instead, they just watch their hopes and their dreams slowly slip away as they struggle to find a way to make it from month to month. There are millions of parents that lead lives that are filled with constant stress and anxiety as they try to figure out how to provide the basics for their children. How do you tell a child that you can’t give them any dinner even though you have been trying as hard as you can? What many families go through on a regular basis is absolutely heartbreaking. Unfortunately, more poor families slip through the cracks with each passing day, and these are supposedly times in which we are experiencing an “economic recovery”. So what are things going to look like when the next major economic downturn strikes?
A recent New York Times article detailed the horrifying child hunger that we are witnessing in Greece right now. At some schools there are reports of children actually begging for food from their classmates…
As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.
“He had eaten almost nothing at home,” Mr. Nikas said, sitting in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a working-class suburb of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skittered across the playground. He confronted Pantelis’s parents, who were ashamed and embarrassed but admitted that they had not been able to find work for months. Their savings were gone, and they were living on rations of pasta and ketchup.
Could you imagine that happening to your children or your grandchildren?
Don’t think that it can’t happen. Just a few years ago the Greek middle class was vibrant and thriving.
And we are starting to see hunger explode in other European countries as well. For example, in the UK the number of people receiving emergency food rations has increased by 170 percent over the past year.
This is one of the reasons why I get upset when people say that “things are getting better”. Yes, the stock market has been setting record highs lately, but things are most definitely not getting better.
Even during this false bubble of debt-fueled economic stability that we are enjoying right now, we continue to see hunger and poverty rise dramatically in America.
Since Barack Obama has been president, the number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 32 million to more than 47 million.
Will we all be on food stamps eventually?
Will we all become dependent on the government for our survival at some point?
According to the Boston Herald, even Tamerlan Tsarnaev was receiving government welfare benefits…
Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism, the Herald has learned.
State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits.
Isn’t that crazy?
And yes, there are some people out there that are abusing the system. In fact, the cost of food stamp fraud has risen sharply to approximately $750 million in recent years.
But most of the people on these programs really need the help. Thanks to our incredibly foolish economic policies, there are not enough good jobs for everyone and there never will be again. The percentage of Americans that are unable to take care of themselves is going to continue to rise, and the suffering that we are witnessing right now is going to get much, much worse.
Not that things aren’t really, really bad already. Here are some signs that child hunger in America has already started to explode…
#1 Today, approximately 17 million children in the United States are facing food insecurity. In other words, that means that “one in four children in the country is living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life.”
#2 We are told that we live in the “wealthiest nation” on the planet, and yet more than one out of every four children in the United States is enrolled in the food stamp program.
#3 The average food stamp benefit breaks down to approximately $4 per person per day.
#4 It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps before they reach the age of 18.
#5 It may be hard to believe, but approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are currently living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.
#6 The number of children living on $2.00 a day or less in the United States has grown to 2.8 million. That number has increased by 130 percent since 1996.
#7 According to Feeding America, “households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.6 percent compared to 12.2 percent”.
#8 According to a Feeding America hunger study, more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.
#10 Approximately 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.
#11 One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.
#12 In Miami, 45 percent of all children are living in poverty.
#13 In Cleveland, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty.
#14 According to a recently released report, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.
For many more facts about the dramatic explosion of poverty in this country, please see my previous article entitled “21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know“.
Unfortunately, most of the time statistics don’t really tell the whole story. Numbers alone cannot really communicate the soul-crushing despair that millions of American families are enduring on a daily basis at this point.
How can numbers communicate the pain that a child feels when her grandmother does not eat because there is not enough food for everyone in the family? But this is what some families in America actually go through because there is not enough money…
Vanyshia tells about the sacrifices her Grandmother makes so that she and her siblings can eat. “Sometimes my Grandma can’t even eat because she has to feed me and my brother and sister. Sometimes I don’t eat as much as I want to because I leave some for my Grandma because I don’t want her to sit there and starve. Sometimes she doesn’t have enough money to buy food, so she has to go to the bank and borrow money. It makes me feel sad. I don’t want her to be hungry. I just feel sad sometimes,” says Vanyshia.
Things can be particularly tough when you are a single parent. The BBC recently profiled a single mother that is struggling to raise two young children in Iowa…
“We don’t get three meals a day like breakfast, lunch and then dinner,” says Kaylie. “When I feel hungry I feel sad and droopy.”
Kaylie and Tyler live with their mother Barbara, who used to work in a factory. After losing her job, she was entitled to unemployment benefit and food stamps – this comes to $1,480 (£974) a month.
But they were no longer able to afford to live in their house, which along with bills cost $1,326 (£873) a month, leaving little for food or petrol.
Kaylie supplemented their income by collecting cans along the railway track near their old home – earning between two and five cents per can.
I wonder why we don’t see more stuff like this on the mainstream news in this country?
Could it be that the mainstream media does not want to admit how bad things have really gotten?
All of this is also a reminder that we need to be generous to those in need. Times are going to get much, much harder than this, and we are all going to need one another.
So do you have any stories of poverty or child hunger from your area of the country to share? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
View full post on The Economic Collapse
In what is either a case of blinders-wearing or just poor timing, today the Fordham Institute’s Kathleen Porter-Magee has an article on NRO, co-written with the Manhattan Institute’s Sol Stern, in which she and Stern take to task national curriculum standards critics who assert, among other things, that the Common Core is being pushed by President Obama. Yes, that’s the same Kathleen Porter-Magee whom it was announced a couple of days ago would be on a federal “technical review” panel to evaluate federally funded tests that go with the Common Core.
The ironic timing of the article alone is probably sufficient to rebut arguments suggesting that the Common Core isn’t very much a federal child. Still, let’s take apart a few of the specifics Porter-Magee and Stern offer on the federal aspect. (Other Core critics, I believe, will be addressing contentions about Common Core content).
Some argue that states were coerced into adopting Common Core by the Obama administration as a requirement for applying for its Race to the Top grant competition (and No Child Left Behind waiver program). But the administration has stated that adoption of “college and career readiness standards” doesn’t necessarily mean adoption of Common Core. At least a handful of states had K–12 content standards that were equally good, and the administration would have been hard-pressed to argue otherwise.
Ah, the power of parsing. While it is technically correct that in the Race to the Top regulations the administration did not write that states must specifically adopt the Common Core, it required that states adopt a “common set of K-12 standards,” and defined that as “a set of content standards that define what students must know and be able to do and that are substantially identical across all States in a consortium.” How many consortia met that definition at the time of RTTT? Aside, perhaps, from the New England Common Assessment Program, only one: the Common Core.
NCLB waivers, for their part, gave states an additional option – having their state college systems confirm state standards as “college and career ready” – but that came after RTTT had already pushed states to adopt Common Core, and offered only a single alternative. That’s probably why, to use Stern and Porter-Magee’s own words, “President Obama often tries to claim credit” for widespread adoption of the Core. He actually had a lot to do with it!
As for states having “equally good” standards somehow being able to get past RTTT commonality demands, well, that’s just not how it works. The rules were the rules, and states didn’t just get out of them by saying “I dare you to act like our standards aren’t super.”
Education policymaking — and 90 percent of funding — is still handled at the state and local levels. And tying strings to federal education dollars is nothing new. No Child Left Behind — George W. Bush’s signature education law — linked federal Title I dollars directly to state education policy, and states not complying risked losing millions in compensatory-education funding (that is, funding for programs for children at risk of dropping out of school).
This is a very curious, self-defeating argument. Basically, Porter-Magee and Stern are asserting that the Feds only supply a small fraction of education money, and yet all states got sucked into No Child Left Behind. Applied to Common Core, federal money needn’t be very large in percentage terms to be irresistible, illustrating the very point about compulsion that Stern and Porter-Magee hope to refute. And it’s not hard to see why relatively small bombs of federal money pack a big punch: Taxpayers – who live in states – had no choice about paying their federal taxes, and no matter how they look in relative terms, millions or billions of federal dollars seem like mammoth sums in most news stories.
Perhaps the clearest evidence that states can still set their own standards is the fact that five states have not adopted Common Core. Some that have adopted it might opt out, and they shouldn’t lose a dime if they do.
It’s true that five states have not fully signed on to Common Core (Minnesota has adopted the language arts, but not math, portions), but that’s likely in large part because Race to the Top did not put annual funding on the line, and waivers had a non-Core option. But forty-five state did sign on, suggesting that the push was still very forceful. And it is irrelevant whether Porter-Magee and Stern think that states that opt out shouldn’t lose a dime of federal money. The reality is that those that have opted out did lose a full chance to win Race to the Top money, and if Common Core and accompanying tests are made central to a reauthorized NCLB – and why wouldn’t they be, since almost every state has adopted them – then annual funding would be put at risk. Which is what Common Core supporters have probably wanted since before the Obama administration existed, writing in 2008 that the job of the federal government is to furnish “incentives” for state adoption of “common core” standards.
So please, do look at NCLB when thinking about possible federal control of the Common Core. It’s a clarion alarm about what’s likely coming.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
March 22, 2013
Please Do Not Adjust Your Child
By Daren Jonescu
Of all the arguments public-school advocates have used to hoodwink generations of parents into condemning their own children to years of state-controlled subservience training, one of the most successful is that without public schools, children cannot be properly "socialized," and will therefore be ill-prepared for life in the "real world." Not only is this argument absurd on its face, but that face also reveals the ugliest intention of compulsory schools: the deliberate retarding of human moral and intellectual development.
The basic premise of the argument for public schools as necessary tools of socialization is that learning to get along, or fit in, with children one’s own age is a vital life skill. Is it?
Childhood, contrary to the worst tendencies of democratic thought, is not an end in itself. Common sense teaches us that a child is an immature specimen, a partial view of humanity. A researcher from another planet who examined only children would never understand the human race, for he would not have seen a fully actualized instantiation of the species. A child is an entity in flux, a potential being with a natural goal, but one which may be actualized to widely varying degrees of success, depending on the conditions of its growth.
Children are potential adults. Their proper development requires, therefore, that they gradually learn how to be adults. That is, they need to be encouraged to develop the character and intellect suitable to adult life, in order to fulfill their natural potential, by which I mean human nature itself. To thwart this development is to stunt the fulfillment of nature. To thwart it deliberately is a moral crime.
Everything in a child’s upbringing ought to be focused on the aim of achieving the most successful adulthood. This means finding ways to ignite interests and enthusiasms that will lead him to develop the faculty that defines his chances as an adult, namely reason, and the states of character that will prepare him to face adulthood’s vicissitudes and temptations without succumbing to indignity and unrighteousness, namely his moral virtues. This does not mean "taking the fun out of being a child." Nor does it mean expecting children to "think like grown-ups." What it means, rather, is that the fun of being a human child should come precisely, or primarily, from applying one’s childlike thoughts and sentiments to the task of learning how to be a grown-up.
This is not a bureaucratic recommendation; it is an imperative of nature. It explains the hero worship children commonly feel towards older siblings, and their desire to emulate their parents. "Potential," as we have known since Aristotle, is simply nature’s desire expressed in metaphysical terms. Children naturally pursue knowledge of their surroundings, and admire that which they perceive as a more complete version of themselves. They hope to achieve a fuller existence by modeling their behavior on that of others who appear exemplary of the more mature state that they have not yet attained. Contrary to today’s pop psychology and the progressive kindergarten ethic that dominates education theory, this constant effort to find and emulate exemplars of maturity is not a burdensome chore for children, or a cruel deprivation of the pleasures of childhood. The most powerful natural desire of a child is the desire to grow up, and the satisfaction of desire always brings immediate pleasure.
This last point, however, is both the key to educating children and the secret to undermining true education. Desire and pleasure will motivate children; this is inevitable. The question is whether the dominant desires will be those conducive to the fulfillment of our nature as rational, independent beings — the inheritance of millennia — or other desires which curtail that proper development, trapping children in an avalanche of confused feelings and self-doubt that permanently block the road to mature adulthood. This is where the environment in which education takes place becomes all-important.
Two conditions are paramount in establishing the environment for the child’s proper development: opportunities for patient examination of naturally interesting things, and opportunities for interaction with reasonable examples of adulthood.
The first condition enlivens the child’s capacity for analytical thinking by appealing to his natural curiosity. The hours of fascination that young children can derive from examining insects in a field is a common example of this. I have taught boys who were difficult to manage in a classroom, either due to "laziness" or "daydreaming," but who lit up with the focused passion of a great scientist when talking about bugs. Dragging them away from this passion and back to the detached, unreal world of the classroom is a perfect example of how to kill intellectual growth at its roots, by smothering a sincere desire for knowledge. This forcible removal of the child’s mind from its fruitful realm of natural curiosity stifles the motivation to reason, to categorize, to understand; and this stifling process is what modern education is all about.
The second condition for learning, interaction with exemplary adults, is important as a means of showing the child what he is aiming at. Contrary to the mantra of progressives, who aggrandize childhood because they wish to trap everyone in that state of trusting dependency in which he may be more easily manipulated, children themselves instinctively gravitate towards imitating the grown-up behavior they see around them. (Think of the children’s tea party.) If they see dedication, sobriety, and righteousness, they are likely to emulate them. If they see the opposite of these things, they emulate what they see, and become the useful idiots of progressivism: lacking confidence in their ability to care for themselves, lacking seriousness in assessing their situation and making plans, and lacking the basic respect for others’ property and person that makes civil society possible.
Consider, now, how public schools address these two necessary conditions of human moral and intellectual growth. The primary fact of life in a public school is that the child will be restrained within a large group of children his own age for most of the day. This severely reduces childhood’s precious opportunity for independent investigation. In addition to the physical reality of being forever confined to the company of others, the child faces the endless insistence, direct and implied, that he must accommodate himself to those others, get along with them, think about what they are thinking about, act only in reaction to their instigations, and, most of all, avoid getting on the wrong side of the majority of them. (I have just described John Dewey’s philosophy of education in a nutshell.) Children who have not yet developed courage, self-reliance, and any practical means of protecting themselves are easily susceptible to fear of not fitting in, or of being disliked. Fear, then, takes the place of curiosity as the primary impetus. This creates a new, unnatural set of desires which displace the natural desire for understanding: the desires to be liked, to be accepted, to be protected, or to escape, fill the void left in the child’s heart after the state forcibly curtails the intellectual adventurousness of the wandering bug-studier, stargazer, or bookworm.
Nature’s window of opportunity for learning how to concentrate one’s thoughts fruitfully and channel one’s feelings productively is relatively short. If this opportunity is missed or ill-used, the resulting adult life will be less than it ought to have been. And the damage done through such missed opportunities cannot simply be repaired later. Humans are creatures of habit, both mental and emotional. Adults can change their opinions, or develop new tastes; new ways of thinking or states of character, however, are a far more difficult matter.
The conservative version of the "socialization" argument is the "learn how to survive in the real world" argument. But the "real world" is precisely what public school is designed to prevent children from experiencing. Prefabricated areas of study, artificially imposed regimentation of one’s time and mental space, and almost complete deprivation of privacy and the ability to pursue specific, idiosyncratic areas of curiosity exclusively for a while — these daily oppressions of public school existence do not prepare children for any real world you would want them to inherit. Rather, they are preparation for practical enslavement in a progressive authoritarian conception of society as a vast assembly line of interchangeable "worker units" — which, by the way, is precisely what compulsory government education was created to produce, as some of its early promoters had the decency to admit.
The same goes for the related fantasy that surviving the public school’s social pressures will "build character." Parents who tell themselves this are attempting to live vicariously through their children, while forcing their children to take all the risk. You may tell yourself all day long that your child is strong enough to withstand the pressures of public school life. You are probably wrong. Children do not have a set character with which to face challenges to their will and their moral habits. They can only take so much. The ability to stand firm on principle against the fear of rejection, humiliation, mockery, and belittlement is a trait of mature adult character. Even among adults, such strength of character is rare these days, as anyone can see by observing the U.S. Congress. It is too much to expect a mere child to exhibit such strength against the level of social threat imposed continually in a public school classroom. If a child survives with his soul relatively intact, it will not be without severe damage to his faith in life, his sense of hope, and his belief in mankind. He will suffer years as an outcast — he must do so, if he is to have a chance of coming out with his soul alive.
This is not because the other children in the school are any less naturally moral or rational than he is. It is because they are all children — and this usually includes, for all intents and purposes, the teachers. Children are not yet rational; they are all looking for direction, and in need of mature examples and the private time to begin reasoning. Deprived of these necessities for so much of their young lives, they are all in the same boat — a lifeboat adrift in a violent sea of confusion, fear of others, fear of being alone, boredom, and an animal’s instinct for survival at all costs, with no land, no rational grounding in sight. If this sounds like the "real world," that is only because the world is increasingly populated by the products of compulsory public school education.
"Preparing" your child for such a world is a euphemism for condemning him to life as a citizen of progressive hell. If mankind is to have a rational, moral future, that future will ultimately belong not to the damaged survivors of public school, but to the "unprepared" and "maladjusted," namely the bug-studiers, stargazers, and bookworms: those whose intellects and character were permitted to develop naturally, with curiosity, not fear, as their impetus, and self-sufficient adulthood, not "socialization," as their goal.
Something has gone terribly wrong with the modern world, and public education is at the heart of the problem. The solution will not and cannot come from a publicly educated population. Begin the process of liberating children’s souls now, so that in the future there will once again be Thomas Jeffersons and Benjamin Franklins to do what will need to be done.
Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/03/ … z2OFK5Jnqe
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Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:09 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Canadians are major customers in Cuba’s child sex market
Canada is lax when it comes to stopping its sex offenders from going to Cuba and preying on underage prostitutes.
Most tourists are drawn to Cuba by the sand, the sunshine, and the culture. But a few tourists – including some Canadians – are drawn by something far darker.
By: Robert Cribb Jennifer Quinn, Julian Sher Toronto Star, and Juan Tamayo El Nuevo Herald, Published on Sat Mar 16 2013
HAVANA—Set against a backdrop of gutted buildings and faded hope, Michael is all smiles.
He’s fiftysomething, sports a greying moustache last in fashion in the ’70s, and stares out from beneath a ball cap emblazoned with a red maple leaf.
Sauntering into a downtown Havana bar, his left arm wound tightly around the waist of an attractive young Cuban woman, he’s in his element. She, meanwhile, is working.
The Vancouver Island native flashes a grin at two European mates who, like him, have come to regard Havana as a second home. The bartender welcomes him like an old friend. Everyone here, as the song goes, knows his name.
“There’s a lot worse places to be,” Michael says, in a toast to shared good fortune. “This is the promised land.”
Michael is on the inside of a well-kept secret.
Canadians are travelling to Cuba in surprising numbers to sexually exploit young people trapped in this socialist country’s underground sex tourism industry, a joint investigation by the Toronto Star and El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language sister publication of the Miami Herald, has found.
Havana’s conspicuous scenes of street-level prostitution are the public face of a hidden, sordid trade in children as young as four. Many prostituted children in Cuba are second- or third-generation, following in the footsteps of sex-worker mothers to earn money for families complicit in their exploitation.
“. . . it’s the illusion that you can get ahead if you prostitute yourself . . . the illusion of leaving the country, the illusion of a visa.”
Cuban authorities deny the problem. And Canada’s lax oversight suggests any self-proclaimed moral obligation to protect children from abuse stops at our own borders.
Convicted Canadian sex offenders face little scrutiny leaving the country, little prospect of having foreign authorities warned of their arrival and little chance of being flagged by border authorities upon arrival back in Canada.
Canadian border authorities have no access to the country’s sex offender registry and limited access to Canada’s criminal record database.
Part 1: Toronto sex offender could be first Canadian convicted of child sex tourism in Cuba
Cuba’s most horrifying episode of child sex tourism resulted in a girl’s death
More on this series
In an exclusive interview with the Star, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews acknowledged shortcomings, saying the travel of convicted sex offenders is “one of the very significant issues that does need to be addressed” through better monitoring.
“Are there additional steps I would like to see taken?” he said. “Absolutely. Am I encouraging the government to move in that direction? Absolutely.”
Canadian men, generally between 40 and 60 years of age, are among the most numerous sexual predators in Cuba, according to internal government reports, international experts, diplomatic cables and on-the-ground interviews.
The RCMP, in a confidential 2011 report on child sex tourism obtained by the Star through access-to-information requests, lists Cuba as a top destination in the Americas for Canadian sex tourists.
“The issue of Canadian travelling child sex offenders is likely greater than previously thought,” the report concludes.
And one of the key drivers behind any flourishing child prostitution market is “an established and active sex trade.”
Cuba easily meets that definition.
For sex tourists, the island holds unique allure. It’s closer and cheaper than destinations such Thailand and Cambodia. HIV rates are dramatically lower than in most countries. And a trip to Cuba for single male tourists is free from the social stigma associated with Phuket or Phnom Penh.
Furtive negotiations with pimps, cabbies and staff at high-end Cuban hotels can easily procure meetings with young boys or girls, according to undercover conversations with Cuban insiders and hotel security staff last month.
“That’s prohibited here in the hotel,” a security head at one of Havana’s large hotels told a reporter posing as sex tourist.
That’s because young Cuban girls appearing at the city’s high-end hotels in the company of men are instantly flagged by security staff, who often demand payment to allow their entry.
But he carefully described the process for accessing underage girls.
“The young girls aren’t on the street. They’re in houses waiting for the call from pimps.”
The secure — and surreptitious — environment for meeting them is a private lodging called a casa particular, where tourists can rent rooms for about $10 a night.
“They don’t care what you’re doing there,” said one hotel security guard. “Whatever you want. Orgies, anything.”
That advice mirrors the findings of the 2011 RCMP report, which says child sex “facilitators,” including “taxi drivers and/or hotel staff, can sometimes be used to arrange discreet meetings with potential child victims.”
A Cuban casa particular provides a safe zone where child sex offenders “access children and locals who are willing to facilitate crimes against children in return for financial compensation,” says the report, titled Canadian Travelling Child Sex Offenders.
“Poor or dysfunctional families may be particularly willing to open their doors to foreigners with the hope of reaping some financial benefits or so they can receive food or material items. Offenders can, and often do, capitalize on this vulnerability to gain sexual access to child victims.”
U.S. diplomats documented the same money-for-child-sex system operating with the knowledge and permission of families in a 2009 cable to Washington.
“Some Cuban children are reportedly pushed into prostitution by their families, exchanging sex for money, food or gifts,” it reads.
The cost of forbidden youth is startlingly cheap: as little as $30 for the night.
Manuel, a lean, 30-something lawyer from Mexico City, is flanked by two scantily clad young prostitutes outside a Varadero hotel as he proudly whispers to an undercover reporter in English: “I got them both for $40. We’re going back to (a casa particular) in Havana. Do you want to stay with us in our house with girls? Come with me. There’s so many!”
Exploitation thrives where poverty exists, and in that respect, Cuba is no different from Cambodia or Thailand.
Ivan Garcia, a dissident blogger and journalist in Havana, says the young girls and boys in the trade are typically poor, hopeless and desperate: “For these people, ‘future’ is a bad word.”
Parents who usher their children into the sex trade are motivated by something much bigger than money, he says. The real goal, he says, is the hope of securing marriage to a wealthy foreigner.
He knows two 12-year-old girls currently working the streets.
“They see that this girl married some Italian and now she’s dressing nice, fixing up her mother’s house — it’s the illusion that you can get ahead if you prostitute yourself . . . the illusion of leaving the country, the illusion of a visa.”
That illusion most often ends in exploitation and tragedy.
In 2011, three Italian men were sentenced to between 20 and 25 years in prison for murder and corruption of minors after the body of a 12-year-old girl was dumped in Bayamo, a city in eastern Cuba.
The girl — Lilian Ramirez — was a 12-year-old prostitute the men hired for a party along with two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old, says Laritza Diversent, a dissident Cuban lawyer who worked on the case.
The government handles such cases “with a lot of care and closed trials,” says Diversent.
Diversent considers child prostitution in Cuba “a serious matter because of what I see every day on the street — very young girls and boys with much older foreigners.”
In her own Havana neighbourhood growing up, she recalls, she had a nine-year-old friend who “was groped lasciviously” by adult men for cash.
“There’s a moment when they dedicate themselves to prostitution and there’s somebody who uses them, usually someone from their own neighbourhood.”
Prostitutes under 16 can be charged with “pre-criminal dangerousness” and be sent to youth interment camps But foreigners caught with prostitutes older than 16 rarely face arrest, she says. And it’s alleged that police accept bribes from prostitutes and pimps to look the other way.
The Canadian government keeps secret how many Canadians have been prosecuted in Cuba for sex crimes.
Concern for the privacy of the Canadians charged or convicted in the Cuban sex trade is the government’s stated rationale. So few have been prosecuted for the crime that releasing even aggregate figures could identify them, the government says.
But there’s no question that some Canadians have been prosecuted for exploiting young Cubans.
“A number of tourists, including Canadians, have been convicted of offences related to the corruption of minors,” the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade notes on its website about Cuba.
And a study on Cuban sex tourism by the global monitoring group End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) found “much of the literature points to Canadians as being high on the list of offenders.”
In 2003, ECPAT reported that a 53-year-old Canadian man had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl. Another Canadian man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old.
James Cason, the top American diplomat in Havana between 2002 and 2005, says Canadians are among the most enthusiastic customers of the Cuban child sex trade.
“The ones pouring in were Canadians and Europeans, and that’s where I saw the problem (of child prostitution),” Cason said in an interview.
While Cuban government action against sex tourists appears to be rare, U.S. cables, released by the activist group WikiLeaks, suggest vigorous punitive actions are taken against victims of the country’s underage sex trade.
“Police occasionally rounded up women and children in Cuba’s sex trade and charged them with vague crimes,” reads one 2009 cable. “Adolescents found in prostitution were sent to either juvenile detention facilities or work camps emphasizing politicized rehabilitation.”
The “Recommendations for Cuba” detailed in the same memo reads: “Acknowledge that child sex trafficking in Cuba is a problem; provide greater legal protections and assistance for victims; develop procedures to identify possible trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; increase anti-trafficking training for law enforcement; and, take greater steps to prevent the trafficking of children in prostitution.”
That advice has most certainly fallen on deaf ears inside the Cuban government. A request by the Star for an interview with the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa was ignored.
Led today by Fidel Castro’s younger brother Raul, Cuba continues to officially deny that sexual predators are among the sun seekers and families pouring into the country.
The numbers of arrests and prosecutions for child exploitation are tightly protected, and Cuba restricts the presence of international and domestic NGOs.
Official denial reaches beyond mere marketing. It is an expression of deeply felt revolutionary pride.
Fidel Castro cracked down on prostitution after the 1959 revolution and boasted his country would no longer be the American brothel.
“There are no women forced to sell themselves to a man, to a foreigner, to a tourist,” he said in 1992. “Those who do so do it on their own, voluntarily, and without any need for it. We can say that they are highly educated hookers and quite healthy, because we are the country with the lowest numbers of AIDS cases . . . Therefore, there is truly no prostitution healthier than Cuba’s.”
The sex marketplace in Cuba’s cities and resorts began to emerge after the Soviet Union’s collapse meant billions of dollars in annual subsidies from Moscow dried up.
Today, the influx of foreign money may well make prostitution among the most profitable jobs in a country where the average monthly salary officially stands at less than $20.
Cuba’s well-educated sex workers include a young woman who calls herself Chachi. Cherubic and young, her face is devoid of anything that suggests the broken life that brings her to Havana’s main prostitution strip — the seaside Malecon boulevard — at midnight.
She was born and raised in a neighbouring province and attended university for two years, studying to become a veterinarian. Then she became pregnant.
Now, with a three-year-old boy to look after, Chachi rents a Havana apartment for a month at a time, spending her days and evenings with male tourists like Michael.
“I can cook, I can do dishes, I can clean the house,” she says through an interpreter. “I can do whatever you want.”
Over a beer, she opens up about her humiliation having to walk the streets and the reasons she does it.
“He is beautiful,” she says of her little boy, who remains living with her mother in her hometown. “I am here for him. I wait for money from tourists so I can send it to him and my mother.”
The U.S. State Department consistently classifies Cuba as a “Tier 3” country — the worst in its rankings — when it comes to combating sex trafficking.
“Cuba is a source country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour,” the State Department warns in the 2012 edition of its annual review of global human trafficking. “The country’s laws do not appear to penalize prostitution of children between the ages of 16 and 18.”
The report concludes that the Cuban government has made “no known efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex.”
Teresa C. Ulloa Ziaurriz, Mexico-based director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women in Latin America, says the problem of exploitative predators from Canada and Europe is likely to grow as Cuba opens its doors to ever more tourism.
“All the Caribbean islands are really a paradise for child sex tourism,” she says. “We call sex tourism inverse trafficking — instead of taking the victims out of the country . . . the demand travels to where the supply is.
“Why are they coming to Latin America and the Caribbean to buy sex from those who are in more vulnerable situation? This is the merchandisation of the bodies of women and girls.”
Back in Havana, Michael certainly appears to be having a marvellous trip. Ask him about the city’s surprisingly open prostitution industry and he’ll launch into an X-rated Frommer’s guide to the most promising marketplaces for women in the city.
“If you go to places like the (club) Cecilia, then you’re going to see top-of-the-line girls, but they’re going to be charging top-of-the-line prices,” he notes. “I prefer places like the Hotel Deauville where they’re accessible . . . Whores galore.”
The retired British Columbian spends up to six months a year in Havana, a place he’s been visiting for two decades.
“It’s hard not to be inspired by this,” he says as he directs his eyes to the young prostitute accompanying him this night.
“And that,” he adds, his eyes visually pointing to one of several other young prostitutes in the bar with whom he shares warm banter and familiarity.
With more time on his hands, his travels have been expanding of late to a more well-known sex tourism destination — Cambodia.
“The Cambodian people just impress the f— out of me,” he says. “They’re extremely nice. And you can get a really f—— sexy woman. The sex is great. The beach is fantastic. The food, because it’s got the French influence in it.”
His travelogue complete, Michael smiles once more and extends his hand: “We’re all Canadians.”
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:08 pm
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From the Washington Examiner:
In June 2011, 11-year-old Skylar Capo saved a baby woodpecker from her family’s cat. “I’ve just always loved animals,” the aspiring veterinarian told her local news station. “I couldn’t stand to watch it be eaten.”
After rescuing the bird, Capo kept it by her side in a small cage for a few days to make sure it wasn’t injured. She even took it along on a family trip to the local Lowe’s hardware store. With the hot sun beating down overhead, Capo decided to carry the cage inside the store so the tiny woodpecker wouldn’t get overheated in her car.
Little did she know, these acts of compassion violated a federal statute against the “possession” or “transport” of a migratory bird – or that a Virginia game warden would be on her family’s doorstep days later demanding payment of a $535 fine.
And today’s Washington Post reports that a seven-year old boy was suspended from school because he carefully created a handgun out of the poptart he was eating and then said “bang, bang” to a schoolmate. A time-out would have been an overreaction. A suspension?
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Frances Kendall is a portrait artist, businesswoman, former politician, and author living in South Africa. She is the co-author (with Leon Louw) of South Africa: The Solution (1986).
This 1984 lecture at a Libertarian International conference in London focuses on Kendall’s first book, Super Parents Super Children (1983), wherein she advocates a system of parenting based on respecting the rights of children.
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Priest files reveal disturbing stories of child molestation, coverup
February 2, 2013 | 8:19 am
More disturbing stories of priests’ molestations of children — and questionable actions by church leaders — emerged in 12,000 pages of once-confidential personnel files.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles posted the documents on its website Thursday night, an hour after a Los Angeles judge ended 5-1/2 years of legal wrangling over the release of the files with an order compelling the church to make the documents public within three weeks.
Victims, their lawyers, reporters and other members of the public spent hours Friday poring through records that stretched back to the 1940s and provided details about the scope of abuse in church ranks never before seen.
The archdiocese of Los Angeles learned in the late 1970s that one of its priests had sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy so violently that he was left bleeding and "in a state of shock." The priest said he was too drunk to remember what happened and officials took no further action.
But two decades later, word reached Cardinal Roger M. Mahony that the same priest was molesting again and improperly performing the sacrament of confession on his victim. The archdiocese sprang to action: It dispatched investigators, interviewed a raft of witnesses and discussed the harshest of all church penalties — not for the abuse but for the violation of church law.
"Given the seriousness of this abuse of the sacrament of penance … it is your responsibility to formally declare the existence of the excommunication and then refer the matter to Rome," one cleric told Mahony in a memo.
Full coverage: Priest Abuse Scandal
The case of Father Jose Ugarte is one of several instances detailed in newly released records in which archdiocese officials displayed outrage over a priest’s ecclesiastical missteps while doing little for the victims of his sexual abuse.
The files also suggested that the attempts to protect abusers from law enforcement extended beyond the L.A. archdiocese to a Catholic order tasked with rehabilitating abusers.
"Once more, we ask you to PLEASE DESTROY THESE PAGES AND ANY OTHER MATERIAL YOU HAVE RECEIVED FROM US," the acting director of the order’s treatment program wrote to Mahony in 1988 in a letter detailing therapists’ reports about a prolific molester. "This is stated for your own and our legal protection."
The order, the Servants of the Paraclete, closed the New Mexico facility where many Los Angeles priests were sent amid a flood of lawsuits in the mid-1990s. A lawyer for the order declined to comment, but indicated in a 2011 civil court filing that all treatment records were destroyed.
Mahony disregarded the order’s advice, and therapy memos are among the most detailed records in the files.
One evaluation recounts how Father Joseph Pina, an East L.A. parish priest, said he was attracted to a victim, an eighth-grade girl, when he saw her in a costume.
"She dressed as Snow White … I had a crush on Snow White, so I started to open myself up to her," he told the psychologist. In a report sent to a top Mahony aide, the psychologist expressed concern the abuse was never reported to authorities.
"All so very sad," Mahony wrote years later after Pina was placed on leave. He was defrocked in 2006.
The limitations of the treatment at the Servants’ center are evident in the file. After months of therapy in 1994, Father John Dawson was allowed to leave the facility for a weekend. Among the first things Dawson, who had been accused of plying altar boy victims with pot and beer, did was apply for a job at the Arizona Boys School in Phoenix.
Treatment center staff found out only after the school phoned Dawson to arrange an interview. "Had they not called the Villa, it is doubtful that Fr. Dawson would have informed us of that job application and interview," according to a 1994 letter to Mahony’s vicar for clergy, Msgr. Timothy Dyer.
Responding to a public rebuke by his successor, Mahony insisted Friday that he tried his best to deal with the priest molestation scandal but fell short because not enough was known about the problem early in his career.
In an extraordinary open letter to Archbishop Jose Gomez, Mahony insisted Friday that he ultimately instituted state-of-the-art protections against child sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He seemed to suggest that Gomez had acted unfairly by publicly announcing that he was stripping the cardinal of any public role in the local church.
"Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors," he wrote.
"Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then," he added. "But when I retired as the active archbishop, I handed over to you an archdiocese that was second to none in protecting children and youth."
Mahony posted the letter on his blog Friday afternoon, hours after he said he had sent it to Gomez.
In a letter Thursday to parishioners, Gomez announced that "effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties." The move came a week after the release of church records showing Mahony worked to conceal abusers from police in the 1980s.
– Harriet Ryan, Victoria Kim, Ashley Powers, Mitchell Landsberg and Teresa Watanabe
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:33 pm
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By Andrew J. Coulson
Cases in which parents deny their children modern medical treatment are increasingly rare. In medicine, the days of snake-oil selling quacks are mostly behind us. Sadly, the same isn’t true in education policy.
Medical researchers precisely define and test their proposed treatments. Compare that to a recent bit of education policy “analysis” in which the writer purports to assess Milton Friedman’s market-inspired proposal (minimally regulated school vouchers) by reviewing the outcomes of charter schooling. This is like testing insulin by administering Flintstones Chewables. Charter schools are opened and closed at the discretion of government authorities, lack market-determined prices, and cannot be operated for-profit or offer religious instruction. In many states, they cannot hire teachers who lack government credentials. Friedman’s voucher proposal shared none of these characteristics, and so to treat the two interchangeably is a sign of ignorance or intentional equivocation.
Even when relevant evidence is presented, the presentation is frequently inaccurate and unsystematic. To see just how serious this problem is, it helps to look at an example in detail. Consider a recent discussion of voucherizing U.S. federal education spending that drew lessons from Chile’s voucher program. Many of its facts are wrong, others are misrepresented, and key pieces of information are omitted.
The author claims that Chilean education spending as a share of GDP shrank between 1980 and today. But, according to the United Nations, it rose from 4.4 percent to 4.5 percent. And, due to the sustained growth of Chile’s economy since the mid-1980s, inflation-adjusted per pupil spending has more than doubled.
The author acknowledges that Chilean students are now the highest-performing in Latin America, but claims that his fabricated “budget cuts have led to overall decline in quality.” In fact, Chile is one of the fastest-improving nations in the entire world on international tests of academic achievement. He goes on to claim, without support, that vouchers have led to growing inequality, benefitting only upper-middle-income families, yet a Yale University study reports that the voucher program has reduced inequality in educational attainment and raised earnings equally for both the poor and the non-poor.
Finally, the author notes that lower-income students are more likely to attend public rather than private schools in Chile, but neglects to mention that public schools serving the poor receive a varying amount of additional funding that is not given to private schools serving similar students. Chilean economists Sapelli and Vial report that public schools receiving vastly higher funding per pupil outperform private schools (which explains their appeal), but in the rare cases in which the public sector’s funding advantage is 25 percent or less, it is private schools that perform better.
This is not an exhaustive list of the commentary’s errors, omissions, and misrepresentations, but it should suffice to show the level of quackery being doled out to the public by purportedly serious publications (it was published in the Washington Post’s education blog). We’re not exactly talking House or Doc Martin here.
Few parents would administer the medical equivalent of this claptrap to their children–they are generally protected from such errors by the health-care field’s comparatively careful, systematic research practices. But in education, they still suffer under the ministrations of charlatans. The result can be seen in the virtually unique productivity collapse that has beset American education for generations.
So what can we do about it? A first step would be for well-intentioned education policy analysts to make more systematic use of the high quality research that is available, and to add to that literature. But it is harder to conduct experiments on the impact of state or national policies than on the impact of drugs. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem–one that we also owe, incidentally, to the medical field. I’ll be writing about that soon, and will update this post with a link when it’s available.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
VILLARAIGOSA APPOINTEE GUILTY OF STASHING CHILD PORN
by WILLIAM BIGELOW 5 Sep 2012
There are all sorts of strange excuses for being a child pornography buff, but sometimes the excuse just isn’t good enough and you have to ‘fess up.
Albert Abrams, the former Los Angeles City Commissioner who was appointed by Antonio Villaraigosa, was charged with possessing child pornography one year ago and initially blamed it on having a split personality. Not content with that as enough of a plausible explanation, Abrams elaborated that he had the split personality because of a tumor on his spine.
The FBI had raided his Tarzana home, finding hundreds of images of child pornography on his computer. He was arrested in February and pleaded not guilty.
Now Abrams has signed a plea agreement, pleading guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography. Abrams is scheduled to stand before a federal judge this Friday. He may be sentenced to from five to more than eight years in prison.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:25 am
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San Francisco police have arrested veteran gay rights advocate Larry Brinkin in connection with felony possession of child pornography.
Brinkin, 66, who worked for the San Francisco Human Rights Commission before his retirement in 2010, was taken into custody Friday night. He spent the night in jail before he was released on bail, according to a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department.
The district attorney’s office will decide Tuesday whether to file charges. "We’re still reviewing the case," district attorney’s spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said Monday.
Police say that Brinkin had pornographic images, some that appear to show children as young as 1 and 2 or 3 years old being sodomized and performing oral sex on adult men, in e-mail attachments linked to his account, according to a search warrant served by San Francisco police.
Representatives of America Online contacted authorities after coming across e-mail attachments from one of its subscriber’s accounts containing what they believed to be child pornography.
The Los Angeles Police Department, which was assigned to the case, traced the IP address associated with the account, Zack3737@aol.com, to Brinkin, a San Francisco resident, according to court records. Los Angeles police forwarded the case to San Francisco police.
San Francisco investigators say the account was registered to Brinkin, and that he paid for the e-mail service with his credit card.
Police provided two examples of e-mail messages from last year in which Zack3737 provides disturbing descriptions of the exploitive sexual acts.
The e-mail account also is linked to Yahoo discussion groups on sexual exploitation of young boys and girls, according to the search warrant.
Executing a search warrant Friday, police seized two laptops, a desk top computer, videos, a floppy disk and thumb drives from Brinkin’s Waller Street home.
During his 22-year tenure at the Human Rights Commission, Brinkin was best known for championing equal rights for gays and lesbians. He helped craft San Francisco’s groundbreaking Equal Benefits Ordinance, which became a national model for workplace equality.
Upon Brinkin’s retirement, the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution declaring the week of Feb. 1, 2010, "Larry Brinkin Week" in San Francisco, saying his "dedication to advance the civil rights of all people has never stopped."
Former Supervisor Bevan Dufty who authored the board resolution, said Monday that he was shocked to learn of Brinkin’s arrest. "I have admired and respected his work for the LGBT community," Dufty said. "I respect and am confident that there will be due process."
Brinkin did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:44 am
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