Child- and Gang-Rapes Are Running Rampant in India

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The family of a five-year-old girl who was raped stage a protest on Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road seeking treatment for her at a private hospital in Gurgaon, India, and fast disposal of the case.

Of all the many and oh-so-varied cultures in the world, India’s seems to be among the least appreciative of the concept enshrined in the US Declaration of Independence, that: “All men are created equal.” Women there, only second to the second-class treatment of women in predominantly Moslem countries, far too often are made victims of brutal rapes. Even, even more sadly, when they are but children.

Two recent reports on Newser (and here) paint a horrid picture of the problem: A 10-year-old being raped, made pregnant, then having to struggle to get (as she finally did) permission to get aborted, and another couple of women getting gang raped – one in a moving car (the mind boggles!) – in a culture that, in too many instances, still also accepts revenge killings.

I am not a religious person, and I have trouble getting my mind about how, and why, practitioners of various religions – any of them – faithfully accepting, as they do, what they do.

My wife and I watched a “Law & Order” show recently about a case where a super-religious girl was taken advantage of – raped, in short – by a fellow believer in her ‘faith’ that him having sex with her – “curative sex” – would free her of her desire for another woman. Guess what? The spiritual leader who encouraged his flock to so behave, ended up, as the encourager of illegal actions, in prison. So, of course, did the rapist. And the saddest news what, they both believed they did nothing wrong.

Uber A Marriage-Wrecker? French Court Will Decide

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A French businessman who was cheating on his wife – or so she suspects, and thinks she can prove – learned about his straying ways after he borrowed her iPhone to schedule an Uber. When he hung up, the app didn’t, and continued sending reports on his whereabouts to his wife’s phone. As a result, the French paper/website Le Figaro, reported recently, she filed for divorce.

Rightly enough, the allegedly cheating husband believes, Uber should pay what he’s suing the company for: $45 million. (How, in such a case, such a number is decided upon, is a mystery!)

His claim is that the app, “not the whole cheating thing,” as The Daily Dot put it, ) led to the wife’s divorce appeal.

Le Figaro was able to duplicate the “problem” on iPhones – and no such “fault” has been found to affect Android phones, news that no doubt comes as a relief to owners (or borrowers) of phone using that operation system.

Uber hardly surprisingly, would no doubt be laughing at the lawsuit, which it has no intention of settling. But fighting lawsuits is expensive, and a distraction from business-as-usual.

(What was I saying?)

The Daily Dot said the case will have an initial court hearing late this month, with the French government – meaning taxpayers who support the government – picking up their side of the tab. The husband will be responsible for his share of the costs.

 

Fewer HIV Sufferers Need Hospital Care: New Study

 

Hospital admissions to treat HIV fell by one-third between 2000 and 2013, even though the number of people living with HIV increased by more than 50 percent during that time, according to a new study from AHRQ – the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The analysis is the first to show that a downward trend in the number of hospital admissions per person living with HIV continued after 2010. Based on HIV patient data in five states – California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina – the study found that people with HIV were 64 percent less likely to be hospitalized in 2013 than they were in 2000.

The study attributed the reduction to highly active antiretroviral therapy to treat HIV that was introduced between 1995 and 2000 as well as clinicians’ enhanced ability to treat HIV.

An abstract of the study, “Hospital Use by Persons With HIV in the 21st Century: a 5-State Study,” which was published in Medical Care, is available here.

Kids Smoking, Having Sex Less But Phone Abuse Still An Issue

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A week before the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) announced that teen smokers are fewer in number than ever, a University of North Carolina survey reported that there is a growing feeling, nationwide, that the legal smoking age should be raised – perhaps to as high as 21.

The rule makers might want to ensure that e-cigarettes, or vapes, are including in a higher-age change, because while smoking of actual cigarettes is down, the use of vapes is increasing – even among young people who would supposedly never consider actual cigarette-smoking.

The CDC report said last week that tobacco use among high schoolers was down in 2015 to a record low of roughly one in ten. In 1991, roughly one in four in that age group smoked.

The CDC also said, in the same National Youth Risk and Behavior Study, that premarital sex is down among teens, as is soda consumption and the illegal use of prescription drugs.

Now, if they could be convinced that texting and or conversing on the phone while driving is anything but a good idea, we’d be making progress!

The National Youth Risk and Behavior Study included responses from more than 15,000 high school students. It is likely that this survey is conducted along the same lines as NSDUH, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Several years ago, I was part of the survey team for NSDUH.

Surveyors visit randomly selected homes across the country and, when the occupants are willing to be part of the survey (and receive a nominal fee – presently $30 – for their time), select bits of information are entered by the surveyor into a small hand-held computer. Then, the participant is shown how s/he and other members of the family will enter answers to the confidential part of the survey into the computer.

Part of the reason for this elaborate process is to assure teens, for example, that regardless of what they say to the computer, their parents will no more about their sexual, smoking or other activities than they already did.

The NSDUH study – which is contracted out to RTI International, based in the North Carolina Research Triangle encompassing Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill – is a very expensive annual project. Potential survey team members are flown to a centrally-located city, put up for a week in a high-end hotel, and rigorously trained all day every day. Study procedures are intended to be followed religiously by surveyors – a fact that is stressed by the week’s instructors.

Still, after passing the really tough ‘final exam’ at the Cincinnati training hotel, I washed out in the field because I failed to stick to one basic rule: Because the territory I was assigned was a two-hour drive from my home, tended to stay in the field more hours per day than the program wanted me to. I thought that by avoiding multiple trips back at different times of the day to try to catch someone – anyone – at a selected home, I’d keep rotating around the ‘not home’ addresses and, as a result, racking up more hours than were permitted. It seemed to me that my approach beat the hell out of wasting four hours on the road – time for which I wasn’t being paid, anyway! – it made more sense to simply cool it somewhere (a restaurant, a gas station, anywhere) until there was a better chance someone I’d been unable to find before would be home.

The powers that be – in the form of the woman who was running my team – said she’d never ever encountered such a blatant breaching of the rules… and I was kicked off the team.

The lesson: If you find yourself working for an entity with a really cushy subsidy from the government, play by whatever rules they establish – or don’t, and quit.

RTI International has a number of cushy government projects tightly tied up. And the ultimate powers that be there are not about to let that applecart get upset.

Many organizations and companies benefit from the work produced through the NSDUH study. Chances are they would gain just as much if the budget on this project, and the rules for getting the work done in a cost-efficient way, were dramatically altered.

This is not just a ‘we’ve always done it this way’ issue: It’s a common sense one.

A lot of the issue with ‘out of control government spending’ boils down the same thing: Somebody, in a lot of departments, is not paying attention to how money is being spent – and, too often, squandered.

It’s nice to know that fewer teens are smoking, or having (probably unprotected) sex. It’s encouraging to know that an apparently growing number of are people so fed up with being forced to walk through clouds of inconsiderate smokers stench and poison that they are, at long last, anxious enough to hit smokers so hard in the wallet that they’ll get smart and quit.

Don’t tell me it can’t be done: I’ve done it twice! (Even after a number of years of abstinence, I found it way to easy to slip back to being a smoker. But the second ‘quit’ did for me. Full disclosure: I did relapse once, for a fraction of a day, when I was a situation that was both stressful and unacceptably dangerous.

I started smoking  when I was 11 or 12. I quit for the last time when I was, I think, in my fifties. Every once in a while, I still get the urge. It’s a nasty habit – made worse by the fact that the tobacco giants do all they can, including adding poisonous chemicals to cigarette tobacco, to get, and keep, you hooked.

If you smoke, consider two things: [1] the amount of money you’re wasting on a bad habit, and [2] the health benefits of quitting.

Do the research!

 

Two Hard Facts: Eat Less Meat, More Berries, Reduce Your Risk of Erectile Dysfunction

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Seriously? This guy’s problem goes way beyond ED. I suffer from it (at 73, what’s to be surprised about!).
but my 50-year-old wife and I do ‘fine’, thank you very much!

Adding more fruit to your diet reduces your risk for erectile dysfunction (ED), according to a study published last month (Jan. 2016) in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers (from the Department of Nutrition, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom; Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; and Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA) followed the diets of 25,096 men as part of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and monitored incidence for erectile dysfunction. Participants rated their erectile function in 2000 (with historical reporting from 1986) and again in 2004 and 2008. During 10 years of follow-up, 35.6% reported incidents of ED. Those with the highest intakes of anthocyanins, flavones, and flavanones, phytonutrients found in fruit, lowered their risk for erectile dysfunction by 14 percent when compared to those who consumed the least. Common sources for these flavonoids include strawberries, apples, blueberries, and citrus fruits. Researchers suspect a diet rich in fruits coupled with other healthful lifestyle factors aids prevention and early treatment of cardiovascular disease by improving vascular conditions. Erectile dysfunction is typically an indicator of narrowed arteries, the same disease process that causes coronary heart disease. A leading cause of narrowed arteries, as pointed out in a YouTube video by Dr. Neal Barnard, of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (see his blog at pcrm.org), is meat. “Bacon, burgers and chicken wings, they narrow your arteries. And that means, not enough blood flow downstairs, where it counts,” he says. His video is called ED: It’s not you, it’s meat!”

The latter isn’t a new message – the one about narrowed arteries, the leading cause of heart disease: It’s been being preached by medical professionals for some years, and it’s actually having an effect on red meat consumption.

Another, somewhat  related issue with red meat is the fact that its captive producers – cattle, for the most part – are fed huge quantities of antibiotics and growth enhancers to speed their journey along the path from birth to kill-weight – one to two years, compared to a cow’s natural life span of 25-30 years.

(See my post on that and the mistreatment of farmed animals at http://foodtradetrends.com/.)

An increasing number of specialty farms are offering shop-on-sight and even mail-order options for, for example, beef, pork and lamb products that are totally grass-fed in an environment where, as one such farm’s web site notes, the animals are “free to roam and graze.”  But they are, largely because they devoting more raising-time to each animal, anything but cheap.

A limited selection of such outlets is available at the website of animalwelfareapproved.org, one of a growing number of organizations representing, in any of several ways, the interests of ‘organic’ and other ‘natural’ producers of animal-based foods. Spotty and fairly unreliable (in terms of quantity) providers of more-purely-produced animal products – including farm-fresh eggs, which bear no resemblance to the often-months-old ones found in supermarkets – can be found through Google for Amish or Mennonite stores (or variations on that theme). When I lived closer to him, I was once fortunate enough to become aware that a nearby Amish farmer was about to sell some of the chickens he’d grown. I paid $9 for a pretty good sized one, cleaned and cut up (not dressed) and nicely packaged, all set for selected pieces to be frozen and others to be cooked that very day. That and the other birds for sale had been humanely slaughtered a work-filled day before the sale, and ours provided a taste treat no supermarket bird could come close to.

I know two fairly local farmers who sell eggs – eggs that redefine ‘fresh’. And because there are no middlemen or shipping costs, they cost about the same, within a few dimes, of the questionable-quality ones your local food store offers.

But I digress.

Another, even more impressive website that encourages less processed foodstuffs is http://www.eatwild.com/products. Search by your state or province, if you’re in Canada.

They have some interesting choices.

 

FBI OK’d Downloads of Kiddie Porn By 100,000 Users of a Nasty Site

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The FBI controlled, and allowed thousands of downloads from,  “the largest remaining known child pornography service in the world” for nearly two weeks last year. Now, they’ve charged some 1,300 individuals with related crimes.

Your tax dollars at work: For 13 days early last year, the FBI controlled one of the largest kiddie porn sites on the internet, providing 100,000 or more registered users access and the ability to download, without restriction, any of more than 23,000 sexually explicit images and videos of children as young as toddlers. At least some of those images depicted a pre-pubescent girl having sexual intercourse with adults, USA Today and others reported this week.

And this wasn’t the first time the FBI has pimped a kiddie porn site: The agency admits it has used similar approaches to the one it used with Playpen, the above cited site, to get down to the ‘short and curlies,’ as it were, of other web pulls for perverts anxious to further exploit children who’d already been taken advantage of as they were photographed in ways no child should be.

RT.com, a web site based in Russia, says the Playpen sting resulted in the arrest of 1,300 individuals, with more, potentially, to come.

The Playpen web site existed on what’s known as the ‘dark web,’ which is only accessible through use of a software program called Tor, which bounces users from one host site to another to shield their true identity. The FBI, though, used a Tor-beating program to blast past the deception and identify the ‘true’ IDs of users’ computers.

Even within the FBI, there have been some who’ve questioned the legality of the agency’s functioning, in effect and fact, as host of a kiddie porn web site – one since described as “the largest remaining known child pornography service in the world,” as RT.com put it. The Justice Department was quoted in a USA Today article as saying that “children depicted in such images are harmed each time they are view, and once those images leave the government’s control, agents have no way to prevent them from being copied and re-copied to other parts of the internet.”

Somewhat illogically, an attorney for one of the men caught in the Playpen sting said, “What the government did in this case is comparable to flooding a neighborhood with heroin in the hope of snatching an assortment of low-level drug users.”

Wikipedia says that, with much research having been conducted, “much disagreement persists regarding whether a causal connection has been established” between users of child porn and pedophilia.

But another Wikipedia entry notes that, “ Prepubescent pornography is viewed and collected by pedophiles for a variety of purposes, ranging from private sexual uses, trading with other pedophiles, preparing children for sexual abuse as part of the process known as “child grooming“, or enticement leading to entrapment for sexual exploitation such as production of new child pornography or child prostitution.”

But USA Today noted:  “Lawyers for child pornography victims expressed surprise that the FBI would agree to such tactics – in part because agents had rejected them in the past – but nonetheless said they approved. ‘These are places where people know exactly what they’re getting when they arrive,’ said James Marsh, who represents some of the children depicted in some of the most widely-circulated images. ‘It’s not like they’re blasting it out to the world.”’

 

‘Reasonable Job’ Covering Up Monks Having Sex With Kids?

st_johns_monk_McDonaldDonald Trump has made some totally outrageous comments this year, as he (possibly sincerely) puts himself forth as a candidate for president of the United States. But his most outrageous remark – whatever it was, as this is written – pales in comparison to one by a spokesman for St. John’s Abbey, in Collegeville, MN, when he declared that the Abbey “did a reasonable job of managing . . . the problem” of a resident monk, “the Rev. Finian McDonald (pictured above), who told a psychologist that he had about 200 sexual encounters as a priest” – many of them with children, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

That paper/website also noted that “another [priest] recorded the names of dozens of boys he brought to a cabin, some of whom he sexually abused.”

Whether that individual was sanctioned, rebuked, ‘managed’, dismissed and/or reported to authorities wasn’t mentioned.

But the article did mention that “another abuser was paid $30,000 by St. John’s Abbey to support him as he left the clergy.”

This and a lot more came to light after the Abbey was court-ordered to release internal files on “priests credibly accused of child sex abuse as part of a lawsuit settled earlier this year,” the Minneapolis media outlet’s web site reported. Despite priests there having been accused of sex offenses since the 1960’s, the Abbey consistently refused, over the past two decades, to release to investigators any of its files of implicated priests until it was recently forced to do so.

Among the 200 or so sexual assaults committed by the Rev. Finian McDonald, his file revealed, were prostitutes in Thailand who were 13- or 14-years-old at the time. He also admitted to having had 18 victims in St. John’s dormitories, when he served as a prefect there – a role he played for roughly 29 years – and that he abused alcohol during most of his time at the Abbey.

The alcohol abuse, in his case and perhaps others, no doubt was in mind when Abbey spokesman Brother Aelred Senna prepared a statement regarding the files that included the following text:

“There are documents in each file which may be quoted and framed in a lurid context, but the huge majority of the documents in each of these files acknowledges the very real failures of some monks while showing each of the accused monks as a fallible, relatable person.”

He added that the files “show that the Abbey did not try to cover up allegations and did a reasonable job of managing the monk and the problem.”

He did not explain how a religious institution goes about “managing” matters that, aside from being illegal, represent a gross abuse of the rights of victims and, no less important, the trust placed in the institution by the victims and the parents or guardians who permitted and encouraged their attendance at St. John’s.

The Star-Tribune didn’t note if, or what kind of, charges might be brought against the victimizing priests or their employer, the Abbey.