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Member since: Fri Jul 1, 2016, 03:42 PM
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Japan is in the grip of an elderly crime wave

Japan is in the grip of an elderly crime wave - the proportion of crimes committed by people over the age of 65 has been steadily increasing for 20 years. The BBC's Ed Butler asks why. At a halfway house in Hiroshima - for criminals who are being released from jail back into the community - 69-year-old Toshio Takata tells me he broke the law because he was poor. He wanted somewhere to live free of charge, even if it was behind bars.

"I reached pension age and then I ran out of money. So it occurred to me - perhaps I could live for free if I lived in jail," he says. "So I took a bicycle and rode it to the police station and told the guy there: 'Look, I took this.'" The plan worked. This was Toshio's first offence, committed when he was 62, but Japanese courts treat petty theft seriously, so it was enough to get him a one-year sentence.

Small, slender, and with a tendency to giggle, Toshio looks nothing like a habitual criminal, much less someone who'd threaten women with knives. But after he was released from his first sentence, that's exactly what he did. "I went to a park and just threatened them. I wasn't intending to do any harm. I just showed the knife to them hoping one of them would call the police. One did."

Altogether, Toshio has spent half of the last eight years in jail. I ask him if he likes being in prison, and he points out an additional financial upside - his pension continues to be paid even while he's inside.

"It's not that I like it but I can stay there for free," he says. "And when I get out I have saved some money. So it is not that painful.
Toshio represents a striking trend in Japanese crime. In a remarkably law-abiding society, a rapidly growing proportion of crimes is carried about by over-65s. In 1997 this age group accounted for about one in 20 convictions but 20 years later the figure had grown to more than one in five - a rate that far outstrips the growth of the over-65s as a proportion of the population (though they now make up more than a quarter of the total).


Michael Newman, an Australian-born demographer with the Tokyo-based research house, Custom Products Research Group points out that the "measly" basic state pension in Japan is very hard to live on.

In a paper published in 2016 he calculates that the costs of rent, food and healthcare alone will leave recipients in debt if they have no other income - and that's before they've paid for heating or clothes. In the past it was traditional for children to look after their parents, but in the provinces a lack of economic opportunities has led many younger people to move away, leaving their parents to fend for themselves.

"The pensioners don't want to be a burden to their children, and feel that if they can't survive on the state pension then pretty much the only way not to be a burden is to shuffle themselves away into prison," he says. The repeat offending is a way "to get back into prison" where there are three square meals a day and no bills, he says.

"It's almost as though you're rolled out, so you roll yourself back in." Newman points out that suicide is also becoming more common among the elderly - another way for them to fulfil what he they may regard as "their duty to bow out".


Advertisements appearing in Canada seeking to end child marriages

What a screwed up world we live in that this is still an issue today.

Bank of England blocks Maduro's $1.2 BILLION gold withdrawal - report

Can you imagine if another country did that to the US? It'd practically be a declaration of war.

London (CNN)The Bank of England has blocked Nicolas Maduro's officials from withdrawing $1.2 billion worth of gold, Bloomberg reported, dealing a further blow to the embattled Venezuelan President as he tries to salvage his authority.
According to the report, which cites unnamed people familiar with the matter, the gold is a significant part of the $8 billion in foreign reserves held by the Venezuelan central bank.
CNN has not been able to independently verify the report and is attempting to get a response from Maduro's officials.
The move by the Bank of England came after top U.S. officials urged the British government to help cut off Maduro's access to his country's assets, the report said, and instead steer them towards opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has claimed the presidency.
On Saturday, the UK joined the US and a host of other countries by saying it would recognize Guaidó as the country's interim President if new elections were not called within the next eight days.
"We stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States in saying that the National Assembly and its President Juan Guaidó are best placed to lead Venezuela to the restoration of its democracy, its economy and its freedom," said UK Minister of State Alan Duncan.
In a statement, the Bank of England said Saturday that it provides gold custody services to a large number of customers, but it does not comment on those relationships.
"In all its operations, the Bank observes the highest standards of risk management and abides by all relevant legislation, including applicable financial sanctions," the statement said.
The US Treasury Department said in a statement Friday it plans to use economic and diplomatic tools to ensure any commercial transactions with the Venezuelan government are "consistent" with the US-recognized government of Venezuela led by Juan Guaidó.


Huge crowds gather to protest and call to abolish Australia day in marches across cities

Had no idea this was such a serious issue there.

Thousands of protesters have gathered around the country, calling for changes to the way the nation marks Australia Day. January 26 marks the anniversary of Captain Arthur Philip arriving with the First Fleet in Port Jackson, New South Wales, a date now seen by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as "Invasion Day" or "Survival Day". Those at Saturday's rallies said the day marks the theft and dispossession of Indigenous people, and should not be celebrated.



Is anyone talking about how immigration services are also affected by shutdown?

A friend of mine trying to apply for US citizenship said that the shutdown completely screwed up his application. Surprised it's not even bigger news, Trump has basically shut down the legal means to immigrate here to the US legally too.

Nurse arrested in sex assault of woman in vegetative state who gave birth at nursing home

A nurse has been arrested in the sexual assault of an incapacitated woman who gave birth at a Phoenix nursing facility, Arizona police said Wednesday. Nathan Sutherland, 36, was a licensed practical nurse at Hacienda Skilled Nursing Facility, where the woman gave birth. The female patient had been in a vegetative state facility for at least 14 years after a near-drowning incident.

She stunned workers when she went into labor on Dec. 29 because they didn't know she was pregnant. Police obtained a DNA sample from Sutherland on Tuesday. He was not working at the time. He was responsible for caring for the victim and had access to her at the time of the incident.

On Jan. 22, authorities determined that Sutherland's DNA matched the baby's and he was detained. He was booked in the Maricopa County Jail on one count of vulnerable adult abuse and one count of sexual assault. Sutherland, wearing a T-shirt, black athletic pants and jacket, appeared in court Wednesday. A Maricopa County Superior Court commissioner ordered him released on a cash-only $500,000 bond. He also must wear an electronic monitoring device.

Nursing facility staff has said that none of them knew the woman was pregnant until she started giving birth.


Maduro says Venezuela is breaking relations with US, gives American diplomats 72 hours to leave

Source: CNBC

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday he was breaking diplomatic relations with the United States, after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the South American country's interim president.

Speaking to supporters outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, socialist leader Maduro said he would give U.S. diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave Venezuela, which is suffering from a hyperinflationary economic collapse.

Earlier Wednesday, the Trump administration ratcheted up pressure on Maduro on Wednesday, announcing U.S. recognition of Guaido as interim president and signaling potential new sanctions against its vital oil sector.

With street protests against Maduro underway across Venezuela, Trump said the United States recognized Guaido, head of the opposition-controlled Congress, as the country's leader and called socialist Maduro's government "illegitimate."

Read more: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/23/venezuela-president-maduro-breaks-relations-with-us-gives-american-diplomats-72-hours-to-leave-country.html

FBI Field Offices Collect Food Donations for Unpaid Employees

Thomas O’Connor, the FBI special agent who is volunteer president of the FBI Agents Association, said on Tuesday that it’s not normal for him to be sitting in front of news cameras.

But nor is it “normal” for chunks of the government to be shut down so that the group’s nearly 14,000 members, among others, are not collecting paychecks.

So the association took the rare step of collecting anonymous, volunteer statements from special agents nationwide documenting the harms that the funding freeze have inflicted on investigations, travel, training, payments to confidential sources and employee benefits.

This Friday will mean more than “30 days without pay, which is not sustainable,” O’Connor told reporters. “It’s sad” and “disgusting” that the bureau’s law enforcement professionals “have been let down by our elected officials.” He described how his wife—also a special agent and his boss—worked with her Virginia book club to collect and deliver a truckload of food to “FBI family” at a field office, which is happening all across the country. “I never thought I would say this” about the federal government, O’Connor said.

The majority of FBI employees remain on the job, though without pay. And following a petition presented on Jan. 10 to the White House and congressional leaders demanding immediate funding for the bureau, the group’s new report–titled “Voices from the Field: FBI Agent Accounts of the Real Consequences of the Government Shutdown”—will go to all lawmakers.

It quotes regional agents lamenting in detail that O’Connor called “vivid and troubling” of how, for example, local crime victims working with the FBI do not receive the usual counseling. Witnesses planned for court proceedings are “not getting the fees and per diems, though the criminal trials will go forward,” O’Connor said. And in one division, “we don’t have a single Spanish-speaking” staffer available, so for a violent crime case, in which 13 from the infamous MS-13 gang have been indicted, the FBI has to interview using a three-way phone connection.

As they did in the group’s petition, the leaders of the 14,000-member association stressed that the shutdown and absent paychecks put agents’ security clearances at risk. “Every family in the FBI has mortgages, car payments and bills at the end of the month—try doing that without a paycheck,” O’Connor said. It’s especially tough on the newer employees, he said.

The skipped paydays also harm recruiting and shrink hiring pools to “sub-par” candidates, he said. In fact, members of the most recent graduating class from the FBI’s training academy at Quantico, Va., since Dec. 21 have not received paychecks, after having “left other jobs and … their families at home.”

Vision and dental health benefits are now frozen because of furloughed support staff, O’Connor added, and retirees, some of whom spent 20 years “risking their lives for the government” face delays in their first retirement checks—with no ability to use the typical leftover annual leave as paid days during the shutdown. He declined to answer questions about the politics of the shutdown, citing the group’s nonpartisan mission and his stance of speaking as a volunteer, not on behalf of the bureau.


California's housing market is a nightmare if you're not rich

What's the end game to all this? Is this state eventually going to be just one massive dystopia between the ultra rich living in their gated HOAs and the ultra poor? Even here in the Central Valley where I can only afford to live in the housing market is being driven up into 6 figure sums for the crappiest houses!

Saudi teen granted asylum in Canada says she's one of the lucky women who escaped

(CNN)The Saudi teenager who fled her family and was granted asylum in Canada said Tuesday that she was fortunate to have escaped. But many other young women in Saudi Arabia like her are not able to get away and take control of their lives, Rahaf Mohammed, 18, said at a press conference Tuesday.

"I am one of the lucky ones. I know there are unlucky women who disappeared after trying to escape, or who could not do anything to change their reality," she said. "I was not treated respectfully by my family, and I was not allowed to be myself and who I want to be," she added. "As you know, in Saudi Arabia, this is the case for all Saudi women except for those fortunate enough to have understanding parents. They can't be independent, and they need approval from their male guardian. Any woman who thinks of escaping or escaped will be at risk of persecution."

Mohammed is one of a number of Saudi women who have fled the country and its laws restricting women's rights. Saudi Arabia's guardianship laws govern many aspects of women's lives, and they may not marry, divorce, get a job, have elective surgery or travel without permission of their male guardians. On Tuesday, Mohammed spoke about her ordeal in Arabic, and a staffer from COSTI Immigrant Services delivered the English translation. She said she wanted to carve her own path in life.

"I want to be independent, travel, make my own decisions on education, a career, or who and when I should marry. I had no say in any of this. Today, I can proudly say that I am capable of making all of those decisions," she said.

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