Daily Archives: April 18, 2012

Kindergarten “detainee” arrested, handcuffed, taken to police station thrown into cell for having a tantrum


In this Monday, April 16, 2012 image made from video and provided by WMAZ-13 TV, kindergartner Salecia Johnson, 6, is shown at her home near Milledgeville, Ga. Police in Georgia handcuffed the kindergartner after the girl threw a tantrum, and the police chief is making no apologies. Johnson is accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing furniture at school in the central Georgia city of Milledgeville. The police report says the girl knocked over a shelf that injured the principal. (AP Photo/WMAZ-13 TV)

Police handcuff Georgia kindergartner for tantrum

Associated Press | Apr 17, 2012

By JEFF MARTIN

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Police in Georgia handcuffed a kindergartner with her arms behind her back after the girl threw a tantrum and the police chief defended the action as a safety measure.

The girl’s family demanded Tuesday that their central Georgia city change policy so that other children aren’t treated the same way. They say the child was shaken up by the ordeal.

While it’s unusual to see a young child handcuffed in school, it’s not unheard of. School officials around the nation have wrestled with the issue of when it’s appropriate to call police on a student.

Salecia Johnson, 6, was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing books and toys in an outburst Friday at Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, according to a police report.

Police said a small shelf thrown by the child struck the principal in the leg during the fracas. The child also jumped on a paper shredder and tried to break a glass frame, the police report states.

The school called police. When an officer tried to calm the child in the principal’s office, she resisted, police say. She “was restrained by placing her hands behind her back and handcuffed,” a police report states.

A juvenile complaint was filed, accusing the girl of simple battery and damage to property.

The police department’s policy is to handcuff people when they are taken to the police station, regardless of their age, interim Police Chief Dray Swicord said.

“The reason we handcuff detainees is for the safety of themselves as well as the officer,” he said Tuesday.

The girl’s aunt, Candace Ruff, went with the child’s mother to pick her up from the police station. She said Salecia had been in a holding cell and complained about the handcuffs.

“She said they were really tight. She said they really hurt her wrists,” Ruff said. “She was so shaken up when we went there to pick her up.”

The police chief said the girl was taken to the police department’s squad room, not a holding cell, and officers there tried to calm her and gave her a Coke.

Officials at Creekside Elementary did not immediately return calls Tuesday.

The girl was suspended and can’t return to school until August, her mother, Constance Ruff, told WMAZ-TV, which first reported the story.

“We would not like to see this happen to another child, because it’s horrifying. It’s devastating,” her aunt told The Associated Press.

Elsewhere in the U.S., incidents involving students, police and handcuffs have raised difficult questions for educators, parents and policymakers.

In Florida, the use of police in schools came up several years ago when officers arrested a kindergartner who threw a tantrum during a jelly bean-counting contest. Since then, the overall number of student arrests in Florida has declined, but those for minor offenses have increased on a percentage basis. A bill was proposed this year to restrict police from arresting kids for misdemeanors or other acts that do not pose serious safety threats.

Annette Montano, a mother in Albuquerque, N.M., said her 13-year-old son was arrested last year after burping in gym class. The tension between him and school officials led to several more run-ins, including a strip search after he was accused of selling drugs, she said.

Finally, she said, she pulled him from the school in November. It took her three months to get him placed elsewhere.

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Middle Class Systematically Wiped Out By Globalization, Inflation and Taxation

25 Signs That Middle Class Families Are Being Wiped Out

businessinsider.com | Apr 17, 2012

by Michael Snyder

The middle class in America is being systematically wiped out, and most people don’t even realize what is happening.

Every single year, millions more Americans fall out of the middle class and become dependent on the government. The United States once had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world, but now the middle class is rapidly shrinking and government dependence is at an all-time high. 

So why is this happening? Well, America is becoming a poorer nation at the same time that wealth is becoming extremely concentrated at the very top. At this point, our economic system is designed to funnel as much money and power to the federal government and to the big corporations as possible. Individuals and small businesses have a really hard time thriving in this environment.

New data show grim picture of poverty

To most big corporations these days, workers are viewed as financial liabilities. Most corporations want to reduce their payrolls as much as possible. You see, the truth is that most corporations want to be just like Apple. If you can believe it, Apple makes $400,000 in profit per employee. Big corporations don’t care that you need to pay the mortgage and provide for your family. Their goal is to make as much money as possible. And most of the control freaks that run our bloated federal government don’t care much about middle class families either.

To many politicians and federal bureaucrats, middle class families are “useless eaters” that are constantly damaging the environment with their “excessive” lifestyles. In this day and age, neither the federal government nor the big corporations really have much use for middle class Americans, and that is really, really bad news for the the future of the middle class family in America.

There are three key factors that are constantly chipping away at the middle class….

-Globalization

-Inflation

-Taxes

Labor has become a global commodity, and American workers are often 10 to 20 times as expensive as workers on the other side of the world are.  Middle class jobs (such as manufacturing, etc.) have been leaving this country at an astounding pace.  Competition for the jobs that remain has become extremely fierce, and this has driven wages down.  The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….

But in the last two decades, something more fundamental has changed, economists say. Midwage jobs started disappearing. Particularly among Americans without college degrees, today’s new jobs are disproportionately in service occupations — at restaurants or call centers, or as hospital attendants or temporary workers — that offer fewer opportunities for reaching the middle class.

As paychecks have stagnated, the cost of living has continued to escalate. Middle class families are finding that their paychecks simply do not go nearly as far as they did before. This is creating a tremendous amount of financial stress in households all over America.

Meanwhile, our politicians are taxing the middle class like crazy.  Most people only focus on federal and state income taxes, but that is only a small part of the story.  As I detailed the other day, our politicians are taxing us in literally dozens of different ways and it is almost always the middle class that ends up getting hit the hardest.

If America wants to be great again, it is going to need a thriving middle class.  But right now the federal government and the big corporations are gobbling up all of the power and all of the money and the middle class is shrinking rapidly.

If current trends continue, eventually there will not be much of a middle class left.

The following are 25 signs that middle class families have been targeted for extinction….

#1 Over the past several decades, millions upon millions of middle class Americans have been systematically turned into government dependents.  Back in 1960, social welfare benefits made up approximately 10 percent of all salaries and wages.  In the year 2000, social welfare benefits made up approximately 21 percent of all salaries and wages.  Today, social welfare benefits make up approximately 35 percent of all salaries and wages.

#2 Unemployment is at epidemic levels and the vast majority of the new jobs that have been “created” in recent years have been low paying jobs.  Of those Americans that do have a job at this point, one out of every four works a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#3 The “working poor” is a group that is rapidly growing in this country.  If you can believe it, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

#4 Over the past several decades, the percentage of low income jobs has steadily increased.  Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#5 The way that our economic system is structured today, almost all of the economic rewards go to the very top of the food chain.  The following is how income gains in the United States were distributed during 2010….

-37 percent of all income gains went to the top 0.01 percent of all income earners

-56 percent of all income gains went to the rest of the top 1 percent

-7 percent of all income gains went to the bottom 99 percent

#6 Several decades ago, there was a much more even distribution of income in this country.  Back in the 1970s, the top 1 percent of all income earners brought in about 8 percent of all income.  Today, they bring in about 21 percent of all income.

#7 As the middle class shrinks, the number of “low income” and “poor” Americans is rapidly rising.  Today, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are currently either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.

#8 Manufacturing jobs once enabled huge numbers of Americans to enjoy a middle class lifestyle.  Unfortunately, those jobs are leaving this country at a breathtaking pace.  Back in 1940, 23.4% of all American workers had manufacturing jobs.  Today, only 10.4% of all American workers have manufacturing jobs.

#9 In the old days, any man that was willing to work hard and wanted a job could get one.  Today, there are millions of American men sitting on their couches at home wondering why nobody will hire them.  Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#10 The middle class is shrinking at the same time that America is getting poorer as a nation.  In the middle of the last century, the United States was #1 in the world in GDP per capita.  Today, the United States is #13 in GDP per capita.

#11 Every year now, we see millions of Americans fall out of the middle class.  In 2010, 2.6 million more Americans descended into poverty.  That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.

#12 The shrinking middle class is having a disproportionate impact on children.  At this point, approximately 22 percent of all American children are living in poverty.

#13 In the old days, most Americans grew up in middle class neighborhoods.  Sadly, this is no longer true.  In 1970, 65 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”.  By 2007, only 44 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”.

#14 The concentration of wealth at the very top of the food chain is astounding.  Right now, over 50 percent of all stocks and bonds are owned by just 1 percent of the U.S. population.

#15 When you concentrate too much power in the hands of the federal government and the big corporations, it is inevitable that massive amounts of wealth will become concentrated in just a few hands.  In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

#16 There is nothing wrong with making money, but there is something wrong with a game where individuals and small businesses cannot compete fairly.  According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

#17 When the number of poor people rapidly expands in a society, that is a recipe for social unrest.  At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#18 The hidden tax of inflation is absolutely devastating middle class families all over America.  Since 1970, the U.S. dollar has lost more than 83 percent of its value.  Any dollars that middle class families try to save are constantly losing a little bit more value every single day.

#19 American workers that try to play by the rules find that they are constantly fighting a losing battle.  According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

#20 In recent years, many middle class families have seen their paychecks get smaller.  Median household income in the United States has fallen 7.8 percent since December 2007 after adjusting for inflation.

#21 In recent years, many middle class families have seen many of their basic expenses absolutely soar.  For example, health insurance costs have risen by 23 percent since Barack Obama became president.

#22 Just turning on the lights and heating their homes has become a major burden for many middle class families.  Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#23 Just putting gas in the car has become a major financial ordeal for millions of hard working Americans.  The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has increased by more than 100 percent since Barack Obama became president.

#24 Sadly, government dependence is now at an all-time high, and that is the way that many among the elite like it.  When Barack Obama took office, there were 32 million Americans on food stamps.  Now, there are more than 46 million Americans on food stamps.  In particular, an astounding number of children are on food stamps right now.  At this point, approximately one-fourth of all American children are enrolled in the food stamp program.

#25 Many middle class families will not be in the middle class for too much longer.  According to a shocking new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, 200,000 U.S. households will use the money from their tax refunds this year “to pay for bankruptcy filing and legal fees“.

Unless major changes are made on a national level, the middle class is going to continue to disappear.

If you are playing the game the way that the system tells you to play it and you expect to live a middle class lifestyle for many years to come there is a good chance that you will be deeply disappointed at some point.

Millions upon millions of Americans have done everything that the system told them to do and the system has still failed them.  They got good grades all the way through school, they went to college, they worked really hard, they stayed out of trouble and they gave everything they could to their employers.  In spite of all that, millions of hard working families have still lost their jobs and their homes in recent years.

Do not trust that the system will take care of you, and you should not trust that the government will take care of you either.

We don’t need the federal government to hand out more money to everyone.  Government handouts are already at record levels and the government is not even coming close to paying for all of this reckless spending.

More government spending is not going to solve any of our problems.

Instead, what we need is an environment where the size and power of the federal government is limited and the size and the power of the big corporations is limited.  We need an environment where individuals and small businesses can thrive and compete fairly.

Unfortunately, neither major political party is going to move us in that direction, so there is not much hope for solutions on the national level any time soon.

On an individual level, we can all learn how to prepare for the very difficult years that are coming.  It is imperative that we all work to become more independent of the system, because the system could fail at any time.

If you have blind faith that your job will always be there and that the federal government will rescue you if the economy crashes then you are likely to be bitterly disappointed at some point.

The truth is that our economy is slowly dying and the great American middle class is being systematically wiped out.

Many of the things that worked in the past are not going to work any longer.

You can choose to adapt or you can suffer the consequences.

Our world is rapidly changing, and we all need to prepare for what is coming.

Study: 21 percent of New Yorkers are living in poverty

Children particularly affected by recession, Center for Economic Opportunity data find

MSNBC | Apr 17, 2012

By SAM ROBERTS

The number of New Yorkers classified as poor in 2010 increased by nearly 100,000 from the year before, raising the poverty rate by 1.3 percentage points to 21 percent — the highest level and the largest year-to-year increase since the city adopted a more detailed definition of poverty in 2005.

The recession and the sluggish recovery have taken a particularly harsh toll on children, with more than one in four under 18 living in poverty, according to an analysis by the city’s Center for Economic Opportunity that will be released on Tuesday.

Families with children were also vulnerable. They had a poverty rate of 23 percent, and a significant number of households were struggling to remain above the poverty line. Even families with two full-time earners were more likely to be considered poor in 2010; their ranks swelled by 1.3 percentage points to 5 percent compared with 2009.

By the city measure, more than 1.7 million residents were poor in 2010, the last year for which an analysis could be calculated.

The center placed most of the blame on reduced earnings caused by higher unemployment during the recession, which struck in New York later than in the rest of the country. The analysis emphasized that the poverty rate would have soared higher — to 23.7 percent over all, and to 27.6 percent for families with children — without the expansion of government tax credits, food stamps and other benefits since 2007.

In part because of a city outreach program, the number of New Yorkers using food stamps catapulted to more than one million in 2010 from 773,000 in 2008.

Unlike the official federal poverty rate, the city’s measure takes into account tax credits and benefits as well as expenses, like medical care, child care, commuting and housing. Those expenses increased the city’s version of the poverty threshold for a two-adult, two-child family to $30,055 in 2010, compared with the federal threshold of $22,113.

By the federal measure, 7.7 percent of New Yorkers were living in extreme poverty, meaning below 50 percent of the poverty line. By the city’s measure, 5.5 percent were in extreme poverty.

The city classified 12.4 percent of New York residents as near poor — living at 100 percent through 124 percent of the poverty level — compared with 5.4 percent by the federal measure.

From 2009 to 2010, according to the federal standard, the city’s poverty rate increased 1.5 percentage points to 18.8 percent.

High poverty even if recession fades?
The poverty rate had declined for years from a high of 20.5 percent in 2005 but began climbing in 2008, when the recession hit. Hispanic and black New Yorkers, including children, were hit especially hard.

“Given the priority that policy makers have given to child poverty,” the analysis by Mark Levitan, the center’s director of poverty research, said, “the rise in the poverty rate for children, from 22.9 percent in 2008 to 25.8 percent in 2010, is particularly notable.”

Swedish minister of culture’s “racist spectacle” of black female genital mutilation sparks outrage


Minister in ‘racist circumcision outrage’

thelocal.se | Apr 17, 2012

Swedish minister of culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth’s participation in a “racist spectacle” in which she carved up a cake depicting a naked black woman has sparked outrage and prompted calls for the minister’s dismissal.

“In our view, this simply adds to the mockery of racism in Sweden,” Kitimbwa Sabuni, spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) told The Local.

“This was a racist spectacle.”

Sabuni’s comments come following Adelsohn Liljeroth’s participation in an art installation that took place at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet in connection with World Art Day on April 15th.

As part of the installation, which was reportedly meant to highlight the issue of female circumcision, the culture minister began cutting a large cake shaped like a black woman, symbolically starting at the clitoris.

Makode Aj Linde, the artist who created the installation and whose head is part of the cake cut by the minister, wrote about the “genital mutilation cake” on his Facebook page.

Swedish town gives ‘Negro Village’ new name

“Before cutting me up she whispered, ‘Your life will be better after this’ in my ear,” he wrote in a caption next to the partially eaten cake.

But images of the event, which show a smiling and laughing Adelsohn Liljeroth slicing up the cake, have caused the National Afro-Swedish Association and its members to see red and issue calls for her resignation.

“According to the Moderna Museet, the ‘cake party’ was meant to problematize female circumcision but how that is accomplished through a cake representing a racist caricature of a black woman complete with ‘black face’ is unclear,” Sabuni said in a statement.

According to Sabuni, the mere fact that the minister particiapted in the event, which he argued was also marked by “cannibalistic” overtones, betrays her “incompetence and lack of judgement”.

“Her participation, as she laughs, drinks, and eats cake, merely adds to the insult against people who suffer from racist taunts and against women affected by circumcision,” he said.

“We have no confidence in her any longer.”

Speaking with the TT news agency, Adelsohn Liljeroth was sympathetic to the association’s reaction, but nevertheless defended her actions.

“I understand quite well that this is provocative and that it was a rather bizarre situation,” she said.

“I was invited to speak at World Art Day about art’s freedom and the right to provoke. And then they wanted me to cut the cake.”

However, Adelsohn Liljeroth said the National Afro-Swedish Association’s anger should be directed at the artist, not at her, claiming the situation was “misinterpreted”.

“He claims that it challenges a romanticized and exoticized view from the west about something that is really about violence and racism,” she said.

“Art needs to be provocative.”

But the minster’s defence of her actions rang hollow for Sabuni.

“It’s extremely insulting for the minister to claim that we’ve somehow ‘misunderstood’ racism,” he said.

According to Sabuni, the incident is “strange” but “not unexpected” in the Swedish context.

“Sweden thinks of itself as a place where racism is not a problem,” he said.

“That just provides cover for not discussing the issue which leads to incidents like this.”

While a museum is certainly allowed to do what it wants as long as the laws are followed, Sabuni argued that a minister needs to be held to “higher standards”.

“To participate in a racist manifestation masquerading as art is totally over the line and can only be interpreted as the culture minister supporting the Moderna Museet’s racist prank,” he said.