Category Archives: Social Degeneration

Parents horrified after learning primary schoolchildren aged just 10 are playing ‘the raping game’

school
Shock: Pupils have been banned from playing ‘the raping game’ – a playground activity that Stanford Junior School in Brighton (pictured) has stepped in to stop

One game called Rapelay sees the main character try to rape a mother and two daughters.

‘As soon as we found out this inappropriate word was being used, we spoke to the children concerned and they now no longer use it.’

Daily Mail | Feb 15, 2013

Primary school children have been banned from playing a new break time game they called ‘the raping game’.

The playground activity had been named after a violent video game which depicts violent sexual assaults on a mother and two daughters.

More than a dozen boys, some as young as nine, were caught playing the ‘the raping game’ at Stanford Junior School in Brighton, East Sussex.

The school confirmed it had been taking place and headteacher Gina Hutchins said she had spoken to children about the vile name. It has now been called ‘the survival game’ following the head’s intervention.

Mrs Hutchins said: ‘As soon as we found out that this inappropriate word was being used, we spoke to the children concerned and they now no longer use it.’

The game has been played mainly by boys in Year 5 at the school for the past two to three weeks.

It involves one person being ‘on’ who has to catch others until only one is left uncaught and that person is the winner.

About 13 boys, aged nine and ten, played the game in the school playground but have since changed the title.

One concerned parent said: ‘I was horrified that my son had learnt that word.

‘He is only nine. Thankfully he did not know what it meant but it was that horrible thought he might use it elsewhere.

‘Most people assume children learn these words at home.’

The parent added she did not blame the school saying it is almost impossible to stop children bringing words into the playground.

They commended the headteacher for her swift actions in taking decisive action and stamping out the use of the word.

It is unsure what video game led to the naming of the game, but several on the market contain scenes of rape.

One game called Rapelay sees the main character try to rape a mother and two daughters.

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Silvio Berlusconi says bribes are a ‘necessary part of business’ and tells critics to ‘stop moralising’

berlusconi
No crime: Silvio Berlusconi, pictured during a political rally in Rome last week, defended the use of bribes in international negotiations saying they are ‘necessary’ when dealing with third world countries and regimes

Berlusconi defending bribes saying they are not criminal but ‘necessary’

The 76-year-old politician called critics ‘absurd’ and ‘masochist’
    
He said without bribes ‘you cannot be an entrepreneur on a global scale’

dailymail.co.uk | Feb 15, 2013

By Sara Malm

Silvio Berlusconi has defended the use of bribes in business saying they are necessary when securing international deals for Italian companies.

The former Italian Prime minister said illegal payments are vital when negotiating with ‘third world countries and regimes’.

Mr Berlusconi made the comments as a response to recent corruption scandals within several state-controlled conglomerates in Italy.

Mr Berlusconi, spoke against the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica defence group, who was taken into custody yesterday accused of paying Indian government officials to secure a helicopter contract.

The 76-year-old politician, who is running for his fourth term as Prime Minister in the country’s elections this month, said bribes are essential in international business, the Financial Times report.

Silvio Berlusconi compares himself to Benito Mussolini

Silvio Berlusconi praises dictator Mussolini for ‘having done good’

Berlusconi defends Mussolini for backing Hitler

‘Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it is useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations when you are negotiating with third world countries and regimes,’ Mr Berlusconi said in an interview with Italian State broadcaster, RAI 3.

‘These are not crimes. We are talking about paying a commission to someone in that country. Why? Because those are the rules in that country.’

The centre-right leader also defended state-controlled energy group Eni, which is alleged to have used bribes to win contracts in Algeria.

Mr Berlusconi even went as far as to suggest that putting a stop to bribery has left Italian companies out of business.

‘No one will negotiate with Eni or Enel or Finmeccanica anymore,’ he said.

‘It’s pure masochism.’

Mr Berlusconi called those who condemn financial incentives in deals outside Western democracies ‘absurd’.

‘If you want to make moralisms like that, you can’t be an entrepreneur on a global scale.’

His comments comes one year after his own bribery case was thrown out of court.

Mr Berlusconi stood accused of handing British lawyer David Mills £380,000 to lie during two 1990s trials to shield Berlusconi and his Fininvest holding company from charges related to the billionaire media mogul’s business dealings.

The Italian general elections will take place 24-25th February where Mr Berlusconi is yet again heading the People of Liberty party and hoping for a centre-right coalition.

His comments were unsurprisingly slammed by opposition politicians, who pointed out that Mr Berlusconi himself is appealing against his October tax fraud conviction while running for Prime Minister.

Just last month an Italian court granted his defense team’s request to postpone a trial for alleged wire tapping until after the elections.

Prosecutors have asked for a one-year jail sentence for Mr Berlusconi for his alleged role in the publication of wiretap transcripts in a newspaper owned by his media empire and three years for his brother Paolo, the publisher of Milan newspaper Il Giornale.

Mr Berlusconi denies all charges.

See also: The Berlusconi Toxic Corruption Data Storage Dump

Majoring in Minors: Turning Our Schools Into Totalitarian Enclaves

school_dees

huffingtonpost.com | Feb 2, 2013

by John W. Whitehead

Just as the 9/11 terrorist attacks created a watershed between the freedoms we enjoyed and our awareness of America’s vulnerability to attack, so the spate of school shootings over the past 10-plus years from Columbine to Newtown has drastically altered the way young people are perceived and treated, transforming them from innocent bystanders into both victims and culprits. Consequently, school officials, attempting to both protect and control young people, have adopted draconian zero-tolerance policies, stringent security measures and cutting-edge technologies that have all but transformed the schools into quasi-prisons.

In their zeal to make the schools safer, school officials have succumbed to a near-manic paranoia about anything even remotely connected to guns and violence, such that a child who brings a piece of paper loosely shaped like a gun to school is treated as harshly as the youngster who brings an actual gun. Yet by majoring in minors, as it were, treating all students as suspects and harshly punishing kids for innocent mistakes, the schools are setting themselves and us up for failure — not only by focusing on the wrong individuals and allowing true threats to go undetected but also by treating young people as if they have no rights, thereby laying the groundwork for future generations that are altogether ignorant of their rights as citizens and unprepared to defend them.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the increasingly harsh punishments and investigative tactics being doled out on young people for engaging in childish behavior or for daring to challenge the authority of school officials. Whereas in the past minor behavioral infractions at school such as shooting spitwads may have warranted a trip to the principal’s office, in-school detention or a phone call to one’s parents; today, they are elevated to the level of criminal behavior with all that implies. Consequently, young people are now being forcibly removed by police officers from the classroom, strip searched, arrested, handcuffed, transported in the back of police squad cars, and placed in police holding cells until their frantic parents can get them out. For those unlucky enough to be targeted for such punishment, the experience will stay with them long after they are allowed back at school. In fact, it will stay with them for the rest of their lives in the form of a criminal record.

Consider the case of Wilson Reyes, a seven-year-old elementary school student from the Bronx who got into a scuffle with a classmate over a $5 bill. In response to the incident, school officials called police, who arrested Reyes, transported him to the police station and allegedly handcuffed the child to a wall and interrogated him for ten hours about his behavior and the location of the money. His family is in the midst of pursuing a lawsuit against the police and the city for their egregious behavior.

A North Carolina public school allegedly strip-searched a 10-year-old boy in search of a $20 bill lost by another student, despite the fact that the boy, J.C., twice told school officials he did not have the missing money. The assistant principal, a woman, reportedly ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear. The missing money was later found in the school cafeteria.

And in Chicago, a 15-year-old boy accused by an anonymous tipster of holding drugs was taken to a locker room by two security guards, a Chicago police officer, and a female assistant principal, and made to stand against a wall and drop his pants while one of the security guards inspected his genitals. No drugs were found.

That students as young as seven years old are being strip searched by school officials, over missing money no less, flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling in Safford Unified. Sch. Dist. v. Redding. Insisting that Arizona school officials violated the Fourth Amendment rights of a 13-year-old girl when they strip-searched her on the suspicion she was hiding ibuprofen in her underwear, the justices declared that educators cannot force children to remove their clothing unless student safety is at risk.

Precedent-setting or not, however, the Court’s ruling has done little to improve conditions for young people who are the unfortunate casualties in the schools’ so-called quest for “student safety.” Indeed, with each school shooting, the climate of intolerance for “unacceptable” behavior such as getting into food fights, playing tag, doodling, hugging, kicking, and throwing temper tantrums only intensifies. And as surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs and strip searches become the norm in elementary, middle and high schools across the nation, the punishments being meted out for childish behavior grow harsher.

Even the most innocuous “infractions” are being shown no leniency, with school officials expelling a 6-year-old girl for bringing a clear plastic toy gun to school, issuing a disciplinary warning to a 5-year-old boy who brought a toy gun built out of LEGOs to class, and pulling out of school a fifth-grade girl who had a “paper” gun with her in class. The six-year-old kindergarten student in South Carolina was classified as such a threat that she’s not even allowed on school grounds. “She cannot even be in my vehicle when I go to pick up my other children,” said the girl’s mom, Angela McKinney.

Nine-year-old Patrick Timoney was sent to the principal’s office and threatened with suspension after school officials discovered that one of his LEGOs was holding a 2-inch toy gun. That particular LEGO, a policeman, was Patrick’s favorite because his father is a retired police officer. David Morales, an 8-year-old Rhode Island student, ran afoul of his school’s zero tolerance policies after he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and tiny plastic Army figures in honor of American troops. School officials declared the hat out of bounds because the toy soldiers were carrying miniature guns. A 7-year-old New Jersey boy, described by school officials as “a nice kid” and “a good student,” was reported to the police and charged with possessing an imitation firearm after he brought a toy Nerf-style gun to school. The gun shoots soft ping pong-type balls.

School officials are also exhibiting zero tolerance for the age-old game of cops and robbers, a playground game I played as a child. In a new wrinkle on this old game, however, it’s not the cop who gets the bad guy. Now, the game ends when school officials summon real cops who arrest the kindergartners for engaging in juvenile crime. That happened at a New Jersey school, from which four little boys were suspended for pretending their fingers were guns. Most recently, two children at two different schools in Maryland were suspended in the same month for separate incidents of pretending their fingers were guns. In another instance, officials at a California elementary school called police when a little boy was caught playing cops and robbers at recess. The principal told the child’s parents their child was a terrorist.

Unwittingly, the principal was right on target: These are acts of terrorism, however, the culprits are not overactive schoolchildren. Rather, those guilty of terrorizing young children and parents nationwide are school officials who — in an effort to enforce zero tolerance policies against violence, weapons and drugs — have moved our schools into a lockdown mentality.

Things have gotten so bad that it doesn’t even take a toy gun, pretend or otherwise, to raise the ire of school officials. A high school sophomore was suspended for violating the school’s no-cell-phone policy after he took a call from his father, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army who was serving in Iraq at the time. A 12-year-old New York student was hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker. In Houston, an 8th grader was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school in memory of her grandmother (the school has a zero tolerance policy against the rosary, which the school insists can be interpreted as a sign of gang involvement). And in Oklahoma, school officials suspended a first grader simply for using his hand to simulate a gun.

With the distinctions between student offenses erased, and all offenses expellable, we now find ourselves in the midst of what TIME magazine described as a “national crackdown on Alka-Seltzer.” Indeed, at least 20 children in four states have been suspended from school for possession of the fizzy tablets in violation of zero tolerance drug policies. In some jurisdictions, carrying cough drops, wearing black lipstick or dying your hair blue are actually expellable offenses.

Students have also been penalized for such inane “crimes” as bringing nail clippers to school, using Listerine or Scope, and carrying fold-out combs that resemble switchblades. A 9-year-old boy in Manassas, Va., who gave a Certs breath mint to a classmate, was actually suspended, while a 12-year-old boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project was charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug. Another 12-year-old was handcuffed and jailed after he stomped in a puddle, splashing classmates. After students at a Texas school were assigned to write a “scary” Halloween story, one 13-year-old chose to write about shooting up a school. Although he received a passing grade on the story, school officials reported him to the police, resulting in his spending six days in jail before it was determined that no crime had been committed.

These incidents, while appalling, are the byproducts of an age that values security over freedom, where police have relatively limitless powers to search individuals and homes by virtue of their badge, and where the Constitution is increasingly treated as a historic relic rather than a bulwark against government abuses. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, but the future doesn’t look good from where I’m sitting — not for freedom as we know it, and certainly not for the young people being raised on a diet of abject compliance to police authority, intolerance for minor offenses, overt surveillance and outright totalitarianism.

Pentagon battles military rape epidemic image problem

pentagon pentagram

cbsnews.com | Jan 27, 2013

(CBS News) NEW YORK – Jennifer Norris has always described herself as a good soldier, a hard worker, and someone who stayed out of trouble.

At 24, the Bethel, Maine, native was looking for a bit more structure in her life while aiming for a graduate degree, so she went to her local military recruiting office and enlisted in the Air Force.

Her dream of serving her country was marred by countless incidents of sexual harassment, three attempted sexual assaults, and one rape.

The most violent attack occurred just weeks after Norris enlisted, when her recruiting officer invited her to what she believed was a party for fellow recruits at his home.

“I was excited to go and meet other new recruits,” Norris said in an interview. “And I showed up at his house, and he proceeded to immediately start pressuring me to want to drink.”

Because she had driven, Norris did not consume any alcohol, but believes he put something in a glass that made her pass out.

“When I woke up, the whole house was dark. Nobody was there, and he picked me up, my basically powerless, lifeless body, and carried me into a bedroom, and he raped me,” Norris said.

She did not file a formal complaint.

“Because I hadn’t even started my career yet. I wasn’t about to go in and say the recruiter just raped me,” Norris said.

Norris went on to become a Technical Sergeant handling satellite communications. But she says she was subjected to repeated sexual advances by another superior officer and was afraid to report it.

“It’s the retaliation,” Norris said. “I was scared to tell the commander, who it seemed like he was best friends with this man.”

Norris points out, once you’ve committed to the military, you can’t just walk away.

“We can’t quit,” she said. “We are basically stuck in the situation unless someone in that chain of command helps us get out of it.”

Former Marine Anu Bhagwati is the executive director of the Service Women’s Action Network, which advocates for civil rights of the 15 percent of U.S. military personnel who are women.

The Invisible War – Official Trailer

“There’s very few deterrents within the military to predators, to commanders who are negligent. In the civilian world, you have more access to redress as a victim,” Bhagwati said. “In the civilian world, you can use the civil court system to sue your employer for damages. That is the biggest deterrent to discrimination and harassment in the workplace in the United States of America. That is not available to U.S. service members, and it’s a crying shame. ”

According to the Air Force’s own figures, there were more than 790 cases of sexual assault and harassment by service members reported last year, up from 614 the year before.

In 2011, there were also 883 reports of sexual assault and harassment in the Navy and Marines and 1,695 cases in the Army.

Most cases involved one service member allegedly attacking another, usually a woman.

Air Force calls number of sex assaults “appalling”
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Despite more than 3,000 reports of sexual misconduct for the third year in a row, only one in four attacks is reported. The Defense Department estimates the actual number of incidents is around 19,000 a year.

Norris told her story to the House Armed Services Committee last Wednesday, calling the “thousands and thousands of male and female survivors” victims of “the military’s sexual assault epidemic.”

Forty percent of female victims identify a perpetrator was of higher rank, and 23 percent say it was someone in their chain of command, Norris told the committee.

At that hearing, General Mark Welsh, the Air Force Chief of Staff, told members of Congress: “The Air Force goal for sexual assault is not to lower the number. The goal is zero.”

Welsh announced that he was designating 60 Air Force attorneys to handle these complaints and was stationing one victims’ advocate at every base.

In a written statement to CBS News, the Air Force added: “Sexual assault is a crime and it violates our core values. Every allegation will be thoroughly investigated and commanders will consider the full range of disciplinary and administrative measures to include courts-martial while protecting the Constitutional rights of the accused.”

In 2004, the Pentagon established Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office to combat sexual assault in the military, but the number of annual incidents keeps climbing.

“Congress continues to hold hearings, and nothing changes,” said California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Speier has proposed legislation to take sexual assault investigations out of the military chain of command and have cases reviewed by independent panels comprised of civilians and military experts.

Speier said, “The victims often times are treated like they are pariahs, and they are ostracized, they are marginalized and over the course of very few months, often times they are diagnosed with what’s called a personality disorder and involuntarily discharged from the military.”

That’s what happened to Jennifer Norris, and after her 14 year Air Force career ended sooner than planned, she considered suicide.

 

“We had a gun,” Norris said of her and her husband, Lee. “I wanted to use it, but my husband stopped me.”

 

Norris’ attackers were never punished, and all were eventually honorably discharged with full benefits, she said.

Norris now works with Protect Our Defenders on behalf of service members victimized by sexual assault and harassment, and for a military rape crisis center.

She doesn’t have children, but does not believe she would encourage a daughter to pursue a military career.

“Not in this lifetime,” Norris said. “My daughter would not join the military, knowing what I know.”

LAPD cops under investigation for luring women into an unmarked cars and forcing them to perform sex acts

The department suspects that the men repeatedly used the threat of jail to get women into their unmarked car and drove them to secluded areas to perform sex acts.

latimes.com | Jan 3, 2013

By Joel Rubin and Jack Leonard

Two Los Angeles Police Department officers are under investigation for allegedly preying on women over a period of five years, luring them into an unmarked car and forcing them to perform sex acts, according to court records.

Detectives from the LAPD’s internal affairs unit suspect that Officers Luis Valenzuela and James Nichols targeted at least four women whom they had arrested previously or who worked for them as informants, according to a search warrant reviewed by The Times.

The pair repeatedly used the threat of jail to get women into their car and drove them to secluded areas where one of the officers demanded sex while the other kept watch, the warrant alleges.

Valenzuela and Nichols worked together until recently as narcotics officers in the Hollywood Division. Investigators have identified four women who encountered the pair and made similar independent accusations against them.

The warrant cites sexually explicit text messages that one alleged victim claims she exchanged with the officers after their encounters. Last month, investigators obtained the woman’s cellphone and computers in hopes of finding the messages the officers are alleged to have written. The department has yet to examine the electronic devices, a police official said.

Investigators had planned to confront the officers in a surprise operation early next week, but were forced to accelerate those plans Thursday, when one of the women unexpectedly filed a lawsuit against the officers. Fearing that Valenzuela and Nichols might destroy evidence, investigators rushed to sequester the officers and seize their computers and phones, police confirmed.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck emphasized Thursday that the investigation was ongoing, but added he was “saddened by the allegations. If they are true, it would be horrific,” he said.

Valenzuela, a 15-year department veteran, and Nichols, a 12-year veteran, were expected to be assigned to their homes pending the outcome of the probe, the head of the internal affairs group said. The officers could not be reached for comment.

The first woman to accuse Valenzuela and Nichols came forward in January 2010, when she told a supervisor in their narcotics unit that the officers had stopped her more than a year earlier, according to the warrant. The woman, who worked as a confidential informant for the narcotics unit and knew the men, said they were dressed in plain clothes and driving a Volkswagen Jetta. Valenzuela threatened to take the woman to jail if she refused to get in the car, then got into the back seat with her and exposed himself, telling the woman to touch him, the warrant said.

An investigation into the woman’s claim went nowhere when the detective assigned to the case was unable to locate her, according to the warrant.

A year later, however, another woman demanded to speak to a supervisor after being arrested and taken to the LAPD’s Hollywood station. Sometime in late 2009, according to the warrant, two officers driving a Jetta pulled up alongside her as she was walking her dog in Hollywood. The officers, whom she recognized as the same cops who had arrested her in a previous encounter, ordered her into the car, the woman recounted. It is not known why she was arrested.

Believing that the officers were investigating a case, the woman said she felt compelled to comply. Valenzuela then got into the back seat with the woman and handed her dog to Nichols, who drove the car a short distance to a more secluded area. “Why don’t you cut out that tough girl crap,” the woman recounted Valenzuela saying as he “unzipped his pants and forced [her] head down toward his lap and physically held her head down” as he forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to police records contained in the warrant.

The woman said she didn’t report the incident immediately because she felt humiliated, thought no one would believe her and feared for her safety. Police noted that the woman displayed erratic behavior while recounting the events. Later, she made violent threats while in custody and was transported to a hospital.

Based on this allegation, the department reopened the investigation into the pair. The investigator assigned to the case interviewed this second accuser and managed, as well, to find the first woman who had come forward the year before. She, too, gave a statement, saying she had refused Valenzuela’s commands to fondle him.

For reasons not explained in the warrant, the department’s investigation made little progress for the next 18 months. During this time, police records show, the officers were transferred, with Valenzuela being reassigned to the Olympic Division and Nichols to the Northeast Division. (Nichols was involved in the high-profile arrest last year of Brian C. Mulligan, an executive at Deutsche Bank, who alleged he was the victim of excessive force. Police contend that Mulligan, while deranged on drugs, charged at Nichols and suffered injuries while Nichols and his partner took him into custody).

Cmdr. Rick Webb, who heads the LAPD’s internal affairs group, declined to comment on the specifics of the probe, but said such cases are often difficult to complete.

The case picked up steam again in July 2012, when a man left a phone message for the vice unit at the Northeast station, saying he was a member of the Echo Park neighborhood watch and had been told by a prostitute that patrol officers in the area were picking up prostitutes and letting them go in exchange for oral sex, the warrant said.

Two more months passed before a third internal affairs officer was assigned to look into the Echo Park claim. The investigator was aware of the earlier allegations against Valenzuela and Nichols and “thought the circumstances and location were very similar.”

It is not clear how, but the investigator identified another two women who reported encounters in which Nichols and Valenzuela had sought sexual favors in exchange for leniency.

One said Nichols had detained her in July 2011, handcuffed her and driven her to a quiet location. Removing the restraints, Nichols exposed himself and said, “You don’t want to go to jail today, do you?” the woman recalled. Fearing she would be arrested, the woman performed oral sex on Nichols, who then released her, she said. She said Nichols had done the same thing to her six years earlier.

The other woman discovered by the internal affairs investigator alleged that she became a confidential informant for Valenzuela and Nichols after she was arrested, according to the warrant. Valenzuela, she said, told her that having sex with him would help her avoid jail, according to the warrant. She alleged that she had sex with the officer twice, once when he was off duty at her apartment in Los Angeles, and the second time in the back seat of an undercover police car while he was on duty. She said she was afraid he would send her back to jail if she refused.

She said Nichols contacted her in January 2011 and told her he would cancel her obligation to inform for him if she would have sex with him.

The woman filed a lawsuit against the city on Wednesday, alleging that the officers forced her to have sex with them several times in exchange for keeping her out of jail. The Times in general does not name the victims of alleged sex crimes.

That lawsuit was first reported by City News Service. Despite the officers’ promises, the woman was sentenced to jail in April 2011 and remains there, the lawsuit alleged. A district attorney’s spokeswoman said the woman is serving more than seven years in jail for possession of cocaine with intent to sell and identity theft.

Unemployment and Poverty in America: 75 Economic Numbers From 2012 that are Almost too Crazy to Believe

unemploymentWhat a year 2012 has been!  The mainstream media continues to tell us what a “great job” the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve are doing of managing the economy, but meanwhile things just continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class.  It is imperative that we educate the American people about the true condition of our economy and about why all of this is happening. 

If nothing is done, our debt problems will continue to get worse, millions of jobs will continue to leave the country, small businesses will continue to be suffocated, the middle class will continue to collapse, and poverty in the United States will continue to explode.  Just “tweaking” things slightly is not going to fix our economy.  We need a fundamental change in direction.  Right now we are living in a bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that allows us to continue to consume far more wealth than we produce, but when that bubble bursts we are going to experience the most painful economic “adjustment” that America has ever gone through.  We need to be able to explain to our fellow Americans what is coming, why it is coming and what needs to be done.  Hopefully the crazy economic numbers that I have included in this article will be shocking enough to wake some people up.

The end of the year is a time when people tend to gather with family and friends more than they do during the rest of the year.  Hopefully many of you will use the list below as a tool to help start some conversations about the coming economic collapse with your loved ones.  Sadly, most Americans still tend to doubt that we are heading into economic oblivion.  So if you have someone among your family and friends that believes that everything is going to be “just fine”, just show them these numbers.  They are a good summary of the problems that the U.S. economy is currently facing.

The following are 75 economic numbers from 2012 that are almost too crazy to believe…

#1 In December 2008, 31.6 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, a new all-time record of 47.7 million Americans are on food stamps.  That number has increased by more than 50 percent over the past four years, and yet the mainstream media still has the gall to insist that “things are getting better”.

#2 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

#3 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#4 According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all Americans have received money from a safety net program run by the federal government at some point in their lives.

#5 For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

#6 Median household income in the U.S. has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

#7 Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#8 The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been under 59 percent for 39 months in a row.

#9 In September 2009, during the depths of the last economic crisis, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans were employed.  In November 2012, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans were employed.  It is more then 3 years later, and we are in the exact same place.

#10 When you total up all working age Americans that do not have a job in America today, it comes to more than 100 million.

#11 According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all small business owners in America “say they would not start a business today given what they know now and in the current environment.”

#12 The number of jobs at new small businesses continues to decline.  According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

#13 The U.S. share of global GDP has fallen from 31.8 percent in 2001 to 21.6 percent in 2011.

#14 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#15 There are four major U.S. banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.

#16 In 2000, there were more than 17 million Americans working in manufacturing, but now there are less than 12 million.

#17 According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are.

#18 The Pew Research Center has also found that 85 percent of all middle class Americans say that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.

#19 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

#20 Right now, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.

#21 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

#22 According to one survey, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

#23 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.

#24 The average amount of time that an unemployed worker stays out of work in the United States is 40 weeks.

#25 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.

#26 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial assistance from the federal government.  Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.

#27 Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  And that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.  Overall, there are almost 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” that the federal government is currently running.

#28 When you account for all government transfer payments and all forms of government employment, more than half of all Americans are now at least partially financially dependent on the government.

#29 Barack Obama has been president for less than four years, and during that time the number of Americans “not in the labor force” has increased by nearly 8.5 million.  Something seems really “off” about that number, because during the entire decade of the 1980s the number of Americans “not in the labor force” only rose by about 2.5 million.

#30 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#31 According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.

#32 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#33 Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.

#34 As the economy has slowed down, so has the number of marriages.  According to a Pew Research Center analysis, only 51 percent of all Americans that are at least 18 years old are currently married.  Back in 1960, 72 percent of all U.S. adults were married.

#35 At this point, only 24.6 percent of all jobs in the United States are good jobs.

#36 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#37 Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.

#38 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.

#39 One survey of business executives has ranked California as the worst state in America to do business for 8 years in a row.

#40 In the city of Detroit today, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty, and close to 50 percent of all adults are functionally illiterate.

#41 It is being projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.

#42 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.

#43 If you can believe it, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.

#44 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#45 Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was $295.5 billion.  That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the planet.

#46 The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

#47 According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

#48 The U.S. tax code is now more than 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

#49 According to the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banking havens such as the Cayman Islands.

#50 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.

#51 2012 was the third year in a row that the yield for corn has declined in the United States.

#52 Experts are telling us that global food reserves have reached their lowest level in almost 40 years.

#53 One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.

#54 If you can believe it, one recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.

#55 Medical costs related to obesity in the United States are estimated to be approximately $147 billion a year.

#56 Corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high.  Meanwhile, wages as a percentage of GDP are near an all-time low.

#57 Today, the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.

#58 The wealthiest 400 families in the United States have about as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of all Americans combined.

#59 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.

#60 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#61 Nearly 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.

#62 In 2006, only 12 percent of all federal workers made $100,000 or more per year.  Now, approximately 22 percent of all federal workers do.

#63 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.

#64 Nearly 15,000 retired federal workers are collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  The list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#65 U.S. taxpayers spend more than 20 times as much on the Obamas as British taxpayers spend on the royal family.

#66 Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.

#67 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

#68 During fiscal year 2012, 62 percent of the federal budget was spent on entitlements.

#69 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#70 It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#71 Medicare is also growing by leaps and bounds.  As I wrote about recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

#72 Thanks to our foolish politicians (including Obama), Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

#73 Amazingly, the U.S. national debt is now up to 16.3 trillion dollars.  When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.

#74 During the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government accumulated about as much debt as it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.

#75 Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was originally created back in 1913.

Young, Unemployed and Living on the Street

Looking at youg adult homelessness
Young and Homeless: The Times’s Susan Saulny reports from Seattle where she talks with young adults who are struggling with homelessness as a result of the recession.

nytimes.com | Dec 18, 2012

By SUSAN SAULNY

SEATTLE — Duane Taylor was studying the humanities in community college and living in his own place when he lost his job in a round of layoffs. Then he found, and lost, a second job. And a third.

Now, with what he calls “lowered standards” and a tenuous new position at a Jack in the Box restaurant, Mr. Taylor, 24, does not make enough to rent an apartment or share one. He sleeps on a mat in a homeless shelter, except when his sister lets him crash on her couch.

“At any time I could lose my job, my security,” said Mr. Taylor, explaining how he was always the last hired and the first fired. “I’d like to be able to support myself. That’s my only goal.”

Across the country, tens of thousands of underemployed and jobless young people, many with college credits or work histories, are struggling to house themselves in the wake of the recession, which has left workers between the ages of 18 and 24 with the highest unemployment rate of all adults.

Those who can move back home with their parents — the so-called boomerang set — are the lucky ones. But that is not an option for those whose families have been hit hard by the economy, including Mr. Taylor, whose mother is barely scraping by while working in a laundromat. Without a stable home address, they are an elusive group that mostly couch surfs or sleeps hidden away in cars or other private places, hoping to avoid the lasting stigma of public homelessness during what they hope will be a temporary predicament.

These young adults are the new face of a national homeless population, one that poverty experts and case workers say is growing. Yet the problem is mostly invisible. Most cities and states, focusing on homeless families, have not made special efforts to identify young adults, who tend to shy away from ordinary shelters out of fear of being victimized by an older, chronically homeless population. The unemployment rate and the number of young adults who cannot afford college “point to the fact there is a dramatic increase in homelessness” in that age group, said Barbara Poppe, the executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

The Obama administration has begun an initiative with nine communities, most of them big cities, to seek out those between 18 and 24 who are without a consistent home address. New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Boston are among the cities included in the effort.

“One of our first approaches is getting a more confident estimate,” said Ms. Poppe, whose agency is coordinating the initiative.

Those who provide services to the poor in many cities say the economic recovery has not relieved the problem. “Years ago, you didn’t see what looked like people of college age sitting and waiting to talk to a crisis worker because they are homeless on the street,” said Andrae Bailey, the executive director of the Community Food and Outreach Center, one of the largest charitable organizations in Florida. “Now that’s a normal thing.”

Los Angeles first attempted a count of young adults living on the street in 2011. It found 3,600, but the city had shelter capacity for only 17 percent of them.

“The rest are left to their own devices,” said Michael Arnold, the executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. “And when you start adding in those who are couch surfing and staying with friends, that number increases exponentially.”

Boston also attempted counts in 2010 and 2011. The homeless young adult population seeking shelter grew 3 percentage points to 12 percent of the 6,000 homeless people served over that period.

“It’s a significant enough jump to know that it’s also just the tip of the iceberg,” said Jim Greene, director of emergency shelters for the Boston Public Health Commission.

In Washington, D.C., Lance Fuller, a 26-year-old with a degree in journalism, spent the end of last month packing up a one-bedroom apartment he can no longer afford after being laid off. Mr. Fuller said he had been unable to keep a job for more than eight months since graduating from the University of Florida in 2010.

“Thankfully, I have a girlfriend who is willing to let me stay with her until I get back on my feet again,” said Mr. Fuller, who writes a blog, Voices of a Lost Generation. “It’s really hard for people in my generation not to feel completely defeated by this economy.”

Mr. Taylor, the fast-food worker in Seattle, said he felt lucky when he could find a coveted space at Roots, a shelter for young adults in a church basement. Such shelters are rare.

For generations, services for the homeless were directed to two groups: dependent children and older people. There was scant attention focused on what experts now call “transitional age youth” — young adults whose needs are distinct.

“I see them coming back day after day, more defeated, more tired out, wondering, ‘When will it be my turn?’ ” said Kristine Cunningham, executive director of Roots. “And it’s heartbreaking. This is the age when you want to show the world you have value.”

They need more than just clean clothes and shelter to move into a secure adulthood, experts say. “They want a way out,” said Ms. Poppe, whose agency is also gathering evidence on what kinds of programs and outreach work best. “They want an opportunity to develop skills so they are marketable in the long term.”

“A more individualized approach seems to work,” she added.