The Voice of Angels

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A thread to shed light on a criminal behavior that should be continuously in the spotlight to help enlighten the Public and raise awareness.

Also in the same line of thought, Violence against women


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Ukraine teacher 'tried to sell girl aged 13 for $10,000'

Police in eastern Ukraine have arrested a teacher accused of trying to sell a 13-year-old girl for $10,000 (£8,035).

The girl was living at a boarding school in the Kharkiv region for orphans and children from broken homes.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov reported the case on Facebook, with photos of the 52-year-old teacher and girl. He said police had been monitoring them for four months.

Mr Avakov said the buyer hinted that the girl's organs would be removed.

The buyer inquired about the girl's health and paid the teacher 1,000 hryvnia (£31; $39) for photos of the girl and her medical records, Mr Avakov said.

Ukrainian media have named the suspect as Galina Kovalenko. She teaches the Ukrainian and Russian languages, and literature, and has more than 20 years' teaching experience, they report.

There has been no statement yet from the teacher.

Mr Avakov said "Galina [Kovalenko] worked for nearly a year on her 'business plan' for selling the 13-year-old girl", whom she had singled out as vulnerable.

"They got this seller 'red-handed' - when she took the girl out of the boarding school, brought her to the buyers and received money," Mr Avakov said.

If found guilty, the teacher could be jailed for up to 12 years. Mr Avakov is personally handling the case.

There have been previous reports of criminal gangs preying on destitute people in eastern Europe to harvest their organs. The trade in organs can be highly lucrative.

In 2013, an EU-led court in Kosovo found five people guilty in connection with a human organ-trafficking ring. The five were accused of carrying out dozens of illegal transplants at the Medicus Clinic in the capital, Pristina.

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    Child trafficking: Scores missing from UK care homes


    Trafficked children and unaccompanied child asylum seekers are going missing from UK care homes at "an alarmingly high rate", two charities have said.

    Almost 600 children disappeared last year, with more than 200 still missing, ECPAT UK and Missing People said.

    The charities called on the UK government and local authorities to reform the child protection system.

    The Department for Education said it had commissioned "specialist training" for those caring for the children.

    The two charities collected the latest annual figures provided to them by more than 200 local authorities across the UK.

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    Patrick Hammond ~ "I Fell in Love with a Prostitute"

     
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    These Newborn Babies Cry for Drugs, Not Milk

    For some Americans, the nation’s opioid crisis starts before birth.

    By Nicholas Kristof


    CHARLESTON, W.Va. — His body dependent on opioids, he writhes, trembles and cries. He is exhausted but cannot sleep. He vomits, barely eats and has lost weight.

    He is also a baby. Just 1 month old, he wails in the nursery of the CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital here. A volunteer “cuddler” holds him while walking around, murmuring sweetly, hour after hour, but he is inconsolable. What his body craves is heroin.

    Every 15 minutes in America, a child is born after a prenatal exposure to opioids. Here in West Virginia, 14 percent of babies are born exposed to drugs, and perhaps 5 percent more to alcohol, totaling nearly one out of five newborns. Some get by without symptoms, but for many, their very first experience after birth is the torment of withdrawal.

    These babies reflect the catastrophic implosion of drug policy in America, from the war on drugs that filled prisons to the continuing failure even in 2019 to provide enough treatment for drug users. By government figures, only 3.7 million Americans received treatment for substance use disorders last year, out of 21.2 million who needed it — just 17 percent.

    How is it acceptable that we treat only 17 percent of those with a life-threatening disorder?

    Pharmaceutical executives are battling lawsuits by blaming drug users. I wish those executives had to cuddle these infants who, partly because of their reckless greed, suffer so much.

    Executives in three-piece suits were drug lords as guilty as any from Medellín. The Washington Post reported that pharma companies shipped 76 billion opioid pain pills from 2006 through 2012. A single pharmacy in Kermit, W.V., sold more than 13 million over those seven years — and Kermit has a population of just over 400 people.

    So today, hospitals in West Virginia and across America struggle to calm babies who sometimes begin to go through withdrawal as soon as the umbilical cord is cut.

    “He’s frantic,” Dr. Stefan Maxwell, a neonatologist at CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital, said of the infant going through withdrawal. “Baby isn’t sleeping, isn’t eating, isn’t growing. It’s a disaster.”

    “Nurses are in tears at the end of a shift,” said Dr. Maxwell, an expert on prenatal drug exposures.

    When babies are going through severe withdrawal, hospitals give them medication to ease the symptoms — here it’s methadone, elsewhere it’s sometimes morphine — and then try to wean them off it over two or three weeks.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around, encompassing opioid-abusing moms and opioid-prescribing doctors. But it’s appropriate to feel special loathing for executives at pharma companies whose corporate strategy was to profit by getting people hooked. Some of the companies funded a movement claiming that pain was the “fifth vital sign” and urged doctors to prescribe more painkillers, and then paid them kickbacks to do so.

    Almost 80 percent of heroin users began with prescription pain pills, though not necessarily prescribed to them.

    In contrast to the executives, some moms acknowledge their failings. They are already suffering terribly from their own addictions, and many will lose custody of their babies.

    “Lots of these moms are very well meaning,” said Dr. Cody Smith, a neonatologist at the J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.V., 150 miles northeast of Charleston. “The vast majority of these moms love their babies, and they feel a tremendous amount of guilt.”

    Dr. Smith notes that many of the mothers have mental health problems and their own traumas that they are wrestling with, and he estimates that 85 percent of the pregnancies involving drug exposure are unplanned. Yet the Trump administration is curbing access to Title X family planning funding in ways that may lead to the closing of the only Planned Parenthood clinic in West Virginia.

    Better prenatal care for these moms can reduce the suffering of their babies. Overcoming addiction is so difficult — and so unlikely to be successful — that these hospitals do not ask pregnant women to try. Rather, they steer them from street drugs like heroin and fentanyl to alternatives like methadone to stabilize them.

    Newborn babies struggling through withdrawal are only one dimension of America’s opioid crisis. Every seven minutes another American dies of an overdose; 2.1 million children live with a parent with a drug dependency.

    McKinsey and Company, the global consulting company, issued a sober report last fall warning that “the opioid crisis will worsen over the next three to five years.” What McKinsey didn’t say was that it had previously advised Johnson & Johnson to be more aggressive in peddling opioids for back pain and to encourage doctors to prescribe stronger, more addictive pills.

    These drug-addicted newborns are suffering partly because of Johnson & Johnson, McKinsey, Purdue Pharma, McKesson and many other companies; these babies are a reminder of why corporate regulation is essential.

    We need accountability, as well as deterrence. That means sending executives to prison along with other big drug dealers, and ensuring that shareholders in these companies suffer as well.

    Anyone doubting the need for tougher accountability, and for a far more robust public health approach to address drug use, should visit one of these nurseries and see babies suffering withdrawal.

    NYTimes
     
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    How Do You Dress a Six-Year-Old to Protect Him From Sexual Abuse and Murder?
    And other grotesque questions Pakistanis ask in the face of rampant pedophilia.


    KARACHI, Pakistan — Hang him in public, cut him into pieces, put those in a box, and when they begin to rot, burn them and throw the ashes to the winds, said the mother of an eight-year-old who was raped and murdered in Chunian, a small town in eastern Pakistan, last month. Her son, Faizan, was one of four boys targeted by a suspected serial killer.

    The desire to inflict pain on and obliterate the killer of your child is completely understandable. And we have been here before.

    Last year, Zainab, a six-year-old girl, was raped and killed and her body thrown on a trash heap in the same district of Kasur. Her angelic face was all over TV and social media for weeks. There were protests, and two people were killed when police fired on the crowd.

    Zainab became an emblem of our national shame and outrage. Many of us Pakistanis demanded a public hanging back then, too. Her killer was caught and hanged; not in public, but still, and considering the generally slow pace of the Pakistani justice system, he was dispatched swiftly.

    But we had been here even before that.

    In 2015, reports emerged of a child pornography ring — also in a village in Kasur. Initially, there was mention of several hundred child-abuse videos, involving some 280 victims, and links to international child-porn rings. More than a dozen people were arrested and investigated. In the end, though, the police concluded that there was no organized group at work and claimed that about 20 children had been assaulted.

    In the media, journalists and talking heads called all these perpetrators things like beasts and jungle animals. But the truth is that no beast known to man, existing or extinct, videotapes its young while it is abusing them.

    “Kasur” has become a byword for child abuse in Pakistan because of the grisly stories that have come out of there, but let’s not pretend the problem is confined to that one district. It is rampant across the country, in all of our backyards.

    According to an NGO working on child protection, there were more than 1,300 reported cases of child abuse in Pakistan during the first six months of this year. One can only speculate in horror about how many more cases have not been reported.

    Yet we feel outrage only when we discover children’s bodies on heaps of trash. And then our outrage is largely beside the point. As in the past, since the latest spate of murders, there has been a lot of hand-wringing, loathing for the beast who did it and disgust with the police and the government that didn’t stop him. But there is hardly any conversation about why so many of our children are so vulnerable.

    Or that discussion veers toward morality, sometimes religion. Last month, the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, in the northwest, issued an order that required school-going girls as young as 10 to wear an abaya, a full length robe. As if rampant child abuse were a result of, and maybe punishment for, our sins.

    The notice was later withdrawn, but for a couple of days gray-haired, pious men sat on TV shows shaking their heads and lecturing the country on the need to cover the bodies of preteen girls as the only way to protect them from being raped or harassed. Religion and tradition were invoked. Man’s beastly nature was mentioned. To make an argument for the hijab, the ridiculous hijab ban in France was trotted out.

    When the lawyer Reema Omar pointed out that half the children abused in Pakistan actually are boys and asked what dress code the government had in mind for them, she was shouted at and asked if she would like the girls to go around in bikinis. In all the fiery debate, nobody could come up with a solution for how to dress up a four-year-old boy to save his life.

    When we can’t hide behind morality or religion there is always a conspiracy theory. “Kasur is in the spotlight right now. Some gangs may be operating here in order to defame the country,” Sarah Ahmad, the chairwoman of the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau in Punjab Province, told a reporter. Our reaction is always to become defensive.

    Defend our city, defend our culture, defend our humanity, and do it while someone’s child somewhere is being lured into a rickshaw and taken to a construction site never to return alive or, if lucky, to come back traumatized for life. Maybe it’s true. Maybe if we were better Muslims, or even average human beings, our children would be safer.

    Or maybe if we all had more money our children would be safer. In theory at least, middle-class and affluent children are relatively safe. They still fall prey to a family member or household help who lives in close proximity — actually, I don’t have one intimate friend who wasn’t sexually abused as a child. But they are still alive. As children, they had homes and schools and, usually, some elder around to provide some measure of safety.

    What about the four-year-olds who are on their own? Last year, nearly 23 million Pakistani children weren’t going to school. They were working in bazaars, cafes and sweatshops or just loitering around, waiting for their parents to return from their hard day’s labor. In many households, a child under 10 is looking after four younger siblings all day.

    Most of the children who have been abused or murdered belong to the poorest of families. Poor people are scared of going to the police, and when they do, the police’s attitude can be extremely callous. When the parents of an 12-year-old who went missing in Kasur in June approached the police, they were told to go look for him in the shrines where many runaway children end up or consult a faith healer. His mutilated body was found three months later.

    The police claim to have collected more than 15,000 DNA samples, at a cost of 240 million rupees (more than $1.5 million), to catch the latest suspected serial killer. This is to the force’s credit, but to focus on punishment rather than prevention still leaves our children’s lives at risk. We want to avenge our little ones, and the government is willing to spend millions to track down their killers. But gallows in town squares hardly keep our children safe.

    We can hang abusers in public, cut them into little pieces and burn those, but can we provide protection for the most vulnerable? Three meals a day maybe and a school to go to? If parents are forced to work 18 hours a day to feed their children, it’s the state and society’s responsibility to look after those kids. How much protection can a nine-year-old give her younger siblings?

    Mohammed Hanif (@mohammedhanif) is the author of the novels “A Case of Exploding Mangoes,” “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti” and “Red Birds.” He is a contributing opinion writer.

    NYTimes
     
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    Racists Are Recruiting. Watch Your White Sons.

    By Joanna Schroeder


    Parents need to understand how white supremacists prey on teen boys, so they can intervene.

    Raising teenagers can be terrifying. Our squishy little babies become awkward hormonal creatures who question our authority at every turn.

    I expected that. What I didn’t predict was that my sons’ adolescence would include being drawn to the kind of online content that right-wing extremists use to recruit so many young men.

    The first sign was a seemingly innocuous word, used lightheartedly: “triggered.”

    As my 11- and 14-year-old sons and their friends talked and bantered — phones in hand, as always — in the back seat of the car, one of them shouted it in response to a meme, and they all laughed uproariously.

    I almost lost control of the car. That’s because I know that word — often used to mock people who are hurt or offended by racism as overly sensitive — is a calling card of the alt-right, which the Anti-Defamation League defines as “a segment of the white supremacist movement consisting of a loose network of racists and anti-Semites who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of politics that embrace implicit or explicit racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy.” People associated with this group are known for trolling those who disagree with them, and calling critics “triggered” is a favorite tactic.

    The next red flag: I watched my son scroll through Instagram and double-click on an image, lighting up a heart that signifies a “like.”

    “Hold on a minute,” I said, snatching his phone. “Was that Hitler?”

    The meme showed a man in contemporary clothing tipping off the Nazi leader to the invasion of Normandy. My son said he hadn’t even read it, he’d just assumed the time traveler was trying to kill Hitler, not help him. He was shocked and embarrassed when I pointed out the actual message: that it would have been better if the Holocaust had continued.

    “I’m not stupid enough to like a Hitler meme on purpose, Mom,” he said. “And anyway, I’m sure my friend shared it to be ironic.”

    I didn’t see the irony and my son couldn’t explain it. I talked to him about the Holocaust, the trauma and violence that Jewish people all over the world still experience and my late friend Edith, whose delicate arm displayed a number tattoo that stopped my heart every time I saw it. He knew all this already, but I worried that he was forgetting. I worried that he was being pulled toward a worldview that would see this painful history as fodder for jokes, or worse, as something to celebrate.

    At a time when the F.B.I. reports a 17 percent rise in hate crime incidents from 2016 to 2017, the most recent year for which there is data, white parents like me have had recent, terrifying reminders that we must prevent our sons from becoming indoctrinated by a growing racist movement that thrives online and causes real-life devastation.

    In August, a young white man who admitted to targeting Mexicans killed 22 people in an El Paso Walmart. In New Zealand, 51 people were killed when a gunman attacked mosques filled with worshipers observing Friday prayers. In the past year, a total of 12 worshipers were killed in the U.S. in two hate-motivated attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh and San Diego.

    In each of these cases, the killers were white men with a history of extremism. The San Diego gunman, for instance, left a manifesto on 8chan also claiming responsibility for a mosque fire. And the San Diego and New Zealand gunmen posted hate-filled online manifestoes that included internet-culture references, such as references to memes and a notorious shout-out to a noteworthy YouTube personality. Both of them mentioned or alluded to the “white genocide” — which the Anti-Defamation League defines as the white-supremacist belief that the white race is “dying” because of growing nonwhite populations and “forced assimilation.”

    But of course, it’s not just that we want to prevent our sons from becoming perpetrators of mass shootings. We want to raise them to be the kind of men who would never march with the neo-Nazis who chanted “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville before one of them killed a counterprotester, Heather Heyer. Beyond that, we want to keep them from becoming supporters of the racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and gender- or sexuality-based hatred that is on the rise.

    Unfortunately, extremists know how to find new recruits in the very place our sons spend so much of their time: online. And too often, they’re more aware than we are of how vulnerable young white men are to radicalization.

    According to Jackson Katz, author of “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help,” it’s not necessarily the ideology behind white nationalism, anti-feminism or the alt-right that initially appeals to young white men and boys as much as it is the sense of being part of a “heroic struggle.”

    Participating in the alt-right community online “offers the seductive feeling of being part of a brotherhood, which in turn validates their manhood,” Dr. Katz says. YouTubers and participants in chat forums like 4chan, the defunct 8chan and Discord “regularly denigrate liberal or progressive white men as soft, emasculated ‘soy boys’ and insufficiently aggressive or right-wing white men as ‘cucks.’”

    It also seems to me, as a mom, that these groups prey upon the natural awkwardness of adolescence. Many kids feel out of place, frustrated and misunderstood, and are vulnerable to the idea that someone else is responsible for their discontent. When they’re white and male, they’re spoon-fed a list of scapegoats: people of color, feminists, immigrants, L.G.B.T.Q. people. If they really embrace this, it’s not hard to convince them that there’s a “white genocide” happening and that these people — and the “leftists” who represent their interests — are to blame.

    So what can parents do? First, we need to understand how this works.

    A favorite activity for many boys is to watch gamers playing video games on YouTube. According to John Duffy, author of “Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety,” the problems come with advertisements that may appear during the videos. Kids can be exposed to dozens of ads in a sitting. They might hear about the border, or “Crooked Hillary” or a conspiracy theory on how the left works, Dr. Duffy said. Many of these spots are created and promoted by organizations like PragerU, which, Dr. Duffy notes, is not an accredited university but a propaganda machine that introduces viewers to extremist views via video. And YouTube’s recommendation algorithm offers videos that become more and more extreme as viewers watch them.

    “There is a sophisticated psychology at play,” Dr. Duffy warns, noting that today’s teenagers have been using smartphones and tablets their whole lives. They like to dive deeper into topics that pique their curiosity, which is a great thing. The problem is they often turn to the internet before their parents for answers. Recommended videos and comments left on YouTube can lead them to threads full of racism and conspiracy theories on forums like 4chan. Google may lead them to white nationalist outlets like The Daily Stormer, where hate and harassment are normalized. Often, they have no idea which sources are reputable.

    They may also find videos by more mainstream figures, including members of the so-called intellectual dark web like Jordan Peterson, a Canadian psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, whose conservative perspectives on feminism and gender are very popular among young men and often are a path to more extreme content and ideologies.

    In an interview with the actor Alan Alda for the podcast “Clear+Vivid,” Christian Picciolini, a former Nazi, explains that modern white supremacists create friendships and build trust in online spaces such as autism chat rooms and gaming-related forums. They “go to these places and they promise them paradise,” he says.

    Inevitably, kids who have encountered these messages will mimic extremist talking points, and those of us who find these views repulsive may be tempted to yell at them, ground them or take away their devices in a futile attempt to keep them away from this propaganda.

    The problem is, punitive responses often create a sense of shame that can feed a growing sense of anger — an anger the alt-right is eager to exploit.

    What really hooks many white teenagers is the alt-right’s insistence that white men are under attack in America, the true victims of oppression. If your child has already been punished for his opinions, this message is especially resonant. They find a home for their rage, a brotherhood of guys like them, and that oh-so-alluring heroic struggle — and that’s how an extremist is born.

    One family Dr. Duffy sees in his clinical practice found that the key to opening up conversation with their son, who was showing signs of indoctrination into alt-right communities, was to start by saying they were proud of his efforts to develop opinions that weren’t spoon-fed to him and to promise to listen to their son’s perspective if he would listen to theirs.

    According to Dr. Duffy, once the family started communicating more openly and their son’s views lost their status as a mark of edginess or rebellion, the teenager softened his stances and even disabled his alt-right meme accounts.

    Parents also need to encourage our sons how to think critically about the things they’re hearing online. One term I’ve debunked in this way for my kids is “snowflake.” An insult embraced by moderate conservatives and the alt-right alike, it’s used to dismiss people who complain about racism, sexism or homophobia as laughably delicate.

    When one of my kids used it, I smiled and, in a conspiratorial tone, asked him to think about this: Who is more of a delicate snowflake? The person who wants people to stop racial slurs or mocking of gay people or the person who is upset and offended by the use of the phrase “Happy Holidays” — a common talking point during Fox News’s infamous War on Christmas segments?

    He thought about it and laughed at the irony. He, like the rest of us, sees that Christmas is promoted everywhere in society and isn’t going anywhere. I also took the opportunity to explain that calling someone who is upset or offended a “snowflake” or “triggered” is just a lazy — and often hypocritical — way to justify treating that person poorly. For my sons, this conversation was effective. After all, they don’t want to hurt anyone, and they’ve long understood that a person who refuses to take responsibility and apologize is probably a jerk. But they needed a reminder.

    Perhaps the best tool is prevention. Kids need to understand — before they encounter their first alt-right memes — what white supremacy looks like. It’s not just a person in a K.K.K. hood but also the smooth-talking YouTuber in the suit or the seemingly friendly voice in the video game forum.

    If we avoid talking about our values about race and the experiences of marginalized people, strangers on the internet will be happy to share theirs.

    “Right now, our fear about addressing race causes us to leave kids guessing,” says Shelly Tochluk, a professor of education at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles, and author of “Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It.” “They fill in the blanks with whatever they see online, and this includes horrifically twisted messages from white nationalists.”

    Parents of white kids need to talk about race and racism and how they’ve played out in this country — a lot. That history includes horrors and tragedies, but as Dr. Tochluk says, it also “includes the fact that there have always been groups of white people in the United States who have fought for freedom and liberty for all.”

    “In our choices and actions,” she says, “white people can align ourselves with that lineage.”

    Dr. Katz suggested, “To counteract the seductiveness of that appeal from the right, we need to offer them a better definition of strength: that true strength resides in respecting and lifting up others, not seeking to dominate them.”

    I’m working hard to instill these values in my kids. But keeping them away from the radical right is a continuing project for me and should be for any parent. I have confidence that they’re more equipped than they were a year ago to detect and reject hateful messages, but in the meantime, every time they laugh at a so-called edgy meme, I’m going to make it my mission to find out what’s so funny.

    Joanna Schroeder is an editor at YourTango, a website about relationships.

    NYTimes
     
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