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Child Sexual Abuse is Sharply on the Rise as Americans Ordered to Stay at Home: Report

The crisis unleashed by CoViD-19 has posed an acute risk of sexual abuse to children.

Elias Marat

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Child Sexual Abuse

(TMU) — As the United States and the entire world become enveloped in the worst pandemic in a century, many have embraced self-isolating and sheltering in place as a basic responsibility to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. However, for many of the most vulnerable—such as children—home can be the most unsafe place due to domestic violence and abuse

Nothing is more important for the development of children into well-functioning, responsible, and healthy adults than a secure and nurturing home. But the crisis unleashed by CoViD-19 has posed an acute risk of sexual abuse to children, child advocates told Huffington Post.

Since March, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) has noticed a sharp increase in minors reporting sexual violence, according to RAINN President Scott Berkowitz. The rise in sexual abuse coincides with the period in which most state governments implemented shelter-in-place measures.

Berkowitz said:

“Last month, for the first time ever, a majority of RAINN’s sexual abuse hotline users were minors.”

Much of the problem is due to the fact that children who normally rely on other adults as safety insurance against abusers simply can’t escape their homes.

Berkowitz explained:

“So many minors are now locked at home with their abuser, in the same house … The safety net that they had―the parents and teachers and coaches that they would see every day who were likely the first people to notice signs of abuse―children no longer have contact with those people right now.”

Over half of those calling RAINN’s hotline in March were minors under the age of 18. Of those children, 67 percent accused a family member of sexually assaulting them while 79 percent of that group said that they lived with the perpetrator. The group’s victim service programs assist 25,000 people per month, on average.

The group fears that cases of child sexual abuse will trend upwards as people indefinitely stay at home during the fight to curb the pandemic.

Over 93 percent of sexually abused children face sexual violence at the hands of someone close to them. While the perpetrators are often older relatives or adults, other children such as siblings or cousins can also be the abuser, according to American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) Executive Director Dr. Janet Rosenzweig. Over one-third of child sexual abuse cases involve a minor committing the abuse.

Rosenzweig said:

“By now, people have all heard about the pedophiles that groom children and that’s a very true way to describe adult offenders. But with kids, it’s usually predicated by sexual arousal meeting poor impulse control, and an opportunity.”

However, with many parents preoccupied with their Zoom meetings and other online home office tasks, potentially abusive minors can often be put in charge of taking care of their younger peers.

On Tuesday, independent human rights monitors from the United Nations issued an urgent appeal for governments across the world to safeguard the welfare of children who are vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, and exploitation amid the CoViD-19 pandemic.

https://twitter.com/UN_News_Centre/status/1247743471487778816

In a statement, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children Maud de Boer-Buquicchio said:

“Globally, confinement measures and the disrupted provision of already limited child protection services exacerbate the vulnerability of children living in psychiatric and social care institutions, orphanages, refugee camps, immigration detention centers and other closed facilities.”

Additionally, the rights experts warned against online pedophilia, live-streamed sexual abuse, and the distribution of video depictions of child rape—a problem requiring the collaboration of law enforcement and private companies.

The UN experts added:

“We should all make significant efforts to support frontline operators in the child protection services, neighborhood and community watchdogs and law enforcement.” 

https://twitter.com/PreventTogether/status/1247240720097869825

But with state budgets and agencies stretched to paper-thin capacity by the pandemic, child protection services have largely been disrupted and there is very little consistency on a state-to-state level, APSAC officials said.

For now, advocates are hoping to include provisions that specifically address child protection needs in the next Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—which won’t be presented to Congress for some time, if ever.

Kiersten Stewart, the director of public policy and advocacy for Futures Without Violence, told Huffington Post:

 “Additional resources to help vulnerable children and families is our number one ask for the next CARES bill. “

In the meantime, APSAC head Rosenzweig stressed the need for healthy adults to play a positive role in the lives of children they are close to. She said:

“If there is a child or parent you love, call those kids and spend a half an hour on the phone or FaceTime. Give the kids another grown-up to talk to.

If all of us do that, we’re going to give parents a break and we may find a kid out there that needs our help.”

However, the positive intervention of civil society and social services remain important in addressing the problem. Stressing the important of a new CARES bill that supports the prevention of sexual violence, Stewart said:

“There was a mistaken view that if we just handle job loss and health care that it would solve all of the potential child abuse problems and that’s just not true.

More still needs to be done and it needs to be done intentionally to support families and children.” 

https://twitter.com/RAINN/status/1247242407646769157

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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CIA Drops ‘Black Vault’ Trove Containing ‘All’ Government Documents on UFOs

Elias Marat

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The CIA has released all publicly available U.S. government documents collected on unidentified flying objects (UFO) over the course of three decades that can now be downloaded by any curious users.

According to reports, the massive trove of data on UFOs includes over 2,700 pages of information collected and recorded by government agencies over the course of decades, with some declassified documents dating back as far as the 1980s.

The information was released thanks to numerous requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) over the past 25 years.

The downloadable archives are available on the website The Black Vault, which has collected every piece of data recording sightings of UFOs. The site’s founder, John Greenewald Jr., purchased a disc which the CIA claims contains the entirety of its archives, but Greenewald notes that “there may be no way to entirely verify that.”

“Research by The Black Vault will continue to see if there are additional documents still uncovered within the CIA’s holdings,” Greenewald added.

The U.S. government has been increasingly open in its discussions of UFOs since September 2019, when the U.S. Navy admitted that widely-circulated video footage captured by Navy pilots purportedly showing UFOs flying through the skies did depict actual “unknown” objects that flew into U.S. airspace.

While officials admitted that they have been baffled by the unknown flying objects, they also admit that past encounters with them have been frequent. They also said that rather than calling them “UFOs,” they prefer the term unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs.

The Guardian reports that a range of bizarre incidents are recorded in the documents, some of which are hard to decipher and are extremely disorganized.

One document reports a series of inexplicable explosions in a Russian town, while another reports a first-hand account of a sighting of an unidentified aerial phenomenon near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

LiveScience has also reviewed the files, and reports that the documents cover a range of other incidents such as a “1976 account of the government’s then-Assistant Deputy Director for Science and Technology being hand-delivered a mysterious piece of intelligence on a UFO.”

However, Greenewald has expressed annoyance over the manner in which the agency packaged the documents, including the fact that they were burned onto CD-ROM, a medium that he called “outdated.”

“The CIA has made it INCREDIBLY difficult to use their records in a reasonable manner,” he wrote to Vice’s Motherboard. “This outdated format makes it very difficult for people to see the documents, and use them, for any research purpose.”

The arrival of the dump comes as UFOlogists and alien aficionados eagerly anticipate hearings before Congress where Pentagon and intelligence agency officials will report all of their findings on UAPs, according to the New York Post.

A provision tucked into the roughly 5,600-page coronavirus relief bill passed in December requires that government agencies “submit a report within 180 days … to the congressional intelligence and armed services committees on unidentified aerial phenomena.”

Also last June, outgoing President Trump told his son Don Trump Jr. that he had heard some “interesting” things about supposed UFOs and the secretive Area 51 base near Roswell, New Mexico, that some theorists claim was a crash site for a UFO.

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Good News

Betty White Turns 99, and Her Tips on Living a Long and Happy Life Are More Valuable Than Ever

Elias Marat

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Betty White, the original golden girl beloved by people of all ages, celebrated her 99th birthday on Sunday.

The spry granny, born Betty Marion White on Jan. 17, 1922, has managed to live a long, healthy, happy life and this can likely be chalked up to her unconventional approach.

The Emmy award-winning veteran actress once joked that her secret to longevity consisted of three simple ingredients: vodka, hot dogs, and her love of pets.

However, her tongue-in-cheek advice is getting new attention, especially given that too many of us have been forced to stay at home over much of the past year.

In 2011, during a Late Show interview with David Letterman, White gave 10 sagely tips on how she’s managed to maintain her verb and energy for so long. With White reaching one year short of a century, the advice is worth revisiting.

Her first bit of advice was to “get at least eight hours of beauty sleep, nine if you’re ugly.” Next, she advised that one should “Exercise. Or don’t. What the hell do I care?”

Third, she opined that one should “never apologize. It shows weakness.”

Her fourth tip shouldn’t give anyone any adventurous ideas, but it’s helpful nonetheless: “The best way to earn a quick buck is a slip and fall lawsuit.”

She then gave the priceless tip that one should “avoid tweeting any photos of your private parts” while also making sure to “schedule nightly appointment with Dr. Johnnie Walker.”

Some of the healthy eaters in our audience may take exception to White’s seventh tip, which is to: “Take some wheatgrass, soy paste and carob, toss it in the garbage and cook yourself a big-*ss piece of pork.”

Her next bit of adice was to “try not to die” and “never dwell on past mistakes,” which may both be easier said than done. Lastly, she recommended that you “don’t waste your time watching this crap.”

Sound advice that we can all relate to, Mrs. White!

White is reportedly spending her 99th birthday simply relaxing, she told Entertainment Tonight.

“You probably didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway. … What am I doing for my birthday? Running a mile each morning has been curtailed by [coronavirus], so I am working on getting ‘The Pet Set’ re-released, and feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day,” she explained, referencing a 1971 show she starred in that featured celebrities appearing alongside their pets.

Her birthday was also marked by various celebrities, who tweeted out birthday greetings to the TV icon.

“Happy birthday, @BettyMWhite! You’re a miracle in every way,”  wrote Ellen DeGeneres.

“I still get warm when I see this look. Happy 99 baby. You are a testament to living life on your own terms. Sending you a great big socially distanced kiss. I love you @BettyMWhite,” Ed Asner tweeted.

“Betty White bloopers are the best bloopers #HappyBirthdayBettyWhite,” Valerie Bertinelli tweeted alongside a video of hilarious mistakes made on the set of their former show, Hot in Cleveland.

“Wishing the incomparable Betty White a very happy 99th birthday! What’s your favorite Betty White role, friends?” wrote Star Trek star George Takei.

White, who is best known for her role as Rose Nylund in the classic sitcom The Golden Girls (1985-92), has over 75 years in show business under her belt. The comedian became a staple of U.S. television in such shows as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Hot in Cleveland along with memorable appearances in shows like Mama’s Family and That ‘70s Show.

She catapulted to fame with her first sitcom, Life with Elizabeth, where White played the titular role and became the first woman to have creative control of a program as both a producer and the star.

White earned no less than 24 Emmy nominations and won eight in the span of her career.

When she reached the age of 90 it didn’t slow her down one bit. Not only did White become the oldest host in the history of Saturday Night Live but she also made dozens of cameos. White also starred in a memorable 2010 Super Bowl commercial for Snickers where she got tackled to the ground, football-style.

In an email to the Associated Press, White shared an especially enjoyable perk of old age: “Since I am turning 99, I can stay up as late as I want without asking permission!”

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Animals

Surfing Sea Lions Have a Blast as They Ride and Flip Through Gnarly California Waves in Video

Elias Marat

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Surfers know that in terms of the best places to catch the best breaks and surf zones, few regions can compete with California’s central coast. From Malibu through Ventura to Santa Barbara County, up through SLO to the Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz, the Gold Coast arguably has no rivals in the U.S. in terms of its natural beauty and spectacular waves.

But while California’s beaches have long been synonymous with the surfing world, it would appear that actual sea lions from the regional are also enjoying the gnarly wakesurfs and sick swells on offer throughout the central coast.

In brilliant video captured last week off Santa Barbara Island, within the Channel Islands National Park just west of Los Angeles, sea lions can be seen surfing the massive waves with the sort of natural skill that only evolutionary forces can mold.

In the footage, the nimble pinnipeds can be seen riding and flipping about while taking huge leaps through the giant swells. The video was captured via high-speed photography, far too fast for sound to be recorded.

So Ryan Lawler, who runs Pacific Offshore Expeditions, paired the footage to the iconic hit from the Surfaris, “Wipeout.”

The energetic footage was captured by a documentary crew that included a National Geographic cameraman during a Jan. 7 outing with Pacific Offshore Expeditions.

 “Our trip to Santa Barbara Island was bumpy and dive conditions questionable,” the company wrote on its Instagram post of the video. “But what we found in light of this was a wonderful surprise: surfing sea lions! None of us had ever seen such sustained and enthusiastic wave riding from pinnipeds before. It was a joy to watch!”

The scene was so remarkable that the crew eagerly returned to Santa Barbara Island for more footage after checking out the footage that they shot.

“On the exposed side of the island the swell was huge but we found some sun,” Lawler told For The Win Outdoors. “As we rounded the southern portion of the island, which has an islet called Sutil Island, we noticed sea lions flying out of the back of the waves. It was an awesome moment.”

Like most priceless moments in the majestic Channel Islands, however, the session was all too brief – and was totally skunked by the thick, foggy marine layer of an unseasonably hot January.

“I had never seen that before at this island, which is well known for its sea lions,” Lawler continued. “So we stayed there for 20 minutes, observing and waiting for the sun to break up the fog. Then we dove for about 90 minutes and came back, but all the sea lions had disappeared.”

Sea lions have long been known to be powerful and agile swimmers who are even known to body surf on occasion, but scenes such as these are very difficult to capture.

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