414 Homicides in ’12 Is a Record Low for New York City
December 29, 2012, New York Times
Murders in New York have dropped to their lowest level in over 40 years, city officials announced on [December 28]. There were 414 recorded homicides so far in 2012, compared with 515 for the same period in 2011, city officials said. That is a striking decline from murder totals in the low-2,000s that were common in the early 1990s, and is also below the record low: 471, set in 2009. Shootings are also down for the year so far. The number of murders is the lowest since 1963, when improvements in the recording of data were made. In the last two decades, trumpeting declines in crime trends has become an annual end-of-the-year event, even when the numbers inched up. There were also several anomalies in the 2012 homicide tally, including a serial killer who murdered three shopkeepers in Brooklyn. But overall killings have dropped to such a low level that more New Yorkers now commit suicide than are the victims of homicides. About 475 New Yorkers kill themselves each year, according to the city’s health department. Nearly 70 percent of the victims had prior criminal arrests, the police said. Domestic-related homicides dropped to 68, from 94 in 2011. The likelihood of being killed by a stranger was slight. The vast majority of the homicides … grew out of “disputes” between a victim and killer who knew each other.
Note: Though most American believe murder and violent crime rates are increasing, these rates in fact have decreased dramatically in the last 20 years, by over 2/3 in many cases. For more great information on this trend, click here. For other inspiring reasons for hope and optimism in the new year, click here.
National Rifle Association moves to block UN treaty on gun control
December 28, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK’s leading newspapers)
The National Rifle Association continues to block any gun control laws whatsoever, and even trumpets its efforts to block the global arms trade treaty, slated for negotiations at the United Nations this March. On Christmas Eve, the same day as the attack in Webster, the UN general assembly voted to move ahead with 10 days of negotiations on the arms trade treaty, to commence 18 March. The NRA succeeded in helping to scuttle the global arms trade treaty, delivering to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a letter opposing the treaty signed by 50 US senators, including eight Democrats, and 130 members of the House of Representatives. The global treaty shouldn’t be controversial. By signing on, governments agree not to export weapons to countries that are under an arms embargo, or to export weapons that would facilitate “the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes” or other violations of international humanitarian law. Amnesty International last week called on the NRA to “immediately drop its campaign of distortions and lies about the pending United Nations’ global arms trade treaty”. Amnesty USA’s Michelle Ringuette elaborated: “These unregulated weapons are used to force tens of thousands of children into armed conflict and to rape women and girls in conflict zones. More than 26 million people around the globe are forced from their homes, and their livelihoods destroyed, by armed conflict. The NRA must immediately stand down on its campaign to block a global arms trade treaty.”
Victims of child pornography seek restitution from men who downloaded and traded horrific images
December 27, 2012, Boston Globe
The woman, now in her twenties, lives in relative anonymity on the West Coast, but to child pornography collectors worldwide she will always be known as “Vicky,” a little girl raped by her father in a series of videos illegally disseminated online thousands of times during more than a decade. Now the woman and a small but growing number of other child pornography victims are seeking restitution from those who collected or traded pictures and videos depicting their abuse, filing claims for damages against convicted child pornographers in Massachusetts and around the country. In court papers, victims describe living with the knowledge that their images can never be cleansed from the Internet. Since 2008, six federal child pornography cases in Massachusetts have resulted in defendants being ordered to pay restitution, according to the US attorney’s office in Boston. The amounts range between $2,000 and $2.5 million. The recent restitution efforts come as the scourge of child pornography has accelerated during the last decade, aided by improved technology and the Web’s promise of anonymity. While most sexually exploited children go unidentified, nearly 5,000 nationwide have been located during the last 10 years by law enforcement officials and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The Virginia nonprofit manages a database to aid prosecutors and help identify exploited children.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on sexual abuse of children, click here.
Berkeley center funds gratitude research
December 4, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle (SF’s leading newspaper)
At UC Berkeley … a group of researchers thinks about gratitude year-round. Formed in 2001, the Greater Good Science Center is dedicated to unpacking the neuroscience and sociology behind traits such as altruism, compassion and empathy. The goal is not only to understand how gratitude works, but also to build a healthier, kinder society, said Dacher Keltner, the center’s faculty director and a UC Berkeley psychology professor. “The U.S. underperforms in terms of the well-being of children, the well-being of adults and the physical health of children and adults,” he said. “We also have one of the most individualistic, self-focused societies in human history. And I put those two facts together.” Thanks to a $3.1 million grant recently awarded by the center, 14 researchers nationwide are studying various aspects of gratitude, from its role in initiating friendships to its effects on children’s socializing. The grant is part of a three-year project, Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, in collaboration with UC Davis. And last month, the center launched Thnx4.org, an online journal where visitors explain what they’re thankful for and researchers analyze their responses to understand gratitude’s influence.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.