Gang Members Feed Hungry School Kids Every Day, Defying Stereotypes

ang members have been left speechless by a flood of public support for their programme feeding sandwiches to schoolkids.

That's what the Tribal Huks have been doing for two and a half years. They make around 500 sandwiches every day and drop them off to Waikato schools and kindies, before the lunch bell. 

It's what Jamie Pink's most proud of as Tribal Huk leader.

 ''All the violence aside, this is more important.''

People have offered to help after hearing about the sandwich-making operation and Jamie Pink, the angry man with a soft heart, he's speechless. 

''Human words don't cut it,'' he says and he twists his knuckle-duster rings as he tries to think of something to say. 

There have been offers to help grow the project, grow veggie gardens, send honey, avocados, margarine, eggs, books, money. 

''I wanna say thank you so much for the support. I'm not sayin' we're angels and that, but we're not bad people. We didn't expect this.''

Jamie Pink was fed by gang members when he was young and remembers them as generous people who looked after him and his mum when they had nothing.

 ''If there was a feed at school,'' he says, ''I would go to school for that feed.''

Yes, he says, it should be the parents responsibility, ''but if you've got crappy parents, you're bloody stuffed aren't ya? 

''We truly believe that hungry kids will go to school for a feed and while they're there, they can't help but to learn something.''

This is not recruitment, he says.

''If we thought like that, we're not worth existing, to be honest with you.'' 

He heats up at suggestions the sandwiches are funded by P. The room goes scary quiet.

''If my boys go near P, they get a boot in the arse.'' 

Pink was in the news seven years ago when he took to about 10 P houses in Ngaruawahia with a sledgehammer after learning his daughter had been offered the drug in the gang's hometown. He was given six months home detention.

''I'd do it again in a flash. You don't mess with our kiddies.''

Tribal Huk has a large following of young men wanting to become members. Many have grown up as hungry kids and turned into angry men.

Poverty ruins them, he says. ''They never forget it.''

The kids who eat his sandwiches still have a chance and he has hopes that aren't gang hopes for them.

''Hopefully they gonna grow up to be decent citizens - doctors and lawyers. But they not gonna grow up properly if they don't get a feed.''

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She lost 50 pounds for her 50th high school reunion

(CNN) -- In January, Carol Highsmith, 68, began a journey of threes. She had three milestones of 50 that she planned to reach by following three simple rules:

At 175 pounds, the 5-foot-1 Highsmith was at her heaviest weight. She vowed to lose 50 pounds so she could fit into a 50-year-old dress from high school. Determined to stun all her old classmates, Highsmith saw her invitation to Minnehaha Academy's 50th reunion as the catalyst to spark a lifestyle change.

 

Voted "Most Mischievous" by her classmates in 1964, the Takoma Park, Maryland, resident was determined to reclaim some of her youth.

"I wanted to go back [to high school] as I left," she says. "Still having fun in life... looking slim and feeling as good as I did back then."

Looking back, Highsmith would never have predicted she'd have weight problems.

"If I had seen a photo of myself as I look right now ... I would have died of embarrassment!"

But though she was thin, her eating habits were far from healthy.

"In my teens, I would go on all sorts of diets -- one time all I ate was hot dogs -- to make sure I fit into all my pretty dresses."

Once she started her career, those bad choices began to take their toll. She started to travel a lot and it became easy to eat what she calls "road food" frequently.

"I remember my first bite of a Krispy Kreme donut. It was heaven! I wanted more and many. One time I did a photo shoot at a Krispy Kreme place and they gave us two dozen donuts. I ate five in one sitting."

Her poor eating habits caused her health to slowly deteriorate -- both mentally and physically. She began to feel so self-conscious about her body that she only wore polyester pants and would never tuck her shirt in for fear of showing just how much weight she had gained.

When she received news of her upcoming reunion, Highsmith vowed to follow what she called the "WWW Plan" so that she could wear her favorite high school dress again.

Her first step was watching what she ate. She tried to eat only 1,300 calories per day of almost entirely unprocessed foods.

Step two was walking. She purchased a step tracker and made sure to log 10,000 to 25,000 steps per day, even if that required her to walk the halls and stairs of her hotel late at night.

The last step was drinking lots of water. She began to drink five to six bottles a day to ensure she was staying hydrated in the midst of all of her walking.

Complicating her mission, Highsmith knew she was going to be on the road during the months leading up to the reunion, working on a photography project for the Library of Congress, capturing photos of 21st century America for the Prints and Photographs Archive.

She would also be staying busy with her This is America! Foundation, which she founded to capture and catalog hundreds of thousands of photos of "slices of American life threatened by technological change, rampant development and widespread cultural homogenization."

She had to customize her weight loss strategy to her nomadic lifestyle. Although gas stations full of candy and other unhealthy snacks beckoned, Highsmith fought cravings by carrying unsalted nuts, canned baked beans, unsweetened Greek yogurt and fresh fruit.

For breakfast, Highsmith would generally eat fruit, poached eggs, ham and a little milk and coffee. Protein was key for keeping her full well into the afternoon.

Lunchtime was a less structured meal. Highsmith made a point to never eat lunch "just because it was lunchtime," but to wait until she genuinely felt hungry. Then she would eat some yogurt, fruit and nuts, or a fresh salad.

For dinner, she usually ordered grilled fish, sweet potatoes and vegetables. Sometimes she would allow herself to splurge on a carefully measured pat of butter for her sweet potatoes.

"Every time I thought about not walking all the steps or not drinking the water or having just one extra handful of nuts, I thought about how much fun it (would) be to go the Minnehaha Academy reunion and look like a million," says Highsmith.

Between her healthy eating habits and being constantly on her feet, Highsmith watched as the pounds melted away.

"Every day that I follow my weight loss plan I am thrilled," Highsmith wrote to CNN in the middle of her journey. "All of it helps me feel better about myself. When I look in the mirror and see a slimmer me, I am more confident and know I look good in my clothes."

 
 

She was careful, though, not to get distracted from her main goal: her health.

"I eat only when I am hungry, but if I get hungry, I need to eat," says Highsmith. "I am not on a starvation diet -- I am on a healthy, let me lose this weight and live longer journey. I never mention the word 'diet.'"

When the day of her 50th high school reunion arrived, Highsmith was ready and eager to show off her new physique. Her classmates were stunned with her transformation.

"I was very impressed," says former classmate Linda Bjorklund, who has stayed in touch over the years. "She was very disciplined about her food intake and her exercise. Carol usually does whatever she sets her mind to doing ... she always gives everything 115%."

Highsmith's message to her classmates? "Find a way to turn back the clock and wake up feeling good every day."

At 130 pounds, Highsmith's journey is not over. She plans to lose 20 more pounds by her birthday in May 2015, vowing to continue eschewing sweets, walking at least 10,000 steps per day, and eating and drinking properly.

But she is in no rush to see the numbers on the scale go down.

"I am not trying to lose it fast because I did not gain it fast," says Highsmith. "We are what we eat and I have decided for the rest of my life that if something goes into my mouth, it must be good for me."

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Consumer Prices Tick Higher, Energy Costs Fall

U.S. consumer prices rose marginally in September, painting a weak inflation picture that should give the Federal Reserve ample room to keep interest rates low for a while.

The Labor Department said on Wednesday its Consumer Price Index edged up 0.1 percent last month as a rise in food and shelter costs offset a broad decline in energy prices.

The CPI had dropped 0.2 percent in August and economists had expected a flat reading in September.

U.S. Treasury debt prices fell on the slightly firmer reading, while the dollar rose modestly.

"This persistently weak inflation backdrop should continue to provide the key justification for the Fed to keep its policy stance accommodative, " said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.

In the 12 months through September, the CPI increased 1.7 percent after a similar rise in August. A separate index that tracks price changes for urban wage earners and clerical workers and is used to make cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security payments rose 1.7 percent in the third quarter from the year earlier.

Inflation has waned in recent months after quickening in the second quarter, in part as a strengthening dollar and slower economic growth in China and the euro zone dampen imported price pressures.

The weak inflation reading could revive concerns at the Fed that price pressures are running too low. That and a recent global equities market sell-off has led investors to push back their expectations for when the U.S. central bank will raise interest rates to late next year. The Fed has kept benchmark overnight rates near zero since December 2008.

Underlying inflation pressures were also muted in September despite increases in shelter and medical care costs.

The so-called core CPI, which strips out food and energy prices, ticked up 0.1 percent last month after being unchanged in August. In the 12 months through September, the core CPI rose 1.7 percent after advancing by the same margin in August.

The Fed targets 2 percent inflation and it tracks an index that is running even lower than the CPI.

In September, energy prices fell for a third straight month, with gasoline prices slipping 1.0 percent after dropping 4.1 percent in August. Food prices gained 0.3 percent after rising 0.2 percent in August.

Within the core CPI, shelter costs increased 0.3 percent in September after rising 0.2 percent in August. The shelter index was up 3.0 percent in the 12 months through September, the largest gain since January 2008.

The medical care index increased 0.2 percent, with prices for nonprescription drugs increasing 1.5 percent and hospital services gaining 0.3 percent.

Airline fares declined for a third straight month, while prices for new motor vehicles and apparel were unchanged. Prices for used cars and trucks fell for the fifth straight month.

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'Cadaver dog' work more accepted by cops, courts

BENTON, Calif. (AP) — Increasingly, police investigators and courts are putting their faith in four-legged tools — canines that can detect even small particles of human remains.

But proving what these dogs know isn't easy.

"If only Buster could talk," quips Paul Dostie, as he works his black Labrador through a wide patch of scraggly brush, about 50 miles east of Yosemite National Park.

In his younger days, Buster would lie down on a spot like this to indicate an "alert," and bark. But having lost a leg to cancer, the 12-year-old canine now prefers to poke his nose in the direction of a particular spot in the dirt, or at a rock, or whatever has set off his nose. In all, Dostie says that Buster's alerts have aided in the recovery of the remains of about 200 people

As a reward, Dostie tosses Buster a toy. "Good boy," he says.

To the untrained eye, it might seem that Buster is simply barking for that toy.

But Dostie and others who've seen Buster work say they have little doubt that the dog's nose is to be trusted.

"Seeing is believing," says Mark Noah, the founder of History Flight, a nonprofit foundation whose mission includes finding the tens of thousands of fallen American veterans whose bodies were never recovered.

Buster and Dostie, working with a team of volunteers who also use ground-penetrating radar and historic records, have helped the organization unearth the remains of missing Americans lost in World War II battles in Europe and on the south Pacific island of Tarawa.

Among others, Buster helped find Lt. Robert Fenstermacher, an Army Air Corps pilot whose plane crashed in Belgium after being shot down in 1944. Last year, his family gathered as he was laid to rest, nearly 70 years later, in Arlington National Cemetery.

History Flight searches have led to the recovery of 13,000 bones on Tarawa alone, most of them not yet identified, Noah says.

Other searches are often much simpler — just the handlers and dogs, walking on foot, mile after mile. That's how Deborah Palman, now a retired specialist with the Maine Warden Service and her German shepherd, Alex, found the body of a Canadian woman named Maria Tanasichuk in 2003. Police later determined she'd been shot in the head execution-style by her husband.

"My pulse must have shot up over 200," she says of the moment she realized Alex had found the body, leading to David Tanasichuk's conviction.

Local police departments have been reluctant to use the cadaver dogs for searches because their trainers are volunteers, but that's changing, with these successes and as the dogs' training has become more standardized.

When more than one dog has alerted independently in the same spot, some judges have been persuaded to allow cadaver dog evidence.

In February, for instance, cadaver dog evidence helped convict a suburban Chicago man, Aurelio Montano, of killing his wife. She disappeared in 1990, and although her body was never found, investigators got a tip, years later, and dug up a rug at a horse farm on which more than one cadaver dog alerted. They contended that Montano had wrapped the body in the rug.

Evidence tied to cadaver dogs hasn't worked in some other cases, though.

In the high-profile 2011 Florida trial of Casey Anthony — accused of killing her young daughter — more than one cadaver dog alerted on the trunk of Anthony's car. Arpad Vass, then a senior research scientist with the Oak Ridge National Lab, testified that using air samples from the trunk, he'd found high levels of chloroform, which can be found when a body breaks down. However, his science was questioned by other witnesses, and Anthony was freed.

Cadaver dogs "are an incredible investigatory tool — no question about it," says Lawrence Kobilinsky, professor and chairman of the department of sciences at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

But in order to present the dogs' alerts as court evidence, he believes forensic experts first need to "strengthen the science" to prove what they've found.

Even in investigations, dogs alerting is often just the first step in what can be a lengthy, sometimes fruitless endeavor.

"Everybody thinks, you just dig a hole, but it's not always that obvious," says Vass, who's still developing technology to evaluate chemical markers associated with human decomposition. Often, he says, buried bodies create a "chemical plume" that runs downhill from a clandestine grave, making it difficult to find.

"Dogs," Vass says, "are just one tool in the toolbox."

Cost also is a factor.

In Plumas County, California, Buster and two other dogs have alerted on an outdoor well on separate occasions. The well is near the home where 13-year-old Mark Wilson was living when he disappeared in 1967.

Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood can't be sure the boy's body is in that well. But he thinks it's worth investigating, so much so that he asked for assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has offered a forensics team. Having been turned down by the county board, he's also trying to find a way to raise the $96,474 to excavate and restore the site.

"How can I justify not pursuing this?" Hagwood asks. "Well, you can't."

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‘She would have died’: Bystanders form human chain to rescue swimmer (video)

 

By GOSIA WOZNIACKA and ALINA HARTOUNIAN

First Published Oct 15 2014 12:45 pm • Last Updated Oct 15 2014 02:04 pm

Portland, Ore. • Beachgoers in Oregon pulled a struggling swimmer to shore by forming a human chain after she and seven others were stranded on a rocky outcropping during high tide.

Five people in the group remained on the rocks at Fogarty Creek State Park near Depoe Bay and were rescued one-by-one by a Coast Guard helicopter Saturday, but three opted to take their chances in the surf, according to witness Ray Felle.

 

Felle, of Portland, who recorded the drama on his phone, said the girl was separated from the two others in the water and struggling when the people on the beach stepped in.

"They worked together as a team, it was more like they were a rescue crew and they weren’t, they were just kids," said Felle, 67.

"These people handled themselves very well in doing what they needed to do to save this girl. She would have died if they had not put their heads together and responded like they did," he added.

The group had been running between high ground and the rock when high tide came in and trapped them, Felle said.

Felle said he had gone to the beach that day to teach his two young godchildren about ocean safety.

"That’s the only message that I think should get out there: Pay attention to the tides," he said.

The five who were rescued by the helicopter ranged in age from 18 to 30 years old, officials said.

Depoe Bay Fire Chief Joshua Williams said the struggling swimmer regained consciousness when rescuers arrived and was transported to a local hospital. Williams said the incoming tide would have swept the people off the rocks within a half hour.

The dramatic rescue comes just days after the Coast Guard announced it would close the helicopter station in Newport — the same station where the rescue helicopter came from. The station is about 15 miles north of the Fogarty Creek rocks.

It would have taken a helicopter an hour to get from North Bend, another Coast Guard station, to the stranded beach goers.

A local group said it has collected 10,000 signatures on a petition to keep the Newport station open.

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