Society's ChildS


Canada: Harper's legal about-face on gay marriage

gay marriage
© Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
The Harper government has served notice that thousands of same-sex couples who flocked to Canada from abroad since 2004 to get married are not legally wed.

But speaking in Halifax Thursday, the Prime Minister said the issue was not on the agenda for his majority Conservatives. "We have no intention of further re-opening or opening this issue," Stephen Harper told reporters when asked about The Globe and Mail's report.

The reversal of federal policy is revealed in a document filed in a Toronto test case launched recently by a lesbian couple seeking a divorce. Wed in Toronto in 2005, the couple have been told they cannot divorce because they were never really married - a Department of Justice lawyer says their marriage is not legal in Canada since they could not have lawfully wed in Florida or England, where the two partners reside.

"In terms of the specifics of the story this morning, I will admit to you that I am not aware of the details," Mr. Harper said. "This I gather is a case before the courts where Canadian lawyers have taken a particular position based on the law and I will be asking officials to provide me more details"


China: Foxconn Workers Threaten Suicide in Pay Dispute

Chinese Workers
© Minyanville

Foxconn, the Chinese maker of parts for companies like Apple, Amazon, Sony, Dell and Dow Jones components Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, is once again back in the news, and it's deja vu all over again.

Almost a year ago, Minyanville's Justin Rohrlich took a look at the controversial working conditions at Foxconn's mammoth factory in Shenzhen, a city in southern China. So bad were the conditions that 32 employees attempted suicide in 2010, with 14 of them succeeding. In response, Foxconn raised wages by one-third to 1,200 yuan and even established an in-house counseling service.

However, it seems like either things have not improved much at the electronics-making behemoth or workers at the firm have learnt that threatening suicide is a sure-fire way to get what they want because some 150 workers at Foxconn's plant in Wuhan, southern China threatened to stage a mass suicide on Jan. 3 in protest over a plan to move workers from one unit to another in the Wuhan campus.

The latest in a series of long-running labor disputes arose after Foxconn announced last week that it would shut down the production line for Microsoft's Xbox 360 consoles at the Wuhan campus and transfer workers affected to another job.

Bad Guys

In 6-5 decision, Israeli court rules against citizenship for Palestinians married to Israelis

Mohammed and Lana Khatib and their two children
© swilliamsjd.wordpress.comMohammed and Lana Khatib and their two children

Mixed Palestinian-Israeli families that have been in limbo since the Israeli legislature passed an 'emergency, security measure' in 2003 will remain in limbo for the foreseeable future, after the Israeli High Court on Wednesday rejected a petition that would allow these families to stay together.

Israel's controversial 'Citizenship Law' provides for the naturalization of any person of Jewish descent to become an Israeli citizen (known as the 'Law of Return'). The law also includes provisions that make it difficult for non-Jews to be naturalized as Israeli citizens. Until 2003, non-Jewish people (including Palestinians) who were married to Israeli citizens could go through a process to become citizens.

But the Israeli Knesset passed a measure in 2003 banning Palestinians married to Israelis from obtaining Israeli citizenship. The measure was called a temporary security law allegedly meant to prevent Palestinian fighters from entering Israel to carry out attacks. It has remained in place in the nine years since, and there are no plans in the Knesset to revoke the law.

Heart - Black

US: Marines probe video depicting urination on corpses

Washington - The Marine Corps said Wednesday it is investigating a video depicting what appears to be four Marines urinating on the corpses of [Alleged] Taliban fighters.

In a statement, the Marine Corps said it has not verified the origin or authenticity of the YouTube video. But it also said the actions portrayed are not consistent with Marine values.

If verified the video could create a strong backlash in the Muslim world and beyond for the disrespectful actions it portrays.

The case is being referred to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Navy's worldwide law enforcement organization, said NCIS spokesman Ed Buice.

The Council on Islamic-American Relations, a prominent Muslim civil rights and advocacy group based in Washington, quickly condemned the video.

Comment: The sickness spreads when fearful people are trained to follow pathological leaders.

"..a failure to adhere to the high standards expected of American military personnel." One would think the lesson of treatment was learned and so called leaders would adhere to something resembling Humane treatment.
© Unknown

© Unknown

© Unknown

Who is Defense Secretary and past CIA Director Leon Panetta? Does anyone actually believe "a letter faxed to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta" will change anything other than get a laugh from this snake in a suit? They'll be joking around the table at lunch tomorrow at the Pentagon no doubt. High standards, I wonder how loosely they are defined?

Arrow Down

Philippines: Flood Diseases Killing Survivors of 'Sendong'

A disease borne by the floods that had killed hundreds here and in Iligan City last Dec. 17 is killing people who had survived the disaster that struck the two cities at the height of Tropical Storm "Sendong."

At least 15 people are now dead because of leptospirosis and 200 others are stricken ill and taken to hospitals.

Authorities said the rising death toll from leptospirosis could be due to the failure of survivors to take the antibiotics that had been distributed to them immediately after the Dec. 17 deluge.

As of Thursday, 15 people had been confirmed dead due to leptospirosis [eight from this city and seven from Iligan City] while more than 200 others had contracted the disease caused by the bacteria leptospira.


Stuck in ice: Alaska fuel convoy moves just 50 feet

U.S. Coast Guard via AP

The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy approaches the Russian-flagged tanker vessel Renda Tuesday evening.
What a difference a day makes: After cutting through 53 miles of ice on Monday, a seafaring convoy trying to get fuel to ice-bound Nome, Alaska, made just 50 feet of progress through most of Tuesday.

"They were roughly in the same position" as Tuesday morning, U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis confirmed to early Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, as we watch, there has been no real 'change up' in Renda's progress toward Nome since this morning," ship pilot Pete Garay told from the Russian-flagged fuel tanker on Tuesday afternoon.

The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy is trying to break through ice for Renda, but the process can be tedious. Late Tuesday, they were still some 97 miles south of Nome, in northwest Alaska.

The two ships left Alaska's Dutch Harbor on Jan. 3 to deliver 1.3 million gallons of fuel to Nome, whose supplies could run out before the end of winter.

The convoy had hoped to make it to Nome by mid-January but the Coast Guard now says it cannot provide an estimated day of arrival.

Nome gets its fuel by barge but a November storm prevented its winter shipment from arriving before the annual sea ice formed. A fuel barge won't be able to make it in without icebreaker escort until June at the earliest, and Nome -- which has seen temperatures of minus 40 this winter -- could run out of heating oil by March.

One option is to fly in supplies, but that would add $3-4 per gallon of heating oil or gasoline, which already cost $6 a gallon in Nome. There is no road access to the coastal town of 3,500.

The operation is the first time a fuel ship is trying to reach any western Alaska community cut off by winter sea ice.


Best of the Web: US: NDAA Protests End In Ironic Swarm Of Arrests

NDAA protest
© n/a
The absurdity of America today never ceases to amaze. In fact, it has become so elaborate that one might even suggest it has reached a kind of poetic symmetry. When a protest group is willing to stick their necks out to expose the horror of the National Defense Authorization Act and its open door strategy for unconstitutional arrest and indefinite detainment of American citizens, I have to stand up and applaud.

This is the kind of protest we need to see all over the country. Of course, any establishment system which is willing to dissolve the inherent liberties of its citizens certainly isn't going to stand by quietly while they blatantly point out the injustice. The Grand Central Terminal action featured in the video below is a perfect example of the swift and immediate stifling of peaceful dissent by an increasingly totalitarian government:


3 dead, 37 rescued in Antarctic fishing boat fire

© AP Photo/CCAMLR, NatashaUndated photo provided by Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the South Korean fishing boat Jung Woo 2 is moored in an unknown harbor. Three crew members aboard the fishing boat are believed to have died when a fire raged through their quarters early Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, while fishing near Antarctica.
Wellington, New Zealand - Fire raged out of control on a fishing ship near Antarctica as the crew tried to fight back the flames early Wednesday. Three fishermen died, and two of the 37 rescued had severe burns.

Rescue coordinators said help given by a nearby sister ship and another fishing vessel likely prevented a worse outcome. Two unconscious, severely burned men were hoisted off the flaming ship by crane, and five crew members suffered moderate burns.

The South Korean ship was continuing to burn and appeared to be sinking, said Mike Roberts, the senior search and rescue officer with the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand.

The Jung Woo 2, got into trouble in the Ross Sea about 370 miles (595 kilometers) north of the U.S. McMurdo Station Antarctic base.

The fire appears to have started in the living quarters of the 167-foot (51-meter) ship and spread quickly to the engine room and fish-processing plant, Roberts said. It raged out of control, with the crew's firefighting teams unable to halt its progress.


My Guantánamo Nightmare

Inmates gather for prayers at the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in October 2007.
© Todd Heisler/The New York TimesInmates gather for prayers at the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in October 2007.
On Wednesday, America's detention camp at Guantánamo Bay will have been open for 10 years. For seven of them, I was held there without explanation or charge. During that time my daughters grew up without me. They were toddlers when I was imprisoned, and were never allowed to visit or speak to me by phone. Most of their letters were returned as "undeliverable," and the few that I received were so thoroughly and thoughtlessly censored that their messages of love and support were lost.

Some American politicians say that people at Guantánamo are terrorists, but I have never been a terrorist. Had I been brought before a court when I was seized, my children's lives would not have been torn apart, and my family would not have been thrown into poverty. It was only after the United States Supreme Court ordered the government to defend its actions before a federal judge that I was finally able to clear my name and be with them again.

I left Algeria in 1990 to work abroad. In 1997 my family and I moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina at the request of my employer, the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates. I served in the Sarajevo office as director of humanitarian aid for children who had lost relatives to violence during the Balkan conflicts. In 1998, I became a Bosnian citizen. We had a good life, but all of that changed after 9/11.

When I arrived at work on the morning of Oct. 19, 2001, an intelligence officer was waiting for me. He asked me to accompany him to answer questions. I did so, voluntarily - but afterward I was told that I could not go home. The United States had demanded that local authorities arrest me and five other men. News reports at the time said the United States believed that I was plotting to blow up its embassy in Sarajevo. I had never - for a second - considered this.


Polish Prosecutor Cuts Short News Conference, Shoots Self

A polish military prosecutor shot himself in the head today while news cameras were rolling. Col. Mikolaj Przybyl made a statement defending a military investigation into the plane crash that killed the Polish president in 2010, then calmly told reporters, "I want to ask you to leave for a minute. I need a break."

The journalists left the room and closed the door, but the cameras were still taping, and recorded the sound of a gun being cocked, then fired. Przybyl was just out of frame when he apparently pulled the trigger. His feet can be seen on the floor after the gunshot.