Society's ChildS


The Tortured Child Bride: Horrific Ordeal of Afghan Girl, 15, Rescued From Toilet Prison After Husband's Family Mutilated Her For Refusing to Work As a Prostitute

A teenage Afghan girl was brutally tortured, beaten and locked in a toilet by her husband's family for five months after she refused to become a prostitute, it emerged today.

Sahar Gul, 15, was in critical condition when she was rescued from a house in northern Baghlan province last week, after her neighbours reported hearing Miss Gul crying and moaning in pain.

According to police in Baghlan, her in-laws pulled out her nails and hair, and locked her in a dark basement bathroom for about five months, with barely enough food and water to survive.

© UnknownCruel: Sahar Gul was brutally tortured by her husband's family.

Bizarro Earth

Best of the Web: 2012: Western Culture Obsessed with End of the World, not Ancient Maya

Mayan stone calendar
© Google ImagesAccording to the Mayan calendar, a significant event will occur in 2012.
Our world is fascinated by prophecies of doom. Every day the media carry reports of predictions that the next year, decade, century or millennium will bring untold disasters. From a reading of current news headlines, this is difficult to argue against.

And now, we are bombarded by predictions of a disaster associated with what many say is the end of the Maya calendar. But did the Maya actually predict that the world as we know it will be destroyed by some unknown cataclysm on Dec. 21, 2012?

When the Maya abandoned their great cities in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador, they left behind large stone monuments with hieroglyphic writing. These inscriptions were very difficult to decipher as the writing system had not been used since the Spanish conquest when all, but four, of the books written by the Maya were burned. However, based on the four remaining books, early scholars were able to identify some of the gods and goddesses, the numerical system, and most importantly, parts of the calendar. Therefore, while they could not decipher the events recorded on the stone monuments, scholars could read the dates on which these events occurred.


US: For Second Night, Vehicles Are Set Ablaze in Los Angeles Area

LA Arsonist
© Dan Steinberg/Associated PressFirefighters helped a man, and a cage of birds, out of his apartment as vehicles burned underneath in Sun Valley, Los Angeles.

After a night when nearly 20 cars were torched in Hollywood, in parking areas under apartment buildings or beside homes while people slept, area fire stations called in extra staff and increased patrols on Friday evening, awaiting a second strike, fire officials said.

Just after midnight, it came. By dawn on Saturday, more than a dozen additional cars had been charred in different neighborhoods, again, it appeared, because they were underneath or near people's homes, according to Capt. Jamie E. Moore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

"It's alarming," Captain Moore said, "especially since it is happening between midnight and 6 a.m., when people are sleeping."

Sgt. Keith Green of the Los Angeles Police Department said that no arrests had been made by Saturday evening but that more than one person had been detained and questioned. No one was seriously injured.

Nicole Nishida, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, said that the fires appeared to be arson.


Fireworks, Hope and Worry as World Rings in a New Year, Leaving a Tough One Behind

© Reuters/Mike SegaradThe New Year's Eve Ball, which measures 12 feet and weighs 11,875 pounds, and is adorned with 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles of various sizes is tested atop One Times Square in New York.
With glittering fireworks and star-studded celebrations from New Zealand to Times Square, the world eagerly welcomed a new year and hoped for a better future Saturday, saying goodbye to a year of hurricanes, tsunamis and economic turmoil that many would rather forget.

Revelers in Australia, Asia, Europe and the South Pacific island nation of Samoa, which jumped across the international dateline to be first to celebrate, welcomed 2012 with booming pyrotechnic displays. Fireworks soared and sparked over Moscow's Red Square, crowds on Paris' Champs-Elysees boulevard popped Champagne corks at midnight, and up to a million revelers were expected to jam New York's Times Square for the famed crystal-paneled ball drop.

But many approached the new year with more relief than joy, as people battered by weather disasters, joblessness and economic uncertainty hoped the stroke of midnight would change their fortunes.

"Once the ball drops, I won't give 2011 another thought," said Kyralee Scott, 16, of Jackson, N.J., whose father spent most of the year out of work. "It was a pretty tough year, but God was looking after us and I know 2012 has got to be better."


Best of the Web: 3.5 Million Homeless and 18.5 Million Vacant Homes in the US

homeless shelter
© Unknown
The National Economic and Social Rights Initiative along with Amnesty International are asking the U.S. to step up its efforts to address the foreclosure crisis, including by giving serious consideration to the growing call for a foreclosure moratorium and other forms of relief for those at risk, and establishing a housing finance system that fulfills human rights obligations.

New government census reports have revealed disturbing information that details the cold, hard numbers of Americans who have been deeply affected by the state of our economy, and bank foreclosure practices:
In the last few days, the U.S. government census figures have revealed that 1 in 2 Americans have fallen into poverty or are struggling to live on low incomes. And we know that the financial hardships faced by our neighbors, colleagues, and others in our communities will be all the more acutely felt over the holiday season.

Along with poverty and low incomes, the foreclosure rate has created its own crisis situation as the number of families removed from their homes has skyrocketed.

Since 2007, banks have foreclosed around eight million homes. It is estimated that another eight to ten million homes will be foreclosed before the financial crisis is over. This approach to resolving one part of the financial crisis means many, many families are living without adequate and secure housing. In addition, approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are homeless, many of them veterans. It is worth noting that, at the same time, there are 18.5 million vacant homes in the country.

The stark realities that persist mean that millions of families will be facing the holidays in temporary homes, or homes under threat, and far too many children will be wishing for an end to the uncertainty and distress their family is facing rather than an Xbox or Barbie doll.

Housing is a basic human need and a fundamental human right. Yet every day in the United States, banks are foreclosing on more than 10,000 mortgages and ordering evictions of individuals and families residing in foreclosed homes. The U.S. government's steps to address the foreclosure crisis to date have been partial at best.

The depth and severity of the foreclosure crisis is a clear illustration of the urgent need for the U.S. government to put in place a system that respects, protects and fulfills human rights, including the right to housing. This includes implementing real protections to ensure that other actors, such as financial institutions, do not undermine or abuse human rights.
There is a link available at the Amnesty International website for anyone who is interested and would like to join the call on the Obama administration and Congress to urgently step up efforts to address the foreclosure crisis, including by seriously considering the growing call for a foreclosure moratorium and other forms of relief, and establishing a housing finance system that fulfills human rights obligations.

Alarm Clock

SOTT Focus: 2012 - On The Eve Of Destruction?

Happy 2012?
Here we are, New Year's Eve 2011, and a whole lot of folks on this planet believe that the World is going to End - one way or another (again) - sometime in December of the coming year: 2012. All I can think is "Geezus! Here we go again!"

Back in 1996 and 1997, there was the Hale-Bopp Flopp that resulted in the mass suicide of 39 members of the Heaven's Gate Cult. I was out there at the time desperately trying to convince people that most of what was flying around the internet was a load of Horse Hockey, and all I got for my trouble was flamed and defamed. But I was right.

Then, there was the Millennial Madness that was gaining steam in 1999. By this time, we had a website and I wasn't just doing battle on discussion lists, so I published an article in November of that year trying to calm things down a bit. Things were so weird then that even my cousin, who was (at that moment) an aerospace engineer employed by NASA, told me in full confidence that things WOULD get squirrely because there was a flaw in computer dating systems and the global computer systems would glitch up in unpredictable ways, causing chaos. Not even that happened! Anyway, the take-home message of my article at that time was pretty clear:

Bizarro Earth

2012, Year of the Aspens?

It is with a morbid curiosity that we face the upcoming New Year. Not because of a cartoonish version of prophecy. No, it's a visceral knowing that many wrong and untenable creations are still alive and they threaten every thread in the fabric of what we know. And it's inevitable to reflect when a New Year is looming. I never quite understood why New Year's didn't fall on the very first day after the winter solstice. The days lengthen at that moment, hope beckons, but with our calender there is that lag, and during this lag week that we find ourselves in now, there is time to consider what awaits.

It's not to say that it is an entirely terrible thing that much of this seems ready to topple- we've been complacent and ugly in the protection of our way of life. Even if we don't make the cruel decisions, much comfort is derived at the expense of others. A mounting debt, not of the fiscal kind, swirls on our horizon. Oddly our way of life really doesn't seem to make us anything but medicated, fat and plastic. And then shocked into a stunned puddle as it is inevitably stripped away, one by one- lay-off or medical bill- chose your middle class poison. Deeply felt emotions are difficult to mine these days unless they are rage or crippling depression.


North Carolina, US: A 'reckless' decision to shoot family dog

In response to the story "Deputy fatally shoots dog during attack" in the Herald-Sun on Dec. 13, we want to be sure readers understand that on Dec. 9, one of our family dogs was shot in the head by a Durham County sheriff's deputy investigating a break-in - not a break-in at our home, but at our neighbor's home.

The officer came onto our property from the side yard and our three Jack Russells, not knowing who he was or where he came from, circled him and did what terrier dogs do to protect their territory from strangers or intruders. All three of our pets were wearing fully-functioning invisible fence collars and the driveway boundary was marked by bright orange flagging.

This horrific, senseless act of violence by investigating officer L. Kelly has devastated our family.


Psychopathy Alert! North Carolina, US: Deputy fatally shoots dog during attack

A Durham County sheriff's deputy pepper sprayed and shot a dog to death Friday when it bit him as he was investigating a burglary.

Deputy R. Kelley was investigating a break-in at 4006 Kerley Road, near the Durham-Orange County line, during which someone had used a rock, brick and tool to break through windowpanes on the side of French door in the garage which leads to the house.

The intruders went down a hallway into the master bedroom where drawers were opened, and items were stolen from drawers along with two jewelry boxes.

According to an email on the Arrowhead neighborhood listserv, Kelley was the first to respond to the scene. He was concerned that another break-in could have happened next door at 4012 Kerley Road, because he had seen the resident's garage door open.


2 U.S. Flags Burned at Occupy Charlotte Land Group in Jail

Four protesters, including the spokesman of Occupy Charlotte, were charged after setting fire to two American flags early Friday near the Occupy camp in Center City, police said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police weren't sure earlier if the four men who set fire to two flags were associated with the Occupy Charlotte movement.

But, WBTV has learned that one of the men is the media spokesman for the Occupy group and has been the contact person listed on press releases from Occupy Charlotte.

The fires happened with in feet of the group's encampment.

Earlier reports indicated one flag was burned, but a police report says that 2 US flags were burned.

Officers said they noticed the suspects lighting something on fire directly in front of the Occupy camp along Trade Street around 12:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Police swarmed the area, and detained the men while firefighters were called in to knock down the flames. About $30 worth of damage was caused to landscaping at the site.

It was only after the fire was out did officials figure out what was burning, the American flag.