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US - North Carolina woman sterilized because state deemed her 'promiscuous'

The day that Elaine Riddick had her first and only child at the age of 14, the state of North Carolina had her sterilized on the orders of a court. Riddick had been raped but the state said she was promiscuous.

"They said that I was feeble-minded, they said that I was promiscuous," Riddick, now 57, told CBS News. "I've always been able to take care of myself - I've never been promiscuous."
"So how can people use these things to describe a child that had been abandoned? Or that had been raped by the neighbor and then again, raped by the state of North Carolina?"

Heart

US: New York Governor Signs Law Approving Gay Marriage

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© Reuters/Lucas Jackson
People celebrate inside of Stonewall Inn after the New York Senate passed a bill legalizing gay marriage in New York June 24, 2011. New York will become the sixth and most populous U.S. state to allow gay marriage after senators voted 33-29 on Friday night to approve the move.
Governor Andrew Cuomo made same-sex marriages legal in New York on Friday, a key victory for gay rights ahead of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

New York will become the sixth and most populous U.S. state to allow gay marriage. State senators voted 33-29 on Friday evening to approve marriage equality legislation and Cuomo, a Democrat who had introduced the measure, signed it into law.

"This vote today will send a message across the country. This is the way to go, the time to do it is now, and it is achievable; it's no longer a dream or an aspiration. I think you're going to see a rapid evolution," Cuomo, who is in his first year of office, told a news conference.

"We reached a new level of social justice," he said.

Same-sex weddings can start taking place in New York in 30 days, though religious institutions and nonprofit groups with religious affiliations will not be compelled to officiate at such ceremonies. The legislation also gives gay couples the right to divorce.

"I have to define doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality and that equality includes within the definition of marriage," Republican Senator Stephen Saland said before the bill was passed. He was one of four Republicans to vote for the legislation.

Heart - Black

Rwandan Ex-Minister Becomes First Woman Convicted of Genocide

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© Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters
The skulls of Rwandan victims rest on shelves at a genocide memorial inside the church at Ntarama just outside the capital Kigali
Mother and son given life terms for their part in assault, rape and killings in southern region of Butare

A former Rwandan minister became the first woman to be convicted of genocide when she and her son were given life sentences for war crimes in the 1994 genocide.

The UN international criminal tribunal for Rwanda found that Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who was minister for family and women's affairs, and her son, Arsene Ntahobali, a former militia leader, helped to abduct hundreds of ethnic Tutsis who were assaulted, raped and killed in the southern region of Butare. They were both found guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Hanna Brollowski, an international law researcher at the TMC Asser Institute in The Hague, said Nyiramasuhuko was the first woman to be convicted of genocide.

Between April and June 1994 Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali, backed by the extremist Hutu militia known as the Interahamwe, abducted hundreds of ethnic Tutsis in Butare.

Arrow Down

Canada: Drunk passengers likely caused deadly plane crash off Vancouver Island

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© Atleo Air, website
Drunk passengers likely caused a Cessna 185F crash that killed three members of British Columbia's Ahousaht First Nation and a pilot in May 2010, according to an investigative report released Thursday.
Drunken passengers likely interfered with a pilot just moments before his float plane crashed off Vancouver Island's west coast last year and killed all four people on board, says a recently released report.

Damon York, the pilot for Atleo River Air Service, and passengers Katrina English, Edward Sam and Samantha Mattersdorfer died when the Cessna 185F they were in crashed just northwest of Tofino, B.C., on May 29, 2010.

Bill Yearwood, the lead investigator on the crash for the Transportation Safety Board, said the report, which was released publicly this week, ruled out mechanical or environmental factors or even a shift in the plane's load.

Yearwood said the pilot was not incapacitated because of medical problems and was not suicidal.

Investigators learned, however, that the pilot was not wearing a shoulder strap and his seat had no locking mechanism. They concluded the crash was likely caused by a passenger sitting behind the pilot pushing the pilot's seat forward, forcing the pilot to lose control.

Info

US: Discovery of Boxes of Arlington Records Triggers Investigation

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© Kevin Wolf
A caisson carries the remains of U.S. Army Sgt. Jeffrey S. Sherer, during burial services at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, June 23, 2011. Sherer, 29, of Four Oaks, N.C.; died June 2, in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
Army criminal investigators are looking into the discovery of 69 boxes of burial records from Arlington National Cemetery found abandoned in a commercial storage facility, the latest in a string of embarrassing revelations about operations at the U.S. military's most hallowed burial ground.

The records were found by the proprietor of the storage facility when the contents of the space were being auctioned after the occupant failed to pay the rental fees, Chris Grey, spokesman for the Army Criminal Investigation Command, said in an email.

One box was kept by the Army CID for review, but the other 68 were returned to Arlington after they were found to contain duplicate copies of old records, Grey said.

The investigation was revealed Thursday at a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on operations at the cemetery.

Bizarro Earth

Canada: Have We Lost Our Moral Compass?

It has become obvious that it was not just outsiders and anarchists taking part in the riots after Game 7

As the evidence, apologies, threats and counter threats are now playing out on Facebook and Twitter can we put to rest the claims by our politicians that the Vancouver riot was constituted by a small number of troublemakers and anarchists? As we see the faces of middle class children with potentially bright futures splashed across the media doing horrific damage and mayhem is there any doubt that there is a lot more to this than pointing blame at a few? What is it, even hours before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, that made young men in $100 Canucks sweaters express their attitude to "The Best Place on Earth" (B.C.'s official motto) and the self-described most livable, most beautiful, most sustainable place on Earth by spitting on it?

Of course, we know from studies, that when one person spits or litters it makes it far more likely that other people will follow along. And, when people start to smash windows and burn and damage cars, and loot, that too makes it more likely that other people will follow along - especially when their inhibitions have been lowered by hours of drinking to take their minds off the fact that in the land of $1.3-million "starter" bungalows, $400,000 one-bedroom condos and $750,000 two-bedroom condos, their prospects for a middle-class lifestyle with a family of two or three children are dim indeed.

It is telling that Mayor Gregor Robertson and others interviewed about this event described it as hooligans "smearing the name of the city," who "by no means represent(ed) the city of Vancouver." Even the heroes in the event, those isolated people who tried to stop the mayhem, at great personal risk, said nothing about the morality but emphasized that they did it because they didn't want Vancouver's name besmirched.

Bizarro Earth

US: A Dangerous Life of Moronic Stupidity Implicates Society

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© unknown
Jackass star Ryan Dunn died at age 34 in a Pennsylvania car crash
Last Sunday a jackass killed himself and a friend with a 3 a.m. drunken drive down a Pennsylvania highway at 140 miles per hour (225 kph) in a Porsche. It flew 80 feet, bursting into a fireball when it finally hit a tree.

What's amazing, regrettable and surprising about this episode (I refuse to call it a 'tragedy;' even his family and friends should have seen it coming) is that some people - a whole lot - are shocked, saddened and grieving this person whose only talent was acting like a moron at the most immoral, objectionable levels.

Many of these fans - as well as his entertainment industry enablers at MTV and his production company that I choose not to name because of its crude reference to male genitalia - have been trying hard to convince us that the world has lost a fine human being, a talented star and all-round great 'dude.'

That would be one Ryan Dunn, age 34. It's a bit much for just being a cast member of the MTV show Jackass in which males with more testosterone than brain cells did things such as . . . well, let me describe a few that appear on the UGO.com website as among "the 50 greatest" Jackass movie stunts. Be warned, it's offensive even when described delicately!

Heart - Black

UK: Family's Horror as Wife-Killer Malcolm Webster Insists on Being Buried Alongside Woman He Murdered

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© unknown
Wife-killer Malcolm Webster wants to be buried in the same grave as the woman he murdered.

Tragic Claire Morris's family, who endured the agony of losing her in a staged fireball crash, were sickened when they learned of the twisted killer's plan.

And they have accused Webster of planning the "final insult" to his first wife, who died 17 years ago at the age of 32.

Webster - who also tried to kill his second wife and is suspected of plotting to kill his fiancee - insists on remaining the owner of the Aberdeenshire grave where Claire is buried, despite having murdered her.

That will give the Black Widower, who is to be sentenced on July 5, the right to be buried alongside his victim.

Claire's brother Peter Morris said last night: "I hope he gets 30 years and dies in prison. But I don't want him to die having sorted out that he's going to be buried with Claire.

"That would be the final insult in the whole saga - that I was never able to separate her from him."

Chess

WikiLeaks' Assange builds new, less-confrontational legal team

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© Reuters
London - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is hiring a new legal team to take a less confrontational approach in his next British court appeal against a Swedish request he be extradited for questioning in a sexual misconduct case.

Two legal sources told Reuters Assange had split with Mark Stephens, a prominent British media attorney. Stephens was one of two principal lawyers who represented Assange earlier this year at a court hearing at which his initial appeal against the Swedish extradition request was rejected by a London judge. Replacing Stephens is prominent human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce. She has represented accused militants in high-profile cases, including former prisoners held by the United States at its Guantanamo, Cuba, detention center, and the "Guildford Four," a group of Irish citizens whose conviction in an alleged IRA bomb plot was overturned after they spent years in prison.

Arrow Down

National Amnesia is a Growing Epidemic

The Declaration of Independence is a poor excuse for an obscure historical document. It's not the Magna Carta or the Peace of Augsburg. Its name is so straightforwardly functional, it almost makes you wonder why the Founders weren't more imaginative.

Yet only 35 percent of American fourth-graders know the purpose of the Declaration of Independence, according to the 2010 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The findings of the test - administered to representative samples of fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders - are another dreary recitation of the historical ignorance of America's students.

Only 20 percent of fourth-graders, 17 percent of eighth-graders and 12 percent of 12th-graders were proficient in history. More than half of 12th-graders were categorized as "below basic." Only 22 percent of 12th-graders knew that North Korea was allied with China during the Korean War. Education expert Diane Ravitch notes with dismay that 40 percent of these students were already eligible to vote when they took the test, and all will be eligible within a year.

They are the symptoms of a country engaged in a long process of erasing its memory. For decades, we have been congratulating ourselves for a broad-mindedness that is really a self-destructive national amnesia.