Society's ChildS


Rupert Murdoch's Other Predicament - The BP Video


This hasn't been Rupert Murdoch's premier week. As CNN writes, "The phone-tapping allegations that forced the closure of embattled British tabloid News of the World may have a damaging ripple effect across Rupert Murdoch's vast media empire, according to some analysts."

Which brings us to BP.

Last Friday (Associated Press) (New York Times), we learned about the grilling that former BP boss Tony Hayward, who was ousted months after the BP spill, underwent in June by lawyers for victims of the catastrophe, including governments. AP wrote about Hayward being questioned whether BP propped up the company's falling share price through his subordinates' daily briefings:
During the deposition, attorneys raised questions about Hayward's sincerity when he said he had the best interest at heart of all those hurt by the Gulf oil spill. Hayward famously infuriated Gulf residents during the height of the spill with his comment, "I'd like my life back."

In the deposition, an attorney for the state of Louisiana, Allan Kanner, asked Hayward about a June 25, 2010, email to BP's former head of exploration and production, Andy Inglis. According to Kanner, it said, "Andy, can you make sure we get the technical briefing on the relief well out today? There are all sorts of ridiculous stories going around. It's the main reason behind the share price weakness."

At the time, the well was still spewing oil into the sea. It wasn't capped until three weeks later. And it wasn't until September that a relief well finally sealed what had become the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The day of the email, BP's stock price closed at $26.53, a 6 percent drop from the previous day's close. A BP executive, Kent Wells, held a media briefing three days later saying the relief well was only 20 feet away from the blown-out well. He also told reporters that the company had a high degree of confidence in the relief well and a backup one it was drilling.

By June 30, 2010, BP's stock was back up to $28.35 -- slightly higher than what it closed at on June 24, the day before the Hayward email.


Germany Approves PGD Testing For Human Embryos

© redOrbit

In a conscience vote held Thursday, the German parliament approved the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a procedure in which one or two cells are extracted from a developing embryo in order to test for genetic disorders, according to Reuters reports.

In their July 7 article, Thorsten Severin and Eric Kelsey report that the newly approved legislation "will allow screening embryos of parents who have a predisposition to severe genetic disorders, where a pregnancy would be likely to result in either stillbirth or miscarriage. Existing German law did not fully regulate PGD and the German high court last year ruled that parliament should take up the issue with respect to serious genetic defects."

PGD has been a hot-button issue, in part because some believe that it could ultimately lead to the creation of a "designer baby." The issue "has divided governments around the world," Severin and Kelsey said, adding that "many people" oppose its use "on religious and ethical grounds."

According to Reuters, Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party, told ARD television that the concern that PGD would be used to create a child "which would be musically gifted or athletic or have blue eyes" was nothing more than a "fantasy."


BP wants to stop paying Gulf oil spill victims

deepwater horizon
© Getty ImagesFire boats battle a fire at the off-shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon April 21, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.

New Orleans - BP is arguing that most victims of last year's Gulf oil spill should not get any more payouts for future losses because the hardest-hit areas are recovering and the economy is growing.

The British oil company argues its case in a 29-page document made public Friday and filed with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. The $20 billion fund is responsible for paying for damages from the spill.

The company says the fund should end payments for future losses to everyone, except in limited cases for oyster harvesters.


European Union suicide rates surged after 2008 crisis

Suicide rates rose sharply in European Union countries most affected by the 2008 financial crisis but a drop in road traffic accidents contributed to a fall in the total number of deaths, according to an analysis highlighting the varied impacts of downturns on health.

In a letter in the Lancet, the medical journal, David Stuckler from the University of Cambridge and three fellow authors highlighted a particular jump in suicides in Greece and Ireland. "The countries facing the most severe financial reversals of fortune ... had greater rises in suicides than did the other countries," they wrote.

Overall suicide rates rose 7 per cent in older EU states and less than 1 per cent in newer ones in 2008, and by 5 per cent in those 10 countries which reported data for 2009. They did not provide the overall numbers or absolute rates.

Heart - Black

Strauss-Kahn Case May Discourage Sex Crime Victims

© Reuters/Brendan McDermidFormer International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is seen smiling through a car window as he departs his lawyer's office in New York July 6, 2011.
Regardless of the outcome of the sexual assault charges against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the case could discourage victims from coming forward, women's rights advocates say.

The high-profile case shows why sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in the United States: the accuser has been called a prostitute in print, intimate details of her past exposed to the world, and her credibility questioned by prosecutors trying to make a case against Strauss-Kahn.

"Unquestionably, it has had a chilling effect on the public consciousness and women in coming forward," said Sonia Ossorio, executive director of the National Organization for Women in New York City.

"It reinforces what we already know, that the majority of women do not report rapes because the spotlight will be on their personal history and their credibility will be questioned," she said.

Forty-five percent of sexual assaults in the United States go unreported, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 2009 National Crime Victimization Study -- down from 60 percent in 2007.

A New York judge freed Strauss-Kahn from house arrest last week after prosecutors revealed that his accuser, a 32-year-old hotel maid from Guinea, had lied about her background, undermining her credibility as a witness.

Arrow Down

DR Congo Plane Crashes in Rainstorm, 127 Dead

An airliner plowed into dense forest as it tried to land during a rainstorm in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday, killing 127 people on board, the Congolese transport ministry said.

There were 51 survivors, a ministry statement said.

The chief executive of the airline involved in the crash told Reuters earlier that there had been 110 people on board the plane, of whom 53 had died and 57 survived.

But a spokesman for the transport ministry, Gudile Bualya, accused the airline of underestimating the number of passengers.

The accident at the international airport of Kisangani, a commercial center and river port town in the east, is the latest in a string of disasters in the vast central African country which has saddled it with one of the worst air safety records in the world.

"The pilot tried to land but apparently they didn't touch the runway," Stavros Papaioannou, chief executive of Hewa Bora airline, told Reuters by telephone.

Bizarro Earth

US: Death Penalty Sought in Cult Case

© Travis LongPeter Lucas Moses, 27, faces two counts of first- degree murder in the deaths of Jadon Higganbothan, 4, and Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, 28.
In a hearing Friday, prosecutors announced plans to seek the death penalty and revealed details of their case against Peter Lucas Moses Jr., accused of murdering a 4-year-old boy and a 28-year-old woman because of his beliefs and association with a radical religious sect.

Moses, 27, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Jadon Higganbothan, 4, and Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, 28.

Prosecutors laid out their theories in broad brushstrokes for Judge Jim Hardin on Friday in Durham County Superior Court as part of a legal proceeding in capital punishment cases. The theories are built largely on the accounts of one person who lived in the house, an informant who began talking with police months ago.

District Attorney Tracey Cline summarized bizarre scenarios that investigators had pieced together for what happened to Jadon and McKoy, who both lived at 2109 Pear Tree Lane, where the defendant had patched together a sordid family.

Moses subscribed to the tenets of the Black Hebrews, a radical sect that believes a race war is coming that will leave blacks dominant and supreme, according to court documents.

Women who lived with the defendant and counted themselves as his wives or common-law wives - women who also face criminal charges in the case - referred to Moses as "Lord," prosecutors contend.


US: Former Cop Charged in Connection with Roberts Murder

© unknownJeffrey Dean Moreland
A 52-year-old former Grandview police officer has been charged in connection with the murder of a young Harrisonville mother, authorities announced Friday morning.

Jeffrey Dean Moreland has been charged in connection with the 2008 murder of Cara Jo Roberts.

Moreland is also accused in the 2010 murder of Nina Whitney, 75. She was found dead in her Kansas City home last fall.

Official say they could charge Moreland with the two woman's murders because of a match of DNA taken from a Harrisonville woman. That woman told authorities that she was raped last week by Moreland, according to court documents.

Moreland was rolled into Cass County Court Friday afternoon in a wheel chair to face a judge for the first time. The judge entered a not guilty plea for Moreland because Moreland does not have an attorney yet. Moreland was in court on the first-degree murder charge in connection with Roberts' death.

Roberts' husband, Jeff, said Friday that he was overwhelmed to learn about Moreland's arrest.

"I was excited and nervous all at the same time," Jeff Roberts said during a news conference. "I am very glad to be where we are now."


US: Ex-Cop Says He Didn't Kill Illinois Girl in '57

© The Associated PressJack Daniel McCullough was arrested for the murder of Maria Ridulph
The "iron-clad alibi" of a former police officer arrested in the 1957 murder of a young Illinois girl is based largely on whether military personnel records from the time demonstrate that he was out of town when she vanished.

But it's not clear those records still exist.

Jack Daniel McCullough, 71, told The Associated Press in a jailhouse interview Thursday night that he had nothing to do with the death of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph, and he wants her killer brought to justice. Her disappearance terrified the small farming town of Sycamore, about 50 miles west of Chicago, and drew the personal interest of then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

He stuck to the same alibi he gave when first questioned by investigators more than half a century ago, when he was 18: that he could not have committed the murder because he had traveled to Chicago that day for military medical exams before enlisting in the Air Force.

McCullough said he didn't believe investigators had ever tried to verify that he was in Chicago that day for medical tests -- and records of those tests should still exist in his file at the National Archives repository of military personnel records in St. Louis, he said.

"St. Louis will have records of everything," he said. "If somebody would go there, it would exonerate me."

Star of David

Anti-Zionism Growing Among Jews

Pro-Palestine Jewish activists and organisations blame Israel for 'crimes against humanity'
© Gulf News The state of Israel, the manifestation of Zionism, declares IJAN, is “a colonial project that dishonours the memories of the European Jews who perished in the genocide in Europe”.

A large group of Jewish activists opposed to the Zionist ideology are challenging Israel's occupation, racist and colonial policies against Palestinians and calling for the return of Palestinian refugees.

The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) of organisations and activists in western countries firmly support the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel as a moral tool in response to Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands.

The state of Israel, the manifestation of Zionism, declares IJAN, is "a colonial project that dishonours the memories of the European Jews who perished in the genocide in Europe".

Rejecting the Zionist ideology and institutions as "unjust.... leading to further entrenchment of an apartheid system and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people", the Network further indicates that such policies are implicating every Jew "in the oppression of the Palestinian people and in the debasement of Jewish heritages, struggles for justice and alliances with fellow human beings".

Along this line, IJAN has been launching campaigns to draw support to its activities, with one targeting and seeking to halt support to the National Jewish Fund, responsible since the early years of the twentieth century for capturing Palestinian lands or seizing their ownership papers.