Society's ChildS

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.

Arrow Down

US: Fan dies after falling out of stands at Rangers Ballpark behind left field wall

© The Associated Press / Jeffery WashingtonPolice and fans look over the railing where a fan fell from the stands during the second inning of a baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics, Thursday, July 7, 2011, in Arlington, Texas.
A man attending a Texas Rangers game with his young son died after falling out of the stands and about six metres to the ground while trying to catch a baseball tossed his way Thursday night, the Rangers and Arlington fire officials said.

Arlington Fire Department officials in a statement that another fan nearby tried unsuccessfully to grab the man to keep him from falling. They said the victim's son did not fall.

"We had a very tragic accident tonight and one of our fans lost their life reaching over the rail trying to get a ball," team president Nolan Ryan said. "As an organization, and as our team members and our staff, we're very heavy-hearted about this, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family."

A very sombre Ryan didn't get into details about the accident or release the man's name.

Ronnie Hargis was sitting in the stands at Rangers Ballpark next to the victim. The men were talking to each other before the accident.

"He went straight down. I tried to grab him but I couldn't," Hargis said. "I tried to slow him down a little bit."

TV replays showed the man falling head-first and landing behind a 4.2-metre-high wall supporting a video board for replays and scores. The area where the man fell is out of sight from the field.


US, Michigan: Killer of 7 was 'hunting' ex-girlfriends, relatives

Ex-con later killed himself after chase, taking hostages in Grand Rapids

When Rodrick Shonte Dantzler raised a gun to his head after going on a deadly shooting spree, the bullet ended what those close to him described as a troubled life in which he frequently resorted to violence and often made threats against women and relatives.

Police say the 34-year-old ex-con targeted two former girlfriends in Thursday's rampage, fatally shooting both of them and five members of their families, including his own 12-year-old daughter. He also shot and wounded two other people - one of them another ex-girlfriend - while leading officers on a chase through Michigan's second-largest city.

"He went out hunting these people down. It was very much a purposeful act." Police Chief Kevin Belk said Friday, describing Dantzler as mentally unstable but saying he knew of no clinical diagnosis or motive for the killings.

Dantzler's rap sheet goes back to 1992, when he was charged as a juvenile with breaking and entering and car theft. That was followed over the next eight years by charges of trespassing, domestic violence, destruction of property, larceny and assault.


US: Michigan woman faces 93 days in jail for planting a vegetable garden

vegetables in front yard
© Julie BassVegetable boxes in the front yard of Michigan home.
It just doesn't get more ridiculous than this.

Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan -- a mother of 6, law-abiding citizen, and gardener -- is facing 93 days in jail after being charged with a misdemeanor.

Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden in the front yard.

Bass says that she planted the garden after her front yard was torn up for some sewer repairs. Rather than wasting the opportunity to start with a clean slate by planting a lawn, she decided to really put the area to use, and plant a vegetable garden.

Her garden consists of 5 raised beds, where she grows a mix of squashes, corn, tomatoes, flowers, and other veggies. Bass received a warning from the city telling her to remove the vegetable garden, because it doesn't adhere to city ordinances (more on that later.) When she refused, she was ticketed and charged with a misdemeanor. Her trial, before a jury, is set to begin on July 26th. If she is found guilty, she can be sentenced to up to 93 days in jail.


Kids Of Divorce May Have Happier Marriages

© kathera
Do children of divorce grow up to have happier marriages than their parents? That's the argument the Wall Street Journal is making this week. In an article on kids and divorce, they say that new research suggests kids whose parents split up may have happier marriages as adults.

They give two reasons for this. First, kids who've lived through a divorce learn from their parents' mistakes and are determined not to repeat them. Second, for kids who have a parent remarry, the new stepfamily is often happier and teaches them how to build loving relationships.

That sounds great. It fits with anecdotal reports from my peers who swear they'll never darken the doors of a divorce court after watching their own parents break up.

There's just one problem: statistics say it doesn't really work this way.