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Ending India's rape culture

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© AP Photo/Manish Swarup
An Indian girl shouts during a protest in New Delhi, India, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012.
The crime seems incomprehensible. A 23-year-old physiotherapy student is dead, 12 days after having been raped for more than an hour by six men in a bus traveling on main roads in the Indian capital. Her internal injuries from the iron rod that her attackers used were so severe that doctors had to remove her intestines in their effort to save her life.

Indians, it seems, have had enough. Dozens of large and increasingly angry demonstrations have been held to demand that the government ensure women's security and stop treating rapists with impunity. While the authorities have sought to quell the protests - cordoning off central New Delhi and subjecting the rest of the city to traffic restrictions - violence has escalated. After a policeman died, live ammunition was fired into the crowds - killing a journalist, Bwizamani Singh, and provoking a rebuke from Reporters without Borders.

It is not simply the high rate of rape in India that is driving the protests' virulence. In a passionate speech, Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, spoke to the deeper issue behind the protests: the blame-the-victim culture in India around sex crimes. She notes that government and police officials recently insisted that most rapists cannot be prosecuted in India, because, as one official put it, they are known to the women attacked. Other officials have publicly suggested that victims themselves are "asking for it" by their use of freedom of movement.

Pistol

Firearm applications on the rise as New Delhi gang rape victim laid to rest

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© AFP Photo / Sajjad Hussain
Indian protesters hold placards during a rally in New Delhi.
A sense of insecurity has gripped the female population in parts of India. As the ashes of the New Delhi gang rape victim were scattered over the Ganges River, hundreds of Indian women applied for firearm licenses and joined self-defense classes.

Since the news of the brutal gang rape and murder broke in December, 274 Delhi women have applied for gun licenses, Delhi police said. Some 1,200 more have called the licensing department to inquire how to obtain one.

"These include not only the average working woman, but even students who travel long distances to colleges and even their concerned parents. They were eager to find out more on the procedure to acquire arms," a Delhi police officer told The Times of India.

Hundreds turned up at the police department seeking permission to get a gun for self-defense, with officers having to explain that "a clear danger to one's life" should exist for someone in India to be given a license.

"They said that with even public transport no longer safe in the city, they just cannot take chances. When we told them this could not be reason enough, we were told to provide in writing that their daughters were indeed safe on Delhi's roads," the officer added.

Not only do the women of India suffer from male violence with impunity, they are also discriminated against in their rights to legally acquire arms, the Indian National Association for Gun Rights said.

"The fact that even parents are ready to hand over weapons to their daughters shows they are living in fear. There is a 20% increase in self-defence courses across the city," he concluded.

Ambulance

Ten dead in Angola New Year's Eve stampede

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© Wikimapia
Citadela Desportiva stadium
Ten people, including four children, were killed and 120 wounded as they attempted to enter a cramped stadium for a New Year's Eve vigil in Luanda, Angola. The tragedy was one in a string of deadly incidents during New Year's festivities.

The stampede victims were asphyxiated in the crowd, or crushed at the stadium's gates.

An estimated 70,000 people were initially expected to attend the event, but far more turned up, a representative of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD) told Reuters.

The mass was staged in the capital's Citadela Desportiva stadium by a Pentecostal church, established in 1977 in Brazil. The faith boasts more than 8 million followers in the South American country, the Church's website claims.

Pocket Knife

San Jose, California standoff ends with naked sword-wielding man

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San Jose police have taken a naked sword-wielding man into custody after a brief foot pursuit.

Police received a 911 call at 8:05 a.m. that an adult male was in front of a residence near Ezie Street and Cas Drive with an assault rifle. As officers were en route to the location, the reporting party said the man was leaving in a vehicle. San Jose Police located the vehicle traveling near Southwest Expressway and Bascom Avenue and the man immediately came to a stop. The subject exited the vehicle naked and brandishing a large Samurai sword saying, "You're going to have to kill me" several times.

USA

Shooting at New Year's Eve fireworks show kill 2 in California

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A shooting at a New Year's Eve fireworks show in Sacramento, California, where thousands had gathered, killed two people and wounded at least three others, police said.

The shots rang out in Old Sacramento, when a fight at a sports bar spilled out into the street, police said.

Some 40,000 people, including families with young children, had gathered for the 9 p.m. fireworks show, CNN affiliate KOVR reported. Witnesses reported hearing the shots and running for cover.

Police canceled the next fireworks show, which was scheduled for midnight.

Pistol

Pakistani militants gun down 7 aid workers

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© Fayaz Aziz/Reuters
An injured driver survived an ambush by gunmen in Swabi district, Pakistan, on Tuesday.
Continuing a militant campaign of violence against aid workers in Pakistan, gunmen on Tuesday shot dead seven Pakistani teachers and health workers, six of them women, police officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the shooting, in the Swabi district of the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, fit a pattern of militant attacks against charity and aid workers across the country in recent weeks that officials have attributed to the Pakistani Taliban. The militant offensive has brought a wave international outrage, particularly because it has focused on vaccination and health workers in a country where polio and measles have made troubling gains.

The attack on Tuesday, near the village of Sher Afzal Banda, was conducted by two men on a motorcycle who opened fire on a van bringing the workers home, the police said. The dead worked for the private Pakistani aid group Support With Working Solution, which works in the health and education sectors.

"They opened fire and killed six females and one male," said Javed Akhtar, the executive director of the aid group, in a telephone interview. "One child, aged 7 to 8 years, miraculously survived." His group started out in 1991 and in conjunction with other aid groups has focused on Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province and on South Waziristan in the tribal region, both deeply affected by both poverty and militancy.

Attention

Breakaway oil rig, filled with fuel, runs aground

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© Petty Officer 1St Class Sara Francis/United States Coast Guard, via Associated Press
The Kulluk is one of two rigs that Shell has used to drill test wells off the North Slope of Alaska as part of the company's ambitious and expensive effort to open Arctic waters to oil production.
An enormous Shell Oil offshore drilling rig ran aground on an island in the Gulf of Alaska on Monday night after it broke free from tow ships in rough seas, officials said.

The rig, the Kulluk, which was used for test drilling in the Arctic last summer, is carrying about 139,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 12,000 gallons of lubricating oil and hydraulic fluid, the officials said.

A Coast Guard helicopter flew over the rig after the grounding at 8:48 p.m. and "detected no visible sheen," said Darci Sinclair, a spokeswoman for a unified command of officials from Shell, Alaskan state agencies and other groups that has been directing the response since the troubles with the rig began last Thursday.

Ms. Sinclair said that more overflights were planned after daybreak on Tuesday, and that the unified command would be monitoring the fuel situation as it planned further actions. "The focus will be around salvage," she said.

Megaphone

Afghanistan: Worst place for children to be born and raised

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© Photo: Zoriah Afghanistan Children
Not only do children die, they can also be recruited and used to fight in armed forces and groups

Lisa Davis

Afghanistan has been engaged with more than 30 years of war with thousands of civilians killed or injured since 2001.

It is under these conditions that children are at extreme risk of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.

The children of Afghanistan are growing up in one of the least developed countries in the world. Six percent of babies die at birth and 25 percent before their 5th birthday. Conflict and political violence force millions of children and their families to flee their homes and as a result displaced families spend years in situations of uncertainty and insecurity.

Girls face multiple gender discrimination from the earliest stages of their life and throughout childhood. 70 percent of school-age girls do not attend school. Ninety-four percent of births are not registered.

A child's basic right to life and development is seriously compromised for the children growing up amid the conflict in Afghanistan.

Health

About 60 crushed to death in Ivory Coast stampede

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About 60 people were crushed to death in a stampede outside a stadium in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan after a New Year's Eve fireworks display, the government said on Tuesday.

The incident took place near Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium where a crowd had gathered to watch fireworks, emergency officials said.

One of the injured, speaking to Reuters at a hospital, said security forces had arrived to break up the crowd, triggering a panic in which many people fell over and were trampled.

"The provisional death toll is 60 and there are 49 injured," Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko said in a statement broadcast on national television.

President Alassane Ouattara, visiting injured people at the hospital, called the incident a national tragedy and said an investigation was underway to determine what happened.

Dollar

$1 Trillion Obamacare Tax Hike Hitting on Jan. 1

Obama
On January 1, regardless of the outcome of fiscal cliff negotiations, Americans will be hit with a $1 trillion Obamacare tax hike.

Obamacare contains twenty new or higher taxes. Five of the taxes hit for the first time on January 1. In total, Americans face a net $1 trillion tax hike for the years 2013-2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The five major Obamacare taxes taking effect on January 1 are as follows:

The Obamacare Medical Device Tax: Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales - even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will increase the cost of your health care - making everything from pacemakers to artificial hips more expensive.