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Ambulance

Six Russians dead, two injured in Italy snowmobile accident

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© Reuters / Alessandro Garofalo
Rescue workers wait during the rescue operations to recover the bodies of six Russian tourists who died on the Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme, northern Italy January 5, 2013.
Six people from southern Russia were killed and two wounded after a snowmobile accident in the Italian Alps. Their vehicle tipped over and fell 100 meters down a steep ski slope.

Five of those who died and one of the survivors were tourists from southern Russia's Krasnodar; another survivor and one of the deceased both worked for a tourist company in Italy, RIA Novosti reported.

Russian diplomats have identified the four men and two women who died in the crash.

Those injured in the accident - Boris Yudin and driver Azat Agafarov - were taken to hospital by helicopter.

Yudin's 17-year-old son, who was not on the vehicle, lost his mother and sister in the accident.

The tourists were driving to their hotel from a restaurant located in the mountains at around 10:00pm local time, the vice consul at the Milan embassy told journalists.

Heart - Black

2012 was an unmitigated disaster for abortion rights

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© Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
Anti-abortion demonstrators take part in the "March for Life" in Washington January 23, 2012. Nearly 100,000 protesters marched to the U.S. Supreme Court to mark the 39th anniversary of the Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.
Think the so-called "War on Women" (really a war on everyone, since family planning, abortion, birth control and cancer screenings are good for everyone, regardless of gender) is over? Think again, sadly. The reality is that in the state capitols, the steady drive to make it nearly impossible for women to obtain abortions is continuing. Last month, at AlterNet, we profiled just a few of these state initiatives that had cropped up after the 2012 election and continued the unfortunate trend of using political power to legislate the uteri of citizens.

A new study from the Guttmacher Institute looked at all the laws and provisions relating to reproductive rights that went into effect in 2012:
Reproductive health and rights was once again the subject of extensive debate in state capitols in 2012. Over the course of the year, 42 states and the District of Columbia enacted 122 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. One-third of these new provisions, 43 in 19 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services. Although this is a sharp decrease from the record-breaking 92 abortion restrictions enacted in 2011, it is the second highest annual number of new abortion restrictions.
The highest year, of course, was 2011. What are some of the restrictions passed? Age limits, late-term abortion bans (20-week bans, for instance), clinic regulations that are near-impossible to meet, forbidding insurance coverage, and more.

Dollar

Warning of huge food price rise in UK

Food Price Rise UK
© Sean Smith/Guardian News & Med
Gloom: Waitrose boss Mark Price warned that food prices are likely to rise even further in the coming years.
Massive rises in food prices will hammer family budgets this year, the boss of one of Britain's biggest supermarkets warned yesterday.

Waitrose managing director Mark Price said recent increases in the price of bread and vegetables were 'just the tip of the iceberg', with prices set to rise across the board.

'Everything will be hit,' he added.

And with farmers facing poor harvests after the second wettest year on record, Britain's impending food crisis looks set to last 'for the foreseeable future'.

Another punishing rise in the cost of the weekly shop - which is already increasing faster than wages - will hit families struggling to make ends meet. Living standards are already under their greatest squeeze in a generation, compounded before Christmas when energy providers announced inflation-busting price increases.

Now food prices are likely to carry on rising after crops were hampered by appalling weather. Mr Price said: 'We're seeing input food inflation of around 3 to 3.5 per cent, but we expect it go up to as much as five.

'But you can't ever say how high these increases will end up being. The one safe thing to say is that demand will out-strip supply. It is likely that food inflation will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. In some commodities, the increases will be massive. It's bread, vegetables, all produce.

Stop

Mexico's 'grand warlock' draws a crowd despite spotty prediction record

Grand Warlock
© AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
Antonio Vazquez Alba, popularly known as the "Grand Warlock," announces his traditional predictions for the new year during a press conference in Mexico City, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013.
Mexico City - Antonio Vazquez is a cherubic 72-year-old with twinkling eyes, a long white beard and a knack for predicting things that don't actually happen.

For more than three decades, Mexico's self-proclaimed "Grand Warlock" has been doing tarot card and horoscope readings to reveal what's in store for the coming year.

Among past predictions: Fidel Castro would die in 2008. Germany would win the 2006 World Cup. Barack Obama would lose to Mitt Romney.

Despite Vazquez's consistently incorrect record of prognostication, dozens of journalists swarmed Mexico City's press club on Friday for the Grand Warlock's latest round of predictions in what has become one of this country's most reliably strange and inexplicably popular New Year's traditions.

On tap for 2013, according to the Grand Warlock: a new war in the Middle East, chaos in Venezuela and a tough year for Obama.

But it's not all bad news. Vazquez said 2013 will be a great year for Mexico, a country that has struggled with drug violence and a slow economy.

"Mexico is going to have a relevant place in the world, economically speaking," he said. "Mexico will place itself as a paradise for investors."

Heart - Black

Saudi sergeant accused of Vegas child rape

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© Photo: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department / AP
This image provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows Mazen Alotaibi, 23, a sergeant in Saudi Arabia’s air force who was arrested Dec. 31, 2012, in Las Vegas on charges that he pulled a teenage boy into Las Vegas Strip hotel room and sexually assaulted him the morning of the city’s big New Year's Eve fireworks extravaganza.
A sergeant in Saudi Arabia's air force was jailed in Las Vegas on charges that he pulled a boy into a hotel room and sexually assaulted him the morning of Sin City's big New Year's Eve fireworks extravaganza.

Mazen Alotaibi, 23, faces charges including kidnapping, sexual assault with a minor and felony coercion that could get him decades in state prison, according to police and charging documents obtained Friday.

The boy, who is younger than 14, told police the man forced him into a room at the Circus Circus hotel on the Las Vegas Strip and raped him. Police arrested Alotaibi after being called to the hotel before 9:30 a.m. Dec. 31.

"There was a kidnapping and sexual assault with force," Las Vegas police Lt. Dan McGrath said. "The victim said he was forced into the room and sexually assaulted. We have a strong case based on the evidence."

The boy, who lives out of state, was staying at the hotel with his family, McGrath said. He was taken to a hospital for medical treatment and evidence collection and released later to family members. His name was not made public.

Bad Guys

Chicago duct tape dad given probation for binding toddler

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© Facebook
Chicago Police are investigating a Facebook photo posted by Andre Curry, 21, of his daughter apparently bound with tape, under the title "This is wut happens wen my baby hits me back ;)"
A Chicago judge ruled today that a dad convicted of aggravated battery for binding his 18-month old daughter with tape and taping her mouth shut will not have to go to prison, but serve probation instead.

Andre Curry, 22, was ordered today to serve 18 months probation, undergo parenting classes and submit to periodic drug tests.

Curry was arrested in December 2011 after posting a photo of the little girl on Facebook with the caption: "This is wut happens wen my baby hits me back ;)."

He was convicted in November of aggravated domestic battery and aggravated battery, and faced up to seven years in prison.

Curry has no prior criminal record and his lawyer convinced the judge to reconsider the felony conviction, dropping the charges to a misdemeanor.

Curry did not testify in his own defense, but his lawyer argued that he was just fooling around and the girl was never in danger.

"To use a child ... as a toy or a prop in an odd attempt at humor is conduct of an insulting or provoking nature," Cook County Circuit Judge Lawrence Flood said in November when Curry was found guilty.

Ambulance

Indian woman jumps off moving train to flee rape

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The woman, 25 and a mother of two, is in a critical condition
The woman's leap came in the aftermath of the fatal attack on the medical student and a male friend in Delhi last month.

A young woman is in a critical condition in hospital after she flung herself from a moving train to escape a sexual assault, the latest in a series of incidents that have highlighted the vulnerability of women in India.

As the authorities prepare for the latest court hearing over the rape and killing of a 23-year-old medical student, details emerged from the state of Bihar about the woman who jumped from her carriage after allegedly being molested by a paramilitary soldier.

"Her condition continues to be critical. A team of doctors is treating her. She has suffered injuries in her head and legs," a police official told the IANS news agency.

The incident happened as the 25-year-old woman from Darjeeling was travelling on a train to Delhi on Thursday evening when the man tried to molest her after she visited the lavatory. After fighting him off, she then leapt from the Brahmaputra Mail train as it passed through the state of Bihar. The woman, who has two children, is being treated in a hospital in the city of Patna. A member of the Assam Rifles paramilitary force has been detained and charged.

Eye 1

School board member resigns after driving SUV into teenage girl

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A member of the Bartow County School Board in the state of Georgia has resigned after video has surfaced of her running down a 17-year-old girl with her car in a Walmart parking lot.

Surveillance video taken from the Walmart in Cartersville, GA shows Cornett driving into Emily Gulledge, a senior from a local high school, while attempting to secure a spot for her SUV in late December.

Gulledge says she was standing in the spot to reserve it for her brother's girlfriend, who had recently given birth, when Cornett drove into her. According to the driver, though, it wasn't a big to-do. In the statement given by Cornett to the police, she says the teen "leaned against her vehicle and started to yell, 'She hit me.'" After the incident, Cornett claims the victim refused medical treatment and walked away laughing.
Investigators paint a different picture, though, and can back it up with surveillance video footage.

"She told her to move and then she pulled into the parking spot and hit her with the tire of the vehicle," Bartow County Sheriff's Office Investigator Jonathan White tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Sheriff

Second trooper suspended for roadside cavity search in Texas

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© Screenshot from YouTube user UrbanWarfareChannel
Two Irving women are suing after they were subjected to a roadside cavity search by a Texas DPS Trooper, their lawyer released the video.
The second of two Texas State troopers at the center of a lawsuit involving a roadside cavity search has been suspended with pay.

The two women from Irving are suing Trooper David Farrell, Trooper Kelley Helleson and the director of the Department of Public Safety for what they call an unconstitutional search without probable cause.

On Thursday, the DPS said Farrell had been suspended with pay effective Dec. 21 pending the outcome of an investigation into the incident. Helleson had also been suspended with pay on Dec. 19.

On July 13, while driving along State Highway 161, Angel Dobbs and her niece Ashley Dobbs were stopped for littering by Farrell. In the dashcam video released by the women and their attorney, Farrell can be heard telling the women they would both be cited for littering for throwing cigarette butts out of the car.

Farrell then returned to his cruiser and, in the video, can be heard calling female Trooper Helleson to the scene to search both women whom he said were acting weird.

Evil Rays

Stripper in Florida tries to get out of assault charges by claiming it was "performance art"

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A boot-clad woman who caused a scene in the middle of busy State Road A1A in Hallandale Beach was arrested after tossing a traffic cone at a random motorist and then spitting in his face, police said.

She claims it was all in the name of art.

But Broward Judge John "Jay" Hurley wasn't impressed by Arlene Mena's site-specific art performance and ordered a $1,000 bond on charges of battery and criminal mischief stemming from the bizarre incident.

According to police and witnesses, Mena, 25, was first spotted standing and yelling in the middle of A1A outside her condo building along the 1800 block of South Ocean Drive about 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday.

Noel von Kauffman, 40, said he was walking along the street when he noticed Mena trying to direct traffic while wearing a tank-top, cut-off jean shorts and tall boots.

"She looked like a very drunk person," von Kauffman told the Sun Sentinel on Thursday.