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Rise in number of British couples seeking 'wombs for hire' abroad

Increase in British couples turning to poor foreign surrogate mothers to have their babies.

Surrogate Mothers in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
Wealthy British couples who cannot have children are increasingly seeking "wombs for hire" from women overseas, according to figures obtained by The Independent.

The number of couples formally registering children born to foreign surrogates has nearly trebled in five years, raising concerns that poor women in developing countries are being exploited by rich Westerners.

"Parental orders" granted following surrogacy - to transfer the child from the surrogate mother to the commissioning parents - have risen from 47 in 2007 to 133 in 2011.

While the figures are still relatively small, experts say they understate the true scale of the trade which is driven by agencies operating in countries such as India, drawn by a lack of red tape and the absence of regulation.

There are parallels with the trade in inter-country adoption 20 years ago, when hundreds of children from impoverished families in eastern Europe and the developing world were "sold" to wealthy foreigners, with few checks on their suitability, they claim.

Commercial surrogacy is permitted in the US and in many other countries including India, where it was legalised in 2002.


Woman charged with hate crime and murder in New York subway shove death

Sunando Sen

Erika Menendez Charged with 2nd Degree Murder in Subway Shoving Death of Sunando Sen in Queens
New York - A woman who told police she shoved a man to his death off a subway platform into the path of a train because she has hated Muslims since Sept. 11 and thought he was one was charged Saturday with murder as a hate crime, prosecutors said.

Erika Menendez was charged in the death of Sunando Sen, who was crushed by a 7 train in Queens on Thursday night, the second time this month a commuter has died in such a nightmarish fashion.

Menendez, 31, was awaiting arraignment on the charge Saturday evening, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. She could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted. She was in custody and couldn't be reached for comment, and it was unclear if she had an attorney.

Menendez, who was arrested after a tip by a passer-by who saw her on a street and thought she looked like the woman in a surveillance video released by police, admitted shoving Sen, who was pushed from behind, authorities said.

"I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I've been beating them up," Menendez told police, according to the district attorney's office.

Sen was from India, but police said it was unclear if he was Muslim, Hindu or of some other faith. The 46-year-old lived in Queens and ran a printing shop. He was shoved from an elevated platform on the 7 train line, which connects Manhattan and Queens. Witnesses said a muttering woman rose from her seat on a platform bench and pushed him on the tracks as a train entered the station and then ran off.


Two charged with murder in Christmas day crash in Pasadena

Two alleged gang members were charged with murder Friday for their roles in a police chase that ended in a fatal Christmas Day crash, prosecutors said.

Darrell Williams, 22, of Pasadena, and Brittany Washington, 21, of Los Angeles, were each charged with two counts of murder, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The complaint also includes gang allegations for both suspects, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said in a statement.

Prosecutors are asking that bail be set at $3.1 million for Williams and $2.1 million for Washington.

Williams is alleged to have been behind the wheel of a Dodge Durango with Washington in the passenger seat when he failed to pull over for a traffic violation about 8 p.m. Tuesday. He then led a Pasadena police officer and FBI agent on a brief high-speed chase before colliding with a van at Marengo Avenue and Maple Street.

The impact killed Tracey Ongtan, 25, of Glendale and Kendrick Ng, 11, of Daly City. Three other passengers were seriously injured in the collision.

Eye 2

2 teens, 12-year-old charged in Durham, North Carolina, slaying

© Durham Police Department
Justino Navarette Maya, 16, of 311 S. LaSalle St. in Durham, is charged with murder.
A man was shot and killed Friday night after giving three young people a ride to a northern Durham neighborhood.

Investigators say Johnny Danilo Villatoro, 35, of Durham, was the victim of a carjacking and the fatal shooting.

Police have charged three youths, including two juveniles with murder.

One of them is a 12-year-old girl from Raleigh who accidentally shot herself in the leg and abdomen while inside the Villatoro's car, police said.

Investigators found her at about 7:30 p.m. on Channing Court. She is being treated at a local hospital for injuries that do not appear to be life threatening.


UK in family breakdown 'epidemic'

The UK has one of the highest rates of family breakdown in the Western world with just two thirds of children living with both parents, according to research by a global development organisation.

The UK comes only behind Belgium, Latvia and Estonia in the list of countries where both a child's father and mother live in the same household.

The analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that just 68.9 per cent of children live with both parents in the UK, well below the average of 84 per cent.

The figures have been described as symptomatic of an "appalling epidemic of family breakdown" by social justice campaigners.


Impending societal collapse? U.S. running out of ammo as inventories plummet 93% since Obama re-election

© Traction Control blog
Reaction to threats by Senator Dianne Feinstein and others to ban certain weapons and severely restrict ownership of guns generally has caused a run on gun stores, as is widely reported.

Less reported is the run on ammunition, leaving ammunition inventories down 93% since election day.

So reports Traction Control blog:
Plunge! Ammunition Levels Less Than 10% of Pre-Election Levels:

Ammunition Stock levels have fallen by more than 90% from the pre-Election Day levels. Less than 10% remains available. Available Ammunition links will be updated throughout the day.

Handguns are down by 80%, Long Guns by 63% for an overall 72.2% reduction in firearms inventories.

AR pattern rifles are becoming particularly difficult to source.


Grandmother 'comes back from the dead just minutes before post-mortem' after spending 3 days in the morgue


Lyudmila Steblitskaya, her daughter Anastasia, and granddaughter Nelli, all had a horrific shock
A grandmother has been brought back from the dead twice - and has even survived spending three days in a morgue.

The 61-year-old Russian woman has been declared dead twice by doctors, but each time has come back to life - and once was minutes away from being cut open for her autopsy.

Hardy Lyudmila Steblitskaya spent 3 days laying in a freezing cold morgue, while her family mourned the retired cook.

The mother's eery habit of returning to life has not only left her family torn between grief and hope that she may come back to life, but perplexed doctors too, The Siberian Times reported..

She has scared both doctors, friends and family once in November last year and in October this year.

The initial confusion began last year, when Lyudmila was taken to Tomsk Regional Clinical Hospital and spent days in hospital because she felt unwell.


Predictable result of Sandy Hook massacre and 'gun control debate': Sales of firearms across U.S. explode to 'levels never seen before'

© Gary Kent p
John Gonzales shows where all the AR-15s were hung until Wednesday at the Bee County Pawn shop on North St. Mary's Street. Manager Monica Moreno said the shop has sold out of all 30-round magazines for AR-15s and AK-47s and all the ammunition for those rifles is gone.
Gun sales have surged in the Washington metropolitan region and across the nation in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre as enthusiasts rush to buy firearms they fear will be outlawed by a fresh push for gun control.

Gun dealers requested nearly 5,150 background checks on purchasers in Virginia eight days after the Dec. 14 shootings in Newtown, Conn. - the largest number ever in a single day, Virginia State Police said. And in the days since, the daily number of background checks has regularly doubled corresponding totals from the previous year.

In Maryland, state police project that they will receive 8,200 gun permit applications in December, more than in any other month this year and double the number received in June.

Similar surges have reportedly been seen in California, Colorado and even Connecticut, the site of the tragedy.

"I've never seen shelves so bare in stores that weren't going out of business," said John Pierce, co-founder of the Virginia-based gun rights networking hub OpenCarry.org. "It's really shocking."

Comment: Judging by the results, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Sandy Hook Massacre and subsequent 'debate' about gun control was actually carried out to push Americans towards becoming more heavily armed than ever before.

Once rising food prices translate into food shortages and society begins to break down, the U.S. will be left with a whole lot of hungry armed people, the perfect recipe for a nationwide massacre.

Cell Phone

Texting and walking: 1 in 3 people distracted by mobile devices while crossing the street

© Photo: Buffalotechno
We all know about the dangers of distracted driving ... but maybe we should be concerned about distracted walking, too.

A new study in the journal Injury Prevention shows that nearly one in three people cross busy streets while distracted by their cell phones -- and some are even doing it during rush hour.

The most dangerous distracted walking activity? Texting -- people who texted took nearly two seconds longer than non-texters to cross around three or four lanes of traffic. And they also ignored traffic lights, didn't look both ways and crossed in an area that is not the crosswalk nearly four times more than non-texters.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, included 1,102 pedestrians who were monitored for their "distracted" activities: listening to music, texting, talking on the phone, talking to a companion, or dealing with a child or pet.

The researchers found that nearly half of the time, these distracted activities were taking place during rush hour (between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m.). The age group most likely to be guilty of this: 25-to-44-year-olds.

The researchers also found that just slightly fewer than a third of the people in the study were distracted in some way when they crossed the road: 11 percent listened to music, 6 percent talked on the phone, and 7 percent text messaged.


Blast outside Karachi railway station kills six

© AFP Photo
Bystanders remove an injured man beside a burning passenger bus after an explosion in Karachi on Dec 29, 2012
At least six people were killed when a loud explosion ripped apart a passenger bus parked outside the gates of Karachi Cantonment Station, the main railway station in the city.

The large blast completely ripped opened the roof of the bus, scheduled to depart for Sargodha, which caught fire following the explosion.

"There are reports of five people being killed in the blast. The injured have been shifted to Jinnah Hospital," said Ahmed Chinoy, the head of the Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC).

At least 48 other people were also injured in the blast, with five of them said to be in critical condition, hospital officials said.

"We have received 48 patients, some of which are critical. Six people killed have been shifted to the mortuary," confirmed Seemi Jamali, a senior doctor at the Jinnah Hospital.