Society's ChildS

Bizarro Earth

Massacre Leaves 27 Dead in Northern Guatemala

© Hector Tobar / Los Angeles TimesIn this 2008 photo, a Guatemalan soldier patrols a nature preserve in Peten, a region said to be crisscrossed with drug traffickers' illegal landing strips.
Witnesses say an attack by 200 gunmen killed at least 27 farmworkers in Guatemala's Peten province, an area used by Mexican-based drug cartels. The victims were decapitated.

At least 27 people were slain early Sunday in a remote area of northern Guatemala that has become a key base for Mexican drug-trafficking groups, authorities said.

Police said a small army of gunmen attacked workers on a coconut farm in the northern province of Peten, a zone that has become increasingly dangerous as Mexican drug smugglers extend operations in Central America to escape a crackdown at home.

The victims included 25 men and two women, all of whom were decapitated, according to Jaime Leonel Otzin, director of Guatemala's National Civil Police. He said witnesses reported that the attack was carried out by 200 gunmen, who arrived in buses.

Authorities had not determined a motive.


The Draw of Doomsday: Why People Look Forward to the End

© Marijus Auruskevicius / Dreamstime.comDoomsdayers have many ideas about when and how the world will end.

Most people go through their daily lives assuming that tomorrow will be a lot like today. No pits of fire will open up, society won't collapse, and the world, most likely, won't end.

But for others, doom has a certain appeal.

The most famous example these days is Harold Camping, a California-based Christian radio broadcaster who believes that May 21, 2011, will mark Judgment Day, ushering in five months of torment for the unsaved until the universe finally ends on Oct. 21. Camping has bought billboards and dispatched caravans of believers around the country, warning the world of its fate.

"It's going to be a wonderful, wonderful day," Camping told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter last June.

Camping has made this prediction before, in 1994 - it didn't pan out - but the thousands of failed doomsday predictions throughout history are no match for what Lorenzo DiTommaso, a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal, calls the "apocalyptic worldview."

"It's a very persistent and potent way of understanding the world," DiTommaso told LiveScience.

Light Sabers

IMF chief denied bail in hotel sex assault case

© FlickrUS President Barack Obama (R) greets International Monetary Fund's Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn (L) for the G-20 official dinner Septmber 24, 2009.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn is accused of attacking maid in NYC penthouse suite

New York - A judge on Monday ordered the head of the International Monetary Fund to remain jailed at least until his next court hearing on charges he sexually assaulted a maid who went into his penthouse suite at a hotel near Times Square to clean it.

A tired and grim-looking IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn appeared before Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson to answer to charges that include attempted rape.

The judge granted prosecutors' request to hold Strauss-Kahn without bail and set the next court date for May 20.

Prosecutors had argued he might flee to France if he were released on bail. They said preliminary forensic evidence will validate the victim's claims.

Defense lawyers suggested bail be set at $1 million, saying Strauss-Kahn denies any wrongdoing and is cooperating with investigators. One of his lawyer's, Ben Brafman, said it was "quite likely he will be exonerated.'' Strauss-Kahn will testify he was having lunch at the time the woman alleges she was attacked, his lawyers said.

Wall Street

FBI: Child Sex Trafficking at Epidemic Levels

A recent FBI law enforcement bulletin reports that child sex trafficking is an epidemic in the United States, with about 300,000 children at risk of being victimized by the sex trade.

Experts say most child victims in the U.S. are from poor neighborhoods and broken homes.

"Most of the girls that we work with come from a broken home, maybe a single-headed household, where there is a lot of poverty," Andrea Powell, executive director of FAIR Fund, told Press TV. Fair Fund is an international nonprofit that works to prevent human trafficking and sexual violence in the lives of youth, especially girls, around the world.

The average age of children being drawn into the sex trade is 12 to 14 years old.

"No matter where we would pull in different truck stops, there were always other truckers talking on their CBs to let other truckers know that I was available," Kristy Childs said. Childs became a victim at the age of 12 and was prostituted out in different cities and truck stops for six years.

A new documentary, "Sex and Money - a National Search for Human Worth," exposes the scope of this tragedy inside the U.S.

The producers of the film are currently on a 50-state tour to raise child sex trafficking awareness.


Japan Maintains Fukushima Reactor Timetable Despite Damage Discovery

© ReutersIllustration: Smoke is seen coming from the area of the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan
Tokyo - Japanese officials on Monday reiterated their commitment to bring the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex under control within the six to nine month timetable announced mid-April despite recent discoveries that its reactors are more heavily damaged than previously believed.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that the plant's three damaged reactors--Units 1-3--should be safely shut down in line with the schedule unveiled on April 17.

"I believe we can maintain the original timeframe," Kan told parliament.

The prime minister's special adviser on the nuclear issue, Goshi Hosono, said the plan is realistic because the reactors are continuing to cool down and are therefore moving to a safe condition.

Red Flag

Gulf Coast Syndrome

Spraying chemical dispersant Corexit
© n/aSpraying chemical dispersant Corexit in the Gulf of Mexico
A year after the BP disaster, some Southerners say they're coming down with mysterious and frightening illnesses

"This is the best-hidden secret perhaps in the history of our nation."

Dr. Mike Robichaux speaks into a microphone while standing on a truck bed in the shade of a massive tree in his yard in Raceland, La. He's wearing a blue polo shirt and jeans, and his white-gray hair is parted neatly. The former state senator, known affectionately as Dr. Mike, is an ear, nose and throat specialist in Lafourche Parish and self-described "too easygoing of a guy." But today, he's pissed.

"Nobody is fussing about this," he says.

Robichaux invited his patients and dozens of others to speak about their situations. Outside of neighborhood papers with names like the Houma Courier, the Daily Comet and Tri-Parish Times, their stories exist solely on blogs and Facebook - unless you visit Al Jazeera English, or sources in Germany, Belgium and elsewhere in Europe.

Heart - Black

Bush calls bin Laden death "judgment"

Las Vegas - George W. Bush says he was "not overjoyed" when President Barack Obama told him Osama bin Laden was dead because the campaign to track down the al-Qaeda leader was done not "out of hatred, but to exact judgment."

ABC News reports Bush made his first candid public comments on bin Laden's killing Wednesday at a hedge fund conference in Las Vegas. The former president said he was at a restaurant when he got Obama's call. Bush said Obama described the secret mission in detail. Bush said he told Obama, "Good call," and noted, "The intelligence services deserve a lot of credit."


Bomb blast destroys five NATO oil tankers in Pakistan

© GoogleTopographic of Peshawar/Pakistan Region.
Peshawar, Pakistan - At least five NATO oil tankers bound for Afghanistan caught fire on Friday after a bomb planted beneath one of them exploded, but there were no casualties, officials in Pakistan said.

"A remote-controlled device planted under one of the tankers carrying fuel for NATO troops in Afghanistan went off, triggering a fire that engulfed four more tankers," local administration official Iqbal Khan Khattak said.

The tankers were parked in the Torkham area of the troubled Khyber tribal region near the Afghan border.

Khattak said that there were a total of 21 tankers parked in the terminal, but the other vehicles were safe after being moved away from the blast site.

A local intelligence official confirmed the incident and said there were no casualties.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast but the Taliban has said it carried out such attacks in the past.


Israel-Palestinian Violence Erupts on Three Borders

Israeli border policemen
© Reuters/Ammar AwadIsraeli border policemen detain a Palestinian protester during clashes in Shuafat refugee camp, in the West Bank near Jerusalem May 15, 2011.
Israeli troops shot Palestinian protesters who surged toward its frontiers with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday, killing at least 13 people on the day Palestinians mourn the establishment of Israel in 1948.

In the deadliest such confrontation in years of anniversary clashes usually confined to the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli forces opened fire in three separate border locations to prevent crowds of demonstrators from crossing frontier lines.

The new challenge to Israel came from the borders of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Gaza -- all home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven out in 1948.

Combined with a public relations disaster last year over the killing of pro-Palestinian activists in a Gaza aid flotilla and a determined Palestinian diplomatic drive to win U.N. recognition of statehood in September this year, the bloody border protests raised the stakes further for Israel.

Cloud Lightning

US:Boy Stays Safe from Tornado Hiding Inside Dryer

Two tornadoes swept through the town of Lenox, Iowa on Wednesday. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. Though one little boy got the scare of a lifetime. He managed to ride the storm out inside a dryer!

Jessica miller says her 11-year-old son Austin was home alone when the storm came rolling in. She called him from work. She says, "I said get in the laundry room. There is not a basement and I said just get in the laundry room and he said 'why mommy?' and I said, "just get in laundry room" and then the sirens went off."

As Jessica desperately tried to get home, two tornadoes whipped up debris you now see on the streets into a blinding mess. She says, "We saw all this stuff it was just a big gray swishing crap in the air."

She was stuck, unable to go any further. She says, "He said, 'Mommy there's glass breaking, it's loud crackling, it's loud and I think the house is going.' And I was like, 'Austin!' I mean I was like two blocks away I could not get here. It was like the worst feeling I can't even explain."