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US: Police Reportedly Went Undercover at Occupy Los Angeles

Reports suggest police used undercover detectives to infiltrate the Occupy LA camp to find out protesters' intentions
Image
© Bret Hartman/EPA
Los Angeles police officers remove an Occupy protester from the camp at the City Hall.

Los Angeles police used nearly a dozen undercover detectives to infiltrate the Occupy LA encampment before this week's raid to gather information on the anti-Wall Street protesters' intentions, according to media reports.

None of the officers slept at the camp, but they tried to blend in during the weeks leading up to the raid to learn about plans to resist or use weapons against police, a police source told the Los Angeles Times. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

The undercover work yielded information that some protesters were preparing bamboo spears and other potentially dangerous weapons in advance of an expected eviction, none of which were used, according to the City News Service, which first reported the story.

Police played down the significance of the undercover work since Occupy meetings were public and easily tracked.

Padlock

US: Blagojevich Gets 14 years in Prison for Corruption

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© scoodersport.com
Rod Blagojevich, the ousted Illinois governor whose three-year battle against criminal charges became a national spectacle, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday, one of the stiffest penalties imposed for corruption in a state with a history of crooked politics.

Among his 18 convictions is the explosive charge that he tried to leverage his power to appoint someone to President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat in exchange for campaign cash or land a high-paying job.

Judge James Zagel gave Blagojevich some credit for taking responsibility for his actions - which the former governor did in an address to the court earlier in the day - but said that didn't mitigate his crimes. Zagel also said Blagojevich did some good things for people as governor, but was more concerned about using his powers for himself.

"When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily repaired," Zagel said.

As the judge announced the sentence, Blagojevich hunched forward and his face appeared frozen. Minutes later, his wife, Patti Blagojevich, stood up and fell into her husband's arms. He pulled back to brush tears off her cheek and then rubbed her shoulders.

Handcuffs

Russian Police Arrest Hundreds in Anti-Putin Rally

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© Agence France-Presse/Kirill Kudryavtsev
Riot police detain a Russian opposition activist taking part in an unauthorized rally, on Triumfalnaya Square in central Moscow.
Russian riot police arrested hundreds of activists in central Moscow on Tuesday to stop a new protest alleging that elections were rigged in favour of Vladimir Putin's ruling party.

Helmeted police in green camouflage and interior ministry troops deployed in force for an event that was organised through the Internet after a rare thousands-strong protest on Monday startled the authorities.

Opposition supporters shouted "Shame on you fascists!" and "Russia without Putin" in a tense stand-off with hundreds of pro-Kremlin youth who descended on the site in advance.

Those detained in Moscow included former cabinet minister turned Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov -- released after being booked at a police station -- and several other members of opposition groups that were barred from running in the polls.

Mr. Potato

US: Blagojevich Expresses Remorse in Courtroom Speech

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© Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, leaves his home in Chicago on Wednesday for the second day of his sentencing hearing on 18 corruption convictions.
Rod R. Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, apologized to residents of his state, to the judge in his case and to his family on Wednesday as he spoke in court during his sentencing hearing.

"I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity and actions, words, things that I did, that I thought I could do," he said.

Mr. Blagojevich spoke before the federal judge who will decide his sentence for 18 felony corruption convictions, including trying to sell or trade the Senate seat that President Obama left behind when he moved to the White House. Although he had been outspoken in the past about his innocence, Mr. Blagojevich was remorseful in court on Wednesday.

"I accept the peoples' verdict, Judge, they found me guilty," he said adding later, "All I can say is I never wanted to hurt anyone."

Mr. Blagojevich's crimes carry maximum sentences that could stretch into hundreds of years behind bars, but federal prosecutors say he deserves 15 to 20 years in prison. Mr. Blagojevich's lawyers said they were seeking far less, saying simply that they were advocating for "the lowest sentence possible."

Airplane

US: Alec Baldwin: Booted from Plane for Playing Game

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© Getty Images
Alec Baldwin
You know when the flight attendants tell you to turn off all electronic devices prior to takeoff? They're not kidding -- even if you happen to be a star.

Actor Alec Baldwin was removed from an American Airlines flight leaving Los Angeles for New York on Tuesday when he was apparently too engrossed in a game of Zynga's Words With Friends to power down his iPad.

"Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving. #nowonderamericaairisbankrupt," the actor tweeted.

The incident caused a one-hour delay in the flight and kicked off a flurry of Internet chatter. Baldwin's own Twitter feed has been pulsing with caustic comments about his removal.

"Last flight w American," the 30 Rock star tweeted Tuesday afternoon, "Where retired Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950s find jobs as flight attendants."

Handcuffs

China Arrests 600 in Huge Child Trafficking Bust, 178 Children Rescued

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© Agence France-Presse/Peter Parks
Photo illustration. Chinese police have busted two huge child trafficking rings that spanned 10 provinces, arresting more than 600 suspects and rescuing 178 children, the government said Wednesday.
Chinese police have busted two huge child trafficking rings that spanned 10 provinces, arresting more than 600 suspects and rescuing 178 children, the government said Wednesday.

Child abductions and trafficking are rife in China, despite repeated police crackdowns -- a problem that many experts blame on the nation's strict "one-child" policy and lax regulations on adoption.

The public security ministry said in a statement that police in the southwestern province of Sichuan had chanced on clues that a child trafficking gang was operating there when dealing with a traffic accident in May.

Then in August, police in the southeastern province of Fujian discovered the existence of another gang involved in widespread child trafficking.

After a long period of evidence-gathering, more than 5,000 police officers from 10 different provinces across China launched a joint offensive on November 30, arresting 608 suspects.

Document

Canada, Quebec: Gatineau's Values Guide For Immigrants Stirs Controversy

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© unknown
The city of Gatineau, Que., has released a 'statement of values' aimed at immigrants, giving them advice ranging from the illegality of honour killings and bribing public officials to cooking smelly foods.
One of Quebec's biggest cities is throwing out the welcome mat to immigrants with a 16-point guide to local values, which range from refraining from bribing officials, killing people for honour, to cooking smelly foods.

The city of Gatineau says its newly released "statement of values" is aimed at helping newcomers integrate. But critics say it infantilizes them and treats immigrants "like they came out of a cave."

The guide is already drawing comparisons to the controversial code of conduct adopted by the Quebec village of Hérouxville during the heat of the province's reasonable accommodation debate in 2007. Unlike Hérouxville, however, which banned stonings even though it only had a single immigrant family, Gatineau is home to about 250,000 and has seen a surge in international immigration in recent years.

The administration of Mayor Marc Bureau says it published its list of "essential values" to help the newly arrived fit in and learn "how to interact" in their new environment, according to the guide.

Dollar

Up to 40,000 Children Mine Gold in Mali: Rights Group

mercury in gold pan
© AFP
Between 20,000 and 40,000 children work in artisanal gold mines in Mali, Africa's third-largest producer of the precious metal, Human Rights Watch said in a report Tuesday.

In a statement, HRW said that "children as young as six dig mining shafts, work underground, pull up heavy weights of ore, and carry, crush, and pan ore."

It also said that many children "work with mercury, a toxic substance, to separate the gold from the ore. Mercury attacks the central nervous system and is particularly harmful to children."

HRW children's rights researcher Juliane Kippenberg said children carried loads heavier than their own weight, climbed into unstable shafts, and touched and inhaled mercury, one of the most toxic substances on earth.

Attention

Canada: Congo Protests Turn Violent in Toronto, Ottawa


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© The Associated Press/Simon Maina
Congolese riot-policeman stand guard on the streets of Goma. Tensions from the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo spilled across the Atlantic on Tuesday when pro-democracy protests in two Canadian cities turned violent.
Tensions from the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo spilled across the Atlantic on Tuesday when pro-democracy protests in two Canadian cities turned violent.

In the capital Ottawa, police formed a line around the DRC embassy and used pepper spray to prevent dozens of protesters from storming the building.

Meanwhile in downtown Toronto, Canada's largest city, a group of about 150 protesters swarmed a police car and threw dirt at officers, prompting police to respond in force, sending 30 cars and cordoning off roads around the demo.

Electoral authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday postponed declaring the winner of the polls, as protests exploded worldwide. Early results showed President Joseph Kabila heading for re-election.

Family

Canada: A British Columbia Family's Secret: How They Helped Their Parents Die

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© Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail
Two boys stand with right-to-die protesters as they demonstrate recently outside the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.
Buried in a stack of affidavits filed in a right-to-die case is a remarkable, anonymous document that breaks a deep, long-held family secret about how two chronically ill parents were guided to death.

It is sworn by a 63-year-old social worker from British Columbia who identifies himself only as L.M., because he fears he, his sister and others could face criminal charges for assisting in the deaths.

The document - one of many that chronicles the shattering emotional journeys endured by those involved in assisted deaths - illustrates a key argument being made in Carter versus the Attorney-General of Canada.

Joseph Arvay, a lawyer representing the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and a group of individuals challenging the Criminal Code, has told court that because it is illegal for physicians to help the chronically ill die, people are forced to help take lives secretly, the way women once sought back-alley abortions.